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EA axes Online Pass program

Online Pass was required for anyone who bought a game second-hand if they wanted to access online features.

In what may be an attempt to score some points with its customer base, Electronic Arts is killing its Online Pass program.

An EA spokesperson confirmed the end of the program Wednesday in an email to Venture Beat.

None of EA's new titles will include Online Pass, noted EA senior director for corporate communication John Reseburg.

Never a favorite of gamers since its 2011 launch, Online Pass was a way for EA to grab some additional revenues for its games in the second-hand market. Gamers who bought a game second-hand had to participate in Online Pass to unlock that offering's online features. If a gamer bought a game new, they could play online for free.

In recent weeks, EA has taken its share of public relations hits, including a disastrous rollout of SimCity, one of the company's top brands. EA also was named Worst Company in America by Consumerist, the second consecutive year EA's "won" that title. Given those headlines, anything EA can do to make life easier for its customer base could be could be part of push to gain a little goodwill.

Similar services to Online Pass are still offered by rivals like Activision and Ubisoft. So scrapping that program and promising offline play for the next SimCity offering may seem like small moves, but they're the type that will garner bouquets rather than brickbats.

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