Sony patents tech to block second-hand games

Locks discs to user accounts.

Sony's PlayStation division has patented technology that can block the use of second hand games on a console.

The idea sees individual game discs matched to user accounts. Games which have been associated with another user's account will be rejected.

Discs would come branded with a contactless tag which would be recognised and read by your console, using the same sort of NFC technology present in modern bank cards.

"When the game is to be played, the reproduction device conveys the disc ID and a player ID to the use permission tag," the patent document filed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan reads (thanks, NeoGAF). "The use permission tag stores the terms of use of the game and determines whether a combination of the disc ID and the player ID conveyed from the reproduction device fulfils the terms of use or not."

The documentation goes into detail about Sony's desire and past efforts to "suppress" second hand game sales, and notes that the technology is a neat alternative to a simple password or Online Pass solution.

"Where the reproduction device [console] is not connected to the internet, use of the content cannot be controlled," the text states. As for a simple passcode feature, "users may communicate to share the password between them and therefore the second-hand sales and purchases cannot be eliminated reliably."

Sony aims for its new technology to be able to change that.

"As a result [of the patented idea], 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."

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Later sections of the patent describe how the technology could be variously used to temporarily grant access or limit the number of uses for a piece of software. There's even suggestion that the technology could be expanded to gaming peripherals, accessories and other electronic media entirely, "such as an office suite, images, and music content".

Sony does not name a specific device with which it plans to use the patented technology, and there's no mention of any plan to integrate it with existing hardware.

It's rumoured Sony will announce its next home console in the coming months.

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How the device will calculate software ownership.

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