A patent from video game publisher and hardware maker Sony could be used in the near future to prevent gamers from buying and using second hand titles, presumably on the next generation of the PlayStation series of home consoles.The patent application that was found by a user from the NeoGAF forums is for a Near Field Communications device use and Sony refused to comment on the leaked information.
The patent states: “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. 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.”
Apparently, Sony has plans to use the same core principles for other content including music, images and an office suit program.
The more technical part of the patent from Sony reads, “a content key may be supplied to the reproduction device 130 and the encrypted game AP may be decrypted using the content key only if the reproduction device ID matches a legitimate use device ID. Hence, use of game APs bought and sold in the second-hand market can be eliminated.”
The second-hand market is very important for the current generation of home consoles and GameStop, the retail chain, relies on it to generate much of its revenue and profits.
Both publishers and hardware makers have been trying to limit its impact, mainly by introducing pre-order incentives ranging from physical objects to extra content, but the efforts have met with limited success so far.
Sony has made no official announcement about the PlayStation 4 console so far, but the company is expected to talk about it before E3 2013 and launch the hardware during the fall.