Sealed copies of Slant Six Games' just-released SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3
for PSP include a PlayStation Network (PSN) authentication code, required to play online -- and those without a new copy of the game will have to shell out $20 to get one.
The move is publisher Sony Computer Entertainment's latest attempt to curb piracy on its PlayStation Portable handheld and discourage the purchase of used games.
The platform has allegedly been plagued by game piracy, and third-party publishers have previously cited it as a factor in their considerations of the system.
In fact, Sony's download-only PSP Go, which does not include an optical media drive, has widely been seen as a partial response to those concerns.
"Piracy remains a concern on the PSP platform, but the launch of the PSPgo and the ability to access the PlayStation Store directly from PSP-3000 were significant steps towards fighting piracy and getting consumers to download digital games legally," said SCEA hardware marketing director John Koller in an IGN interview
He added: "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."
Koller wouldn't say whether Sony has plans to extend this authentication program to further games for PSP or other Sony platforms like PlayStation 3.
Tying game features to newly-bought titles is becoming a common tactic across multiple platforms. Epic's Gears of War 2
was one of the earliest games to include bonus content for new purchasers, and BioWare's recent Dragon Age: Origins
and Mass Effect 2
includes a considerable amount of downloadable content for new purchasers, across three platforms and two platforms respectively.
"SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3
is a trial run for a new initiative we are exploring for the platform," Koller said. "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."