Keighley Says PS4 Could Have Used Game DRM, Sony May Have Changed Their Mind

Following Microsoft’s bumbled Xbox One reveal last week, US games journalist Geoff Keighley has said that Sony may also be heading down the route of some kind of used-game DRM, stopping the easy sale of games to others – something we’ve enjoyed since games first appeared.

Microsoft’s poor handling of the issue last week resulted in some dramatic headlines, but basically it looks like someone has to pay a fee (of pretty much the full game) if they want to buy a pre-owned game. It’s far from ideal, but that’s the story.

So whilst Sony have said the console won’t block used games, they haven’t said that there won’t be some kind of fee. Sony boss Yoshida dodged the direct question back in February. “It’s a publisher decision,” he said. “We are not talking about it, sorry.”

So whilst Keighley might have had concrete information, hopes are high on two fronts. One, that the details are now outdated, and Sony have changed their mind following Microsoft’s messy outing; and two, that the restrictions are per publisher and not console wide.

Chances are EA will want in, after ditching their online pass scheme recently. So whilst Sony have said there’s no always online on PS4, they have said they’ll “do the right thing.” Let’s hope that’s the right thing for consumers, and not necessarily the publishers.

Sony confirmed to TheSixthAxis last week that the PS4 would release in 2013.

See the video with Keighley here at GameTrailers.



  1. I fear it’s bound to be something similar…as stated EA have ditched the online pass….of sorts. Online Pass or 2nd hand activation fee. sounds the same to me.

  2. Sony was impossibly vague that they have to be going down a similar path, else why duck the questions?

    The only hope is that they’ve changed their mind but then that would leave publishers like EA, Sony, Ubisoft & Warner Bros high & dry. So perhaps they will use online verification to prevent preowned working without paying a fee or but leave it up to the publishers to manage independently.

    I’m also waiting to see if the PS4 Eye needs to be plugged in all the time, like Kinect 2

    • Sounds like a long shot but their evasion of DRM/camera questions could be down to them wanting to see MS’s position first.

      Would be a godsend if they allowed pre-owned games to be circulated and played without “permission”.

      • Then big publishers wouldn’t be interested.

      • You’re saying that as if they could realistically ditch the PS4 in favor of a second hand free Xbox One without losing money. That is not going to happen.
        As it is right now, the Wii U has very limited third party support and the One doesn’t look like a real winner when it comes to hardcore gamers (usually the ones who buy consoles close to launch). If Sony manages to stay clear of such restrictions, then gamers will flock to Sony’s camp, with or without EA and Activision. Most people also have a PC, so they wouldn’t be locked out of CoD completely. However, if the publishers see gamers favoring Sony over Microsoft, they will want a piece of that pie, even if a percentage of those people only buy preowned games.

        It’s all just speculation right now, but speculation can go both ways.

      • Ditch? Maybe not. Withhold certain releases. Absolutely.

        Sony will bend to pressure. This might not be their ideal choice if it happens, but it wasn’t Microsoft’s either.

      • Funny thing is, it might as well be the other way around with indies and consumer friendly devs / publishers.
        CD Project Red confirmed that The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 will be coming to the PS4 but when asked about a potential Xbox One release, they said they didn’t have anything to announce. For those who are not aware of it: CD Project (CD Project Red’s parent company) owns GOG (DRM free online store for PC games) so Microsoft’s non optional DRM restrictions are in direct conflict with CD Project’s philosophy.
        I would love it if the move to forced DRM would fuel the rise of Indy games to the point where they start to rival AAA games so big publishers would rethink their strategy (very, very unlikely…).

      • I wonder what happend to my reply to you. Must have been lost. It was about indies and smaller devs turning the tables and boycotting DRM filled systems. CD Project Red, who are against DRM, have mady questionable comments when asked if their coming games would be coming out on the Xbox One. Their parent company CD Project own GOG, so it’s a conflict of their philosophy.

      • in the end. If publishers want to sell their games, they have no choice but to release on the PS4, whether or not they have DRM etc.

        If they don’t want to and Sony stand up to them, what will happen? Sony lose another anual franchise game like FIFA? It’s not a HUGE loss and the publishers would probably lose out more than Sony would in the long run. Competition would rise in making those games not being made for the PS4, so it wouldn’t really matter long term.

    • Just about the Kinect, i found this from an interview with Microsoft’s Phil Spencer on Gamespot..
      “You definitely will have the software capability to turn off all the capabilities of Kinect. We want to put the gamer in control. And privacy. The box data information that collects is your data; it stays with you. You are in control of what you want to be collected. Game developers will obviously enble certain features and you’ll be alerted when certain things are happening.”
      I would guess if Sony do require an always-on camera we’ll get the same privacy options. In that case i would hope that the data collection aspect will be opt-in rather than opt-out from the start.

    • “Sony was impossibly vague that they have to be going down a similar path, else why duck the questions?”

      Errm, because it was over 8 months until the console was being released, and it wasn’t asked of Sony itself, just a rep…

      Sometimes I wonder about the writers here….

  3. I think sony will leave it up to the devs. Saying that if u wanna be an a-social offline game, that’s okay (during reveal) kinda rules out being able to activate games in the first place. A fee for playing that 2nd hand game online seems inevitable these days. I just feel sad for all the Xbox fans having to pay for live to watch tv and play online and then pay again for their second hand games.

  4. I’ll be honest I never buy pre-owned so this wouldn’t bother me.

    I just wait till NEW games stills ealed drop in price to £15-£20 and in this country the UK that’s pretty damn fast with the massive online competition.

    Still although the retailer may lose out here the Dev/publisher still gets the money.

    So what I do is a win win (loss for retailer). :D

    But I guess for people who play a game fast then want to trade in for next weeks new game maybe the value will be reduced so not so good.

    • Wonder how quickly retailers will drop prices if they’re going to be losing half their profit.
      There’s a lot of unintended consequences just waiting to happen.

      I don’t buy preowned either but I do trade so I can afford new purchases, without the ability to trade I’d only be able to afford a fraction of the games I buy now.
      There’s a bunch more unintended consequences waiting to happen.

      • I wonder if publishers and console makers thought about that, the ability to trade used games brings sales to the industry, nobody’s going to sell his game to buy a shoe, right? they always buy another game.
        and with that option not possible anymore, people are going to think about their decisions and are going to buy less games in total, unless the prices drop from 60$ to 40$ which will never happen

  5. I haven’t bought a single pre owned game for my PS3 and I haven’t sold any of those games back so the general idea of blocking the pre owned market is not something that bothers me. What would bother me would be the systems that would have to be put in place to enable such restrictions.
    If you want to block pre owned games you have to be able to tell that a games has been used before. This means you will have to register every new game online. It’s a minor hassle that could happen in the background and I could always tether the PS4 to my phone for such simple tasks but it’s a hassle nonetheless.

    • Its how it keeps checking that the title isn’t used is the issue, not so much the initial activation.

      Steam for example needs connecting every 30 days. The Xbox One possibly every day although this still isn’t clear, perhaps it’s up to the publishers. Something like Sim City purchased via Origin was every 20mins

      And whilst preowned may never directly effect you, it will have big ramifications for who you potentially buy from, or for the DRM hurdles you need to jump over to prevent preowned from working.

      • Yes, that’s why I mentioned that it’s the systems that come with these restrictions that bother me.
        As always, the consumer loses and I really hope this fires backwards and teaches everyone a lesson.
        We have to speak up for ourselves and if that means voting with our wallets then now (or when the new consoles launch) is the time!
        I like to believe that it’s not just the users over at neogaf who are losing their shit over the One reveal. Hopefully the outrage finds it way to less informed gamers.
        I also hope Sony is listening closely. core gamers are not amused and those are the people who buy your consoles first. Kaz already made a great statement on their target audience for the PS4 reveal. I hope they realize that these people are the ones who spend money on new consoles first. If you piss off these people, you won’t have a great time when launch day comes around.

  6. I’m just trying to work out the DRM aspect..
    You’ll buy a retail game with a unique disc ID, install it and it get’s authenticated with MS servers. Sell it on and as soon as someone else authenticates that unique code on their xbox, it will be disabled on yours.
    Theoretically then you could buy ten games, install them, trade them in the next day for more games and install and authenticate those quickly and then stay diconnected from the internet for the next few months while you complete all those games … so Microsoft have probably thought of that too which is why you may be required to re-authenticate your content periodically.
    Hmm… what happens if you buy a used game and it refuses to authenticate because it can’t ‘reach’ the other copy to disable it… would that be a thing?

    If , instead of a Q&A session, Sony do a runner after their E3 conference we’ll know the jigs up!

    • that was never an issue when you just put the disc in and played it, because well, you needed the disc.
      if you traded it in, you couldn’t play it any more.

      mind you, i’ve begun to think maybe the whole forced install thing is just to justify the preowned lockout, or fee, whichever way they go.
      maybe it’s part of their attempt at legal justification of their actions.

  7. it could, but then, same as the x1, no preowned games, no sale here.

    this is a rights issue as far as i’m concerned.

    why do so many in the games industry think stuff like first sale doctrine doesn’t apply to them?

    the way i see it, the law says if i don’t do anything illegal i’m entitled to resell my purchases.

    there’s only ever one owner, only ever one person playing the game, therefore reselling, trading in or just giving it away is 100% legal.
    these anti preowned schemes, i don’t believe are.

  8. I really hope Sony don’t go down the same road, because then with both consoles doing it people don’t have a choice.
    Sony need to decide who they value more: customers or the publishers that will try to pressure them into doing it.

  9. It doesn’t bother me so much with the preowned business as I buy new and never trade in. But it does kill my decision to buy a 2nd one down the line for the other room if it locks to one console.

  10. The problem is if Sony charge for pre-owned games, then that means an internet check when playing a game on the PS4. I seriously hope Sony do not take the money-grabbing-bastards route and instead tell DRM suckers like EA to eff off. Sorry for the language but this crap needs to be sorted because I’d hate for gaming to become this elitist culture which alienates those who ‘don’t fit requirements’.

Comments are now closed for this post.