Electronic Arts Now Charging $10 to Play Used Games Online

May 11, 2010 by

According to this article on Yahoo, Electronic Arts,  and largest video game manufacturer in the world and creator of the Madden football franchise, will begin to impose a surcharge of $10 to consumers of used games that want to play their game online.  This does not apply to the original purchaser.

video games, electronic arts $10 surcharge

Source: Businessweek.com

The manufacturers of video games have long held a deep resentment over the resale of used software.  Various attempts to cripple the usability of 2nd hand games have gone on for some time.  Companies like Electronic Arts have made it no secret that the fact that they receive no additional revenue from the resale of pre-played games from companies like Play-N-Trade and GameStop is a sore subject with them.  But this is the first time that I am aware of that a company had gone so far as to punish the purchaser of used games by way of a special surcharge.

The thing that bothers me about this is the fact that no one seems to remember that the software companies make tons of money off of the sale of new games.  According to vgchartz.com, the game Grand theft Auto IV has sold over 14 million copies between the XBOX 360 and the PS3 since its release two years ago.  At roughly $60 a copy, that’s $840,000,000 in sales for this one game*.  Even considering the fact that the game cost $50M to create, that’s still a shitload of profit.

*This figure is probably a little inflated, as games tend to decrease in price about nine months after their initial release.

The thing is, people sell used stuff all the time.  And, these are things that still function as if they were brand new.  They just don’t have all the bells and whistles of the latest model.  They sell for half of their initial retail price and everyone is happy.  This is true of cars, boats, planes, refrigerators, you name it.  Do you see GM or Toyota trying to impose a surcharge in order to drive that second hand vehicle you just purchased  over 60 mph?  No.  You know why?  It’s because they already made a helluva lot of money cash of the initial sale.

I am obviously not an attorney, but it seems to me that this type of practice would violate some sort of antitrust laws.  Electronic Arts is essentially crippling an important feature of the initial package and holding it for ransom.  They already got paid for it once, why should they make more profit just because the product changed hands?

Even though I have a PS3 myself, I am not much of a gamer.  I got it more for the BluRay player and streaming feature for Netflix than for anything else.  I have played games online from time to time, but I kept getting shot repeatedly in Battlefield 2 by some punk-ass 13 year old who was undoubtedly declaring to everyone listening how he was making me his bitch (I don’t have a headset for exactly this reason).  So I am content to play against the computer on the easy level, or against Lizzy, who I can still massacre at Goldeneye on the N64.

But if I were a gamer, I would seriously consider boycotting all Electronic Arts games until they repeal this fine.  I may be biased, but I haven’t bought a new game for a console in literally forever.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I paid $50 or more for a single new game.  But that’s beside the point.  The only way to get through to Electronic Arts is to hit them where it hurts the most, a hit to their bottom line is the only way to let them know for sure that they can’t treat their consumers this way; that there is ample competition and viable alternatives to their line of products.  Because if they don’t discontinue this policy, other game publishers are going to realize that gamers are willing to take the shaft and soon enough this will be a standard practice that will be impossible to remove.