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EA Selling Cheat Codes Through Xbox Live Marketplace

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There's a lot of buzz on the Interwebs about EA's new plan to sell what essentially amounts to cheat codes and unlockables for points in games like Need for Speed Carbon.

The general reaction from the people seemed to have a kind of "curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal" vibe to it mixed with some apprehension that these cheat codes — everybody's favorite guilty secret — might be going the way of the dodo in the new console age.

For my part, I recognize that publishers would probably sneak a clause into the EULA allowing jack-booted thugs to rifle through your belongings if they thought few enough people would notice, and if such a thing were to occur, then EA would almost certainly be the first to give it a shot.

I suppose I see this as being somewhat parabolic, as cheat codes didn't always used to be free. In the era before GameFAQS, access to cheat codes were already regulated in a monetary fashion by funneling them through approved outlets like Nintendo Power or official strategy guides.

There wasn't any "rights management" in the sense that you could always just get the codes from someone else, but there was only so far the reliability of Billy Johnson from the third grade could go.

The rise of digital tubes and dump trucks basically ruined that fun and we've limped along on the assumption that information really DID want to be free, man, but the moment a unified microtransaction system was built into the platform it's not hard to imagine the eyes of nickel spinners across the industry glazing over like they'd just overdosed on candy.

I know, I know… I always feel sad when a piece of my optimistic idealism about forward progress dies, too.

This is probably something you're going to see around for a while. As much as folks love to bitch on the web, it seems unlikely to me that any significant number of people who were dying to play Carbon are going to drop that purchase in favor of something else.

It usually takes some seriously poor sales before anyone starts to wonder what should be done better next time, and even then I doubt there's many people left holding their breath waiting on EA to properly connect the dots to address their customers' needs.

It is, however, going to toss one more item on the pile of ill will that will eventually break their company's back. With any luck, that is.

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