Eurogamer has confirmed earlier speculation that Sony will be instituting the PSN Pass, starting with Resistance 3. An acquired picture of the German boxart of Resistance 3 had surfaced, showing that online features would only be given to PSN Pass holders, building speculation that Sony would be instituting the scheme that companies such as Electronic Arts, Codemasters, Warner and THQ have used to monetize the second-hand market.
Sony confirmed the earlier Eurogamer report, stating that the program would be game-specific. They also stated that it is an “important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio.”
Sony has instituted the online pass scheme on some of their past games. Their release for SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 came with a registration code that cost $20 to purchase from the PlayStation Store. In an interview with IGN, Sony’s John Koller stated that the measure was meant to curb piracy. (Editor’s note: I reviewed SOCOM: FTB 3, and soon after, issued a strongly worded editorial about the online pass scheme)
Analysis: The used market is dying.
That’s really all there is to it: the used market is dying. AAA games are almost all going with an online pass scheme that makes used games virtually worthless because modern games all shove some sort of online capability down your throat whether it’s necessary or not. Eventually, all AAA releases – even the yearly ones (I expect MLB ’12: The Show to feature the PSN pass, just like every other AAA Sony release like Uncharted 3, any future God of War titles, etc.) – will feature an online pass, and due to the costs associated with boxed retail, AA and A releases will be done digitally, which cannot be traded in or sold off by design.
I think this will hurt the games industry. Discretionary spending on luxuries like video games are finite, and if gamers can’t massage some of those costs by using trade-ins, they will simply buy fewer games. Executives of these larger companies don’t give a rat’s ass about the larger industry. They will play lip service about what is “good for the industry”, but they’re basically taking a gamble that people will buy their game instead of anyone else’s, and if a system like this makes them $1m at the cost of $10m around the industry, that’s fine with them. Basically, they’re like any other thug saying “as long as I get mine”.
Every big release is either going to carry a scheme like this, or be heavily reliant on an online component that prioritizes additional purchases (like Activision’s Call of Duty games). It’s a bad time to be a cost-conscious consumer, but really, we have the people who buy every new game on day of release to thank for this nonsense. Their lack of discretion has made them a highly valuable commodity.
One last thing: why am I the only person mentioning that Sony’s been doing this for a long time? Is it because no one played Fireteam Bravo 3, or because everyone’s just riding Eurogamer’s report and not fact checking?