PlayStation Premium: Proposal to Address Used Game Dilemma

It's 4 AM and I just can't sleep. For some reason, I've been thinking about the used game debate. No, that's not what's keeping me up - but it did provide some time to write down my thoughts. For those unaware, there has been a discussion lately about the selling of used games. To consumers, the freedom to sell a used game to a friend or retailer like GameStop means recouping a portion of the $60 dropped on a game. For developers and publishers, it's a lost sale, as they are essentially taken out of the picture and edged out by resellers.

So I've outlined my idea to alleviate (not going to claim it would "solve") the issue. With the upcoming PlayStation announcement on February 20th, I'm inclined to write it coming from the mouth of Kaz Hirai, probably around E3 and not at the initial product announcement. Essentially, a Premium edition of games will be made available, which requires registration but entitles the consumer to a $5 PlayStation Network credit. But the same concept could very well be applied to Microsoft and Xbox Live. Forgive the cheesy keynote-speak, but it helped me present the benefits and potential positioning of the service to consumers. Please let me know your thoughts.

Core Concept

-Games may be offered in two versions/SKUs: Unlocked and Premium. Developers and publishers decide together whether their titles are offered Unlocked, Premium, or both.

-Unlocked titles are $59.99 and can be freely re-sold. Business as usual.

-Premium titles also sell for $59.99 but entitle the consumer to a $5 credit on the PlayStation Store

-If console is online, Premium games are paired with a PSN account before playing.

-If temporarily offline, Premium games must be paired to a specific console before playing

-Premium titles can be used on up to 5 consoles

-Developers, publishers, and Sony jointly foot the bill

-assumption: actual buy-in would presumably be less than $5 for digital downloads

-$5 credit is automatically deposited; no codes, no inserts, no hassle.

-a virtous cycle is created between Premium titles, DLC, PlayStation store content and PlayStation Plus

-Handling two physically separate SKUS may be a hassle, but it's the most elegant solution I could think of to solve the online/offline dilemma. Anyone have a better idea?

-Yes, it's essentially bribing people to register their products. But 1) It's optional and 2) It's not with cash, it's with credit for DLC.

Announcement and Positioning by Sony

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Here at Sony, we love our loyal customers. They save up their hard-earned money to purchase our consoles, our games, our downloadable content, and our accessories. Their business pushes all of us in the digital entertainment business to ever greater heights of innovation.

We also love our developers and publishers. They spend years honing specialized skills like computer programming, art design, sound editing, and more. They invest millions of hours to craft unbelievable digital experiences and take them to market. We love our developers.

But sometimes there's a conflict between our customers and our game makers. And that's the selling of used titles. To the everyday consumer, it's no big deal. When your'e done enjoying a game, why not sell it to a used video game store or a buddy who hasn't played it yet? Unfortunately, the purchase of a used game represents a lost sale for game makers in what is sometimes a cut-throat industry.

So what to do? At PlayStation, we think we've found a solution that makes everyone happy - customers and developers and publishers. And we're calling it: PlayStation Premium. How does it work?

First off, publishers will have the option of offering two versions, or SKUs, of their titles. The first version, we're calling "Unlocked". These "Unlocked" titles are the same awesome PlayStation games that consumers have always enjoyed - no restrictions, no new rules. They'll sell for the same suggested $59.99 that we're all used to. I'll say it again: we will still offer the same games, for the same prices, with the same rules, much as they've been sold for the past 7 years.

But for our customers who have no intention of selling their game - why not reward them for purchasing our products and being our loyal fans? That's where PlayStation Premium comes in. If game makers decide to offer their title as a PlayStation Premium title, a separate Premium version will be made available for sale. They'll be clearly labeled, both on the box and on the disc. When a customer inserts a Premium game into a PlayStation 4 for the first time, they'll be asked to register that title with the PlayStation Network. If they're online, they'll connect to PSN and pair the disc with their account. If they're temporarily offline, they can pair it to the console instead, enjoy the game, and connect it to PSN once they're back online.

But why do this? Because every time one of our loyal registers a Premium title with PSN, they'll receive a $5 PlayStation Store credit, good for any kind of digital product: bonus DLC, a movie, or even put it towards their PlayStation Plus membership dues.

But what if you want to go over to a friend's house and play on their PlayStation 4? No worries. Remember - every PlayStation 4 can allow each player to log in with their own PSN account. So just log in to PlayStation Network with your ID and password, and you're good to go. You can play that disc on up to 5 different consoles. If you're ever unsure, it's just a few clicks to confirm a game's Premium status, see which friend's PlayStations the games have been registered to, and track your Premium rewards.

Speaking of rewards, just how far will $5 on the PlayStation Store get you? Imagine: every time you register a Premium title, you could rent a great movie like Flight, starring Denzel Washington - usually $4.99. Register three games and earn a free download of Journey, the award-winning title that usually goes for $14.99. Pick up 10 Premium titles and you've got yourself a free year of PlayStation Plus membership - normally $49.99. You get the idea.

We think that PlayStation Premium is a great solution for customers and game makers. For developers and publishers, a virtuous cycle is created, encouraging folks to register their games and check out their downloadable content on the PlayStation Store. For consumers, you get great benefits and great choices. Register your Premium title with PSN, use it on up to 5 consoles, and get $5 on the PlayStation Store. Or if you like, buy an Unlocked title for $59.99 and do whatever you want with it. The decision is yours.

So that's PlayStation Premium.

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