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EA discontinues its Online Pass program

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Electronic Arts won't require an "online pass" — the one-time use codes required to access certain online features like multiplayer — in its future games, a company spokesperson tells GamesBeat. The publisher, which popularized the practice starting in late 2009 to encourage "original purchasers" of its games, says it has discontinued the program.

EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg told GamesBeat "many players didn't respond to the format." The system was designed to curb used sales of video games and generate revenue from players who purchased games secondhand, but wanted access to downloadable content and online features.

Some of the first games from EA to feature online passes were BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins and Pandemic's The Saboteur. Vouchers included with new copies of those games granted access to downloadable content. EA soon extended the concept, which the publisher referred to as "Project Ten Dollar," to online multiplayer and cooperative modes of its other titles.

Other publishers pursued similar efforts, with Sony notably attempting to stem piracy on the PSP with an online entitlement voucher for 2010's SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3. Publishers Warner Bros., THQ, Ubisoft and others followed suit, and online passes became a common practice for console and handheld games.

EA would forgo online passes for certain titles published under its EA Partners label, like Crysis 3 and the upcoming Fuse, but it appears future first-party titles from the publisher will also remove the restriction.

Microsoft's next-generation Xbox is rumored to have anti-used game features built into its system and sources have told Polygon that the console could support some form of always-online gaming. The company is scheduled to release the first official details on the next Xbox at an event in Redmond on May 21.

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