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Analyzing The PS4's Stance On Used Games

I know I know this is an oldish topic, but it hasn't clearly been addressed in a way satisfying to most of the gaming world. My reasons for writing this blog are somewhat obvious if you've followed my blogs recently, but also to try and get some basic information out there for consideration. A note to you, dear reader, before the blog actually begins: This blog will be mostly speculative as there hasn't been a definitive statement that everyone agrees upon, so unless I provide a link then you can take my statements as mere speculation and not fact.

Used games. We know them, we love them. Publishers HATE them. There is a common myth that used games are detrimental to the overall profit a publisher and developer makes but the fact that it's a myth doesn't seem to deter publishers and developers from claiming that used games hurt them and so they try to find ways of recouping their losses from the used game market. Enter Sony. Sony have a history with methods of blocking used games. They were among the first to use online passes (I may be incorrect, but I believe they actually introduced them to the console world), and have now twice filed patents for methods to block used games from working on their consoles. The PS3 never used the tech that Sony patented to block used games on that console, and I believe the same will be said for the PS4. Why? Why thanks for asking. Here's why.

For starters, Jack Tretton is opposed to the idea. Jack Tretton is the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, so you can understand that when he says something, his opinion matters and his voice is heard by HQ. Here's a link to what Jack said on the matter of used games.


To paraphrase what he said, he thinks that blocking used games is anti-consumer. That's an executive at Sony saying that. Now, he doesn't have the final say as his position is essentially as a division head, but I think it's reasonable to assume that his opinion does carry some weight to it.

Next up is where all the hubbub is coming from and that's Shuhei Yoshida. Yoshida was interviewed by Eurogamer and was asked if the PS4 is going to block used games. Here's a link to what he said.

And this link is an update.

Now what's interesting to note about the first link is that no one is talking about this little tidbit.

"Interestingly, I also spoke to a Sony source elsewhere at the event this evening who told me that the anti used-game patent discovered last month was actually nothing to do with PlayStation 4 at all."

Why is that never discussed? Possibly because that source is unnamed, but it's still very interesting. Especially when people are spreading misinformation about the PS4 as if they have first hand knowledge. Eurogamer doesn't believe that the patent is for the PS4, Yoshida said the PS4 will play used games, but for some that's not enough.

So let's look at the update. The update poses the question about online registration of games. For one, Yoshida says that when you buy a disc-based PS4 game that game should work on any PS4 hardware. Now I'm going to come back to that, so keep that in your mind.

When asked if games will require online registration, Yoshida said that that would be up to the publishers but, as a publisher, Sony is not talking about doing that themselves. Note that we already have a system of online registration of games in the current gen. That being online passes. So to those people thinking that this automatically means publishers will get to decide whether or not used games will not work on the PS4, I say don't jump to that conclusion because it's more likely that Sony is simply stating that online passes can continue with the PS4 at the discretion of third party publishers.

Now some would bring up the question "why would so many 3rd parties throw their support in with Sony if there isn't a method to block used games then?" Well, why wouldn't they? They are in it for money aren't they? It stands to reason that they have 3 choices in who they want to support, and if they want to maximize profit then they'll support as many as they can without jeopardizing the quality of their product. I could also ask what makes anyone think that those publishers are ONLY going to side with Sony. Just because Sony has their support, doesn't mean they are the only ones that do. Finally, developer reception to the PS4 has largely been very positive, so it stands to reason that they'd want to put their support behind a product that they can enjoy working with don't you think?

Now let's go back to the disc-based games. Now let's say that the naysayers who are spreading misinformation about the PS4 are actually right. That everything they've been saying is true just for the sake of argument. Would you be surprised then that I could still say they are wrong? How can they be wrong if they are right? Well look at Yoshida's quote.

"when you purchase the disc-based games for PS4, that should work on any hardware."

Why is this so important? Because it includes NEW games. Think about it. If Sony's patent registers the brand new game to one console and one PSN ID, how could Yoshida say that any PS4 game disc will work on any PS4 console? There is no difference between a new game disc and a used game disc. Both discs have the exact same game code on them, so there is no way of distinguishing when a New disc becomes a Used disc. The only thing you can do is take the discs personal id code and match it to the console/id code it's first used on but that still doesn't make a distinction between brand new (read: profit for the developers) and used (read: profit for the retailer).

This isn't something Yoshida can publicly lie about as it could be used in the Future as false advertisement. Plus, what reason would he have to lie about what Sony wants to do as a publisher? He is the head of Worldwide Studios, so he has a good understanding of what Sony wants to do as a game publisher. Do you see how the reasoning of the FUD spreaders can be flawed after looking at the information from this perspective?

The one thing we know for sure is that only time will tell who is lying, but based on everything we currently know; the PS4 will play used games with the likelihood of online passes remaining a thorn in the side of the gamer buying used games.

What do you all think?

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PopRocks3591894d ago

Well, a CEO's word of mouth is not necessarily set in stone. Like any CEO, Sony's can be full of crap or just full of hype. Or they're telling the truth; that too is indeed possible.

I don't think Sony would go for it. I don't see why they would invent a patent of that nature, but I don't see them restricting gamers from playing used games either. It's just not a smart move and there is no way to easily make a transition. Sony already learned from the PSP Go that you can't just drop a huge change like that and expect to get away with it.

Cross-Buy with Vita owners is a good way to keep fans engaged, otherwise they could possibly create a reward system like Nintendo to add value to a new copy of their titles.

They COULD do it I'm sure, but I certainly don't see it happening.

DragonKnight1894d ago

It may not be set in stone, but when you have 2 of them saying the same thing then I think it's a safe bet that used games will work on the PS4. A lot of people apparently NEED them not to (read: Not including the publishers) so they look smart with the FUD and misinformation they are spreading, but I think the likelihood of it actually happening is slim to none.

caseh1894d ago

Look at it this way:

1. Gamestation, GAME etc all stock Sony's games.
2. Preventing play of pre-owned games means they don't buy used games off consumers.
3. Consumers become more strict on what they buy, knowing it can't be sold.
4. Sony would be stupid to bite the hand that feeds them, return to point 1.

It's really that simple. Online passes will stay as will pre-owned games.

DragonKnight1894d ago

Good point. So far stores like Gamestop have been silent on the issue and this would definitely hinder their profit margin. These stores are the biggest sellers of console games and that's not going to be changing any time soon. Unless Sony can offer these stores a significant incentive, there's no way Sony are going to risk alienating their best method of selling games. Quite frankly, Digital Distribution only won't be coming to consoles for quite awhile. Not unless the Big 3 decide they don't care about the money from countries with pathetic or no internet.

smashcrashbash1894d ago

I think I have pointed this out before. Sony would not block used games unless at least one other person was doing it.There is no way Sony would block used games by themselves and sit in a corner taking all the backlash by themselves.If Sony was blocking used games you can be sure they won't be the only ones on board.If third parties decided to block games on the PS4 you can be sure that others will be following their example.Third parties wouldn't risk alienating their games on the PS4 therefore if Sony was planning to do this they would never go along with it.They would realize that they most likely be losing money from Sony being the only participant in this venture.I don't think they would join Sony willingly in this venture with arms outstretched expecting a massive cash flow.I think people still think of businesses in a cartoon sense that they will do ANYTHING to make money.No party is going to agree to something like this unless they know everyone is on board with it too.People won't just stop buying games if everyone is blocking used games but they could easily stop buying a certain person's games and that is too much of a risk.

taquito1894d ago (Edited 1894d ago )

bait and switch incoming, it'll play used games for the first year, then drop it slowly

Captain Tuttle1894d ago

I suspect that online passes (for single player and multiplayer games) will be the norm for used games on both the PS4 and the 720 next gen.

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