Publishers bringing Xbox One-like limitations to PS4 would be 'surprising,' Sony exec says

PlayStation exec Scott Rohde, senior VP of World Wide Studios America, told Polygon that it would be "surprising" if third-party publishers brought the kinds of access limitations present on the Xbox One to the PlayStation 4, that Sony's patents in the area of used games aren't indicative of policy and that while trading or selling physical discs should be easy, the world of digital sales is anything but.

During Sony's PlayStation press conference on Monday, Jack Tretton said, "When a gamer buys a PS4 disc, they have the rights to use that disc, resell it, lend it to a friend or keep it forever." The next day, he added that third-party publishers will retain the right to dictate their own DRM terms on the platform, with regards to online play, much like it is today on the PlayStation 3.

"I think it's pretty clear that we've set a nice precedent"

With the Xbox One providing publishers a platform that ostensibly insulates their business from repeat second-hand sales, is Rohde concerned that third-party publishers will try to map some of those limitations to the PlayStation 4?

"Quite frankly it would be pretty surprising to me to see a third party come up with some way to set a new set of DRM rules that were able to act on top of that," Rohde said. "[Jack's] just being crystal clear, technically they could do something, but it's the standard we're setting that we believe is the right standard and I believe that's the way it's going to work."

Rohde added that while publishers may be attracted to the policies presented by the Xbox One, they also have to recognize the intense fan backlash against them.

"All those publishers were sitting in [our] press conference last night," Rohde said. "When Jack, punch after punch after punch, and the house almost came down with all the cheers, they heard that. They heard it loud and clear and they saw the reaction to what our friends in green talked about. I think it's pretty clear that we've set a nice precedent."

"The digital part of DRM will be debated and evolved forever"

Since much of the agitation surrounding limitations on second-hand sales began with the unearthing of a Sony patent (application number 20130007892) that sounds very similar to what Microsoft is proposing for the Xbox One, we asked Rohde if Sony ever seriously considered employing that patent.

"The reason you see patents like that filed ... giant company," Rohde said. "We're always looking at all the different ways how this business could work. But I can say pretty clearly we never had anything even dreamed up in terms of how to put the types of restrictions that our competitors are doing on the consumer themselves. We're exploring other parts of that business and how DRM might be related."

Of course, the PlayStation 3 doesn't allow the sale or trade of downloaded titles. When asked if Sony's leniency will be extend to the digital realm, Rohde replied, "We're not talking about any sort of digital trading or loaning policies right now. To us, that [physical media] part of it was just so clear. The digital part of DRM will be debated and evolved forever. It really will."

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