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Jan 03, 13 at 7:33ambluexy

Sony patent allows tracking of second-hand games and the ability to block their usage

Rory Young - Thursday, January 3, 2013 7:33am (PST) Like Share
What a wonderful digital future we have ahead of us
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Source: NeoGaf
Alternate Source: Destructoid

Thread Recap (last 10 posts from newest to oldest)

Jan 22, 13 at 9:36am
Zhang Liao

LMAO what a load of crap! IF this is true then consider this sony's last console. Seriously like signing your own companies death warrant to microsoft.

They'll never compete with steam! Even if this idea was to go ahead I'd love to see how fast this console would depreciate.

Jan 20, 13 at 8:51pm

Yea, I'm aware of that, luckily most members aren't like that but I've also seen threads de-rail from the most minor comments.

As more and more developers and publishers see the advantages of digital sales we should see them gravitate towards it and possibly, which should help move things along as well and hopefully nudge the big three in the right direction.

And ha, I do the same thing quite often. Worse yet I can get a little too caught up in my own thoughts and take longer than I should.
I think I heard about GameStop doing that, I rarely shop there though anyway. I used to shop at Game Crazy before they went out but have mostly stuck to Amazon since then. I Definitely think selling digital game vouchers for digital releases would be a nice step for console makers, not only is it more convenient for some people but it might attract people normally scared off by using their credit or debit cards online.

Jan 20, 13 at 7:19pm

If somebody barges into the discussion and can't handle being civil, that thankfully won't be a problem anymore. News articles and forums were merged, so we have the lovely moderation team for Gen PS3 here to keep things at an even keel. :3

Yeah you've got it pinned as well then. With the rise of F2P/Micro-transactions in games, we should also see a lot more of that in consoles, allowing publishers to market products to the gamer who wants to spend $5, as well as the gamer who wants to spend $500, rather than only marketing to the gamer who wants to spend $60. It'll be interesting at least, to see how Sony and Microsoft bring in those systems to their consoles. Steam's done alright with it so far, so maybe they'll learn from that example.

Didn't actually realize how long it was until I had hit post, and realized I had to scroll down to see the entire thing. That's what I get for writing up something at 2am I guess. Didn't even mention in there that GameStop tried years ago to mimic Steam as well, but it failed miserably, because there was no trust there, from the gamers or from the publishers. They had bought out Impulse, a decent Steam-like-thing at the time, but as soon as they did it became a ghost town. At least one publisher actually pulled their games from the program's library, specifically because they didn't want to deal with GameStop shenanigans.

Jan 20, 13 at 4:18pm

Lorx You didn't take what I said about pricing as meaning thats my stance on the matter, did you? I think we see eye to eye here, I was only talking about why I think people are so reluctant to go digital with games compared to everything else (on demand was the only TV equivalent I could think of). A lot of people talk about fear of loosing their games and the prices being too high to go digital, both things I'm sure will change as companies move in that direction.

I actually forgot about Valves's cut of profits but that was also poor wording on my part, I was also talking about sale numbers. People would likely be more willing to purchase day-1 and avoid second hand sales (and stop caring about them) if prices were lower from the get-go. There needs to be a balance between lowering costs to maximize profits and passing benefits onto consumers.

I already wait for price-drops or sales and be more choosy about what I spend my time and money on myself, and as tight as money has become these daysI think its something more people will get in the habit of. Nice post btw, a tad long but well written, not a console only gamer myself so I can safely say it wasn't the slightest bit "offensive" to anyone (I think we both know where these types of discussions can end up).

Jan 20, 13 at 10:25am
Master Tenku

I posted on a thread with the same title as this in the forum and now every time someone replies I get a notification linking me to this news article. How do I unsubscribe? (PM me, cheers)

Jan 20, 13 at 8:41am

I don't think this will ever be used to prevent the use of the entire game, but rather force check the online component to the user has to pony up for a license key for online play. It's just the same likely going to be used as an anti piracy measure.

Jan 20, 13 at 2:29am

I can't help but feel that's a tad contradictory Zombie_Barioth. Steam/GoG/D2D/etc do prove the point that on-demand digital distribution is amazing and works fantastic for games, but also keep in mind that, besides GoG, they all use DRM of some kind, and none of these services allow for re-selling your games, flat out. They're not going after consumers, or anything close to that, it's the balance of what's a fair deal. What price justifies what use. Games are way more expensive than music or movies, well, AAA games at least, but the user should be getting much more bang for their buck with a game that has some actual length and depth. If a game isn't worth $60 for the content it holds, then maybe it shouldn't be $60 to begin with.

It's not so much going after the consumers, so much as deciding what the consumers are paying for, and making sure that distributors/publishers are giving them what they want, while still actually making a living. The "have your cake and eat it too" workings of used game sales, is really not working out for them. Retail stores, the old fashioned kind with walls and doors, push used games sales hard, and will not give chunks back to the publishers (who in turn, give to developers) unless they were forced into it. Anybody who's watched some of TotalBiscuit's videos has probably heard his rants about that.

Generally speaking publishers cut the most costs on digital distro during sales, or after a couple months in a small price drop. Both big and little publishers/developers, though it varies. For instance Activision and EA I believe were the only major publishers during Steam's Holiday Sale to not actually mark everything down. Whereas other publisher hit recent releases for up to 50%.

Every company that hits PC releases as their mainstay, wholly embraces digital distribution and prices are generally lower for it. Console ports may still be $60 across the board from companies like Activision and EA, but quite a few are released at $40-50, with Indie games dipping down to like $5, without counting sales. These publishers aren't even getting 100% of the profits, as Valve takes a cut for being the distributor, they just set it for cheaper, because hey, you don't need to manufacture so many discs, or worry about bartering with GameStop, it all just clicks nicely.

A story, because this is kind of history repeating itself, but a lot of console gamers kind of forget that. While the catalyst is different in the historical case, the end result is the exact same as the future Sony (and Microsoft) wish to paint.

Many, many years ago, when I was a kid, PC games were something you got from GameStop, FuncoLand, or EB. They had a nice little section right beside the console games, everything was very evenly sprawled out. Then GameStop kind of bought out all their competition in the US, and started trying to mold the industry in a way they could profit the most. When a physical retailer sells you a game, it's not so much that the publisher gets a cut of that sale, the distributor had bought copies of those games for a lower price, and are re-selling at a margin at which they can make profit. So, to increase profit, GameStop's best move was to lower the price at which they could get copies of games, and push selling those copies. This is where game re-selling started to really get on a roll. GameStop decided they could nickel and dime copies off customers for less than what they could get from retailers, increasing their profit margin. This is why publishers and developers don't help retailers, because retailers don't help them. It's why publishers love the idea of digital distribution, and why I can guarantee the next Sony and Microsoft units will rely much more heavily on it than physical retailers. It's what the entire industry wants, and they want it bad.

GameStop already did some used game sales to be sure, this move wasn't to start that, it was to expand upon it. Step one, was making their customers not want PC copies of games, the only system that, at the time, had any sort of protection against people trading off discs, because CD Keys. To do this, they started back-shelving any PC boxes, and making sure customers walking in saw a much more extravagant console-oriented scene. Was it true in the industry that PC gaming was dead? Not at all, at first. GameStop's plan worked perfectly, which is where PC gaming took that big dip. While PC gaming was already kind of on a separate playing field than consoles in a way, this is what also caused the major split in how these different fields of gaming work to this day. While GameStop continued to rake in record profits (and still do, because their used game sales continue to flourish), people who wanted to play PC games needed a new place to get their games. GameStop, basically the place to get video games, was not working out any more.

This is where Valve stepped in. They created Steam. A place on the rapidly improving vastness of the internet for people to get their games. After being shut out by GameStop, PC gamers were seeing a way to purchase PC games from a company they could trust, the guys who made Half Life. That is a recipe for success if I've ever seen one, and a recipe EA still hasn't quite understood, as demonstrated by Origin. To this day, Steam stays really close to those roots it started in, which is why you will see tons of PC gamers stand very strongly behind it as a great platform for their stuff. It's the perfect mix of content, the games we want, and service. Because as the CEO of Valve said, this is a service industry. In order to make gamers feel okay with your publishing or distributing services, you need to have solid services that...well serve those consumers.

Is the ability to resell your games a necessity in a service? No. If you think it is, you're lying to yourself, or have never seen what a good service has to offer. Don't want to pay $60 every month on new games? Don't worry, just wait out things you don't want as bad until they go on sale, or sell TF2 hats you got for free, in order to try and raise money for your next game. Steam is an amazing program, and is widely considered the sole reason why PC gaming survived being kicked to the curb by GameStop, specifically because of how amazing and trustworthy that service is. It is the exact kind of world Sony will be trying to create with this patent. How do they know it will work out if they play their cards right? How do I know it's possible?

Well it's simple really, PC gaming's been ahead of the game for over five years. We're chilling out on the other side of the door, waiting for you guys. It's not a horrible hellscape of being broke on this side of the wall, it's some really green grass and lush pastures. We were kicked out of GameStop years ago, but it's Sony and Microsoft who will be kicking out GameStop this time around. Boot may be on the other foot, but those boots are still leading to the same destination.

Jan 19, 13 at 6:15pm

Lorx You definitely have a point, but going after the consumers end of things isn't the answer. Games are frequently compared to other media where the second-hand market is concerned but thats the whole problem. Why do people complain about loosing used sales for games but not anything else?

Its the price, you can get a new movie, album, or book for the price of a day or two's worth of lunches, while a new game is 2-3x that. Either the way second-hand sales are done needs to change (i.e. royalty fees from companies) or a better digital price model needs to be put in place. It works for the rest of the entertainment industry with itunes, e-readers, and on-demand, and sites like steam or GOG prove it works for games, the industry just needs to move in the right direction both cost-wise and convenience-wise.

Publishers constantly talk about how digital sales cut cost and make games more affordable, but instead of using that to makes digital sales more attractive (thus getting 100% of the profits) they opt to pocket the difference. Thats not so bad for smaller/niche companies that could probably use it but doesn't give anybody a reason to stop buying and selling their games. Its not like retailers loose their purpose since you can't exactly download a PS4, and this is where games like Skylanders shine as a business model.

Jan 19, 13 at 4:31pm

What gets me is if they do use this to block used games..... Then my routine that I have done time and time again would be shot if I were to buy a ps4.

Like just yesterday, I traded in 3 games, got 32 bucks back, and bought 1600 microsoft points, then browsed for a cheap game I could play, and hey, Fallout 3, one of my all time favorite games, for 7 bucks! So now I have new far cry 3 content, points toward Mass effect 3 Omega, and FALL OUT 3! I love doing this! Don't take this away from me!

Jan 19, 13 at 1:06pm

Saw this coming a mile away, was wondering when Sony or Microsoft would make a move.

Video games are not physical objects. When you go to the store and pay $60 for Call of Guns: Black Cops 3, it is not because you really want that shiny disc and it's package. You're paying for the data it contains, data meant to give an experience, not something you buy specifically just to hold an object. The disc is like a ticket for a movie theater, it's your ability to enter the showing room for the media you wish to consume. Should you be able to resell the ticket after it's served it's purpose? Of course not, it has done what it was meant to do. Being able to sell it to somebody else at that point would not help the people who made the movie at all, or even the theater showing it.

Buying used games is the same thing as pirating from the viewpoint of developers and publishers. When you buy a used game, they get no profit, only the distributor gets profit. While making games for the love of the field is great, it still requires quite a lot of money to do, and people need to get paid. They need to be able to afford food and housing. In the last month alone neoseeker has had articles on three different developers/publishers who are having huge financial issues. Including THQ, who publishes some fairly popular titles.

How do I know a platform without used games could work? How am I not angry? Well, I'm a PC gamer. I've been living in that world for five years. I own quite a few games on Steam that I cannot resell. In the absence of used game, Steam has big sales multiple times a year. My 249 games, at full price last month, would have cost a grand total of $3,462.29 plus tax. During the sale? $1597.04 plus tax. Not bad for a collection that's been five years in the making. Will Sony actually step up and put some systems in place to make gaming affordable for the average joe, without used games? No clue. Will they need to? Yes. Definitely yes.

I would not be surprised in the least to see Microsoft announce something similar. Used game sales are not a good thing for the industry, and now with digital distribution being a strong enough release platform where AAA can use it, will definitely start to see physical retailers and used game sales get shut out of the picture.

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