Sony thinking about Online Pass

PSP now aimed at younger audience.

Sony is considering charging to unlock online portions of its games.

The Online Pass system, as it's known, charges those who buy second hand copies of games to access content free to those who buy new.

Publishers EA and THQ have been most active with Online Pass, which many believe is an effort to combat the used games market.

Could Sony be next?

"On the principle of making online portions of the game available or unlocked from the disc-based release for a fee, we're broadly supportive of that," Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president Andrew House told GamesIndustry.biz.

"And we're exploring actively the same option for our own content."

It appears, however, that Sony is unlikely to charge gamers "for basic online play".

"That's something we have to talk about a lot more and we struggle with a little bit because we feel very vindicated and base a lot of the success of PSN today - a 70 per cent connection rate across consoles - on the fact we've removed that major initial barrier to entry," House added.

Elsewhere, House told Edge that Sony is repositioning the PlayStation Portable, now in its fifth year, so that it appeals to younger gamers.

"Five years in, we're entering a fairly mature point in its lifecycle - and a portable lifecycle is clearly a different dynamic to the one in the home," he said.

"What is now a key emphasis for us is focusing on a younger audience who are the prime audience for a dedicated gaming device with deeper, more immersive content: they may have less disposable income, but they've got more time to play.

"We're looking to mine that content library which we've assembled over the last few years and restructure the value-proposition.

"[The budget Essentials range] in its first couple of months since launch has been a phenomenal success on two fronts - not just in actual sales, but the uptake there has been on overall PSP software which has seen a knock-on effect.

"I would argue that we're starting to see what we originally intended - that it's helping to breath life into sales of the hardware as well."

Last week Eurogamer heard from various sources that Sony's PSP follow-up features touch controls on the reverse of the unit.

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