PS4’s New Share Play Feature Actually Works

PS4’s New Share Play Feature Actually Works

Having seen PS4’s new Share Play in action, the response from a room of journalists was firstly “it actually works,” closely followed by “how are people going to abuse this?”

The idea behind Share Play, the most prominent feature of Sony’s soon to arrive and feature-packed Firmware 2.0, is that it enables you to pass the controller to a friend as if you were sitting on the sofa together. Except the sofa is now the internet – if you’re friends with someone, you can play multiplayer games with them, or even let them take control of your machine as if you’d physically handed them the pad. Anyone, anywhere. This is a platform specific feature too, so publishers will have to specifically opt out. Talking to Sony, even things like alphas and betas would require the feature to be turned off.

The option is accessed from the Share button menu, where there are two new choices: Give Controller to Player and Play a Game Together. In the demo the latter was used to play a two-player game of FIFA 15 across two machines connected across an internet connection (network requirements were diplomatically avoided but Sony did say it had been modelled on ‘standard broadband connections’). Seeing it in action almost seemed to be too good to be true – no lag, no noticeable issues, not even any obvious way of knowing you weren’t actually playing the game on the guest machine itself.

There are a few limitations, such as a 720p resolution and unspecified framerate cap to the host machine’s stream, and a 60 minute limit to each sharing session. Both host and guest need to be PS Plus subscribers for the Play a Game Together mode as it’s effectively multiplayer, while for the Give Controller to Player option, only the host needs to be a subscriber. Either way, for all intents and purposes while the game is shared, your friend might as well have a disc in the machine. There are other limitations – trophies are only earned on the host’s account (and helpfully notifications only appear on their respective machines). To clarify what you can and can’t do with a Shared game, Sony’s message throughout the demo was that the new feature lets the guest do only “what the host console does, no more.”

Sony has effectively made games free for anyone persistent enough to play through them in chunks.

Which is where that first option, Give Controller to Player, gets interesting. While the 60 minute limit to a Share session exists, there’s nothing to stop you simply starting again as soon as it’s up. If two gamers are motivated enough they can just keep sharing. In theory you could finish a game without ever owning it. True, you’ll never earn the trophies, but Sony has effectively made games free for anyone persistent enough to play through it in chunks.

But what of other possibilities? Can’t be bothered to earn a platinum? Or level up in Destiny? You could use Share Play to let someone else do it for you. It’s a cynical view obviously but you’ve only got to look at MMO farming to see that it happens. It was especially interesting to see the post-demo conversation immediately throwing around potential ways to abuse the system. If there is a way, gamers will find it. A great example would be when the PS4’s Share function first went live and people almost immediately found you could use PlayRoom to stream non-gaming content (in some cases to horrible effect ).

Share Play, then, is a literal game changer, but while it might be the most prominent features of the new update, it’s only one of a range of new features. You’ll be able to Share footage directly to YouTube now, for example (as long as you have a Google account). Whether that creates the same deluge of content it created for Twitch the first time round remains to be seen, but it’s arguably a more significant addition than streaming originally was. On the Twitch side of things the interface has had a revamp, with featured content and the ability to follow favourite broadcasters.

Sony also showed off a new USB music player with integrated controls to let you add music via external storage to play over games. Plus there are themes on the way, with 3 or 4 planned for launch. You won’t be able to make your own this time as you could on the PS3, though, due to their dynamic nature. The home screen has also had a revamp with a 15 icon limit showing your most recently used apps. Any more than that will be automatically archived to the Library. You’ll also see friend recommendations in the What’s New section.

PS4’s new Firmware 2.0 update is clearly more than an incremental step. While Xbox has traditionally made each new console upgrade a small event in its own right, Sony’s changes have been smaller and more innocuous. Until now. Whether the tactic of holding it all back will make up for a year of minimal changes remains to be seen, but it’s clear that PlayStation 4 is about to enter a new stage, and things are about to get interesting.

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


  • Anyone managed to actually get online after the 2.0 update? I updated last night and could log in to PSN, but couldn’t play Destiny, Driveclub or access the store.

    • After about an hour I was back playing Destiny. A restart helped too so all should be good today if you couldn’t get on

      • Thanks, I’ll try again tonight then. It actually forced me to start work on my pile of movies I need to watch…Pacific Rim was actually quite entertaining!

  • This feature…… seems a little odd to me.
    Effectively, you are turning your own machine into an onLive/PS Now style streaming service [hence the 60 minute limit, I’d imagine, to stop people with a room of PS4’s starting companies to offer what sony already does].

    Things which come to mind…
    1) This feature is pretty much useless for 90%+ of people in Australa. Because governments/ISP’s don’t believe in upstream bandwidth.

    2) Say you do have the upstream bandwidth for this. Is there even such a desire for this feature? Sure, the two player game of FIFA running as if it was local is sort of neat. Why is there so much effort put into brining this to the PS firmware, when they don’t even have DLNA added yet?

    No DLNA? That’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

    At least add the functionality of my PS3 before trying to tell me I should buy a PS4.

    And sure, it may sound a bit demanding and selfish. But Sony spent the whole of the PS3’s life selling the console as a complete media hub [it does everything]. So my TV/entertainment area is built with the PS3 at it’s core. If you want me to replace it, at least give me a machine which actually *can* replace it.



      • I was wondering if that would go over everyone’s heads…… I’m glad you picked it up 😀

    • I always assumed the lack of DLNA was due to Sony wanting to push their own Music / TV / Movie subscriptions? Maybe they believe without any other option we’ll get desperate enough to give them a try. They keep sending me these emails for free trials that i keep ignoring them.

      • I’m certainly of that opinion too!

        They have said, however, that they are ‘working on’ adding DLNA to the system.
        I hope so, because I don’t have much faith in their own media subscription services. I tried renting a movie once on my PS3. Their bandwidth was so terrible that I couldn’t even stream it, had to download it then watch it later [whats the point of that?].

      • I tried the 30 day trial of Music Unlimited which was very…meh. I’d much prefer a Spotify app instead. Although at least now I listen to my mp3’s while playing Driveclub.

          • True, but that’s something the labels and artists need to sort out with Spotify. I don’t want to carry on buying CD’s as streaming is a much better/convenient way of me accessing a massive library of music across multiple devices. Apart from my PS3 I don’t actually have any other devices to play my current CD collection on (luckily they were all ripped years ago).

    • A mate of mine was quite happy to get a feel for the controls of the evil within last night…

      Just because you dont want to use it doesnt render it useless

      • I never said I don’t want to use it. Nor that the feature itself is useless. Just that it is useless to most people here due to the requirement of decent upstream bandwidth.

        • I get your argument but there hasnt been any specs put out there for minimum network requirements etc…

          Sony basically said they didnt want to go with minimum net req because even if you meet the minimum it may not work in your connection environment.

          Had three mates try connect into my game last night – one succeeded… Personally I think it was more just bugs with a new function rather than any network issues

    • Yes that’s still my big question, how much bandwidth does it use for both the host the and client?
      I know remote desktop connections it’s usually still worth turning everything graphically related off to make sure it’s as fast a connection as possible, I can only imagine how much it must use for a 720p game running at 30fps

    • blah blah blah blah!!! played bf4 today off of my friends share play..worked flawlessly..sorry to hear about your living in Australia…but the rest of the world is enjoying this ground breaking feature,
      am sorry!

  • “In theory you could finish a game without ever owning it. True, you’ll never earn the trophies, but Sony has effectively made games free for anyone persistent enough to play through it in chunks”

    As long as the owner of the game is also ok with you using their PS4 the whole time (and is willing to fiddle with it every hour), in which case it’s still more work than lending someone your physical disc (or having them come round and play it at your place).

    I really hope this encourages development of more offline co-op games, as that’s still my favourite way to play.

    • Same, a game purchase with me is either based on my ability to coop with the girlfriend or friends, or unless its a game I’m desperately looking forward to, of which there are only 1 or 2 of at the most per year.

  • I’m surprised nobody talks about or seems to know of the x1s game sharing. Super easy. And you’re playing off the full copy of the game on your console rather than just streaming from your friends, so no (net) latency. Achievments and no time limits.

    • How is it game ‘sharing’, if you both already have the disc anyway?
      Is it just for ‘local’ pass-and-play style stuff then? Or watching the same single player playthrough?

      • No disc. Digital sharing only. Works like this.

        -I buy Diablo 3 digitally and download it.
        -Copy it to an external and copy to my gfs x1.
        -Using my profile on her x1 I boot the game.
        -Quit the game. Then log out of my profile on her x1 and she can play it on her profile from then on, even when I’m on my x1 playing D3. She can even use live when im online playing. It kind of seems like a glitch, but I’m fairly sure ms don’t like it as it’s essentially a lost sale.

        It’s a remnant of the whole original x1 plan where “disc granted you a digital license” and family sharing existed etc.

        • did not know that, I buy all my games digital and knew you could play it on another console while signed in, but you can actually sign out and play the same game in a different house?

          • Haven’t tested that out yet myself, but from past comments on kotaku au and ign it works flawlessly. You do have to join each others xbox “family” (I think its to the right of the profile in friends, im not home to check).

          • the way it would have worked before they canceled the family feature is, you can play any game, that say your brother purchased and play when he’s not at yay!
            or if you go to a friends house you can use your account to play your digital games on their console….but as soon as you log off he can’t play it anymore….unless you don’t mind others having your password and using your account in their homes.

            ps4 share play?..i press share button, and start a party….invite you to the party and then send you an invite to either play with me in a coop game or i can let you take control of my game as i watch you play. yes one hr per session but you get an unlimited amount of sessions.
            WELCOME TO THE NEXT GEN !!! PS4!

          • I think as grumm has mentioned, you would have to join ‘families’. On PS3/4 you have to activate the PS4 in use as your ‘primary’ PS4 for all the users whos content (Games or DLC) that you want to use.

          • Idk, but they can set their PS4 to be your ‘primary’ PS4, allowing them access to your games from their user account. I don’t see why the X1 would be different.

        • Oh… I do that too.. On my PS4.

          My GF made an account on my PS4, set it to her ‘primary’ PS4 and now I can play all her digital games, even from my user (I can even download them because they get added to the XMB, or did, I haven’t checked after the update. You may have to log in to their user to download it first now, but the rest stays the same I would assume.)

          That way she can still play her games on her PS4 and I can play on mine (If the machine isn’t your ‘primary’ PS4 you can only access your games if you log into your own user on that PS4)

          Same thing, no? Been doing it since the PS3, it’s great value for ‘family’ sharing.

    • As I say further down, this was possible on PS3 and is possible on PS4. Probably why it’s not ‘news worthy’.

    • ha! ty i really needed that 🙂 i don’t think you really understand how big this is…read the article again.

  • Sony also showed off a new USB music player with integrated controls to let you add music via external storage to play over games.


  • I was able to test this out this morning with my friend he has NBN and it worked fine but sometimes I did get some small delay and frame Rate drops. I am on ADSL and he was not able to connect to my session due to the slow upload speed on my connection.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!