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PS3 to block used games?

Is Sony about to court more controversy? A new patent issued to Sony has sparked speculation on various blogs (opens in new tab) that the company is planning to stop its next generation PlayStation 3 game console from playing used games.

The wording of the patent (opens in new tab) is as follows:

"A device and method for protection of legitimate software against used software and counterfeit software in recording media…… A specific title code is read, and if this title code has been registered, the main unit shifts to a normal operation. If the code has not been registered, verification software is initiated, PG detection is performed, and when a PG pattern and verification data match, the code is registered in the COCT. If matching does not occur, the disk is processed as illegitimate software."

In effect, if such a patent were to be implemented each disk would have a unique authentication code. When the disk is played for the first time, this code would be read, stored and then made unusable, so in effect tying that disk to an individual machine.

Nowhere does the patent specifically mention the PS3, and the talk at the moment is speculation, but it is possible to see how such technology could be implemented.

Such a move would, however, anger gamers everywhere, kill the games rental and second-hand markets, not to mention the fact there would be no more nipping across the road to challenge your mate to a FIFA 2006 tournament.

But would Sony really implement this technology on the PS3? On the face of it introducing such restrictions would seem like commercial suicide.

When the PS3 is launched Sony will be desperate to gain as much public support as possible in the duel for gaming supremacy with Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Any decline in the console’s popularity would also hurt Sony given that manufacturers typically subsidise the cost of the hardware and look to recoup part of this the cost through software.

But then again, let’s not forget this is the company that is currently embroiled in a huge controversy after using rootkit techniques more associated with hackers to hide music DRM software on a user’s PC. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the recent bad press surrounding Sony is making music fans and gamers think twice before committing to Sony products.