Could recognition tech be used to prevent sharing games and used sales?

With it being unclear until E3 or beyond what Sony and Microsoft plan to do to tackle the used sales markets, game sharing and software piracy, it’s becoming clear that if there’s a will, there’s a potential way.  Sony has been smart to not put its cards on the table when it revealed the PS4 earlier this year, but it’s obvious since Microsoft has shared some of its plans right out the gate, that both companies are going into next gen consoles with a steadfast plan of action.

Used sales, game sharing and of course piracy does cost Sony and Microsoft a lot of money, and yet services like Steam seem to circumvent the issue by mere expectation; so it’s natural for Sony and Microsoft to follow suit. With both companies offering a cloud based system where games are locked to specific profiles, if physical mediums are still used which has been suggested, then a black market of game sharing could arise. Unless, of course, Microsoft or Sony adopts true recognition technology with Kinect 2/cameras/controller mics which prevents others from using the same game profile – it would be one step away from fingerprint or retinal scanning which on the surface sounds ridiculous but still feasible given the improvements with the technology. But let’s assume for now that this won’t be the case – although who knows with Kinect 2 being mandatory for Xbox One to function.

kinect 2

profile sharing

The most obvious scenario gamers can adopt to share games with friends from a disc which uses protecton is to simply share the profiles with each other. Imagine a situation where a group of friends simply share one profile and share the cost of the game. Or another scenario where one friend simply allows access to his or her profile whilst their own console is not in use. Obviously there’s a trust issue here, but friends usually do a lot for each other by definition of being friends in the first place.

In some instances, global sharing could be employed with cloud based systems unless there are restrictions placed on IPs used. This has already happened in the past with some people who rack up achievements and trophies using the same accounts in different regions of the world.

Create new profile – sell games with profile details attached

Whilst it’s not clear what Sony aims to do with disc based mediums with regards to used sales, Microsoft has revealed that gamers will be able to trade in games to retailers, although it’s not clear which retailers they will be. These could be specific retailers that Microsoft has some form of involvement in. However, a black market could be formed where using the profile sharing techniques, players who sell games frequently could create new profiles for each game (unless there’s a charge for doing so) and sell the game with the profile details attached. Obviously high street retailers won’t engage in sucn activity but for those selling privately on sites like eBay, this could become a way to sell used games easily.

Consumers more prudent with purchases

Whatever methods are adopted by Sony and Microsoft, the bottom line is, when gamers switch to digital sales there’s is no used sales market and if gamers do want to share with friends, then profile sharing is an option. However, if Microsoft and Sony can provide an outlet for gamers which is attractive – such as loyalty points on purchases, game sales and possibly lower pricing, then part of the battle is won. As far as physical discs and restrictions are concerned, what this might mean is more prudence in consumer spending which could have an impact on lower budget games – and those that aren’t up to par!

To conclude, when looking at possibilities of introducing further security measures further down the road to individualize the gaming/console experience with the use of cameras and microphones  – the Xbox One anthem video would be quite telling in this regard with its references to “Me” – then who knows what the future holds and how gamers will react if it is indeed the case.  Remember, the Xbox One and PS4 will be around for quite some years and will need to be future proofed.

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.