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DRM Patents Sony Games Your Rights Online

New Sony Patent Blocks Second-hand Games 344

silentbrad writes in with a story about a Sony patent that would block the playing of second-hand games. "... the patent application was filed on 9 December 2012 by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and will work by linking individual game discs to a user's account without requiring a network connection meaning any future attempt to use this disc on another user's console won't work. 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. The document goes on to explain that such a device is part of Sony's ongoing efforts to deter second-hand games sales, and is a far simpler solution than always-on DRM or passwords. It's worth noting that Sony has not confirmed the existence of the device, and the patent doesn't state what machine it will be used in, with later paragraphs also mentioning accessories and peripherals. ... There's also the issue of what happens should your console break and need replacing, or if you have more than one console. Will the games be linked to your PSN account, meaning they can still be used, or the console, meaning an entire new library of titles would need to be purchased?"
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New Sony Patent Blocks Second-hand Games

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  • As usual... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:14AM (#42474149)
    All these DRM schemes are future-failures. More specifically, at some point in the future, you will be denied the game you purchased because of the DRM. Get a new console? Now you have to (somehow) reset your card so you can run it on the new console. Want to take it to a friends house? Pack up your console! Company goes out of business, or stops supporting it because it's obsolete? Say goodbye. In the future, old games won't be worth more because of rarity. They'll be worth more if you still have some way to make them work after their DRM scheme fails. Of course, it will be cracked. Quickly. Which is a GOOD thing.
  • Re:Remember Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shinmera ( 2514940 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:26AM (#42474239) Homepage
    Except that Steam games are also available hacked, so it does not work. The reason why Steam works is because it makes actually buying the games attractive and it often has extremely good deals with sales months and so on.
  • by Terry95 ( 2690775 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:28AM (#42474249)
    There is a really simple solution to this. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM SONY. Complain to magazines and web sites that review their stuff. If they ignore you then boycott that site / mag too. DONE. Don't bitch and whine about it. Don't wave your arms and scream it's unconstitutional while you stand in line to fork over $75.00 for the latest repackage of the same game you've already played 50 times. Just Freaking walk away! People really fail to grasp this. Don't bother to pirate their stuff. Sure this can be broken - but why? Treat them like they don't exist. Honest you WILL live without Sony. But Sony will NOT live without customers. Then if this actually matters to enough people Sony will become a responsible corporation and behave in polite society. If not then you will have taken the moral high ground anyway, and probably given your money to a responsible studio that doesn't treat its paying customers as mortal enemies. Had you rather be on the side of good - or play Killzone 15? Free choice. It cuts both ways.
  • Re:Remember Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:30AM (#42474281)
    Also with Steam, I'm not locked to a specific machine. I can load my steam account on my Wife's PC or my Brothers laptop or one of my three other computers. Sony wants to lock the disk to a specific machine, which are normally not very portable.

    Of course I already avoid all Sony products including any subsidiaries I know about.
  • The 2nd hand market exists because the price of games are too high.

    Second hand markets will continue to exist, no matter what the price of the new product; so dropping the price of new games isn't going to solve that "problem". I do wonder what effect abolishing the second hand market would have on new games sales though - nievely you might say that new sales will increase because there is nolonger any competition, but that ignores the fact that the customer only has a finite amount of money. Lots of people fund their new purchases (in part) by selling stuff they no longer want, if they can't sell their old stuff they have less money to invest in new stuff. I'd certianly be less inclined to blow £50 on a game if I knew I could never sell it, and similarly less inclined to spend £hundreds on a console if I knew I could never buy any cheap games for it. (But then maybe I'm wrong - I'm not a gamer, I can think of far more fun things to do with my time and money than sit in a darkened room in front of a console for hours on end).

  • Re:Remember Steam (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:53AM (#42474437)

    why would I want to resell them when I bought them for about 5€ a piece? I'm pretty sure games for Sony consoles will cost a lot more, which actually would make resale attractive.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:00AM (#42474511)

    While I hate this concept, I don't think it has that failing. Since it uses a user account instead of a console id adding the user account to the new console should allow replacing units.

  • by AlabamaCajun ( 2710177 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:05AM (#42474557)
    We did it before with their DRM DVDs and it stung them. Is Sony prepared to get kicked in the pecans again? Because of the DRM scandle, I still don't own any blue ray have gotten rid of Apple products and am dumping Microsoft this year. I also already dumped Verizon and paid out 15 months of contract just to get away from that fray (but I'll save more in that time). Humankind is in a state of rot with all the corporate takeover of people. Corporations now hold higher priority over life itself. Once lawyers coined the phrase "corporate entity" humans became second fiddle to the game of life. Bailouts, rights to discovery and intellect and disaster recovery all go to corporations before it goes to people. #OWS is a good example of this happening today. What was once a solid is now a liquid. In reality we only rent what we use as we can't take it with us when we go. Now we can't even pass it on.
  • Re:As usual... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by firex726 ( 1188453 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:07AM (#42474571)

    A shame since I often find myself going back and playing older games from 10+ years ago.
    Many times the companies who made them are long since gone.

    I guess "Retro Gaming" is going to be redefined as playing last years Madden or CoD.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:08AM (#42474577)

    So, I have seen the light and realize that Sony is a company that will do more harm to itself then good and therefore deserves to be losing the billions it does.

    Sony's gaming division is the only thing Sony has left. They lost in the consumer electronics race for TV's, home audio, mobile audio, eBook readers. I mean the last 20 years of Sony's history has been about failure more then success. However I don't think Sony will create a decent product in the PS4 if this is the direction they are taking by creating consoles that will reject used games and require some kind of network registration to play a new game for the first time.

    Sony should do one of two things, either sell off the hardware to Samsung, or sell off their entertainment divisions to Hollywood. By trying to be both a hardware manufacturer and content provider, Sony has always been at odds between trying to protect their content and creating innovative devices, they are failing to do both now.

    Sony stopped trying to make the best products and instead are only succeeding in becoming the world's best asshole company, which is amazing given that Apple exists,

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:08AM (#42474587) Journal

    You think their competitors will do something different?

    If people stop buying Sony, you bet your ass their competitors will start doing something different.

    I think the days when people start shopping more strategically are coming. When consumers discover the power of their choices, you will see a lot of things change real quickly. For the better. In a lot of areas of our lives.

    Shop mindfully, I say. Even if you don't do anything differently, at least be aware of the ramifications of the choices you make as a consumer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:14AM (#42474667)

    While I hate this concept, I don't think it has that failing. Since it uses a user account instead of a console id adding the user account to the new console should allow replacing units.

    So when Sony decides to ban your account for <something they deem ban worthy (whether it is or not)> you also lose all your games. I bet their EULA will also contain "... by reading this line of text you forfeit your right to sue us as well as grant us the right to use your account in any manner which we see fit, including (but not limited to) claiming (on your behalf) that you did violate our terms and are very remorsefulness ...".

    They will also need to pass the cost of this "feature" on to the consumer via the game console as well as a charge per game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:38AM (#42474931)

    Since it uses a user account instead of a console id adding the user account to the new console should allow replacing units.

    And if your household has more than one account? You know, if kids and parents each have their own accounts? Only one of the accounts can play the game even if it's played on the same console.

    This is their dream of limiting content to a specific individual. Want that song to play in your car and your home? You'll need to buy more than one copy. Both of you like having it on your MP3 player? We don't care if it is a household or if you're married, you each need to buy a copy (even if the government sees all purchases made by you to belong to both).

  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:48AM (#42475727) Journal

    There's a lot of Sony-hate swirling around the comments on this story. Believe me, I can understand that. This isn't exactly the most pro-consumer technology ever to have been patented (though as yet, Sony haven't said they intend to actually use the technology).

    However, I actually see this as symtomatic of a wider problem for the video games industry; very few people are making money from it. Sony makes some pretty thumping losses these days; their gaming division is one of the better performing parts of the company, but it's still a long way from where it was in the last console generation. Nintendo's making some pretty big losses; it had to overturn a long-held hardware-at-a-profit business model to get any kind of installed base for the 3DS, has had to continue to sell at a loss on the Wii-U and faces an uncertain future of the Wii-U doesn't get traction. MS's situation isn't quite so bad, but its stock price has been flat for a decade and if it had the same currency issues that its Japanese competitors face, then its situation might be just as bad as theirs.

    The situation's hardly any better in the land of games development. Big developers like EA struggle to turn a profit despite trying every trick they can think of (day-one DLC, online passes, season passes etc). Their few guaranteed cash-cows like the annualised sports series and modern military shooters are basically the only reason that the more interesting games they put out can continue to appear. Mid-sized shops like THQ which don't have those cash cows are in very unpleasant places indeed. A couple of companies like Zynga and Rovio manage to get-rich-quick on the basis of low-budget titles that strike it lucky with the zeitgeist, but they increasingly look like one-hit wonders. And for every indie studio that produces a hit, there are 99 that produce forgettable garbage before vanishing into obscurity. It's even worse over in Japan, where all but a few of their developers have given up on true global competition, focussing instead on the same domestic kids-and-otaku market that most anime is produced for. Some people are clutching at free-to-play/pay-to-win as a potential solution, but that bubble's already bursting.

    And retail? Here in the UK, our biggest specialised retailer (Game) went into administration during 2012. Sure, it got rescued, but it doesn't seem to be doing particularly well since then either. Its most direct competitor (HMV) looks like it won't survive the next few months.

    Make no mistake, stuff like this latest Sony patent isn't thought up by plutocrats sipping champagne as they lounge on top of a Scrooge McDuck style lake of gold. These are desperate moves to stay afloat in what's become, over the last 3 years or so, a very unfriendly industry.

    People moan about the price of games, but these are, in real terms, substantially lower than they were a couple of decades ago, when development costs were a fraction of what they are today. What I'd actually welcome is a company which is prepared to say: "We won't do any of this evil stuff like anti-resale measures or day-one DLC - but for those games with high development costs, we will accordingly charge a higher price than you've gotten used to paying". The prices of Wii-U games are noticably higher than those for the older platforms - but unfortunately, most of them are very thin pickings compared to other games, or are already available on other platforms with a much lower price.

  • Re:IANAL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @03:53PM (#42479101)

    I certainly ANAL, but I can see plenty of weasels round it. You are buying the DVD, but only licensing the software. You have all your consumer rights over the DVD, but just because you can physically transfer the thing you bought, it doesn't mean it has to execute in another machine. The data, as oppose to the physical media, is licensed rather than sold, so you do not have the same rights.

    That has already been tried in numerous jurisdictions and failed. It is also why you pay sales tax on the full retail price of the DVD and not the $1.00 portion attributable to the plastic media. Sony can't have it both ways. Nor do they want that, because, that would mean that if you buy the DVD and licensing the software, you have additional contractual rights besides those from a sale, one of which would be that unless they specify otherwise, they have to maintain it until the license expires. That's not a good business model for most software companies selling consumer products as the terms are indefinite.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.