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If publishers could snap their fingers and get rid of the used-game market, many probably would.
Of course, it’s a complicated issue that is hard to solve without angering customers, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t trying. Sony is. The publisher filed a patent for a technology that can determine if a game is used or not. It utilizes a radio-frequency tag on the game disc that communicates directly with the console to associate the physical media with the system. If Sony implements this in its PlayStation 4, it could disrupt the used-game market.
How it works
The RF “permission tag” on each game will associate itself with a specific player or console ID. The tag then stores the Sony-approved terms under which the game will work. It will only run if the tag determines the player met the required conditions.
What kind of conditions could Sony set? Theoretically, the company could create any kind of permissions that it wants. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for strict terms that limit the game to a single player’s ID or a single console.
But Sony could also try alternative methods that encourage new-game sales or produce revenue. It could allow new players to access a used game if they pay a fee, or it could allow anyone to play a used game but only the original owner will ever be able to earn Trophies.
On the other hand, it’s possible Sony patented this technology so that others couldn’t, and that the consumer-electronics giant will just let it sit unused.
We’ve contacted Sony Computer Entertainment America and asked how it plans to use this new tech. We’ll update with its response.