Sony’s potential suppression of used games
Patent: (invention) protected by a trademark or a brand name so as to establish proprietary rights analogous to those conveyed by letters patent or a patent.*
Patent example; rumored Sony controller patent
With the news of a possible patent by Sony **
potentially banning the use of secondhand, used, games on consoles, gamers widespread have erupted in outrage.
(Respective users, via various outlets, made anonymous)
“Quite simply put, if Sony puts this technology into their next console, then I will not be buying a PS4 or "Orbis". I have grown up on PSX, PS2, and now PS3 and I love Sony to death, but I will not support this.”
“…It's pretty odd that Sony would try to patent their own suicide after the vita flop.”
“Hey, Sony, I just patented a method for not buying your *** games and systems anymore if you go through with this ***.”
Tis’ the shot heard round the web. The news, byway of Neogaf**, details the emergence of a new patent filed by SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC. wherein (quoted from patent in question***
UPDATE: REMOVED ...probably by Sony...):
Or as Neogaf user gofreak** adumbrates in laymen terms: “It works by supplying a contactless RF tag with each copy of a game (NFC?), which can (independent of a network connection), remember if a game has been tied to a different machine or user account previously. The system checks with the tag before playing the game.”
Or, again, by IGN’s Luke Karmali****
(UPDATE: REMOVED/REPLACED by a video, but this was directly posted from the article beforehand :): “The patent explains that games will come with contactless tags that will be read by your console in much the same way as modern bank cards. When a disc is first used, the disc ID and player ID will be stored on the tag. Every time the disc is used in future, the tag will check if the two ID’s match up and, if not, then the disc won’t work.”
Effectively all used, secondhand software, would be rendered invalid, unplayable, subsequently useless, locked.
Now, I’m not one to jump to conclusions nor do I claim to completely comprehend the technical minutia of the documents but…
I am and always have been repulsed by even the idea of console based DRM of this kind and scale. As the nature of patents goes, Sony could just be covering future bases, crafting an entrepreneurial umbrella to secure exclusivity, rights over technologies never ultimately to come to actual use or fruition. But still. The sheer, unbridled, unabashed (in the immortal words of Destructoid’s one and only Jim Sterling*****
) “cowardice” of hardware manufacturers at times just amazes me.
Digital Rights Management (DRM): protection of copyrighted digital content by means of technologies or systems that restrict its use and distribution.
It has affected film, music, all media; DRM is not by any means a novation. The stigma of piracy exists in a panoply of permutations, rampant in every genre of entertainment there is, especially in the video game space. But, is the legal purchase/use of used games, secondhand software in general, piracy? No. Does Sony think so? Certainly not either (at least I hope not).
HEY, NEWSFLASH: PIRACY IS BAD (AND ILLEGAL) BUT… used gaming IS NOT by any means piracy. Yet this type of DRM, secondhand software negation, whips the consumer like some scurvy suffering, lice laden, video game scoundrel, punishing them for the legal purchase of used content.
Don’t think Microsoft wouldn’t follow Sony’s suit (even if they missed the patent) Xbox proponents, they would most definitely institute the same if not more rigorous lockdown on used gaming (*coughs windows 8*). No, this patent speaks volumes to a prevailing dilemma plaguing the entirety of the industry as a whole.
Piracy, Day one DLC off disc and on, ludicrous price disparity between digital and physical, PC and console platforms, ever hiking costs of development and retail games wholesale, indeed there are plenty of problems in the world of modern video gaming. But used games sales? That’s too blame for all of your financial woes console manufacturers? The sole culprit ravaging, raping the very foundations of your multi-billion dollar company?
It’s all a matter of archaic practice, rigid business practices propagated by inflexible tradition, propelled and proliferated by an overwhelming amount of pride, an overwhelming amount of fear.
The stress, the marauding sense of financial dread ever overwhelming.
If a AAA or even mid-tier title doesn’t sell gangbusters, seven million copies + first week, millions upon millions of $$$$ munny-munny-munny accrued in the first 24 hours…DEAD… your entire company collapsing on one failed, gambled, chip. We get it. No matter how much fun they are, no matter if they are crafted for our entertainment, transitory amusement or an exciting new medium of digital art…video games are, at the end of the day a business like any other. Yes. But that is no excuse for blatant obsolete business strategies, blatant fear of anything commercially tenuous, risky.
“Maybe if they wouldn't charge absurd prices on their digital titles, they could worry less about used game sales. I'm tired of every single multi-platform game costing more (even with PS+ discount) than it's PC counterpart, especially when the PC versions are likely superior. They can't just blame it all on used games.”
It really does boil down to archaic traditions, refusal to try new, experimental endeavors, risk any financial loss (though I commend Sony with the Vita, the portable I’ve always dreamed of but isn’t necessarily the most marketable obviously, yet they strive on). People WILL seek alternatives that WILL cost the manufactures dearly (i.e. Steam, PC, piracy and hacking on a new even greater scale) maybe even cost them their existence in the industry entirely.
Sony, all the manufactures for that matter need to revaluate their business practices. Reevaluate and introduce new pricing structures/programs if they really wish to fix their apparent “used game sales calamity”. Whether it be free to play, innovative subscription models, premium memberships/benefits. I mean, PS+ is a godsent compared to XBL. I’m already paying for internet/Netflix but I cant play online for free? And I have to deal with ads pinned everywhere like an inebriated chimp stumbled thru my dashboard playing pin the tail on the ass!
The manufacturers, industry, needs more, better and creative incentives for buying new, needs lower retail markups, scratch that, no inflated retail markups, equitable, practical pricing ubiquitous across all platforms, digital day one releases, digital releases at reasonably (greater than $5 bucks Sony, there’s no packaging, labor, etc.) discount, sales, more sales, online parity in terms of accessibility and distribution, the multitude of possibilities are so astounding its bewildering, dumbfounding why they haven’t already implemented any of this before…Oh wait…
“…Only ever owned Sony consoles but why should we lose the ability to resell games we own or buy from others who own games? If you were to buy a book or a car the publisher/manufacturer wouldn't force you to keep the product and not resell it. This seems at best a cheap way to extort more money rather than focusing on better products that people want to sell on.”
Brilliant. Now why cant Sony, Microsoft, (and if they too weren’t bogged down by their own rigid tradition) Nintendo, realize this?
Really, its simple, I have the answer to mollify the moaning woes of the industry’s bloated, well over-encumbered clout…
If you want people to buy your game, let your games flourish, let your games be creative, let your games be judged on their quality as games, not just great investment products. There shouldn’t be a need to pointlessly create adhoc back of the box blurb features like unintended, Frankenstein-esque-multiplayer abominable-shoehorns. Let them be good video games first and foremost and individuals might be more willing to hold on to them, gladly support developers/publishers by purchasing meritable DLC, buy future releases.
“…I'm a huge Sony fan but the things they have done in the last while has created some doubt in my mind. Will they use this? Maybe...I just don't know anymore…”
Will they use this? Will Sony set the precedent for barring the use of used games, suppressing secondhand software entirely? Would this be patented suicide for Sony? The death of a crucial consumer/commercial tenet of the industry? The prospect lingers, marauds in the next gen horizon, over the gaming consumer much like the fear marauding over the industry itself.
Sony isn’t the only one to blame, neither Microsoft nor Nintendo either. We as the consumers must shoulder some of it too. Don’t buy games for a mere, poultry, $5 bucks off the top. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it, no one is entitled to owning anything, any game let alone all of them. Support those games, those developers, publishers, manufacturers whose products, whose experiences you had fun with and enjoyed. Support them with your wallet when able, if able, even if you didn’t purchase the game brand new off the bat. Buy DLC, promote the game with good word of mouth so others like your friends may purchase and further support it.
As far as patents go, some are instrumented, others will never be used. I genuinely hope this one won’t be. I love Sony, Microsoft, heck Nintendo too you little Japanese rascals, I love gaming, but I wont be able to afford (guess you really can’t own them all, right?) and fear for the future of gaming as a whole with the inevitable loss of revenue, backlash that WILL occur if used games compatibility is eliminated outright. Is ubiquitous DRM an electronically ineluctable future? Impending? Unavoidable? Yes. Most likely. But I personally believe that’s (maybe another gen from now) when physical media is obsolete altogether. Who knows (well maybe Sony does)? I just remember a time when rumors of new consoles were always exciting, usually always positive, always reaffirming and reigniting my passion for video games…
No matter what, I’m still excited too see what the future holds.
Forever a gamer,
Hayden Robel (Draco)
Thank you for reading :)
CITATIONS AND SOURCES