In a recent interview, Shuhei Yoshida of Sony Worldwide Studios, after checking with a translator, declared “So, used games can play on PS4.” A lot of people are taking this to mean that PS4 will handle second-hand games the exact same way all other PlayStations have done. While that might indeed be the case (and I hope it is), we should be realistic with ourselves and realize that he didn’t go into any detail with this statement. There could, potentially, be some changes to the way things are done. Don’t get out your pitchforks yet, but consider some realistic ways that Sony could still punch used games right in the crotch.
The only detail we have about the system is that one sentence, “[U]sed games can play on PS4.” That’s all. Well, current-generation used copies of Madden work fine in other systems too, but there’s one problem: the online pass. In order to play online, you need to pony up some extra dough if you’re the second owner of that disc. This is found on several other titles as well. And yet, one could still say with perfect honesty, “Used copies of Madden can be played on other systems.” It would be true. You can leave out that detail and still have truth in that sentence; it would have just as much content as Yoshida’s remark to Eurogamer.
Sony is no stranger to the online pass concept, as I found out when browsing the Vita shelves and seeing WipEout 2048 with a sticker declaring that the game’s online pass had been used. Now take that another step and reflect upon the PS4 conference, during which Sony talked at length about the ability to connect with friends online, share clips and snapshots of your games, and all sorts of other interactions. So what Sony could do, hypothetically, is not block used games outright, but go heavy on the online pass. Want to do that Facebooky stuff and stream your game and all that hoo-hah that the conference focused on? Well then, that better not be a used copy of Second Son that you’re playing, and if it is, you’d better have already bought your Social Key.
To some people, that won’t matter. Some gamers would gladly buy the Social Key (I’m making this name up), and others, such as myself, don’t really care about using Twitter or streaming their games, so we’d remain unaffected. But what if it got worse? What if, upon popping in a used game, you were greeted with a message declaring that you didn’t just need to buy an online pass or a Social Key, but you had to purchase an activation just to even play the game offline? You’d have to turn off your Internet connection every time you played that game, which for some people would be an annoying extra step. The fact would remain, however, that the PS4 would play used games. There would still not be any misinformation in Yoshida’s famous words. Is this likely? No. Possible? Yes.
Now imagine, for a minute, that instead of just needing to buy an online pass and a Social Key and an activation code, that the PS4 sends a signal to Sony when it detects that a game is being played in a second system, and Kaz Hirai pressed a button to remotely disable every single Sony product within 50 feet of your PS4. Everyone’s gonna be super pissed at you, from your neighbor whose 3D TV you just ruined, to your sister whose Sony laptop just cooked itself. But hey, the PS4 stays alive and keeps playing that used game just fine! It was true! Nevermind that Sony will use the PS4’s built-in GPS trackers to come to your house and have a special assassination unit kill everyone that you love and bend up all of your rare baseball cards. And you’re all like, “Even my Mo Vaughn rookie card?” Especially your Mo Vaughn rookie card. Mo. Fucking. Vaughn. Now it’s just a No Vaughn rookie, heh. Don’t think that’s funny? Neither does Sony, you worthless puke. But hey, that pre-owned copy of Killzone is working just fine. It only cost you $40, plus another $30 worth of codes and the destruction of your old life.
We don’t have all the details, but hopefully we can get some, quickfire style. Let’s be honest with ourselves and realize that used games are not out of the woods yet. And according to your IP, neither are you, Kevin.