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While Microsoft has been doing everything short of actually paying you to buy its Xbox One console latetly, Sony has been quietly chugging along with the PlayStation 4. But a new update to the PS4’s operating system set to be released next week will reportedly bring a new and exciting game sharing feature to the console that could help it pull even further ahead of the console competition.

The news comes by way of a tweet from the official PlayStation Twitter account. Here’s the scoop:

So what is this new version of the OS, codenamed Masamune? Sony offered up some details last week, explaining that it’ll bring the ability to alter the way the OS looks. Users will be able to change themes and will be able to better find friends to play with via a new tile, called “Players You May Know.” Users will also be able to listen to their own library of music while playing games by inserting a USB stick already loaded with their tunes – a welcome change considering how bad the music selection in Watch Dogs is.

But themes and music are all basically window dressing – what about Share Play? Well, Sony dished some details on the feature back in August…and it sounds really awesome. Observe:

“The best way to think about Share Play is like a ‘virtual couch.’ PlayStation 4 will create an online local co-op experience by allowing you to invite a friend to join your game—even when they don’t own a copy of it. With this first-of-its-kind feature, you’ll be able to play games with a friend just as if you were together in the same room. Let’s say that with games… you’ll be able to invite your friend online to play against the Miami Heat for the championship as the San Antonio Spurs in NBA2K, tackle the challenging Towerfall Ascension Quest Mode together, or aide, heal, and protect you as Igniculus in Child of Light’s local co-op mode.”

Share Play will also allow gamers to virtually “hand off” their controls to any friends who may be watching their gameplay, so if I’m having a hard time getting past a particular section, I can enlist my more talented friend to take a try – all without the friend needing to own a copy of the game.

This is an amazingly good idea. While physical media has become less important as digital media has risen to prominence, gamers have lost the ability to loan games to friends to borrow or simply try out. Sure, my buddy may really dig the aforementioned Towerfall Ascension, but what if it’s just not for me? Now I can try it out with him online without even buying it so I can make a more informed purchasing decision.

That’s how SharePlay is great from a consumer standpoint. More than that, however, it’s just a great idea in terms of giving PS4 owners more ways to play games together. It seems as though Share Play may be a free feature that’s added to the PS4 experience, and if Sony can pull it off, it may be the kind of killer app that just blows the Xbox One and Wii U away.

[Official US PlayStation Blog (1), (2)]


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