Top game publisher won't say if it will embrace Microsoft's option to ban used games

In an interview with Polygon, Electronic Arts, Inc.'s (EA) chief operating officer Peter Moore the executive opened up somewhat about his company's controversial DRM efforts, while dodging other questions on the issue.

From 2010 to 2013 EA had embraced a controversial form of digital rights management (DRM) dubbed "Online Pass".  Consumers received a code that allowed them to access online content, while used game purchasers were locked out of add-on content.  The feature was killed off this month amid EA's financial struggles; rumor had it that the program was losing money.

Mr. Moore, claims the decision was not financially motivated but rather was made out of EA's deep compassion for customers.  He comments, "Online Pass was more trouble to the consumer than it was worth. It was a mistake. The consumer's feedback was that this thing gets in the way of a good experience so let's get rid of it."

Peter Moore
Peter Moore, EA COO [Image Source: Polygon]

He hints at more DRM may be on the horizon though, via Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT"always-on" Xbox One.  He remarks, "[O]ur official position is, 'I'll get back to you'. Sony have announced what they are going to do which is, y'know, business as usual, and then Microsoft are looking at allowing a publisher to opt-in, should they choose to do so. But if we opt in, do [Microsoft] charge a fee, and if so, how much?"

But he denies allegations that Microsoft's new anti-consumer policy was the result of EA lobbying.  He states, "I can tell you that EA did not aggressively lobby for the platform holders to put some gating function in there to allow or disallow used games. I am on record as being a proponent of used games. I like the ecosystem. I like the fact that it's kept pricing at a good level for eight years. I like the fact that someone can buy a physical game and see some equity in that game. That keeps GameStop vibrant and they are a great launch and marketing partner for us."

Xbox One
EA's COO claims his company didn't ask Microsoft for more DRM.

"EA has never had a conversation, and I have been present at all of them, with all of the manufacturers, saying you must put a system in place that allows us to take a piece of the action or even stop it. Absolutely incorrect."

The sort of good news for gamers is that should EA "opt-in" to Microsoft's DRM used game lockout, it may still be compelled to avoid extreme DRM on Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) PlayStation 4.  Sony does allow used game lockouts, but unlike Microsoft it does not offer game publishers the tools to do it, leaving them to their own devices.  That raises the costs of implementing such a scheme, and as EA's Online Pass scuttling shows, may ultimately mean the fiscal infeasibility of such a program.

Source: Polygon

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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