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Sony 'PSN Pass' To Restrict Used Online Access In Some First-Party Titles
Sony 'PSN Pass' To Restrict Used Online Access In Some First-Party Titles
July 6, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

July 6, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
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    26 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Sony will include a "PSN Pass" code needed to activate "full online access" in new copies of some first-party titles, starting with September's release of Resistance 3, the company announced today.

The company didn't offer details on how used and rental players would access online features in these titles, but did clarify that first-party use of the passes will be decided on a game-by-game basis.

"This is an important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio," Sony said in a statement issued shortly after rumors of the program began leaking in the media.

The effort mirrors similar programs implemented by publishers such as EA and THQ, which require used and rental game players to pay an extra fee for online features or content in certain games. Publishers do not generate any revenues directly from the sale of secondhand games.

Andrew House, former SCE Europe president and now head of Sony's PlayStation business, said last August that the company was "broadly supportive" of such efforts to lock online content for used purchasers, and that the company was "exploring actively the same option for our own content."

SCEA SVP of publisher relations Rob Dyer made similar statements in a Gamasutra interview last May, calling the lack of direct revenue from the secondhand market "very frustrating."

"I am a big believer in encouraging the gamer to have a reason to hold onto [a game] and to continue to play, and for the publisher to be able to see something if there is a second sale," Dyer said, "because right now, for years, as a publisher, we saw nothing [from used sales]."


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Comments


Darcy Nelson
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Wait 'til the automakers (or insert other goods-producing industry here) figure out a way to make this model work for them. That'll be the day.

james sadler
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Those automakers already have. They call it a service department and specialty tools. Basically most newer cars can't be worked on at home, or even at some auto shops, but need to be brought into a dealer to be services because they need a special tool of some sort. My 06 mustang's spark plugs have a breaking point within 1 psi of the torque rating, so unless you get a special tool from ford, which costs about a grand and a 9 month waiting list, one will almost surely break a spark plug or two in the engine. Fixing this requires removing the cylinder head. There are other things too I've had to deal with on other newer vehicles.

Darcy Nelson
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Specialty tools, augh! Insert wailing and gnashing of teeth here. I found my '06 Eclipse to be surprisingly home-mechanic friendly, by contrast, but I can definitely understand your point here. Sigh.

Darcy Nelson
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Also, that was not an analogy, it was a hypothetical.

Tim Agnew
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Poor analogy. How about telling a movie theater that you bought a ticket to one of their shows therefore you should be able to resell your ticket to others who can then use it to see another showing of the same movie.

E Zachary Knight
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Another poor analogy. When purchasing a theatre ticket you are purchasing a single viewing.



Buying a game is more akin to buying a DVD. These online passes would be like selling the DVD but only allowing the new buyers to watch the last 10 minutes without paying extra.

Todd Boyd
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Why not use this in a more positive fashion and just require used purchasers to spend $1-5 in order to activate a new PSN Pass for the game? How much blood do they really need to get from this stone, anyhow? I *seriously* doubt they are truly "losing" any money from used game purchases to begin with... it's just another profitable space they want to muscle their way into without regard for ethics, decency, or the expectations of the market in question.

Darcy Nelson
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Agreed.

brandon sheffield
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I really hope someone can come up with an excellent analogy for this.

E Zachary Knight
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Here is my problem with things like this an other online passes.



They are charging used buyers for primary content rather than premium content.



I have no problem with developers charging game buyers for premium content such as levels, weapons, clothes etc etc etc. What I do have a problem with is developers charging extra for what is normally the primary content.



What I mean by primary content is multiplayer. All the games that have these online passes are primarily bought for the multiplayer aspect. Very few people buy them solely for the single player portion. If you are charging some people extra for what they would normally get as part of the standard package, you have a problem.



I know people are tired of car analogies, but I am going to give one anyway. Back in the early days of cassette radio, cassette players in cars were a premium and you paid an extra few hundred dollars to get one installed. After a few years, cassette players became a standard fixture in cars. Later on, we had the same situation with CD players. Now you would be hard pressed to find a new car without a built in CD player. However, the factory default stereos are not the greatest and people still pay a premium to get an even better stereo installed in their cars.



What I am getting at, is that multiplayer has become the factory default CD player of games. Gamers expect to have online multiplayer by default, whether they are buying new or used. So instead of trying to revert back to days when standard multiplayer is a premium, game developers need to start creating a premium service on top of the standard multiplayer. This way everyone has multiplayer, but only certain players, those who pay the premium, will have that extra content.



Those are my two cents.

Eric Geer
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'Em some shiny pennies!!



In other news. I agree.

Alan Rimkeit
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+100 Ephriam.

Eric Kwan
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I can see it working out for some games but not others. Uncharted, Dead Space...what do they really lose without multiplayer? Not a whole lot. Meanwhile, take multiplayer away from Modern Warfare, and there goes 90% of what you want to play.



I agree that the principle is dumb, though.

sean lindskog
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This is an issue people get very upset about, which makes absolutely no sense to me.



The publishers design a product.

The publishers pick a price.

If you like it, buy it.

If you don't, skip it.



No need for righteous anger because you disagree with what their product is. The publishers can design their product in any way they want, and charge what they want. Talking angrily about how publishers are just trying to "maximize profits" is ridiculous. All businesses, and especially big corporations, try to make more profit, and the publishers aren't doing anything evil here.



All these analogies are a waste of time. The product is what the publishers say it is, and that's it. They're the ones making the product, so they get to decide how its sold. Not you, or me. We get to decide whether to buy it or not.

Jose Talbott
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@sean lindskog



amen

Alex Leighton
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That's right, it's a free market, people can charge what they want, and consumers need to vote with their wallet more, instead of just bitching on the internet but then buying the product in question anyways.



The way I tend to feel about this, is that if a game is worth buying at all it should be worth buying new, and worth keeping because it's good enough that you'll want to play it again and again. When a publisher starts trying to attack the used market in this way, they might as well just slap a big sticker on the front saying "New for 2011, less replay value!" It's sort of like how politicians feel the need to belittle the other guys because they know they can't win on their own merits, and I think most people can read between the lines.

sean lindskog
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@ Alex

> "f a game is worth buying at all it should be worth buying new, and worth keeping"

> they might as well just slap a big sticker on the front saying "New for 2011, less replay value!"



Hi Alex,

I see what you're saying, but I don't agree. Some types games are inherently less replayable. Especially plot driven ones, like say one of those CSI style games where you solve a murder. Or a point-and-click puzzle style game. That kind of game isn't going to have the same replayability as a strategy or fighting game. So I don't think a game with less replayability is necessarily a bad game, or one that deserves to sell less new copies than an extremely replayable game.

Jose Talbott
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In the near future games 99% of games will be sold through a digital marketplace and the problem(2nd hand market) will be solved, you'll either have to adapt or stop playing games. The kids get it the only the few old timer will bitch about the good old day's.



can't wait...



Got to CheapAssGamer.Com It always helps me find ways to buy new games on the cheap

Alan Rimkeit
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You keep telling yourself all that BS. Gamestop is proof positive that the younger gaming crown LOVES buying and trading in used games. Just the "old timers"? Yeah right. LOL.

Alan Rimkeit
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I guess I am not playing Sony games on-line that take this "PSN Pass". I will not register the game, play only single player, and then sell it on EBay.



"I am a big believer in encouraging the gamer to have a reason to hold onto [a game] and to continue to play, and for the publisher to be able to see something if there is a second sale," Dyer said, "because right now, for years, as a publisher, we saw nothing [from used sales]."



Piss off Dryer. In so many ways I cannot even begin to say in logical terms.

gren ideer
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I don't see this as a big problem. If you buy the game new, it costs the same and you get the same. If you buy the game used, it should be cheaper in the store than it is without this type of pass, and you pay for the online service and it should cost you about the same. In fact, if you are a used game buyer that does not want to play the online content, then you will likely be able pocket the difference and not opt to buy the online service. If you are a shareholder for GameStop, then well, I see the reason to complain, because the only loss is on their end.



I get that there are some small annoyances like entering a code or having a borrowed game not have full functionality. But people need to understand that someone is paying for server hosting and net traffic and having the publisher recoup that investment makes sense. A resold game is extending the life of support and service that the publisher needs to invest in the product, ie. it is costing them money.



Bottom line, gamers won't have to pay extra money because of this pass, so I don't see the problem.

Andrew Witt
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How about they sell the single player and multiplayer components of a game separately. The reason I no longer buy console games new is because I don't feel like paying $60 when all I am intersted in is the single player, I could really stand to do without the multiplayer and be able to pay less for just the single player component.



But I'm sure most publishers would not find that to be a financially acceptable alternative.

David Clair
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I think that moves like this and EA's etc. really expose a bigger problem in the industry, which is the cost of game development and the various publishers/developers unable to adust their internal structures and practices to the changing game market (Think recoup of development cost etc.).



So companies are looking wherever they can to tap additional revenue streams to help off set these rising costs... instead of looking at their business practices themselves and perhaps making internal changes.



Unlike the movie industry that has multiple reveue possibilities for a product (inital theatre ticket sales, DVD/Blue ray sales, TV network release deals, Re-relase special addtions, product tie ins etc.) The Video game industry only has very few and a few that are genere specific, Initial sale, DLC sale, and possible monthly fee (for MMO).



But anyways enough of my rambling.. back to the PSN Pass issue..



I guess i fail to understand how any company can say that used games sales are eating into new game sales.. when In order for their to be used product in the general maketplace (a) Your game has to have been bought new at some point and (b) that "new" game is resold by the inital buyer.



This mind set would also assume that a used game buyer would have bought a new game had the used game not been an option.... to me that is a very big assumtion



Used games do not grow on trees or magically appear on gamestops shelves, someone bought the game new and for what ever reason decided to sell it...



It would be wiser for the industry to try and figure out why people are selling games at such a high rate, instead of trying to hinder the used market.



just some thoughts

gren ideer
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David I think you are making some assertions without thinking them through.



"I think that moves like this and EA's etc. really expose a bigger problem in the industry, which is the cost of game development and the various publishers/developers unable to adust their internal structures and practices to the changing game market"



You are calling a pricing structure adjustment a failure to adjust to the changing game market. Note: Sony and EA *are* adjusting - people are just complaining about it.



"Unlike the movie industry that has multiple reveue possibilities..."



This point was true several years ago but I think it is clear that video games are on the cutting edge of media revenue possibilities (free-to-play, microtransactions). Movies meanwhile are quickly finding dvd sales coming out closer to the box office date to combat piracy and a new on-demand consumer mindset.



"This mind set would also assume that a used game buyer would have bought a new game had the used game not been an option.... to me that is a very big assumtion"



It is certainly not true in all cases but I can not tell you how many times I have been to Gamestop buying a new game and the guy at the counter suggested I buy the used copy for 5 dollars less. If you do not see this as a direct loss to the publisher and developer then I don't know what else can convince you.



Once again I would like to remind everyone, this isn't about publishers versus consumers, it is about publishers versus Gamestop.

Marcus Miller
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I am soooo sick of hearing this whining from the game publishers. If publishers are so annoyed about not being paid then they should issue an activation code with every game. The publishers could set up restrictions to stop people from playing a game with a previously used activation code useless they pay a fee.

Gabriel Kabik
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Dude, did you even read the article? That's exactly what this is.


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