Why PSN Pass Isn’t Necessarily a Bad Thing
Recently, IGN received confirmation from Sony that they would be “instituting a network pass program for PS3 games with online capabilities”; one game of note was the upcoming Resistance 3 which prominently featured a PSN Pass label. Of course, the gamer community and even Wedebush Morgan Analyst, Michael Pachter himself threw in their two cents regarding this move by Sony.
The PSN Pass is similar to the one time codes that you receive when you purchase a new game and wish to use all of the online features. Electronic Arts and THQ were the pioneers in implementing this, and other game companies such as Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment have been using this feature increasingly. The primary purpose of which is to ensure that the games companies recoup profits that they have long held as lost due to the used videogames market that companies like GameStop so thrive on.
If you purchase a new game, you simply input the included code and the online features such as multiplayer, or in some cases, increased level caps, are made available. However, if someone purchases the game used, they are forced to purchase a code online for a certain amount of money. This usually costs an additional ten dollars above the cost of purchasing the used game.
Sony goes on to say, “This is an important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio.”
Considering the recent woes that Sony has had to deal with regarding the recent PlayStation Network outage resulting from hackers breaching the network, the additional fallout and consumer backlash, and the lost confidence resulting in speculations that the hacks were primarily due to an outdated infrastructure including un-patched versions of web-serving software, this may seem like a cash grab on the part of Sony. However on the flip side, this may be an attempt by Sony to fund the recent overhaul and continued maintenance of their new infrastructure without imposing a required fee on everyone like Microsoft does with its Xbox Live users.
The cost of building the new infrastructure and ensuring that it’s capable of mitigating future attacks is exceptionally high. Tens of millions of dollars were likely spent in bringing on consulting firms to assess the network, design the new one, test it, and ethically hack it in order to make sure that consumers could once again be confident in Sony’s ability to keep our information safe. And to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, even more money will be required to make sure that the environment is kept up to date.
And let’s be frank, while we all enjoy the games that Microsoft and Sony have brought into our homes for many years, they are businesses. Businesses are built on profits, not freebies. To charge us in some way to be able to use the online multiplayer features that have been given for free for years was a forgone conclusion.
But the real fact of the matter is that there are two types of people that purchase games. The ones with the cash that can buy it on the day it hits the stores, and the ones that wait until they’ve been sitting on the “used” rack for six months and pick it up for a quarter of the original cost. Used game purchases simply don’t add to the bottom line of the companies that make the games. If people have to pay an additional ten or fifteen dollar one time cost for multiplayer access on a used game to ensure profitability, so be it. For a game company or a console manufacturer to stay in business and deliver the products that we love, they have to be profitable. And until Sony moves online play into the PlayStation Plus package, I don’t think we have a real reason to gripe.
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