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