PS4 Share Play sessions will be capped at 720p and have a limited frame rate, Sony has confirmed to VideoGamer.com.
While the caps do not affect the host (1080p titles will continue to output at 1080p on the host's TV), they may affect the gameplay experience of the guest, with the quality of the Share Play stream determined by both users' internet connection.
The resolution on the guest's TV will automatically scale up and down based on the quality of the connection, and while Sony has not stated exactly what the frame rate cap will be, an early demonstration shown to VideoGamer.com suggests it could be around 30fps.
Sony has not disclosed recommended download and upload speeds for players using Share Play.
"We are not going to [disclose a minimum speed] because if we say, for example, you need at least a 3MB speed, I cannot guarantee if it works [even if they have that speed]," SCEE product planning manager Kazuhiro Yanase explained to VideoGamer.com. "The internet environment is really different user by user. For example, some users will be using a LAN cable, some users will be using Wi-Fi, sometimes you use the microwave in your house. Something like that. It's very difficult for us to guarantee you can use Share Play if you have [a certain] speed. That's the reason why we are not going to disclose any specific number. But again, this doesn't require any super-fast broadband."
Share Play is set to be introduced to PS4 in tomorrow's System Update 2.0 and allows players to invite a guest to watch their gameplay, join them as 'player two' in a multiplayer game, or hand control of the game to them - even if they don't own the title currently being played. It's an impressive piece of tech that - if it works - could completely change the way you buy and play games.
VideoGamer.com was given an early look at Share Play and the rest of System Update 2.0 last week, and was able to dig a little deeper into the lesser known features and restrictions/requirements of tomorrow's update.
Come and play Lords of the Fallen live with VideoGamer using PS4 Share Play.
Want to know what we discovered? Take a look below:
- Share Play lets PS4 users host a game session that they can invite a friend to watch, take control of, or (if they're playing a local, single-screen multiplayer game) join them to play, even if their friend doesn't own the game.
- In order to use Share Play, the host must be a PS Plus subscriber. The guest does not need to be a PS Plus subscriber to watch the host's Share Play session or take control of the host's game. However, playing multiplayer games together requires that both the guest and host have a PS Plus subscription.
- You can host a Share Play session by pushing the Share button and selecting the Share Play option. A private party will automatically be created from which you can invite a friend to join.
- Share Play sessions are limited to 60 minutes. However, Sony states that there are no limits on how many times the same user can join a Share Play session for the same title. In theory, there is nothing to stop the guest playing through the entirety of a game they don't own, provided the host is willing to continue inviting the guest to take control of their game after each 60 minute session.
- Sony has not fully explained the reason for the 60 minute restriction, but it appears to be a speed bump put in place to reduce exploitation and encourage the guest to purchase the game themselves. Sony says that the 60 minute restriction proved to be the "sweet spot" when discussing the feature with game creators, but that it will listen to user feedback to see "whether it's right".
- While Sony is aiming for Share Play to be a standard feature across the platform, publishers/developers can place restrictions on content that can be shared. For example, publishers may choose to prevent playable alphas and betas from being shared with guests.
- There may also be scenarios where spoiler content is blocked from Share Play. "Generally it's a standard platform feature," SCEE's VP of Product Planning Murray Hume explained. "We do know that there are situations where if the game contains a spoiler or if it requires a peripheral for a certain stage, then we have a facility we provide that allows that portion of the game to be stopped and not shown... because there are certain contexts in which it doesn't work." It isn't clear what will be displayed on the guest's screen during these moments or how frequently they may occur.
- Share Play is only compatible with games. You cannot broadcast Netflix to a guest's display, for example.
- While Share Play is in operation, the guest can only control the game and cannot perform other functions on the host's PS4. The guest cannot access the host's personal information.
- The host can take back control of their PS4 at any point by pressing the Share button on their DualShock 4 and ending the session.
- The guest cannot remotely turn off the PS4 once they are done playing the game. System functionality remains the responsibility of the host.
- Notifications intended for the host (such as messages and friend requests) will not be displayed on the guest's screen.
- Trophies cannot be unlocked on the guest's account.
- Game progress cannot be saved on the guest's account.
- Once a guest has played a game owned by a host, that game's icon will appear in the recently played section of the guest's PS4 Home screen directing them towards the PlayStation Store. "This will encourage additional game title sales for game publishers," Yanase says.
- Share Play is currently only compatible with PS4. A PS4 user, for example, cannot invite a PS Vita user to watch or take control of their game.
- You cannot livestream directly through PS4 at the same time as using Share Play.
- Resolution is capped at 720p on the guest's display during Share Play. Much like a live broadcast, resolution will scale up and down depending on the quality of both parties' internet connection.
- There is a similar cap on frame rate, although Sony has not specified exactly what it is. Based on our early demonstration, the cap appears to be 30fps.
- While latency did not appear to be an issue during our demonstration, both the host and guest PS4s were connected to a wired network at Sony's London offices. As of this writing we have been unable to test Share Play in a typical 'real world' environment, but Sony stresses that it does not require super-fast broadband.
- Sony is aiming to have 3-4 custom themes available at the launch of System Update 2.0.
- As with PS3, third-party publishers and developers are able to create their own themes for download on PlayStation Store.
- PS4 users cannot create their own custom themes or custom background images "at this time". You can, however, choose your own background colour.
- Uploading videos to YouTube follows the same process as sharing to Facebook. Simply push the Share button, scroll to Upload Video Clip and select YouTube.
- A Google account must be associated with your PSN account to share gameplay footage to YouTube.
USB MUSIC PLAYER
- The USB Music Player allows you to play your own music tracks from a USB Flash drive. When a USB stick loaded with music is inserted into the PS4, a USB Music Player option will appear on the Home screen from where you can play your music. MP3, MP4, M4A, and 3GP file types are supported, and music can be played over the top of game audio.
- A new Mini Player has been added to the PlayStation Button menu screen that allows you to quickly stop and restart the track or adjust the music volume. To access, simply press and hold the PlayStation Button while playing music and scroll down to the player.
- While music must be played from a USB memory stick at the launch of System Update 2.0, Sony is investigating the option to allow music to be stored on the internal hard drive for a future update. "Lots of gamers want to store not only music files but also their favourite video files on [the] PS4 hard drive," Yanase acknowledged. "But... to deliver this kind of custom soundtrack capability as soon as possible is most important for gamers, so we have the highest priority to deliver this function first. Then maybe we can develop it for [internal storage] sometime over the future."
LIVE FROM PLAYSTATION
- The Live From PlayStation UI has been tweaked to include new 'Live' and 'Archive' buttons that let you quickly switch between live and archived footage.
- You now have the option to follow your favourite live streamers, too, with their live broadcasts appearing in the Featured section. If somebody follows you, you'll see your follower count increase on whichever livestream service you use (Ustream/Twitch).
- A new Games section lets you browse broadcasts of games based on their current popularity within the community.
HOME SCREEN & LIBRARY
- To reduce clutter, the Home screen has been tweaked to display the 15 most recently used games and apps. The remainder of your icons will be pushed into the Library folder.
- The Library folder has seen some improvements, too, and can now be sorted by Games, Applications and TV.
- A range of new voice commands are being added with 2.0, including 'Start Broadcasting' and 'End Broadcasting'.
- A new context-sensitive menu is also being introduced to make it easier for players to know which voice commands are currently available. By saying 'PlayStation, All Commands', a new menu will be displayed detailing every voice command currently available.
- Polish and Russian languages are now supported.
- While it will not be available in System Update 2.0, Sony says that it has heard requests from fans to let them change their PSN ID. "I'm aware of that request," says Yanase.
- Sony is aware of requests to support external hard drives, too, but such functionality will not be available in 2.0.
- Folders are not available in 2.0.
- The option to suspend and resume games won't be introduced in 2.0 either. Hume says that, while "there's nothing to announce today, we haven't stopped working on it".
- Notifications now have a context-sensitive PS button that will - presumably - take you to the relevant area when pressed.
- A new 'Add To Library' button on PlayStation Store will let you add PS Plus games to your library for future download.
- And finally, yes, System Update 2.0 will introduce the option to pause downloads.