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.
Sony looking into the used-game market.

In an interview with, 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."

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