Last night, Sony told viewers and attendees of its E3 press conference that the PS4 wouldn’t require an always-on Internet connectionand wouldn’t restrict the buying and borrowing of disc-based used games. This, a signal that Sony wouldn’t be going down the Xbox One route regarding used games, drew a huge cheer from the attendees. But it turns out it’s not quite as simple as all that.
As clarified in a statement today, third-party publishers like EA, Ubisoft, Activision et al are free to add DRM to their PS4 games if they wish, and may require the user to pay some sort of “activation fee” (and connect their console to the Internet in order to verify that this fee has been paid) in order to access a used title’s online features.
In fairness to Sony, this situation is already in place today with the PS3. EA games, for instance, are “protected” by the Online Pass system, which requires a fee if secondhand buyers want to use online features. But the game’s offline features will still be accessible if the buyer chooses not to pay. So, in summary: the Xbox One has a DRM system baked into the console; the PS4 doesn’t.