In 2011 Sony filed a patent for determining whether a game is pirated based on its load times.
It’s an interesting idea – it basically monitors certain known load times per game (perhaps time to get to the Start screen, or to load the first level) and then checks them against a central database. If the load times differ by too much, the game is blocked.
Or, crucially, the user is blocked.
The patent is quite specific. “For example, if an authentic game title is distributed exclusively on BDs having a total benchmark load time of 45 seconds on a game console BD drive, the acceptable range of load times could be from 40 to 50 seconds,” it says. “Thus, a total measured title load time of 4 seconds would be outside of the acceptable range of total load times for a legitimate media type.”
It also tracks seek times (so it gets around those using USB sticks) and data throughput. It’s not limited to Blu-ray games, either, the patent highlights way to do a similar job with PSN downloads.
An interesting tactic. Whether this is for PS4 or not isn’t known, but it’s certainly likely. Sony’s PS3 encryption was hacked with considerable effect, but this looks like being able to manage the whole situation better than just relying on private and public keys.