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Sony: Fear not, the PlayStation 4 will play used games

It's official: there is no need to worry about a patent that stops consoles from playing second-hand games -- it isn't intended for Sony's next console.

Charlie Osborne Contributing Writer
Charlie Osborne is a cybersecurity journalist and photographer who writes for ZDNet and CNET from London. PGP Key: AF40821B.
Charlie Osborne
2 min read

For anyone who was concerned about Sony's patent that would tie games to consoles, stop your fretting. Your PlayStation 4 will not contain that technology.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida attempted to lay to rest any concerns that the just-announced console would prevent people from playing second-hand games. Discussing the idea of restricting the play of used games, Yoshida touched upon the expectation of customers: that once you have bought a physical disc, you should be able to use it how and where you will.

"That's the general expectation by consumers," said Yoshida. "They purchase physical form, they want to use it everywhere, right? So that's my expectation." The Sony executive continued: "So, used games can play on PS4. How is that?"

That will do just fine, thank you.

It seems that the recent discovery of a new Sony patent for an "Electronic Content Processing System" and "Use Apparatus" would link individual game disc "tags" with matching user accounts is completely unrelated to the console. The security system works by attaching contactless RF "tags" to individual games, which then would only work if the account and game match up -- so games purchased by another user would potentially be prevented from functioning.

Rumors, reports and the patent discovery meant a tense wait for PlayStation fans to find out if this security protocol would be in place, but as gaming firm analyst Michael Pachter noted
, it seems the benefits of using such technology does not outweigh potentially alienating consumers and therefore lowering sales rates.

Pachter commented last month that Sony would see very little benefit from preventing used games from being played, writing:

Sony would be materially hurt if its console blocked used games and competitor consoles from Microsoft and Nintendo did not. The Wii U is already on the market with no used game prohibition, and we believe that Microsoft would take advantage of Sony's prospective decision to block used games by marketing that its own next generation did NOT block used games.

So, take heart, used games will work on the PS4.