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Further clarification on Sony's DRM policies: No more online pass Exclusive
June 11, 2013 | By Christian Nutt

June 11, 2013 | By Christian Nutt
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    28 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Exclusive, Video, E3



Last night Sony made a big point of its no-DRM policies for PlayStation 4 -- including putting up a playful video featuring two of its executives, Adam Boyes and Shuhei Yoshida, which you can see above.

SCEA CEO Jack Tretton's announcement of its DRM-free policies elicited a big cheer at its press conference last night.

However, details that have flowed out today to the press have confused the situation somewhat, with Tretton saying third parties can implement DRM. Other sites have reported that online passes -- consumable one-time codes to enable online play -- will be available for PS4.

Gamasutra was able to speak to Scott Rohde, software product development head for Sony Worldwide Studios America to gain further clarity on the matter:
We've already come right out and said we're not going to allow online pass. And the word "allow" is key there. Specifically with online, with PS+ requiring a charge to play online, we would not want any publisher [to charge.]

In general, we're all businesses. Sony or Microsoft is never going to be able to tell EA or Activision exactly what they can do. What we like to say at PlayStation is that we set the precedent. The way we are approaching this is that we want this to be extremely consumer-friendly, extremely retailer-friendly, and extremely publisher-friendly. My personal opinion is that it's hard for me to believe that any major publisher is going to put an extra set of used DRM onto game titles because that wouldn't put them in a good spot, right?

His words imply the balancing act that the platform-holder is trying to maintain between its three core constituencies of retail, publisher, and consumer.

The PR person staffing the meeting went as far as to say "it's just like PS3."

"That's the easiest way to say it -- it's the same," replied Rohde. "It's just like it's always was, is the easiest way to say it. Better, in fact, because online pass, in the future we're going away from that." EA had already abandoned online passes, but Sony has continued to use them in 2013 titles for its existing platforms.

While online play is free on PS3 and Vita, on PS4 owners will be required to subscribe to its PlayStation Plus service to play online.

Referring to the reception to the news at the press conference last night, Rohde said, "In a way it's a little bit sad in that what we've been doing all along gets such a big cheer."

"That's just something that we've always wanted to do," says Rohde. "It's not a plan that changed based on what Microsoft has been saying over the past month or two. It's just, 'Oh, I guess we should emphasize this now,' because it's a serious point of advantage for us. So let's have a little fun with it, basically."


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Comments


Sam Knudson
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Sony a genius with press conferences. Tell people what they want they want to hear with an asterisk then come out later and say what people don't want to hear where the least amount of people will hear it. Both consoles have pretty much the same used game policy so all of Sony's low blow to Microsoft has left a bad taste in my mouth and a lose of respect of them as a company. If you remove all the political rally like word play and look just at the games xbox came out on top with a much longer and much more interesting list of exclusive IPs. Though like i said Sony is a genius when it comes to conferences giving them the apparent victory .

Kujel s
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I'd rather honesty.

Mario Kummer
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I don't think that you can say it is the same. With the PS4 if you want you can buy it, buy games, exchange them with friends and never go online with your PS4. You can use it in places where you don't have internet infrastructure.
And I think preventing used games by Codes is already bad, and I think it is already harming the industry. But the MS system, with only selling it once etc. is worse then what we have today.

Sam Knudson
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That is the Sony Misinformation machine at work. Xbox does NOT limit to a one a done system they have the same system as Sony does except for the need to connect to the internet which means you can now trade over XBL games with people on your friends list. So you can give your game to your friend that lives on the other side of the country with the press of a button. That right there is exciting and worth the trade of needing to have internet. While sony will never be able to implement this feature because of the lack of the checking in. (You would be able to have the same game running on 50 difference consoles by downloading the game onto your PS4 and disconnecting the internet then handing off the game)

Seth M
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The game can only be traded once. Did you even bother to look at the details before writing this?

John M
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Really what about you can only trade a games 1 TIME to a friend on your friends list and he must be on there for 30 days. How about once your system is offline for more than 24 hours you can't play your games, what about you can't sell you games except at a authorized reseller and no you CAN NOT give your digital game to a friend it was be the dis format. So you are wrong on just about everything you say.

Ben Mickelson
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Did you READ this article? Did you READ the Official Microsoft DRM article? Reading is important. You'll use it for the rest of your life!

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Leon T
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Hiding it behind a pay wall is an online pass.

E Zachary Knight
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Not really. An online pass is a system in which customers who buy new get content that customers who buy used have to pay extra for. With the PS+ membership, all customers, new and used, are treated equally.

You can argue that the PS+ requirement is not warranted or somehow unfair in general, but it is not the same as an online pass.

Leon T
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You're not treated equal if you are not a PS+ member in which case you have pay for the membership to access content after you buy a used game.

I know its not the same thing technically, but to a non member it is taking extra money out of my pocket to access all the content. Its still better than what Microsoft is offering, but a gaming PC is looking like the best option more and more.

Mark Ludlow
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Sort of. However, this is more like buying a season's pass to all the amusement parks and being able to ride everything for free rather than paying for each ride individually on top of the entry fee. Plus, you also get a ton of free gear every so often.

E Zachary Knight
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Leon,

"You're not treated equal if you are not a PS+ member in which case you have pay for the membership to access content after you buy a used game. "

The exact same thing happens when you buy the game new. You are locked out of online multiplayer until you are a PS+ member. So again, it is not like an online pass.

Camilo R
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"on PS4 owners will be required to subscribe to its PlayStation Plus service to play online." Can't say I like that trade off but it seems there's no better option in the console space.

Eric Geer
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I'm a PS+ member now. And I don't think I will ever be a non-member from this point on. The number of PS3 and PSVita games that i gain access to and that I get to play for free far outweighs the cost. I feel like I have gotten access to well over $200(if not more) of software in the last year or so.

Craig Bamford
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I'm not FOND of it, but I've been seriously impressed by the value proposition of PS+ thanks to the free game libraries it lets you build up. It's a subscription service that doesn't just give you access to services and infrastructure that you really should have already, but gives you actual content. Subscription-for-content is practically an ancient model, and certainly Netflix et al have showed us that it's still viable.

The real question will be how Gaikai fits into all of this.

Ben Mickelson
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It's sad and I'm certainly disappointed. But it's our fault as the consumers. We've proven that we will pay for services that should be free. Xbox Live even RAISED their price. It would be bad business for them not to charge.

Neil Sorens
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So publishers can use codes and other measures against used games, but they can't charge for online play specifically because Sony advertises that to customers as being a PS+ benefit.

Seems like semantics, when the basic truth is that the only real difference between XB1 and PS4 with regards to used games is that Microsoft simply makes these countermeasures easier.

Craig Bamford
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As far as I know, they can't lock out single-player content. THAT is the distinction. And, yes, fanboyism aside, it's an important one. Online multiplayer in almost any game not called Call of Duty or Halo becomes near-worthless after about six months or so. Single-player is evergreen. That's why MS is so keen to limit it and why Sony's decision not to is laudable.

Dane MacMahon
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Online authorization for singleplayer is an artificial limitation that harms game preservation. It's different from a service fee for actual services which are temporary by nature anyway.

Paul Turbett
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You know, I don't really think the requirement for PS Plus to play multiplayer is unfair or unreasonable.

Multiplayer requires infrastructure that implies ongoing costs. I think it's more fair that people using the online services cover those costs than, say, increasing the cost of game for everyone - including those that aren't going to use the multiplayer features.

Daniel Backteman
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This.

Maybe there'll be a happy consequence of educating the public that things actually cost money.
$5/month is the cost, right? That's nothing. That's seriously, seriously nothing. And it will probably be a huge boon for Sony which they seem to be needing.
"Kids don't have credit cards", then hopefully their parents does. And they are the ones who should be supervising the kids' activities.

It's amazing how my opinion have swayed strongly towards Sony this last six month or so.

Shawn Clapper
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It actually doesn't cost them anything though.

When you play a multiplayer shooter it is not like an MMO where a central server handles everything, the players themselves make the connection and handle the bandwidth. You are paying $60/year to handle all the bandwidth for your games yourself.

This is just an additional cost that isn't required to handle costs and wasn't there before, so essentially (no matter what $5/month means to you) it's worse than it was before. If money is nothing, maybe we could start paying monthly fees to have access to our coffee machine too. I mean infrastructure and stuff right?

Christopher Engler
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You do pay a monthly fee for your coffee machine. It's called an electric bill. That money goes not only for the costs of the electricity used but also to the infrastructure (transformers, powerlines etc...) needed to keep that electricity flowing.

Rodrigo B
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Wait, wait, wait...

As far as I'm aware Sony got a big backslash in the last generation in regard to the quality of their online infrastructure compared to their competitor's (Xbox Live). Even though it's neat to have something for free; to sacrifice quality over it it's not optimum. And I'm pretty sure PSN was perceived that way, PSN had inferior service in regard to Live because it was free and not paid.

Now that they want to raise the quality of their online infrastructure to be as good as their competitor's (let's not forget that Sony now is also offering Cloud based services) and therefore they need a continuum income of resources to feed such infrastructure, people are complaining about it?

Seriously, that seems common sense to me. I can't see as anything other than simple cause and effect logic.

"After being asked what went into the decision to charge for online gameplay, Sony explained that online features and services are going to be a "big pillar" of the PS4 experience. They go on to note, "we've already talked about the share button, sharing features, second screens...if we continue to invest into online infrastructures, that costs money. If we continue free service for online multiplayer, from a business standpoint, there's pressure to recover costs. That's when we decided 'let's ask the people who are most active in playing online to share some of the cost so we can invest more."

And please forgive me for being a total noob here, network services is not my area, I'm just guessing, but I don't think multiplayer shooters use LAN connections to play online, its most likely that there is a server to at least handle the traffic on the PSN side of things, and I'm not talking about your ISP. That certainly isn't free of costs.

Shawn Clapper
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@Rodrigo
If they want to charge a monthly fee for extra online features and services that is fine, but I am talking specifically about being able to play multiplayer games. If I call up my friend and want to play some Borderlands co-op, we shouldn't have to pay an extra fee to Sony for that privilege as it's us paying the ISP for the bandwidth, not Sony.

Oh and multiplayer shooters use P2P (handled by the user) or with a user acting as a host or sometimes the company that creates the game (not sony) has dedicated servers.

@Christopher
I'm obviously not talking about electricity (or ISP) costs. My comparison is if you payed Mr. Coffee a monthly fee in addition to your existing electric bill to have the privilege of using their coffee maker.

Aaron Steed
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I'm old enough to have some pretty old tech around. Old gadgets that still do their job. There's a old PlayStation 2 in the lounge - I haven't hooked it up because I'm too busy with the laptop. At a bar where I used to live they have a Sega and Nintendo early consoles. There's an old CRT television you can hook it up to and try out the classics. All this stuff works.

I reckon in 5 years time it will still work.

I'm not so sure about the internet. Half the sites I knew and loved are all gone or redesigned to shit. MMOs have come and gone. Online services are just as short lived.

What guarantee is Microsoft offering that their tech will still work in a decade? What use is an XBox One if Microsoft dwindles and is swallowed by a bigger company? Sega's hardware still works. How the hell is the XBone going to keep working?

Richard Carpenter
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@Aaron

You are so right. It's disappointing the way technology products are going the way of short-lived consumables these days - done under the guise of adding value in the present.


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