Sony exploring Online Pass equivalent - Report

Company's European president says it is "exploring actively" a way to monetize secondhand game purchases.

Last week Red Faction publisher THQ announced that it would bundle access to online play with new copies of WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 and charge secondhand users a fee for online admission. The move is seen as an effort to make buying games new more attractive than buying them used (a sale that puts no money in the publisher's pocket). Today, Sony voiced its interest in adopting that model.

Sony looking into the used-game market.

In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Sony's European president, Andrew House, said the company supports publisher initiatives to monetize the secondhand game market through charging for online play. These initiatives were spearheaded by EA Sports with its Online Pass, a onetime use redemption key that comes bundled with new copies of its sports games.

"On the principle of making online portions of the game available or unlocked from the disc-based release for a fee, we're broadly supportive of that," said House. "And we're exploring actively the same option for our own content."

Previously, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick suggested that monetization of online console games could extend to a subscription service for the company's flagship Call of Duty franchise. However, House said Sony would "struggle" with that type of profiteering method.

"In terms of just a charge for basic online play, that's something that we have to talk about a lot more and we struggle with a little bit because we feel very vindicated and base a lot of the success of PSN today--a 70 percent connection rate across consoles--on the fact that we've removed that major initial barrier to entry."

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

358 comments
micko999
micko999

free playstation downloads

Simple_malk
Simple_malk

Honestly there is almost no difference in a company selling a used game as there is someone DLing it off the internet without paying for it. If you can't see that then you're blind. Sure that copy can only be used 1 at a time but in theory it could be traded/sold many times. Those companies trading are making money off another person's intellectual property. It's wrong for me to DL a game that's 6 hrs long but most people are fine with selling used movies and games that you'd probably only play once anyways. This is hypocritical but I don't think the government should be involved in either. "Illegal" DLing and trading is a result of over saturation of the market and overpricing. Gaming is starting to suffer more and more from this as they become more and more monopolistic like the movie and music industry. Hint 90% of people will buy your product if it's affordable and easy to obtain. Stuff like Steam is saving PC gaming as we speak. Movie, music, and all gaming has to wake up to and push towards making their products more affordable or GTFO because tax payers shouldn't have to pay the government to protect the interests of people who are for the most part just greedy.

JoePiervincenti
JoePiervincenti

@Jim_the_Drunk that may be true, but doesn't change the fact that it's an easy way around for consumers. Even though a dev/pub isn't technically LOSING money because you buy a pre-owned game, it still is a sale that they get nothing for. It's money that they could make. But there's nothing that will ever change about that, so nothing anyone can do. Even if GameStop stopped selling pre-owned games, people would just turn to eBay.

JoePiervincenti
JoePiervincenti

@sepewrath I don't disagree with your comments, but I don't really think it's a good example to use $20 as the price. 99% of the rare times DLC costs that much, it's a situation like ES IV: Oblivion where the DLC is substantial and adds many, many hours of content to the game. I guess I see it as that having the option for DLC is better than nothing, it's not like we're forced into it!

MXVIII
MXVIII

Cloud737 I never once said it was illegal in any of my comments, People wre just trying to bring in copyrights into it. It has nothing to do with copyright, the license of the game you buy states that they do not want you to sell the game. Just like how the Apple store is a licensed seller of Apple products, and Gamestop is a licensed seller of video games. Your license for the game you purchase is limited. I was just saying they have every right to do this, and no one should be surprised, because they've been putting it in their licenses that you agree to that they dont support or want you to resell their games.

Cloud737
Cloud737

@MXVIII "Yes its not illegal, nowhere did I ever say it was illegal to resell a game. I said it violates the terms of the license, thats not illegal. You cant go to jail for that, Im just saying that you agree not to resell the game according to the License, not the copyright, the license. I dont know why this is so hard for everyone to understand, they want to enforce their license...they are doing this by charging people a fee. They did this for PC games by implementing DRM." So if it's not illegal, then what right do the companies have to enforce their license and block second hand sales? Just because they put a license (EULA) on the disk doesn't mean that you have to obey all of it. Some parts of that license might be in contradiction with the law (like restricting second hand game sales is), which makes the void. There have been cases and discussions about the legality and binding nature of the EULAs, and it seems like licenses like these wouldn't stand if they were taken to court (the only reason it stands today is because they haven't been challenged). Btw, nice job on contradicting yourself (saying second hand games are illegal, then when confronted on that, changing sides and saying of course they're legal; saying copyright grants publishers the right to stop you from reselling their games, then saying you were actually talking about the license you agree to [which only works because of copyright] and not about copyright in any way, etc.). Oh, and just because an industry doesn't want you to do something, doesn't mean they have every right to stop you from doing so. The fast food industry would most likely not want me to be informed of the health risks of eating junk food. That doesn't mean they have every right to stop me from being informed. Of course any industry would want to stop second hand sales and will do anything in their power to do so. Just because they want to do that and tried it for years (like white extremists and slave owners tried to do with rights for black people) doesn't mean what they do is legal nor moral. You are one very confused person...

joeborg14
joeborg14

From a gamer's perspective, this sucks. From a financial perspective, this is a sound (and not in the least unexpected) move. From a business perspective, this will hopefully put money back in the hands of the people who are actually related to the development and production of games, unlike the money-whoring pig that is Gamestop.

kamizuka
kamizuka

@enoslives7 i agree but some download only games are only 100 megabytes are sold on the PSN/XBL that would seem stupid to put in a CD. digital sailrs are only good for that kind of games and i agree all DLC are should have been in the game

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

@ enoslives7 Viva la resistance! I have actually considered starting a union on this site (unless one already exists) composed of gamers who are growing discontent with getting the shaft from game companies.

gbrading
gbrading moderator

These new online passes everyone has started popping up are going to really dent the second-hand market.

enoslives7
enoslives7

As long as gamer sheep blissfully drop hard earned money on DLC and donwload-only games, the game companies will lead us around like mules. Wake up gamers!!!

asimplerapper
asimplerapper

Really I understand how companies are struggling to reduce costs. But simply can't ignore the fact that they so often choose to use methods that simply treat gamers as some kind of a vermin.

weejah2
weejah2

maybe its time they looked at how much they make people pay for games. i mean if they lowered the price then the trade in value would become to little to trade in and everyone pays the same then. win for everyone.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

I predict that as soon as games become download-only and tied to one console, people will sue for the right to transfer ownership. And the game companies will lose. It just makes sense: if you buy something, whether it exists in your living room or your Xbox hard drive, it's yours to give or sell to another person.

Santesyu
Santesyu

If they don't want me to buy used games, then they need to revamp there online service then..If I am gonna pay top notch for a game then I wanna play on a top notch online system. My ps3 future is in doubt.

Bashers79
Bashers79

It starts with charging people for using second hand games online, will end it end with them charging an XBL style monthly fee?

kamizuka
kamizuka

i think the ONLY person that can be pissed of is the person who buys used games. they want you to buy buy a new copy of the game, isn't that what all of you do? i cant blame Sony; because they dont make much from selling the console hardware. they only want to puch you away from used games thats all

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

@sizzlingdviper - however if you buy a second hand copy of Tiger Woods 11 for the Xbox360 you WILL have to pay an extra premium to play it on-line and introducing this sort of charge has ABSOULTELY NOTHING to do with XBL Gold since it is a game by game charge! That said I personally think it is wrong for greedy developers wanting a share of the second hand market.

sizzlingdviper
sizzlingdviper

Ref-WolfBlackriver-We already do get charged with Microsoft for online play-It's called the "LIVE GOLD ACCOUNT"-Even if we are using 2nd hand games.

liam82517
liam82517

This is a disgrace and the fact consumers are defending this practice is even more of a disgrace. Arguments like "the creators should get money from 2nd hand sales" have no logical basis. Should the guys that design cars get money for 2nd hand cars? should the writers get money from 2nd hand dvd sales? what about the namless songwriter that makes the garbage girl/boybands sound so great(matter of taste), should they get a cut when someone else i in your car and you want to listen to a cd while driving? After all these codes only work for one gamertag so no sharing with your little bro. The fact is they sold the game and thats all the money they are intitled to. If they are so bothered about gamestop or any other store getting money from 2nd hand sales then why dont they start their own 2nd hand sales store? or hows about charge the gamestops of the world for reselling the game? why is the end user made to pay for what gamestop does? Oh and if you think the guys that actually sweated over making the game will see any of this "online" money, then well Id probably get banned from gamespot for the names you deserve to be called.

WolfBlackRiver
WolfBlackRiver

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

Here's a simple idea: let us send back a game that we're finished with and Sony could add some cash to our wallets on PSN. Then they could sell the games back to Game Stop/ EB Games etc. and we'd buy more of their digital products.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

@MXVIII lol I see you've found someone else to argue with while I was gone.

Darkman2007
Darkman2007

its amazing how all of a sudden these companies come up with the idea to charge people extra for used games. used games have been around for years , and it has never hurt them , as evidenced by the rapid growth of the games industry in past years. what does hurt a company is if a game is not good, because that can be (though not always) a factor in it not selling well, therefore reducing revenue. if a game is good , people tend to keep it, or sell it much later, when it becomes irrelevant to the developer, if a game is not good, they either sell it , or lose trust in the developer. thing is, if a game is ok but I can't sell it later just in case its not good, I won't buy it , ill save my money. not the best way to sell more games.

Crasical
Crasical

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

LondonGamer986
LondonGamer986

This is disgusting, if Sony want more money, why not do what MS do with XBL and have it so everyone pays to play online?

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Until they get to full-on digital downloads only, which is years away, I can't see how they'll ever legally enforce such an idea. The only way they can figure a way of taking more money in on new sales, is to reduce the development costs, or find more ways of enticing new release buyers - maybe special editions of the game with some extras which don't cost any more than the normal version, but are available in limited numbers at launch only - instead of searching for other nickel and dime ways of taking money from a 2nd hand market which they have no claim over. No company or individual who makes or sells any item has claim to a 2nd hand market, and I can't see that changing anytime soon.

melty3219
melty3219

None of Sony's games have good multiplayer, implementing a pass system will make them suck even more than they do now!

mellow09
mellow09

@MXVIII I know they don't want people buying used games. I never said they did. I said there are ways they make money off of used game sales. I also said that charging for online is a dumb idea because it conflicts with their interests. Most of my posts are not about this, and I don't know why you even mention it. I argue with you massive misunderstanding of copyright laws and related subjects. I've seen at least four people now go, Oh, MXVIII I didn't know that, good to know. That's four people now who'll spread misinformation further. That does no good.

robalemcl
robalemcl

why do they need anymore money? is the ceo of sonys children starving or something?

mellow09
mellow09

Alright, last one, this is reduculous. A limited license means the company still owns the software on the disk. They do this so that you are not actually buying the software, which would allow you to do as you want with it. Again, for the last time. A license allows you to own the software, but not modify it. The license has nothing to do with you selling the game.

thomas6000
thomas6000

@MXVIII Sorry I just read this quote of yours "So Instead of Suing ALL of you, they are just gonna charge the people who buy a used game a small fee" and thought you had the impression it was illegal to sell games.

MXVIII
MXVIII

mellow09 Did you read the article? They dont want you reselling their games. They never did, End of story. theres nothing more to say.

mellow09
mellow09

@MXVIII Geeze. You don't understand what a license is. It allows them to put the game onto the disk, and yet still own the software on it. It allows you to play it. It is not sold to you. It has everything to do with copyright laws, because otherwise the people putting the game onto all those disks would be doing something illegal. This is why we say a game is licensed. I may own the game that is licensed. Thus I can access the copyrighted software legally. You can sell PC games, it is just troublesome because on a PC you have free access to the copyrighted material. Most people don't touch that.The code is to help that situation, not to stop people from selling games back, it is to alleviate that problem, and stop hacks. Your canvas idea shows you still don't understand this. If you copyrighted a model of canvas anyone can sell that. You copyright that model, meaning no-one can make another exactly like it, ie copy. Please, just stop.

MXVIII
MXVIII

Muteki_X Yes legally you can resell it. But the companies dont want you too, thats what the limited license agreement is for, It is not a copyright thats something else entirely. This has gone on since the beginning of the entertainment industry, Hollywood doesnt want you reselling their movies, Record companies don want you reselling their CDS, and Game companies dont want you reselling their games....every single one of these forms of entertainment has gone through various lengths to prevent you from buying, trading, and selling their products.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

Games are the same as movies, music, paintings, or any other art form. You purchase a copy the artist sells you. That copy is yours to keep, gift to someone, or resell. It is not yours to reproduce and try to profit from. As long as you make no attempt to multiply that one copy and sell or gift it while retaining a copy for yourself or to sell or gift two or more copies to anyone, then you are doing nothing illegal and are well within your legal rights.

dax121
dax121

This is nothing but greed. These companies want to sell you something and still claim ownership after it's sold. That breaks down the whole understanding of a basic transaction that we've had for thousands of years. It's just total greed and it's no wonder that this is taking place in an environment of falling profits due to adverse financial conditions/exchange rates. To put this in context - how would you like the manufacturer of everything you sell on ebay to demand a payment of between 15 and 20 percent of the money you raised from selling your possessions because they claim they are suffering hardship because you sold on something you bought from them? Would you be happy if a car manufacturer demanded a percentage payment from you when you sold your second hand car? - I think not. The purchase price of a new item is and always has been based on profit projections that anticipate a recoup of initial investment plus reasonable profit. To go after the second hand market in goods your company no longer owns like this is profiteering in the extreme - I doubt that this policy would survive a vigorous court challenge. In short - the second hand market in ANYTHING - never mind just games has never constituted a loss to any company as they manufacture and fix prices based on sales of new units alone. Which any fool can see has made the games industry billions in the past 10 years and will continue to do so.

MXVIII
MXVIII

thomas6000 Yes its not illegal, nowhere did I ever say it was illegal to resell a game. I said it violates the terms of the license, thats not illegal. You cant go to jail for that, Im just saying that you agree not to resell the game according to the License, not the copyright, the license. I dont know why this is so hard for everyone to understand, they want to enforce their license...they are doing this by charging people a fee. They did this for PC games by implementing DRM.

MXVIII
MXVIII

mellow09 Im not taking sides on what is fundamentally wrong. All I am saying is they are well within their rights to do so, and that people who buy used games are not entitled to anything. DLC was not used to rake in cash off of people who buy used games, DLC was meant to Rake in cash from people who bought the game period. They dont want people buying used games, 10 dollars to activate online mode, is not going to make up for the 60 dollars lost in a sale, because a potential customer bought it used.

thomas6000
thomas6000

I don't think he is going to understand reason, and the fact it's not illegal to sell used games. I think he's just got things mixed up.

MXVIII
MXVIII

mellow09 What you dont understand is this has nothing to do with copyright law. It has to do with licensing, these games are NOT sold to you, they are licensed, you are buying a license, a very limited license, to use their porperty, and when you sell it to gamestop, you are reselling that license, which as a licensee and not a licensor you do not actually have the authority to do.

mellow09
mellow09

@MXVIII "Lets say a new Call of Duty came out, and 12 million people are interested in it. 6 million people bought it new, and 6 million people bought it used. The developers only profit from Half of the people that were interested in the game!!" They came out with DLC as a means to profit off of turn-over users. This is an attempt at a like way of profiting off of turn-overs, but it is fundamentally wrong. One way it is wrong, the content is on the disk. But that's the companies property so it's certainly within their right. However the company loses out with this online charge because they lose the turn overs that would otherwise buy the DLC. Because less people who own the game are playing online (few people buy the online addition) there are less people on, and that makes people who play the game, play it less further reducing it. And example of this taking effect is UFC 2010. It expected this model to rake in cash. Maybe give them 500,000 more sales, and the turnover of say 1 million would buy online. That didn't happen. Less bought the game because of the policy. Less played online after buying used. They sold few DLC. And the online component faded. Now they are releasing a new game every 1.5-2 years. Point, this method is just wrong.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

@ MXVIII Big corporations aren't afraid to spends tons of money to hunt down people they have legal recourse against. Just look at the witch-hunt the music industry put on against illegal downloads. No I don't want lawsuits. My point is that it they had a real case, at least one of them would have gone for it by now.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

@ mellow09 You made the exact point I was driving at, but I appreciate you spelling it out for everyone.

MXVIII
MXVIII

Muteki_X They actually make money off of renting, because they can keep track of that. Blockbuster, Gamefly, Netflix, they all pay their dues to the publishers of the materials they rent out to others.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

So buying used = bad because one person buys and initial money goes to the company, then the second or third subsequent buyer contributes nothing to the company Yet renting = good even though one initial purchase is made, then dozens of subsquent uses are made contributing nothing to the company

MXVIII
MXVIII

mellow09 Gaming companies disagree with you. Thats why they did everything they could to completely end the sale of used PC games. They dont want you selling their games. They say it in the manual, and the fact that they are going to these lengths, say it very very plainly. And when I start a canvas making company and create a license agreement for canvas, then yeah the artist will not own any canvas that he buys from me.

MXVIII
MXVIII

Muteki_X Would you rather spend billions in legal fees to sue a multitude of corporations each with their own poerful lawyers, and then hunt down and sue every individual party who resold the game,. Or just charge a small fee for people buying used games, thus making up the loss in profit, and not wasting all that time.