US retailers ponder anti-theft locks for games

EMA report claims publishers and retailers could save $6 billion using radio tech

The Entertainment Merchants Association in the US has released a report outlining possible savings for publishers and retailers of up to USD 6 billion per year, but using radio-activated locks to prevent videogame theft.

The technology would be used to 'unlock' a game for use at the store checkout, with the EMA claiming that the system would only be used to prevent theft of physical media, rather than a new kind of digital rights management.

"This is not about DRM or other coding of the discs," the EMA's VP of public affairs, Sean Bersell, told GameSpot. "The technology to which we are referring would be a physical lock that is opened via radio frequency at the point of sale. And this is not about fighting piracy, but rather fighting shrink.

"The purpose is to make it easier for the consumer to purchase the product and enabling additional retail channels that have significant shrink issues to carry the product."

But the Entertainment Consumers Association's president, Hal Halpin, was less enthusiastic: "Publishers would likely be interested if EMA would guarantee that games wouldn't be resold through the use of the technology, but probably wouldn't say so overtly for fear of offending retail partners.

"I'd think that the low-hanging fruit might be the rentailers, who could implement this system and manage inventory more efficiently - provided that they had control in the locking/unlocking process, of course."

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