Sony Moving to Serial Numbers with PS3?

Edge Magazine reports that an unnamed source claims Sony will use serial codes for all future PlayStation 3 game discs. The news arrives shortly after iPhone hacker GeoHot discovered and published the console's root keys which allows developers and pirates alike to sign unauthorized code as genuine Sony software, bypassing the console's security.

The possible movement to a serial code system isn't surprising. The PC gaming industry already has this method of DRM in place to prevent piracy, consisting of a long, annoying combination of numbers and letters players must manually insert with a keyboard. Some titles prevent the game from installing without the code-- others simply lock the player out of the multiplayer portion. But as we've seen over the years, the system isn't fool-proof, as hackers usually find a way around the system by launching key generators or replacement executables.

Although Sony has yet to confirm the movement to serial code usage, the unnamed source indicated that the company already uses a similar system with the PlayStation Network. Gamers typically purchase a game code, sign on to their PlayStation Network account, and enter the code to receive the product which is in turn tied to the user.

The source also said that gamers can use the code only five times. This in itself could have an impact on the used games industry, as retailers will have no idea how many valid codes still remain on a possible PlayStation 3 game trade-in. Owners of a specific game will also seemingly have a limit on the number of friends who can "borrow" the disc in its lifetime.

As with PC gaming, hackers will eventually find a way around this particular type of DRM. It's surprising that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft haven't already implemented a serial number system given the complaints from the industry about piracy and second-hand sales. But as Edge Magazine points out, gamers most affected by serial codes would be those who buy legitimate games and cannot trade in or sell them at a later date.

Currently Sony has not provided any feedback on the report.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • COLGeek
    I can hardly wait to see how this gets commented on. The vitriol and anger are sure to be endlessly entertaining.

    This is common (more than many may think) it business computing. Not a big deal for most.
  • XD_dued
    Maybe they realized that game companies actually loose more money from people sharing/buying used games than from piracy...
  • xantek24
    COLGeekI can hardly wait to see how this gets commented on. The vitriol and anger are sure to be endlessly entertaining.This is common (more than many may think) it business computing. Not a big deal for most.
    it doesnt bother me really....i just smashed my ps3 after reading this....
  • theshonen8899
    They need to stop...just....stop. They need to accept the fact that there will be pirates no matter what and the reality is that the majority of the world's gamers are not pirates. Hampering legitimate users by removing Linux or doing constant firmware updates does almost nothing to stop pirates and just makes legitimate users feel terrible about Sony's products.
  • megamanx00
    PS3 game, Serial number like a PC game and looks worse than a PC game.
    XBox 360 game, no serial number and looks like the PS3 game.

    Gee.. no advantage there for the PS3 ^_^. I think this move would only hurt sales of PS3s. Users who buy console games do so because they don't want to deal with serial numbers and crazy DRM (at least the hardware DRM doesn't annoy users who actually buy their games) and just want to play the darn game. I don't think this will affect the Wii, but for users who choose between a PS3 or a 360 this can only help 360 sales.
  • g00fysmiley
    hmm... this would not be good for gamefly... not one bit
  • nforce4max
    Well looks like console gaming took another nasty hit like us pc gamers.
  • abottig
    When will they learn? These corporations need to adapt to the market. The market dictates that barriers will always be circumvented.

    Netflix is a shining example. I can get movies fo' free through torrent. However, this can be a tedious process for certain movies, formats, etc. That's where Netflix comes in. I pay for Netflix because it offers what torrent doesn't; convenience. I can instantly stream HD content on demand, and through a slick interface. $8 a month? excellent.

    In Europe they have Spotify, a free, ad-supported music service that is legal, profitable, and convenient!

    The market has shown time and time again that it will not bend to fit the needs of the corporations. Rather, the market has shown that charging exorbitant prices and restricting access leads to more piracy, not less.
  • vertigo_2000
    You can kiss console game rentals goodbye.
  • rhino13
    You know if they were discounting new games by how much I can get for selling them back to gamestop this would be OK. Instead they're just scrambling to take as large a chunk of legal markets like the used one.
    Clearly this isn't going to bother pirates one bit.

    For more information see gun control laws.