The online pass, love it or loathe it is here to stay. Introduced by EA as part of project ten-dollar. The scheme includes a one use code with all new copies of a game, that either unlocks extra content or extra functionality in the game. This pass can then be sold at a premium to those who didn’t purchase a new copy, i.e. People who rent or purchase 2nd hand games and to a lesser extent those who pirate. The aim of the project is to try and recoup some of the money that is “lost” when a new game is not purchased.
The latest game with this pass is the return of EA’s Snowboarding classic SSX. However the SSX online pass is slighty different to those that have preceded it, rather than restrict access to certain parts of the game it restricts access to the rewards from online play.
Detailed on GameInformer, the gamers who do not have an online pass will not be able to collect any in-game credits that are awarded for good performance in the online mode. Gamers will be able to earn the credits but they will be held in limbo until an online pass is purchased at which point the gamer can cash out and claim what he/she has earned.
As online passes go it’s not a bad model for the gamer, unless the credits earned online are significantly higher than those awarded offline (For example if the credit system is tiered in such a way that online play is worth x times offline) then in theory a gamer can unlock all content offline and then play online without worrying about those unclaimed credits.