We never thought we would say this, but maybe game load times aren't so bad — if it means the end of video game piracy. A Sony patent filed in 2011, but recently made public suggests Sony could use load times to determine the authenticity of video games.
First discovered by Darkzero, U.S. patent no. 20130047267A1 outlines a process by which pirated games can be detected if they have load times that may be faster than legitimate ones:
"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 this 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."
The patent's use is not limited to physical media. It can also be applied to digital games. Although it's entirely possible that Sony could already have the patent implemented in current PlayStation 3 titles distributed on Blu-ray discs, the patent has two primary flaws that would prevent it from working effectively.
First, Blu-ray discs with dirt, scratches or dust can lead to significantly slower loading times. It would be a nightmare if a game didn't authenticate because it suddenly loaded slower due to a scratch.
Second, the disc-reading laser can also degrade over time, which can lead to slower read speeds. What happens then? The same goes for hard drives as they get older.
Third, there's some evidence that load times for certain games can be sped up by replacing the PS3's hard drive with a faster solid state drive (SSD).
Look, we're all for stopping piracy dead in its tracks, but using load times to authenticate games sounds like a strategy that could backfire quickly. As for those load times, when are they going to get faster? Forget shinier lighting effects, I want an end to minute-long load times!