Pachter Criticizes PSN Pass, Believes it Won’t Make Much Money

July 8, 2011 Written by Sebastian Moss

Earlier in the week, Sony announced the PSN Pass, an online pass system similar to the EA Pass. If gamers buy a used title published by Sony, they must buy a one-time code to access online play. The pass aims to discourage used game sales, as well as make some money off of the second hand industry, but Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter doesn’t believe it was a good idea.

Pachter talked about the PSN Pass on Twitter:

PSN Pass is not timed particularly well. Curious if they make any money off this, I expect not.

He then followed up on his statement, explaining to Examiner why he has his doubts about the pass:

I think Sony made a couple of mistakes with PSN Pass.  First, it shouldn’t be called “PSN” anything, since it’s not a pass to PSN, it’s a pass for online game play tied to a particular game (SOCOM, Uncharted, etc.).  The name suggests that the user gets some type of access to PSN.

Second, coming on the heels of the PSN outage, it is really bad form to impose a brand new charge for something that previously was free.  I don’t dispute their right to do so, and there is clear precedent from EA, Ubisoft, Capcom, etc. for cracking down on used game sales, but they should have waited till next year, since the outage is still so fresh in people’s mind.

There is also the timing issue.  They offered free stuff (PSN Plus, free downloads) for the inconvenience of the PSN outage, and the freebies expired on July 3.  Less than a week later, they implement a plan to charge for something that was previously free.  They look incredibly greedy.

The bottom line is that people who play online will buy the game new, and people who buy used will do so primarily for the single player experience.  Sony’s online games aren’t really all that robust (perhaps except for SOCOM), and the PSN Pass will apply only to first party titles, so it’s not that big of a deal.  My guess is that Sony will make less than $10 million a year from this, more likely less than $5 million, and it’s not really worth the exposure to criticism that it will generate.

Do you agree with Pachter? Should Sony have delayed the pass in light of the PSN breach, or scrapped it altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments below.