Game-disc lock tech could save retailers $6 billion - Study

The retail trade association claims publishers, retailers could earn $6 billion using a radio-activated lock; could hit retail shelves Q4 2010 for games, DVDs, Blu-ray.

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Anyone who has worked in retail knows that theft is a serious problem. This is especially true of high-value items like games and game hardware, which are all too often the subject of heists planned from the outside and inside. Now many entertainment retailers are considering a new kind of security measure for DVD and video game merchandise, after a report today revealed that such devices would allow retailers and publishers to earn several billion dollars each year.

The report is the second part of a project commissioned in 2008 by the Entertainment Merchants Association, titled "Project Lazarus: Study of Benefit Denial." The retail trade body found that game publishers, motion picture studios, supply chains, and retailers could earn as much as $6 billion annually by adopting a new security device.

Specifically, the study considers the impact of so-called "benefit denial" technology that could render DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and video game discs unusable until they are physically unlocked at the moment of purchase.

The EMA said antitheft technology would be evaluated and developed given the promising $6 billion figure produced by the report. If upcoming evaluations remain positive, the technology could hit store shelves by the fourth quarter of 2010.

Speaking to GameSpot, EMA's vice president of public affairs, Sean Bersell, tried to allay fears that the disc-lock tech was a Trojan horse for greater digital rights management. "This is not about DRM or other coding of the discs," he said. "The technology to which we are referring would be a physical lock that is opened via radio frequency at the point of sale. (Think of a key card that unlocks a door.) And this is not about fighting piracy (illegal reproductions), but rather fighting shrink (theft of legitimate goods). 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 while retailers are enthusiastic about the Lazarus technology, the consumer advocate group Entertainment Consumers Association remains suspicious. "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," ECA president Hal Halpin told GameSpot. "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."

Discussion

96 comments
lostn
lostn

It won't stop theft. Someone can still steal an unworking copy and the store has lost a copy and can no longer sell that copy. The thief can still resell the copy they stole even though it doesn't work. No one will know it isn't unlocked.

mjnoir1
mjnoir1

BAD idea nothing a retailer can come up with will be fool proof they are wasting time and money. does anyone remember when they tried to make music cd's copy protected? the hackers/theives figured it out in a few days and the knowledge becam public just as fast. Just lock up ur dvds and have a sales person open it and give it to you thats it much cheaper too

jmc88888
jmc88888

Go ahead an play with fire, I've never seen anyone burned doing that, and not like you can't find 1000 things similarly stupid and obviously a bad idea, that is then implemented by some dumb rich CEO's without a clue of some big corporations. Not the end of the world, but I can see this ending very badly. Hell even now most game companies have stated they don't like drm because it pisses customers off, and the pirates end up with the best working version (and fastest) because there's no drm on it. Which should of been obvious, but now they want to go down this dead end path too. Have fun looking like fools.

jmc88888
jmc88888

How do you physically unlock a dvd? Are we going to need batteries on our dvd's? A small strip battery that gives our games only a 2-4 year window before being 'deactivated' because there is no battery? Otherwise I don't know how a radio frequency can change what's on a disc. The only thing I can thing of is having some sort of magnetic circuit breaker, where when the radio frequency passes through it completes the connection. But the real question is.....how much will they lose by people not liking this tech. How many people might go home with a copy that wasn't turned on, or they 'turn it on', except the machine didn't turn it on. What about games bought online? What about games that were gifts? A lot of people might end up with a 60 dollar coaster. I bet the industry can lose far more than 6 billion from pissed off customers. I also bet that 6 billion is very much inflated. Sorry but 100 million video games aren't stolen out of the store every year. Meanwhile, I bet they count $1 bargain bin copies of Marley and Me at full 15-22 dollar price when talking about regular dvd's.

fester420
fester420

This is too little too late, digital distribution will have taken over by then

star77241
star77241

Someone could easily make their own radio unlocking device. It really doesn't matter what you do, you may deter some thefts but if someone really wants it, they're going to get it. Or... you know... get locked up in the process.

MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

what the F? most stores i visit, they have dummy boxes and when if i want to buy, i take it to the counter for the actual product... it dosnt cost anyone any $$$ to develop new technology, just extra brain cells. Why is EMA thought otherwise.... why is this is NEWS??? if i want to steal something, i'll take it and run out store, its the content inside the box that counts, i don't care if i have to chainsaw it in half to get to the disc...

Icehearted
Icehearted

EMA also stands for "Eternal, Maiden, Actualization", which happens to be Sega's upcoming robot girlfriend for lonely nerds that want the cold plastic peck of an 18" robot girl on their cheek. I'm not kidding. I saw the logo and was initially confused here.

Valen_Ca
Valen_Ca

A physical lock opened via RFID huh? How is this going to work, can't someone just steal the product and then brute force the lock? Also how does this make it easier to purchase a product, that I don't get.

Mr_Versipellis
Mr_Versipellis

We already have this in the UK. I've seen it in supermarkets, though I don't think it's done by radio. Still, same idea really.

dentedhalo
dentedhalo

@ maxsteel86 & Rottenwood I find myself stuck between ur two views on this...... I have bought a few preowned titles and will likely continue to do so (i think I buy about 50% new, but older titles, about 20% new within a few days or weeks of release and about 30% preowned) but I also see the problems with the system...... i like getting cheaper games but the problem is that the middle man makes a lot of money and the industry makes nothing...... unlike the music and movie industries, the games industry isnt lined in gold and while some make large profits the majority cant get off the ground because publishers realise there isnt as much profit to be made....... look at Black Isle and its spin off studios, Troika and Obsidian...... one is disbanded and the other hasnt relased anything of note..... all of this despite thier undenaible talent! As usual, its a business.....

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@maxsteel86 If I no longer play a game, it ends up on the shelf. Which is why I'm such a strong supporter of digital downloads, so I won't need so much space in my entertainment room. Please note I have no problem with selling older games that developers no longer turn a profit on. My beef is with the people who beat a game in a week and trade it in for another used game someone else beat in a week, where gamers are basically swapping items while the retail middleman gets all the profit. Believe me, I won't pay full retail for some games, either. Thankfully, all you have to is wait. Today's blockbuster is tomorrow's budget game.

maxsteel86
maxsteel86

@Rottenwood Sorry pal, have to disagree with the last bit of your comment. Though I want certain companies to do well, I think locking out reselling is terrible. What do you do when you no longer play your games? Great idea would be to sell them on which you can then use the money to buy new games. Plus there's a lot of games I bought that there's no way I would've paid full price for but when its a mere £5 for it, I can justify spending that. Though I want game companies to do well, the main party I'm concerned about is my wallet. Call that being stingy if you must but like most people, I'd prefer to get the goods while keeping a hold of as much of my money as I can

StarWatchers
StarWatchers

I wouldn't be happy with this system at all..Imagine if your house was 10 miles away from the game shop and by some mistake the disc wasnt unlocked and your once a week trip turns into two because of something that wasnt your fault or you waited a whole week to go back for a game you already paid for.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I'd be worried that I would get home and my game wasn't deactivated or activated, whatever, you know what I mean.Anyways I don't think they should pick this idea up, just leave them in the glass case until time of purchase or do like Gamestop and keep the actual games behind the counter, with just the casing on the showroom.

jimbo102671
jimbo102671

This is pointless. Many retailers now use security patches that will sound an alarm at the door checkpoint if it is not deactivated at checkout, and even that encounters false positives for theft by sales clerks "forgetting" to deactivate the patch. This "lock" thing will be a nightmare for shoppers if such "forgetfulness" occurs because it won't be noticed until they get the item home. To this, I say one word recognizable in English, Spanish, and French: NO!

nate1222
nate1222

I pay for the stuff I own. So I'm cool with it, as long as it doesn't get used as another excuse to jack up the ******* prices.

Saphire_Kitsune
Saphire_Kitsune

I don't really care as long as the price on the games themselves are not jacked up because of needing extra security. Though wouldn't people eventually figure out the radio frequency and completely bypass this thing? O_o?

GoHome64
GoHome64

all the gamestops around me keep the physical games behind the registers and just leave the empty boxes out, and other retailers lock the games behind glass so this seems useless for videogames

charrr1234
charrr1234

This will be useless. Thieves can just break the casing anyways.

fiskefyren
fiskefyren

meh... its not that hard of an issue, just leave empty boxes at the shelfs and have the dvd/blu-ray behind the dest or something along wit hthe manuel in some offical plastic bag. that is also what most retailers does anyway, so i dont see the big problem here, well beside people need to stop having their head up their ***** and try to use their heads for once in a while. its not that hard people... just use your heads once a while, its not going to kill you or anything, in a matter of fact its pretty healthy to use those tiny brains that you have been given.

strayfies
strayfies

Belmont Master is right. And if it wasn't reliable, the amount of time-loss damages and refunds they'd have to answer for would be pretty high. These analysts are probably operating under the notion that this device works reliably - a historic rarity for new devices.

BelmontMaster
BelmontMaster

Seems like another waste of money to me, thieves always find a way regaredless of the situation, anyone knows that.

Leo_Colt
Leo_Colt

The problem with digital distribution is that the product does not actually exist. That is why physical distribution methods will always be superior; because people want something they can actually hold in their own hands.

Enkeixpress
Enkeixpress

Sounds gay to be honest. lol just my two cents..

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

@SecularSage Digi downloads can not take off for another 10-20 years so they need something in the interim and frankly unless digi distro games are 10-20$ on launch I see little point in investing in them, Steam might as well be malware to me and while D2D has ran some specials that made me pay attention to them ultimately I bought used or wholesale because I like the box part. Digi distro requires millions of niche(film/music genre, gamers,) and billions of normal media(all film/game/music genres ) consumers to be on fast and cheap broadband of more than 600KBP in order to have enough consumers paying into a system thats refined and offers cheap media. We are simply not there yet and it could well take 20 more years to get simply because we have disc mediums that can hold 500GB+ in the labs and corporate wanting to charge people for what they download. IE metered service 10 cents a MB(or100$ for every 1GB) ,ect,ect . ======================== I haz something for you...its called lamentation, put 2 layers of lamentation on it and a security cam for each row, you can protect films like this as well...now can I haz my million dollar consolation fee nowz? Also like others have said case locking tech has been around since the later PSX/early PS2 days Blockbuster had it, those I hope the case designs are better....I hate scrunched up manuals.....

Vulpis
Vulpis

Errrr. How dense *are* these people, debating this like it's some new concept ? Music chains have been using this for many *years* now, and so has Toys R Us for some titles--basically, you take the box and put it inside another frame--the frame can only be (easily) removed at the register by a special unlocking tool. I mean, duuuuh.

Musashi9
Musashi9

Cool. Does this mean Gamestop will finally stop selling us games as "new" that their employees have taken home and played?

SecularSage
SecularSage

If I were a publisher, I'd be looking towards digital distribution methods, not physical locks. Plus, retailers eat the cost of shrink, not publishers. In fact, publishers benefit from it, since extra copies of games get ordered to make up for lost merchandise. I just don't get this. Why invest in a technology that's not forward-thinking? Selling boxes people buy to obtain download codes printed at the time of purchase or discs supplied on demand from a kiosk seems like a much cheaper and better solution.

etai79
etai79

This is just going to make it HARDER for thieves to get ahold of this stuff, not impossible. If the discs can be unlocked in some way, they'll figure it out.

jaje21
jaje21

I'm sorry but you guys are dense, all this will do is make games like the gift cards or time cards they sale now. It won't be active until the game gets scanned. You scan it, it unlocks no tricks.

jaje21
jaje21

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Justforfun44
Justforfun44

Again legitimate customers will pay the price for thieves.

discjockey14
discjockey14

Will I be able to play someone's used game once it's been activated?????

TheBionicRock
TheBionicRock

I refuse to buy from anyone who uses this ****. It's just going to be another attempt to control the sale of used games and it will make buying things take even longer.

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

i swear. i worked at gamestop, i now work at target. this is going to be just another way to make a 30 second purchase into nearly 5 minutes. walking to a case, getting the game, locking the case, scanning the game, typing in a damn activation code, then waiting for them to get change or ask why their card is declined. right. i will stick with the games in the locked cases for now.

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@maxsteel86 I don't know the entire process, but I suspect that the unlocking is done when the actual transaction is performed, meaning that there would be a record of a sale in the system. Managers or internal audit personnel could investigate any after-hours 'purchases' or other suspicious register activity. If they use it to put a crimp on used game sales, even better. In total, it would mean much greater financial return for the people that actually create and publish games, the only parties we should be concerned about.

maxsteel86
maxsteel86

If its to prevent inside jobs, whats going to stop someone 'unlocking' the thing before walking out with it? A quick cover up such as modifying inventory or shipping count and bam, same thing. It just inconveniences the thief a little since now they have to unlock it before going home. Poor thief, has to take an extra step when stealing now

Autolycus
Autolycus

wont do it. The theft on retail is nothing compared to the theft online.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

Just another step toward preventing us from trading our used games.

jaredcrazy3232
jaredcrazy3232

there is always another way around a lock. always

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

@ flyingteddy It's not theft proof from the people who control the lockers with the actual discs. No matter what is done, every good is vulnerable at some point.

Lucidmike78
Lucidmike78

Right. Then we find out later, oh, all you have to do is use a sharpie and draw a circle around the outside, or hold shift when you load it into your computer, and it gets bypassed. But somehow the price of the disc has gone up across the board. Why is that?

Ra-Qin
Ra-Qin

In the below linked article are numerous reasons why this will not work, and how it impedes the game industry...additionally, it points out that the study is incomplete at this time. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-10270870-17.html ...it is kinda funny that C-Net, owners of Gamespot, didn't notice both of their teams efforts (which covered news and opinion) and take the opportunity to link the two articles.

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

The 'empty box' scenario works fine for Gamestop in terms of outside theft, but inside theft is a major concern. I used to manage an Electronics Boutique before I sold out and went corporate, and it is laughably easy to walk out of the store with whatever you like, especially if you're closing the store. Any discrepancies could be covered up with adjustments of the shipping totals or inventory counts. And this is coming from a guy who never stole anything; somebody really into it could probably tell you a dozen more loopholes. It's a testament to the basic honesty of the average person that the chain even turns a profit.

daigre7
daigre7

I get movies, but doesn't every major retailer have their games either behind locked glass or put away someplace else? Where are games being stolen like this? Don't they make you pay for it immediately when an employee gets the game for you?

sieg6529
sieg6529

I think this is redundant. Gamestop has a pretty good anti-theft mechanism: empty boxes!

flyingteddy
flyingteddy

Is this needed? Why can't they just put empty boxes out and then you get the disc when you pay at the till? stores do this already. surely thats 100% theft proof

jrhawk42
jrhawk42

I don't know the exact numbers, but I do know a lot of games stolen at retail are resold to gamestop, or another used retailer. And guess what. Those retailers will have the ability to unlock the game. It might curb people stealing for profit on ebay, and such, but it's not like I can't go to the store, and say "hey you're clerk forgot to unlock this", or DIY an unlocker myself if it's a real problem. It may stop a few people here and there but it's not going to save 6billion a year, and probably not even cover it's own costs.

makemeweak
makemeweak

I'm for it. The more they keep costs down, the less likely they are to jack up prices.