We reported earlier today that Sony announced SharePlay on the PS4 at its press conference at Gamescom 2014, an update which will allow you to share your PS4 experience with your friends who also own a PS4. It’s a brilliant concept: who wouldn’t want an easier, more unique way to play games with their friends? While it’s definitely a fantastic feature for us, the gamers, it’s got me thinking about how this might pan out for Sony.
Let me elaborate. Firstly, I’m making a broad, conservative assumption that the SharePlay feature is restricted to games that have local co-op modes – something which in itself is a dying genre. The core idea, of course, is that two, or more, people can play the same game instance on their personal console without having purchased the game itself, as long as their friends own it and are playing at the same time. Again, this sounds perfect, however, this implies the potential scenario where only one of the PS4 owners will ever buy the game. By this logic, if these gamers are happy to just share one copy of the game between them, they won’t ever need to buy additional copies of the game where they might have to do otherwise on other platforms.Again, you say: perfect! We get to save money and we still get to play games, what’s the issue? Well, this nuance may concern developers, who are losing out on possible revenue for games that are now not being sold and instead being shared between multiple people. Sure, that’s a beautiful concept in its own right, but if developers of games that support this functionality lose sales based on this (hypothetical) behaviour, then Sony may eventually lose significant support from publishers and developers, and as an even more grave consequence, the loss of exclusive content.
Obviously I’m using the extreme case to prove a point, but you can see how this can potentially have a profound effect on game sales on the PS4, particularly if developers start to feel that this service significantly impacts their sales figures.
Maybe I’m just being paranoid; what do you think about SharePlay for the PS4? Do you think it will impact on developers in the long run?