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