PlayStation 4 (now reportedly called Orbis) is in the news once again, and the latest report reinforces a recent rumor about the possibility of new consoles blocking consumers from playing used titles (or imposing a fee to unlock them). This would be the equivalent of dropping a nuclear bomb on GameStop, and the retailer wouldn't sit idly by, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter commented to GamesIndustry International.
"It isn't really in Sony's or Microsoft's best interests to block used games. It would benefit Activision and EA slightly, and would hurt GameStop a great deal. If Sony unilaterally did this, I could see GameStop refusing to carry their console, and sales of the PS4 would therefore suffer," he said.
Pachter stressed that "if one does it and the others don't, the one who does it will see a loss of market share." He added that none of the big three console manufacturers "are stupid enough to do this unilaterally" and none of them "are evil enough to do it together."
David Cole of DFC Intelligence agrees that Sony or Microsoft would be foolish to block pre-owned, as a console with anti-used technology would turn off a large chunk of the hardcore gaming market.
"A system that tried to stop used game sales would probably turn off the core consumers that rush to trade in their old product to buy new product. In other words, I don't think it would do so well in the core market," he said.
Lewis Ward, IDC's research manager, acknowledges that publishers and many in the industry would love to "wave a magic wand and cut the used disc market off at the knees," but he also doesn't see it as a likely scenario.
"Customers would rebel. Until there's the equivalent of a great 'used' digital console game trade-in program up and running, gamers will continue to like the ability to trade in discs and basically get discounts on other games," he commented. "I can certainly see Sony stepping up the idea of $10 online passes for connected multiplayer and so on, but especially for families of limited means or that have a narrowband connection at home, the ability to buy/trade use discs is an important reason why they buy game consoles in the first place."
Ward also noted that certain hacks would likely overcome the anti-used technology even if Sony did decide to go forward. "I suspect that even if disc DRM/security is stepped up a lot that countermeasures will soon surface that will allow physical and digital games to be played on the platform, limiting the effectiveness of the effort," he said.