Everything you need to know about the PS4's Share Play feature


The idea behind Share Play, according to Sony, is aimed at pushing players towards buying more games. Share Play makes it possible for players to enjoy games they don't already own, certainly, but their in-game experience won't have the same visual fidelity as if they own a copy, and playing a game is contingent on a friend being online and inviting them to a session. It's tempting to think of Share Play as the next stage of demos.

The Firmware update is also aimed at making a lot of the PS4's menus and functionality more streamlined. The Homescreen's icon count is now capped at 15 and shows only the apps and games that the player has most recently used. The rest are housed in the library, which players can easily access and search out games, apps and any films or videos they've saved. There's a new raft of voice commands too; players can access the entire range by saying "All Commands", which brings up the full menu.

The sound of music

Players can listen to their own music off a USB stick while playing a game. They can't load their music onto the PS4's hard drive, but if they fancy listening to Oasis while playing a game of FIFA, they now have that option. It's worth pointing out that listening to music while playing doesn't stop the music on the soundtrack in any game the player is playing, unless that game offers the option of disabling that. So if you fancy playing OutLast while listening to "My Patch" by Jim Noir – however funny that may be – you'll need to check that the game allows it, otherwise you might end up with a rather head scrambling cacophony blaring from your TV's speakers.

The functionality concerning watching and uploading videos has also been made a bit easier. Players can now upload clips from their PS4 to YouTube; it works in a similar manner to uploading to Facebook – just hit share and click the YouTube icon and you're able to edit clips, name them and provide a description. You'll need a Google account before you do this, though, and to have it synched with your PSN account.

There are also a few more options dealing with Live From PlayStation; players have better access to official broadcasts and the video channels of any other players they follow. They can also search for games by name now; if you want to watch a speed run through any particular title, they simply tap the name of the game into the search box and they'll be able to see a series of videos from players who happen to be playing it.

There's no word yet on the size of the update. Sony has also been quite cagey about certain features players have been calling for. No external hard drive support is on the cards for this update. Players still can't change their PSN ID, either. But Sony hasn't ruled out these features altogether.

For the moment, it looks like it's waiting to see how players react mainly to Share Play. Whether it's correct and this function leads to a bump in sales remains to be seen.