PlayStation 4 will play used games, not old PSN ones
Rumors about the demise of used games on Sony's PlayStation 4 were greatly exaggerated – or at least somewhat overblown.
Following Sony's big PS4 announcement on Wednesday, Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Worldwide Studios, said used games would be playable on the company's next console.
“That's the general expectation by consumers,” Yoshida told Eurogamer. “They purchase physical form, they want to use it everywhere, right? So that's my expectation.”
Yoshida wasn't quite as clear when asked whether Sony would try to stop people from reselling PlayStation 4 games. According to Eurogamer, he paused to consult with a PR adviser. “So, used games can play on PS4,” Yoshida then said. “How is that?”
The potential blocking of used games on Sony's next console has been rumored for nearly a year. The notion picked up steam last month, when a Sony patent application surfaced, showing a mechanism to automatically associate games with a single console, thereby preventing them from being resold. However, a source told Eurogamer at the event that the patent has nothing to do with the PlayStation 4.
Even if Sony plans to allow used games on the PlayStation 4, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of new restrictions on second-hand purchases. Many publishers already cripple used games by requiring a voucher to access certain features, such as online multiplayer. These vouchers are only included with new copies of the game, so used game buyers must purchase them separately. It's easy to imagine publishers expanding these efforts with the next generation of consoles. (Microsoft is also rumored to have a mechanism against used games in its next Xbox.
In the end, Sony's best defense against used games might be easier purchase and playback of downloadable games. At its press event, Sony said the PS4 will let users play games while they're downloading, and stream their games to the PlayStation Vita. If Sony can pair convenience with fair deals on older downloadable games, used games could become less relevant without brute force tactics.
Yoshida also told Engadget that PS3 users would not be able to bring their downloaded libraries along with them to the new console. Because the PS4 uses a different system architecture than its predecessor (x86, compared to Power-PC in the PS3), current PlayStation Network games won't make the transfer. Instead, Sony hopes to offer a library of older games through server-side and cloud services. In other words, when you upgrade to the PS4, you'll be starting from scratch on games to play.