In the past few months, the rumor mill surrounding Sony’s next video game console has largely churned out details about the device’s architecture. Industry sources and prognosticators have turned their eyes towards the horsepower in the PlayStation 4, or Orbis if unnamed developers are to be believed about its name. At the beginning of the year, though, the rumors focused on what games Sony’s machine would play, not what they’ll look and sound like. The consensus then: Sony was trying to find a way to block used games from working on the console. Now a newly published Sony patent hints at how the next PlayStation will keep you from playing second hand games.
Sony’s patent, filed in September and published Thursday, describes the “Electronic Content Processing System and Use Permission Apparatus.” Here’s what it’s for:
“According to the present embodiment, realized is the electronic content processing system that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets,” reads the patent, “As a result, the dealing of electronic content in the second-hand markets is suppressed, which in turn supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers. Though in the following description a game application (AP) is exemplified as the electronic content, the present embodiment is similarly applicable to various kinds of electronic content such as an office suite, images, and music content.”
The technology described would not just block the use of many used game discs in a Sony console, it might even prevent players from bringing a game over to a friend’s house to play, because it would marry each individual game a user ID like a PlayStation Network account or even the RF identification in a specific console. In the case of a user ID, you would have to sign in each time you used the game disc in a new machine. In the case of an RF link, you simply couldn’t use the game on another machine.
If this seems impossible because it’s incredibly user unfriendly, remember that Sony is no stranger to such policies. The PS Vita is a prime example. Each Vita memory card, expensive proprietary technology on its own, can only be tied to a single PlayStation Network ID. Many Vita games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, require a memory card to even function. If two people are going to share a Vita, they need multiple memory cards. This patent is a logical next step.