For penny-pinching gamers in this age of recession, used games traders let you access nearly-new and classic games at cut-rate prices at times when brand new retail copies may just be out of reach of your budget. However, a new patent from Sony suggests that once the PlayStation 4 is released, the used-games market may be in danger; Sony have devised a way of blocking the sale of used games by tying individual discs to specific consoles.
Using contactless NFC technology onboard a console (the same found in smartphones and Oyster cards), games will be tied to a user account and a console by an NFC disc ID supplied with each game.
“When the game is to be played, the reproduction device conveys the disc ID and a player ID to the use permission tag,” reads the patent document filed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and uncovered by NeoGAF forum users.
This would effectively prevent gamers from trading or selling games by tying them to one console, and potentially even prevent gamers from letting friends borrow titles unless Sony implement some kind of loaning system.
Sony seem to have spent plenty of time trying to make the system as water-tight as possible, plugging the gaps that internet validations and online passcodes can be left with:
“Where the reproduction device [console] is not connected to the internet, use of the content cannot be controlled [...] users may communicate to share the password between them and therefore the second-hand sales and purchases cannot be eliminated reliably.
“As a result [of the patented idea], the dealing of electronic content in second-hand markets is suppressed.”
The patent later goes on to describe how the technology could also be used with gaming peripherals and other media content such as movies and music.
As a second-hand game store customer myself, it’d be a big blow to my wallet should the PlayStation 4, expected to be revealed this summer, land with such a used-game blocker, and we’d imagine a boycott of the console would surely follow from gamers. However, it’s not just consumers who’ve been hit hard by the recession, but games developers too; developers don’t get a penny back from the proceeds of a used games sale, and any such disc ID system would encourage gamers to buy new games, putting money back into the pockets of developers who’ve worked so hard to create the game. It’s a tough balancing act here that needs to be figured out, and we’re not sure if there’s a solution where all parties come away smiling.