Yesterday we reported that Sony had filed a patent for technology that would allow future devices — most likely the PlayStation 4 — to reject used games. Though many did not know such a technology was available, it did seem like a logical step in publisher’s ongoing battle against used game sales.
And, regardless of if the technology ever ends up making its way into the PS4, it appears that Sony has dealt a sizeable blow to one of the major purveyors of used games, GameStop. After the news broke of this anti-used game tech, GameStop’s stock closed with a 5% loss ($1.30 less than they opened with).
In the grand scheme of things a 5% loss isn’t much, and could be more indicative of the ever-fluctuating nature of the stock market, but the coincidence is hard to overlook. Yes, GameStop still deals in the sale of new games — and manages to snag a healthy selection of pre-order bonuses to incentivize purchases from their selection — but used games are also a very important part of their life stream.
In a similar fashion services like GameFly would be rendered almost useless unless subscribers could be guaranteed their copy was unplayed, which in most cases is unlikely. And then there is the question of whether or not used discs in general are banned, which could impact services like Netflix and RedBox.
The idea of blocking used games isn’t a new idea for Sony either, we reported on it early last year. But in that story we revealed that analyst Michael Pachter felt such a move would prompt GameStop not to sell the PS4, or its games, if Sony would enact such a measure against used games sales. And now that they’ve seen the impact just announcing such a patent has had, such a response seems all the more likely.
However, if Sony were to include such a measure in the PS4’s architecture they would invariably be “shooting themselves in the foot” as far as multiplatform competition goes. For example if Microsoft were to introduce the Xbox 720/Durango without such a measure they would once again have a leg up on Sony.
So, for now look at Sony’s patent as something of a preventative measure — something they are looking into, but may not end up using in a future console. But if they did, rest assured the impacts of such a move would be felt all over the gaming world.
Do you think that GameStop would go out of business if the PS4 featured this anti-used game technology? How would such a feature impact which next-gen console you purchase?