Could physical retail about to be dealt a fatal blow?
We’ve heard the rumour before, and now a fresh patent from Sony has once again hinted that the platform holder is looking for a way to block pre-owned games on the PS4.
The tech-heavy document describes a process that sees the console tag discs with information, including whether or not they have previously been played on a different machine or associated with a different PSN account.
The technology would also allow for consoles to block pre-owned titles even if the hardware is not connected to the internet.
“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,” the document reads.
“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.
“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.”
Rumours of a PS4 pre-owned clampdown first emerged back in March 2012, although Sony moved to dismiss the chatter in mat with Jack Tretton saying that he was “opposed to blocking used games”, that pre-owned is “great for consumers” and any moves to block the trade would be “anti-consumer”.
Retailers have also dismissed the claims, though it’s tough to know whether that’s born of hope or actual discussions.