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Sony Makes Huge Changes to Game Sharing, Hardware Management

Posted on November 4, 2011 AT 01:35pm

THE BUZZ: Sony Computer Entertainment today announced that come November 18th, a rather large set of changes will be coming to their rights management for downloaded PlayStation 3, PSN, and PSP titles.

When the PlayStation 3 was first revealed, SCE boss Jack Tretton made a rather surprising announcement: downloaded games would be playable on up to five separate consoles, with the impression given that you’d be able to share games with your friends.

On November 18th, that hardware limit will change—from five playable systems to two. This change will also affect PSP digital purchases as well.

Here’s a breakdown of the changes being made:

* Digital PSN games purchased after November 18th will only be playable on two PS3 consoles.

* Digital PSP games purchased after November 18th will only be playable on two PSP, PSPGo, or PS Vita consoles. This is across all three of those platforms—so, for example, two PSPs, one PSP and one PS Vita, two PS Vitas, etc.

* All games purchased before November 18th will still fall under the old policy of being usable on up to five PS3 or five PSPs/PS Vitas.

This change will come along with a new service that Sony will be providing: An accounts website, where you’ll have full control over which of your hardware is registered and authorized to play your purchased games.

EGM’s TAKE: This announcement has already been met with mixed reaction in the gaming community, with some glad to see these changes being made, and others now very upset that the amount of hardware they can play their games on has been so drastically cut.

The reality of the situation is this: Sony’s suggestion of “game sharing” was a mistake right from the start, because it came off almost as validation of the idea of playing games without paying for them. Due to this attitude that existed in the PS3 community, some developers were hesitant to put a large amount of effort into creating PSN titles that could then be purchased by one person but played by five players in totally different locations (or even cities).

Of course, some legitimate users will end up being hurt by this as well. I personally know people who have multiple PS3s or PSPs, and this change will mean digital games purchased going forward won’t be playable on all of their hardware like they were in the past.

No matter your opinion on the game sharing aspect of the story, there is one part that’s certainly good news, and something a long time in coming—the creation of a web service for fully managing your hardware. Up until now, there’s been no way to deactivate a PS3 console without doing so directly on the hardware—something that’s a little hard to do if the PS3 itself has died.

How do you feel about these changes? Is this going to help more games come to PSN? Or is this doing nothing but hurting PS3 and PSP owners?

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got started via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as can realistically be crammed in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk Eric on Twitter: @Eric_EGM. Meet the rest of the crew.

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