Games are downloaded and distributed illegally. Games are also often bought “second-hand” or in “used” conditions – everyone reading this has surely been to a Gamestop or similar store at some point in their life. While used games are great for the consumer (getting games at a cheaper price and recycling products) companies like the developers, publishers and console manufacturers don’t actually see any of the revenue for used game sales. Thus: this generation we have seen a massive increase in “online passes” that force consumers to pay extra to unlock features on the disc if it were not bought brand new.
There are multiple factors to consider in this topic, but it looks like Sony may be attempting to take some pretty large strides going into the next generation. It was recently discovered by a NeoGAF user that Sony filed for a patent that would allow them so tag discs with an RFID code. When a disc is first inserted into a system, it would register with that console or account. This would then prevent it from being freely played on other consoles. Whether or not they plan on using this to lock out the ENTIRE game, or simply a code-less version of an online pass is unknown, but definitely interesting none-the-less. The full details specifically state it’s created to be:
“A technology of digital rights management (DRM) is introduced to prevent the electronic content from being used unlimitedly.”
This raises some interesting issues in my mind: 1) What happens if you want to let a friend borrow a game or if you brought it over to a friend’s house to play? 2) How will this technology affect rentals? 3) How will this technology affect games that people return to retailers? 4) What if someone were to buy a game used, would they simply have to unlock the disc for a fee, or would it be rendered useless on all other consoles?
These are all interesting issues that should be considered, but nothing has been officially confirmed or denied by Sony as of yet. Of course, they may not even use this technology in the way that it appears to be designed for, so it will be interesting to see how this develops over time. What are your thoughts on the situation? Let us know in the comments below!