Sony Japan Patents Tech That Could Block Used Games

Header image for Sony Patent article featuring Kratos from God of War.

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan has filed for a patent  that would be able to block players from playing used games, or even games that they have borrowed.

The patent, which was filed on September 12 last year but has only just been released, makes provisions for the use of contactless chips (such as the NFC technology used in Mastercard’s PayPass system) in order to assign an ID to a disc. Every disc is registered to a user or device with the details stored inside the disc’s chip, so when the disc is inserted into another person’s system it would be identified as registered to another account and would not function. However, the technology accommodates one user having multiple consoles as access is tied to their account (à la Steam), and not just their particular system.

Diagram from Sony's Used Game Blocking Patent.

There will now be an additional step between inserting the disc and playing the game.

The patent filing cites the economic benefits for developers as a reason for the development: “As a result [of the technology], 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.”

The filing also mentions the limitations of existing digital rights management (DRM): “Typically, DRM is a technology for the prevention of the unlimited copy of electronic content. To this end, the inventor recognized that there are cases where it is difficult to suitably restrict the use of electronic content, stored in the recording medium like DVD and commercially traded, according to the attributes of use entities of the electronic content.”

The technology does not require an internet connection to function, and so could be deployed worldwide, especially in regions such as South-East Asia and South America where a stable internet connection is not always available, and piracy is common.

Source: Free Patents Online, via Neogaf and Eurogamer

What do you think about the idea of not being able to trade in your games or even buy/borrow another person’s games? I know that store trade-ins are how a lot of people get to justify new game purchases so it may mean that a lot of people won’t be playing as many games as they’d want to – and that’s a shame. Hop on our official forum and share your thoughts!

Author: Abir Chowdhury View all posts by +
Abir is the Managing Editor of Doublejump. He loves all things PC gaming, but is also an avid amateur photographer. Oh, and he sings. He goes under @ranab1r on Twitter and on the forum.