Xbox ONE will block used video games, PS4 won’t . . . right? WRONG!

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OK, it’s been 2 days since Microsoft revealed what some of you may call ‘the biggest disaster in console gaming history EVAH!’. I’m talking, of course, about Xbox ONE. We’ve all seen a lot of hate being directed at Microsoft for not showing games, requiring Kinect to always be connected etc. etc. (all of which I already talked about in my previous article here), but there’s one thing I’ve seen pretty much most of the people I’ve spoken to agree on – Microsoft will most certainly block users from playing used games on their consoles (unless they pay the full retail price first, that is). This might, of course, be true … but it might not be true. We don’t know anything about that yet (apart from some vague interviews). Microsoft has to come out with an official statement on that matter – then we’ll be 100% sure what their plan is.

What really puzzles me, though, is that I’ve heard quite a lot of people claim that PS4 will most definitely NOT include any sort of DRM for disc-based games … but is that really true? Well, I’ve done some digging here and there, and it turns out that Microsoft isn’t the only one being extremely unclear and vague on this very issue.

Surprised yet? If not – you’ll be soon. As it turns out – Sony’s statements on pre-owned games haven’t really been all that clear and definitive as we previously thought either.

Just after the February PS4 reveal presentation Michael Denny (Sony’s VP of Worldwide Studios) was interviewed about PS4’s policy on used video games … and here’s what he had to say:

It’s a massively important issue and I understand why it’s one that keeps coming up and will keep coming up, because people want to know what the exact stance is. In relation to points like that, of course we’re mindful of what the game development community wants and what the wider industry issues are with those things. I think in good time that will become clearer.

OK, now I’m starting to smell something really fishy going on here. I think most of you would agree with me that ‘the game development community’ really wants to see all pre-owned game sales die a horrible and painful death. I’m sure you remember we’ve been cheering EA and Ubisoft for letting go of their horrendous DRM/season passes, but maybe this is the exact reason why they made that decision in the first place! Maybe they just won’t need their own DRM, because the new consoles will do that for them on a system-wide scale? Whatever it may be – that very statement I highlighted in the above quote definitely should set off some red lights for you.

Anyway – here’s another quote from a later part of the same interview with Michael Denny:

It’s not something that I feel I have any further announcement or comment to make on, other than to acknowledge with you that it’s a massively important issue and of course we are going to do the right thing.

Surely, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that statement, right? They want to do ‘the right thing’, after all. OK, that sounds really cool, but what exactly is ‘the right thing’ in this situation, and more importantly – ‘the right thing’ for whom, exactly? For consumers or maybe for publishers? As you can clearly see – this could very well go both ways.

Oh well, let’s just see what some other Sony higher-ups had to say on that topic. Here’s what Fergal Gara (PlayStation UK Managing Director) had to say about that:

Well first of all, we haven’t stated that second-hand games…we haven’t made a statement on the second-hand games question. 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.

So what we’re here to do is offer the best value and the best gaming experience for gamers. 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.

At first glance – everything is fine and dandy, right? But wait just a bloody moment … if they were going to not block used video games usage on PS4 then why does Sony even need an ‘answer to the pre-owned question’? I’m sure if they weren’t going to block used games from being played on PS4 then there would simply be no question in the first place … right?

And then there’s Shuhei Yoshida (Sony’s President of Worldwide Studios) with this gem from an interview by GameSpot:

When you purchase the disc-based games on PS4, it should work on any hardware. So that’s what I’m saying.

OK, that’s it … that’s the final nail in the coffin for the whole topic of this article, right? Weeeeeeeeell – hate to say it, but – no, not really. If you think about this quote for a moment, you’ll realize that technically Xbox ONE will also work the same way. You will be able to play your game discs on any Xbox ONE console … but only as long as you first log in to your own account on that console.

You’ve probably also read somewhere that Shuhei Yoshida said that publishers CAN require users to input activation codes if they want to play a used game. This may sound vaguely familiar to what is rumoured Microsoft will implement for that same purpose. He was asked, of course, if Sony is going to implement such mechanism, but all he said is that Sony ‘isn’t ready to talk about it’. I have to say – I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really sound all that reassuring to me.

Finally – the day before yesterday, right after Microsoft’s press conference, some of Sony’s better-known employees took to Twitter to leave some of their comments on that reveal … and curiously enough – none of those retorts were about Xbox ONE supposedly blocking used games. I’m not saying that HAS to mean something, but it’s just curious – that’s all I’m saying.

So, what can I really say to sum up all those ‘revelations’ from above? Well – maybe we shouldn’t pass judgement on Xbox ONE (or PS4, for that matter) just yet, because we REALLY don’t have any concrete evidence (in the form of official statements from Sony or Microsoft) so far. I’m sure many of you said after the reveal that now you’re DEFINITELY getting a PS4, because it at least won’t block used games … but – as you see above – that’s one thing we don’t really know. My advice would be to just wait and see how things turn out in both camps, because from the sound of things – it looks as PS4 could very well have the exact same policy on used video games as Microsoft … or not!

Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us what you think about all that hubbub after the reveal! I’d really love to know what YOU think!

Over and out,

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He considers himself an all around digital artist. He likes to discover new and experimental ways of completing projects. He’s always considered himself a generalist when it comes to 3D and VFX. He enjoys the changing of hats on a project to fill in gaps on a production. With over a decade of experience using all sorts of graphics software his energetic attitude assures that projects are completed on time and exceed expectations. He's also an avid gamer ... and self-proclaimed guitar god ;)

  • RobotBrush

    #XboxONE will block used games, #PS4 won’t … right? WRONG! – a little follow-up to our previous article :)

  • Garrison Shields

    Why not pass judgement on both? It’s a terrible idea and it turns gaming into a mess. Sad that I remember a day when Electronics Boutique was no bigger than a cell phone store and now the megapublishers they helped build like the EAs and Microsofts of the world go to war with them… Meanwhile, the customer is the last person considered in the decision. I’ll buy a WiiU as a giant “screw you” to the bean counters turning an industry based on fun and recreation into another hollow profitable shell of what once was. They tried to make gaming for everyone.. Now, it seems like it’s headed in a direction where it is for no one.

    • lashman

      why not pass judgement on both? well … the simple answer is – because we don’t really know anything yet. Those rumours and vague interviews, of course, don’t bode particularly well … but still – we don’t even know the details on how exactly this thing (IF they decide to implement it) is going to work on both consoles. All I’m saying is – just wait and see … and if they both (or either one of them) decide to do something utterly atrocious in that regard – then by all means – hate all you want (heck, I’ll be severely pissed off myself).

    • Bin_Laden

      But good games won’t come to WiiU

  • RobotBrush

    @GamesHome_ here you go, my good man: :) enjoy

  • RobotBrush

    #XboxONE will block used games, but #PS4 won’t, right? well,wrong! – a little follow-up to previous article #goodread

  • RobotBrush

    @TheWorldWarGame well, thank you very much ;) and in the meantime – read this: if you haven’t already ;)

  • Apothys

    I find it hypocritical that in your last article you stated that you didn’t abide by interviews for legitimate information and would wait for an ‘official statement’ and yet here your pulling soundbytes and calling fire left and right. You should at least abstain on judgement from -both- companies if you’re calling for a ‘wait and see’ approach.

    • lashman

      That is absolutely not the case here. And I still stand by what I said – I don’t go by interviews for official info. I’m definitely not trying to convince anyone that this article is some kind of proof that Sony will MOST DEFINITELY be imploring some kind of DRM scheme for used games. I never said anything of that sorts. All I wanted to show people is that we really shouldn’t take any interviews as legit info, because all of them are nothing more than PR talk. Just as Microsoft’s execs’ saying unclear and conflicting things, Sony’s execs weren’t much clearer either. In both cases – this particular issue could very well go both ways. If, for example, Sony came out today and said that they will, in fact, use DRM for used games – would ANYTHING they said in February (from the quotes I listed above) be untrue? Absolutely not. This is all I’m trying to say. I probably could’ve analysed MS execs’ quotes as well – but that would just be a waste of time since we already know that they stumbled a lot in that department and that pretty much nothing is clear at this point.

  • Alice

    You missed this article ( and in the update at the bottom:

    “Sony’s game studios chief, Shuhei Yoshida, told reporters that any requirement for users to register a game online in order to play it would be left to game publishers. Sony won’t require that.”

    Note the “any requirement for users to register a game online” Which means they aren’t going to enforce the used game policy as it would have to at least be able to register the game once online to do a policy like that. In fact the patent Sony has to disallow used games still requires you register the game once online. They’ll leave it up to developers (and developers will have to face the wrath of gamers who will go to other developers who don’t do that, they can’t hide behind Sony, they can’t just say well every other game on Sony does that so what are you going to do?).

    Of course, Sony could be lying, but if we go down that road, so could everything MS said too (they could even be requiring constant online check ins every three minutes). If we are going by what the companies have said, Sony has pretty much flat out said there they are leaving that decision to the publishers but it won’t be inherant to the PS 4 itself. And there’s a reason publishers would rather Sony or MS enforce it, it means they don’t have to worry about other rogue publishers not stepping in line and offering a choice not to, and they can hide in the background and let Sony/MS be bad guys, they don’t get the direct wrath (and loss of future sales as well if they piss people off enough. I know I am turned off now from buying EA games over SimCity).

    • lashman

      well … I can’t really comment on that snippet as the update on the kotaku article isn’t really a quote … do I don’t know what the exact wording of that statement was. And – as you know – wording is extremely important in all PR-talk.

      • Alice

        I went back and looked and yeah, you’re right. In any words, I hope Sony doesn’t go down the same path cause that means i’m stuck with my PS3/360 and maybe building a PC once Bethesda comes out with the next Elder Scrolls/Fallout. Or maybe if we’re really lucky and Sony follows suit, Nintendo will get really popular and I can get Fallout/Elder Scrolls on it (and it’s cheaper too. And as much as I’m not a Nintendo person I have to admit they do seem to get their customers. They have lower powered consoles cause they are always striving to make them affordable while still being able to do fun games. And they haven’t even threatened to do this stuff).

        For me the real dealkiller is insisting I check in online every so often, I don’t care how sparse that is. I’m not going to deal with a machine that is gimped that has absolutely no benefit to me (Or in other words even that one time that the checkup happens at the same time my internet is down meaning I can’t play til it comes up when there is absolutely no benefit to me is one time too many. And I have good internet, it’s the principle of the matter). The used game and if you can play them or not I admit if both SOny and MS did it I’d hate, I’d probably hold out in hopes if enough people did at least one would change their minds, but I’d probably cave for FO/ES in the end. Or maybe by then I’d have accepted I just can’t play those games (or have to save the money for a PC).

        • lashman

          everything you’re saying is true – I definitely agree :) it wouldn’t be all that good if they did that … the thing is – we still really don’t know how it’s going to be implemented. Maybe you WILL BE able to play games offline just as long as you have the physical game disc in the console, and only when it’s not present (because – as you know – the games will install to the hard drive automatically in the background and won’t require the disc to be in the console in order to play them) – the console will need to check in … that definitely could be one of the scenarios. But it’s all pure speculation … and that will take us nowhere, so the best thing we can do right now is just wait for both companies to come out with official statements on that issue. Everything apart from that is just guesswork ;)

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