Sony: Third-Party DRM Refers to Playing Used Games Online Only

This morning, there were some apparent cracks in the strong positions Sony staked out at their press conference last night.

During an interview with GameTrailers, Jack Tretton said that, “The DRM decision is going to have to be answered by the third parties, it’s not something we’re going to control, or dictate, or mandate, or implement.” The internet immediately exploded, with many on Twitter accusing Sony of walking back their statements from the presser last night.

Rather than speculate, we went directly to Sony to find out what’s going on. Turns out, it’s a very similar system to what’s in place on the PS3 now. According to Dan Race, Senior Director, Corporate Communications for Sony, Tretton’s statements were referring specifically to playing used games online. He told me,

The Online Pass program for PlayStation first-party games will not continue on PlayStation 4. Similar to PS3, we will not dictate the online used game strategy (the ability to play used games online) of its publishing partners. As announced last night, PS4 will not have any gating restrictions for used disc-based games. When a gamer buys a PS4 disc they have right to use that copy of the game, so they can trade-in the game at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever.

This is good news for gamers, indeed. In a nutshell, you can buy a used single-player game for the PS4 and play it all you want. If you want to go online with it, you may have to deal with some sort of publisher-determined DRM, be it an Online Pass or whatever.

I think we can put our pitchforks down for now.

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24 Comments on Sony: Third-Party DRM Refers to Playing Used Games Online Only

Axetwin

On June 11, 2013 at 11:53 am

Honestly, it sounds like some companies are going to go ahead with the Online Code ordeal.

Jimenez

On June 11, 2013 at 11:59 am

It sounds like exactly the same thing M$ is doing. They aren’t actively prohibiting used games, but are instead leaving it to the publishers. If the publishers want to make DRM they are free to do so and Sony can just pass the blame to them…..

Ron Whitaker

On June 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

@Jiminez: They’re not, though. You can buy a used game and play it offline as much as you want. You can then trade it in, resell it, give it away, whatever. MS is registering games to your account. Sony is not. There is a difference here.

Jimenez

On June 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

@Ron Whitaker: Hmm. That makes me feel a little better. I’m just worried that the publishers WILL. Like Sony won’t have DRM requirements but they won’t stop a company like EA from producing a game that will. Is it possible that the game could be designed by a third party with third party DRM that requires the game to check in or be always on? Maybe companies could do like they did with Sim City? Just on the PS4?

Kubrick

On June 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Ps4 can play any used game single player. It’s only for online multiplayer that third party publishers can charge for things such as Online passes, just like now with the ps3

Stop reporting misleading articles.

For xbox one its mandatory used game restriction for both offline single player and online multiplayer.

Gobeler

On June 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm

@Kubrick You mean online single player >__<

Jimenez

On June 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

If a publisher such as EA wanted to do their own DRM along the lines of Sim City or what Microsoft is doing, would the PS4 prevent that?

The last sentence of the quote from Dan seems pretty definitive that, as far as single player goes, that sort of DRM will not happen. I’m just worried that a publisher will take a single player game and sort of MAKE it online like Sim City…

I’m probably being unrealistic and overly paranoid. Even so I’m definitely going to get the PS4 over the new xbox and I’m very happy that Sony is hearing our concerns on this matter.

R-man

On June 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Yeah, as much as I hate Online Passes, Sony is just keeping what we already know with the current gen. The next gen console will implement the same sort of ideas we are already dealing with… You can play games all you want, you can trade, sell, borrow, or lend what you buy with no fee to play the SP portion of the game… but if a publisher, like EA, decides they want to make the consumer pay for an online pass to play the game’s MP portion, then you wouldn’t be able to play a game, say like BF4, online with friends in MP. This is nothing like what MS is doing with the Xbox One. And, as far as I see, this is nothing new. However, EA has announced they will no longer implement this online pass stuff, so we should have no problems with this from EA, right?

corvak

On June 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Sounds like it’s basically an Online Pass, but without having to do it through DLC.

Yay for less junk cluttering up the “New DLC” area of the store.

Blarty

On June 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm

If a third party publisher decides to put online passes in then the management, consequences and consumer reaction is for the publisher to handle, and rightly so. Sony will not dictate any DRM restrictions for consumers or publishers – this is as it is on PS3, and I believe it is the way it should continue.

DavidinCT

On June 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Now if Microsoft can follow suit, we can all be happy

Michael

On June 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Publishers will be stupid to enforce this. There companies reputation will be in chaos just like EA is now.
But I bet everything Ubisoft will try this and that will be the end of them as well.

Don’t mess with a gamers way of gaming. If you want to do that just release your game on PC and leave consoles out of it.

James

On June 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm

But where did he explicitly say that it doesn’t include single player DRM?

I just don’t see where he says that in that quote.

He says they won’t dictate the online used game strategy. He doesn’t say they will dictate the single player strategy.

Or is this covered off by the final sentence… is “using” the same as playing

jroc

On June 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm

@Jimenez.
The fact that the PS4 doesnt require an online check in….no matter what its not the same thing as MS. This is the current setup we have today. Get a cheap ass game from GameStop tomorrow? You will have to pay for the online code if it has one.

medman

On June 11, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I’m practically salivating thinking of what bundles Sony may offer for the launch console.

Ebalosus

On June 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm

This isn’t good…but it’s sure-as-sh*t much better than what Microsoft is doing.

Axetwin

On June 12, 2013 at 12:16 am

Unfortunately, Sony explained this very poorly. Which is why this article causes a bit of confusion.

Even though this article is almost into the second page of the list, I think I’ll try to clear up the confusion here.

On the PS3, developers can use Online Passes to prevent players from playing used games online. That is 100% the developers doing, and has nothing to do with Sony or Microsoft’s opinion on the used game market. The PS3 also has a way to detect if a player is using an illegitimate copy of the game. This is to battle piracy, and is actually Sony’s doing because it’s part of the system.

The only thing on the DRM front that Sony went out of their way to build for the PS3 was specifically to battle piracy. This is exactly what they’re going to do with the PS4. Any DRM system in place will be specifically to prevent piracy, however the developers are still free to add whatever they want directly into the game if they want to limit secondhand sales. Things like, online passes for example.

How does this differ from Microsoft? Microsoft went out of their way to build the XBone in such a way that it specifically battles used games. It’s not about trying to prevent piracy, it’s all about making sure each and every player bought their game from an approved retail vendor. Yes, Microsoft is saying the same thing Sony is; “it’s up to the developer on whether or not they want to use it”. So I understand the confusion.

Again, it’s not the same thing. What I’m about to say is conjecture, so I’m fully willing to admit that I could be wrong in the future. Sony developed games wont ship with online passes or any type of DRM that will get in the way of simply playing and sharing the games with your friends and their ability to play it. XBone games under the Microsoft label (Halo 5 for example) will most likely take advantage of the DRM system that is in place. THAT is the difference between the DRM in place on the PS4 and the XBone.

simplecity

On June 12, 2013 at 12:47 am

Some people here are trying to misslead people (maybe the people who hate PS).

Microsofts DRM and what Sony’s doing is completely different.

About the “Third-Party DRM” title of this article, I wouldn’t even call it DRM.
Its just an online pass code included with the game which can only be used once for online feature,
like this article mentions.
And if you buy that game second handed, you’ll have to buy an online pass from the PS Store.
Its just the same as how PS3 is. An example would be games from EA like FIFA or BF.

But on the other hand what Microsoft is doing is,
you need to authenticate the game/hardware once every 24 hours.
That doesn’t just include only online features, but applies to the whole game.
And not just second handed games but also new (non-second handed) games.
THIS is DRM.

What PS4 is doing is not DRM imo.

F4yt

On June 12, 2013 at 1:50 am

Well, on the PS3, third parties already used that system. DoA5 for example utilized an online pass. So nothing new here.

M$ still has account binding of on and offline games, mandatory Kinect and online authentication every now and then (1h, 24h), which is missing completely on the PS4.

Pony

On June 12, 2013 at 3:10 am

Not perfect, but still a damn site better than Xbox One.

Ron Whitaker

On June 12, 2013 at 6:52 am

@Jiminez – The fact that games aren’t registered to your account, and that the PS4 doesn’t ‘check-in’ would make that sort of DRM hard to implement. You could simply disconnect your system and play single player.

Sony’s been pretty consistent in saying that you’ll be able to play used games on PS4, period. The only exception is if you want to go online with those games, at which point the publisher can implement some sort of used game block, be it an Online Pass or whatever.

Ron Whitaker

On June 12, 2013 at 6:54 am

@James – He specifically said that third-party publishers would have control over their own ONLINE DRM. Single player and offline will work on used games on PS4.

Mr Glassback

On June 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

You’ve got to love how alot of the commenters on here (and everywhere else) are correcting others and rather than giving opinions, are speaking as a matter of fact.
Seems pretty obvious with all the vague statements that alot of stuff is still unconfirmed. Devs and the gaming media don’t know everything for certain yet, so I’m pretty sure no-one commenting can say anything for certain either.
It makes sense to worry about a publisher backlash. They hate used games and Sony isn’t playing ball.

madharuhi

On June 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Sounds like Tretton’s bad usage of the “first-party” and “third-party” terms. He could have simply used online and disc-based, but he did not and the entire Internet exploded for a moment.