In May, THQ put UFC Undisputed 2010's online access behind a one-use code, included free in retail copies or $US5 sold online. The same now goes for WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, and the code's price raises to $US10.
Though EA Sports was the first to announce its Online Pass, THQ was the first sports publisher to put something like it into effect. More or less, it gets their fingers into the used-games revenue pie; someone who buys a used copy whose code has already been cashed in must pay to enjoy online multiplayer or say no thanks to those features.
THQ's $US5 price for the UFC code was half of what EA Sports has been charging for its online access in titles like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, NCAA Football 11 and Madden NFL 11. THQ was criticised for how it communicated news of the one-use code and handled its implementation, but it seems to have learned from those mistakes. Smackdown vs Raw 2011 releases on October 26.
As for what these codes have done to the resale market for annualised sports titles, the answer seems to be not much. Michael Pachter, the analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, wrote in a report on GameStop following its latest quarterly filings that the one-use codes have done little to the retailer's bottom line. GameStop says that only 25 per cent of its used-game buyers are interested in online multiplayer.
THQ Implementing Single-Use Code With Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 [Industry Gamers]