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I share my thoughts on PS3 game sharing, how users justify it, and what Sony can do about it.

Mark Williams, Blogger

September 14, 2009

4 Min Read

Friend: "Hey, you want to split that game purchase and share it?"

Me: "No, buy your own copy."

That is normally how my conversations go with friends when it comes to PS3 games. It is usually followed up by a look as if I don't want anything for cheap or free. No thanks. If I like the game and want it, I will buy it and support the developer.



What is game sharing?

Game sharing, in my opinion, is an exploitation of the PS3 game DRM. Sony allows users to activate 5 PS3 machines for their content. This is supposed to be for things such as a machine being replaced, or the user having two or more machines in a home and downloading and playing their content temporarily on another machine. Users game share by sharing PSN account details. A user will create another PSN users account on their machine. They will then have access to that users download list in which they can download any piece of content they choose. Naturally, you can see what's wrong with this but some even go so far to create a special account for game sharing.

The problems with game sharing

A) You are allowing people, strangers even, to access your PSN downloads list. They can certainly take more than what you offer. B) You limit your own downloads. There have been people who game shared almost everything, and when their PS3 died, or was replaced, they found they could not re-download their content. C) You are stealing. You are taking games for free and the developer is not being paid. For some developers, every cent counts as they are publishing the games themselves.

Why do people think it's ok?

Most use a 2006 quote from Jack Tretton stating that it was ok to share games.

"You can send that content to four other friends for that initial investment," said Tretton. "We want to get the game in as many hands as possible."

"It's not about generating profits at each and every interaction with the consumer," he said. "I think that really offsets the argument that says, 'Wow, that's a really pricey system.'"

I find it funny that many like to hang on to that quote but everything else a Sony exec says is rubbish. Then there is the reasoning that since it's "easy" then it's OK. Give people an inch and they'll take a mile. No matter what argument people give, it is against PSN terms of use to share account information. Surely, you don't think those who game share all sit in one room or are parent and child?

Except as stated in this Agreement, all content and software provided through PSN are licensed non-exclusively and revocably to you, your children and children for whom you are a legal guardian (collectively for purposes of this section, “You” or “Your”), solely for Your personal, private, non-transferable, non-commercial, limited use on a limited number of activated PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment systems, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) systems, and any other hardware devices authorized by SCEA in the United States or Canada (where permitted).

What should Sony do?

It is a start by having some titles, such as Warhawk, enable a 24hr lockout. This makes me wonder if this is not optional to the developers. Sony should simply allow a user recommended feature. Since most PSN games do not carry demos and most users turn to game sharing (but never actually pay for the game), Sony should enable a limited time use license to another PSN user. A PSN user can "gift" a game to another user which gives them a 24-48hr play period before the game expires. This allows the buyer to share the content but it's limited to the receiving user. This way they don't keep the game that was shared.

Honestly, I am all up for anything they can do to stop people sharing games (and keeping them without paying). In a digital market, lots of little guys are publishing games themselves and it sucks to see 1 person purchase the game and share it with 4 other people.

That's the end of my rant.

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