The game’s about to change for fans of the popular EA Sports titles. Starting in June with the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, EA will be rolling out Online Pass, a newly-announced system for accessing networked features of their top-selling athletic simulations.
Here’s how it’ll work: If you want to play online against friends, you’ll need to create an EA account, either in-game or at an official EA site. Then you’ll enter a unique code that comes with new copies of a game. If you’ve bought a pre-owned game, then you’ll need to shell out ten bucks to get a code that lets you access the multiplayer functionality or bonus features that will be available through Online Pass.
The strategy here is about the same as the Cereberus Network that launched with Mass Effect 2. Generally speaking, the Tiger Woods games do good sales numbers but the true test of Online Pass will be the annual August release of Madden NFL. Adding another layer of interface (and in some cases, another layer of cost) to what was once simpler and, yeah, free doesn’t seem like a good way to ensure brand loyalty to the EA Sports games. While it remains to be seen whether the implementation of Online Pass will be enough to drive sports gamers from, say, EA’s NBA Live games to 2K Sports’ NBA titles, you better believe there’ll be tons of grousing the minute any glitches or dysfunction come to light.