The PlayStation 4 is doing many things right. It’s ticking the boxes the developers want to see – it’s certainly powerful enough and that RAM is well received; it’s making gamers happy with great first party titles and solid third party support; and it’s making publishers happy – it’ll even offer publishers the ability to block which sections of the game players can share.
Yep, that Share button will come with restrictions, at the publisher’s will.
“There will be parts of a game that the maker does not want people to be able to see,” said Sony boss Shuhei Yoshida, speaking to 4Gamer (and translated here). “The creator may not want to make video of the final boss sharable, for instance,” he adds by way of an example.
That button. Only use it when the publisher or developer says you can, though.
Gamers can talk about how to beat the boss, video it themselves and push to YouTube, but they won’t be able to use that Share button.
This is a button that – you’ll note – takes pride of place on the DualShock 4. It’s directly next to the d-pad and it’s on the way to the touch screen. For a reason: Sony want you to use it – the PS4’s built around the button and it’s core, central to the way it works.
Yoshida makes the point that the Vita does the same thing, in a sense. “For example,” he says, “on Vita, developers can in certain scenes disable the feature that lets users take a screenshot, and (the Share function) will have a similar mechanism.” It’s not really similar, though – the Vita’s screenshot function (hidden away unless you know the button combination) can’t really compare with the dedicated PS4 tool.
“We were trying to think of a way to make it easier for users to upload video, and one day a member of our in-house production team just said, ‘How about a Share button?’ We called out in unison, ‘That’s it!’” says Yoshida, talking about the birth of the idea.
The desire to share videos comes from Yoshida’s recent Dark Souls run-through. Yoshida couldn’t play the game all day long, so he’d look on Japanese video site Niconico to see others playing it. “By doing that, you can find other ways to play the game and read comments by other users,” he says. “I felt that sharing videos is a really important part of enjoying games.”
Which, to me, goes against the restrictions.
For starters, how will this even work? If the PS4’s recording constantly, does it just throw up white noise when I’m running around with Nathan Drake taking down whoever’s this game’s bad guy? Does it turn voices into chipmunks when the final cut-scene plays? An ugly message that just says “You Cannot Share This Section Of The Game?”.
If you can’t share the last bits – and I appreciate this is publisher dependent – then what’s the point? Hey, look, I just started the game, watch me play the same bits you’ve all played? No.
All it needs is the ability to label uploaded video with some kind of spoiler flag – although I’d argue that every minute of a game is a potential spoiler, highlighting which bits are truly crucial would prevent those not yet at that point from being spoiled.
It’s not like there’s going to be a constant stream of videos pushed to you, surely the PS4’s UI will be a carefully managed collection of videos from your friends, and if you follow folk that repeatedly post videos of a game’s ending, well, that’s obviously what you’d rather do. So who’s to stop you?
Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe Yoshida’s words are mis-translated, but to me it shouldn’t be down to a publisher which parts of a game can be shared. Give them an inch, and all that.