Shortly before the PlayStation 3 launched last year, Sony revealed its PlayStation Network plans, including a feature that would allow a user to purchase a game once and download it on up to five different systems.
To date, that has resulted in a fairly liberal policy that has allowed gamers to share the game with friends by logging onto their systems, downloading the game, and then logging out. Even without the original owner logged in, the downloaded game is playable by anyone who uses that console. The fine print on PlayStation Store downloads for this digital rights management (DRM) setup is simply, "One time fee for downloads on up to five activated PS3 units."
However, as gamers who download the freshly available Warhawk for the PS3 are finding out, that policy was tweaked for Incognito's latest shooter. The description of the $39.99 download on the PlayStation Store includes the follow snippet: "One time fee for download or use solely by the purchasing PSN account on up to five PS3 units, with no more than one activated PS3 unit within a 24 hour period. Content may not be used by any other account."
A Sony representative answered a few quick questions about the DRM on the downloadable edition of Warhawk.
GameSpot: What's different about Warhawk's DRM?
Sony representative: The downloadable version of Warhawk, which is available from the PlayStation Store, will be directly tied to the registered PSN account that purchased the game. Only that registered PSN account will be authenticated for gameplay. You will still be able to download the game to up to five PS3 systems. However, if a user downloads Warhawk onto a different machine, he/she will only be able to play via the original PSN user account on that machine and could not play on a different machine for 24 hours. This does not affect the Blu-ray Disc version of the game available at retail.
GS: Will all downloadable PS3 games have this new DRM in the future?
SR: We will be evaluating each game made available on the PlayStation Network in terms of development costs, maintenance cost, server costs, and other factors. A determination on which DRM strategy will be implemented will be clearly communicated to the PSN account holder at time of purchase.
GS: There are a number of PS3 gamers who don't do any game sharing because they see it as an abuse of Sony's DRM policy. What's Sony's stance on the practice of one gamer buying a downloadable title and then also downloading it onto a friend's PS3 so that friend can essentially own it as well?
SR: We must take steps to protect the investment we have made in our products. The development costs of Warhawk are no different than any other boxed game you might find from SCEA at retail. Couple that with the cost to maintain a continuous online gameplay environment and you can understand the investment we have made in Warhawk. Not utilizing this new DRM strategy could open the company up to losses that could jeopardize our ability to allow free online gameplay across the PlayStation Network.