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A Brief History Of The PS4 Share Button

DualShock 4One of the most significant additions to the DualShock 4 controller compared to its predecessors is the Share button which allows players to quickly and easily share screenshots and video clips of PlayStation 4 games with social media.  Over at Polygon, the people who created the Share button reminisce about the creative process of making the Share button a reality and discuss some of the challenges they faced.  For instance, some developers were mortified by the idea of players sharing snippets of their games with the world at large.

As Sony began to fully embrace the Share button as one of the “killer features” of the PS4, many game developers began to express concerns about the potential for spoilers, the details of their immaculately-drawn worlds and stories spilling out across social media in an unruly mess of trolling and outrage. Aoki recalls one long meeting with first-party Sony developers that resulted in a compromise — in order to prevent their precious ships from leaking, developers got the authority to block sections of the game from broadcast, up to and including the entirety of the campaign.

“It was one of our main concerns,” he says. “On a system level, it’s really hard for us to understand what the game wants to do, so what we ended up doing was giving game developers the power to select what to block, when to block, or whether to block at all. When we would say we wanted to share everything, some developers would reply with: ‘We don’t want to share! ‘We don’t want to share!’” Aoki recalls, laughing. “[...] At the beginning, some teams were really nervous. They’d block the whole recording until you finish the game, and you could only do it on the second playthrough,” he says. “Of course, that got some negative feedback from the player side. I think the game team now realizes the potential and meaning of having a lot of players sharing the cool content out, and how that represents a positive for the game.”

It's fun to be in the middle of a game like Assassin's Creed Origins or Uncharted 4 and  quickly dash off a fun or exciting moment to show friends and followers.  While some developers resist the idea, it's just not possible to keep restricted footage off of social media.  Even if the Share button is blocked, external capture boxes have been around for years and certainly don't respect a game's internal restrictions.  It's frustrating when that little box pops up proclaiming that recording is prohibited.  I recall wanting to show off a piece of the Marvel vs Capcom Infinite demo last year and discovering that the entire demo was blocked from recording, sharing and streaming.  This was a free demo meant to whip up excitement among the fans and Capcom went and blocked those same fans from being able to directly share memorable moments.  Sometimes I just don't understand corporate decisions.