Patented tech hurts GameStop business model
For years, publishers and developers have struggled with used game sales. Now, Sony could be taking steps to remedy the situation. NeoGAF recently found the publisher patented a new technology that links game discs with consoles.
The technology uses a radio-frequency tag to verify if a purchased game is already attached to a certain user or console ID. It can stop a game from running if the tag’s conditions aren’t met.
The technology could also be used for more than blocking games. If a used game tag is detected, a console could ask a user to pay a fee or block specific features in the game.
But the patent doesn’t necessarily mean the technology will be used on the PlayStation 4. Companies often patent new technologies to keep a competitive edge just in case circumstances change.
Kotaku reported that the news sent GameStop shares tumbling 5 percent Thursday. GameStop’s business model greatly relies on selling used games and letting customers trade in old games.
Kotaku also reported that Michael Pachter, a game industry analyst at Wedbush Securities, sent a letter to investors stating Sony has little financial motivation to unilaterally block used games. Instead, Pachter says it’s more likely the PlayStation 4 will merely provide the option to other developers and publishers seeking to block used games for their own products. He added the reaction so far has been overblown.
A similar rumor for the next Xbox was reported one year ago. That rumor also helped cause a slide in GameStop’s shares, but the company has recovered since then.