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PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games – Illegal? Unethical? [Update]

Playstation Online Store

In my search for some user reviews of the PS3 Online Store’s newest game, Calling All Cars, I stumbled onto some interesting threads on GameFAQs and the Official PlayStation Forums. [Links intentionally omitted]

Apparently, some PS3 users are buying downloadable games such as flOw and Calling All Cars and then allowing friends and even strangers to also download a copy for free through some clearly questionable online exploits which they refer to as “sharing.” Essentially, this allows multiple PS3 users to download and have immediate access to the game while only one user actually pays for it.

Now, those who know more about this practice report some significant disadvantages to “sharing.” First, the sharer’s credit card account information, including online “wallet” contents, are accessible to the sharee. Second, “sharing” may inadvertently cause the sharer to lose his or her rights to the game if their PS3 loses data or needs to be replaced.

Although a few people online are suggesting that this practice is actually legal, I can’t imagine that it is since your purchase only grants you one license to the game. Also, I have no doubt it’s in violation of multiple parts of the online user agreement. However, there is another issue that will likely weigh on gamers’ consciences more than the question of its legality.

Gamers should recognize the extraordinary time and effort developers put into producing games today (yes, even EA). Despite skyrocketing production costs, game prices have seen only modest, if any, price increases. I’m fairly certain I paid $80 for Phantasy Star II and $72 for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past back in the day. So, the $60 standard for this generation seems pretty reasonable. Regardless, any price increases are certainly not proportional to the increased production costs.

As a result, I hope gamers will choose to support developers that put out worthwhile products and just buy the damn game. What’s your opinion on this? Illegal? Unethical? Both? Neither?

[UPDATE: Good news! As many have pointed out, there is a method for sharing downloadable games. But the only official word I can get on it still fails to clearly explain what is and is not allowed with regard to sharing. Here is the official Playstation explanation of game sharing:

  I purchased some downloadable game content on the PLAYSTATION®Network. Part of the product description says the content can be used or downloaded on up to five (5) activated PLAYSTATION®3 system units. What does that mean?
  This means that the content that you purchased may be used by other users on an activated PLAYSTATION®3 system unit after you downloaded the content onto your PLAYSTATION®3 system unit. Some content may require the user to have a PLAYSTATION®Network account, and other content may require you to have additional game content that may be sold separately. For example, you may need to purchase a full game in order to use the character that you purchased on the PLAYSTATION®Network for the game. Please review the use restrictions associated with the content you purchased. The content may be played up on to 5 activated PLAYSTATION®3 system units at any one time. PLAYSTATION®3 system units may be deactivated so that you can change which PLAYSTATION®3 system units are activated at any time.

This seems to suggest that sharing is only allowed if the particular game's license provides for it. It's also pretty vague on what kind of use is permitted (online only, single player only, simultaneous with original purchaser, etc.) - a fact that probably works in favor of any use being permitted. Does anybody know if there are any games currently out that explicitly allow for sharing? If possible, please post the actual language from the license.]

Cool Kids Are into Social Media, AMIRITE

    63 Responses to “PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games – Illegal? Unethical? [Update]”

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    1. Tom Says:

      Obviously its stealing.

      On the other hand, I can’t agree that the new $60 standard is perfectly reasonable. I didn’t like paying the $50 for last gen’s games. I’m still hoping this $10 gen-jump is temporary.

    2. Derrick Schommer Says:

      As a developer I’m all about buying stuff developers put hard work into.

      I only steal stuff I find to be a true rip-off. For instance, when someone overcharges WAY too much for things. Games are expensive, true, but that’s not the developers fault usually, it’s the publisher. I still want support the developer, unfortunately it means giving the publisher a lot of money.

      Oh wait, I don’t steal anything.

    3. yes Says:

      “Obviously its stealing.

      On the other hand, I can’t agree that the new $60 standard is perfectly reasonable. I didn’t like paying the $50 for last gen’s games. I’m still hoping this $10 gen-jump is temporary.”

      Especially the xbox 360. What could possibly justify cause the rise to $60 per game. The console has been out since 2005, I’m sure developers have reduced costs significantly since then. The format is still the standard DVD. There is no reason to tack on another $10 per game.

      Reminds me of Nintendo back in the day.

    4. S Holmes Says:

      Production costs don’t just include the physical cost of stamping out the discs and associated tasks.

      It includes the motion capture, level of detail, voice acting, online implementation, etc. Each of these factors has led to increased costs associated with making a game today.

      Voice acting has become something we just expect nowadays and has become much more common over the years. But even that is not enough today. Now it is becoming more common not just to have voice acting, but to have well-known voice actors.

      More and more television and film actors are voicing parts in video games. This costs more than having an unknown person as was common in earlier years. This is just one example of how games are becoming more costly.

      Games are costing millions to make, something that was unheard of “back in the day.” Yet, the actual price of games has not increased proportionally.

      When you think of games over the years, there is no argument that we are getting much more content for our money with each generation.

      Derrick, can you chime in on this?

    5. oswald Says:

      it actually is perfectly legal, in this limited case.

      sony allows you to download a game you’ve purchased to yours and 4 friends PS3′s. its part of the license. its the term friends that is open to interpretation, and if you’re willing to share CC date with them, I’d call them friends too.

    6. Mitch Says:

      These games are not of the $60 variety. They range in price from $4.99 to $9.99. Sony has made it possible to share these games among four people. People usually take advantage of this by cutting the price of these games in half, twice, between themselves. The only loophole that exists here is that people are making these compromises over the Internet, and not with actual friends.

      Misinformed and overreacting.

    7. Spencer Says:

      “Obviously its stealing.”

      No, it’s infringement. That’s an entirely different section of law.

      “Games are costing millions to make, something that was unheard of “back in the day.” Yet, the actual price of games has not increased proportionally.”

      The price of games did not have to increase because the size of the market increased, thus allowing the developers/publishers to continue making a profit without increasing the price of end product. The question is really about the average percentage of profit.

      Off topic: It would be interesting to see something similar to Nintendo’s “Player’s Choice” selection, but taken to an extreme. For an abstract example, for games that have recouped double their production cost, companies could lower the price to merely be 50% of the phsyical production costs. I think a $5-$7 Gears of War and Zelda would make more money overall (by sheer volume) than the $40 that’s still being charged now. Hell, I don’t even have a 360 yet and I’d pick up GoW at that price ;)

    8. Jack Says:

      You mention that games cost a ton of money, time and effort to produce but conveniently fail to mention that those big companies (yes, even EA) make upwards of $100 million on one title.

      I am not saying piracy is right but please present the issue fully.

    9. student Says:

      @yes: all the 360 launch games (those “out since 2005″) can be had for like $30 now. If you don’t mind waiting 2-3 months, 360 games get price drops reallllly quickly. Yes, most of the really cheap ones suck, but not all (Viva Pinata retails for $30 now, and if you’ve played the demo, it’s really fun). I’m guessing C&C3 will be down to at least $50 by the end of the summer, especially once Mass Effect comes out in Sept. (crosses fingers).

    10. Bling danger Says:

      If you will think back to E3 last year Sony said that it was allowing the games to be loaded onto upto 5 ps3′s to share with your friends.

    11. S Holmes Says:


      I respect your opinion, but I don’t think that the amount of money the company makes should matter when considering if sharing is unethical. It’s either ethical or not.

      There’s no more of an excuse for ripping off a big company than there is for a small company – if that is what “sharing” is actually amounting to.

    12. GamexViral » Blog Archive » PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games - Illegal? Unethical? Says:

      [...] Story found in: Gamestooge [...]

    13. PS3 Users "Sharing" Downloaded Games - Illegal? Unethical? « News Coctail Says:

      [...] Downloaded Games – Illegal? Unethical? Filed under: Uncategorized — recar @ 1:58 am PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games – Illegal? Unethical? Apparently, some PS3 users are buying downloadable games such as flOw and Calling All Cars and then [...]

    14. Aggravated Gamers » PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games - Illegal? Unethical? Says:

      [...] for free through some clearly questionable online exploits which they refer to as “sharing.”read more | digg story Share: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

    15. Unnamed Says:

      Oh shut up! Sony ALLOWS you to download any purchased downloadable game 5 times.

      And what gives you the right to speak on behalf of all our precious developers (*weep*)?! Are you saying you’ve never broken a law in your life?

      This article is a load of gibberish.

    16. PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloadable Games. : Oz Game Lounge Says:

      [...] Read the full story here. Share The Love For OGL: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

    17. Lauren Says:

      We have two PS3′s in our house and if we couldn’t share, we’d be going bonkers if we had to pay for two copies of games.

      One PS3 is in the living room and the other is in the library. Since we don’t have cable access in the library, we use that one when someone wants to use the TV.

      I’m glad Sony allows *sharing*…now if they were to only make more LAN Co-Op games.

    18. Prime News Blog » Blog Archive » redone adult xmen cartoon PS3 Users "Sharing" Downloaded Games - Illegal? Unethical? Says:

      [...] clearly questionable online exploits which they refer to as “sharing.” iceman xmen 3read more | digg [...]

    19. Derrick Schommer Says:

      @Unnamed: What gives me the right? Um, I’m a developer? Does that qualify?

      Or how about, it’s a breach of license? Does that give people the right to call it wrong?

    20. Deeko News - Your Daily Dose of Media News Unfiltered Says:

      [...] hard-drive and pass the copy on to me. Gotta love it! It is a illegal? Well what do you think? Game Stooges is grey on the while thing but at least this is a new plus for PS3 owners and lets face it, they [...]

    21. Katsu Says:

      When it came out for the SNES, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past had an MSRP of $49.99. If you paid $72.00, you got seriously ripped off.

    22. Front Row Crew - GeekNights » Blog Archive » GeekNights 070515 - Classic Battletech Says:

      [...] the news, there’s a rumour of Nintendo Power’s imminent demise, and PS3 kids are “sharing” with their [...]

    23. Loko Pokon » Blog Archive » PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games - Illegal? Unethical? Says:

      [...] read more | digg story [...]

    24. -Bastardizer- Video Gaming Blog Live from Panama » Blog Archive » PS3 Users “Sharing” Downloaded Games - Illegal? Unethical? Says:

      [...] for free through some clearly questionable online exploits which they refer to as “sharing.”read more | digg [...]

    25. Adam Says:

      i downloaded something onto mysisters ps3 which i bought. i do see at as stealing though. i paid for it to be downloaded on up to 5 ps3′s

    26. dooge Says:

      you people are idiots. Sony allows you to do this. it’s not illegal. for those of you (pretty much all) who don’t know when you download a game, you can go to it and press triangle and check out information. It says (clear as day) “this title can be used on up to 5 activated ps3′s.” do your research before you make yourselves sound so ignorant. holy crap

    27. Nick Says:

      i do this all the time. i got PAIN, pixel junk eden, geon, linger in shadows, super stardust HD, lemmings, super rub a dub, crash bandicoot 1, 2, and warped, and i got over 150 songs for rock band.

    28. Danilo Says:


      1 – Linger In Shadows
      2 – 1942: Joint Strike
      3 – Street Fighter Alpha
      4 – Mortal Kombat II
      5 – PAIN
      6 – Prince Of Persia Classic
      7 – Crash Bandicoot
      8 – Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back
      9 – Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
      10 – Burnout Paradise V. 1.5
      11 – Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
      12 – Warhawk
      13 – Calling All Cars
      14 – Toy Home
      15 – Spyro The Dragon
      16 – Soldner-X: Himmelsstürmer
      17 – PixelJunk Monsters
      18 – Wipeout@HD
      19 – Tekken 5: Dark Ressurection
      20 – Super Rub’a'Dub
      21 – PixelJunk Eden
      22 – The Last Guy
      23 – Flower
      24 – SIREN: Blood Curse
      25 – Beats
      26 – Castelvania Chronicles
      27 – Super Stardust HD
      28 – Elefunk
      29 – flOw
      30 – Locoroco Cocoreccho

      People, it isn’t illegal… how could I get all of these games for free?

    29. Jonathon Howard Says:

      Since I can’t speak legalese, nor would I want to wade through a game license or Sony’s TOS. I’m going to take at face value the statement by Sony that says they allow these games to be shared on up to 5 systems. If Sony used the word friend in their legalese then they need to talk to their legal team, as the word has no strict definition, if I say your a friend, you are, there’s no hurdle of evidence that has to be crossed.

      I see this as similar to the shareware scene on the PC in the 90s where the entire game was there on your disk all you had to do was pay for it. The companies knew that the players were sharing their unlock codes. They decided though that getting people to play their product was more important than punishing them for doing so illegally.

      Is this unethical? I’d say no, regardless of what Sony and any lawyers want to so. They’d like it to be illegal for me to invite friends over to listen to a new cd I bought, or record music off of the radio, but it isn’t. Furthermore even if it was its unenforceable. I feel for developers who know their games are popular but don’t see the money mirroring that fact. There is little they can do about it though, and such measures as DRM, complaints, appeals, etc. Only create bad press. They best they can hope for is that some of those users do decide to pay for the product in the future or their next one.

    30. Noah Says:

      For some reason I think I actually heard of a case in the EU where folks got sued for playing there music too loud, on grounds it was illegal for so many people to hear a product they purchased

    31. Majestic Says:

      hey its really hard for me to get a game so if sum1 can share a game with me i wud greately

    32. dragonsooth Says:

      well, what about add-ons? like the BP island? and about the sharing games, i noticed something. games that DO have a disk version, is illegal. games the do NOT have a disk version, like “loco roco, wipeout HD, and callng all cars”, is totally legal. add ons also. since they have no “cd-upgrade” like the ultimate box for burnout paradise, then it’s ok. email me back.

    33. the one true raziel Says:

      I do agree on some aspects of this.. the idea of producing games is outragious and selling them sometimes as cheap as they come but for some OMG. lets look at mortal kombat 2 classic ps one game 5 bucks your outa your freekin mind i could just go to my local game stop and possibly buy it for cheaper then that. “this is where the game sharing idea takes place.” The idea for game sharing nice touch sony ya finally did something right. this is why they added the 5 system rule it is allowed and it dosent break any EOLA in the rules. Hats off to sony for that. I would like to game share and have but 4 games so far resident evil directors cut, zen pinball, namco museum must have a korean account and rag doll kung fu. if any one is willing to share without the hassle of tryn to hack one another ill be interested. i will soon have another account on my ps3 system just for this reason. if anyone is interested add razieltempest to your friends list and i will point you in the direction of another name that will get you these titles i do have.

    34. Niskim Says:

      well as this is debated it just shows that somewhere some1 hasn’t put the rules down so it is plain to see for any idiot what you can do and what you can’t do! Sony released the console and thier rules….. is it developers that didn’t read them through or did Sony make a slip up? either way they need to figure out what the hell they want to do! either we can do this or we can’t! and for those who has got more than one PS3 in their household…. what about them? Make the rules clear and set a statement from Sony that is final! then us users can make our choice to do it or not (knowing what would happen if caught) STEP UP SONY!!!!

    35. Psymansim Says:

      but guys….lots of people prefer to buy pirated games due to its price… same on the ps2 console. in other places like saudi arabia allows the sellers to sell some pirated games. im not saying that piracy is good or bad as long as there is a permission by the government….by the time pirated ps3 games go worldwide. it would be fun for others and be interested to bought a ps3.. just like the ps2, its lifespan is more than 4-6 yrs, while the xbox lifespan is 2-3 yrs.. if the sony presents that it is possible that the piracy of games will be good to the ps3 consoles….the ps3′s lifespan might go twice its value…ex. its normal lifespan in 5-8 but it if piracy could be allowed in ps3 its lifespan could 10-14 yrs….if only sony could realize what happen to the ps2 when they allowed the piracy of games to its console

    36. Niskim Says:

      Psymansim this has nothing to do with piracy in that aspect….. this is sharing games across consoles by downloading via another users name and password…. the problem is that nowhere does it say what to do if you got two consoles and want to buy a DLC only game…. so basicly I could say that I’m downloading it to another console but I’m really sharing my DLC to a different person…… which is kinda like P2P but how could they regulate if you share the files or want to download it for your second console you got in your household…. I think thats the big issue how to regulate that!

    37. Bal Says:

      It’s wrong, that’s the truth but for some people there’s a honest reason. Look at the payment methods for PSN. Firstly it’s main method is credit card, that’s fine as it’s probally the most common method but look at the cards they sell. THey’re only region specific causing people in the EU to only have credit card. Now like a huge chunk of PSN users, i live in the UK (Europe) so that cancels out getting a card, unless i go abroad but my family isn’t exactly rich. I’m also under 18/21 which means i don’t have a creditcard, now many would ask they’re parents but my parents are peculiar in the way of not putting credit card details out on the computer no matter how huge the company is. So all these factors prohibit me from putting funds into my online wallet. Taking all this into account i have had to use my friends account to get me the CoD map packs, 1943, warhawk and socom confrontation. Now if Sony implemented a Pay by SMS/phone facility or if they sold cards within Europe i’m pretty sure people like me would stop acount sharing and therefore the game distributors and Sony would make a larger annual profit. See where i’m getting at?

    38. moe13_14 Says:

      I have fat princess, mag beta, rag doll kung fu, and battlefield 1943 email me TO GAMESHARE!!

    39. JROD Says:

      i wouldn’t do it wouldn’t want my psn account banned

    40. OJdaIceMon Says:

      hey guys i dont find gamesharing illegal so if u want then friend OJdaIceMon on ps3 to get games, ill tell u what they are if u friend request me

    41. andy Says:

      think its brilliant as … i play Socom Confrontation and my friends play COD they listened to the critics rating Socom poorly which in this day and age is bad because the critics are so wrong to rubbish certain games understand that Socom was released prematurely but at least the makers have wrked on the game so much with 7 up dates at a guess , if ppl played socom now they would be suprised how playable this game is ! AND throu the sharing of download content between friends i have in effect helped a company gain a bigger fanbase , my friends now play BOTH Socom and Call of Duty totally ignoring the critics and haters of certain games.

    42. marc Says:

      wtf!! if i buy a ps3game in the store I PAY for 5 LICENSES.
      there are some exceptions (like gt5 prologue)

      gt5 would be illegal but still works. only problem is if a friend plays it
      you and anyone else CAN’T for 24 hours.

      READ THE LICENSES!! it’s 100% legal

    43. Capcom Responds To Final Fight DRM | Game Stooge Says:

      [...] on, since Sony allows some games to be shared across as many as 5 consoles, something that was a debate a long time ago on [...]

    44. Alex Says:

      Im willing to trade with guy with list my id is Alien-the-king

    45. Malicious_Muse Says:

      Im looking to PS3 game share, i got
      Battle Field 43
      Mortal Kombat 2
      Rocket Men
      Final Fantasy VIII

      My PSN account Malicious_Muse Reply me on the ps3, with a list of ur games

    46. chris Says:

      what about game add on content if i hav a game same as a mate and he buys add ons eg,maps can i use on another ps3

    47. damon Says:

      oi settle down cos the people who make everything know that we are gonna steal there stuff, if you can even call it stealing.
      they still make millions on millions so they dont care about the 1% who get it free
      think about this stuff before you say it ;)

    48. hobo Says:

      ur all losers get a life and a job

    49. georgemondestin Says:

      can anyone please help me out idk how to do it

    50. Matt Says:

      lol FLAMER FROM ABOVE USE INTELLIGENCE TO KNOCK’EM OFF THE PAGE Dude most of us have jobs we just dont wanna waste money on shit lol stfu hobo

    51. dude Says:

      yo who wants to spend money on anything nowadays

    52. Pax Says:

      So, I fief Burnout Paradice from a friend. later I liked that game so much that I ordered it today and it arrives at my home about 3 day’s. I want to buy the full DLC for €20,- from the Playstation Store, and as present I want to “fileshare” the DLC to my friends PS3 account. Is there a risk I got banned from PSN or something?

    53. boomba Says:


    54. boomba Says:

      I account share for DLC codes

    55. boomba Says:

      Yeah, and “hobo” hobos don’t have jobs, so stfu!!!!!

    56. KTC Says:

      Copyright in today’s sense is a joke and all to protect the CEO’s of companies so they can continue to make millions. They are in bed with the government to lobby to get these rules enforced on us as if the bailouts and blind robbery of us taxpayers is not enough! I would not be surprised if soon we cannot rent a DVD or game and have our friends come over and play cause it will be “copyright” infringement unless they rent their own copy. Read this:

    57. KTC Says:

      Yet another post to support the corruption in copyright

    58. KTC Says:

      One more:

    59. Bem Says:

      ok it isnt illegal if you use it for yourself. but what i do is. gather 4 friends and split the games price into 5 and have everyone chip in. gran turismo 5 is 30 bucks so we each pay 6 bucks. its sooo sweet

    60. Gary Says:

      It’s perfectly legal. It’s the same as buying a game and letting 4 other friends to borrow them. You’re limited to up to 5 ps3 consoles (your own included).

    61. » Sony Revamps PSN Sharing Policy - Game Stooge: The most up to date gaming and tech news blog on the planet. Says:

      [...] in 2007, there was a minor controversy regarding game sharing on PlayStation Network, in which gamers were freely sharing the games [...]

    62. Jonah Falcon Says:

      @Gary: Yeah, but you were allowed to deactivate and activate any you liked. So it was a free rental.

    63. Stranger Says:

      if you dont like it then dont file share PERIOD………….

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