SOCOM becomes first PSP game to require online activation

Pre-owned copies will require $20 voucher to unlock features

SOCOM: US Navy SEALS Fireteam Bravo 3 has become the first PSP game to require online activation in order to unlock all of its features.

The Sony game, released in the US on Tuesday, came with a voucher code that had to be redeemed online in order to unlock online play.

As well as deterring piracy - which Sony has stated as the primary reason for the move - it will also undoubtedly discourage pre-owned sales, since those buying a used copy of the game will need to purchase the voucher at a cost of $20 if they want to play online.

Speaking to IGN, SCEA director of hardware marketing John Koller said that Sony was in the process of investigating and trialling anti-piracy opportunities, but he couldn't say if online activation would be introduced for all future PSP releases.

"Today's consumers are more tech savvy and better connected to the internet than ever before. Piracy continues to be an issue of concern for the PSP platform. SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 is a trial run for a new initiative we are exploring for the platform," said Koller.

"We will continue to explore this as an opportunity for the platform going forward, but we have no announcements to make on future iterations at this time."

Piracy remained an issue on the PSP platform, admitted Koller, although he said that the introduction of the PSPgo and the subsequent increase in legally downloaded titles had helped minimise that impact.

"No one will dispute that piracy has a negative impact on software sales. We're continuing to take proactive steps in the fight against piracy and believe this new initiative will be of benefit to the gaming industry," he added.

The move follows EA's introduction of 'Project Ten Dollar', where premium DLC is included as a free download for those buying a new copy of a game, but those buying a second-hand copy are forced to pay for it.

Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins both implemented the feature across their various patforms.

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Latest comments (6)

gi biz ;, 12 years ago
So I guess the activation is tied to the physical PSP? What happens if I buy a new PSP (as I did in the past), if I want to play on a friend's console, if I want to lend the game to a friend? Oh, I forgot that's illegal. Come on, probably people doesn't mind downloading pirated games because legal conditions are worst and worst...
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Franck Sauer Creative / Tech Art Director, Fresh3d12 years ago
Michele, any game you purchase on PSN you can install on up to 5 systems according to the agreement you sign when signing-up to the service.

I think most people fail to realise they are bound to an agreement when using software or signing-up to a service. You know the I AGREE button you click without actually reading the text. It happens in the case of PSN the agreement is rather flexible in term of installation imo.

I often buy games and install on both my girlfriend's psp and mine. And that is legal because it is part of the license deal in the agreement. And as they keep a record of all my purchases, I can re-download the games anytime I want, even on a new psp if I happen to break the old one.
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Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 12 years ago
This isn't about fighting piracy. This is about killing the secondhand market. Only we're finding out about it after the game's been out for two days, and reviews are already filed and on the internet (I know I'm having a hell of a time arguing with my editor; I want to retract my review).

I'm not so pissed that the game requires activation. I'm not even totally pissed that it costs $20 for a new code. I'm pissed at the above, AND the fact that no one knew about it until someone had to find out, and that Sony's spinning it as if we're idiots. This is different than the Cerebus Network, because we knew about the Cerebus Network, and because that comes with some legitimate DLC as a result. This puts nothing on the table, but takes a lot off. Especially for a $40 (premium) PSP game.
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Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo12 years ago
@Christopher: If can't retract, could you at least put in an "UPDATE" tag or maybe an Editor's Note? I'm with you on this one, in other words, especially as it concerns the utter tomfoolery of the Sony PR machine.

As for this killing off of the second hand market debate going on right now, I remain as confused as ever. It certainly doesn't benefit the consumer in any way, shape or form; and it's certainly not about fighting piracy, spin be damned.

It seems to me, honestly, to be a stop gap measure for publishers that are bleeding money on bad or overproduced IP that's not making enough money to cover the exorbitant production, marketing and upkeep costs of these blockbuster titles. Instead of changing, publishers have found a way to move the goal posts a bit. Sure there will be some more money in the coffers for next year's earnings reports, but...the trouble is they're still playing a losing game.

More troubling still are all the developers, on this site and elsewhere, who seem to be more than happy to tow the publisher's company line on killing off the after market. Could be a bit of vanity, which isn't surprising, but in the end the result will be the same: More closures, more consolation, more failure.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games12 years ago
"Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins both implemented the feature across their various patforms."

No. They did not! It's a completely different thing. This is a restriction.

Bioware on the contrary rewarded those who buy original games with extra content which was not necessary to play the game. When i bought my Dragon Age collector's copy i had no internet at home. I was still able to play and enjoy the game! After a couple of weeks i had installed internet and i enjoyed another run of my favorite game this time with the added content.

Completely different. Sony being the great company that it is i am sure they will come with a more user friendly approach!
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Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 12 years ago
@Jack Loftus:

I run a weekly column at our site that's 70% journalism and about 30% editorial called Unbranding the Sheep; it's simply titled "Why I Almost Pulled The SOCOM Review", where I laid out why I wanted to pull it initially, why we eventually decided NOT to pull it or edit our initial scores, as well as my thoughts on the whole sordid issue. That's really the best I could have hoped for in this case.
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