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EA begins dumping Online Pass due to customer unrest

Electronic Arts has confirmed that it will disable Online Pass, a one-time key that the company required to access online content within certain games.

The system was mainly put in place for those who purchased used games. In many cases, the original buyer had used the online pass code that came with the game, so EA would require the second owner to buy access to that online content if they wanted it. This didn't sit too well with gamers, though, prompting EA to end the programme.

"We listened to the feedback from players, and decided to do away with Online Pass," EA said in an FAQ. "We hope that eliminating Online Pass will allow more people to play and enjoy EA games for a long time to come."

Going forward, new EA titles won't include Online Pass, and the company said it is in the process of eliminating the Online Pass requirement for existing games, which will take several weeks. EA Sports will be the first game to have Online Pass disabled.

"For some games, the prompt to enter an Online Pass code will no longer appear; for others, you will still need to download and install an Online Pass, but they will be available free of charge from the Xbox Live Marketplace or PlayStation Store," EA said.

Reports about the demise of Online Pass first emerged several weeks ago. The system is already in place for titles like Battlefield 3, Dead Space 2 and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Other publishers like Activision, Sony, and Ubisoft have also implemented a similar online pass system.

EA has had a rough few months, capped in April with the title of "Worst Company in America," for the second consecutive year. The game maker made headlines in March with its botched SimCity return, before suffering through two rounds of staff layoffs last month. But recently, EA revealed plans to invest in a Los Angeles studio for its DICE team, in an effort to compete more effectively with rival Activision.