Sony Patents New RFID Technology – Could Limit Piracy and Used Games

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!

About the author

David Jagneaux

I am The Dean (Editor-in-Chief) of PlayStation University. As a lifelong lover of both playing games and communicating, I knew that gaming journalism was the perfect fit. Over the years I have honed these skills in order to distinguish myself as an ambitious and creative writer passionate about gaming and the games industry.

Readers Comments (2)

  1. i buy my games new so i don’t have a problem
    id feel more safe with this sistem because i had an ocasion where my games were stolen

    • I tend to agree with you, personally. If it’s a game that I’m not reviewing and I am extremely excited for it, I buy it new at release usually. Other times, I wait until the price drops and often buy it new then as well. I really feel like developers, publishers, etc. should get money for their hard work.

      With that being said, I do buy used games as well. Usually if it’s a game I missed out on or are only sort of interested in, but if it’s for the betterment of the industry as a whole, I’m all for it.

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