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Further clarification on Sony's DRM policies: No more online pass Exclusive

June 11, 2013 | By Christian Nutt

Last night Sony made a big point of its no-DRM policies for PlayStation 4 -- including putting up a playful video featuring two of its executives, Adam Boyes and Shuhei Yoshida, which you can see above.

SCEA CEO Jack Tretton's announcement of its DRM-free policies elicited a big cheer at its press conference last night.

However, details that have flowed out today to the press have confused the situation somewhat, with Tretton saying third parties can implement DRM. Other sites have reported that online passes -- consumable one-time codes to enable online play -- will be available for PS4.

Gamasutra was able to speak to Scott Rohde, software product development head for Sony Worldwide Studios America to gain further clarity on the matter:
We've already come right out and said we're not going to allow online pass. And the word "allow" is key there. Specifically with online, with PS+ requiring a charge to play online, we would not want any publisher [to charge.]

In general, we're all businesses. Sony or Microsoft is never going to be able to tell EA or Activision exactly what they can do. What we like to say at PlayStation is that we set the precedent. The way we are approaching this is that we want this to be extremely consumer-friendly, extremely retailer-friendly, and extremely publisher-friendly. My personal opinion is that it's hard for me to believe that any major publisher is going to put an extra set of used DRM onto game titles because that wouldn't put them in a good spot, right?

His words imply the balancing act that the platform-holder is trying to maintain between its three core constituencies of retail, publisher, and consumer.

The PR person staffing the meeting went as far as to say "it's just like PS3."

"That's the easiest way to say it -- it's the same," replied Rohde. "It's just like it's always was, is the easiest way to say it. Better, in fact, because online pass, in the future we're going away from that." EA had already abandoned online passes, but Sony has continued to use them in 2013 titles for its existing platforms.

While online play is free on PS3 and Vita, on PS4 owners will be required to subscribe to its PlayStation Plus service to play online.

Referring to the reception to the news at the press conference last night, Rohde said, "In a way it's a little bit sad in that what we've been doing all along gets such a big cheer."

"That's just something that we've always wanted to do," says Rohde. "It's not a plan that changed based on what Microsoft has been saying over the past month or two. It's just, 'Oh, I guess we should emphasize this now,' because it's a serious point of advantage for us. So let's have a little fun with it, basically."

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