Sony applies for RFID DRM patent that would block used games

By on January 3, 2013, 7:00 PM

Sony has applied for a patent on a hardware-based DRM technology that would let the company block second-hand games. Filed last September, the application (PDF) hadn't been published until this week and it's unclear if or when the patent will be awarded. The document outlines an "electronic content processing system, electronic content processing method, package of electronic content, and use permission apparatus" that "reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets."

To accomplish that, Sony would outfit its retail game discs with radiofrequency tags and programmable memory chips. When inserted into a system, the disc would wirelessly collect unique information about the console. If someone attempted to play it on a different machine, the identifying data stored on the disc wouldn't line up and some form of block would be imposed, though the details are slim here.

Perhaps the block would be as straightforward as requesting a flat rate fee to unlock the game, but it might be more elaborate and lock only certain portions of the content. For instance, maybe it would allow access to the first level or two of a game or only prevent folks from playing multiplayer, such as the $10 "Online Pass" employed in recent years by EA and Ubisoft. Perhaps Sony wouldn't enforce anything outright, allowing developers and publishers to choose what content to block -- if any at all.

Of course, there's also the possibility that this patent will go unused, but many console gamers are concerned that won't be the case given the information purportedly leaked about Sony's next-gen console. Last March, Kotaku published details on the PlayStation 4, including a new measure that would block used games. At the time, folks took that to mean that the PS4 would require an Internet connection, but for whatever it's worth, that doesn't seem to be the case with Sony's proposed RFID DRM.




User Comments: 35

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madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So what happens if your console bricks out and you have to replace it? You'll have to buy the game (in some form) again?

Either that, or it'll make you register it with your PSN account (or equivalent) or something... meh. =/

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Block used games? why in the world.... nevermind... just... wtf. wtf... wtf. This will be a big impact... and of course all the publishers would love to jump on board for this... because it's all about money.... I dont even... dot dot dot

1 person liked this | tonylukac said:

PC gaming all the way.

PinothyJ said:

PC gaming all the way.

Because always on DRM is any better...

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Because always on DRM is any better...

My preferred gaming method is also with a PC, I didn't mention this because I was still thinking about the fact that it does require keys, and keys can only be used once, right? I mean correct me if I'm wrong... but I use to try to pirate games, and people wouldn't give out keys because of limits on it's usage... so they always resorted to cracks, patches, keygens, and whatever else I didn't like the idea of doing.... along with trusting unknown programmers who know how to do this stuff sneaking in a rootkit or some other trojan or backdoor bug.... but anyways back to my point, isn't the key a similar deterrent that can only (technically) be used once?

I know today now we have Steam, and that's my main source of games. I use a few of the other's when they have good deals, but hate using them because they are not like Steam.

Also, less shops deal with used PC games... I just don't see that around very much.

jeffz6 said:

Almost all PC games now are linked to your account somehow, so who cares. You can pick up PC games so cheap most of the time.

Used games are not any different from a pirate copies to developers. No income either way for them. I have no problem with this single user approach, but I would like to see cheaper prices then, especially for electronic distribution.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Well... Either Sony can boost their respect and never use this, or guarantee that a lot of people won't be buying the console that integrates it...

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Implementing a system such as this would more or less seal Sony's fate in the console market. They missed a lot of opportunity with the PS3 and eliminating options for customers on upcoming platforms will only compound their problems.

I have a physical collection of 41 PS3 titles. When each of the games in my collection launched, they did so at $60 a pop. Some of them are still near that figure. That puts original retail around $2,400 with a current used value below $450. Given the plethora of lackluster products that developers and publishers have been producing over the past several years, that price difference between new and used is gargantuan from a consumer stand point. If they double that secondary figure by requiring an activation fee for used games or (bring us closer to MSRP) quadruple it by prohibiting used games, it'll be back to PC for me. I might even pick up a Wii U for the heck of it.

That having been said, this seems like a pretty effective way to regulate used game sales. I would even go as far as to say that it beats the hell out of the always-on DRM on a day-to-day basis. Not so much if your console dies and you're stuck with a bunch of coasters, though.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Now that used games will be gone, you'll have to pay the $70 fee to get the game or you pretty won't be able to play. They know what they are doing. Xbox is already following through too. Good to be a PC gamer.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I know this isn't going to happen but, the best way to get even would be to boycott Sony, Never hurts to dream :[

$70 would be despicable and deserves a boycott honestly. Most pc games are much cheaper T_T

Sony can be innovative and stupid at the same time...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Ha, if this happens I'll cry. Consoles games in Australia launch at $100. :'(

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

PC gaming all the way.

Because always on DRM is any better...

Just another company I'll be avoiding the products of... got a pretty substantial Steam library and there isn't a shortage of great alternatives to those companies that stuff you around with restrictive DRM.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

Now that used games will be gone, you'll have to pay the $70 fee to get the game or you pretty won't be able to play. They know what they are doing. Xbox is already following through too. Good to be a PC gamer.

I don't own a console I do my gaming on pc. The problem is that they make more profit on consoles and port a game from console to the pc, where our hardware that can do 10x more gets the shaft along with us.

Lets face it, if they come out with a maxed out console and sell very well. We will see more graphically better games.

Blizzard is the only company that makes hits on the PC and the problem with them is that it takes a decade to make a game.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I guess it's time to go after the second hand sales of games now since it's hurting the industry and causing little kittens to die?

I mean wtf, limitations like these is just stupidity (or genius) at it's best.

Have several consoles in your home? Buy several copies of games.

Want to go over to your friends place and play a game you own? Buy several copies

Want to sell your crappy game that you bought at retail price? Forget it

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I honestly wouldn't mind if they implemented this, then less people would buy consoles and instead buy PC! I mean, Valve are planning to release some kind of Linux based Box that can run steam games, I bet if the price is a little more than the PS4 it would still out sell it if this DRM goes through purely because Sony are still going to charge $60 a game while steam will be $30 and links to your account so if your machine does everything still works on a new one, this tech that Sony have come out with seems to be flawed in that, if your console breaks, you'd have a load of useless disks?

MilwaukeeMike said:

I guess it's time to go after the second hand sales of games now since it's hurting the industry and causing little kittens to die?

I mean wtf, limitations like these is just stupidity (or genius) at it's best.

Have several consoles in your home? Buy several copies of games.

Want to go over to your friends place and play a game you own? Buy several copies

Want to sell your crappy game that you bought at retail price? Forget it

Not that I'm agreeing with this sort of DRM policy, but your arguments aren't even relevant. Who has several consoles in thier house? The only reason would for a family with many kids and you'd only own more than one console if they were both going to be used at the same time, and if you want to play the game at the same time you'd need two copies anyway.

If you want to play at a friends place that badly then bring your own console with you. No one would buy a separate copy (that could then only be played at that friends house anyway).

You can't resell old crappy games at retail price now.

The people who'll be hurt by this are college kids in dorms who can't swap games around. It's not going to force people to buy several copies.

All of this is probably irrelevant. All Sony did was apply for a patent that would allow games to be matched to the console. Maybe they'll just use it to track resales etc. Why does everyone assume the worst?

PC nerd PC nerd said:

Sony have really pissed me off recently. They used to be so respectable and reliable.

My little brother got a PS3 for christmas (the 12GB version because we're not well-off).

Turns out you're forced to install every game you play nowadays, so after playing 4-5 games, the hard drive is full, meaning he can't play any more games until he buys another 2.5" drive to put in there.

After dropping £40 on a 500GB WD Blue 5400rpm 2.5" drive, we realise you need to buy the "OFFICIAL SONY DRIVE CADDY" or some shit. £20 to get one in Britain.

Ended up bodging the hard drive into the bay using a variety of spares/scrap computer parts from my PC building days.

Even Microsoft are more honest than Sony are nowadays.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

Why does everyone assume the worst?

What exactly has the industry done to inspire optimism over the past 7 years?

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

A $150 for a 320Gig drive to fit a 360 slim is hardly honest..

Sony have really pissed me off recently. They used to be so respectable and reliable.

My little brother got a PS3 for christmas (the 12GB version because we're not well-off).

Turns out you're forced to install every game you play nowadays, so after playing 4-5 games, the hard drive is full, meaning he can't play any more games until he buys another 2.5" drive to put in there.

After dropping £40 on a 500GB WD Blue 5400rpm 2.5" drive, we realise you need to buy the "OFFICIAL SONY DRIVE CADDY" or some shit. £20 to get one in Britain.

Ended up bodging the hard drive into the bay using a variety of spares/scrap computer parts from my PC building days.

Even Microsoft are more honest than Sony are nowadays.

PC nerd PC nerd said:

A $150 for a 320Gig drive to fit a 360 slim is hardly honest..

Sony "forget" to mention that you need their OFFICIAL HURR DURR CADDY until you buy the hard drive.

At least Microsoft are open about their dodgy selling techniques.

likedamaster said:

Disgusting. Unfortunately nothing new, they've been doing this since the 80's. Sony diehards can hopefully realize what they're really supporting.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

A $150 for a 320Gig drive to fit a 360 slim is hardly honest..

Sony "forget" to mention that you need their OFFICIAL HURR DURR CADDY until you buy the hard drive.

At least Microsoft are open about their dodgy selling techniques.

See now your criticizing Sony for your own lack of foresight, or at least your parents.

Use this example: Buy a car with a 4 cylinder engine and complain its not powerful enough, so its Ford or Volvo or wtv's fault that you didn't get the V6 option and its going to cost you half the price of the car to have it swapped in... But this is the car manufacturers fault.

Until I read your original comment I didn't even know a 12GB version of the PS3 existed and honestly am feeling sorry for you to have to fight with it to accommodate a HDD. The other models all have the ability to swap HDDs really easily, you just got stuck with the complicated one. Compared to the 360, ha, no way to put your own store bough oem drive in there. And thats far enough off topic.

Back to the DRM, which is honestly sad, PS4, yeah, no thanks, PC gaming is going to get stronger. And honestly is about time, consoles, although practical, are holding back the industry and now are literally taking a step backwards. How about start by making a game thats actually worth $60, not re-re-releasing Call of Duty every year which to my astonishment breaks sales records. Obviously they need more money. And don't think Microsoft won't have a similar tech in their next console, on the bright side PC components are getting lower and lower.

Nekromantik Nekromantik said:

This would basically stop Sony from having any customers in Europe. It completely goes against every law related to the sale of goods like this. Has everybody forgot the EU ruling on the Oracle case? [link]

Cinders Cinders, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Maybe the game will be matched to the active account on the console?

Guest said:

So why would I buy the next Playstation ?

U just know that if u buy this new thing they are making

This is what u gone get... ( again )

NaxxSystems NaxxSystems said:

Sony have really pissed me off recently. They used to be so respectable and reliable.

My little brother got a PS3 for christmas (the 12GB version because we're not well-off).

Turns out you're forced to install every game you play nowadays, so after playing 4-5 games, the hard drive is full, meaning he can't play any more games until he buys another 2.5" drive to put in there.

After dropping £40 on a 500GB WD Blue 5400rpm 2.5" drive, we realise you need to buy the "OFFICIAL SONY DRIVE CADDY" or some shit. £20 to get one in Britain.

Ended up bodging the hard drive into the bay using a variety of spares/scrap computer parts from my PC building days.

Even Microsoft are more honest than Sony are nowadays.

I don't know about the new models, but the first PS3 (the fat one) allowed you to simply install "any" 2.5" drive that fits... The physical size and storage size may be limited like with some old computers... Max storage size depends on the sata controller or the "bios"...

You do know it's possible to simply uninstall the games? Then install them when needed... The reason for installing is many thing... Loading time is one... Loading from disk, even blu-ray is not as fast as from a hard-disk... Deleting games should not delete saved games!

And FWY, Microsoft will in no way, ever be more honest than Sony... You can see the space required on the back of each game...

Consoles used to be the only way to play second-hand games, no keys, no registrations... It was easy as hell to lend games to friends and family. And when you got bored, you simply sold it...

Used games stores has become a big deal. Some stores even ask for used versions of new games, so if you buy a singleplayer game on it's release date, complete it within a week or so, go down to your local game store, trade it in for a gift card, you can almost get the same amount back as you paid for it.

The store now has an almost new game they can sell quite close to the retail price... One thing to remember, you got a gift card that you have to spend in this store!

Every time they earn money on a used game or you sell a used game privately, the company behind it doesn't get a single penny!

Why do you think the retail prices are so high for console games and not for PC games? PC games are usually lock to an account! Console games are not!

If this changes... And second-hand games no longer works... You would see some form for drop in price, simply because the sales total would go down... (I know second-hand games aren't counted as sold copies, but knowing you have to by new expensive games would keep certain people from buying the console and thereby games)

1 person liked this | Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I doubt I'll be buying a PS4 if it has a block on used games, that's where I get most of my games from.

It would be a bad bad move from Sony.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

A friend of mine sometimes bring over his games for us to play on my PS3. Sometimes I like them enough to buy a copy for myself. I guess they don't want awful things like that to happen...

The second-hand game market is good for the industry in general even though they don't directly benefit from subsequent sales.

I bought a chair. I can sell that chair. Is the chair industry "suffering?"

Knowing you can get something back for the games you end up not liking helps when deciding to buy or not.

I would spend more overall on games if each one didn't cost so much. The same applied to audio CDs, but the recording industry (including Sony!) never got that particular clue.

OneSpeed said:

Back to XBOX!

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Maybe the game will be matched to the active account on the console?

This would be good, and would make sense. But in that case, wouldn't you need to be connected to the internet all the time, in an alays-on-DRM fashion..?

1 person liked this | AusterityHeros AusterityHeros said:

Ok seriously: Sony I will actively avoid purchasing any kind of soft- or hardware from you for as long as I live.

I am absolutely sick to death of companies trying to wrap their customers - their legal customers I might add because the 'illegal' ones are never affected by this BS - in chains when they purchase a product.

This will increase piracy, ruin the second-hand market, which means ultimately less money and fewer people playing games or purchasing music.

Sony: GET STUFFED.

I guess it's time to go after the second hand sales of games now since it's hurting the industry and causing little kittens to die?

I mean wtf, limitations like these is just stupidity (or genius) at it's best.

Have several consoles in your home? Buy several copies of games.

Want to go over to your friends place and play a game you own? Buy several copies

Want to sell your crappy game that you bought at retail price? Forget it

Alternatively: Pirate. I'm not advocating it I'm just stating outright this is exactly and predictably what is going to happen. And then more BS SOPA/MPAA zombie legislation gets resurrected for the umpteenth time. Sickening.

Jbucko said:

Sony has always been this way console they have ever come out with they have done something shady just to get money. Just look at the Vita it has floppped maily because of the lack of games, but the memory card situation on that thing. You have to buy sony only memory cards that are expensive as hell. After that whole PS3 cracking feasco I have never trusted Sony and never will.

Guest said:

Sony to launch sports car with new type of engine that should almost perform better than standard engines if only anyone could ever work out how totune the damn thing..

It will launch at $15,000 but after a couple of years they will bring this down to $5,000

You can fill up at any petrol station that has the Sony pump nozzle incompatible with any other.

Gas should be cheap except that each gallon requires a $10 licence fee to Sony.

The gas will contain miniature rfid chips locked to your car when you filled up.

Gas without the rfid will not work

You cannot sell the car, ever.

If the car breaks down you must return it to Sony, who will, at their discretion charge you $25,000 to repair it or just junk it and tell you to buy a new one.

Specs for what gas it takes will not be released to non Sony refineries until one year after launch, and even then they will be wrong so that the car regularly chokes up.

Only licensed dealers will be sold the impossible to pirate pump nozzles at a cost of $10,000 each. Pirate nozzles will appear in China 6 months before launch at $7 each.

Few will buy the car, but they are enough that Sony will declare it a success even though it sells less than all its competitors everywhere except in the AsakusaBashi store.

It will be supported by ads that would make Rolling Stones and Motley Crew forswear drugs forever with an engine termed the emotion warp drive, (EW2x by their engineers).

avoidz avoidz said:

A friend of mine sometimes bring over his games for us to play on my PS3. Sometimes I like them enough to buy a copy for myself. I guess they don't want awful things like that to happen...

The second-hand game market is good for the industry in general even though they don't directly benefit from subsequent sales.

I bought a chair. I can sell that chair. Is the chair industry "suffering?"

Knowing you can get something back for the games you end up not liking helps when deciding to buy or not.

I would spend more overall on games if each one didn't cost so much. The same applied to audio CDs, but the recording industry (including Sony!) never got that particular clue.

I got given some PC games as a gift which I installed but didn't like and no longer play, so I uninstalled them. The boxes and discs sit on my shelf but there's nothing I can do to trade or re-sell them because they are tied to some account I had to create to install them. So they will have to go in the bin. What a waste.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Used games are not any different from a pirate copies to developers. No income either way for them. I have no problem with this single user approach, but I would like to see cheaper prices then, especially for electronic distribution.
Yeah, good luck with that..

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