Flawed, but bearable?
I know that from the way I was talking yesterday that things must seem pretty rosy. While, it is good news, but it's also not perfect news. You see, while Sony plans to implement no anti-used or DRM features on the Playstation 4 itself, and while this also extends to their first party releases, there is clarification that must be made.
Sony has clarified that second party publishers will be able to include DRM, however, it does seem like things such as online passes and paygates are not going to be allowed on the system. Near the beginning of this interview, Scott Rhode is asked:
"Sony as a first party is going to allow people to handle their games exactly the way they did before. Third parties will have options that are available to them as they did last generation ... So publishers can still engage in online passes and things like that?"
"That's not 100% true, because online passes. We did announce that's going away --"
"And that's for first party and third party on the platform?"
"Yeah, that's because with PS+ being required to play online games, it doesn't make sense to make an online pass in conjunction with that. That's why that has gone away. I think that you're referring to lots of other interviews that have happened today. On very general terms one business can't dictate to another business as to what they want or need to do."
What this means, or at least what I take it to mean, is that if businesses want to include things like microtransactions, or paying to unlock content, or DLC, then that's their own prerogative. This still leaves a sort of limbo though, as to what is allowed and what is not. For example I can say with a fair degree of certainty that something like the multiplayer online pass for Dead Space 2 would not be allowed on the system. However, I cannot speculate as to whether or not say, the Catwoman code from Batman: Arkham City would fall under content that is allowed or is not allowed.
At the moment I'd actually lean towards the latter of those above scenarios as something that's going to be allowed. Again, if the publisher wants to package something as a sort of "Day-One DLC" with a game and put in a code, so that anyone that buys the game used would have to pay to unlock that content for themselves, then Sony can't really stop that. They couldn't before either, but they aren't going to demand that second party publishers stop it now either.
Now, we as consumers have not been privy to exactly when companies shared these policies with each other. When EA announced that they were dropping online passes, it wasn't too long afterwards that Microsoft came out with all the anti-used and DRM laden Xbox One stuff. Off the back of this, many, myself included, simply assumed that both Microsoft and Sony were going to be on the same boat. Of course now that it's confirmed to not be the case, people are wondering if EA will renege on their promise.
EA is saying that they are going to be coming out with a used games policy that puts gamers first. Of course many are taking the "I'll believe it when I see it" approach, which at this point is entirely warranted. Now, whether or not other developers are going to have to change the way they deal with each company, whether companies will be included or excluded due to their preferred practices, and what the ramifications of these decisions might be is nothing to be taken lightly. It will certainly be an interesting couple of months as both consoles drop and vie for attention.