back to article EA imposes used games tax

Well this is nice: a "reward" for owners of EA Sports games in the form of "online services, features and bonus content". To access this you need a registration code that comes with each unit sold new at retail. Secondhand buyers get a seven-day trial and then must pay $10 to get their own Online Pass. That's for Americans. …


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  1. Ned Leprosy

    And how surprised am I?

    Nothing EA does in its anti-consumer crusade surprises me any more. Surprised, no, just saddened that this sort of behaviour continues unabated.

    EA would have gone to the wall years ago, unmourned and unlamented, if it didn't buy up highly saleable companies like Bioware that actually worked for their reputation, which it then infects with its unhealthy attitudes.

    It seems to be the Kraft Foods of the games world.

  2. Ben Halstead

    Been happening for a while

    EA debuted this technique in Mass Effect 2 in January

  3. Ian Stephenson

    Crystal ball time,

    I foresee the trade in/second hand value of EA titles falling by $10 or however much the tax ends up as.

  4. Sampler


    They got the money from the original sale and now it's been resold it's not like the originally owner will still be on the network so where's the additional cost come from to justify the additional charge?

  5. Neil Brown

    A treat for players of "buzzword bingo"

    “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"

    Was this a public statement, or the output of a Web 2.0 catchphrase generator? Could he not just say "It's good for us, because we can sell stuff to a captive audience"?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    So, lets translate:

    “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,”

    What he really meant was "Most of our games contain about 3 hours playing time so when the droid has finished playing it and then decides to recoup some of the £50 they spent on it, we're going to shaft the new user as well.." Frankly i'm sick of this "bonus online content". It s another form of DRM, only it costs (more) money. It would be as easy to stick the "bonus content" on a sodding disk and bundle it with the game.


    Dare i say i'd like to stick the grenade up their collective arseholes, or will someone take me seriously and have me arrested...

  7. Basic

    How to waste a lot of energy saying nothing

    “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,”

  8. AllWalk

    Surely there is a legal issue here...

    If you buy a game and then your console dies (XBox Red Ring of Death styley) are you telling me that I will have to pay $10 to play MY game again!?!?!

    This is shockingly bad. Way to try and kill the 2nd hand games market for those who already struggle to pay full price.

    And isn't MY game, MY game - as in, don't I own it and therefore own the rights to play it and thus, should I not be afforded the right to be able to sell that?

    What a complete atrocity... trust the former M$oft chopper to come up with yet another way to screw gamers.

    1. Mr Brush

      Depends whether the online licence is tied to the box or the user.

      Either way they'll get extra $$$ for additional users.

      It does suck. However, at least they're trying to work with the 2nd hand games market rather than kill it off like Epic's 'exclusive' GoW2 map pack scheme.

  9. Dibbles

    Just another step

    I guess it's no particular surprise - the DRM on games like Crysis, GTA IV for PC and so on seemed designed to cripple the secondhand market rather than piracy (limited installs being the key one). Still, it smacks of pure greed and that they want to control all sales of their games, rather than having a transferable licence.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    No problem,

    Since I don't play or buy online oriented games. 'tis fine. EA are well known for turning off servers way earlier than the life of a product has expired.

    Also, I stopped buying EA games ages ago because of SecuROM, not that it effects consoles.

    I haven't missed them.

  11. Law

    So just pirate and play offline then?

    Not to worry EA.. You've just given me an additional reason to ban the wife from buying any more Sims and expansion packs . *high fives*


  12. Mark0
    Thumb Down

    Pure Greed.

    EA already did this with Battlefield Bad Company 2. You only get to access the "VIP" content if you have the code that came with the original disk. You can at least play the basic maps though.

    It does however, affect the rental market too - not just second hand. I use LoveFilm for my XBox games and it works out a lot cheaper than buying a game you will only ever play to completion once. If however this kind of VIP content becomes all to common, it's going to make renting games pretty pointless.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    No way

    Another company I'll not be buying product from. EA added to list, F**K em and UBI Soft too. They must congratulate themselves on pushing more people to the pirate versions.

  14. serviceWithASmile


    poor PC owners like myself have been victims of secondhand game nerfing for years, what with limited game activations and the practise of tying .. and now it's spread to consoles too?

    poor show, ea.

  15. Simon Buttress

    Let me guess.......

    1) it'll be a tenner here in Blighty

    2) eventually you'll have to pay the ten quid tax to actually play online.

    1. Ned Leprosy

      Creeping featurism

      I suspect you may well be right here. If I remember correctly, much the same thing happened with DLC; I may have some of the exact details wrong, but I seem to recall EA's position progressed something like this:

      1. Customers who sign up to our online services thus proving they have a legit copy will be rewarded with extra free content in addition to the game.

      2. Customers who sign up will gain access to the parts of the content we removed from the retail copy prior to release.

      3. Customers who sign up will be able to buy the content we removed from the game prior to its release.

      Of course the sales they settled on in version 3 of their "DLC vision" turned out to be very expensive for a given amount of content compared to the original normally-priced game and require the use of their proprietary non-refundable points-based system with its own exchange rate.

      Suddenly doesn't sound like such a great deal. Especially as the pirates can still get the lot for free.

  16. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Sounds fair enough to me.

    The sense of entitlement in this article is just stupid. The DVD or Blu-Ray *disk* is what the original buyer purchased, along with any other tangible assets.

    And that's also *all he gets to sell*.

    Access to online services and other ancillary benefits is entirely at the discretion of EA (or any other publisher). These services are provided as a bonus to the original purchaser of the game, but why the hell are they expected to provide used games customers—from whom they see not one penny—with said services for free?

    1. Red Bren
      Thumb Down

      Time for the obligatory car analogy

      "The sense of entitlement in this article is just stupid. The DVD or Blu-Ray *disk* is what the original buyer purchased, along with any other tangible assets."

      When I buy a game or any other product, damn right I have a sense of entitlement!

      How would you feel if you bought a brand new car that used fingerprint scanning to control entry and starting. A pretty useful security feature. But 3 years later you try trading it in for a new model and no one will touch it because the original manufacturer wants $$$ to reset the fingerprint locks. I suppose you could always sell your finger...

      "Access to online services and other ancillary benefits is entirely at the discretion of EA (or any other publisher). These services are provided as a bonus to the original purchaser of the game, but why the hell are they expected to provide used games customers—from whom they see not one penny—with said services for free?"

      Wrong, these services are provided to the owner of the game and are part and parcel of what was sold. As has been pointed out by another poster, the original owner can no longer access these services when they sell the game on so EA are not losing money. This is just another example of a greedy media industry trying to kill the second-hand market because they equate a second-hand sale as a "lost" direct sale. But if you're unwilling to pay for the brand-new game in the first place, not being able to buy it second hand just means you do without.

    2. Havin_it


      Why the hell should it matter? They make their money selling that disk, and the online access is part of what the customer pays for - "bonus" my arse, those resources cost them money too and you can't tell me that cost isn't a component of the purchase price, notionally.

      As far as I see it, they're selling the disk plus the provision of online access to one person for as long as convention/conscience/economics dictates (read: the shortest feasible time before they can unplug the server without being sued). First user sells it on? That's still one person using the services, it makes no difference to their costs.

      The only difference is someone else made a buck and they didn't get their vig off it. It's insulting to suggest it comes down to anything other than that.

      Jeez, get me wading into this mess - I can't even play Tetris ^^

    3. AGuyInEngland

      Lets just look at the argument

      "These services are provided as a bonus to the original purchaser of the game"

      Or, arguably, they are an integral part of the game that someone paid full retail price.

      "but why the hell are they expected to provide used games customers—from whom they see not one penny—with said services for free"

      For one game disk sold, only one person can play online at any point in time; therefore your (and EA's) justification is null and void. If your/their argument were true, EA could drop $10 from the price of every game, have a $10 "online fee" for every game (new or 2nd hand), and be no worse off. Odd that they're not doing that.

      Having said all that, I don't think it's unreasonable for games publishers to look to recoup money from the 2nd hand market somehow, as ultimately it hampers innovation and development in new gaming areas.

      1. TimNevins

        Just One Problem

        It means that they will deliberately reduce the DVD content and increase the online content so you get less value for money.

        So 90% goes on Disk and 10% online.

        Over time that will begin to fall to 80/20 and 70/30 etc since that model ensures better profit. However they will not adjust the price of the DVD downward.

        They may even end up with a Razor Blade/Console Model where they provide a DVD in name only and everything else is purchased online.

    4. Rattus Rattus

      re: "all he gets to sell"

      Bullshit. If that's the case, then EA can sell to me at a couple cents per game then, as that's all the disk costs. I know, I'll even pay a buck so they can make a several hundred percent profit on the disk.

      The online service and "ancillary benefits" are mostly things that once were part of the game as published. The big name companies have been trying to kill off the second hand games market for years, simply out of greed. Just as with DRM, the only things their efforts are getting them is loss of goodwill among their customers and the encouragement of piracy.

  17. Sir Runcible Spoon


    I don't think this is going to be a problem, EA games are shit anyway.

    1. Daniel B.

      Origin rocked

      ... and those might have been the only games from an EA subsidiary that I have bought and actually enjoyed. Unfortunately, Origin's dead, and EA now equates with mediocre sports games. Now they're pimping the second-hand games market as well, and I am reaffirmed in not buying EA games again.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Brutal Legend. Which is sad, I would've bought it had it not been published by EA.

  18. LuMan

    Utter tosh!

    “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,”

    What complete horsecrap! This is a collection of tarty buzzwords, strung together in such a way that it sounds like EA are committed to their customers. It's pitiful. EA obviously see their clientelle as walking pound and dollar signs. Why don't they just be honest and say, "This helps us screw every last penny out of whatever licence we push out - now THAT's efficiency!" At least they'll be behaving half-green. And what the fugg is 'robust' about their online community??

    Surely getting people online (without charge) and showing them what they CAN pay for is a better model. Play the default games or levels for no additional cost, or enhance the gameplay by splashing out for downloadable content (such as golf courses to play off-line, new clubs, new characters, new clothing, etc).

    I think EA are going a little too far with this....

  19. Alex 14

    I think you mean:

    "EA to charge for multiplayer on used games" OK, it's 3 more words but so much more accurate and so much less likely to enrage readers...No, no, don't thank me, I'm happy to help.

  20. Craigness

    'ere y'are EA

    EA are a bunch of c

    **to see the rest of this post please send $10**

  21. Parsifal

    Not unexpected

    This may be an unpopular move, but not unexpected, and if I'm honest i think its only fair.

    Whilst everyone sees the game companies (especially the large ones as evil empires) its the only way for them to generate revenue of popular games.

    Why ? more and more people are people are waiting for games to enter the used market and by them from places like Gamestop who make a large profit reselling used games, which means less and less new unit sales for the game producers.

    If people want to blame anyone blame Gamestop who could have sent a cut of the resale to the game manufacturers, but since they won't this is the only way some revenue can be generated for the producers of the games,

    So expect to see more of this type of revenue generation because it isn't going to go away.

    1. Craigness

      No loss

      Why should 2nd hand retailers pay anything to the original manufacturer? Only 1 person at a time gets to use the product, whether it's a bike, house, football or computer game, and the maker gets their full asking price. EA wants to abuse technology to break this natural order of things. There are people who buy 2nd hand games who may not want to spend the full whack on new games; there are people who buy new games only because they know they can get a certain amount from the resale market after playing the game for a few months; there are people who will buy new games at any price.

      EA's move changes the whole dynamic. What the $10 tax does is reduce the resale value by $10 (or possibly more because fewer will be sold and outfits like Gamestop need to maintain margins whereas their fixed costs will not fall), so the value of the new game in the eyes of a large section of EA's customer base will be about $10 less. EA won't cut the price to reflect this, so they will make fewer sales. Hopefully this will indeed make this unfair practice go away.

      I bet you'd feel different if the builder of your house required a Threshold License for everyone who ever wanted to enter it!

  22. Adam T

    They should try making better games... that people don't feel so eager to hand them back after a day of play.

    This is all about shelf life. The 2nd hand market is full of new games, where it used to be mostly old games. Whereas the common business model revolves around games having a shelf life of months, or at least weeks, rather than days.

    My wife brought home a copy of Heavy Rain two days after launch (a tenner off)...she don't know the difference between new and used, she just saw it on the way into the shop (and of course, the shop gives it the best eye-line over the new copies).

    EA and others are dinosaurs when it comes to business nous. They're being led by marketing rather than innovators.

    1. Rattus Rattus

      re: better games

      Agreed. I think in particular they ought to make games with significant replay value, so people don't complete them once then never play them again. Of course, it's part of their business model now not to make games that can be replayed over and over because if someone's still playing an older game they might not feel quite as much need to buy a new one.

      Heavy Rain is a good example of this. You play it through once, then where's the attraction in playing it again? The mystery is done, you've seen whodunnit and how the story plays out, nothing's really different on a second run through. So of course the obvious next step is to sell it on.

      A game like this could easily go through a dozen owners in a year, whereas games like (for example) Mirror's Edge or Bioshock you might be more likely to hang on to because even though you've seen where the story goes, it's still fun to play, trying out different techniques and routes.

      Oh, and STOP MAKING CONSOLE-ONLY GAMES YOU FUCKERS. A lot of your customers, me included, don't like consoles and won't buy a console, so you're automatically cutting out a big chunk of your potential sales.

  23. Red Bren

    What part of "Sale of Goods" can these heifers not understand?

    Once I've paid for the goods, they're mine to do with as I like, including reselling to someone else.

    With Sony willing to remove features from their consoles after purchase and EA trying to cripple or double dip on the pre-owned market, I'm going to stop playing console games before long.

  24. Steven Knox

    I'd complain...

    But EA haven't produced anything I'd want to play in well over a decade, anyway.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Losing track here

    Eventually I'm just going to have to stop playing games, we're running out of reasonable publishers.

  26. Will 28

    Far worse than that

    EA games on the PC require activiation to an email address - a one off. After this it is not possible to sell your game second hand. Bought C&C 4 on trust that they would keep the same kind of feel to the game. I now have a £30 drinks coaster.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Set up a hotmail address

      Set up a new hotmail address JUST for this game and supply that as well

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Rattus Rattus


      Are we paying for a product here or a service? Some friends tried to convince me to play World of Warcraft with them. I thought about it, then saw I'd have to buy the game, buy the expansions, and then pay Blizzard for the privilege of being able to play the game I had already (hypothetically) bought from them. So my next thought was "Fuck that." Instead I got into Eve Online where the game is free, the expansions are free, and a two week trial is free. If you like it and want to keep playing, then you pay the monthly fee and nothing else.

      Now that's how to run a subscription-based gaming service. Any publisher that tries to double dip is not getting any of my money at all.

  28. Wokstation

    I tend not to play 'em for more than a week online

    So for me the solution is to simply only buy 2nd hand copies.

    Thanks EA.

  29. Oscar

    TBH I think its a good thing...

    I don't see anyone defending EA. In fact I'm reticent to defend them. However when faced with the outrageous secondhand sales tactics of companies like gamestop (and many more over here in the UK) they have to do something or they go under.

    The problem is when shops take the piss as badly as they do by actively pushing secondhand sales over new sales (including trying to talk people out of buying new) with discounts of around a £1 over the full retail new copy something needs to be done. The companies pay a fraction for the games when taken to them, £10 for a game is not unusual, that they then pass back on to the consumer for up to £44!! How does THAT work? Thats some AMAZING profit right there!!

    Ya know what? ... while I'm slightly anti-EA's move I'm far happier to see these retailers taking a kicking for it.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Cheaper new often

      Cheaper to buy new quite often than second hand. My last two games were from supermarkets. Mid October, day off, day of game release, cheaper than Game or even the online retailers, it would be rude not to.

      As to game play my penultimate purchase above, 30 hours single player campaign and 5 1/2 days online multiplayer so far. I want that platinum. Other games I have spent a few minutes playing and thought - what a waste of time.

      As to duff games, the PS3 tends to not get many of these, most of the games are pretty good and some are brilliant.

      <---- It is a MK-NDI

  30. b166er


    EA?, I remember them. Apparently not so much 'in the game' as in the bank.

  31. Richard Scratcher

    "...accelerate our commitment to enhance..."

    Get me a bucket! I think I'm going to puke.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Actually Bang on EA

    Games cost a fortune to create and publishers and designers alike are being squeezed all the time for margin as retailers want games released at the 29.99 which once used to be at the 39.99 mark and the retailer has lost no mark up there, only the publisher. BTW the game's EULA carries a proviso that you, as the original purchaser of the game, do not have the right to resell said game.

    I work in the industry and I can asure you we are not making mega bucks out of games and reselling only reduces our potential investment in newer games - not all of us make the kind of money EA do. I know what you are going to say, I sound like the film industry, but honestly unlike them, this does have an affect on future independent game production.

    ANON cause walls have ears.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Game quality

      We do really need games which you will want to play and play again, then your children play.

      There are so many games out there with no lasting play that people will just sell after a week or so rather than still play 6 months down the line.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Actually bang on EA

      For the record, EA and Ubisoft are 1st and 2nd on my list of publishers that I will never buy from again.

      The games industry is fucked, it's as simple as that really. Once a company HAS to make it so hard and un-friendly to use their product, then they don't have a viable product anymore.

      I don't have the answers, but it sure as hell ain't DRM and locking the customer into buying crap, saving their games, ranking up and gaining acheivements online (trophies and acheivements are the worst thing to happen to gaming since DRM itself). Those kind of "features" are transparant, unnecessary bullshit.

    3. TimNevins

      Execpt that..

      ...I'm not sure if you would tolerate this in all purchases where the Original Manufacturer claims poverty.

      Buying a used house? - Pay a slice to the builder that put it together 30 years ago (Plus the builder who did the extension, the plumber who put new pipes in, the electrician who put the new front light in etc).

      Buying a used car? - Dont forget to pay a slice to Ford/GM who built it in the first place. And to the 2nd owner who put in AirCon and Alloys.

      Got a new job thanks to a relevant Degree you got twenty years ago? Dont forget to donate a slice of your salary to the Uni/Poly that helped you get that degree.

      See where this is going?

    4. Oz


      Is that the EULA that is inside the box, so you can't read it until you've opened the packaging? I think the European Courts may have a thing or two to say on the validity of them...

      (hand grenade, cos this is gaming after all!)

      1. Law
        Paris Hilton

        RE: Except that..

        "Got a new job thanks to a relevant Degree you got twenty years ago? Dont forget to donate a slice of your salary to the Uni/Poly that helped you get that degree."

        It sounded outrageous when I first read it, but then I realised I already do this, monthly, via my student loan payments... to the tune of over £100 a month... it's a life long tax for attending uni, because coming from a poorer background I had to take a larger loan than my friends did to survive, I also had to work during all of it too which they didn't... I am basically paying it until 65 as I barely cover the interest anyway, and have no spare salary to pay more off than the minimum.

        Can't complain too much about it though... I had a choice, nobody forced me to go... just like I have the choice not to "loan" games from EA from now on.. :)

  33. Jeremy 2


    Surely this violates the first-sale doctorine? A product as bought can be sold by the purchaser free of restriction from the copyright holder. The code numer is presumably considered a physical part of the product that was bought (it's on a card inside the box) and so presumably EA must allow it to be transferred without interference?

    EA can't get out of the law simply by asking Gamestop nicely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      RE: Lawsuit

      I read your post and it had me thinking....

      The bit of paper with the code on is re-sellable for it's value of 0.00000000001p

      The code itself is a one-time-use consumable like a can of coke.

      At least, I think that's their take on it.

      Anyway, I can't be arsed with all this bullshit, I'll not be buying anything from EA again. No matter how good it's hyped up to be.

  34. Anonymous Coward


    They really need to die. Between the DRM they're shoving down people's throat, torturing their own developers with impossible schedules (Spore was to be much more than just a bunch of minigames tied together) and now this, well, I'm surprised that development houses would even let them publish their games.

    It's kinda sad really. I would've bought Spore had they not destroyed the development of the game and shove DRMs down people's throat, and I would've bought Brutal Legends had it not been published by EA.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    EA suck, always have done.

    EA buy up good stuff and then churn out crap stuff for money. Mass effect 2, Medal of honour airborne (Anyone get more than four hours of play from that?) Battlefield 2 & BF2142, C&C4 - even their beta testers went on u tube to say how crap it was.

    So EA are losing money not because of second hand but because they are shit. I have never played an EA sports game and people like Bioware and Westwood studios once bought by EA rapidly drop off the list of decent game makers. (Mass Effect 3 will be the unknown man making a human reaper, it is that predictable.)

    Shame but greed knows no limits. I don't download, I tend to buy but I wait six months till the price drops, and don't resell. But I use a PC and they are usually £20 cheaper than consoles, I pity idiots that buy consoles as you have to pay full or go second hand.

    Anon beacuse some people I know almost mate with their xbox 360's, they love them that much and I called them iodiots for paying nearly £40 a game and £35 a year for the pleasure of playing on line in the form of gold membership.

    1. Galidron

      They do in the US

      I'm guessing you aren't living in the US. Here in the US the price drops for most console games pretty quickly. The very popular titles stay at full price longer, but I've only purchased one or two games at full price for the PS3. For most of them I have not spent over $30.

  36. fLaMePrOoF


    Don't buy second hand software (including games) unless any necesary license keys are included, in many cases this is the actual 'product' anyway, not the media...

    Most people wouldn't dream of buying an official second hand copy of Windows or Office without a license key, why should games be any different?

  37. Aidan Samuel

    Might reduce piracy no?

    Might be the primary goal of this...

  38. Tristan Young

    EA can kiss my a$$

    Yeah, you read that right.

    I flat-our refuse to buy EA games that are crippled, contain restrictive DRM, etc.

    If they want to do business with me, they need to kiss my ass, not the other way around.

    Screw you EA!

  39. Anonymous Coward

    This is an important inflection point

    I thought you said infection point....

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