Sony Patents a Way to Sabotage Used Game Market

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Sony Patents a Way to Sabotage Used Game Market

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The "invention" would tie a game purchase to your user account or the machine ID.

Used game sales are a bit of an issue. Sure, buying a used game cheap at GameStop is great for the consumer, but developers and publishers complain at how they see absolutely no revenue from that sale, thereby preventing game-makers from taking risks on new IP, etc. There's no legal way to restrict someone from reselling their property, but that hasn't stopped Sony from coming up with a dastardly plan anyway. The patent - filed on September 12, 2012 but only made publicly available this morning - outlines a system in which RF tags on game discs interact with the console, allowing only one owner to access the game. Sony hasn't commented whether this new system will make it into the PS4, but the technology exists if the company chooses to use it.

The language of the patent application is pretty dense, but one section clearly states its purpose. "Recent years have seen widespread use of terminal apparatuses [game consoles], each provided with a drive for reading data from a recording medium, which processes electronic content stored in the recording media," reads the application before continuing:

A technology of digital rights management (DRM) is introduced to prevent the electronic content from being used unlimitedly. Typically, DRM is a technology for the prevention of the unlimited copy of electronic content. To this end, the inventor recognized that there are cases where it is difficult to suitably restrict the use of electronic content, stored in the recording medium like DVD and commercially traded.

The invention would accomplish the task of restricting the used game sales Sony doesn't want to see. How will it work? "The disk drive reads out a disk ID from the game disk. When the game is to be played, the reproduction device conveys the disk ID and a player ID to the use permission tag," reads the application. "The use permission tag stores the terms of use of the game and determines whether a combination of the disk ID and the player ID conveyed from the reproduction device fulfills the terms of use or not."

In English: the "use permission tag" will determine whether or not the right combination of "disk ID" - read "your game" - matches the player ID - "your account or console" - before allowing you to play the game.

Now, there's a couple things you must realize about this patent before you start shouting. First, Sony hasn't stated whether they will use this technology in the new PS4 console - this is just a patent application to protect them in case someone else came up with the same idea. Sony has possessed similarly DRM technology as far back as the year 2006, but has yet to use it.

Second, even if this kind of DRM was implemented, there's language in the patent which suggests you'll be able to do things like take your game over to your friend's house to play it. "A temporary use is permitted to the reproduction device, which does not have the legitimate right of usage, on the condition that the number of temporary uses is within a predetermined maximum allowable number (e.g., five times)," reads the application. Because the DRM is software, the restriction could be limited to the number of hours played - not just the number of times the game was activated - and that it can be reset once you have a legitimate access permitted.

I personally don't think Sony will ever go forward with this DRM plan for their new console - it would just piss off too many players - but the company obviously feels strongly enough about restricting used game sales to fund this kind of R&D. We'll be watching any announcements of Sony's PS4 closely to see if the DRM is mentioned in the EULA and grill Sony executives about their plans for used game sales in the future.

Source: Free Patents Online via NeoGaf

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If they don't have some plan for it I have to wonder why they spent the money to develop it in the first place. Though, I agree that they aren't likely dumb enough to utilize this for the PS4.

Yes. Wonderful plan. Remove the people who want to play your game on the cheap entirely and make them never play the series at all. Sure this will end well.

Fappy:
If they don't have some plan for it I have to wonder why they spent the money to develop it in the first place. Though, I agree that they aren't likely dumb enough to utilize this for the PS4.

They're really just looking for a way to release a newer version of the Vita that's even more crippled by it's greedy greedy corporate overlords. They'd be mad to do this to the PS4 though I do agree.

But anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft did similar things...

Greg Tito:
I personally don't think Sony will ever go forward with this DRM plan for their new console...

You underestimate the power of human sutpidity. I mean, I know some pretty bad patents have been made just so no-one else can do them, but come on! All this talk about anti-used-games features in the next gen consoles, I wouldn't be suprised if they actually went through with this horrible, horrible idea.

Um, could you guys at least try to use the appropriate terms in your article? Sony did not patent this, they simply filed a patent application, which anyone can do on absolutely anything. Does not mean that Sony will get a patent on this (although they may, it'll be a few years at the least before there's any result).

The way patent lawsuits are going in the last few years, I actually wouldn't be surprised if this would discourage everyone else from using such a system.

This is a pretty blatant violation of first sale doctrine. I'm sure the US courts won't do anything about it because fuck consumer rights, but I imagine it won't fly to well over on the other side of the Atlantic.

Matt K:
Um, could you guys at least try to use the appropriate terms in your article? Sony did not patent this, they simply filed a patent application, which anyone can do on absolutely anything. Does not mean that Sony will get a patent on this (although they may, it'll be a few years at the least before there's any result).

Which changes absolutely nothing about the significance of this move on Sony's part. If they put this in the PS4 it's not like anyone's going to wag their finger at Sony and say "sorry, your patent hasn't gone through yet." This is a consumer rights matter, not a patent issue.

In Sony-iet Russia, game own you!

Scars Unseen:

Matt K:
Um, could you guys at least try to use the appropriate terms in your article? Sony did not patent this, they simply filed a patent application, which anyone can do on absolutely anything. Does not mean that Sony will get a patent on this (although they may, it'll be a few years at the least before there's any result).

Which changes absolutely nothing about the significance of this move on Sony's part. If they put this in the PS4 it's not like anyone's going to wag their finger at Sony and say "sorry, your patent hasn't gone through yet." This is a consumer rights matter, not a patent issue.

Never said it did, I'd just perfer it if the new article actually used the correct terms. Honestly it's not a lot to ask.

Wait, my Bluray player also plays games?

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Since when?!

I wonder if Sony understands that... that's like one of the only things consoles actually have over PCs? Once the idea of disc-based gaming where a game lives on a disc and can be used like new on whatever console you use it on... once you introduce the idea of installs and User IDs... people are just gonna switch over to Steam for their cheaper games that follow them from their laptop to the desktop to their phones.

Sony! You understand that. Right? You get that you are literally destroying what makes console gaming appealing in the first place? Yes? Hmm?

...okay, just checking.

Even if they do go with this it'll most likely be illegal in the EU, possibly the entire EEA.

They're more than willing to flush their dignity down the hole with shit like this, but pushing the medium forward is too much too ask? Start with backwards compatibility before you think of ANYTHING ELSE. Honest to god, the 720 and the PS4 are already the worst generation of consoles because the lack of backwards compatibility. (And no, I'm not trolling. The next generation of consoles needs to open up to all of their previous main consoles, allowing us to play older games on these things. The lack of it so far is inexcusable as it is)

I like the way how some people seem to sit all day and look through patent applications just to use it to badmouth a company.
Not this article personally, but you know what I mean.

Anyone remember the in-game ad system two years ago? Pharmaceutical companies patent toxic chemicals every day, that doesn't mean they'll release it in our drinking supply.

Fascism.

Plain and fucking simple.

These companies just do not want to co-operate with their userbases.

So I presume that this means we wouldn't be able to return a game and get it refunded if we didn't like it either?
Don't like this idea, but I don't own a Sony console anyway, and I'm not interested in the next generation of consoles either.

I can see several flaws in this plan.

1)I predict that there is a chance that the system will not be fullproof to begin with. What if there was a glitch in the system, and the console you have suddenly reads that all of your games are unplaybable?

2) what if your console breaks down and you have to get a new one, will the new system be able to recognize all of the games you previously had, if at all?

3) Your basically stabbing the Retail gaming market in the eye. They don't make great sales off of new games, used games keep their stores open, so less retailers may not be so inclinded to hold their products.

4) You cannot garentee the quality of the games. People do not wish to be saddled with something they cannot get rid of. PC gamers get the luxery of their games usually being cheaper to begin with, with rediculous sales on retailers like Steam. Console games are almost always full price, with tax included. no one wants to invest 70 dollars on a lemon,without some form of compensation, even if it's the difference of 15 bucks.

So unless Sony can insure QUALITY games that will never suck, and Consoles that will never break, this is a horrible HORRIBLE idea for them. Even some PC games have limitations to how many times they can be activated, but they have more then just one at times. DRM is really pissing on the gaming industry as a whole.I garentee you that Sony will loose more sales, not to the used market, but to pirates who want a DRM free experience, and convenince.

I honestly don't think this will go anywhere. The courts will (I believe) uphold the consumers right to sell their property. They will get pressure from multiple fronts of companies like Gamestop and Gamefly. And they won't end up using something like this. Until they move to all digital there's not really gonna be any way to stop used games. And even then I don't know that more rights for digital goods won't be fought in court.

The same old tired, childish, self entitled B.S. the video game industry has always spouted. Can you even picture any other industry whining like this and claiming such special privileges? Cars? Smart phones? Home appliances? Movies? Music? The computer you are reading this on?

Imagine it, any one of those things sabotaged in production to self destruct/brick in the event anyone OTHER than the very first user activates it? It is absurd to the point of contempt and a heinous violation of your property rights. Just shows what sort of creatures they are, sitting there like big, fat spiders drooling at the potential chance to make poison like this the new norm.

As a PC gamer, I hope this will be used. (Because I would love to see more people come over here, and buy PC games instead of this, so there would be more games designed for the PC.)

Gearhead mk2:

Greg Tito:
I personally don't think Sony will ever go forward with this DRM plan for their new console...

You underestimate the power of human sutpidity. I mean, I know some pretty bad patents have been made just so no-one else can do them, but come on! All this talk about anti-used-games features in the next gen consoles, I wouldn't be suprised if they actually went through with this horrible, horrible idea.

They have more than a few similar patents and they haven't used them, what people forget is that sony also makes DRM for games, they are the ones responsible for securom, which pc gamers looooooove. I would saw the odds of them using it are rather small, especially for the launch of a new console since that is the most vulnerable time for them to be on the market, but it does seem like something they might use later in its life.

Sony may be a corporation, but it's bosses are not complete idiots. I think they realize, that if they will actually use this tech then major part of consumers (if not most of them) will simply drop their support for the system.
But if this really happens, I will never buy PS4. I've been a PS fan since the very first one, but I will not, as a consumer, tolerate such tactics.
The steambox sounds even nicer now.

Cid SilverWing:
Fascism.

Plain and fucking simple.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism - that is fascism. What is happening here is, quoting Zaeed Massani, "A goddamn suicide!"

I fully support Sony's move to patent this on the grounds that I only have an XBox and a patent means that Microsoft can't use this technology against me.

Kidding, of course. If this goes through it'll hurt all of us in the long run. I'd make some comment about dealing with it on PC with Steam already but at least Steam makes up for the inability to sell used by simply selling games for cheap enough that the discount tends to be greater than the money I would've made by selling it back anyways. I somehow doubt Sony (Or third party publishers) will drop prices on new games to make up for the inability to sell used.

Fappy:
If they don't have some plan for it I have to wonder why they spent the money to develop it in the first place. Though, I agree that they aren't likely dumb enough to utilize this for the PS4.

Well if I had this sort of power I'd make it so Microsoft implemented it somehow, thus driving people away from Xbox to the playstation. But that'd require Sony to be masters of corporate espionage.

I always have this to say; WHY THE FUCK SHOULD YOU GET ANYTHING FROM USED SALES?!

If I sell anything else I own, the original creator doesn't expect to get anything at all out of it. I sell my car, that's all my money. I sell my TV, that's all my money. I sell my house, all my money.

In other words, of course you don't get anything from used sales, games industry. No industry does. What makes you so fucking special?

Nicolaus99:
The same old tired, childish, self entitled B.S. the video game industry has always spouted. Can you even picture any other industry whining like this and claiming such special privileges? Cars? Smart phones? Home appliances? Movies? Music? The computer you are reading this on?

Movie publishers can sue you if you play music with too many people around, say, in your cafeteria. I think that's on the same level.

Microsoft already patented a Kinect feature that would block too many strangers from watching the same movie together with you.

The other analogies are faulty, since they are governed by property rights, that are quite a lot more clear-cut than IP rights. It is only the copyright industry that is constantly trying to come up with more and more rights for themselves, while also pretending that it's a matter of protecting "artists' property", so liberalization is out of question.

sooo sony will make sure then every game ever released on that system will be sold all the time. try to find ps3 games that were launch titles will almost always lead you to secondhand games. if they indeed use it i will never ever touch a playstation in my life

So this system would be imposing all the downsides of owning a game on PC on the console versions, and none of the upsides. You truly are the masters of coming up with the worst ideas, Sony. You truly are. Slow clap.

Well Sony, you've just gone full on stupid. Seriously this is just greedy on many kinds of levels. Plus their sales would be hurt even more because Gamestop would drop that console like the large brick it would turn out to be. Sony pretty much would kill themselves in the console race to end up actually implementing this, which would be ironic since the number 4 represents death in Japanese culture. Although I don't think Sony would call it the PS4 for that reason. Plus with the new console generation they are most likely gonna drive up the price of new games to like $70 or $80 which is plain outrageous and many people would not spend that much money on a single game. Hell I don't even pay $60 for a new game because I think it's outrageous which is why I buy games used. Not everyone has deep pockets Sony, thought you would've realized this after the launch debacle of the PS3...

Cid SilverWing:
Fascism.

Plain and fucking simple.

These companies just do not want to co-operate with their userbases.

It's more a case of this being a profit deal.

Think of it this way. By preventing borrowed or rented copies from working, they're forcing purchase on us as our one and only means of accessing the PS4 library. This means more PS4 units will get sold, plus more individual game copies. They shaft rental outfits and used games sales, but guarantee that they'll see every cent of every dollar for every purchase ever made for their new console.

They're not Fascists, they're greedy. They need to be if the PS4 follows the same production dynamic the PS3 did. Produce at astronomical costs because you've bloated your hardware capacity, then slice the price down for retail - which doesn't do much, as even the starting retail price was horrendously high.

It's the same reason why backwards compatibility was shelved in console updates. Keeping this feature in costs them money and robs them of any potential capital they might gain from PS3 owners potentially returning to their PS2. Or, better yet, some first-time console owners choose the PS3, then dial back to the PS2 to check out the previous generation's catalog!

They can't charge for an emulator, but they can certainly charge for a full set of hardware. Hence why the PS2 is still being produced, even if this is about to change.

They have patents for every potential technology even if they know they won't use it.

It's the Prisoner's dilemma game theory all over again. For this to happen both Sony and Microsoft would have to collude.

If xbox releases without this new DRM, sony will have to follow suite or they would lose over 50% of sales

If xbox decided to implement the DRM, then sony will not because they know they will nab a crap load of market share..

Unless they both integrate the technology, but they won't use it until half way through the console cycle..... :(

Gearhead mk2:
sutpidity.

This made me smile =)

/snip

Entitled:

Movie publishers can sue you if you play music with too many people around, say, in your cafeteria. I think that's on the same level.

Microsoft already patented a Kinect feature that would block too many strangers from watching the same movie together with you.

The other analogies are faulty, since they are governed by property rights, that are quite a lot more clear-cut than IP rights. It is only the copyright industry that is constantly trying to come up with more and more rights for themselves, while also pretending that it's a matter of protecting "artists' property", so liberalization is out of question.

Top EU court upholds right to resell downloaded software - http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/07/top-eu-court-upholds-right-to-resell-downloaded-software/

There's something outsiders can strongly envy about the EU. Now if only we can force that through the corporate prostitute congress here on the US side of the pond. One more step towards telling those jackals where they can stick their EULA's.

So the real question here is the definition of Property Rights and whether your "copy" of X software is in fact your legal property.

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