Controversy has surrounded the rumors that the PlayStation 4 (and possibly the Xbox 720) could block used games completely. Now a recently filed patent shows Sony might seriously take action against used games with the yet to be announced PS4.
Used games have been around almost since the beginning of gaming. Used games have given gamers the ability to play buy games for cheap, which offers those on a budget the chance to enjoy video games. Among other things used games have a lot of benefit and major corporations like Gamestop have thrived off the used games market. Most game developers have been against the used games market for a long time for one reason; developers do not see any revenue from used games that are bought or sold. Some developers have taken arms against used games with the use of Online passes, which is a code for online play that can only be used once and if that game was bought used, to access those features you’d have to pay for that pass. Rumor awhile back was that developers and console developers wanted and were looking to take used games to the grave by blocking used games completely with the next generation of consoles. That rumor seems to be coming true from the new patient that Sony just filed, with Sony themselves saying that it’s vital used games are blocked.
Sony has researched and patented new technology that could be implemented in consoles or handhelds to block used games. Sony patient number 20130007892 was filed for an “Electronic Content Processing System” and “Use Apparatus” that would associate individual game discs with matched user accounts using a more advanced system. The system works, according to the document, by attaching RF tags to each game which could be read without any network connection. The document states “A game playing system includes a use permission tag provided for use in a game disk for a user of a game, a disk drive, and a reproduction device for reproducing the game.” The details of the document basically show a full on block of used games for all consoles with no way around it, besides of course hacking; even that would be difficult considering security on a next gen console would be increased. The document continues on by saying “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. Though in the following description a game application (AP) is exemplified as the electronic content, the present embodiment is similarly applicable to various kinds of electronic content such as an office suite, images, and music content.”
In the patent filed, Sony said in the games industry that it is vital to redistribute a portion of the proceeds from sales to developers, who do not see a dime from secondhand sales. However, if Sony or any company was to block used games on their consoles present or future, it would be negative. Not only would it take away options for gamers but used games are necessary in this economy and are not even a threat at revenue, something you can see with the $1billion dollars made in 15 days from Call Of Duty on new games alone. If a game is good enough it will sell, and shouldn’t be affected by the small potion of sales of used games, something analysts have been saying for a long time. Blocking used games would give gamers less of a choice when it comes down to price. Its also unfair to not allow gamers to get some money back that they could put towards a new one. Blocking used games also means games would no longer be able to be found if production was to be ceased. Doing so could also devastate the economy, both in normal markets and used game markets. Companies like Gamestop would be non existent, and sites like eBay would lose sellers, lets also not forget rental services like Redbox and Gamefly would be dead. It would be a terrible mistake to block used games on any console.
The main question is whether or not Sony would actually do something this drastic. It’s already created an uproar and made company shares fall. A lot of patents get filed, and a lot never see the light of day so now its a waiting game to see if Sony could actually do it. Until then sound off in the comments and let me know how you feel if used games were to be blocked.