I think the fear of it being online only stems not so much because that function, but that EA has been known to rule servers with an iron fist, closing servers far too soon after the game's release, especially if they feel the game hasn't been successful, severely limiting the game's lifespan. We've seen them close game servers as soon as 2-1 years later. So, perhaps because of that history, the idea that it's online only is sending warning signals to everybody, and why there's so much backlash to the idea. The idea itself is fundamentally sound, and I think that under a different publisher that has more respect for servers and letting communities be, that there wouldn't be such a backlash.
It's a trend that's going to only become more prevalent, and I'm surprised that there hasn't been more of a push for it, but the signals EA sends to their communities by being skittish with their servers doesn't sound very healthy in the longterm for the viability of their products.