next-gen drm e3 2013 header

While Microsoft has already published its own (controversial) policy about game licensing and the Xbox One, Sony’s E3 announcement that the PlayStation 4 won’t be doing anything like that wasn’t quite what it looked like.

In a post-show interview with GameTrailers, Sony’s Jack Tretton clarified the company’s position, explaining that “the DRM decision is going to have to be answered by the third parties, it’s not something we’re going to control, or dictate, or mandate, or implement.”

Before you start hyperventilating into a brown paper bag, however, what Tretton described is more or less exactly how things work right now – think publisher-imposed online passes and that sort of stuff.

In a subsequent press release clarifying Tretton’s clarification, Sony said that any DRM policy would apply only to online gaming. The company reiterated that “the PS4 will not have any gating restrictions for used disc-based games”, and that you’ll be able to swap and share games with your friends or even sell them with no top-level restrictions. The statement also added that no first-party PS4 games would include online passes.

But now, according to anonymous industry sources speaking to Edge Online, both Xbox One and PS4 games are likely to include the same DRM policies and that Sony’s E3 announcement was a “PR play” decided just before they went on stage:

Each platform holder’s DRM policy has changed continually over the last few months, they said, though Microsoft’s initial stance was much tougher than its position today. This suggests that the platform holder’s decision to let publishers decide for themselves whether to implement DRM on Xbox One was not part of the original plan.

So that’s all very confusing, but the most important thing to know for the moment is that sharing games on the Xbox One is a much more complicated muddle than it’s going to be with the PlayStation 4, although there may or may not be additional online pass-type schemes getting in the way of that.

Honestly, I think Nintendo had the right idea back in 1980 already.

nintendo game & watch

Online check-ins? What’s “online”?