Ubisoft Joins the Used Game Punishment Party

By  |  Friday, July 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm

The act of charging $10 to play a used video game online is slowly spreading through the video game industry, with Ubisoft becoming the latest publisher to sign on.

Starting with Driver: San Francisco, Ubisoft will require a voucher, cutely called a “Uplay Passport,” to play its most popular new console games online. One voucher is included with each new copy of the game. Buyers of used games will have to pay $10 for a new voucher.

This trend began with Electronic Arts, which started requiring “Online Passes” for some of its games last year. THQ quickly followed with its own $10 voucher program, and Warner Bros. started requiring a $10 online pass with the launch of Mortal Kombat in April. Sony took a different approach with SOCOM 4, charging used game buyers for extra multiplayer features, but now plans to launch its own $10 voucher program, called PSN Pass, with the launch of Resistance 3 in September.

The rationale from publishers is clear: If you buy a used game, you enjoy the benefits of an online service without paying a dime to the game’s creators. An online pass is one way for publishers to recoup costs from used game sales.

Still, I’ve yet to see any evidence that online vouchers are money makers. Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter has said that GameStop hasn’t seen any impact on used game sales. EA revealed last August that 60 to 70 percent of EA Sports players redeemed their Online Passes, but hasn’t said how many used game buyers are spending $10 for new passes. If this system is successful, publishers certainly aren’t bragging about it.

On Twitter, my fellow games writer Peter Skerritt had a theory: These online vouchers are just the first step toward charging a recurring fee (say, semi-annual) for online multiplayer. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. hemingways Says:

    I would like a lawyer's legal opinion on how legal this is. What other products does a person buy with the understanding that they do not have full rights to fair use of the product, including the right to sell it at a later date and get the maximum value.

    Also, the argument that the 2nd buyer hasn't paid anything to the game publisher is idiotic. The publisher received payment for online services from the original buyer. The publisher's cost of providing online gaming doesn't go up depending on who is playing the game. 1 person is playing the game if it's the original owner or the 2nd owner.

    I believe what these companies are doing is illegal and would not stand up in a court.

  2. Shayne S Says:

    This is complete BS! How about you make some good games in the first place that get good reviews. Maybe then people will buy them for $60. Then you won't have to worry about it when I sell my game for someone else to buy at a discount. I mean really? If I sell my BMW, the buyer owes nothing to BMW. There is no fee that needs to be paid in order to enjoy driving the car.

  3. Brandon Slots Says:

    My consumers are outraged by these actions made by the major publishers. I also really doubt the legality of such a move. Does this mean we no longer have the full rights of the product that we are getting? If the charging for used games is the sign for things to come, video gaming would definitely turn out to be even more expensive than it is now. I really detest how the video game publishers are trying to squeeze out every possibly cent from gamers who are already supporting them by buying their games.