Sony, We'd Like A Straight Answer About This Used Games Stuff

It's a simple question: "Can the PlayStation 4 play used games?" After nearly a year of rumours, speculation and mysterious patents indicating that Sony could limit the play of pre-owned titles on its next-generation console we're finally getting answers — answers that leave us with more questions.

Speaking to Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell following last night's console "reveal", Sony Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida gave what seems like a concrete answer: "So, used games can play on PS4. How is that?" As Bramwell said, I think that's fine, but the roundabout path Yoshida took to get to that answer is rather puzzling. After being asked point-blank if the PlayStation 4 would block used games, Yoshida replied "Do you want us to do that?" He slides around the subject like an enigmatic mystic trying to pawn off a Mogwai, giving that seemingly definitive answer an air of uncertainty.

A Sony spokesperson speaking to Game Informer following the event gave a similarly cryptic, superficially positive answer.

"We are just now announcing the basic vision and strategy of PS4 and will have more information to share regarding used games later this year. But PlayStation has a long history of keeping its gamers happy and we won't make decisions that damage our relationship with them."

The fact that this spokesperson could not give a simple "yes" to the question indicates that issue is far from settled.

Perhaps the problem here is the question. "Can the PlayStation 4 play used games?" Yes, it can. Now what we need to know is "How does the PlayStation 4 play used games?"

Last March Kotaku reported on information from multiple sources that the PlayStation 4 would implement anti-used game technology. The most reliable of these sources elaborated suggested this technology would not block the use of used games altogether, instead letting them be played on a limited basis before requiring some sort of activation fee. Games would be linked to a specific PlayStation Network account, requiring registration before play. It's all rumour, of course, but it's definitely the sort of convoluted system that would allow for these ambiguously confirmative responses.

The only thing that's clear right now is that the issue of used games on the PlayStation 3 isn't one to be addressed by a simple yes-or-no answer. Perhaps we'll know more when Sony gets around to showing us the console we'll be somehow playing used games in.


    Honestly, i never buy second hand games. The bigger issue is borrowing games off friends. Will Sony allow you to have their account details in your ps4 like we do now with the ps3 to share content?

      Me neither. I can't understand why anyone would when the same games can be bought brand new for cheap on ozgameshop, zavvi, play-asia etc...

        I don't buy 2nd hand games, but I DO sometimes trade in my old games just because I've got limited space available so I sometimes need to trade in the ones I don't play any more just to free up some space on the shelf. So while I don't care if I can't buy 2nd hand games any more, I do care that it would mean I can't trade / sell / give away my old games.

        If they decide to get sensible with the pricing then I would be open to buying more of my games in digital format as long as it's significantly cheaper than buying the disc, unlike the current laughable situation where it's actually full RRP for a digital copy.

          I see your point re: trade/sell/give away. On the digital front - hell yeah, digital pricing is insane.

        I have never bought a used game but the next step from blocking used games is forcing you to buy them from their official store.

        Imagine if you could no longer use Ozgameshop or Zavvi and had to pay 99 dollars for the latest release. You could no longer circumvent the Australia Tax or import a game while you wait 6 months for an official Australian release.

        MS and Sony are looking at Apple and Steam and thinking how great it would be if they could get a 30% cut of everything and have no competition due to owning the hardware.

        We need to be careful what we give up so willingly.

        Last edited 22/02/13 7:53 pm

      Same. Never buy used. I did when I first got my PS3, but then I started to realise that devs actually need the support of gamers to keep making games we like. If your a savvy consumer you can buy brand new much cheaper than rip off merchants like EB like to sell theirs for.

    They're waiting to see if Microsoft pulls the trigger on blocking used games before they come out strongly against it.

      Exactly. Neither of them want to spook the competition out of doing it because they know that the opposing console blocking used games gives them a free win for this generation of consoles. The only way it's going to happen is if one of them goes full digital download and makes up for it with Steam-like prices, or they both get together and make a backroom agreement to do it (and even then I think they wouldn't trust the other side enough to go through with it).

        I'm fairly sure that doing a back-room deal to both lock out used games would be highly illegal in a lot of places esp. the US - it's effectively price fixing.

    headline: we want a straight answer!!!!

    content of the article: heres a link to a straight answer. the answer is yes.

    next question.

    Last edited 22/02/13 1:03 pm

      No actually, they wont comment on it in general. They are being very vague. Mostly they have confirmed the PS4 will play pre-owned games but they aren't specifically saying if it will cost money to unlock those games for play, or multiplayer content as seen in some very recent PS3 games.

      Basically they aren't answering it right now.

        the question posed was "will the ps4 be able to play used games?"
        the answer was yes.

        how it plays the games hasnt been answered because that hasnt really been asked yet.

          Right. Because everyone's being so very fucking POLITE about it. There won't be anyone asking, "Will people be able to trade and play PS4 games without having to go through registration/payment bullshit?" and they won't be getting answers, "Depends on the publishers, really, but we're going to be making it easy for them to put that registration bullshit in there, so don't be surprised if loads of them do it, to try and kill used game sales."

          Because everyone fucking lies, or worse, says nothing and lets you believe whatever your brain can trick you into believing.

          Last edited 22/02/13 2:52 pm

    "But PlayStation has a long history of keeping its gamers happy and we won’t make decisions that damage our relationship with them"

    And yet one of their own branded those who did not want always on connections as anti-social.....

    At the end of the day, Sony is a business and businesses focus mostly making money. I seriously doubt they care about their consumer base.

      Well as leaps go, you took one right out of reality.

      If they wanted to make money, they would have charged for gaming online, and have at least 2/3 of their studios making FPS games. And they certainly wouldn't have approved of a game like Journey, or Flow, or Flower, or Unfinished Swan, or Linger in the Shadows, Echochrome.

      There would be at least another studio working on an Uncharted console game, and an extra 2 for God of War. That's how Sony would have done business, if it was all about the money.

    "The only thing that’s clear right now is that the issue of used games on the PlayStation 3(!) isn’t one to be addressed by a simple yes-or-no answer."

    At the end of the day, I think it needs to be a decision left up to the developers/publishers of the games rather than the people who create the hardware. I hate the whole idea of it but if a developer/publisher wants to go that route, they will work out a way to do it regardless. If sony is the direct publishing house behind a certain title, then that's when the decision on that particular title should be made.. not across the board on every single title.

      But publishers don't want to take that responsibility. EA want to pressure Sony/Microsoft to make the decision for them, so that way they can go 'oh, it's out of our hands, we would totally work around this system if we could'.

    Presumably the answer is that network passes/unlock codes will become prevalent.

    It wouldn't be difficult for them to kill second hand games on the current generation of consoles using this technique: at the moment many games split their purchase price between the physical disc and the accompanying unlock code. If they assigned all the value to the non-transferable network pass, and required it for all game features then the game would essentially be non-transferable.

    And if they can do it on current generation consoles, then they can roll it out on the next generation ones too. It doesn't even need to happen at launch.

      This. Absolutely.

      Here's the way I think they'll go:
      pre-owned unlocks will cost $25 per system, Gamestop will sell for $55 like they usually do a week after launch of a game. They'll get $30. As time goes by, Sony will make the same amount of money while Gamestop makes less. After say 2 years(?) the pass will be like $10, maybe even $5. The game will be "irrelevant" by then, and GS will want to get rid of it just to make room.

      They could even do something like, 'if you're a PS+ member pre-owned unlock codes are 50% cheaper' thing.

      I do however think that it has to happen at launch. It's a 'We're putting our foot down' sorta thing. If they don't, they risk losing people. Online Passes got a... well, a pass, because they were only $10.

      Last edited 23/02/13 2:50 am

    At the end of the day nothing is stopping them blocking used games on the PS3 and X-Box 360. The Technology exists and is already in place. It's just not being used.

    EA sort of use it with their online game pass.

      No, EA are just money hungry... They have been doing it ever since they took ownership of their online servers and started cutting off the older games...

        My point wasn't EA are money hungry but that the technology is already in use.

    "Did you, or did you not kill that man?"
    "Well, I didn't kill him. The bullet killed him."
    "Your Honour, motion to take the defendant out back and beat him with a phone book."
    "Motion granted."

      It's like that quote from the old blues musician R. L. Burnside who did time in jail for murder. He is reputed to have said something along the lines of "I never meant to kill nobody. All I meant to do was shoot the sonofabitch in the head. Him dying was between him and the lord."

    I don't care about used games, I want to play my ps3 games on my ps4.

      Not gonna happen given the prior Cell B.E. architecture. Even though there looks like the PS4 has hardware to spare, the Cell B.E chip is unique in the design of its cores, the bus that links them together, and the memory controller used.

      It does not help either that the PS4 is x86-based while the Cell B.E. contained a number of cores based on the PowerPC architecture (off the top of my head, the main core was PowerPC, the rest were cut-down, vector-based processors).

      As crazy as it sounds I once got a book on the chip and even tried to learn how to program it. It's not easy: you need customised libraries and tools (which have since been taken down from the IBM devloperWorks Web site so a search is needed for mirrors).

      Those still interested just for the nitty gritty, here's the link

    Yes u can play used games on PS4 but u have to pay sony a small fee

    In other words:
    "Based on what is currently happening in the EU in regards to Steam and other second-hand content court cases, as well as the amount of hostility we know will occur, plus the highly dubious legality in countries like Australia under Trade laws we will basically only comment when and if it is beneficial to our current marketing strategy of smoke and mirrors.

    Now if you look over in that direction you will see a glimpse of an invisible console that might or might not do what you think or believe in a dream."

    Ars Technica had a bit of expanded quotage (
    Speaking at a roundtable session with the press attended by Ars Technica, Shuhei Yoshida stated that "when you purchase the disc-based games for PS4, that should work on any hardware." When asked whether games would require online registration, Yoshida noted that that decision was up to the publisher. When asked if Sony, as a publisher, would require games to be registered online, Yoshida said, "we are not talking about that plan."
    It's sort of sounding like region locking on the PS3. Publishers will probably have the ability to lock out second hand games, but it is their choice as to whether they integrate it. If that is the case, hopefully it's like the PS3 and no one uses it... Well, with *one* exception... *Looks at Atlus with daggers in his eyes*

    Last edited 23/02/13 2:46 am

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