PlayStation 4 named Orbis, won't play PS3 titles, will block used games - rumor

A "reliable source" indicates that Sony's next console will be ready for a holiday 2013 launch

PlayStation 4 talk is once again ramping up, and the latest rumor reinforces the notion that next-gen consoles could very well block consumers from playing used titles. A new Kotaku report cites "a reliable source who is not authorized to talk publicly about next-gen hardware but has shared correct information with us before" and states that the PS4 will actually be named Orbis.

It's not clear if this is a codename or not, but the report leans in the direction that it's actually a real name, not an internal label like Microsoft's Durango for the next Xbox. It's worth noting that does exist, and it was the Vita website that originally revealed that name for Sony's new portable.

Kotaku's source also reveals several pieces of key information: Orbis will not be backwards compatible with PS3, it should be launching on time for holiday 2013 ("select developers" have been receiving dev kits since the beginning of this year), and most importantly the new hardware will be designed to block used titles from playing.

If true, that last part will raise many an eyebrow. The report notes that new Orbis games would ship either on a Blu-ray disc or as a PSN download, and if you buy the disc, it must be locked to a single PSN account, enabling you to play the game, save the whole game to your HDD, or label it as "downloaded" in your account history (making it free to download at a later date if needed).

Then, if you trade that disc in, the customer buying the used game will be restricted in some way. Kotaku says "it's believed used games will be limited to a trial mode or some other form of content restriction, with consumers having to pay a fee to unlock/register the full game."

Additionally, playing a game will require being online - similar to many PC games today, you'll need to have a PSN account and be online to get started.

Finally, the rumored specs on the device: AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU.

Interestingly, the latter would mean that Orbis games could be displayed at a stunning resolution of up to 4096x2160; this is a resolution far beyond current HDTV sets. It'll also improve the 3D games resolution, bumping it up from PS3's 720p to a full 1080p.

Remember, this is all rumor for now, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on. We'll fill you in as we obtain more information.

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Latest comments (39)

Craig Burkey Software Engineer 5 years ago
I'm ok with the project $10 style restrictions but I'd be quite irritated if "Additionally, playing a game will require being online" is true as my connection isn't that stable, spent half the night getting booted to lobby on Mass Effect 3 last night. I would be very annoyed if that were to be happening during single player games

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Burkey on 28th March 2012 4:41pm

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as far as I know, Orbis and similiar is EU registered tademark for Orbis Hotels group, subsidiary of Accor. There is also so many registered businesses with Orbis in name, that I doubt very much in above info
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James Brightman Editor in Chief, GamesIndustry.biz5 years ago
Tom, I think they could keep the PlayStation brand in there and just call it PS Orbis.
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Show all comments (39)
Man, if the re-sale or online all the time things are true, there's going to be a HUGE hue and cry in the gaming community. This could be a major misstep for Sony.
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Alec-Ross` Bower Journalist 5 years ago
Rumours leaked to gauge a reaction maybe?? That way they can respond to the consensus. Liking the idea of second-hand restrictions, but online-only shouldn't be a feature until broadband speeds improve.
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Dirk van Wijk Student - Computer Science (Master) 5 years ago
Always online for console games wtf? It would make sense for games that have an important multiplayer component, but there's still plenty of console games with single player only experience.

Paying a fee to play a used game is not that nice either, but if they will keep the fee reasonably low, it may be still OK. But many other platforms will likely follow this trend too, if it will work for the PS4.
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Temi Web design 5 years ago
I might end up sticking with a Wii U even after the new consoles come out if some of the things being said are true. They really should talk to the retailers that sell used games or Create agreements/laws that would inhibit those retailers from selling used games without sharing profits. Better than turning on the consumer like they always seem to do.

Backwards compatibility seems to be going out now and it is sad. I wonder if there is some reason behind it besides circumstances. Cannot put it beyond these companies since they really do care more about profits than they care about pleasing consumers.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Temi on 28th March 2012 5:42pm

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Rodney Smith Developer 5 years ago
Sounds good can't wait
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard5 years ago
Don't know if I buy the used game restriction. It presumes that 100% of your console owners are connected. That simply isn't the case. I'd be surprised if over half of PS3's are connected. To essentially exclude such a large proportion of your user base seems to me to be brave at best, that's not even counting the amount they would lose from the project $10 and other DLC sales and the loss of goodwill, and the lack of support they would get from retailers like Gamestop.

Also, no backwards compatibility seems unlikely. I think the way Sony launched the Vita, citing it's ability to access the back catalogue of PSP and Mini titles, as well as their plans to bring PS1 and PS2 titles to the Vita shows that they understand the value of back compatibility. Personally, I'd find it pretty hard to keep buying PSN titles and DLC if I knew that it wouldn't migrate to my next system.

Also, Kaz is banging the "One Sony" drum at the moment, Sony's products are and should be getting more cross compatible not less I'd be shocked if the next PS was totally incompatible with all the PS3, PS2, PS1 and Minis titles already out there and playable on the PS3.
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Matt Bishop , Team 175 years ago
Either the info is false or not much factual checking went into this article.

"It'll also improve the 3D games resolution, bumping it up from PS3's 720p to a full 1080p."

I believe the PS3 was pumping out 1080p 5 years ago...
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 5 years ago
Backward compatabality may be difficult at best if they go from the RISC based cell to an x86 main processor would make it a pain to emulate the PC3 hardware.
Remember when the PS3 launched it had a PS2 chip onboard to do the compabality.
This is a cost Sony dont want.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd5 years ago
@Christopher Garratty

I would guess that virtually 100% of those PS3 owners' laptops, phones and tablets are connected. Making a network connection a requirement to do anything with a console is unlikely to exclude very many people at all.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
@Matt Bishop. As far as I know it can't do stereoscopic 3D at 1080p though, due to the higher frame rate?
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Private Industry 5 years ago
Matt the 3D is regarding stereoscopic 3D. And even that is usualy upscalled to 720p using 2 sub HD pictures with heavy downscaling of textures and picture quality.

I could live limitations for used games and with no bc for ps3 games as I will keep my ps3 anyway.

Always on sounds less great because as people said not everybody has internet and if you lose your connection you would be unable to play.
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Paul Gheran Scrum Master 5 years ago
People keep claiming PC gaming is dead, but with consoles going (gone) this direction, it is console gaming which has died. Now if will just take it's inferior interface with it....
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Private Industry 5 years ago
This gen has sold over 500 million devices (including PSP and DS) that`s a lot more than last gen sold DC, Xbox 1, GCN, PS2 and GBA combined.

Let`s not forget PC gaming doesn`t have second hand sales since CD keys and PC isn`t doing bad and it`s not dead and heavy on digital distribution because the retail doesn`t stock much PC games (I would suspect part of it is due to no second hand sales possible combined with piracy and low sales), but consoles outsel the PC versions and if consoles would be gone what do you think how many games would be made for PC if you only have one platform that doesn`t have such high sales? Let`s not forget while PC doesn`t have always online games (unless it`s horrible DRM) it still requires you to be online to start many games the first time because many games use Steam and you can`t install and start the game without being online.

I have consoles and PC and games for both, but do you think your average former console gamers would pay 800+ euro for a PC to play games if their consoles are not there anymore? They where not willing to pay 600 for a PS3 that was much better hardware than many PC`s at that time and they won`t be willing to spend even more money on a PC. Even Valve had to admit that they need the console market and make their games for consoles and not PC only.

I take the XMB any day over the more and more convoluted Windows interface that started since Vista to burry more and more options somewhere deep down in sub menus (same goes for the latest 360 dashboard).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 28th March 2012 10:23pm

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Isaiah Taylor Writer/Photographer 5 years ago
Hoping this is a sign of what gamers are trending to [which is something I can honestly I know nothing about given Zynga and iPhone games popularity ... so out of the loop].

If it isn't something gamers are trending toward, I fear more headlines featuring *insert hacking group here*
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Private Industry 5 years ago
The last time I checked the hackers didn`t do anything for the gamers unless you call getting the online service gamers use shut down, stealing the personal data of gamers from different services and sites as doing something for them. 99% of the stuff that hacker groups did this gen was not for gamers but against them.

Besides that`s all rumor and anything that`s software related can be changed fast.
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Dominic Jakube Student 5 years ago
Welcome to the great video game crash Ver. 2.0
Sure cd-keys and steam accounts work now but remember how dissmal the PC games scene was say 5 years ago?Remember all tose "pc games are dead" comments and articules?
It will be a rough transition peroid, some companies will spend a fortune developing next gen titles and collaspse.The console transition peroid is always rough and this will make it rougher.
Some people wont upgrade and not everyone has the internet at home, some just use works or just have a smart-phone or tablet with 3G or a 3G dongle.
And I know pre-owned isnt popular but without it dedicated games shops just arnt viable.
It seems Sony and Micro-Soft have a gentlemans agreement on this issue, my bet is that Nintendo will win the next Gen.
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Private Industry 5 years ago
So far it`s all just rumor that some "source" said. A big problem of the PC was simply the lack of software and one reason why there are now a lot more games I would guess is because the consoles are not that far graphicaly from PC so it`s easy to port them over and still have them look ok compared to last gen.

I don`t think next gen development is going to be much more expensive then this gen because there isn`t that jump in graphics and if those specs are true it`s basicaly upgraded PC hardware and that`s easy to work on for the companies.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 5 years ago
Temi writes, "Backwards compatibility seems to be going out now and it is sad. I wonder if there is some reason behind it..."

There certainly is. The power of hardware of the 2000s, particularly GPUs, makes them pretty much impossible to emulate even on the fastest new systems. So to do backwards compatability, you need to have the old hardware or backwards compatible hardware ( la the first PS3s). That's either expensive or restricts your new hardware so badly that you can't produce a unit that's competitive with others in its generation.

Werner, the hackers do do things for gamers from time to time. For example, allowing some of them to play legetimately purchased UMD games on their PSP Go.
As for the "no used games" thing, that might well be a deal-breaker for me. I borrow and trade a lot of games. (I buy a lot locked to my account, too, but just the idea that I can't buy a used game pisses me off.)
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany5 years ago
What happens then if want to bring a game to a friend's home? Is SONY going to make me carry my console around?

That is reason enough for me to not buying the thing...
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters5 years ago
@Dominic Jakube - 5 years ago the current gen consoles hadn't been out very long, weren't far behind PC in power, and cost significantly less.
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Matt Bishop , Team 175 years ago
Doh, must read the small print.. The 3D bit didn't quite register as I read the sentence..

Sorry people.

Also, how do boxed copies of steam games work? (Total War games for example). Are they able to be bought second hand and used again without paying for a new activation? AFAICT you cannot? Isnt Sony just going down the steam route? I imagine the market will whine for a year or two but will become accepted sooner rather then later..
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Jeff Wilson5 years ago
I will only buy this PS4 console if I don't have to be online all the time to use the games. Remember. the PSN network was down for a month or so due to those idiot hackers causing trouble. That down time would mean gamers couldn't use their PS4 consoles.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
@ Matt

Indeed, Steam games have one-time-only serials, which you enter to tie the game to your Steam account; after that the boxed product is essentially useless. To be honest, if Sony did this I wouldn't have a problem with it... It cuts the second-hand market off entirely, but means the only time you need to be online is for the verification of the code. Far better than having to always be online.
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If the console forces online-only when playing, then it sounds like a digital-distribution console to me. Maybe the plan is to sell two versions of the console (or just integrate the driveless console into Sony TVs - which would make sense).

Either way, this will make it less likely that retailers will bother supporting the PS4 at all. Its in their interest to sell software that users will return later, and can be resold for additional profit.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
"Either way, this will make it less likely that retailers will bother supporting the PS4 at all"

Yeeeeeah. When you say retailers, it's good to qualify that word with something else - either online, or High Street/Bricks-and-mortar. Anyways, let's look at that statement in a bit of detail.

Amazon won't care about this - oh no, there's less marketplace sellers selling second-hand games. Yes, Amazon gets a cut (I think?) from them, but it just means Amazon themselves will get more sales from new software.

Supermarkets won't care about this, since they (generally speaking) only stock new.

HMV will continue to support the industry, I think, since any sales are better than none and gaming (currently) isn't a huge part of what they sell (though that will probably change with Game having mostly departed).

Which leaves GameStop; Game in its revived form; CEX; and the independent stores. The indies will continue to potter along, since they don't have any choice - it's either bow to what the industry does, or change business. CEX will shift entirely to consumer electronics, console hardware, older gen software and DVDs/BluRays.

And Game and GameStop? Well, I think they'll end up doing what the industry forces on them - I don't think there's anyway to stop the console giants going the way of PC and having one-time-use serials. They may hate it, they may essentially blackmail the industry, but given the number of online stores that will be fine with this (Amazon, Play, Zavvi/thehut), I don't think they'll have a choice.

One thing though - how are rentals going to work on this?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Morville, I suspect rentals may work like modern movie rentals where the disc is a little different than the standard retail disc. Each rental game disc could have a serial number in the code that would be verified by PSN.
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Isaiah Taylor Writer/Photographer 5 years ago
@Werner True, but then there's those other five generations. And yup, it's all rumor and speculation, so all we are doing here is gauging outcomes and reactions. Hacking and stealing is a very realistic outcome [see also: the PSP]

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Isaiah Taylor on 29th March 2012 1:26pm

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Gregore Candalez Journalist and Account Manager, FD Com.4 years ago
Over the past months, nearly every rumour proved to be true. So I'm strongly inclined to accept tis rumour with an open mind. I, however, can't believe Sony would go as far as this - no compatibility with PS3, no used games, online all the time. Really? What happened to the good, old times when friends exchanged cartridges and then played together?

It seems that Sony is trying to make a computer-like console, seeing as even single player games on PC are starting to require an active internet connection (Diablo 3, SC2). I think they are taking piracy protection too far, to a place where it's not healthy.

I'm not a big fan of Sony myself, and I certainly will not be, ever.
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Henry Durrant Programmer, SUMO Digital4 years ago
Personally, I have very serious misgivings about the forced-online part of this. It may be 2012 but not everyone has a 24/7 Hi-speed broadband connecton and/or wants to keep their console online. I doubt ill be getting one if I cant play anything offline - I am also completly against always-online PC-games.

As for blocking used sales, I am personally against all and any forms of restricting used sales of anything; the book, CD , movie, antique and car industries seem to get along just fine without revenue from 2nd-hand sales.

On a professional level, the 2nd-hand activations had better be cheap ( cost of 2nd hand plus activation needs to be less than 1st-hand at the least ) or I see it as a very bad move for customer satisfaction, income from acivations and its a PR nightmare.

Im concerned about the effectiveness of the DRM approaches here verses the negative impact on customers and Sony alike.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters4 years ago
I wouldn't see anything wrong with second hand sales if the creators got a fair cut of the money. Print the activation code on the disc, let a player use it, and if they trade it in, it'd be up to the retailer to contact Sony/Microsoft and pay money to have the activation code renewed so it can be sold again as a new copy. Then the money they paid can be given to the publisher. The customer wouldn't see a difference.
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Henry Durrant Programmer, SUMO Digital4 years ago
I guess im just of the mindset that once something has been purchased, that's it, the value has been exchanged - it can change hands afterwards but that has no relevance to the original purchace. Otherwise you are charging twice for something.

My professional view is that I just hope for Sony's (and eveyones) sake that they get the pricing right and they can deal with the inevitable PR backlash.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Henry Durrant on 29th March 2012 5:03pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
Tom, a few nations have a Public Lending Right system that pay circulation royalties to authors for their books but they are small and capped. The U.S. does not utilize any circulation royalty system.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 4 years ago
Im ok with it blocking used games, providing I dont need to be constantly online to play them. Its ok if I need to register it with a serial number like a PC game. But i dont really have a stable internet connection and I never play online. I dont care about online gaming, Im into games that offer a compelling single player expirience. I completely and totally simpathize with trying to fight the used games market, i believe it harms developers and I support the developer. but this is hoping this will reflect in the price at retail. Im hoping games can be purchased between 30$ and 50$. Used games can require an activation fee of 20$. If the game is new then an activation code will be provided. PC games have been doing this a long time now. I dont know what the fuss is.
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Private Industry 4 years ago
Funny that there was a smaller outcry when the same rumor made the round for the next Xbox with people going on about how that move isn`t surprising from Sony and already talking about their PR when the same rumor was also made for the Xbox and we know nothing about the devices yet.

Also that rumor came from Kotaku, who knwos maybe from the same reliable source that told them the PS3 will burn codes into the disc to make them unusable for second hand.

Their latest "Orbis news" is a picture of people playing singstar with one person holding what appears a smartphone to change tracks (something that can be already done with the PSP) and a "kinect like motion sensor" that looks exactly like an EyeToy. If I wouldn`t know it better they are fishing for clicks pretty hard.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 29th March 2012 7:48pm

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game4 years ago
I just remembered a rumour in 2005 that PS3 would use blueray watermarking to tie discs to a console after Sony filed a patent for something along those lines. Not sure that's wholly relevant but I think chances are they were considering that then, and with the problems now are no doubt at least considering it. At least tying a licence to a profile avoids some of the pitfalls of watermarking, such as if your console packs up, and none of your games work on the replacement, or being able to play on another machine.
They should also make sure that family profiles can be linked, so that anything I unlock could be played by my son, without him logging on to my profile. Not sure how PS network works re this? Xbox allows anyone to play it on the original machine, and offline, but an always online licence on any other machine, but it would be good to extend this so my families licences were all connected, especially as my sons account has to be linked to mine anyway.
The always online seems stupid, especially as Ubisoft are realising finally that it is a bad idea for PC, but it could be that it is not true or false, rather just an avenue Sony are considering. I'm sure they are balancing what they think would solve problems for them with what the audience will accept. With the blocking of second hand, plenty of people seemed happy with a Steambox console. Of course Steam price old games far more logically.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises4 years ago
The next generation looks so disappointing, we have the Wii U with a bit better hardware than the last generation (and all the mario games you could want), the xbox with graphics cards from a couple years ago, and now the PS4 with no PS3 support, no game trading, and worst of all requiring a constant internet connection.

I have every console from this generation, and a decent gaming PC. But it looks like next generation I'll just being playing PC games.
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