Sony Patent: Tech that suppresses second-hand game sales

Sony has filed a new patent, and it’s one that is bound to generate a lot of controversy if implemented in the PS4.

Sony’s Japanese division, SCEJ, has filed for a new patent and it’s a very recent one that was filed on 09/12/2012. If granted–which will probably take two or three years–they can implement this new tech, and according to them the second-hand market can be eliminated.

Here’s what they had to say about why such a tech was necessary and the impact of second-hand sales on game developers.

The development of electronic content including game applications (APs) is costly and therefore in a content business it is vital to redistribute part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers. On the other hand, the electronic content is being bought and sold in second-hand markets.

In such a scheme where the electronic content is bought and sold in the second-hand markets or the like, the sales proceeds resulting therefrom are not redistributed to the developers. Also, since the users who have purchased the second-hand items are somehow no longer potential buyers of the content, the developers would lose their profits otherwise gained in the first place.

There’s a lot of complicated language that was used in the patent filing, but here’s something that will make sense as to what the patent actually does.

Consider, for example, a case where used is a game package 200 distributed in the second-hand market. Then the ID of reproduction device for the game disk 210 differs from the legitimate use device ID stored in the use permission tag 220, so that the game disk can be reproduced in a mode which is predetermined for those bought and sold in the second-hand market.

Also, for example, a content key may be supplied to the reproduction device 130 and the encrypted game AP may be decrypted using the content key only if the reproduction device ID matches a legitimate use device ID. Hence, use of game APs bought and sold in the second-hand market can be eliminated.

Each game will contain an RF tag that will remember whether a game has been tied to a different machine or user account. So this will easily nullify second-hand game sales because it checks for the tag before starting the game.

This looks like a very easy way of suppressing second-hand sales, and one has to wonder why these platform holders are so hell bent in taking away the rights of consumers to resell their game.


  • Haz Kirai

    Another patent for damage control. $ony sheeples are begging for poopstation vita to beat Apple, Microsoft and Google devices.

    Ps vita is sinking fast to become a primitive sub-HD device in 4+ months, it turns out to be a dead casual/indy toy in “hardcore” cloth. For the same price or even less you can get a real hardcore console without “playing” waiting for more games.

    USA gfx tech >>>> japan gfx tech

    Vote DOWN below to blame $ony, Ken Kutaragi & Shuhei Yoshida for hyping much.
    Vote UP to blame M$ for the powerhouse of DX11 tech innovation that $ony must adopt/follow to catch up.

    • Darren Russell

      Poopstation Vita? Very mature and not very creative. I felt like I lost a lot of braincells reading what you just wrote, you Sir are an idiot.

      • Haz Kirai

        I know you’re lacking of braincells, like i said above, so blame yourself. Can’t make a clever objection is a true sign, but there you go..a self-defensive comment instead. Poor classic retreat it seems, pls keep it coming. Yumm…

        • mike

          Kids these days

    • Eccentricone

      *slow clap* for stupidity.

      • TLOU

        tactical SMH for stealthy damage control

  • MartinB105

    The impact of this system is being massively overblown by the media. Personally, I own around 180 games on my PS3. Zero of those games are second-hand; I really never saw the point. The game shops around here often set second-hand game prices higher than new prices on Amazon!

    The only major concern is when the games go out of print and can no longer be found new. I do own a few PS1 games that I bought second hand.

  • Connor James Campbell

    I wonder how long this will last once implemented before they realize that the consumer is flat against paying £39.99+ for a game that could well be rubbish.

    Developers never take into fact the consideration that most people buy second hand product because developers consistently deliver second rate quality games.

    • mike

      2nd hand games is like piracy the Developers still don’t make money.

      • Jay

        car manufacturers don’t make any money when I buy a used car, so why should game developers?

        • Felipe

          Yes they do, not only you most times buy a second hand car from the automaker or trade in for a new car you will also still buy parts and do maintenance.

          • Darrius

            And I still buy DLC for a used game.

            The fact is I own the game, therefore I can sell it if I want. If they don’t want me to sell it if I want, then they should keep it and retain their ownership of it.

            It is not a hard concept. You own what you buy. You no longer own what you sell.

          • extermin8or2

            Technically you own the disc, the software on the disc is merely licensed to you, you don’t actually own it per se :/

          • Darrius

            The disc is a license. And you actually do own it, per se. If you own the disc then you own the license. If you sell the disc then you sell the license. If you buy the disc then you buy the license.

          • extermin8or2

            Actually look at the small print as the game starts up, generally there’s a disclaimer stating that if you breach various terms the license can be revoked amongst other conditions you don’t own the software on the disc, just as you don’t own the software installed on a ps3 or even a PC, no company in their right mind would try revoking the license’s without a valid cause/breach of the usuage policy usually only for an online game etc because it would be suicide as far as public opinion goes so to that extent you might aswell own it- however in fairness to the developers alot of games require servers to be upkept etc buy the game new you contribute a small amount towards that, buy it used and you don’t yet for most games you still connect to the network- I still don’t think sony should ever use that patent the online codes are bad enough and seems reasonable(ish) but that patent is a step too far…. but I can see where they come from on the matter after all the retailer gets the biggest cut, followed by the publisher and then slightly behind that the developer who did all the hard work to create the game and deserve the most. Either way people comparing this to other items like cars well you can’t cars need new parts etc. Films have the cinema, music hass concerts and festivals which bring in loads for the artists and bands. Gaming just has it’s one retail release which the high street shops do try and sell preowned games not even that much cheaper than when it’s new and keeping all of the money from that for the shop itself which is wrong.

          • DFTGamer

            If you look really carefully at the license agreement terms and service I think you’ll find this term: grants to you, the user, a revocable personal, non-transferable license to use the Software for viewing and otherwise using.

          • Darrius

            Never hold up in a court. If it could the developers would have challenged the used games dealers in court and won. But they know they can’t win that case so they never try it. If you think about it, it makes sense. Games are sold and resold down distribution chains of various sizes based on location. Exactly which merchant in the chain violated the “non-transferable agreement” by transferring it to the next owner?

            But there is a way the developer can take back the end user’s license whenever he wants. All he has to do is give him his money back.

        • Anon

          Yeah, except a second-hand car will typically be cheaper because of wear and tear that comes from the mechanical use. People pay less because they are willing to live with the sacrifices that come with a used vehicle. You get no such sacrifice with software. The term ‘2nd hand’ means nothing for ‘0’s and ‘1’s.

          Why moan about games doing it, when every other form of software has user license restrictions too?! The only difference is people think that owning a physical object (i.e. disc) that contains the data means they should own the data. What about all the games and software you buy and download through the net without any sort of physical presence? People have little problem then because of how new and different digital purchasing is versus the centuries of consumerism that came before. You purchase and download something that will never be less than ‘as new’, or you don’t and move on. Simple. We’re moving more and more towards a cloud-centric purchasing environment every day. The change is inevitable, and with it will come the necessity for refactored purchasing methodologies. All parties involved need to address the change.

          • Darrius

            When you buy computer software then you get a separate license, even when you download it. You can sell that license along with the software and the buyer can legally use the software. That is what separates pirating from backing-up your software. The only difference is with downloaded video games which assign the game to a user id or a console. Even then you can sell the console and/or the user id and the right to download all the games with it.

        • DFTGamer

          Because when you buy a car you pay full price for the car, every component and all the labor that went into the car is recovered in the price and any costs for the car after that date, unless its a fault of manufacture are yours to pay, with a game your paying less then a percentage of the cost that went into making the software and the up-keep of the game and if in a few months a major bug occurs because Microsoft or Sony changes the system firmware you’d expect them to put the time and money into paying for a patch to fix the problem without any sort of payment.

          • Darrius

            Games are no different than anything else. With cars and houses the manufacturer or contractor buys the parts and labor to make the cars/houses. If he doesn’t sell enough cars or houses to recover the cost of the labor + materials + marketing/distribution, then he loses money.

            Games are the same the proportion of labor is higher and front-loaded, but the formula is still the same.

          • Joseph

            If developers & publishers actually released games that are finished & that go through strict Q&A guidelines like they did every previous generation, then they would not need to spend the extra time & money to patch the game in question in the first place.

      • Darrius

        2nd hand games are in no way like piracy.

        • William Gray

          The two are similar in that both completely shaft the developer and publisher.

          • Darrius

            The developer doesn’t get shafted at all. The developer names his price and the people pay it. That is a fair deal. Once the people pay the price that the dealer names, then the people own the material that they buy, fair and square. If the developer doesn’t want to sell it then he doesn’t have to sell it.

          • Blue

            The developer says “pay 60 bucks for this CD and it’s yours.” You pay 60 bucks, and now it’s yours. There is no other product in history that I can think of where you have to pay the original manufacturer for re-selling the product. Really? a LEGO set, a chair, a dildo, anything, once you buy it it’s yours. What they’re doing is trying to sell people half the rights to a game for the price of a full game, and let’s face it, games are overpriced nowadays. Even with Blizzard’s fiasco known as Diablo III, you can’t play it while offline. There’s a huge amount of people who liked Diablo II for the solo adventure portion which didn’t rely on bandwitdh. Now you have no choice, and when you buy their product, it’s not really yours. They dictate how you’re allowed to use it. In Blizzard’s case, they say you must play online with it. Now they’re going to start saying you can’t sell it to anyone else. It’s ridiculous is what it is.

          • DFTGamer

            EB and similar second hand retailers have store policies that mean that they will attempt to sell secondhand copies over new copies, these policies mean that people would would be giving developers their share are now giving that money to the store to save what is usually only a few dollars and the people selling usually only make a few dollars themselves it’s an unfair practice on both sides.

      • Dustin Banbury

        So if I resell my couch that’s piracy? If I resell my DVDs or blu-rays that’s piracy? If I resell ANYTHING, that’s piracy?? Logic escapes you.

        • DFTGamer

          If you sell it to someone looking for secondhand goods no, but if you sell it back to the retailer you bought it from and then they convince someone else to buy your used couch/dvd/blu ray in place of the new version they were going to buy then you are contributing to the publisher/developer not getting their due payment.

          • Darrius

            That’s not almost the case. The dealer works for himself he can and should look out for himself. The consumer can and should look out for himself. The develop can and should look out for himself.

            The fact is that video games just lose the value shortly after they release. It’s simple supply and demand. Developers don’t want to face that and are looking for ways around it. But there is none. The day before release there is pent up demand for the game. Lots of people want it and nobody has it. The developers release the game and satisfy this demand. After a few weeks pass they demand falls, but the supply remains at the level required to satisfy, the release day demand. High supply, low demand equals lower price.

            Yet instead of accepting the law of supply and demand the developers want to find a way to put the genie back in the bottle. They want to have it both ways. They want a high price with a high supply and low demand. They want a unicorn. It doesn’t exist. They only way they can do this is to go download only. That would cap the supply and hold he price a little bit higher. But it would also miss the millions who only do disc based games.

  • Nick

    I doubt this will be used to stop the game from working, sounds like it will be a more ‘behind the Scenes’ function that will replace the Multiplayer/Additional content activation codes that most publishers now use. Saves the user time, publisher/developer costs, as the ‘You have to activate multiplayer/content’ option isn’t likely going to go away then this could be a good move from Sony.

  • bakasora

    Talk about shooting yourself on the foot.

    • mike

      2nd hand games are for poor people.

      • Sizednochii

        I don’t know why people are downvoting. If I were rich I’d buy everything new and sealed :(

      • John

        That’s why people call it PauperStation in Europe.

  • Killbot

    That’s rubbish what if your system stops working now all those games you bought are paper weights so now your just fuct huh and have to buy more copies of those games if they’re still in print that is sounds like a shit plan this better not be put into any system ever what a joke Sony

    • Darrius

      Not to mention if you have more than one system, or want to play your game at someone else’s house.

    • extermin8or2

      read the patent sign in with your psn and it would be again, but still lose your psn and ps3 for some reason and then you are in shit,,,

  • Jason

    Good then Sony can finally F*ck off out of business as PlayStation is the only thing keeping that rotten company afloat and still need 40x more profits to wash their entire debt of $150 Billion away (which will never happen).

  • Robert de Vries

    Byebye Sony. It was nice knowing ya, but ever since Xbox has turned up in the gaming scene, you’ve been mediocre at best.

    • Dustin Banbury

      Remember, Microsoft was the one who started this whole “prohibit second-hand game sales” deal a year ago. If one company does, both will do it.

      • Sizednochii

        Resident evil: mercenaries 3D had a function in which you couldn’t erase your save data. They know what they got: the backlash was so hard they completely forgot about that thing.

    • BobFour

      lol completly false

  • Mike Jones

    this exact same thing was said when the ps3 was about to come out…..2nd hand gaming isnt going anywhere get your panties out of a bunch fanboys

  • Billy Dibler

    I remember gaming sites saying the exact same things before the PS3 launched, and it(as will it this time) ended up a big bunch of B.S.

    • Sizednochii

      There wasn’t a patent like this at the time.

      • Joe

        So every patent that Sony has filed is going to end up as a feature on the PS4, by your logic?

        Woah, it’s going to be one insane piece of hardware…

  • Alert_the_Press

    Perhaps I’m alone here, but the obvious solution is to go fully digital and stop selling games retail. It seems like implementing this tech is going to hurt retailers like Gamestop that move a lot of their product (much of it used), in fact I would imagine digital only would impact retailers the same way while being less anti-consumer.

    • james

      and the ones who dont want internet or its so slow it isnt worth it? i dont for see media going anywhere in the future as there are a lot of areas that just dont have the infrastructure for fast internet.

      • Harley Parry

        two problem bandwith limits and download speeds

      • Nefertiti

        People living in caves don’t need new games… just throw them some bones now and then and they’ll be happy.

  • Emir Jes

    IF Gamestop wasnt abusing such privileges we have now, this patent would never had materialized, but the fact that vendors like GAmestop which prefer selling you used games over new ones has gotten way out of hand, these companies have been making millions of $$ selling used games, and all profit goes to them and them alone. We sell them our used games for an insulting price, but they sell it back almost at bran new price. BO2 goes for $59 new, with a return credit of a miserable $25, and resold for $54 at your local gamestop.

  • jack

    Gaming biggest enemy are the people who make them. Gaming use to be about having fun with your friends and family or hell even by yourself but now days its just a giant cash cow. Ive seen the beauty of video games get shoved into a blender things like online service turning into a paid service when really the cots don’t justify the product. Things like game costs skyrocket at the start of this gen yet once again don’t justify the costs. I could name many things but lets get back to the topic “Gaming use to be about fun with your friend and family” well say good by to that unless you plan on bringing your console everywhere you go. No used games and you can count alot of people out from buying the next gen let alone being able to afford all those games that come out. They will never be able to just grab a game and go to a friends house. I would say single handedly destroying video games but its not just them its most developers now days you can choose to accept it or not but out game creators have declared war on the gamer’s. Well Sony…. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

  • Manoj Varughese

    This could bode bad for the gaming industry to a great extent. How is that only the developers be benefited?

  • jeff scalzo

    Game devs don’t blame themselves enough for why used games are so successful. Make a good game that people will flock to when it’s new. People won’t sell it back for a longer period of time forcing potential used game buyers to either wait longer or pick it up new as well. THings like this are just unethical with something like video games where people might not even like them when they try it..forcing them to shell out $60 they don’t even get enjoyment out of. THe majority of game sales usually come from the first month of release. After that even a hot ticket item usually struggles to break 10,000 copies every week

  • Daniel Coleman

    So… What about the people who wish to take their game to a friends house and play that game on their console? Why make it hard, THEY PAID.

    • Daniel Coleman

      What about faulty hardware which force customers to buy a brand new console, thus rendering a game useless since they’d put that game into the “broken” console.

  • Cristian Mancilla

    If they decided to implement this technology they should lower the price of games to compensate and win gamers over with prices ranging from between $10 and $15 for older console games up to $50 for new releases. It wouldn’t affect them at all since they would be making money every single time a game is sold, therefore making everyone happy (except for the fact of not being able to resell a license).

    • Guest

      They should also charge less for digital versions since there is less cost associated in distributing them.

  • Andres Vallejo

    I actually like that game companies are behaving this way because now I can pirate and not feel a shred of guilt over it.

  • Tom

    The entire world from Bosnia to Budapests sales market is based one one thing value!!!! Now when you look at the value of an item regardless what it is from a car to jewelry to entertainment to stationary all of it has a value and that value is based on quality and resale depending on condition of said goods, if the condition of the goods is poor or altered from its original form then the value is lower but if the good are not reusable then the value of the item is virtually destroyed unless the item is a collectible even some food items have a resale value and thats a single use item now if Sony goes ahead with this plan then Sony will kill its own value and will be producing a worthless item straight out of the box! Thats the cold hard fact unless Sony will be selling there goods for a very low price for a single person registered item they will not be making enough sales to survive unless they decide to turn themselves into the next apple product which i.e. (I pod ) but even they have a resale value because you can change the registered owner with iTunes I believe ( not too sure on that one) but the point is the resale value effects the over all value when sold brand new so they really have to play this one carefully because if they dont it could be the potential end of the Sony gaming department.

  • David Lee Pantoja

    Why not just go after GameStop and all other companies that re-sell games and set something up where they have qrtly. and annl. reports on used game sales and pay a percentage of their profits to the developers… With as much money as those greedy bastards make and charge for used items hold them responsible for putting money back into the developers pockets….

  • Stick.

    This sucks for those independent game stores you find on random street corners next to porn shops. Those little shacks that have like 4 bins of used game for a damn good price with a bunch of gaming posters splattered on the walls. Kind of like an underground gun shop.. for games. Anyways, those guys must be sweating while reading this cuz if this patent gets accepted then aww man down the drain goes their business.

  • kupomogli

    This probably wouldn’t take effect until online penetration is higher. Because lets say this game is used on an offline device. It doesn’t get tagged as being used through the server because the game can’t communicate with the server. Unless Sony forces people to play online with these games which isn’t going to happen. They’d kill their userbase.

    If this happens and the physical copy can only be used on a single device, then there’s no reason to buy physical anymore as locked retail is practically the exact same as digital. You don’t own the game and you can’t play it on more than one console.

  • John

    It’s time to drop the company wih a $150 Billion in ever increasing debt and the balls to screw over their customers time and time again for another one. I won’t be going PlayStation or anything else Sony next gen. They’re toast!

  • Dev Jyothichand

    It’s sad that nowadays developers have to resort to such tactics just for some extra money. How does preventing a consumer from selling products he/she bought make any sense? Does that mean the consumer has no right to gift products he/she buys as well? I’m just saddened to see ethics fall away in the video game industry. :(

  • Countrywalker

    This idea could work but the games will need to be priced much lower. Across the board their should be a lower profit expectation per game sold. To even things out they will sell more of that same game because of the absent second hand market. I believe that this is where the future is headed but it’s going to take time for a successful implementation. I’m not ready for an all digital download game console but the idea that games can be sold at a much lower rate is nice. Plus it would be very environmentally friendly.


    When you buy a product that item is now your possession and you are free to sell it, destroy it or give away free. The guy who said a used game is piracy is talking garbage, its still the genuine product in the hand of another user. Basically if they want everyone to spend 40 quid, not about Devs, principle or legality, its about $$$$!

  • raylyd

    What happens if the ps4 has ylod you lose your games its silly.

  • Edgar Davin

    A patent just protects intellectual property in this case the method of pairing the content to a machine or account. In other words, nothing stops them from doing this now. They do not need the a patent I’m order to do this. The patent would however prevent their competitors from doing the same thing.

    Actually the patent would probably be good for the general public. If Sony gets awarded the patent then it would make it harder for Microsoft and Nintendo to do this as well. If this patent is not awarded to Sony or anyone, then every game company can do this which would be much worse.