Confirmed: First-party Sony games getting online pass system. Also confirmed: There is no point moaning about it

It was rumoured yesterday, but having been in touch with Sony myself, I can confirm it today. First-party and second-hand are going to be a little less cozy from now on, as far as the PS3 is concerned. Starting with Resistance 3, Sony is rolling out its own PSN Pass system, mimicking EA and Warner Bros. online pass equivalents. Buy a copy of the game new, get a code to play online. Buy it second-hand, don't get a code, head over to the PS Store to buy one. No word yet on how much additional PSN Passes will be.

What I do have though, is a full statement from Sony 'explaining' the decision in that delightfully non-explaining way that only corporate vague-speak can. You'll also find a quick run down of why I don't think this is a big deal at all.

Sayeth Sony:

"We are always evaluating new programs for our online offering, and starting with Resistance 3 this September, we will be instituting a network pass program for PS3 games with online capabilities. This program will be game-specific. Games that are a part of this program will include a single-use registration code that grants the account holder redeeming the code full online access for that title. This is an important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio"

Hmmm, that last sentence is interesting. "Accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio". We're definitely going to see more of this then. In fact we may well see online monetisation in other areas too. Are premium Sony equivalents of Activision's Call of Duty Elite on the way, for example? Who knows, but it's certainly a possibility given that particular wording above. And it's understandable too. The PSN has been running free since the PS3's launch, barring recent optional PSN Plus subscriptions, and the downtime caused by the hacking debacle has cost Sony one hell of a lot of money, both in lost profits and repair costs. It has to make efforts to recoup that somewhere.

And you know what? I'm fine with that. Basically, developers need to be paid. And while it's entirely your right to buy a game a as cheap as you can get it, the size of the pre-owned market means that a lot of developers aren't getting paid what they ordinarily would be. And yes, that goes even if they're in the pocket of a mighty first-party publisher. The fact is, those first-party publishers need to be able to keep funding the sort of projects you want. Sony in particular is probably the best first-party around right now in terms of the eclecticism and riskiness of its product investments, so you won't find me begrudging the funding of its portfolio.

Also, if you shop around online, you can usually find new discs going for the same or less than the high street second-hand price anyway, so financially the online pass system isn't half the burden on the consumer that a lot bemoan it as, if we're being realistic.

But what do you reckon? Are you okay with this, or is it a sign of the final, money-driven apocalypse of publisher greed?

July 07, 2011




  • ruskii - July 9, 2011 1:54 a.m.

    Great... Just got cornered into buying EA's low-life online pass to do any kind of online play whatsoever with my used copy of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Wasn't shouting from the rooftops in anticipation of Resistance 3 in the first place, so this news is pretty much the last nail in the coffin for my purchase of this game. Tough cookies Sony.
  • Dondada - July 8, 2011 9:41 p.m.

    Not a fan of this and never will be even if it becomes accepted by the masses like DLC/unfinished games has. I rent 90% of the games I play because 90% aren't worth buying.
  • celticwhisper - July 8, 2011 1:06 p.m.

    I agree, there's no point moaning about it. I'll just refuse to buy instead. Money talks; moaning doesn't. No way in hell will I ever buy into a blatant money-grab like this.
  • bodeyprovansal - July 8, 2011 12:24 a.m.

    wait a sec, I'm probably missing something but I don't buy any of my games and only rent them from Gamefly, am i screwed?
  • TR4rulez - July 8, 2011 12:09 a.m.

    I really don't have a problem with this, however I do believe that if this the route that developers are going to take, that trophies/achievements should no longer include those that require playing on-line.
  • NanoElite666 - July 7, 2011 7:15 p.m.

    While I do buy used occasionally due to not really having a lot of disposable income at the current time, I do try to buy new as often as I can because I do believe in supporting the companies that are responsible for making and releasing the games I play. The whole Online Pass concept doesn't really bother me much, and in fact it recently dissuaded me from picking up a used copy of Dead Space 2. As neat as it would have been to get that game for $35, I know EA's online passes are something like $10, and as mentioned in the article I could probably find a new copy for somewhere around that price range if I shop around a bit.
  • MySistersMenstruationTastesFunny - July 7, 2011 7 p.m.

    @MattOfSteel They're also not supporting servers and networking solutions.
  • TheNobleRobot - July 7, 2011 6:38 p.m.

    I generally agree with the writer's unconcerned attitude about this trend, but what *really* upsets me is that it's being marketed as a "feature" that "accelerate[s] our commitment to enhancing premium online services." If this is a truly necessary thing to keep developers and publishers solvent, fine, but they way it's presented, hiding it's true purpose from the user, justifiably gives people the willies.
  • Roentgen - July 7, 2011 6:14 p.m.

    I'm all for developers getting paid for their work. So with that said, I would support this, IF they would go back to actually giving us all the content at launch instead of the now accepted norm that they can withhold parts of the game and then make us pay an extra 10$ for them in DLC on day one. This has become too rampant in today's market. If they want us to buy the full priced new game, they should at least be willing to give us the full game instead of 80% of the game. There's quite a large number of examples of this but one that really sticks in my mind is Assassin's Creed 2 where 3 missions were entirely missing from the game and had to be bought via DLC, unless you choose to pay extra for them at launch and get the 120$ premium edition. This nonsense needs to stop if they want people to move toward accepting paying yet another charge just to be able to play video games. God, do I miss Odyssey II and Genesis right about now.
  • FoxdenRacing - July 7, 2011 5:40 p.m.

    @BlackElement: Companies are welcome to earn money. They're not entitled to it by fiat of being a company. @rabidpotatochip: You're a dev? Kudos, man. I'm all for buying a quality game, and I believe you hit on something very important: Respect goes both ways. Treat your customers like dirt, and they'll eventually stop coming back. Gaming existed for ~30 years before the current troubles started. There's no reason it couldn't still, if the past half decade's unprecedented levels of selfishness and greed were removed from the equation and replaced with good, long-term business sense. I'm not so blinded by loyalty that I'm unwilling to call a spade a spade, but I'm also not so jaded to believe that it's past the point of no return. It's just going to mean things that almost all parties involved aren't going to want to hear.
  • Yeager1122 - July 7, 2011 5:34 p.m.

    Since theres only like 3 ps3 games worth playing the multiplayer for this really doesnt bother me.
  • Defguru7777 - July 7, 2011 5:26 p.m.

    I realize developers need money, but I really don't think this is the way they should be going about it. I don't like it.
  • BlackElement17 - July 7, 2011 4:59 p.m.

    Companies need to make money.
  • rabidpotatochip - July 7, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    You know what I'd rather see? Publishers just taking donations, the same way a lot of open source software operates. "Hey, we see you bought this game used and would really appreciate it if you donated a few bucks to the people who made it to show them your appreciation and motivate us to make more games like this." Or something like that. At least then it wouldn't come across as a cash grab. I'm all for respecting (read: paying) developers, I make a good bit of my living off software, but that respect has to go both ways. What I'm trying to say is that there has to be some way for everyone to meet in the middle, I just haven't figured it out yet.
  • FoxdenRacing - July 7, 2011 4:30 p.m.

    As a side note, all the 'boiling frog technique' posts..."It's not that much worse than it was last time, so it's ok"...sadden me. You can't throw a frog into boiling water, it'll jump out. But start with warm water, use steady heat to bring the water to a boil, and the frog will die because it's not going to realize how hot it's gotten until it's too late.
  • TheIronMaiden - July 7, 2011 4:24 p.m.

    O well any game I play online I will be buying new anyway. I usually dont even play online : P
  • FoxdenRacing - July 7, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    This just further cements that I won't be returning to the PS brand anytime soon; I'll stick to my PS1/PS2 if I need that fix. While we sit here and argue with each other over whose 'fault' current industry trends are, those perpetrating the trends are laughing all the way to the bank. They're turning us against one another as a distraction for the things being snuck under our noses. What it comes down to at the end of the day is that the current business model for gaming is broken and unsustainable. The boat's taking on water, but instead of plugging the holes they're using buckets and blaming us that their feet are getting all squishy and prune-shaped. Gross take isn't going up nearly as fast as development costs a factor of X vs X^2, bare minimum...and if they haven't crossed yet, they will in the near future. Publishers know it. But rather than adapt and be done, they'd rather throw a new band-aid on every quarter or every other quarter. They'd rather blame their customers. They're happy to blame anyone they can, so long as the finger's pointed somewhere else. And that doesn't just go for Sony. That goes for every publisher implementing passes, every publisher 'partnering' with an 'approved dedicated server vendor' rather than letting us set up our own (PC specific), every publisher insisting we're suddenly too stupid to work mod tools, every publisher that views micropayments as the silver bullet to cure all their woes, every publisher treating DLC as a way to raise the MSRP without changing the sticker on the box, and every publisher trying to fix their problems by pouring more fuel on the fire. We need to get out of this attitude that whatever sleazy acts they want to engage in are ok because it's gaming and we like games. Sleaze is sleaze, regardless of our fondness for what the sleaze is being spread on.
  • HitAandBtoRun - July 7, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    I'm just glad that these measures are only coming in now that I'm an adult who can afford new games. Without pre-owned games teenage me would have had to do something crazy. Like play outside.
  • jackthemenace - July 7, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    As long as it's quite cheap,I guess I'm fine with that, since I don't play multiplayer much. But, that said, It would seem easier to make it a subscription service, like Xbox Live. Maybe PSN Plus subscribers would have the added benefit of not needing to buy the passes?
  • TheDigitalG - July 7, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    But @jaico, didn't they already get the money from the person who bought it new? Either way you look at it, at the very most, they'll only get the amount of people who bought the game playing online (not accounting for piraters).

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