Sony announced Friday that an upcoming policy change to the PlayStation Network usage policies will in effect neuter the five-system game shares that many users participated in. The new policies go into effect on November 18, 2011, and will limit game content activations to only two PlayStation 3 systems and two PlayStation Portables, down from the five systems each previously.
For the unaware, PlayStation Network accounts are currently able to be logged into and activated on up to five different systems. This means that it was a common practice among friends and online gaming communities to coordinate groups of five willing participants, who would "share" the game content on the account and split the costs five ways, in effect getting a huge discount on PSN games. While some argued this was essentially a form of sanctioned piracy, others said that the one copy of the game being sold to five people was better than the zero copies sold to actual pirates, and that it was a legitimate loophole that Sony had designed into the system. Not anymore.
The good news for users currently on one (or more) game share accounts is that this policy change will not affect any content purchased before November 18, 2011. This means that anyone desperate to save money on current content or anything being released in the next two weeks has time to jump in before five-system sharing goes away forever.
Sony also announced that they plan to update the PlayStation Network account management website to allow users to remotely deactivate a particular device from the convenience of their computer, a feature that was strongly requested, perhaps ironically, by users wanting to eject a non-paying member from share groups.