A newly published patent application filed by Sony outlines a content protection system that would use small RFID chips embedded on game discs to prevent used games from being played on its systems, all without requiring an online connection. Filed in September and still awaiting approval from the US Patent Office, the patent application for an “electronic content processing system, electronic content processing method, package of electronic content, and use permission apparatus” describes a system “that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets.”
Used game sales continue to be a major concern for many big-name publishers and developers, who see the practice as a drain on the revenue they earn from selling new software. Sony’s patent explicitly points out that suppressing the used game market will “[support] the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers.”
The used-game blocking method described in the patent involves a “radiofrequency tag” and a type of programmable ROM chip that are paired with each game disc and can communicate wirelessly with the game system.