Much has been made of the PSN Pass that will be part of Resistance 3 this fall. Critics decry the idea because it adds more cost to used games. Some have even gone so far as to say it's the death of the billion dollar used game industry. GameStop, the leader in used game sales, is estimated to take in $2 Billion dollars annually. Clearly, the PSN pass is game developers wanting a cut of that revenue. But, is the PSN Pass Sony's attempt at making a quick buck or just a sign of the times? In contrast to Playstation users, XBox users pay on a regular basis for access to online features ($50 for a 13 month package). Although the PSN Pass is not the death of the used game industry it certainly will change the way that games are sold and developed.
First, let's examine the used game market. As an example we'll use Mortal Kombat which was released in April of this year. Currently Mortal Kombat costs $60 brand new at GameStop, and $45 dollars used. It's been out roughly 3 months. If you wanted to play online the Kombat Pass brings the price back up to $55. God of War III, which many people feel was the game of the year in 2010, is currently $19.99. That's 1/3 the price it cost new! Clearly, games drop in value with time. If people really want to own a game and the price goes up they're more likely to wait until it drops in price than not play it at all. Of course, waiting longer to play games is a con everybody won't like, but it beats not playing a game at all.
Additionally, the PSN Pass only affects online games. Online games are only a subset of games as a whole. How much would you miss the online mode on Uncharted 2 or Uncharted 3 (when it comes out)? It would definitely take away from the experience, but the bulk of either the game is the single player adventure. Since there are games that can be enjoyed offline paying for an online mode clearly isn't the death of the used game industry.
Moreover, the PSN Pass will make peopl
e more hesitant to rent games with online features. Let's suppose you're itching to play an online first person shooter, and you're torn between Battlefield and Call of Duty so you decided to rent them both. If you had to pay an additional $10 to access each games online features, and then purchase either one you've spent $80 on a $60 game. Furthermore, if I don't like either and return both I've just spent $20 on something that now has no use to me. Paying for an online pass of a game I might not own would discourage me from trying games out. Game developers need to consider how they're going to handle the PSN Pass and rented games otherwise people might not try the game at all.
Going forward more games will have online content. The same thing happened with DLC. Instead of trying to fit as much content as possible into games then making the rest of the content DLC, in many cases DLC is planned at the outset. As a result of the additional revenue, I'm sure we'll see more time put into online content. Additional money means additional people will work on the online features of a game. I'm sure the additional cash will allow developers to put more time into games, and thus make more quality online experiences. However, additional time and resources do not always translate to an increase in quality. If the price of a gaming is going up, the gaming experience should be made better as a result.
Clearly the PSN Pass is a mixed bag. It's definitely not the death of the used game industry, but it increases the price tag of gaming. Even though it gives developers extra money for new games, it may discourage some gamers from renting games. Also, the quality of online experiences as a result of the pass is yet to be seen. Overall the PSN Pass does have some inconveniences, but as long as game quality increases it's justifiable. However, whether or not game quality increases as a result of the PSN Pass remains to be seen.