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Sony restricts PSN game sharing

In Europe and Australia, Sony is limiting the number of its devices that can simultaneously access games and content purchased from its network. Is the policy unfair to those with multiple consoles?

Some are seeing red over a new policy that's limiting game sharing among Sony gaming devices.

Sony has greatly reduced the number of gaming devices that can access games purchased from the PlayStation Store through one user account.

In the past, someone with a PlayStation Network account could play a purchased game on up to five PS3 or PSP devices. A revised policy--which went into effect Friday for several countries in Europe, as well as Australia--stipulates that only two of each Sony gaming devices (PS3, PSP) can access purchased games and content (purchased after November 18) from the PlayStation Store.

Sony announced the policy earlier this month on its official European PlayStation blog. Sony representatives did not immediately reply to CNET's request for comment on whether the change would come stateside.

The PlayStation 3. Sony

The new policy limits the potential for game sharing among friends, which undoubtedly cost Sony money over the years. How do gamers feel about the limit-in-sharing policy? I went searching through some comment threads to find out.

On the European PlayStation blog, it didn't take long to find examples of consumers irked by the policy shift. "This decision by Sony will make me decide to sell my third PSP as it would no longer be able to enjoy a family multiplayer session between me, the wife and my son," said StefNightHawk.

Said another user, Opt1mus76: "I have four PS3s (and three PSPs) which I use (my main, one in spare room, my kids, plus one at my mums for when I stay there). Now if I buy a disc I can use it on any of these, but from now on I can only use what I buy off PSN on two of these? So, I've paid Sony over $900 but I can't use my content on all of them? What kind of way is this to treat customers?"

There is hope for those beleaguered by the new limitation, however.

Sony will soon offer a Web site for remotely activating and deactivating consoles. Currently, this process is only available from that device. Sony

Sony simultaneously announced that it would soon offer a Web site that allows consumers to activate and deactivate their PlayStation devices from accessing PSN content. This means you could simply activate the consoles you are using and deactivate the ones you are not.

Owners of broken PS3s and PSPs will finally be able to deactivate their devices, which was only previously possible within the device itself. Those who experienced the infamous "yellow light of death" (YLOD) with the PS3 and could not deactivate will surely be elated.

"Brilliant, glad we will soon be able to deactivate devices from the web. Had a bad time a few years ago when I kept having refurb PS3s dying on me, meaning I now have a ton of activated PS3s I cannot deactivate," user cubehouse commented on the European PlayStation blog.

The number of people out there who have three (or more) Sony gaming devices is probably low, but they do exist, and now their options are more limited than before. In comparison, Xbox 360 owners can only access Xbox Live content from one account and console at a time. Maybe life isn't so bad.

What do you think? Is the new policy unfair to those with multiple Sony consoles? Should Sony reward consumers who purchase many of its gaming machines, rather than restrict them?