Sony admits second-hand game blocking is not "clarified" for the PS4
Posted on 27 Feb 2013 at 11:35, by
Sony's next-generation PS4 console may restrict the use of second-hand games, despite apparent comments from the company that such games would not be blocked.
Rumours have been circulating pointing to digital rights management (DRM) technology in both Microsoft's Xbox 720 and Sony's PlayStation 4 that would prevent second-hand games from being installed on the next-generation consoles; or possibly restrict them to a small subset of gameplay - only allowing access to the first level, for example, or turning off multiplayer modes.
While Microsoft has yet to publicly comment on the claims, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida stated outright that "when you purchase the disc-based games for the PS4, that should work on any hardware" - which was interpreted by many as a denial of any such plans.
Second-hand sales - and the equally contentious issue of friends borrowing and swapping games - are a major problem for the games industry: while the publisher, developer and console maker get a cut of the proceeds from each new game sold at retail, they receive nothing from subsequent sales of that copy. Thus, if each copy of the game ends up with two owners the potential revenue for the companies involved is halved - and in these days when a triple-A title can cost millions of pounds to produce and involve hundreds of staff members, that's a lot of lost revenue.
Some publishers have been working to combat the problem themselves, including single-use codes with games which provide 'additional' content - with subsequent owners being asked to shell out on a new code to receive these extras. Though, to date, none of these games have blocked parts of the core narrative.
Claims that the next-generation consoles would include facilities to prevent or severely restrict second-hand sales of games, then, are not so far-fetched - and doubly so given Sony's filing of a patent describing a method for doing exactly that.
Yoshida's denial has now been muddied by the head of PlayStation UK Fergal Gara during an interview with NowGamer. "Well first of all, we haven’t stated that second-hand games... we haven’t made a statement on the second-hand games question," said Gara in response to a direct question regarding the status of second-hand gaming on the PS4. "There was a lot of reaction to a patent that was filed, which is a matter of course for a technology business like us, to file various patents at various times, many of which many never see any application but they are good to have depending on ideas that might be building. The answer to the pre-owned question isn’t clarified just yet and we’re working through that and we’ll announce our position in more detail as and when we can."
For now, then, it looks like gamers who are incensed by the issue of second-hand games should steer clear of putting in an early pre-order for a PS4 until the issue is resolved. That said, we feel Sony will only provide the tools, and let publishers make the hard decisions on the matter, so this issue could run and run.
For more comprehensive PS4 coverage see our PS4 release date, specs & price rumours.
So it's rather like second-hand cars? Maybe in the future, if this is the trend, you'll buy a used car and find that it's restricted to owner-only - you can't lend it out or carry passengers or goods!
I look back over decades of consoles and find that the traditional situation is still very profitable for the makers and games creators. But what's new is that as consoles get more expensive to make, they are being marketed like cellphones or inkjet printers today - sold at a loss so that sales can be regained from the artificially high price of consumables (ie, phone calls, ink and games).
Maybe the console makers should go the whole hog and make all games rental only, with a price per hour?
By davidcroucher on 27 Feb 2013
don't understand sony
So if I have a playstation 1 playstation 2 and a playstation 3 game how is it costing Sony money if I'm playing the games that I purchased on it. And what about preplayed ps4 games are you saying that it cost sony money whenever I buy a used ps4 game? Basically I have to hook up a PS1 PS2 PS3 and the new PS4 to play all of my playstation games Well PS2 was completely backward compadible way to go Sony did that "cost" you money? I'm sure it helped. Backward compadibility is a really good idea especially for a new game system where people don't have money for brand new games so they play the used ones until they save up that money for a new game. Even if its not backward compadible I'm sure theres hackers out there that can figure out how to make them compadible all it takes is a bit of software. I do really hope they choose some kind of backward compadibility.
By offeredautumn8 on 6 May 2013
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