Why Would A Game With No Online Play Require An Online Connection?

Why Would A Game With No Online Play Require An Online Connection?

For some, the inclusion of DRM – “digital rights management” which prevents copying – is a provocative act. That makes requiring an online check-in for a game with no online component, like Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2, both perplexing and obnoxious.

PlayStation 3 owners buying the sequel to Capcom’s show-stealing hit of 2008 were greeted with the message that “you must log-in to the PlayStation Network each time to play the game”. Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 has no online multiplayer component – unless you’re counting the leaderboards for the game’s challenge rooms. So the requirement, though Capcom first implemented it a year ago, is purely an anti-piracy move.

The question is: How exactly does one pirate a console game acquired from a download service?

The answer is, it’s not piracy – not by the traditional definition covering piracy in PC gaming, or on illegally modified consoles. But it is file-sharing, specifically something called “PSN Sharing”, which makes use of network users’ privilege to download and install content they purchase on up to five different devices. This is meant to support the use of content across other devices like the PSP or PC.

What had been happening were, say, groups of gamers dividing the $US15 or $US20 cost of a downloadable game, and then one friend either installed it on the other four’s devices, or gave them his login information to go fetch it. They would then be able to play the game offline. The PSN connection check verifies whether the account running the game and the one playing it are the same. The requirement to be logged into the PlayStation Network at startup forces that comparison.

That means multiple accounts on the same console – brothers in a family sharing a single PS3, for example – cannot play the same game. They’d have to check-in under one account and then play offline, which even for a game with no online multiplayer cuts off features like trophies or leaderboards.

This goes back a year. Capcom implemented the same requirement with Final Fight: Double Impact, a port of two arcade games from the 1990s. Capcom ran into trouble when it didn’t disclose the online connection requirement in the game’s purchase window on PlayStation Network. The publisher quickly apologized for that. Although Capcom said the protection measure had been included in previous downloadables, it also indicated its use in Final Fight: Double Impact would be a test case to see if it cut down on sales lost to PSN sharing.

This is not the same as the hated always-on Internet connection Ubisoft required for some PC games last year, and later abandoned, going only to a single check-in at the game’s startup. The check on Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 is made only when the game starts up. After that, one could sign out of the PlayStation Network and continue playing. Technically, sharing the game across multiple users still is feasible, but isn’t convenient.

In a quick scan of the PlayStation Network’s latest offerings, Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 was the only one notifying users of an online check-in requirement. It could be that other publishers have different means of protecting their games.

It could also be that Capcom has identified “PSN Sharing” as a problem worth combating, despite the provocation to some gamers, while other publishers can live with it.


  • They are a sneaky bunch.

    Anyone ever noticed that specialties in Dragon Age won’t carry accross to another game unless online?

    I usually only connect to LIVE to grab demos etc.

    I found out later when I happened to be connected that I didnt have to relearn how to be a Templar (or whatever) again!

  • This is stupid. It’s crap like this that encourages piracy. When I’m capped, my internet connection is pretty shaky, meaning that if I sign into the PSN, half the time it works, half the time it doesn’t. Not to mention, how big a ‘problem’ is PSN sharing? I doubt the majority of people who purchase PSN games use the game on more than one console. Is it as rampant as PC Piracy?

    • Ahh but you’re forgetting the dangers of piracy, every single copied game is the equivelent of 500 trillion dollars in economic damage, increases the hole in the ozone layer and makes you less attractive to people you’d like to have sex with. We’re facing the end of humanity itself here!!!

    • Nothing ‘encourages’ piracy. It’s just a poor excuse that pirates use so they can claim foul play from publishers, and not pay for games. You alone have the choice to partake or not. If DRM is too obnoxious, simply take your dollars elsewhere.

      Just because a game comes out doesn’t mean you HAVE to play it, and if DRM’s bad, then you HAVE to pirate it. People need to learn some goddamn self-control.

      No-one enjoys draconian DRM, but you’d have to be the most selfish person in the world to not see why it exists. Hyperbole aside, piracy is gutting the industry and these companies are simply attempting to protect their bottom line. Besides, online connectivity is now a requirement for plenty of games, regardless of Multiplayer component. It also serves to remain updated, check for DLC, use cloud-save files and post achievements.

  • Yup AC2 had the same thing from ubisofts stupid thing.
    And I think it still has the one off check same as pop:forgotten sands or whateva it was called

    And besides game sharing is still possible just go first second third instead of all at once

  • The reasoning in the article sound a bit weird. If they wanted to limit the use of the game to the PSN account that purchased it, then couldn’t they achieve that through the PSN DRM directly?

    Perhaps the online connection is intended to ensure that the same license is not used to play the game on two consoles simultaneously, while still allowing play by other users on the console?

    • That was always my understanding. As far as I know it has always been the same, that you cannot be logged in to a single acct on 2 separate same platform consoles. I noticed this on PSP a while back after downloading Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and putting to both my PSPs.

      But then again, perhaps it is just gazillion-dollar companies being irrationally greedy when they should just be giving everything away, nay, PAYING us, to play their games.

  • I purposefully avoid logging into the PSN because it seems like every time I do, I have to download another 150mb+ update 😐

  • All seems a bit unnecessary on Capcoms part. Surely Sony were aware when they implemented PSN Sharing that it would be easy to “trade” your purchases with friends? I myself do this often and in actual fact thought it was perfectly fine to do so. I was not aware that it was only intended for transferring to your own psp and such. But do I feel guilty about it? Hell no. Whether I purchased it myself, a collective of friends chipped in for it or whatever, at the end of the day the game has been payed for, and that includes the extra four copies provided. If they are losing too much money on this then don’t blame us for taking advantage of what we are being offered.

    Besides, most psn games are over-priced anyway. £42 to download mass effect 2?? Even though retail is £38 and that includes physical objects to manufacture? Give me a break.

  • I’m boycotting all games like this.

    The fact is the games will get pirated anyway and the pirates will have a better version of the game because its only the people that pay that have to endure the DRM bullshit companies come up with.

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