The news sites are abuzz, after the kids over at NeoGAF posted a recent patent application from Sony, entitled "Electronic Content Processing System, Electronic Content Processing Method, Package Of Electronic Content, And Use Permission Apparatus." In layman's terms, this would allow consoles to determine whether a disc had been previously used on another system, by using an ID that would be present on every unit shipped. The disc would then be prevented from working on any console other than that on which it was first used. From the patent application:
"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."
Now granted, being cynicism's unofficial mascot, I have no doubt that console manufacturers would love to see this sort of thing become a standard feature: those of us who have spent time anywhere in the general vicinity of the corporate world know that "we're just falling in line with the competition" is the preferred method of absolving otherwise-displeasing policy. On the other hand, individual companies aren't typically eager to be the first to
pull the d**chebag trigger alienate a segment of consumers - yours truly, being the adorably working-class creature that he is, tends to favor used games - thus risking a scenario in which said consumers find themselves flocking to the competition. Also worth noting is the sad reality of consumer electronics: consoles break, and unless you want your games to be but so many circular paperweights, chances are you will purchase a replacement - one with a different ID that would, in the nightmare scenario, force you to re-purchase every game in your library. Granted Sony might remedy this through some kind of workaround (such as tying a console to your PSN account which seems to be plausible, according to the NeoGAF post), but that leaves those without internet access - yes, they exist - without recourse. Personally, i'm not terribly worried about Sony suddenly declaring all used games utterly verboten any time soon. It's a rather unattractive prospect, particularly given that Sony could see all their R&D and marketing cash they will be throwing at the PS4 evaporate in the fires of collective rage, and as Game Informer notes, "Sony owns many other anti-piracy patents, like USPTO #6,782,477, which have never been used." Those who wish to read the patent, fancy lawyer-speak and all, can do so at this link.
What do you think, gamers? Is the news of Sony's patent call for alarm, or is this all so much overblown nonsense? Sound off in the comments section below!