Sony Battling Pre-Owned Games?

Sony might have already done this on the PSP with SOCOM and ModNation Racers, but this, as far as we know, is the first time they’ve done it for a PlayStation 3 game: apparently White Knight Chronicles 2 requires a Geonet subscription, and although there’s one in the box when you buy it new, this won’t be the case with pre-owned copies, assuming the code has been used, of course.


According to a moderator on GAF, the license for Geonet, which is required to play online with the game, will be tied to a single PSN account, and anyone else that wants to play the game online (which is the whole point, really) will need to buy another unlock code from the PSN.  It’s worth mentioning that this might just be the Japanese version, and the local release might not be so locked down.

It’s also worth noting that we’ve not seen the current box for the game, so cannot verify this information.  Still, if true, this is Sony following in the footsteps of EA, Ubisoft, SEGA and everyone else that, financially at least, need to put a dent in the pre-owned market.

Source: Esuteru, via NeoGAF.

Update: relevant part of the box-art added above.  Note that this is portion of the ‘dummy’ box and may not reflect the final game.



  1. Yes we are now seeing the lemming effect in full motion

  2. Make them cheaper then if their not long enough or lacks content…
    I can’t wait for WKC2 its one of the few thats deserves the high price point!!

  3. i still think this is bull!!! The game has been bought, the server space for that one person comes with that game. no matter how many people play that one copy of the game, the server side costs stay the same! If they want money off of 2nd hand sales, then go to the people selling them and ask for a cut!

    Also, gone are the days off borrowing a mates game! piss poor that things are getting to this! i dread the next gen, i really am not looking forward to all this coded crap on every game!

    • I 100% agree here. This I fear could actually be a big downfall for games consoles if this carries on too. I probably wont bother buying or playing online if I have to purchase a code for online play. Lots of people buy second hand because they can’t afford the higher prices. If they reduced the prices of games, then people might actually buy new. Swings and roundabouts.

      • i never buy 2nd hand games as i got a sad OCD about the state of my but i agree some people cant afford the high prices, and this only affects gamers wanting to play games. the stores will still sell the games, just with a little money off current prices. The way to stop 2nd gaming is to run download only games, which will fail, ala PSPgo…well, unless all next gen consoles do it, then we don’t have a choice.

        This sort of thing doesn’t affect me at all, until i take MY game to a friends house. Thats what pisses me off. Everyone just goes online MP mad all the time, and actually forget the original multiplayer mode! two mates sat round a TV with pizza and beer! It makes no difference to me if the new FIFA game makes people use a code to game online, but when i take it to my friends house on a Friday night i don’t want hassle going online for a few 2v2 games with a game i bought brand new!

        I don’t think this will ever stop until each game logs onto a server before playing, locking it to one console, and that will be the day that gaming becomes a truly unsociable activity. may just kill gaming for me

      • bajere I have a similar phobia of tatty games cases but I replace them with the shiny cases of PSN top ups. I pay £17 for a £20 PSN card from 7dayshop so I get PSN credit on the cheap and a game case.

      • None of these developer have thought about whether a person buys a game and they don’t like. For example I just got SSFIV and can’t ply it to save my life, I would then be stuck with that game and would’ve wasted my money!

    • With regards to your server point, there is a decreasing tail of activity, so they know they’ll need (for example) 10,000 servers during the opening week, 5,000 servers for the remainder of the opening month, 2,000 for the the next month, then down to a 100 or so for the rest of the game life span, with pre-owned there is a much longer tail in server activity.

      However we all know this isn’t about that – its just about developers and publishers looking at all the losses they’ve built up this generation and then looking at the hundreds of millions of pounds of profit the retailers are building up and wanting a slice of that pie.

      And why not, its been their investment, their risk, their tens of thousands of man hours and they only get one bite of the cherry no matter how many times an individual copy is sold.

      All a retailer has to do is buy stock, ship it around the their logistics network, make money from the initial sale, wait a fortnight or month or so and give a low trade in price, stick it back on the shelf at a vastly inflated price… and then repeat ad-infinitum piggy backing off the investment, hardwork and losses of the dev/pubs

      Surely you can’t begrudge a redressing of the balance?

      It is in the retailers interest to strengthen their relationship with the content producers else they could find themselves cut out of the sale altogether as digital distribution takes over

      Also, there is a valid argument in favour of less AAA games and shorter but cheaper experiences in general

      • i am so sick of that argument being used, when most of the games are peer to peer and they just provide matchmaking.
        we’re hosting the games yet they want a fucking cut if we sell our property?
        they budgeted for a certain number of copies, and preowned sales will never add to that number, whether the original owner keeps playing or the new owner does there’s still only one person playing, and probably hosting as well.
        they’re not losing money, they’re just wanting some of that preowned pie, and you make it sound like preowned titles are pure profit for stores, firstly they buy the games off users, usually for lessd than they’re worth admittedly, but then how many publishers price their games at far more than they’re worth? the stores also have staff wages, rental for the store, and the rapid depreciation in some games which mean many of them will end up selling for less than they paid.
        and let’s not forget how many new games sales are part paid for with trade ins.
        and there’s the potential for selling another set of dlc for the same copy.

        and how many millions of man hours have gone into selling their games in stores over the years, you make it sound like the publishers are the only people doing any work selling these games, which is bullshit, without these stores over the years these publishers wouldn’t be the bloated behemoths they are now.
        they just see a potential for more money and that’s all they give a fuck about.
        greed, fucking greed.
        and with this douchebag move they’re effectively putting a price tag on the online play, so does that mean they’ll actually show some responsibility when it fucks up?
        you know they wont.
        like i keep saying they want the benefits but none of the responsibility, buy it and it’s at your own risk, but sell it and suddenly the games are theirs again.

        i can too fucking begrudge them this, if they think the preowned market is genuinely causing them losses, which we all know is total bullshit, then they should go after the stores, don’t screw over the legitimate buyer, and despite all the bullshit rhetoric in the world buying preowned is still 100% legitimate, but then publishers who threaten stores will run the risk of people not buying their products wherever they sell.

        at least i can say that this time my choice to boycott will have meaning as i would have most likely bought this new, but there’s no way on earth i will now if this proves to be true.
        if losing the online mode is the price, that’s one i’ll gladly fucking pay, besides, of course scee will fuck up the launch anyway and there won’t be an online mode worth a damn to speak of anyway, so no great loss there.

        accept this and the next stop will be games totally locked to a single account, that is to me unacceptable, i know you support that though, never figured out why you seem to be ok for these publishers to screw us over time and again.

      • …its not how things work when you buy something. It would if i was paying on installments or renting, like say a mobile phone. BMW dosen’t get a penny from a used car sale. Neither dose Waner Bro’s if i buy a 2nd hand DVD. The games industry just seem to think it there right to do things like this, if the publishers want money, then get it off the store re-selling the game.

      • cc_star that reasoning is flawed in as much as yes, I totally agree that developers and publishers should get a bigger cut, but they should get it at the expense of retailers, not the end consumer. The end consumer does nothing wrong by buying pre-owned, it is perfectly valid in all media markets, and markets in general; it is the retailer taking the profit and not giving a royalty to the publisher that is causing the problem. The publishers have responded to this by punishing the wrong group of people.

      • the way i see it is that they should reward people who buy new games not punish people who buy preownd and im not talking about that preorder bullshit but something that makes buying a new copy the more attractive choice.
        also if someone looks at the game you made and says ” i’ll wait and get it cheap ” maby you should of made a better game

    • Server usage/space is phenomenally cheap. Might be a few pound per person for the year (on average). However, I’d like to see that cost separated. for my thoughts as I was getting lost on this article (and wanted to continue things when the article quietens down).

  4. If they have the online code as a tenner or so that sounds fair. Or a very cheap subscription model.

  5. If you cant make a product thats good enough for people to actually keep then thats doesn’t give you the right to charge twice. Just make a better effing game that people won’t want to sell

    • I don’t think this is a valid point.

      Quite a few of my friends will only play a game once or twice and sell it, even if they think it is the ‘best’ game. They just don’t enjoy repeat plays.

      Personally, I rarely sell-on my games, as I can usually play through games quite a few times without being bored.

      • Its exactly the point. Im gonna use TuffCub’s analogy because it the best..You buy a brand new Ferrari and drive it around for a couple of years, but you now decide you want another car you have to sell your Ferrari in order to buy the other one. Would you expect Ferrari to come along and put a speed limiter on the car so that the new buyer cant go over 30mph unless they pay Ferrari to remove that limiter.
        When your friends want to sell their games do they do it to raise money for other games. If they want to sell a game with this online charge do you think the new consumer is going to pay the same knowing they have to pay an additonal £5-£10 to get online.
        Everybody suffers but the Sony in this instance, all the consumers, all the trade-in stores.
        Mark my words games with this kind of Online Pass key wil see significant drop in sales because they have no re-sale value.

      • Exactly. i don’t think these publishers think of the big picture.

      • Using the same analgoy, a car depreciates in value much more significantly than a game. Sure a game becomes outdated – but the game SHOULD work the same no matter what (unless it is physically scratched or broken).

        As a car gets older you spend more on maintenance. This is a form of ‘maintaining’ the game.

        Plus, its all about a balance between new and used. More and more people seem to be renting or buying second-hand (not a fact – it just looks that way to me).

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to blindly accept that we should pay to activate any and every game, it depends on the game and the price they want to charge.

      • The car analogy is actually the worse one possible

        Because the car industry is funded/subsidised by the after-sales warranty and maintenance market

        Therefore car manufacturers are charging long after the initial sale is made.

        also, around the world car manufacturers are in receipt of billions of pounds of tax payers money, further worsening the comparison between two different types of ‘content’ producers

      • “sales warranty and maintenance market”

        Call it DLC and map packs ;)

    • There is the point that people generally sell their games back to the stockist not for the cash, but to BUY MORE GAMES. The problem is with the reseller, plain and simple.

      • the publishers should be charging the stockists/sellers/retailers not the customers. It will dent the pre owned market, but at least it will still be there. It will also allow gamers to still purchase other games they might not have thought about because of the extra charge of online play…or the higher price buying new.

  6. Personally I think this is a disgrace. It will cause alot of people to think twice about buying games altogether, which in the long run, could ruin a lot of smaller developers and wont push creativity in the industry. They will only hurt themselves doing this. Oh well, they don’t like listen to customers, so whats the point in this comment?

  7. I’m boycotting games that use the online pass system. While it could be spun as a fair practice, it quite simply isn’t. They need to change the regulations around the used games market at the stockist, or lower the price of the game new, not gimp their games and charge extra for the missing bits if you buy it used (one word – recession). If I want to take my game over to my mates for an evening, I do not expect to have to lug around my PS3 to access the online aspect.

    One thing’s for certain – this is going to make people feel a lot less guilty about account sharing.

    • Boycotting? Why? Why don’t you just buy them new?

      This is nothing new, PC games have been doing this for years.

      • PC games are nearly always cheaper. Modern Warfare 2 had an RRP of £30 or so, I believe. Also, I’ve been playing World at War on the PC for a long time. Plus other games. No cost incurred for subscription. Then again, the more mature PC community possibly wouldn’t stand for the prices of £40 to £55 a title (of Kotick had his way) but I digress.

        If a game has a strong online element (and the single player is fairly “token gesture”), I’d like to see competitively priced titles of £30 or so. Then add on a fiver for the online component. Maybe that could cover 6 months.

    • yep, spot on mate. They are hurting themselves by pushing this.

      • Sorry my reply was to Peter_uk. Nofi, alot of people don’t want to buy new or can’t afford it, so this will hurt them, and make them not buy as many games.

      • But why should the developers care if you buy second hand games when they don’t get any money on that?

      • You can still it buy it second hand though. Trust me, I buy plenty of second hand stuff – the only games I’ve bought new for months is Mario Galaxy 2 and MNR.

      • @kivi95, thats exactly why publishers are going down this route… for more money.
        Once control of the market is established, prices WILL rise, not fall.

      • they will control the market…but alot less people will be buying new games. I for one, will not buy the games I “might” like…I will buy only games I have seen and think I will like. Meaning, less business for the gaming market.

      • I’m boycotting against the practice, not the games. This will be a killer if for some reason they throw the online pass system into GT5 (which I sincerely hope they don’t – I can’t see why they’d need to!), but as the consumerbase we need to make a stand against it, and as has become an old adage, you vote with your wallet. I buy a lot of my games new; yes, I have a lot of used games as well, but a lot of those don’t have online functionality, for example Stuntman Ignition, which is IMO an under-rated gem. I’ve also been burnt by buying new; anyone remember the joke that was ‘FUEL’? Muggins here bought that at release, then watched the price drop by over £30 over the first two weeks.

        Like piracy, the used games market allows people to try games they wouldn’t normally pick up; used sales to not directly equate to new sales, but a positive experience with a used game might make the player more inclined to buy the sequel new.

  8. I have to say, I don’t mind this approach.

    I believe it will drive down second hand game prices, meaning money saved here can be spent buying the ‘activation’ fee.

    This is a guaranteed way of publishers and developers getting a cut. If they did the way some people are suggesting and go to second-hand sellers directly and ask for a cut, no second hand sellers will make themselves known.

    As for borrowing the game off a friend, you’ll just have to take the hit and actually buy the game, or if you just want to try it, play it at your friends.

  9. This sucks, people buy pre-owned games because they cant afford them new, now they have to pay extra, this disregards this.
    Therefore, i think people will be buying less games if this is for every games some point in the future

    • Yep, they’re shooting themselves in the foot

  10. I think the market reaction to these schemes is going to be a lowering of the cost of second hand games. I would imagine that whilst the cost of an online voucher might be £10, game prices might well go down £7-£8 on average, meaning you’re not paying much extra. Assuming this happens it seems a fair way for publishers to get a cut of the second hand market.

    Do they desrve a cut of the market? I don’t really know. The car analogy falls down for me as cars still need to be serviced, and a reasonable amount of people do get cars serviced at official garages, meaning that the manufacturer is getting a reasonable cut back even on second hand cars.

    A more logical comparison would be CDs or books sold on eBay. In that case the producer of the content gets no money back from the second hand sale at all (books and CDs don’t really need to be serviced). Now just because they get nothing back doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve nothing. Whether or not they actually deserve it is something I’m unsure on.

    • I’m with you on this one, Raen.

      I can see why they are doing it and I’m not angry they are doing it…yet. It depends how far they want to take it, because there’s a point where they cross the line of making back lost money and just trying to leech as much out of the consumer as possible.

      • Yes they have my backing at present. If they expand it to continually lock away more and more features and microtransaction everything I’d be annoyed, but I don’t think they’d take it that far. The company economists must realise how the second hand market drives the new game market, so I find it unlikely that they’d try and kill it off entirely.

      • If a game is good and this practice helps to bring more money to the creator/publisher of the game then I struggle to see how this can be a bad thing.

        Surely all of us as passionate gamers want to see good developers stay in business and create more quality games for us to enjoy?

        As cc and raen have said the market will find the right price, it’s not just a simple case of adding the £7.99 online fee to the CURRENT cost of a second hand game in GAME.

        A second hand game by its very nature will always be cheaper than a new copy and its price will always decrease as time passes regardless of having an online fee or not.

        Obviously this doesn’t help those of you who simply want to loan a game to a mate or rent a game from Lovefilm or Blockbusters.

    • Exactly

      The market ALWAYS finds the right price

      (GAME pricing) People won’t pay more than something is worth so no one is going to pay £34.99 for a preowned copy of a recently released game if they need to stump up and extra £7.99 for the full experience when they can buy the same copy brand new on the opposite shelf for £39.99.

      All that will happen is that the preowned price will be more or less adjusted over time, to accommodate this

      • you forget the market finds the price because these game stores usually sell games for lower than the rrp, does that mean they give the publishers less? i doubt it.
        so when you’re going on about the publisher losing money why do you always forget the retailers losing money on nearly every game they sell?

      • But they’re not selling at a loss. Whilst they sell below RRP in large chain stores their costs are much lower due to the purchasing power of the parent company. Unless it’s a promotion they rarely sell below cost.

      • i never said they were selling at a loss, but they’re cutting into their profits to sell these publisher’s games.
        if it can be argued that publishers are losing money from preowned sales it can also be argued that stores are losing money on new sales.
        if these publishers stop preowned sales like they really want to the stores would probably have to sell the games for their full rrp and there would probably be less sals.
        on the whole i believe publishers benefit more from preowned sales than they have ever cost them.

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