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EA MMA Exposes Online Pass Sham

EA MMA Exposes Online Pass Sham

“Part of the reason for the online pass is that when that stuff goes online, it isn’t free. We have to pay for servers and all this different stuff to maintain it” – Justin Richmond, Naughty Dog

“Servers cost money, and used games don’t make developers any money” – Alan Kertz, DICE

“Digital delivery, maintaining servers able to support that volume of people every 24 hours, a solid billing infrastructure and customer support – it all takes time, effort and money and we’re at the cutting edge of that” – Peter Moore, EA Sports

And on it goes. The introduction of online passes has been a controversial topic in gaming this past year or so, as they have become commonplace (expected?) to the point where it becomes a news story when multiplayer games don’t force online passes onto their players. Case in point – Syndicate.

Yet publishers were quick to defend the practice when it was first introduced behind a string of excuses about mumble mumble maintaining servers mumble mumble online costs mumble mumble. They have died down as of late, as online passes creeping into single-player territory have made those ‘maintaining servers’ excuses null and void, but now something has happened which has made an even bigger joke out of those original excuses.

EA MMA, one of the first games to sport an online pass, will have its online servers shut down on April 13th.

Farewell, Sweet Prince

EA MMA was released on October 10th 2010, so it hasn’t even been on sale for 18 months. Yet EA has taken the decision to pull the plug on EA MMA’s multiplayer servers (among other casualties joining it on April 13th – The Godfather II, EA Sports Active 2.0 and Need For Speed: ProStreet).

“As games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level – fewer than one per cent of all peak online players across all EA titles – where it’s no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running,” read EA’s statement.

“We would rather our hard-working engineering and IT staff focus on keeping a positive experience for the other 99 per cent of customers playing our more popular games. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of the games and we appreciate your ongoing patronage.”

Why? Wasn’t the online pass supposed to stop this type of scenario from happening? Wasn’t the point of the online pass to whip up proceeds for the exact purpose of, and let’s quote EA’s own Peter Moore on this one, “maintaining servers able to support that volume of people every 24 hours”?

No. Of course it wasn’t. Online passes were always about publishers and their desperate attempts to head off the second-hand market but rather than tell us that straight, there was this whole song and dance about maintaining the cost of servers. Some people believed it, because for some reason there were those out there desperate to defend publishers becoming increasingly brazen in their attempts to raid our wallets, so it’s nice to finally put this ridiculous charade of ‘maintaining servers’ to one side.

Also, fun fact – Resistance: Fall of Man’s multiplayer servers are still running and that originally came out in November 2006.

That has lasted over five years without an online pass.

EA MMA lasted less than 18 months with an online pass.

Second-hand market vs online pass is a debate worth having because at least that’s addressing the real intention behind the introduction of online passes. But maintaining multiplayer servers? Tell that to EA MMA multiplayer fans. Good luck finding them after April though.

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  • I personally have been in favour of the online pass, and think it is generally a good idea that the buyers of second-hand games pay towards the upkeep of server if they want to play online.

    But this just reeks of exploitation, and needs some kind of regulation, whether that’s self-imposed by the industry, or enforced by an independent external organisation. If a game uses an Online Pass system, the servers should be guaranteed to be available for at least two years, maybe even three – minimum.

  • Dave Moore

    there is NO justification for online passes.

  • Conor

    I agree and There is no justification for online passes and never will be. PS: Are you really surprised that EA screwed you over? I mean come on its EA! They’re famous for screwing their customers over all the time!

  • Shaun

    It was all about the cash, from the very beginning it was simply down to the games industry finding a new way to earn more cash from games.

    I cant believe this has happened, this proves their excuse about maintaining servers was a complete lie.
    so how can anyone ever believe a word they say again. EVER?

  • Hutton121

    I don’t agree with online passes at all, but to shut down the server so soon is criminal.
    Will people be compensated? I doubt it, Do online passes come with a use by date? not that I know.

    In theory there is nothing to stop a company pulling the plug on a server 6 months after you have folked out to play a game online, its unlikely but if they expect people to pay then we should have some assurances that the service will be available for a minimum period and if the game won’t hold peoples interest for long then they shouldnt bloody charge in thr first place.

  • Joey

    You bunch of sissies!
    Online Passes are what keeps us speaking English and terrorists from raping our children.

  • Hutton121

    Come on Joey, everyone knows thats PG Tips!