Sony has patented technology that will limit the use of used games on its future consoles.
The patent, filed Decmeber 9 by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, will essentially link each disc sold recognized by the console that first read the disc. The patent states that each disc will come with a "contactless tag" that instantly links the disc to original buyer's console.
Each time the disc is read the system will check to verify if the disc's tag matches the tag that is permanently a part of the the console running the game. If the tags does not match the game will not run.
The move is sure to rankle many gamers. The majority of the video game market is based on second hand game sales. Second hand game sales account for quite a bit of GameStop's business. Also, Best Buy and online retailer Amazon have burgeoning used game programs to try and compete with GameStop.
One gamer at the popular IGN website stated emphatically that he or she will "respond by not buying a PS4".
Now it should be said that Sony has not confirmed or denied whether this game blocking technology will be a part of PlayStation 4 or whatever their next system will be called. That being said, the video game industry has been slowly trending away from second hand games. When Sony released its redesigned PS3 it removed all backwards compatibility with PS1 and PS2 games. Microsoft never really implemented backwards compatibility in the XBox 360, opting instead to do time released updates to the console to allow some XBox games to be played on their current system. The new Wii U is only backwards compatible with the Wii and cannot play Gamecube games.
Many game developers and publishers are also trying to restrict second hand purchases of their games by granting exclusive content for early buyers of their games or selling season passes that are good only for the initial purchaser.
If that isn't enough, online stores such as PlayStation Network, Steam and the XBox Live Marketplace are making it easier for gamers to buy games online. Although the European Courts issued a decision stating online purchases can be resold no one has exactly figured out how to resell online game purchases.
Even though the industry might be trending against second hand games other issues with Sony's patent are certain to arise such as transferring licenses to another console should something happen to the original console or if the gamer wants to lend the game to a friend or play it on another console temporarily.
Sony has not answered any questions regarding the patent but hopefully it will offer more information as E3 2013 comes closer.