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Sony patent describes tech that could block pirated PlayStation games

PlayStation 4 Press Conference

Patents held by Sony published in the past twelve months have offered more insight into how the PlayStation 4 was being designed ever since Mark Cerny began heading up the project five years ago. Whether or not the PS4 ends up incorporating tech that will interrupt games for commercials or identify individual console users based on their DNA will only be revealed when Sony actually shows off the box itself in earnest. With its plans to incorporate Gaikai’s infrastructure for streaming games though, it’s clear that stopping piracy is a paramount concern for Sony. Another newly published patent belonging to the company describes tech that could even recognize pirated games while they’re in play.

“Benchmark Measurement for Legitimate Duplication,” filed back in 2011 and published on Friday, Sony’s technology doesn’t have the sexiest name for marketable consumer technology, but investors and third-party publishing partners alike will like how the proposed technology could protect revenue.

What it does: Each game used on a PlayStation console would have an average load time associated with it for when the game boots up. After installing the game and starting it up, the PlayStation would then check against a database of load times over the PlayStation Network. If the load time is “within acceptable range,” the game runs normally. Alternatively the PSN will collect a user’s information from the console and run a second test. If the second test doesn’t pass, you’re locked out of the game.

Orwellian? Certainly. Also not necessarily foolproof. For example, say this technology was used in PlayStation 4 and you were using one of the new 50GB Blu-ray discs to play Killzone: Shadow Fall, but the disc reader in the console is faulty and is obstructed, moving slower even though it still functions (a common fault of the original Xbox console.) The player could potentially be blocked from using the game, if the PlayStation Network didn’t have a safeguard to ensure that long load times aren’t caused by mechanical error.

The tech also presupposes a persistent internet connection in order to work. That being the case, the PlayStation 4 may not deploy this tech in all games. Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida already promised that PS4 games will be playable offline.