Used Games, Nevermore.

A new patent from Sony sees gamers angry and Gamestop hurting.

Used games have been the target for publishers and developers alike for years now. Many among them have claimed that the second-hand games market is as damaging, if not more so then piracy as it actively takes a paying sale away from supporting the creators, where as piracy cannot be proven to do so. Where each person stands on the issue is as varied as there are people on the planet, but it seems Sony has taken the first step towards ensuring the second-hand market is ‘suppressed”.

“As a result [of the design], the dealing of electronic content in second-hand markets is suppressed, which in turn supports the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers.”

Now what is key to note about this, is that Sony hasn’t said they have used, or even will use this new patent. Though the mere mention of this patent getting approved has already caused damage in the second-hand market. GameStop, love-em or hate-em, saw a steep drop in its stocks, losing $1.67 per share, and while that may seem small there are billions of shares in GameStop. While the numbers did rise back, yet did not completely make back the loss, the sharp decline illustrates that the investors are worried about the company’s reliance on the sale of used games.

So should we as consumers be worried and perceive this as some darksign for the future? Personally I don’t think so, while the system sounds scary, and by all rights it is, I doubt Sony would ever actually implement the system as it would give a massive advantage to Nintendo and Microsoft who won’t use it. The truth seems to be, while the wording in the document contradicts Sony’s own statements, this is a protective patent which will allow Sony to pursue anyone else that has a similar idea. It also points towards the ability to lock content based on time played, so we could see a resurgence of rentals but powered through Sony’s own database as opposed to Blockbuster or Family Video.

Sources: Escapist Magazine – Sony Patent
Escapist Magazine – Gamestop Shares
Game Rant – Gamestop
Full Patent