Piracy has always been an issue for developers on any platform. As quickly as new measures of protection are created to counteract the production and distribution of illegal software copies, hardware and software is also developed to circumvent these systems. It is this game of cat and mouse between developers and end-users that Sony seems to hope to settle on the PlayStation 4, which was announced on Wednesday?
A recently published patent from Sony details technology that would check how long a selected game takes to load, then compare it to a set benchmark, or average. If the load time of the media in question is beyond the acceptable range established by Sony’s benchmarking system, it will not be loaded. An excerpt from the patent explains the process in more detail:
What is claimed is:
- 1. A method for validating legitimate media products associated with a legitimate media type, the method comprising: loading a first media product having a first media type on a computing device; measuring a first load time for the first media product on the computing device; establishing a threshold range of acceptable first load times using a second load time associated with the legitimate media type; and determining whether the first load time is within the threshold range.
- 17. A system for validating legitimate media products associated with a legitimate media type, the system comprising: a computing device that loads a first media product having a first media type and that measures a first load time for the first media product; a processor that calculates a second load time for the legitimate media type, establishes a threshold range of acceptable first load times using the second load time, and determines whether the first load time is within the threshold range; and a memory coupled to the processor.
The patent application was filed in August of 2011, but has only recently been published — lending a bit of credibility to the idea that it could be an active technology in the upcoming PlayStation 4, a system Sony hopes will revolutionize how interactive entertainment is perceived and used. This technology is also not limited to simply loading a disc or downloaded title, but is a system that can persistently check data seek times throughout gameplay. In such a case, time benchmarks would go from seconds to milliseconds, narrowing the focus of the anti-piracy technology to a fraction, and with it the room for error on Sony’s part.
Despite this, the system could be very successful in decreasing the amount of piracy currently plaguing the video game industry, provided it is not circumvented by end-users who wish to avoid the hefty price tag associated with many retail games. In any case, the technology should be successful in keeping developers from resorting to more ruthless means of DRM, such as Ubisoft‘s notorious “always-online” anti-piracy system, which as only recently stopped. Keeping the focus of anti-piracy technology on the media in play is the first crucial step to satisfying both developers and players, allowing for a stronger bond between the two, and against those who illegally distribute “cracked” games.
Ranters, do you see this technology working in Sony’s favor, or are you concerned that it may interfere further with you and your gaming — provided it is in fact set to work with the PS4? The full patent application can be viewed here.
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