Speculations about challenged prohibition of second-hand sales of PS3 games and PS3 consoles have circulated in the past months. These rumors were fueled by market reviews about Xbox 360 consoles beating the Blu-ray-optimized Sony consoles in sales come November. Naturally, the company would employ all measures to maximize individual sales of PS3 games and their new consoles. No confirmation nor denial was heard from the Sony camp, but now, the speculations seem true with the technology patent Sony had procured.
Sony patented a technology – probably, a software – that could prevent use of borrowed PS3 games, rented consoles, and resale of game software and digital hardware. This undisclosed technology was patented five years ago in Japan but Sony had remained quiet about it. Quiries about proprietorship are now prevalent, reminiscent of the hullabaloo for Digital Rights Management. Whatever the electronics giant attempts to change the concept of ownership in the digital arena or not is not yet clear.
Presently, no information has been released about the software and its uses. But there have been scattered rumors that Sony may incorporate the software in the upcoming PS3 games and consoles. There would be time enough for Sony to address this before the games and consoles' release in November. Market analysts have agreed that it is rare for an electronics and technology company to patent new technology without the intention of using it in their new products. If this is true, then the $ 1 billion- worth industry of used consoles and games is terminated. Social gaming is also at risk because the new technology might prevent game-sharing. This means that gamers can not come over to their friends' houses to share a new game or simply to play together.
Documents filed by Sony describe a process of game system copy protection. According to the papers, game systems would verify the legitimacy of PS3 games and register the codes to a particular console. Other than this, the verification codes would be deleted after registration, making the disks unreadable in other PS3s. The process will effectively prevent resale of the game discs and console changes. Sony had kept other plans and details about the technology but Wedbush Morgan industry analyst, Michael Pachter, suspects that the company is toying with the idea of patented games. Pachter also pointed out that the competition from Microsoft might discourage Sony from tightening software security for game discs. The most likely targets of this new technology are internet-based and downloadable PS3 content like music and movies.
Whatever the electronic giant's plans are, the new technology manifests changing ownership trends when it comes to digital content. Even if gamers buy their consoles at $ 600 or their PS3 games for $ 100, they do not own it. They can not reproduce or share it with their friends because Sony is still the ultimate owner of the software. No matter how much they shell out, they are just buying the license to use the software. Sure, the copy protection patent will make it difficult for pirates to manufacture counterfeit software but it does so at the expense of the gamers. Analysts are right not to put patenting software above Sony because the company was once involved in trouble because of this. It can be recalled that downloaded music from Sony has an accompanying software that installs itself automatically in computers to prevent copying and reproducing files. Although Sony later apologized, the software had already inconvenienced thousands of users. Copy protecting PS3 games would put Sony, the PS3, and the gamers at a disadvantage.