PS4: Sony Patents Tech to Suppress Secondhand Games

Remember when there were rumors circulating last year that Sony's PS4 might not allow people to play secondhand games on it? Well, unfortunately for us, there might be more truth to than what we initially believed.

NeoGAF user gofreak has unearthed a patent application filed by Sony Japan for near field communication (NFC) technology that will make used games a no-go on the PS4.

Here's some of the relevant details in the patent:

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.

By employing the game playing system 1000 according to the present embodiment, the use permission tag 220 together with the game disk 210 is supplied to the user, and the use permission tag 220 actively determines the use permit/rejection of electronic content. Thereby, the use of game AP stored in the game disk 210 can be restricted as appropriate according to the attribute of a reproduction device. Consider, for example, a case where used is a game package 200 distributed in the second-hand market. Then the ID of reproduction device for the game disk 210 differs from the legitimate use device ID stored in the use permission tag 220, so that the game disk can be reproduced in a mode which is predetermined for those bought and sold in the second-hand market. Also, for example, a content key may be supplied to the reproduction device 130 and the encrypted game AP may be decrypted using the content key only if the reproduction device ID matches a legitimate use device ID. Hence, use of game APs bought and sold in the second-hand market can be eliminated.

Allegedly, this works by supplying an RF tag with each copy of a physical game, which (independent of a net connection) will remember if a game has been tied to a different console or user account. The unit (presumably the PS4), checks this tag first before booting the game.

Keep in mind that even if a patent has been filed, this doesn't mean that used games won't work for the PS4. Also of note, this patent — if comes to pass — doesn't 100% guarantee that second hand games won't work on the PS4. It might just be Sony patenting something it thought up. But don't be surprised if more and more publishers and console-makers try and curb used games sales. It does eat up into their profit margin, after all.

Honestly, I don't think any console that will restrict people from playing secondhand games will fly. I mean, not just from a used games sales standpoint. What if you want to lend your newly-purchased game to a friend? What if your account gets hacked or your console dies? There's just so many factors now that I don't think Sony or even Microsoft would dare restrict used games to run on the Xbox 720 or PS4.

But, I could be wrong…let's just hope I'm not.

Do you think Sony would be foolish enough to implement this sort of thing for the PS4? What would you do if Sony or Microsoft does restrict or put an additional fee for you to play used games?