Can Playstation 4 Play Used Game? Sony Says ‘Yes,’ Definitively

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There’s been a lot of speculation in the last year about whether the next generation of game consoles would block players’ ability to play used games on them. There was even a Sony patent discovered that seemed to suggest technology that would block the ability of games to be used on more than one piece of hardware.

But according to Eurogamer story, that patent wasn’t related to the Playstation 4. And during an interview with Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida, he said, pretty unequivocally, the PS4 will play used titles.

When asked whether the PS4 would block used game discs, Yoshida said customers expect the physical media of games — the discs themselves — to retain some value once they’re purchased and for those discs to be passable to other players.

“Yes. That’s the general expectation by consumers,” Yoshida said. “They purchase physical form, they want to use it everywhere, right? So that’s my expectation.”

But that was a little vague, so Yoshida went a step further and nailed it down solid.

“So, used games can play on PS4.”

The reason for the debate and the idea of used game compatibility being up in the air at all is that developers and publishers have been actively fighting the notion for some time. The widespread application of online passes and always-on DRM works to limit the ability of players to buy used titles, which confer no revenue back to the publisher that originally sold it. That is to say, every time you buy a used title, all of the profits on that tile go to the store, and none to the people who made the game; publishers only get paid on the original retail releases. That’s why GameStop and others have such a huge portion of their business model tied to used titles. It’s also why so many are so adamant that used sales are “killing” the games industry.

So speculation that console makers might cave to publisher pressure and ban used titles actually doesn’t seem all that far-fetched, although it would likely be a much more massive blow to the industry than most realize.

According to Eurogamer’s report, the patent in question is Sony’s but not applied to the PS4. That patent was for tags that could be added to games that would bind them to a particular piece of hardware, invalidating the ability to resell the discs after the fact and use them in a different console. A Sony representative told the outlet that patent wasn’t applied to the PS4, so it sound as though your ability to sell your old games and buy new ones will remain intact.

Lots of tech companies often grab patents they never end up using, and then license the technology to other tech companies, so it’s possible Sony has this used-game-rejecting technology on the books simply so it can sell licenses to anyone who might want them. It’s still a bit ominous, though.

Meanwhile, we’ll have to see if there’s any movement from Microsoft in this direction when it (finally) announced that new Xbox.

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