In an interview with Game Trailers’ Geoff Keighley, Sony CEO Jack Tretton shed more light on how used games will work on the PlayStation 4. It seems that, while the system’s first-party games will be free to trade in or share without restriction, third-party publishers can choose to behave otherwise.
Tretton’s remarks start at about 1:08:00 in this segment:
“If the consumer pays x amount of dollars for a game and they don’t have the flexibility to get some additional value out of it, it changes the way the perceive the value of the game and it takes dollars out of their pocket to buy a new game... We just want to give the consumer flexibility.”
Asked what Sony’s response would be if publishers wanted to restrict used games sales, Tretton replied:
“We create the platform. We’ve certainly stated with our first party games, we’re not going to be doing that. But we welcome publishers and their business models to our platforms. There’s going to be free-to-play; there’s going to be every potential business model on there and again that’s up to their relationship with the consumer and what they think is going to put them in the best stead. So we’re not going to dictate that. We’re going to give them a platform to publish on."
"The DRM decision is going to have to be in the hands of the third parties. That’s not something that we’re going to dictate or mandate or control or implement."
Tretton also said that a PlayStation Plus membership will be a mandatory purchase if you want to play multiplayer for PS4.
Update: We contacted Sony to clarifying Tretton's statements, which we were told might have been misunderstood. We were given the following response, which stresses online multiplayer on third-party used games:
The Online Pass program for PlayStation first-party games will not continue on PlayStation 4. Similar to PS3, we will not dictate the online used game strategy (the ability to play used games online) of its publishing partners. As announced last night, PS4 will not have any gating restrictions for used disc-based games. When a gamer buys a PS4 disc they have right to use that copy of the game, so they can trade-in the game at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever.
While the statement verifies that third-party publishers will have a choice to continue using online passes or charge a fee for online multiplayer, it doesn't shut the door on other avenues of used game restriction. The PlayStation 4 "will not have any gating restrictions" means there is nothing built into the hardware to restrict used games running on the system. That doesn't restrict third-party publishers from implementing their own methods.
We've reached out to Sony for a definitive statement, and shall update when we have it.
Update 2: Upon a request for further clarification, Sony responded with the following:
“Our used game position for PS4 is exactly the same as PS3, which publishers and consumers broadly support today. In fact, all publishers we’ve spoken to are in agreement with our position.”
That's probably as specific as it's going to get at this time.