PlayStation 4 upcoming Share Play feature explained

Excited for the big two-point-oh update for your PlayStation 4? Looking forward to changing your console's home screen themes? The awaited major update for the console will be landing on eager users' hands, or rather on their devices, starting October 28 but the update isn't just about themes, of course. Lest you forget, there are also other interesting additions that await you, like the totally new Share Play feature. And to make sure that you don't forget indeed, Sony has published a video and a blog post detailing what Share Play really is.

Sony calls it a "virtual couch". Despite the loner stereotype, many console gamers prefer to have friends over for competition or cooperation, which is why Sony designed Share Play so that you can have that same experience even if your friends aren't in the same physical space. Share Play lets you share your screen, share your controller, or even hand over complete control to your friend, all through the magic of the Internet. And PlayStation Plus, depending on the case.

Share Play has three modes and, depending on the mode, either your or your friend or both might need a PS Plus account. The most basic is Share Screen, which, as the name says, simply lets your friend watch what you are doing. It can be useful for vicariously playing a game or, perhaps more meaningful, letting a guru watch and comment on your performance. For this mode, no PlayStation Plus account is needed at all.

In the second mode, you, the host, can hand over your controller to your friend, letting him or her play your game while you sit back and watch. This can be useful for letting a friend try out a game you've been praising to high heavens, or to let them continue your game while you take a much needed break. Only you, the host, need to have a PS Plus account.

The last mode is the PS4's "dial a friend" equivalent and works only for games that support local multiplayer, except now it doesn't need to be local. Call in a friend when you are in dire need of assistance, or when you just want another living soul around. At least virtually. In this case, both of you need to be PlayStation Plus members.

The biggest draw of Sony's Share Play feature is that the guest doesn't need to own the game in order to partake of its benefits. That said, there are, of course, limits, the biggest of which is that you can only share a game one hour at a time. Aside from theming and Share Play, the v2.0 update will also bring in the ability to play music from external storage and easy uploading of game footage to YouTube.