The installation of a modchip allowed the PlayStation’s capabilities to be expanded, and several options were made available. By the end of the system’s life cycle almost anyone with minimal soldering experience was able to realize the modification of the console. Such a modification allowed the playing of games from other regions, such as PAL titles on an NTSC console, or allowed the ability to play copies of original games without restriction. Modchips allow the playing of games recorded on a regular CD-R. This created a wave of games developed without official approval using free, unofficial tools, as well as the reproduction of original discs. With the introduction of such devices the console was very attractive to programmers and illegal copiers alike.
A previous theory was that anyone seeking to create copies of games that would work correctly faced several issues at the time, as the discs that were produced by Sony were designed to be difficult to copy — and impossible to copy on recordable media. Discs were manufactured with a dark blue-colored plastic (transparent only to the infrared radiation used by CD-ROM lasers), and it was theorized that the PlayStation’s drive was engineered to require these tinted discs. However, this has been easily disproven, as PlayStation CD-ROMs can be read by most CD drives, and the PlayStation will read most recordable CDs. Nonetheless, the discs were mastered with a specific wobble in the lead-in area. This wobble encodes a four-character sequence which is checked by the CD-ROM drive’s controller chip. The drive will only accept the disc if the code is correct. This string varies depending on the region of the disk—”SCEI” for NTSC:J machines, “SCEA” for NTSC:U/C machines, “SCEE” for PAL machines and “SCEW” for the Net Yaroze. Since the tracking pattern is pressed into the disc at the time of manufacture, this cannot be reproduced on a CD-R recorder.