EA, Microsoft seek redemption
Electronic Arts (EA) and Microsoft are seemingly seeking warmer sentiments from consumers, with Microsoft announcing it is discontinuing its Xbox LIVE points system, and EA deciding not to continue with its 'Online Pass' system, announcing its exclusion from future releases.
Microsoft's point system for its Xbox platform allowed users to convert money into points in order to purchase smaller content bundles for games, DLC and standalone content.
However, the intervals in pricing meant users would often be left with a uselessly small amount of points after a purchase. With the lowest price starting at $5 for 800 points, users would then have the same situation repeat itself.
Microsoft has been regarded negatively for years, despite being the world's most popular operating system. The same can be said for EA, which until very recently was the largest games publisher in the industry (recently surpassed by Activision).
EA's online pass system, which restricted online features of a game to the device it was first used on, required additional devices to pay extra (to combat second-hand owners), and was incredibly poorly received. However, the method did net EA between $10 million and $15 million.
"Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn't respond to the format," said John Reseburg, corporate communications senior director at EA. "We've listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward."
Consumers view both companies as having a 'profiteering' approach to their products, attempting to extract as much money as possible through poorly regarded methods, such as the recently made redundant Xbox LIVE points system.
EA and Microsoft have both been steadfast supporters of 'always-online' digital rights management (requiring a constant Internet connection to work properly) measures to protect against piracy.
This was an incredibly unpopular move with consumers, who see the move as punishing legitimate owners in the attempt to stop piracy (pirates have repeatedly demonstrated they can work around such copy protection, using a wide variety of workarounds, including hosting a virtual server to trick the game into working).
Both announcements come in the build-up to E3, perhaps seeking to drive interest and attention towards the companies and their respective releases.
As EA combats Activision's increasing market share, Microsoft and Sony are locking heads over their upcoming console releases.