Log in

Sony Secures Technology Capable of Blocking Used Video Games

3 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan reportedly has secured a patent for technology that would only allow playback of video game discs specifically licensed to the pending PlayStation 4 console.

Specifically, each new PS4 game would have a contactless radio frequency tag (disc ID) that is tied to a specific PS4 player account (player ID), allowing the console to match the disc ID and player ID and verify that terms of use have been met.

Speculation Sony is eying content restrictions on the new PS4 renewed when it was disclosed (by neogaf.com) that the consumer electronics giant in September filed a patent for technology that restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the secondhand markets.

Not allowing playback of used games would be a blow to a gaming industry in the midst of a significant sales downturn. Sony is on record saying it has no intention of restricting consumer choice — a strategy on which it would be foolish to renege, says Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

The analyst said the new Nintendo Wii U allows playback of used games — a reality it and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 would likely exploit should Sony restrict gaming access on the PS4. Pachter said new consoles account for only about a 10% increase in sales of new games.

“Sony’s sales would rise only marginally if the PS4 blocked used games,” Pachter wrote in a Jan. 3 note.

Meanwhile, news about the technology sent shares of GameStop — the nation’s largest video game retailer — down sharply. Used game sales accounted for 27% of GameStop sales and 46% of its gross profit during its most recent fiscal year.

“While the blocking of used games would be a significant blow to GameStop, we think that a unilateral action by Sony would not attract much publisher support, would trigger a marketing blitz by Microsoft, and would result in severe loss of share for Sony in the upcoming console cycle,” Pachter wrote.

Add Comment