GameStop Shares Fall After Rumours of Used-Unfriendly PS4

A console that blocked secondhand games would hurt retailers that rely on used sales

Gamers seem widely disappointed at yesterday's news that a NeoGAF user had found a patent application from Sony Japan for NFC (near field communication) technology that would prevent a console from running secondhand games. But the effects of the rumour have spread further than just pissing off a few would-be PlayStation 4 owners. Notably, company shares have fallen for game retailer GameStop, with Yahoo! Finance predicting the sudden change can be blamed on the anxiety around the idea of a PS4 that blocks used games.

This effect wasn't predicted in any news stories I read, but it perhaps should have been. It's a fairly obvious connection; after all, GameStop is known for its used sales. In a market where new games are so expensive and very little mark-up can be made, game retailers thrive on the profits made from allowing customers to trade in old games and buy those others have traded in.

So should we be worried? According to analysts referenced in the article, creating a used-unfriendly console would actually put Sony at a disadvantage if its competitors did not do the same, thanks to things like the effect on rentals and the response from angry customers. And a similar rumour was floating around before the launch of the PS3, again affecting GameStop share prices, but nothing ever came of it. Let's hope this pans out the same way.