Beginning this September, some Sony games will contain "PSN Pass," a registration code that will be required for full online access. The first "pass enabled" game will be Resistance 3.
The PSN Pass will essentially lock some (or all) of a game's online content from anyone but the original purchaser, putting a huge dent into second-hand market sales as well as giving games to pals when you're finished with them. Presumably, you'll be able to purchase passes online for games, but that hasn't been confirmed yet.
Sony issued a statement on the PSN Pass, saying:
"We are always evaluating new programs for our online offering, and starting with Resistance 3 this September, we will be instituting a network pass program for PS3 games with online capabilities. This program will be game-specific. Games that are a part of this program will include a single-use registration code that grants the account holder redeeming the code full online access for that title. This is an important initiative as it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhancing premium online services across our first party game portfolio."
Sony's statement isn't all that clear, and right now, they're not answering my specific questions on the Pass (IE: what online aspects of Resistance 3 will be available if you don't have the pass? what other games will feature PSN Pass? Will codes be available for purchase online?) So for right now, we have only that confirmation statement to go on.
It bears mentioning that this isn't the first instance of this kind of program being put in place by Sony. As 1up.com points out, PSP versions of ModNation Racers and SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo required a code for online use, and to buy an online code, second-hand gamers had to pay $14.99 and $19.99 respectively.
More details as we get them.