PS4, Xbox 720 ‘would suffer’ if they block used games

A new rumor has surfaced that next-gen consoles might contain technology to block the play of used games.

The most recent report comes from Kotaku source who claimed the PlayStation 4, now reportedly called Orbis, will offer some form of technology to combat pre-owned games, or impose a fee to unlock them. This, of course, is similar to what we heard earlier with Microsoft and the next Xbox.  The Xbox anti-preowned tech was also rumored by Kotaku.  Coincidence?

Whether or not this is true of either consoles remains to be known, but already analysts are saying this would be a terrible idea.

"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," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. "If Sony unilaterally did this, I could see GameStop refusing to carry their console, and sales of the PS4 would therefore suffer."

Pachter also stressed that "if one does it and the others don't, the one who does it will see a loss of market share."

Of course, you don't need to be a genius to figure this out.  The used games industry is huge and by removing the ability for your console to play them, you alienate an entire chunk of potential consumers.

But while the rumors exist, Pachter notes that neither of the three console manufacturers (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) are "stupid enough to do this unilaterally" and none of them are "evil enough to do it together."

Pachter isn't alone in his beliefs.  David Cole of DFC Intelligence also agrees that Sony or Microsoft would be "foolish" to block pre-owned games from playing on their next-gen consoles.

"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.

IDC's research manager, Lewis Ward, acknowledged that publishers would love to "cut the disc market off at the knees", but feels "customers would rebel" if they did.  And if there is anything we've learned from this whole Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco, hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned.

"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 said.

With that being said, Ward did say he could envision Sony entertaining the idea of $10 online passes for multiplayer.

"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."

Never forget, where there is a will, there is a way.  Ward suspects that if DRM/security measures are stepped up, "countermeasures will soon surface that will allow physical and digital games to be played on the platform, limiting the effectiveness of the effort."

Bottom line is, blocking used games on consoles is a terrible idea and would be suicide for the console manufacturer.  I, for one, will not purchase a console which doesn't allow me to play used games.