Sony has applied to patent a piece of technology that if implemented will prevent gamers from playing second-hand and pre-owned games on their consoles.
The technology works by having your games console check a ‘tag’ on the game to see if it has previously been played in another console or tied to another user account. If it finds that it has, the technology will prevent the player from accessing the game.
It’s fairly clear to understand why Sony are interested in introducing this technology, and the claim in the patent that this new ‘tagging’ system “supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers” cements the the idea that this is to reduce the financial losses incurred with second-hand sales.
Whilst I can understand that developers are keen to ensure that they get their cut of the cash from their games, the fact that this tech would abolish the ability to lend a game to a buddy bothers me the most. I’ve discovered countless great games through borrowing them from a friend and if I’ve enjoyed it, I will buy my own copy (and any sequels) the majority of the time.
With the current financial climate and the cost of this generation of titles, gamers are less willing to take a chance on a new games. With most of my game purchases of games that I have no prior knowledge of, they are usually inspired by a recommendation, a cheap price or having played a snippet of the game myself.
I bought the first Mass Effect pre-owned from Gamestation for £3. I now own limited editions of every game (which I pre-ordered for launch for Mass Effect 2 and 3) and also own various related pieces of merchandise from hoodies to the Kotobukiya Liara statue. My initial ‘risk investment’ of £3 has grown into the hundreds of pounds over the years and started because of a cheap, second-hand sale.
With price drops coming in mere weeks after a games release and launch sales figures on new IP’s already dwindling, I can only see this technology harming the sales of games and hindering the chance that players will take a risk on a new game.
What do you think about this potential pre-owned game blocking technology? Do you think it will help or harm profits for developers and publishers? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter.