New PSN Sharing Rules Make Discovery: People Have More Money Than Brains Sometimes


(Note: The opinions expressed reflect those of the author that some people really don’t deserve nice things, and do not reflect the opinions of or its staff.)

Starting Nov. 18, Sony will be making a crackdown on game-sharing across multiple PlayStation devices. Common sense and early indicators suggest this should actually have precious little significant impact, but early responses show that some spoiled gamers will consider any change in anything to be as good an excuse as any to bitch.

Via PlayStation.Blog, Sony made the announcement that PlayStation Store-purchased game content would become usable across only two activated PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable units per account, as opposed to the previously allowed five units, starting with content purchased after Nov. 18. One would make two presumptions: one, the PlayStation Vita will probably fall under the PSP category as a portable console; two, content purchased before the Nov. 18 deadline and shared across more than two consoles will probably be grandfathered in and allowed.

“The PSP rights include PSP-1000/2000/3000 series as well as the PSPgo system,” Sony Network Entertainment VP Eric Lempel wrote. “PlayStation Network users are able to change the activation setting through each device, and Sony Computer Entertainment plans to provide a new PlayStation Network account management website where users will be able to deactivate particular devices attached to their PlayStation Network account via their PC.” He also included this link explaining the activation/deactivation process.

That being said – welcome to gaming’s latest cautionary tale about change.

Some people that already bitched about this via various message boards and comment sections should really re-examine their worldview, their priorities and in some instances, what they’re doing with what is apparently an obscene level of disposable income. Let’s call a spade a “spade” and just get something into the open right now: more than a few people will make a stink about this because it means they can’t get hooked up with free content via sharing with friends, or because it means others can’t be the self-styled Robin Hoods of PSN, make a stand against the horrible injustice of having to pay for things and distribute four free copies of any given downloaded game to friends without the publishers and developers receiving a nickel.

If either describes you, I have a suggestion that will remedy others enduring your kvetching and game producers at all levels losing out because some people don’t believe in simple exchange of currency for goods and services: go ask a recent former Silicon Knights employee how he or she feels about the possibility of four people possibly getting a game essentially free every time one person purchases a copy.

The Canadian developer of the 2008 Xbox 360 hit Too Human, the more recent X-Men: Destiny and maybe most memorably the groundbreaking 2002 Nintendo Gamecube classic Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem recently laid off a reported 43 to 45 employees, including its entire human resources department, according to‘s continuing coverage and comments from Silicon Knights CFO Mike Mays credited to Financial Post. Those layoffs hit after negotiations with a potential partner reportedly falling through and the studio still having performance-related Ontario provincial government-funding targets to meet, a spokesperson recently told Kotaku.

Imagine being in the shoes of a Silicon Knights employee in a hypothetical situation. Imagine releasing a full-priced downloadable game and struggling to make the sales numbers you need to stay afloat, in no small part because of the exponential growth in copies distributed without receiving payment for them when four people for every copy sold pretty much get the game gratis.

Get real, gamers: many things we all enjoy aren’t produced free. I love enough the games I love by the developers I respect that I don’t mind forking over my money for good games, if it means there’s a logical, profitable reason for the publishers and developers to keep producing them. If it’s no longer profitable, they have no logical reason to continue sinking money into making them. They don’t have an obligation to us to operate at a loss at a detriment to themselves. And since the PlayStation brand is inevitably tied to developers that produce quality games that people play on their hardware, it’s not at all too much to ask to say “Hey, you can still share games, but it’s going to be on a drastically smaller scale so we can ensure more people are actually paying to play these some way or another, like the model dictates they’re supposed to be doing.”

Now, here’s the part where I optimistically hope that changes in technology will mean changes in cultural norms, as mass communication theory dictates it almost always does.

People will, of course, defend that some people share content so that they can play online with others who maybe can’t afford purchasing this title or that title, but can play with the other person by hooking them up with a free copy of what’s already been purchased. The previous argument already makes a fine backbone shooting this one down. But here’s another thought: consider actual personal human contact. Go to someone’s home. Order take-out. Sit in the same room with an actual human being and play the game. It might actually foster some friendly bonding, even if it mean some people sacrificing griefing strangers over a headset. The olden experience of friends actually getting together and having friendly tournament-style sessions on first-person shooters, Madden and various fighting games is something gaming is sorely missing.

But do you know what’s actually most disturbing about this story? Reading these IGN users’ comments. Particularly this one.

“Guess I’ll get the ball rolling,” began user Opt1mus76. “I don’t game-share but I do have four PS3s and three PSPs, so this is really disappointing news for me. I’m guessing this also includes DLC so I can’t even install map packs to play online on all consoles even though I can play the main game from the disc on any console. Another negative move by Sony. And they haven’t even sorted out the Payday code fiasco yet neither.”



Be conservative, and assume this person purchased four $250 units (and that’s giving one extremely generous benefit of a doubt) and all are functioning. Throw in tax and (again, being conservative) presume this individual didn’t have any models shipped, and thus didn’t pay shipping-and-handling. That is well over $1,000 someone paid for four consoles when this person knows he or she can only play one at a time, anyway.

Then throw in $510 before tax, assuming the person purchased three new PSP 3000 units in a physical retailer. That is well in excess of $1,500 someone has spent to have five systems that at any given time are collecting dust! Even if this person bought them all used at some considerable discount, why would anyone do that? Why would any person need that many duplicates of a single type of console or handheld? One must assume this person has them all functioning, because otherwise, why complain that you can’t share content across units that don’t even work?

Folks, we all love our games. But there’s a universe of difference between owning one of several consoles and owning that many duplicates of very expensive models. And anyone who can’t see the impracticality in that forfeits every complaining right and doesn’t deserve to have money because it’s an insult to people who need it and would save/spend it wisely.

YouTube “Let’s Play” producer and good friend Darthhelmet86 and I were talking about this over Twitter and I couldn’t say it better than he did: “more money than brain cells.” Another follower, @Skywarders, and I reached a different conclusion: it’s distinctly possible Pablo Escobar is back in the drug game and has decided he loves him some Modern Warfare 3, because in this tanking economy, we can’t fathom who else but someone slinging dope who’s probably snorted away some gray matter would spend that insanely.

But there’s something bigger this points toward. Sharing across two units means you can share the game with one other friend/relative/significant other/disturbingly sentient and anthropomorphic pet of your choosing. You can essentially give someone a free copy of the game. Have a falling-out with that fellow gamer? Go online. Cancel the account on their unit. But consider also this: suppose you actually own two of each unit. Suppose even that you’ve maxed out your hard drive space with content on one and needed to buy another to play and store more games.

Before bitching a single word about this, make sure you’re not missing this forest for the trees: you actually have/had enough disposable income at your disposal to spend that much on what is a luxury many can’t afford, and you bought actually bought more consoles, hand-held systems and games than you’re actually using. Now, ask yourself again: why, exactly, am I complaining?


2 Responses to “New PSN Sharing Rules Make Discovery: People Have More Money Than Brains Sometimes”

  1. good article. agree completely and am myself against pirating and am surprised sony didn’t do this earlier.

  2. Cheers for the feedback! You’re absolutely right: Sony has given some people an inch, and they’re taken miles.

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