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EA Sports, the hottest sports gamemaker around, is setting a new trend, saying you'll have to pay double to play your used games fully. You'll first have to buy the game at the store, and you'll then have to pay EA $10 to reactivate multiplayer services.  (Source: Daily Radar)
GameStop will be helping Electronic Arts implement its scheme

Electronic Arts is the king of the sports game market with hot upcoming titles including NCAA Football 11, NHL 11, Madden NFL 11, NBA 11, FIFA 11, and EA Sports MMA.  Now it has made a controversial decision concerning all of those titles -- it will lock players who buy used copies out of online multiplayer.

When it comes to sports games, a multiplayer mode is one of the chief draws.  And now that the internet allows playing with fans all over the world, online multiplayer provides massive amounts of fun.

Purchasers of a used game get locked out of that goodness.  "Online services, features and bonus content" will all be covered by a one time code, that won't work for the new purchaser.  EA describes, "You will be unable to play multiplayer online game modes or use your downloaded content in online game modes."

Used purchasers do gain access to a 7 day trial, but they will have to purchase a $10 pass if they want to continue to play online.

EA claims its all about offering its customers more, "This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community."

Ultimately, the slick move is likely designed to help it rake in bigger profits, though.  Many purchasers will likely pay the $10 fee to renew their online access.

Retailer GameStop is partnering with EA to implement the plan.  States GameStop Corp. Chief Executive Officer, Dan DeMatteo, "GameStop is excited to partner with such a forward-thinking publisher as Electronic Arts.  This relationship allows us to capitalize on our investments to market and sell downloadable content online, as well as through our network of stores worldwide."

GameStop recent landed itself in a bit of trouble when it was caught selling used games which it claimed they were new.  Hopefully it doesn't try that again, this time around.

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By Brandon Hill on 5/11/2010 9:35:47 AM , Rating: 5
My question is, once they sell the game ONCE, why should they feel entitled to any more profits from the game? Is $60 per new game not enough?

It's not like someone buying a used copy of Madden is going to increase their server load -- it's already been accounted for with the original purchase.

And remember, this ten dollar fee is in addition to the yearly Xbox Live charge that Xbox 360 users already pay.

RE: Why?
By Anoxanmore on 5/11/2010 9:45:14 AM , Rating: 2
They used one of my Princess Bride quotes, so they need to pay the settlement.


RE: Why?
By Abrahmm on 5/11/2010 9:48:17 AM , Rating: 5
I completely agree. While the BS public relations response about how this will help them deliver blah blah blah was expected, its easy to see through the smoke. Once the game is sold, it makes absolutely no difference on their end whether the original buyer or someone new is playing it. This is simply a ploy to milk more money out of their customers. It's a disturbing trend that helped push me away from the MMORPG genre too. If these companies think I will be shelling out more money for the same amount of product, they are greatly mistaken. There really hasn't been many great games lately as it is, charging more for them won't make me want them more.

RE: Why?
By mcnabney on 5/11/2010 9:49:32 AM , Rating: 5
What, you didn't think there would be any manipulative downside to console dominance?

RE: Why?
By JediJeb on 5/11/2010 9:50:08 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly! I guess next Ford and Toyota will be asking for cuts of the sales of used cars.

If you make something and sell it, then you should no longer have a say in what is done with it. If you want to keep control of it you rent or lease it, not sell it. If I rent a house I am limited as to what I can do to it, if I buy a house I can do what I want to it when I want.

Making a copy and selling that would be illegal, making a copy as a backup you keep control of should be acceptable, unless the software company wants to give you free or very low cost replacement media for life. That is the only control they should have over the product because of copyright, transferring the ownership in its entirety should be legal and unhindered.

RE: Why?
By kattanna on 5/11/2010 11:10:08 AM , Rating: 3
i was actually reading not too long back about some home builder groups that are actually going after people who bought their homes and then sold them for profit and now they want a % of that profit, and amazingly, it was even in their original sales contract they could do so.

RE: Why?
By JediJeb on 5/11/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why?
By omnicronx on 5/11/2010 4:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
Oh the irony..

it was even in their original sales contract they could do so

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 12:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see that story. At a guess, I would imagine it didn't cover ordinary buyers, but speculators would buy, then turn around and immediately try to resell for a profit, thus putting them into competition with the original seller's other units in the development. And at another guess, I'd imagine it would be justified by those first buyers being given a better sale price, on the grounds that it would help the sale of subsequent units if the development were already partially occupied.

RE: Why?
By monomer on 5/11/2010 12:40:44 PM , Rating: 2
I was actually just talking to a builder last week, and they now require their customers to sign a contract that they won't sell their house in the first year after ownership, otherwise the builder has the right to buy the house back at the original purchase price.

I don't really understand why they do this, though, since they make the same amount whether they sell a house to an investor, or to a family looking for a home.

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 12:47:24 PM , Rating: 2
See my post above for why.

RE: Why?
By gamerk2 on 5/11/2010 1:40:01 PM , Rating: 2
Because the people would then spin off the house they brought themselves, usually with a cheaper price but longer term, to make more money at a more attractive market price. This was happening all the time right before the bubble burst, and was squeezing new home sales.

RE: Why?
By Cullinaire on 5/12/2010 4:47:46 AM , Rating: 2
I had a similar contract when I bought about 3 years ago. Not only could I not sell the home within 1 yr of closing, but I could not rent it out either. I signed since I didn't plan on doing either, and it does make sense since rentals could drive down property values if too prevalent in a neighborhood (and it was a part of town where rentals are common).

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 10:22:19 AM , Rating: 2
It's not like someone buying a used copy of Madden is going to increase their server load -- it's already been accounted for with the original purchase
Come now, surely you see the fallacy in this. Their server load is *not* calculated on the basis that each and every player will continually play the game daily and forever, as often as they did when they first bought it. Selling the game to new users does increase the server load.

Personally, I think a $10 transfer fee is a bit steep, but the market sets the price, not us. If EA is charging too much, competitors will step in with better values. If they are charging too little, they'll lose money and stop offering the service.

RE: Why?
By Kurz on 5/11/2010 10:54:41 AM , Rating: 2
The Funny thing is its accepted that used games can play online for years. Now EA wants to start a new pricing mechanic.

Though you forget the popularity of playing the game online goes down with time. As more interesting/modern games come out, the amount of time spent on the older games goes down. So their server load continues to decrease even though people are buying the used game and playing it online.

From what I see in the market is that this seems like an excellent way to acquire another revenue stream. Still they'll see a decrease in Used game sales since you'll have to factor in the 10 dollar extra fee. I honestly don't think other competitors are going to go about this.

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 12:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
"Though you forget the popularity of playing the game online goes down with time"

Yes it does. But by definition, a person doesn't buy a used game unless he wants to play it. And a person usually doesn't sell a game unless he has little or no interest in continuing to play it. So the transaction itself works to counter that declining popularity.

Does it counter by ten bucks worth, though? Probably not.

RE: Why?
By Pneumothorax on 5/11/2010 11:27:05 AM , Rating: 4

Personally, I think a $10 transfer fee is a bit steep, but the market sets the price, not us. If EA is charging too much, competitors will step in with better values. If they are charging too little, they'll lose money and stop offering the service.

That's the problem. EA has a Monopoly on officially licensed sports games.. They've either driven out or sued the competition out of the business.

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 12:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
I've never played one of these games, but its my impression that the only difference between "officially licensed" sports games and their competitors is the names and images of the players and teams involved. In other words, cosmetic differences, not substantive ones dealing with gameplay.

Define any market narrow enough and you'll eventually wind up with a monopoly.

RE: Why?
By The0ne on 5/11/2010 1:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
When consumers buy the game because of the names and EA is, have actually, putting other companies out then it's a monopoly. When EA realizes this and purposely goes out to essentially eliminate the competition for these very names then it's a monopoly. I don't see how it can be any other way.

RE: Why?
By jeff834 on 5/11/2010 7:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
What competition? What other football games have come out in the last 2 years? Blitz? That's a completely different type of game. Frankly if someone else made a football game that was similar in gameplay to Madden but had made up players and names I would be happy to play it. This is just a ploy to get the less dumb people who would be happy with Madden 09 or Madden 10 to buy Madden 11 instead, perpetuating the ridiculous yearly game conveyor belt that is EA. This is very similar to what's going on with the PS3 recently. They used a software update to disable a feature that wasn't absolutely necessary but was used by a decent amount of people for no apparent reason. How can it be legal to remove or charge more for features that are listed on the box as included for free? Come on lawyers EA is a multibillion dollar company let's get going on a class action lawsuit here.

RE: Why?
By SeeManRun on 5/11/10, Rating: -1
RE: Why?
By quiksilvr on 5/11/2010 10:57:04 AM , Rating: 5
Come off it. The only reason they are doing this is so that people are discouraged to buy used games and go for the new one. The sad part: it will work for a minority of people, but that minority is JUST enough to keep this BS tactic in place.

RE: Why?
By MrBlastman on 5/11/2010 11:55:30 AM , Rating: 2
What is the point in paying 55.00 for a used game? Heck, even 45.00... There's no point. I know I won't nor have paid it. The most I will pay for an older game is 10 - 20 bucks and that is all. By your accounts, there must be quite a few suckers who are buying used games at absurd prices.

Then there is the premise of resale revenue, EA obviously wants a cut of it. The thing is, when you sell anything else secondhand, be it a car, knife, furniture, television etc., the manufacturer never sees a dime of the secondhand purchase. This is how buying and selling on the secondhand market works. What EA is doing is filthy and going against how the world works. When you sell something, you are not entitled to all transactions involving that one single item, in this case an individual game, in perpetuity.

EA needs to drop their primary game prices if they want to compete. If they drop them to a less sensitive level, they may actually see more firsthand sales revenue.

RE: Why?
By SeeManRun on 5/11/2010 12:30:24 PM , Rating: 2
Because when you normally buy a used good it is a used good. Think a car, a lawn mower, anything that is not a set of digital bits. Digital bits are exactly the same good as the new purchase. If your CD sounded worse on the second purchase, then there is a loss of quality associated with a used purchase, driving new sales. For games and digital media this does not exist, which is why the sale of used games approaches price for new games, it is the same good.

EA is just making the sale of used games depreciate like all other goods. I think you can do this with some cars now. Buy a used Toyota, give Toyota some money and they will give you a bit of a warranty.

RE: Why?
By JediJeb on 5/11/2010 12:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
Not entirely true. If the game is a year old, then it is not the new and exciting product of a year ago. Would you give the same price for Windows Vista, or Windows XP now that you would give for Windows7? They are exactly the same product they were when new. Games are really no different, especially online games since it becomes harder to find people to play online with than when the game is new. I purchased Star Wars Battlefront when it dropped to $15, but could only play it as single player since most of the servers had already shutdown by then.

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/2010 12:47:06 PM , Rating: 2
Faulty logic. It's still the exact same game, regardless of how your perception of it has changed.

In fact, there are (a few admittedly, but some) games that actually appreciate in value after they've been out of print a certain period ... a situation analogous to a antique piece of furniture or a painting by an old master.

Why should a game be any different? Most games exhaust their playability in a few days. If a game is good enough that it still has playability value years later, why shouldn't EA be able to collect a small surcharge to ensure you can still use its servers for it?

Personally, rather than a "transfer fee", I think a much more consistent option would be to simply sell the same with, say, one year of unlimited online time. Sell additional year's for a flat rate, whether you still have the game, or you've sold it to another person.

RE: Why?
By SeeManRun on 5/11/2010 12:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well said. As a sidebar to this, once the servers are sunset by EA and online play is no longer supported, the 10 dollar fee will cease to be a factor.

The problem may be buying Fifa 08 right now, having to pay 10 dollars to play online (which doesn't apply for Fifa 08 because it didn't have this feature, just using as an example) and then the servers are sunset in 30 days due to lack of users. That would be a bad deal for the consumer, that hopefully EA is addressing.

RE: Why?
By The0ne on 5/11/2010 1:47:27 PM , Rating: 4
lol no, what Porkpie said is poorly thought out.

If companies has the free will to charge for their goods that is now considered "used" all hell will break loose with other companies possibly following suit.

The REPLAY, not playability, value of the game does not give the company the right to go ahead and charge the consumer. Seriously, if this was the case the market would/could be manipulated so the product would do well, thus allowing them to charge. I can even go as far as saying the company can blankly state that above 50k copies sold the game is considered popular and they have the right to charge additional fees for the use of the game.

There are plenty of games out there that don't require any fee's to play on the company servers. How long has battlenet been going on for free? How long has Guildwars been going on?

If this was allowed, I would probably invest heavily in Nintendo and Sega :) Those damn pokemon gameboy games alone can make me rich.

RE: Why?
By porkpie on 5/11/10, Rating: 0
RE: Why?
By seamonkey79 on 5/11/2010 4:18:21 PM , Rating: 2 also has a World of Warcraft pimp keeping it up and running...

RE: Why?
By jeff834 on 5/11/2010 7:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
Do the sports games have dedicated servers? CoD and Halo use a matchmaking system but the multiplayer games are actually played on one of the player's 360 or PS3. I was under the impression that was the same for pretty much all console games nowadays, but I didn't bother looking it up so I'm not 100% on that. As for how long battlenet has been free it was not long before the used game market was big as a matter of fact the used game market has been at least somewhat big business since the early 90s. Granted back then you had options, since then Gamestop has purchased every single one of those options out from under you.

RE: Why?
By zxern on 5/11/2010 2:11:47 PM , Rating: 2
Would you be willing to pay an extra 10 dollars when you buy a used blu-ray movie just to use the bd-live features?

RE: Why?
By SeeManRun on 5/11/2010 3:33:12 PM , Rating: 2
For me that is a bad example. I don't buy anything used. And those blu-ray live add ons so far seem like gimmicks to me to make you shell out a large amount of money for what is essentially a nice DVD.

There is very little to compare the used game market to, because 99% of goods are self contained. If the blu-ray had to download new dynamic data off the server, and i felt it was a value, i might pay. But I would expect a discount if i didn't get that content when buying used.

RE: Why?
By BailoutBenny on 5/11/2010 4:29:49 PM , Rating: 4
Most games distributed over physical medium will lose value due to wear and tear on the media, regardless of the fact that the "bits" remain the same. Physical media deterioration actually does changes the "bits" anyway.

As for charging for the use of their servers, I'd have to say that the cost for using the server was included in the original sale. When ownership is transferred, the cost of using the server had already been covered by the original purchase. If the seller buys a new game, their new purchase pays for their renewed use of the server. If the seller doesn't buy another EA game, they can no longer log in, and the net load on the server hasn't increased. Support and lifespan aren't guaranteed, so maintaining the servers is a moot point anyway.

This is a move purely based on the desire to stifle the secondary market to make more first party sales. That is where all the profit lies for EA. Many people will look at Madden for $60 brand new, or Madden for $50 used but with a $10 activation fee and just buy it brand new. Besides, EA's lack of competition in licensed teams mean that they are the only company with "official" sports products, which will also make it easier for them to crush the secondary market.

RE: Why?
By sprockkets on 5/11/2010 5:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
Faulty logic. It's still the exact same game, regardless of how your perception of it has changed.

Human perception sets the value of all things. Where have you been?

Try getting $300 for a retail copy of Windows XP Pro, even when new on ebay.

RE: Why?
By Motoman on 5/11/2010 1:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
You're retarded.

This is about one thing - EA finding an underhanded way to make money of it's fans.

It's a surefire way to drive consumers away from their products.

RE: Why?
By Schrag4 on 5/11/2010 12:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
My question is, once they sell the game ONCE, why should they feel entitled to any more profits from the game? Is $60 per new game not enough?

They're not any more entitled to your 10 bucks than you are entitled to play on their servers.

I know I'm going to get flamed for saying this, but EA can charge whatever they want, and you can decide not to buy EA if you want. Nobody's forcing anyone to buy new OR used EA games.

RE: Why?
By Motoman on 5/11/2010 2:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
The first statement you made is what is in question. Whether or not a purchaser of a second-hand product actually has a reasonable expectation that said second-hand product will work as advertised.

Obviously, no one is forcing you to buy any particular game or use any particular game service. And I encourage anyone who is dismayed by this to write to EA and inform them that you will not be buying any NEW EA games because of this policy...and then you actually have to not buy new EA games.

But on the flipside, I think there's an important legal question to be answered here - whether or not EA can really do this. Interesting questions about property rights, rights of use, rights of resale, etc. This isn't cut-and-dried.

RE: Why?
By Schrag4 on 5/11/2010 3:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
But on the flipside, I think there's an important legal question to be answered here - whether or not EA can really do this.

I suppose if those purchasing used (or heck, even new) games and EA entered into some sort of contract that holds EA to provide their online services at no charge then there would be a legal question. However, I think maybe customers should just shift their expectations about what they should be entitled to (hint: it's less than something).

I suppose if EA customers (even second-hand ones) are entitled to online services then the government should step in and fund these servers. After all, EA could fail financially. What, then, of those entiteled customers? *rolls eyes*

RE: Why?
By Hiawa23 on 5/11/2010 1:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
If I actually bought many EA games, I would care about this. I don't like any of their sports games, other than NCAA FB, of which I just bought from Gamefly for $12, NCAA FB 10. I wouldn't pay $60 for their games but I do buy some from gamefly on the cheap. It's a tough economy & companies are trying to find ways to increase revenue wherever they can get it.

Seems greedy to me, as they get the 1st sale, but they want their cut from the 2nd 3rd 4th sale too. It's like Honda wanting a cut from your Civic that you just sold to your friend. I don't agree with what EA is going to do, but I understand why they would attempt this. It's like they say, when you become the big fish, or too big to fail, you piss on whomever you want, your userbase included.

RE: Why?
By satveeraj on 5/11/2010 9:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, then what about renting games from gamefly??? Will there be a convienience charge as well???

I bought something in good faith, its mine, I sell it to someone for a fraction, that person buys it in good faith, he/she has the right to it. Why more charges to feed the hungry giants?? I am sure EA is hoping traditional media becomes absolete quicker so they can shaft the whole gaming community with their version of DRM....blah blah

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