With used games being a big problem in the gaming industry, Sony’s latest patent published on the 3rd January 2013 outlines a scheme which could detect the use of a second hand game via an RFID tag pressed into the game disc. This removes the need for an internet connection for verification.
The war on second hand games has been heating up as of late with companies adding exclusive features for people who purchase games brand new. Some have even gone to the extreme of using online passes which means that without the code, the online features of the game are completely inaccessible. The problem with used games is that the original publishers receive zero profit from a second hand game and is essentially, as far as the publishers wallets are concerned just as bad as piracy.
The technology works using an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag stamped into the game disc. This would have the capability to remember the account or console the game was linked to and then block the game or restrict some game features if it was used elsewhere.
Similar forms of technology was rumoured prior to the release of the Playstation 3 but was never implemented.
It is unclear where Sony will head with this patent if implemented into its rumoured next generation console. Whether it will just restrict certain features (as is the current case with some games) or whether they will go ahead and nuke the entire used games industry by completely disabling the game. One thing is for sure, whatever they do with it, at least it isn’t as bad as the “always online” DRM seen on some PC games which prevents game access unless connected to the web.
Full details of Sony’s patent can be read here: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2013/0007892.html