Gamers are taking to Twitter to fight for their rights as consumers, and the gaming world seems to be paying attention. It started with a rumour. Following confirmation that the Xbox One will have some form of restriction on the way people can trade and borrow their games, GTTV's Geoff Keighley came out and said he'd heard that Sony is planning something similar for the PS4.
This infuriated hardcore gamers, already fuming at the idea that they may not have full ownership over the Xbox One games they buy — would all next-gen games follow the same trend?
One NeoGAFfer, Pete "famousmortimer" Dodd, decided to organise the mob. He started a thread on the major gaming message board asking people to hop on Twitter and send messages to executives at Sony, using the hashtag #PS4NoDRM. The message: "Hey Sony, we want to be able to buy, sell, and borrow our used games."
Almost immediately, the campaign exploded. As of last night, one NeoGAFfer calculated that there were close to 14,000 tweets with the hashtag #PS4NoDRM The campaign has reached dozens of news sites including NBC News. Even now, people are tweeting messages with the hashtag in hopes of getting Sony's attention.
"It's much larger than I ever imagined," Dodd told me this afternoon. "Honestly thought the post would go about two pages." As of right now, the NeoGAF thread has 105 pages and 467,690 pageviews.
Sony has yet to officially respond to the surging campaign, but some executives have tweeted words of support. Tepid, generic words, but words nonetheless.
"I know my colleagues might not appreciate me saying this," said Sony biz dev manager Shahid Kamal Ahmad, "but I’ve rather enjoyed being Twitter bombed by passionate fans recently."
"Humbled by the outpouring of passionate PlayStation fans and their willingness to talk to us directly," said Sony producer Nick Accordino. "Please know that we hear you. <3"
The strongest statement came from Sony's Adam Boyes, who responded to one Twitterer's criticism by supporting the fan campaign: "imho it's working pretty well, much better than a few letters would. We're seeing the message loudly, and it's immediate."
We've reached out to Sony multiple times for comments on this campaign and the PS4's used game policy, but it has not responded. It's likely we won't hear anything official about its plans until E3, which unofficially begins on June 10, when publishers hold their big press conferences.
Even if it's too late for Sony to change a thing, and even if publisher pressure has pinned the game industry's problems on the easy scapegoat of used games, convincing both Sony and Microsoft to hop on the bandwagon, it's encouraging to see gamers speaking up for their beliefs. And it's encouraging to see Sony acknowledging that they're listening.
"It's easy to be cynical about these soulless corporations, but as I'm sure you know covering the industries... there are real people working there," Dodd said. "They don't like when the internet turns against them. They feel good when people like their work. They're human beings."
So what happens if Sony suddenly announces that the PS4 will have heavy restrictions for used games? Riots, perhaps.
"I'm sure the campaign will continue and turn quite angry," Dodd said. "At that point I would back away. I love games but rage isn't my thing."