Yesterday, an article originated on Neogaf in reference to a new Sony patent. The patent would essentially prevent a gamer from buying a second hand/used game and playing it on their console. The game game/disk would be tied to the user’s gamertag/user id.
“As a technique to suppress the second-hand sales and purchase, a user may be first required to send a password or the like to a remote authentication server from a reproduction device (game player) via the Internet and the reproduction of content may be permitted only for the device that has succeeded in authentication.”
In the past, we have seen similar the developers threaten similar patents. Obviously, they do not make money off of the second hand sales, but this is the first time we see a hardware manufacturer approach the subject. It is also notable to consider that this patent may never see the light of day, as many patents in the past.
I can see this going one of two ways, if implemented.
1) We could see the other hardware manufacturers (Microsoft and Nintendo) following the lead. This would keep the market on an even playing field, preventing gamers from jumping ship to another console.
2) With the multitude of cross platform games out, we could see many people put Sony aside and cuddle up to Nintendo and Microsoft. This would ultimately increase sales to the two companies, while knocking Sony caters to only their die hard fans.
Ultimately, I don’t see this getting too far. Even if it does, keep in mind that it supposedly ties the disk to your user id. So, you could still play at a friend’s house by signing into your account. The downside would be the potential collapse of the second hand market. What are they to sell, if they cannot sell pre-owned games?
In my opinion, the pre-owned market actually increases the sale of new games. For example, did not have a real desire to play the first Kingdom Hearts. I reluctantly bought it at a local pre-owned game store because it included elements of Final Fantasy for me, and Disney for my young daughters. Ten years later, and my 15 and 11 year old daughters still play the game, and I am the first in line to purchase the new releases. Without that initial pre-owned disk, Square would not have made that incremental purchase revenue form me.
Obviously, this is not an article about Nintendo, but more about the future of gaming, in which Sony is taking the lead. Nintendo has always seemed to stay on their own path, so I am hopeful that they will not follow Sony’s lead. However, in the end it is about the profitability.