Electronic Arts may have ended its odious online pass policy, but GameStop still is on the hook. A US judge will allow a lawsuit to go forward with allegations GameStop didn't disclose the hidden cost of downloadable content. The plaintiff has also sued Subway for making 11-inch sandwiches and selling them as foot-longs.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a federal judge this week allowed the case to go forward. John Farley of Marlton, N.J., has a right to sue GameStop, according to the ruling, for not disclosing that used games purchased from the retailer had hidden costs in the form of online access passes or other downloadable content.
Farley, noted the Inquirer, also sued Subway earlier this year for making 11-inch sandwiches and calling them one foot long. Two other plaintiffs are part of the suit, but, interestingly, they bought EA Sports games that predated the label's "online pass" policy, which put online multiplayer and other features behind a one-use code. That was introduced with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in 2010. Electronic Arts earlier this year said it was doing away with online passes — all of them, not just for new games, but existing ones as well — saying it was heeding consumer feedback about the policy.
Online passes — which other publishers have employed (in sports, THQ introduced them first with UFC Undisputed 2010) — essentially give a publisher a cut from a used game sale. As a one-use code, the original owner of a game is assumed to use the one included with the game for free. When he resells it, anyone who buys that copy must then pay $US10 or $US15 — to the publisher, through an online service like Xbox Live — to access whatever features the code delivers. Farley's lawsuit contends this potential cost was not made apparent to used-games buyers.
Farley's complaint stemmed from his purchase of a used copy of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit in 2011, and his inability to access multiplayer racing without a pass. His lawyer, notes the Inquirer, also "specialises in class-action lawsuits."
Video Game Suit Can Proceed [Philadelphia Inquirer]