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Resistance 3 Screwed By PSN Pass, Uncharted 3 Next?

Resistance 3 Screwed By PSN Pass, Uncharted 3 Next?

By now, you may have heard the news. PSN Pass is official. From September, specifically beginning with Resistance 3, Sony will now provide codes in the box to unlock the online side of all the games they publish. If you don’t have the code because you bought the game second hand, like the gaming peasant you are, then you have to fork out another £10 for an online pass.

It was stupid when THQ did it.

It was stupid when EA did it.

It’s still stupid now Sony has decided to get in on the action.

From the publisher’s perspective, it’s a move to clamp down on second-hand sales. Whenever you buy a game second hand, all the money you pay goes to the shop, not back to the publisher. Publishers see those shops cashing in on their games and they get upset because they want a piece of the cash pie. Okay. Sure. Fair enough.

It’s worth mentioning that Sony aren’t the only ones pulling this move and likely won’t be the last. Even so, there are two… actually no, three things that are really annoying about this move.

1) It’s the laziest solution. Sony is trying to figure out how to stop second-hand sales where they miss out on the profit. That’s their motive with the introduction of PSN Pass.

There’s already the growing and equally annoying trend of reserving weapons, character skins, levels, maps and other such nonsense for people who pre-order games. Then there’s DLC, which is profit regardless of where the game was bought from in the first place. So there are already some measures in place to ensure the coffers are kept ticking over despite those dastardly second-hand games sucking up all the money.

Plus the argument of stores getting all the profit from second-hand games conveniently ignores the fact that someone had to buy the bloody thing in the first place.

Instead of publishers looking at ways to convince those buying second-hand to purchase new, why not ask why people buy second-hand in the first place. It’ll come down to the one thing publishers aren’t willing to change – price. So it’s a real shame that publishers would rather try and push the market around with online restrictions and passes rather than trying something braver like changing the price.

Then again, some PS3 games appear to cost £57.99 these days. Sigh.

2) It sends out the wrong message. Regardless of how it’s spun or played out, there’s no getting away from the fact that this creates a weird class divide in gaming. Not that Sony are chilling out in their ivory towers firing arrows at the peasants below but this ties in with the above problem – publishers need to look at why people buy second-hand games rather than punishing them.

It creates a weird us versus them divide that isn’t helped when corporate droids are wheeled out to spew messages such as “This is an important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio.”, hoping you’re so DAZZLED by their brilliant corporate speak, you don’t pay attention to what’s actually being said.

So to directly translate what they’re saying: “this important step will speed up our ability to making online services better.”

Horseshit.

It will do nothing of the sort. Ask 100 gamers how many believe that online services will be improved by this online pass and you’ll have 100 saying no. Have THQ’s online services been any better since then? Or EA’s?

PSN Pass is a draconian attempt to stop second-hand sales, so at the very least, be honest and say as much. By hiding behind the veil of corporate speak, you’re creating even more distrust and anger than you were setting up online restrictions to begin with.

3) It will kill Resistance 3. You may think that’s an exaggeration but there’s the perfect case study for this: Homefront.

The online pass did no favours for Homefront’s multiplayer, which quickly faded away after release. Anyone who wanted to play Homefront was asked to cough up the cash for a full price game or buy a second-hand copy with the added cost of an online pass.

It was a stupid move on THQ’s part given that Homefront was a new IP and therefore needed all the help it could get. Instead, THQ decided to cut access to the online modes for all bar owners of a fresh copy. “Ahhh but we let you play until you hit level 10!” they might say, in their defence. At which point almost everyone gave up, despite quite enjoying the experience.

The question changes when an online pass comes into the equation, after all. It’s no longer ‘do I want to play this online’ (which publishers may think) but ‘do I want to pay £10 to keep playing this online’ (which is what actually happens). The answer to the first question is often yes. The answer to the second question is often no.

And it was an even stupider move for Homefront because the single-player campaign was only five hours long and not particularly good, so who the hell wants to pay full price for that anyway?

That’s the problem with the online pass. Publishers who employ that tactic are relying on their single player to draw players in. What if it’s no good? Then you have a game that will struggle, thanks to the way second-hand sales are discouraged.

Hopefully Resistance 3 can avoid a similar fate. Hopefully the single player will be good enough to draw players in. Hopefully the multiplayer will be strong enough and spread via word of mouth to overcome such concerns. But that’s a lot of hope for a game that hasn’t been drawing an awful lot of buzz thus far.

What Of Other Games?

This won’t be one-off treatment for Resistance 3, as Sony is planning to use PSN Pass for all the games it’s publishing. THQ has slowly nudged its games into online pass territory. EA initially said online pass would only be used for its sports games but we’re now seeing it in the likes of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.

What else is Sony publishing that has an online mode? Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Uh oh. You’d think that Naughty Dog could have pull of its own here, and ask Sony to go ahead without PSN Pass. But then this is Sony’s biggest game of the year, so would it really want to risk losing out via second-hand sales again?

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception should sell well enough that this is a moot point anyway and its multiplayer fate lives and dies by its quality rather than decisions of the bean counters who want more money rolling into the Sony coffers.




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  • Geoman37

    I think it’s fair enough just banning a couple of small features maybe like in game chat and a few guns and maps but banning the whole online experience? In the end they might end up losing more money as people are not going to buy map packs if the just spent around the same amount of money just to play the game online. I know I wouldn’t. Also just do the same thing as with hacking the ps3. Sue any one that sells a game without giving a set sum to the developers.

  • Sid

    I always feared Sony would do this. You see, I’m an all pre-owned buyer, ALL! So now, everytime I buy a Sony game pre-owned, I’m going to have to pay out £10 extra. I am horrified by Sony’s choices, and you bet it going to affect how many games I buy from them!

    Sony, your really starting to drive me up the wall. First, PSN outage, and now THIS!

  • Garan

    Insomniac responded to the complaints. Saying the pass is “free” if you buy new and that once used,the pass is constant and there will be no monthly fee. We all new that. We know thats not what we’re complaining and they know it.

    They go on to whine about how not buying Resistance 3 will only hurt them and not Sony.

    So they give us a “tip toe around the real matter response” and then try and play a guilt card.

    We need to stop this shit. Like Ryan stated in the article Uncharted 3’s probably next if we don’t do something. It will go further,the next Killzone,what about Twisted Metal? Thats around the corner.

    I don’t buy second hand so I’m not really effected. However its the principle. They will start taking more liberties if we don’t “cut off the head of the snake”.

  • Joey

    I buy about 2 thirds of my games second hand to save a few pennies but most times it’s older games you wouldn’t find new anymore.
    That’s really a kick in the arse for people who’d want to get games they didn’t get around to buying last year, say LBP2 now (example)
    This is the most bollocky move Sony have pulled in a while. Typical rich get richer, poor get poorer scenario.Dressed up as PS Pass, it’s really a Fuck You Skint Guy Who Can’t Afford New Games Because They’re Hideously Over-Priced.

  • I don’t play games online, so I think I’ll deliberately start buying second hand games just so THQ/EA/Sony don’t get a cut of my cash.

    I wonder how long this will go on before someone starts a court case. Imagine a car manufacturer saying if you sell your car, the new owner needs to buy an unlock code for the immobiliser….

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  • quinbolas

    This might send a lot of people down the JB lane…
    Cash on that, Sony !

  • This CAN NOT be seen as a bad thing – the only people this should bother is the second hand retailer.

    Unfortunately the second hand retailer has decided to dig their heels in and do nothing about it. The idea is that theyre FORCED to charge £10 less for the game second hand as the customer will have to shell that out to buy the pass – and give that share of the game to the publisher.

    I popped into CEX today and spotted Resistance 3 (which I got new) for £38 – now you could walk up the road and get it new for £37.99 from Sainsbury’s but thats beside the point. This SELFISH second hand retailer still want their huge chunk of profit and anyone unaware of the PSN pass system will pay £38 for the game from there and then need to shell out another £10….

    THAT is a shame – but thats the retailer – not Sony

  • Ian Dransfield

    I know for a fact why CEX charges more than new for games – because they assume people will want to trade in games for new releases, rather than pay money like you would elsewhere. Hence while it is sold for more than RRP or whatever, it’s not actually aimed at the cashmoney crowd.

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