This particular rumor just keeps popping up. Usually it’s followed by some relatively ‘meh’ evidence, but this time there just may be something to it as Sony has officially filed a patent that could block the use of pre-owned games on consoles.
Reportedly, the technology would allow for a console to effectively ‘tag’ discs so that they would only play on the first system that ran them. Obviously, such an ‘innovation’ would effectively kill the used game market that some shops make the bulk of their living on (cough*cough*GameStop*cough).
I doubt that retail would fade away completely, even if the entire industry adopted the tech, as new games would still be presumably available on shelves. This initiative might completely change the face of gaming retail though. The chances of seeing smaller stores and even chains like the aforementioned ’Stop might disappear all together with games being only available in ‘new’ form and just at superstores like WalMart, Target, and Best Buy.
All this worry might still be for nothing though, as MCV points out that in March of last year Sony’s own Jack Tretton stated clearly and in no uncertain terms that he was opposed to the idea of blocking the use of used games on PlayStation. He elaborated, saying that he thought that the used market was “great for consumers” and doing anything to block that market would be “anti-consumer”.
Not too many ways to take that.
Personally, I’d assume that this is more of a move by Sony towards the future. Perhaps with an eye to a time when digital games are more prevalent than the physical and revenue streams will have radically shifted. In such a world, physical media being available in a cheaper, ‘used’ format might directly challenge Sony’s (or anyone’s for that matter) business model.
In any event, it’s widely rumored that the PlayStation 4 will be officially announced at this year’s E3 show in June (along with the next Xbox). If that’s the case, then we won’t have long to wait at all to see if any of this has any weight to it.