games / News

Sony Reportedly Looking to Patent New Technology That Could Block Pre-Owned Games

January 3, 2013 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

MCV reports that Sony is looking for a way that could potentially block pre-owned games on the PS4.

A new tech-heavy documents talks about a technology patent by Sony that describes a process that sees the console tag discs with information. This reportedly includes whether or not they have previously been played on a different machine or associated with a different PSN account. This technology is also said to allow for consoles to block pre-owned titles even if the hardware is not connected to the internet.

The document reads: “The development of electronic content including game applications (APs) is costly and therefore in a content business it is vital to redistribute part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers. On the other hand, the electronic content is being bought and sold in second-hand markets. In such a scheme where the electronic content is bought and sold in the second-hand markets or the like, the sales proceeds resulting therefrom are not redistributed to the developers. Also, since the users who have purchased the second-hand items are somehow no longer potential buyers of the content, the developers would lose their profits otherwise gained in the first place. As a technique to suppress the second-hand sales and purchase, a user may be first required to send a password or the like to a remote authentication server from a reproduction device (game player) via the Internet and the reproduction of content may be permitted only for the device that has succeeded in authentication.

“However, where the reproduction device is not connected to the Internet, use of the content cannot be controlled. Also, where the connection to the Internet is an absolute requirement, user’s convenience may be significantly reduced. Besides, users may communicate to share the password between them and therefore the second-hand sales and purchase cannot be eliminated reliably. In view of the foregoing problems described above, according to the present embodiment, a recording medium and a radiofrequency (RF) tag storing the terms of use (use condition) are included in the same packet (package) of electronic content. Proposed is an electronic content processing system where a usage mode of the electronic content is determined based on whether a reproduction entity, such as a reproduction device or user of the electronic content fulfils the use condition or not.

“According to the present embodiment, realized is the electronic content processing system that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets. As a result, the dealing of electronic content in the second-hand markets is suppressed, which in turn supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers.”

There were rumors of a possible PS4 blocking of pre-owned games last March 2012. Sony dismissed the issue with Jack Tretton staying he was “opposed to blocking used games”, and that pre-owned games are “great for consumers” and any moves to block the trade would be considered “anti-consumer.” Retailers have also dismissed the claims of this technology.

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Jeffrey Harris
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