Sony tech patent for blocking used games causes stir

MANILA, Philippines - Fans of Sony's PlayStation consoles may have found themselves feeling uncomfortable at a new development in Sony's activities.

A poster from the NeoGAF forums noticed that Sony had filed a patent for technology that could potentially restrict the ability to play second-hand games on future PlayStation iterations, such as the rumored PlayStation 4.

According to the patent application, Sony has developed an "electronic content processing system that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets." The technology seems to work by attaching contactless RF tags that would check if the game matches the account on a machine.

The patent application also notes that "the present embodiment is similarly applicable to various kinds of electronic content such as an office suite, images, and music content."

According to gaming website Kotaku, Michael Pachter, an industry analyst with Wedbush Securities, sent investors a note that downplayed the significance of the find.

"Sony benefits little from a unilateral decision to block games," wrote Pachter. He added that it was "unlikely that blocking used games would result in a lift of more than 10 percent in new game sales. That means that Sony's sales would rise only marginally if the PS4 blocked used games."

Pachter also mentioned that it was also possible that the patent may be used in a different way, such as creating a game licensing system. He explains, ""Should a publisher be reckless enough to risk the wrath of its customers, Sony's ID matching technology would allow that publisher to create terms of use that are similar to a software license, rather than to a disc sale."

Pachter believes Sony and game publishers aren't "currently foolhardy enough to take such a risk." -

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.