Though the PS4 will place a fair bit of emphasis on digital distribution, Sony’s confirmed that the system will still largely use discs for the foreseeable future. That brings with it the potential for piracy – something Sony may already have found a way around.
A patent filed by the company (via Darkzero) in 2011 has gone live, showing a method of comparing the load times on manufactured discs to those on copied ones, going through a series of checks and preventing said copies from booting.
Here’s what the patent says:
A system and method for detecting piracy of a software product that is distributed on a particular media type is described. Embodiments of the invention track a title load time of a software product that is distributed on a particular media type, and compare it against a benchmark load time for that media type. This comparison is used to detect if the title may have been illegally transferred or pirated to another, unauthorized media type.
It’s all shown off by this handy flowchart.
That sounds like a suitable solution to me; as it’s one that doesn’t negatively impact legitimate users’ experiences; no activation keys requiring internet connectivity and no silly NFC tags that are tied to the system. When it comes to DRM, the less impact on those who’ve paid for their games, the better.
The only problem I do foresee is if drives start acting up, but apparently the patent says the system contains a “backup validation cycle that would account for load time errors due to hardware issues.”
Microsoft already uses a similar system, in conjunction with a number of other systems to determine whether games or copied, which it uses to determine who to ban in their regular console banwaves.