Gaming Thoughts - PlayStation 4 "Orbis" - no used games?

A non-Mass Effect article!  Well, there were bound to be a couple as I keep trying to update things here fairly quickly when an article or information catches my eye, and according to Kotaku and IGN - the new PlayStation 4 is being called "Orbis", will not be backwards compatible and will not play used games.  The rumor at this point is the disc will be tied to a PSN account.  Which makes me wonder how that will be handled for others on the same machine.

Considering the backlash that came out in regard to the no used games for Xbox 720, I am frankly pretty shocked by this.  This makes me believe that game publishers are really putting some pressure on the console makers at this point, because this would be the perfect opportunity for Sony to appeal to a larger segment of gamers by doing the opposite of Microsoft on this front.  I suspect both of these may be reality at this point.  Microsoft took a ton of bad press over this, so if they were not going to follow-through on it, it stands to reason they would have come out and said so by now.

When the PlayStation 3 had rumors about this kind of technology, Sony came out fairly quickly to quash them.  IGN contacted Sony, but the official response was "we don't comment on rumors or speculation."  Thing is, they did for the PS3 when it was potentially damaging to their brand's reputation.  As you can imagine, the majority of gamers are not responding well to this in forums and blogs I've seen talking about this so far.

It's an oft-discussed topic, and one I fall into the middle on to some degree.  In the end, I don't think that companies should limit used content.  I can see both sides of the debate, ranging from publishers needing to make back their money to gamers who feel like their rights are being infringed on to some degree.  There are some other major players like Gamestop and Amazon that likely wouldn't be pleased by this either.

As an aside, I am really, really disappointed if there is no backwards compatibility to boot, but I'm sure that is going to be less of an issue for most people than this other rumor.

Any thoughts on these rumors?  With Nintendo as the only one not being rumored to have this kind of protection in place - are they in a better spot to win customer favor as the Wii-U comes closer to reality?  Should Microsoft or Sony step up and say one way or the other, or not in your opinions?  Or is it all just too soon to tell and nothing more than pointless speculation?


  1. It's a bold step for any of the consoles to take, but I just don't see gamers being forgiving of this. Sure, there will be hacks to work around this, but it seems like they will be cutting off a portion of the market. Sometimes buying a used copy is the only option.

    This was a situation for me and No More Heroes, bought a used copy because I couldn't find a new one; I then pre-ordered the sequel and paid for it in full. If I didn't buy the used copy, the developer probably wouldn't have gotten my cash for the sequel. Now I am a fan of Suda 51 and wouldn't dare buy any of his games used.

    What happens if a game goes out of print? Buying a used copy would mean nothing.

    It's a risky move and I don't think they will see any positive payoff.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Parko. I am inclined to agree with you. I know one of the solutions talked about on Kotaku would be that buying the game used will give you a limited or trial version, and you can pay something extra then to get the full content. Something that may add up to less than buying new, but ensuring the Devs still get a cut of the proceeds.

    I'm a bit worried. I've had several games (Mass Effect was one in fact) that I bought used, that spurned new sales for me. I would never have bought Mass Effect new. I didn't even like it that much the first time I put it in. I came around later, but it was buying it used that got me started on the series. And buying Me 2, and 3 (collector's edition). And all that DLC...

    It's going to hurt market penetration, it's going to cause problems for companies invested in the used game model (Gamestop, Amazon, Redbox)... I get the feeling that people are a bit uncertain about the next generation of game consoles as it is.

    Now personally? I'm a much better spot than I was even five years ago. I can afford to buy new games. But I understand a lot of people can't plunk down $60/game. And really, every generation the prices go up. Are we looking at $65? $70? Too soon to tell I guess.

    I think you touched on another very important point. I suspect this will lead to more piracy as well. I know I've heard that from a *lot* of people I've been talking to online lately about this particular topic.

    Thanks for your comments - I'd love to hear more.

  3. Seeing as how this is coming from Kotaku, I call complete and utter crap on it. They had the same article before the PS3 came out.

  4. @James haha *nods* I remember all of that PS3 stuff - in fact I didn't think too many others did. I would feel better if Sony came out like last time and called BS within the first week, so we'll see. I really did not think either they or Microsoft would go this route going forward, but the fact that Microsoft hasn't discounted the Durango rumors yet makes me wonder if there's something to them now or not, you know?

  5. I see GameStop and Best Buy throwing a hissy fit, and refusing to carry their consoles if Microsoft and Sony went through with this system, unless they are somehow cut into the deal. The way GameStop more than likely gets a cut of the DLC they sell in store.

  6. I'd actually think that this would be highly illegal or at least result in an investigation. The current software copyright laws are really out of date and draconian but really favour software publishers especially if it goes entirely digital in the future. I don't think Sony or MS would want an investigation that could lead to a rewriting of the software copyright laws to bring them more in line with copyright law for other media.

    Software publishers have too much control with licenses, EULA's and the fact that by law consumers don't have the any first sale rights on software that they won't want to risk giving it up.

  7. I hope this doesn't happen. I'm sort of a "last gen" guy when it comes to game systems. I own a Wii, but I bought it some 2+ years after launch when the price went down significantly and I could justify the expense. As many game consoles as I have owned over the years (and still own/use), it's hard to justify $300+ for a new console, especially considering I still don't own an HDTV (yes, I know I'm behind) because of the expense. So why plunk down all the money for an HDTV-capable console when I only have composite inputs? Granted, XBOX 360 still looks good in composite (Gears of War 3 impressed me at my brother-in-law's house, despite his small TV), but my penchant as a retro game fan who is also a physical media guy (one of those nerdy collectors) means 90% of the niche titles I will want to play will be XBL/PSN only, and the handful that come as physical releases seem to always get released when I am the most strapped for cash. Thus, I am relegated to either missing out on the nice pre-order bonuses or "limited" edition content, or picking up a used copy when I can get my hands on one, often at a premium price.

    Changing to a no-used scenario would put hundreds, if not thousands of used game retailers (brick & mortar as well as online) out of business. Sure, I understand the whole "evolve with the culture" argument, and I understand the music industry is in the throes of agony because of the decreased sales and the proliferation of digital piracy, but independent music sales are fine due to projects like Kickstarter and bands connecting directly to fans via the Internet. Video Games are a much more "static" format, in that the artists and creative team who develop them pretty much stay put when the game is done, unless the development cycle for a title includes additional DLC or episodic content. Otherwise, you buy the game and play it, simple as that. Unlike musicians, there is no "tour" to support the game, only advertising to help bolster sales.

    Regardless of the game quality, I would have to protest with my wallet by NOT buying a PS4 or XB720 if they went to that model. I own an iPod because I can still rip the songs from my own CDs myself and put them on the device at the bitrate I choose, not what Apple feeds to me from the iTunes store. If Apple ever removed my ability to do that, even "unofficially", I would no longer buy their product. If Sony wants my money for a PS4 at some juncture (or Microsoft, etc), they will continue to allow for some degree of either physical media or physical backup of the games I buy and allow me to continue to purchase games second-hand. Not giving me that choice is akin to the government banning the sale of used vehicles and forcing everyone to purchase a new car off the lot each time they buy. Completely irrational.

  8. Wow, thanks for the comments and feedback everyone! I feel much the same way - I can certainly see a few of the reasons TO do something like this, but I think it brings more risk than long-term benefit. I suspect the true solution will present itself in not this generation but next, as games move almost exclusively to digital then. That removes the used disc discussion completely at that point, but I don't think strictly digital is ready for prime time in this upcoming generation of games.

    I'm going to have another somewhat lengthier post tomorrow, voicing some of my concerns not only with this proposed practice, but concerns with the next generation of consoles coming out, in my opinion, a couple of years earlier than they should.


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