The end of second-hand games?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 January 2013, 4:44 am
Video games today lose value rapidly. I bought several games at the Steam Christmas sales for half price which had only just come out this autumn, like Borderlands 2 or Dishonored. Of course a part of the reason for such big rebates is just plain marketing. But there is another factor: The sale of used games. People that buy games on release often resell them a month later for half price, when they played the game through. And as a "used game", unlike a "used car", is as good as the original (if not better after the first patches), that supply of half-price used games drives down the price of the original.

While that is good news for people who can wait, it is obviously not so good news to game companies. At best they sell me a game at half the price, at worst they get absolutely nothing while I buy a used game. If only they could stop the sale of second-hand games, they could keep prices high for longer and sell to more people. So it is not really surprising that they are working of ways to achieve exactly that. Sony has a new patent that could prevent the resale of games of some future console.

It works relatively simple: Game discs would come with an RFID chip embedded, and the first time they are played on a console, the console writes its unique ID onto that chip. From then on the game runs only on that console and not any more on any other. Now of course some people would quickly find ways to erase that RFID chip. But at least in the USA that would illegal under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which prohibits circumventing any digital rights management systems. You'd be able to buy second-hand games from the boot of a car, but second-hand game shops would have no legal way to exist.

Now this is just at the patent stage yet. It might not yet be a feature of the Playstation 4, but it might come with the Playstation 5. And if Sony does it, Microsoft and Nintendo won't be far behind. As for the PC, well, I already can't sell my used Steam games.
Tobold's Blog



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