One of the biggest concerns whenever new hardware gets announced is what will happen to your previous digital purchases. In the case of this transition from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4, the news isn’t good. All of your previously purchased PlayStation Network games will not be available for re-downloading onto your PlayStation 4. This includes DLC and even your saved games, but that’s somewhat irrelevant considering PS3 games won’t run on the PS4 anyway. What does make it somewhat relevant is when you consider streaming older PS3 games through Sony’s Gaikai option. For example: let’s say you decide to stream Skyrim – none of your PS3 saved data would be there for you to continue from, and neither will any of your previously purchased DLC.
Considering how much emphasis was placed on digital purchases during this current generation, this is potentially a massive issue for many people considering a PlayStation 4. You might ask why Sony decided to do something this mean, but perhaps the question should be “could Sony have done it any other way?”
The likely reason for this is the shift in processor: Sony has forsaken their notorious Cell processor in the PS3 and switched over to an AMD chip. The result is that content made for the Cell processor will not run on the PS4’s AMD chip. What Sony could do in the future is modify PS3 digital content (like Dead Nation, Journey etc.) and offer a PS4 compatible version. Then, considering your PSN purchases are tied to your PSN ID, you could be given the option to download the PS4 version of your PS3 digital content. That would be the ideal situation; the pessimists are probably thinking that Sony will charge you again for some sort of “re-mastered PS3 PSN classics” on the PS4 even though you already bought the games on previous hardware.
This is pure speculation however and Sony has said nothing to that effect just yet. What is a certainty is that you will need to finish any unfinished PSN games before you make the jump to PS4; unless you plan on keeping your PS3 hooked up to your TV as well.
So what about used games then? The second-hand game market is a huge aspect of console gaming, and shops like BT Games offer a budget-friendly option to many console gamers. Prior to the announcement of the PS4, there were numerous rumours and patents spotted that indicated Sony was planning to block used games from working on the PS4. Journalists who attended the reveal event in New York asked Sony directly: will used games be playable on the PS4. The answers (multiple people asked) were positive, but there were implication that they weren’t telling the whole story.
Sony Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida, when asked whether the PS4 would block used games, asked Eurogamer: “Do you want us to do that?” The obvious response was no, to which Yoshida replied “So, used games can play on PS4. How is that?”
However, another Sony representative gave Game Informer a typical PR answer-answerless response: “We are just now announcing the basic vision and strategy of PS4 and will have more information to share regarding used games later this year. But PlayStation has a long history of keeping its gamers happy and we won’t make decisions that damage our relationship with them.”
Bottom line is this: yes, the PS4 will allow you to sell your old physical games and buy second hand games, but it sounds like there’s more to it than that.