The gaming community has recently been put into a tailspin about the news emanating from Neogaf that Sony recently filed a patent protecting NFC based technology used to manage content on a physical disc. With people hypothesising that this is Sony's push to quash the used game market, the response has been overwhelmingly negative, despite being based on pure speculation as to the use of the patented technology. GameStop, America's largest dedicated video game retailer, saw its stock battered on the markets fuelled by rumours it was going to lose its used game business with the next generation.
Everyone, including GameSpot's over anxious shareholders, has jumped the gun in concluding that used game sales will be targeted by Sony's wrath, and here's why.
Firstly, Jack Tretton, CEO of SCE America, has come out as being undeniably against the blocking of used game sales. Some of the business decisions made by Sony over the last decade have been questionable at best, but alienating your core userbase at a time when you need them most would be a nail in the coffin of the struggling conglomerate, and they know it.
Secondly, this is simply a patent registration. Companies like Sony have huge R&D departments, who constantly create and innovate in more than just new screen technologies or data storage. Yes, they invent things like NFC DRM, and literally thousands of such inventions don't get real world implementation, but are extremely valuable intellectual property none the less. In short, we don't even know if this technology will be used in Playstation if at all.
Thirdly, believe it or not, Sony would not go out of its way to dramatically damage it huge supply chain partners by taking away half their business. This isn't a case of 'what Sony giveth, Sony taketh away'. Instead, it's a mutual relationship that relies on support of retailers. The counter is, of course, that GameStop and others can't afford to lose Playstation, sans used game sales or not. But as someone who knows retail, I can tell you that this is not how retail relationships work. You don't purposely damage one of your biggest distribution channels- it would hurt sales far too much.
Finally, and most importantly, people are only speculating as to what this patented technology will actually be used to do. Yes, it could theoretically be used to block used game sales by tying the disc to one system or PSN account. It could also be used as a means of managing extra game content, or blocking only parts of a game, such as online play, like is done already with an online pass. There are a myriad of uses for this technology that many, including myself, have not even considered.
The point is, we're all angering ourselves over something that at this stage, is pure, unconfirmed, speculation. Instead, we should wait, and let Sony confirm whether or not the next Playstation will utilise this technology and how.