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Sony to Use Online Pass for Some First-Party PS3 Games, Starting with Resistance 3

PlayStation 3 exclusives will soon need an online pass to game on the PlayStation Network.

A user on the German Web site Konsolentreff posted a picture for an upcoming 320 GB PlayStation 3 system bundle that includes Insomniac Games’ Resistance 3. On the box advertises what Sony currently calls the “PSN Pass,” its version of the online pass used to lock out online multiplayer components for used game buyers.

While the bundled content is for territories under Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), Sony confirmed today the PSN Pass will cover North America and Sony Computer Entertainment America releases. The PSN Pass is currently not wide sweeping for all first-party releases and will be implemented on a case-by-case basis.

The PSN Pass will be a one-time use code that comes with all new copies of a first-party game. Sony said the PSN Pass program will give players full online access to that specific game. Sony didn’t confirm if the entire online multiplayer content would be locked out without the PSN Pass or only certain modes.

Resistance 3 will be the first PS3 exclusive to use the online pass. The PSN Pass will be required to fully use the game’s online multiplayer. Resistance 3 will release on Sept. 6. The standard edition of the game will retail for $59.99.

Other first-party games that will be part of the program weren’t mentioned. Upcoming PS3 fall releases like Twisted Metal, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception both feature online multiplayer components.

Commenting on the PSN Pass in a statement, Sony said:

This is an important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio.

How the PSN Pass helps enhance “premium online services” in first-part games wasn’t detailed by Sony. There’s also no word if the PSN Pass will extend to PS Vita releases later this year.

Last August Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, revealed Sony was interested  in using online passes for its PS3 games.

However this won’t be the first time that Sony has used online passes for its first-party games. PSP titles such as SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 (February 2010) and ModNation Racers (May 2010) also used an online pass. The pass for both games is called the “Online Entitlement.” SOCOM’s pass costs $19.99 while ModNation Racers pass was $14.99. Players who didn’t have the Online Entitlement were blocked out of both games’ online multiplayer.

Several multiplatform games on PS3 already use online passes, like with THQ’s THQ Pass, Electronic Arts’ Online Pass and Warner Bros.’ various passes. Those online passes come with all new copies of the games but cost $9.99 on the PSN Store or 800 Microsoft Points on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

The goal of the online pass is to stop the used game market which many publishers and developers complain is taking away their profits. Some have even claimed used game sales are worse than piracy. The video game industry is expected to earn $74 billion in 2011.

Players who rent games with online passes or borrow them from friends have to buy their own pass to access the online multiplayer. Multiple users on the same console might not be able to use the online content without purchasing additional online passes, as with Mortal Kombat and F.E.A.R. 3. Sony hasn’t confirmed if this will be the case with the PSN Pass.

If the PSN Store ever goes down or experiences networking problems, people can’t redeem their online passes and therefore play online multiplayer, which is what happened with Mortal Kombat and DiRT 3. Players of both games were unable to redeem or buy the game’s online pass when the entire PlayStation Network was offline a few months ago.

Even when online gaming returned to PS3 players were still unable to redeem their online passes. Mortal Kombat is also experiencing constant networking issues that still haven’t been fixed, causing the game to lag online and boot players out of matches.

Sony didn’t confirm the pricing structure for its PSN Pass system. Sony has touted the free online gaming ability as a major selling point of the PlayStation 3 over the Xbox 360. Xbox Live Gold costs players $59.99 for a 12-month subscription and is required to play any online multiplayer on Xbox 360.

Photo by PlayStation Blog

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