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Vita locks users' trophies to game cards... but not quite as stringently as it first appears

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The problem with consoles coming out in Japan first is that, importers aside, a lot of user reports are mis-translated and then reported as fact in the Western world. And so it's been with PlayStation Vita games, where it appeared that Trophies were linked to retail cartridges to the extent that you couldn't earn trophies on a different user account if you played the game on another machine.

Turns out that's only partly true. You do get greeted with a big warning screen when you try to play someone else's pre-played game, but it's not as scary as it looks. In order to earn Trophies in a pre-owned Vita game, all you need to do is delete ALL of its data, thus making it factory fresh once more. To be honest, that's the first thing we do anyway when we buy a pre-owned game. Would anyone want to continue someone's half-finished story mode on Uncharted? Of course not. 

Above: Big scary message is scary. But it's not so bad really...

So this is a non-story? Not quite. It highlights a very possible restriction that Sony could enforce in the future - flicking a switch to turn off the 'delete data' option in new games should the pre-owned market become too big a problem. That would surely be a fair but strict method of reducing sales of pre-owned games. PS gamers do love their trophies...

Source: Twitter

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14 comments

  • Scuffles - December 21, 2011 8:23 a.m.

    Wait wait wait, I'm confused. I thought the Vita required a memory card to save game data at all. It sounded very much like the games themselves would not have any capacity to save data on the carts. And that the Vita could not handle multiple PSN accounts what so ever without essentially formatting back to factory. So if the games save no data (all goes to proprietary card) and the Vita can't handle more than one PSN account .... how then *eye twitch* Why ..... *DOES NOT COMPUTE*... wouldn't they just save trophy data to the proprietary memory *continued eye twitching* card that is required for actual game save data.
  • paul212 - December 21, 2011 8:57 a.m.

    Don't think to hard about it, you'll hurt yourself.
  • Sheriff Bullock - December 27, 2011 3:29 p.m.

    Uh oh. He's stuck in a logic loop.
  • Mooshon - December 21, 2011 7:07 a.m.

    That functionality seems fair enough. To be honest though I'm still undecided how far I really want to see publishers fight the used game market in the future. The initial games that use the (relatively fair) 'online pass' method are already setting a bit of a precedent. I'd really hate to see it develop on to actual game content, features or achievements being denied to those that bought a preowned game - but we're definitely heading that way. Any attempt to truly stamp on people wanting to trade in/sell-on an item they have legitimately bought feels quite wrong to me, and can only inevitably lead down the road of rampant piracy.
  • Burdmayn - December 21, 2011 7:15 a.m.

    I'm against publishers fighting used games if they're restricting game content from me, but trophies and achievements aren't integral to gameplay. They have become a sort mainstay in games today but by no means should they be considered mandatory. I think removing them from a used game is the least offensive way a company can fight used game sales. New or Used you would still be getting the same game. If someone can't enjoy a title without having cheese dangled over their head I think it's time for them to question exactly why they're playing the game. I'm extremely in support of this idea, it's the other things developers have come up with that scare me.
  • Mooshon - December 21, 2011 8:46 a.m.

    aye, you're right. People should be 'encouraged' rather than forced into buying from new. Quite a thin line though but buying second hand isn't piracy and shouldn't be treated as such. In my mind the publishers seem to be doing the correct thing as it is; bringing the price down to roughly half price over a couple of months, making the price against preowned pretty negligible - perfect! Arguably this wouldn't have happened if the market competition wasn't there. It's fantastic that I can pick up every one of the amazing November release at half price in December. At full price I'd either have only bought a couple or waited 6 months and maybe forgotten about them. Competitive pricing definitely drives sales rather than hinders them.
  • keltar93 - December 21, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    I think Bad Company 2 and Mass Effect 2 handled it best- if you bought the game new, you got additional content. They weren't punishing used buyers by withholding content, but rewarding new buyers with supplementary content. All the Bad Company 2 map add-ons were free, and Mass Effect 2 players got a new party member & quest along with some miscellaneous side missions.
  • FoxdenRacing - December 21, 2011 noon

    We'll probably end up agreeing to disagree in some places (namely, I think online passes are a shortsighted load of bullocks and do nothing to address the actual issue, only existing to cash in on it), but thank you for being thought-out rather than reactionary. My main issue with cracking down on the people that buy used games is that it's addressing a symptom, and leaving the disease alone. It's giving aspirin for a broken leg. They're punishing customers for the actions of parasitic retailers, then wondering why we buy less. They're punishing customers for what should be a giant red flag that something is seriously wrong with budgets and the (asking price / value) balance, then wondering why we buy less. Biting the hand that feeds is a very bad way to get more food, yet every major release window, they're biting harder and harder. Exposure is the #1 way to get future sales. The less people playing your current games, the less people that will be there when current players move on. The less people playing your games, the less their kids will want to play those games. The less people excited about your games, the less buzz it generates; the less buzz it generates, the less word of mouth sales. Online passes, gouge-fest DLC, always-online DRM, every one of these cocked-up, harebrained schemes is catering to making a few bucks in the here and now, at the expense of tomorrow. THQ's feeling the pain. Ubi's not far behind. Activision won't notice until it runs its remaining cash cows into the ground [just as they have every other...see Guitar Hero] and then will be in a world of hurt. EA's sheer size has insulated it thus far, but can't forever. While the more customer-friendly companies like Atlus and 2K might be smaller, they're still thriving even in the worst economy in over 50 years. Not to mention the long-term ramifications of locking gamers out of the past. What if I were to buy 2011's Game3: The Epic finale*, and want to know what happened in 2006's Game1: Please buy this* and 2009's Game2: Score, we can afford a sequel*? They're not going to be available for sale that long after. That doesn't hurt the company at all...if anything, it has the potential to take me from interested to fan, and make them more money when Game4: Milking the Cash Cow* comes out. A good case study is me and Skyrim; a friend gave me the copy of Oblivion he was done with. I bought Skyrim's collector's edition, I enjoyed the previous game so much and looked forward to the sequel. That's a lot of money Bethesda didn't have, and wouldn't have gotten had they chosen to punish me when I popped that game in. Playing Borderlands at a friend's house led to 4 other copies as my entire circle bought copies, and 6 total copies of every expansion pack being sold...money 2K wouldn't have gotten had they not had splitscreen or included a system that said 'pay up or sod off'. Exposure is king. Telling an entire audience 'No! Mine! You can't touch it!' hurts exposure. Or for that matter, what about little Billy that will get a shiny new PS3 for Christmas this weekend...should he be punished for not being there on day 1? Reducing gaming to 'You had to be there, or you miss out' is going to come back and bite the industry hard. It's very easy to vilify anyone that may be viewed as hurting something we love, but piracy and used are far more nuanced issues than they appear on the surface. Why are they being sold back...is it because games are too expensive? It it because rentals are hard to find anymore? Is it because there's no reason to keep a given game after the 4 hour campaign is over? There's a lot to think about, and it only gets worse the deeper you go...doubly so once you get to your fear: pushing legitimate customers too far and turning them away from the company, from gaming entirely...or into pirates. *Subtitles chosen purely for humor value, and are no way intended as commentary.
  • beemoh - December 21, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    The problem with many points that run counter to online passes and similar things regarding the games industry's relationship with used games (apart from the reactionaryism and the distortion that puts on the narrative as a whole) is that they all assume that, should the used market disappear (or shrink to the point of irrelevance) that nothing else in all of gaming will change, which is obviously incorrect. To use your 'locking people out of the past' example ("Game1: Please Buy This", etc) if an amount of the used market went away, then the retailer isn't going to leave the shelves empty and deal with less money. They are going to fill that space and replace that income with *something*. Yes, some of that is going to be merch and gift cards for Farmville. But some of it is going to be games that otherwise would never have made it to retail, and some of it is going to be keeping old games on for longer- a lesser used market around the time of "The Epic Finale" creates space for the "Please buy this"/"Score, we can afford a sequel" box set at a low price- a product that cannot exist in the current retail market, at least not on console for the simple reason that retailers wouldn't buy any in, preferring to wait for used copies to eventually float in. Case in point: there is little or no used market in PC gaming. Yet, in my local branch of GAME, the PC section is as big as any other single format. Unlike all the other formats, which are split up 40% new games, 60% used, the PC section is split 50% up-to-date big-name AAA titles at full price, and 25% budget re-releases (Sold Out, Xplosiv etc) of the sort of games that used to be big-name AAA usually at 3 for £20, and 25% quirky niche and casual titles that can't or don't compete directly with the bigger boys. If you're worried about having to be there or missing out, then this current situation where all the new sales are made in week one before the used market supplants it is something we need to get away from.
  • Sheriff Bullock - December 27, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    To piggyback on your statement (if you hadn't been able to borrow Oblivion, you wouldn't have bought Skyrim) my gamerfriends and I were trying to talk another guy into buying DIRT 3. He doesn't like racing games, but we were having so much fun in the multiplayer that we wanted him to give it a shot. So he rented it for a few days, but found he couldn't get online without a $10 online pass. Long story, short: he didn't buy DIRT 3 because he couldn't give the online a test drive (pun intended). I'm also leery of purchasing games with online passes. What if I buy Battlefield 3 (example) for $60, enter the online code, and discover I hate the multiplayer? Now my copy is instantly devalued $10 in the after market. Better not buy the game at all, or at least wait until it's deeply discounted. Just another scenario in which the online pass bites the publisher, angers the customer, and screws the retail store that makes most of its money off used game sales...
  • FriedBeans - December 21, 2011 6:59 a.m.

    I am glad they did this. It would make trophies worthless if you could just buy a game with a 100% complete and then get all the trophies. The PS3 is similar in that you can't use other people's saves. It is annoying that you have to delete all the data but I am OK with that. I assume you can save to a memory stick if needed.
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - December 21, 2011 6:37 a.m.

    that's ok for used games, but what about a game i borrow from a friend
  • Burdmayn - December 21, 2011 6:42 a.m.

    Either delete their data or you get no trophies, plain and simple. If you're borrowing a game from a friend shouldn't you be grateful just to play it at all? Complaining that you can't earn imaginary awards in a game you didn't pay for seems kind of ridiculous, you're still getting to play the game.
  • Burdmayn - December 21, 2011 6:34 a.m.

    I actually feel like this is a good way to prevent used sales, surely I'm not the only one? Even if they do remove the option to get around it in the future, trophies aren't exactly integral to the gameplay. If gamers start complaining that Sony is "going too far" by not dangling cheese over their head if they play a game used, I'll be a bit disgusted. This is quite possibly the least offensive way they could prevent used sales in my opinion. Partly because it will only matter to trophy whores (like myself) anyway.

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