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Region-free PS3

samzenpus posted about 8 years ago | from the anytime-anywhere dept.

356

An anonymous reader writes "IGN writes that "In a QA session following the platform keynote address at GDC 2006 this morning, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Phil Harrison confirmed what was heavily demanded for import gamers all over the world and yet previously thought unthinkable for a major corporation: the PS3 will be region-free for gaming." There's no chance that the MPAA members would allow the same for movies but at least it's a step in the right direction."

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356 comments

Not THAT surprising... (5, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#14979975)

One of the biggest reasons mod chips tend to be "iffy" is that, while playing illegally-copied games is illegal, playing out-of-region games isn't. This move may buy them more than it costs, since that's one less reason to give for the legitimacy of mod chips. Now if they could just do something about that pesky "backup" excuse.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (3, Funny)

DerGeist (956018) | about 8 years ago | (#14979998)

Backups are available at affordable prices.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Insightful)

jlebrech (810586) | about 8 years ago | (#14980013)

Sell backups along with the game.

A duplicated of the disk with backup written on it, but official.

there's the backup.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (3, Insightful)

Lussarn (105276) | about 8 years ago | (#14980069)

They can ship me 100 backups for all I care. If I buy something it's mine and I will still do whatever I want with it. Like installing modchips and making backups.

The day Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Ford and everybody else tells me I just rent the games, software and music, just rent the playsations computers, ipods and cars. Thats the day they can make restrictions.

But as long as they sell me stuff I'm taking for granted it's mine and I will do whatever I please with it (With possibly the exception of spreading copies of copyrighted material). If what I do is not legal they can call me a criminal. I don't care. I don't see myself as a criminal.

All Property is Theft! (3, Funny)

YoungOnesTroll (960290) | about 8 years ago | (#14980191)

RICK: Oh, stop being so blinking bourgousie! All property is theft, Vyvyan.

VYVYAN: All right, then. Where's your girlie purse?

VYVYAN: [takes Rick's coin purse, removes some money] Ha ha! Found it!

RICK: You put that back! That's my personal property!

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

jettoki (894493) | about 8 years ago | (#14980202)

If what I do is not legal they can call me a criminal. I don't care. I don't see myself as a criminal.

Obi-wan: Don't you see, unlawful modification is EVIL?!?

Anakin: From my point of view Sony is evil!!

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Insightful)

Xymor (943922) | about 8 years ago | (#14980294)

That's still not good enough.
They should sell games not disks. That way if you bust your copy you could receive a new one thru mail paying as little as manufacture and shiping costs.

Yeah, but this is a good thing. (2, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | about 8 years ago | (#14980040)

While this was one of the main things keeping modchips legal (as modchips SHOULD be legal), it is a good thing that restrictions like this are starting to be dropped. There's no good reason why games shouldn't work in every region.

Re:Yeah, but this is a good thing. (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | about 8 years ago | (#14980181)

This doesn't suprise me. Sony decided to make the PSP region free for its games, but region locked for its movies. I'm still just pissed that Sony decided to not add a second analong stick and two more shoulder buttons so you you could use the PSP as a PS2 controller...

Though the way the delays keep coming, I suspect the first game available for the PS3 will be Duke Nukem Forever...

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Insightful)

Misfit Taz (962802) | about 8 years ago | (#14980043)

that pesky "backup" excuse

Its simple, offer free replacment for scratched disc.
And chipping PS2's is now illegal, or at least selling/buying the mod chip(in most countries), so should be no problem getting it so that chipping the PS3 is also against the law.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (5, Insightful)

rkcallaghan (858110) | about 8 years ago | (#14980243)

Its simple, offer free replacment for scratched disc.

This solution does not account for what happens if $GameProducer:
  • Goes belly up.
  • Provides 'mail in rebate' level of support.
  • Realizes in the year 2075 that producing the discs on demand is no longer a good idea.

These are the reasons "Fair Use" allows for us to make our own backups. We as the owner of the product need to be the ones in charge of taking care of our stuff, not some distant third party who sees it as an expense they wish they didn't have.

~Rebecca

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Interesting)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 8 years ago | (#14980050)

The surprising thing for us in the UK though is that we may start getting charged a similar price to what you pay in the US.

We have long been known in the UK for our willingness to pay higher prices, maybe this will start to change if more companies adopted a similar attitude. Personally I do wish the MPAA would follow this example and allow music and dvds to be sold at american prices the world over.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 years ago | (#14980056)

Well the backup excuse could be done away with if the HD was able to cache game content so you didn't need the disc in the drive to play it. How to stop people playing copies this way? Make them enter a registration code. Every so often it sends the code off to Sony. If more than one PS3 is found to have used the game with the same code, it challenges you to insert the disc to continue. Since this will affect few people, it makes HD gaming virtually transparent while allowing the original disc to stay in the keepcase.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#14980070)

Except that takes for granted that everyone is going to connect his/her console to the net.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 years ago | (#14980073)

Most people will in one way or another. But I'm sure they could still implement an offline mode where you insert the disc at least once every month to get the same functionality. The leakage due to piracy would be marginal.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (2, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#14980104)

Why not just implement the offline mode then? That way they don't have to run authentication servers at all.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 years ago | (#14980151)

They could do that too, but running the test against servers would make the feature more useful to end users and might provide Sony with some useful metrics.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

forgoil (104808) | about 8 years ago | (#14980165)

Make it easy, offline mode equals putting the DVD in to start the game, after that the DVD (blue-ray, holographic memory, punch card, your pick) isn't touched. Already done on *Gasp* computers.

heck, online mode could equal the same thing. Just make sure that we have 1. Plenty of diskspace 2. Removable discs (a la 360).

No need to complicate things...

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

Blisshead (959178) | about 8 years ago | (#14980142)

What about loading emulation software? Seen that time and time again for pc, why not consoles? Seems easy to get around to me.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

Thaelon (250687) | about 8 years ago | (#14980150)

So your PS3 is required to have an internet connection to play games?

Not going to fly.

Even if it did, what's to prevent spoofing the 'ok to play' message via a proxy server?

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 years ago | (#14980177)

So your PS3 is required to have an internet connection to play games?

To play games off the harddrive. A slightly more intrusive check could also be implemented for offline mode.

Even if it did, what's to prevent spoofing the 'ok to play' message via a proxy server?

Ever heard of encryption?

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

DerGeist (956018) | about 8 years ago | (#14980162)

Dude...that is a *REALLY* good idea. Coupled with the offline mode you mentioned earlier I'd say you have something companies should actually consider using. No more carry discs around, if you know you'll be offline on vacation for a while you simply insert the disc and "refill" your days remaining until disc reauthentication to 30 (or whatever). It could work for virtually any media (CD, DVD, whatever).

It does entail some privacy issues though, in the sense that I can pinpoint your exact PS3 using this registration coding scheme. Also you need to think about the case where a copy is made of the disc, then when an identical registration code is detected, two people insert discs and they both seem legit. Who is the "original owner"? You might say the person who owned it for longer, but did I just make a copy and sell my original to someone perhaps? It gets hairy in those annoying details, but I'm sure they can be worked out. Overall you've got a really great idea here.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

somersault (912633) | about 8 years ago | (#14980203)

what happens when your hard drive dies, you've lost the original disc/had it chewed by your dog, and you dont have a backup? :p I think your idea about using the net is a good one, but something more like Steam would be good, because then you can download your content anytime, to any machine, if you're using your account.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

rkcallaghan (858110) | about 8 years ago | (#14980293)

Well the backup excuse could be done away with if the HD was able to cache game content so you didn't need the disc in the drive to play it.
If more than one PS3 is found to have used the game with the same code, it challenges you to insert the disc to continue.

Uhhh...

Explain to me please again how this allows me to not need a backup after my disc is scratched / cracked in half / otherwise damaged beyond readability?

~Rebecca

Encryption (1)

oliverthered (187439) | about 8 years ago | (#14980296)

Give each PS3 a unique magic number.
When making a backup encrypt the copy so that it can only be accessed with the unique magic number.

The backup will be tied to one machine and it doesn't stop people passing around the master disk and their mates making backup coppies of the game to play, but it does stop people making loads of coppies and selling them / passing them on.

The backup could also prevent online games or multiplayer games from being run on more than on machine at once, to add greater protection the ps3 could be required to 'dial up' whenever you wanted to play a game from a backup.

Re:Not THAT surprising... (1)

MadJo (674225) | about 8 years ago | (#14980066)

I'll just say "seeing is believing"... I don't trust Sony very much.
My sarcastic voice tells me that they only say this to gain some more positive publicity for themselves.

The backup issue could be solved like this (1)

nephridium (928664) | about 8 years ago | (#14980141)

Just include a second CD/DVD labled 'Backup' in the box, the additional cost should be negligible. Then if the original dies the buyer can go with it to the store and request a replacement; the shop owner would order these directly from the game manufacturer. Until it arrives people can play with the 'Backup'.

Minimal additional cost for Sony (or the game producer) - especially since this wouldn't happen that often - and it eliminates the need for the user to make/copy their own backups.

About fucking time. (5, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#14979996)

Region locks should never have existed in first place, they are only there so different publishers can publish the same game in different regions and to enable price fixing.

No matter why this was done, whether to make sure mod chips don't have any legal functions or to really do something useful, it had to be done. Region locks are attempts to suppress international trade and competition. They have been ruled illegal in some countries and are not protected by any DMCA-like laws. There should have been some fines over region locks but well, knowing the corrupt governments we have it'd end up being 5.95$ total.

Re:About fucking time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980091)

I wonder how many complaints they will get due to consoles being bought in a region where the voltage required is different to that at home.

Will it have a fancy multi region/voltage step up/down transformer attatched?

Re:About fucking time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980130)

Switched-mode power supplies are all of a sudden fancy now?

so what? (-1, Troll)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | about 8 years ago | (#14979997)

who cares about region-coding when PS3 will have games locked to the first owner?

Re:so what? (4, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#14980010)

Even moreso, who cares about stability if Linux allows the moon people to make your computer explode?

(PS3 games will not be locked to anyone, stop repeating that rumour, it has been denied already)

Re:so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980025)

"who cares about region-coding when PS3 will have games locked to the first owner?"

do you have any proof of this?

Re:so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980028)

Where the hell did this come from? Link to some proof?

Re:so what? (1)

gabebear (251933) | about 8 years ago | (#14980218)

I think it is more likely that 360 games will be locked to a specific console. Nobody will be able to easily copy a Blu-Ray disc easily anytime soon, but pirating 360 games should be easy in a couple months.

Locking software to a piece of hardware is generally called "product activation" is patently Microsoftish.

A lot less than meets the eye (5, Insightful)

clevershark (130296) | about 8 years ago | (#14980003)

This announcement seems all flash and no substance -- Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway. What this *might* mean is that more Japanese-market games will be playable by NA gamers. Now don't get me wrong, that's a good thing, but it's hard not to think that the real reason for this is Sony wanting to save money where it can by not creating unnecessary "editions" of the same games.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | about 8 years ago | (#14980022)

Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway.

Um, surely, that is a problem for the hardware. We were talking about the different games now, right? Or were we? I mean, it's not like I have read the article or anything.

Btw, if they stick to greyscale, PAL and NTSC are practically the same. :-)

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (2, Insightful)

Jaruzel (804522) | about 8 years ago | (#14980065)

Um, surely for there to be true 'non-region' - all PS3s have to be dual format of both PAL/NTSC (hey, what ever happened to SECAM?) - only that way will 'region-free' actually mean anything.

PAL/NTSC are bunk terms anyway, with HDTV being a de-facto output on all these next gen consoles, surely 720p is 720p regardless where on the planet you are standing?

Personally I still think there will be PAL PS3s and NTSC PS3s, meaning that us poor sods in Europe get games later than Japan/US, again :(

-Jar.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 8 years ago | (#14980102)

720p is 720p

Nope. 720p 60hz is different from 720p 50hz.

There are already issues with people trying to import HDTVs from the US to Europe and finding they don't work with european broadcasts.

Japan has 810P as well (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980145)

Japan also has 810P as well. There are other "weird" HD formats circling around that would also need to be taken care of. North American HD is not the same HD everywhere for that very reason. Different resolutions, refresh rates, etc. makes this hell for a manufacturer. The biggest problem is that TV display equipment is not like computer monitors where they can switch around resolutions and refresh rates as necessary unless the device is designed for it. Although I don't think Sony will have much problem with this because these days most of the output circuitry/firmware will be given a certain set of allowable resolutions for each region. The only item to worry about then is whether the game will support the resolution and if it won't, then the Playstation should be able to up/down-sample the data for output.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

The Warlock (701535) | about 8 years ago | (#14980041)

They use PAL instead of NTSC for standard def TVs. HTDV all uses the same standard. Isn't that great?

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

forgoil (104808) | about 8 years ago | (#14980180)

Don't we still have the 24/25/29.9/30/50/60 fps thing going? I know the resolution is the same, but what about the framerate? I personally would prefer to have it as high as possible after all:)

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (4, Informative)

eht (8912) | about 8 years ago | (#14980299)

HDTV defeinately does not all use the same standard, there's at least 4 different SMPTE standards I know of 260M, 295M, 274M, and 296M, and most of them have multiple standards within them.

260M is 1920x1035 at either 30Hz or 29.97Hz, 295M is 1920x1080 at 25Hz, but at more lines per frame the spec in 274M, 274M has a ton of standards, all 1920x1080, but at many varying frame rates, including 30, 29.97, and 25, at both progressive(1 field per frame) and interlaced(2 fields per frame), and also a 24Hz frame rate, and 23.976Hz, and then 296M comes in with 1280x720 at 30Hz and 29.97Hz progressive.

So a movie running at 1920x1080@25Hz interlaced will run 20% faster at 1920x1080@30Hz.

Isn't that great?

Sorry, I work with television signals everyday and the massive amount of standards causes me no end of annoyance.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (4, Informative)

GauteL (29207) | about 8 years ago | (#14980068)

"Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway"

Most fairly new European televisions can display both NTSC and PAL picture.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (2, Informative)

mausmalone (594185) | about 8 years ago | (#14980143)

Furthermore, most current graphics hardware is capible of displaying in either PAL or NTSC or SECAM, etc ... I think there will likely still be some sort of region identification, but probably more like it's done on the DS: it'll ship with a default region selected, and you'll be able to change it in the options. It's probably the simplest solution to "What display do I use when I boot up for the first time ever?"

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 8 years ago | (#14980320)

Furthermore, most current graphics hardware is capible of displaying in either PAL or NTSC or SECAM, etc...

You'd be surprised just how much is capable of doing PAL/NTSC (most SECAM devices support PAL), but just don't provide the user with access to that feature. If I can buy a $30 VCD discman which supports PAL/NTSC, in Asia, then I am sure that most of $100+ devices should be able to support it. In most cases I imagine that the feature disabled out of some business choice.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | about 8 years ago | (#14980072)

My chipped NA XBOX attached to an NTSC TV has no problem playing PAL import games. I don't see why the PS3 would present a problem.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 8 years ago | (#14980225)

Thank your modchip and/or dashboard for that. They just force the video mode to NTSC when the game boots up, plus maybe some timing fixes (talking out of my ass here). It's far different from PAL-NTSC movies because those have interlacing issues that require much more than a simple speed tweak. Games are rendered in real-time, and usually in progressive frames so to region-convert a game is typically just a matter of switching the refresh rate from 50 to 60 fps, the game engine handles the rest.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | about 8 years ago | (#14980310)

The point is that if a modchip can make the appropriate modifications, than there is no reason the PS3 won't be able to.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | about 8 years ago | (#14980312)

AFAIK most PAL XBox game support PAL60 anyway, it's an option in the Dashboard on PAL consoles that you switch on once and mostly ignore, much better than having a 50/60Hz selection menu appear at the start of every game. Presumably playing a PAL game on an NTSC console they'd just see the console as being set to 60Hz and use that automatically.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | about 8 years ago | (#14980105)

this is a non issue on modern tvs... and has been for years.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 8 years ago | (#14980193)

this is a non issue on modern tvs... and has been for years.

Actually, it's a big issue in NTSC land (Canada, the USA, Japan and some other countries). I'm guessing that you live in either the UK or Australia or perhaps some other PAL country. PAL TVs have a way to natively support NTSC signals as a subset of PAL. There is no way to support a PAL signal under NTSC. It must be converted to NTSC. Fortunately, many DVD players are able to do this type of conversion, but it remains to be seen whether or not such conversion will be offered by the PS3.

You should be aware that it is almost impossible to buy a multi-standard TV in the USA. If you want to do it, you will have to do a web search for specialty web sites that can sell those. In Europe, you can walk into any electronics store and buy a PAL TV that is also capable of displaying NTSC signals. This is not true at all in America. None of our big electronics stores even offer multi-standard TVs as an option. After all, "Why would anyone want that?"

Not that big a problem... (3, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | about 8 years ago | (#14980109)

This announcement seems all flash and no substance -- Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway.

I gather that a lot of modern TVs will work with either PAL or NTSC inputs, so they won't have any trouble with this; and since the PS3 is being designed with HDTV in mind, PAL vs NTSC is really kind of irrelevant. HDTV is the same everywhere.

I personally wonder if this is something to do with Australia. They've ruled down there that region coding on DVDs is actually illegal; I hear that all Aussie DVD players are now multiregion. Region-coding the PS3 will get Sony into legal trouble in Australia. Region-coding all non-Australian PS3s will be kind of pointless - people prepared to import foreign games will presumably also be happy to import an Aussie PS3. So they may as well drop the whole thing.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#14980124)

US DVDs work on my TV, and in fact most sets that I've tried it on. PS3 games are going to be designed for HDTV anyway, with PAL and NTSC just being there for compatibility, so apart from frame rate differences (which will probably be switchable) this isn't likely to cause a problem

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

TEB_78 (748262) | about 8 years ago | (#14980135)

I've a region free DVD player and that can be set to output the picture in NTSC,PAL or auto. My TV does not care if it receives a PAL or a NTSC signal, it handles both. I have both zone 2 and zone 1 DVDs and it has never been a issue for me.

And even if not all TVs handle both the PS3 could easily reformat the output picture based on some system setting like my DVD player can.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (2, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | about 8 years ago | (#14980158)

Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway

It's actually the other way around. The US, Canada and Japan are pretty much the only places that use NTSC. Almost everything else (a few exceptions) uses PAL.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 years ago | (#14980194)

This is completely without substance. Many modern players can choose PAL or NTSC output, most TVs can handle both. Rendered things like games have never been an issue. The trouble is usually the source content - you don't have the space to store both NTSC and PAL format, and 480i30 & 576i25 don't combine to one. With a downscaled 1080p signal that is certainly not an issue. In short, there's absolutely no legitimate technical reason for region codes - not that there really was much of one for DVD either as they play fine on most sets, but PAL/NTSC was a good excuse.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980278)

Actually some older games are written specifically for a certain framerate. Often they'd just play slower on PAL than NTSC, so it's possible that a PAL-native game trying to play on an NTSC machine would crash as the system couldn't keep up. Other weird effects too, sometimes the clock will run at the same speed but the cars in a racer move slower... I think Metropolis Street Racer had that problem, and Crazy Taxi certainly does in PAL 50 Hz vs PAL 60 Hz.
PS3 games should be smart enough to handle it.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (1)

hal2814 (725639) | about 8 years ago | (#14980219)

Why is downscaling a game from HDTV to NTSC any different than downscaling a game from HDTV to PAL? I imagine the hardware is going to do the proper scaling so it will be trivial to have a single game playable on [PAL, NTSC, and HDTV] since the game will have to support either [PAL and HDTV] or [NTSC and HDTV] anyways.

Re:A lot less than meets the eye (0)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 8 years ago | (#14980279)

yeah but pure RGB coming out of the AV Socket is still pure RGB.

So just take that nifty SCART connection and use that to connect your ps3 to your tv.

Region-free, yes.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980006)

Root-kit free, no.

three words (1, Insightful)

aunticrist (952359) | about 8 years ago | (#14980088)

Let. It. Go. Seriously. Its not even a horse being beat any more. It's the decayed remains of its carcass.

Re:Region-free, yes.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980114)

Let it go, no.

Re:three words (5, Insightful)

turnipsatemybaby (648996) | about 8 years ago | (#14980292)

This is NOT something we should let go. It maybe a dead horse now, but it's a horse that should never have been born in the first place.

It's this sort of "forget about it, I don't care" mentality that is allowing corporations to steadily erode our rights. It gives the corporations the artistic license to experiment with new and whacky control schemes and see which ones stick and which ones cause a backlash.

I'm willing to bet that they'll try this exact same stunt again, or at least something similar to it, later on. They'll wait for the political environment to change a little more, maybe do a better job at testing and bug-fixing, and suddenly it'll be on all the disks again and people will think it's "normal". Just as CDs are twice as expensive as audio tapes and people consider that "normal". Or that region restrictions are "normal".

If people were actually paying attention and fighting back as they did with the rootkit debacle, there wouldn't be the problems there are now with things like DMCA, region-coding, etc.

Wow, has Sony started to LEARN? (1)

m94mni (541438) | about 8 years ago | (#14980015)

One cannot help but wonder if the CD copy protection disaster has taught them something. Look at the MP3 download compensation they offered, and now this.

What's up with Sony nowadays?

Re:Wow, has Sony started to LEARN? (2, Insightful)

DerGeist (956018) | about 8 years ago | (#14980111)

Stop thinking that just because they've made a one or two moves that seem reasonable that they've had some kind of religious experience.

Believe me, they are still the same old rootkit slinging, DRM-pushing, grandma-jailing, DCMA-humping, RIAA-loving Sony they've always been.

Even this move is probably just a ploy to make mod chips even less legitimate, as the first poster said. Call me cynical but companies don't make moves unless they believe that it will increase their revenue somehow. They are planning to make more money off of you in some way, don't ever doubt that.

Re:Wow, has Sony started to LEARN? (2, Insightful)

m94mni (541438) | about 8 years ago | (#14980303)

They are planning to make more money off of you in some way, don't ever doubt that.

Yeah, but maybe they could think about doing that by pleasing their customers, eh?

While I see your point, I hope you are wrong :-)

Re:Wow, has Sony started to LEARN? (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | about 8 years ago | (#14980119)

One cannot help but wonder if the CD copy protection disaster has taught them something.

Perhaps this is some sort of apology, and it's definitely a step in the right direction. But personally, I will avoid Sony products until there is a VERY public apology that accepts responsibility and acknowledges that the direction they took was very much not in the interest of their customers, followed by a solemn promise to never employ such tactics again.

Holy carp! (1)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | about 8 years ago | (#14980021)

This is the second time this week Sony has done something consumer friendly...

In other news, Beelzebub has ordered a remote start and block heater for his Lamborghini Diablo.

Re:Holy carp! (1)

frankthechicken (607647) | about 8 years ago | (#14980059)

You mean their new controllers [engadget.com]? I've always thought the boomerang looked kind of comfortable.

Re:Holy carp! (1)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | about 8 years ago | (#14980125)

Well, I was more talking about Linux and the capability to use it as a Media Box (quasi-HTPC), going hand in hand with the hard drive to come standard (which was where MS really crapped the bed, IMHO).

The new controller is also a bonus, and they are obviously listening to consumers on this. I think the Batarang looks ergonomic enough, but it just looks to silly for me not to have to put it in the drawer whenever the lady-types come over. Thank God that ball looking sketch over at Engadget is a concept and not what they are actually making (as per their disclaimer).

More info... (4, Informative)

astonish (177831) | about 8 years ago | (#14980024)

Actually, what he really said is that the machine itself will not have any region restrictions, but it would be up to publishers whether they want to restrict their games to certain TV formats etc. Which they probably will for many major releases.

Still if a publisher, especially from Japan, knows they aren't going to publish a game in the US/Euro they can leave it region free and let importers have more fun. Still a good thing. Lets hope they get the system off the ground, so far my impression is one of a very expensive hype machine that has to play catch up to Xbox Live. Still, I'm all for having two (three??) great next-gen systems in my living room.

Re:More info... (1)

somersault (912633) | about 8 years ago | (#14980261)

I'm all for having the PS3 in my living room for console games (and backward compatible with all my PS1 games I still have lying around), and my PC to play PC games (rather than an X-Box to play PC games, but with a crappy control system) :)

I could stretch the the Revolution also, if it turns out to be more than just a gimmick (ie good, non trivial games, that dont just take a couple of days to complete.. maybe something kinda openended like GTA but with samurais, swords controlled properly by swinging the controller.. mwahahaha) :)

Good start. Are Sony getting better? (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#14980029)

After the rootkit fiasco, it's starting to sound like Sony is trying to be more consumer friendly. With this, and the no downsampling Blu-Ray analogue output, I might actually consider buying things made by Sony.

Re:Good start. Are Sony getting better? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#14980042)

They'll have to do a helluva lot more before I give them the benefit of the doubt again. Too bad, though, I really dig my Vaio laptop. Hopefully they get thier collective act together before it dies. (Not holding my breath.)

A touch of common sense? (3, Informative)

malkavian (9512) | about 8 years ago | (#14980035)

Perhaps Sony, touched with the debacles it's been involved in recently (the Rootkit being the most well known), has decided its time to rely on a modicum of common sense. After all, the market has done without regional coding since the dawn of time (well, until a few years ago) and prospered.
The simplest solution being the best (as is often the case) says remove the complexity that doesn't really gain anything, and see what you have. The copy protection on a console.. I can live with that.. I've never been that interested in backups, as I take great care with the disks.. I have, however, been most peeved when buying region coded items that refuse to play just because I'm in the 'wrong country'.
Hopefully it's the start of a new trend of business actually listening, rather than dictating. I doubt it, but hey. It's a hope.

Here's hoping (2, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | about 8 years ago | (#14980038)

The blurb says 'no chance' the MPAA will get rid of region coding for movies, but if the gaming industry sees a solid business case (as in, they end up with more money), then maybe the MPAA will see the light as well. After all, greed is eternal.

Re:Here's hoping (3, Interesting)

yuna49 (905461) | about 8 years ago | (#14980071)

Unlike videogames, the movie producers need to work with distributors around the world (theater owners, etc.). Region coding makes sense for movies because they have staggered release schedules. A foreign theater chain is not going to be happy if a movie for which theatrical display rights are not yet available in that country is suddenly available on an HD videodisc. Videogames obviously don't have these issues.

Re:Here's hoping (1)

hcdejong (561314) | about 8 years ago | (#14980110)

Staggered release schedules made sense when theaters showed the movie off an (expensive, so limited numbers were available) analog film reel. Now that digital distribution is becoming common, there's no need to stagger the schedule. A global release, taking maximum advantage of the publicity generated in the US (premiere, talkshow tie-ins) would have advantages for the producer.

Re:Here's hoping (1)

jandrese (485) | about 8 years ago | (#14980192)

Except that it takes time and money to dub the movie into foreign languages. Even subtitles take time, and if a movie tanks in the US you probably don't want to bother. On the other hand, if some unknown comes out of nowhere and blows away the US box office, then you might be scrambling to find voice actors to get it in your country as fast as possible.

Re:Here's hoping (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 years ago | (#14980211)

2 things:
1.The number of films being shown digitally (i.e. where there is no film print involved) is a very small number of the total screenings of films. Digital projectors for movie theaters are VERY expensive for the theater owners to buy.

and 2.Even if the distribution was digital, that doesnt take away the need to figure out how many showings of a film are required. A large part of the delay between US releases and e.g. aus releases is aparently so that they can use box office and marketing numbers from the US release to decide how many prints to make for the australian release (and how many screenings they should have etc)

Doubtful... (1)

TheNoxx (412624) | about 8 years ago | (#14980084)

Seeing as the box office is continuing it's trend into the gutter (or the sewer, if you saw the preview for the new movie "American Dreamz" with Hugh Grant... *shudder*), my guess is that seeing legal region-free dvd players in the near future is even less likely as cheap AIDS/cancer drugs finding themselves in the hands of the impoverished. As more people spent more time on the internet and playing video games, the movie industry will try harder and harder to cling to their royalties and cheap tricks for profits.

Re:Doubtful... (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 8 years ago | (#14980138)

Here in australia, pretty much all DVD players are either region free out of the box or can be made region free by changing some settings.
Stores will happily advise as to how to get a player that is region free and its all 100% legal (in fact, the ACCC has issued a ruling that basicly says "region locks are an illegal restraint of trade" IIRC)

in other news ... (1)

bobbyhc (951142) | about 8 years ago | (#14980052)

sony also announced that in order to make up for losses incurred by this, while playing games from other regions, a small unobtrusive ad will run across the screen during game play. ok, not really, but what's the catch, after the whole rootkit fiasco i have trouble trusting them to not be completely evil.

Re:in other news ... (1)

mausmalone (594185) | about 8 years ago | (#14980207)

The catch is that there's now no reason for one to mod a system except to play copied games (since you won't need to mod your system to play import games). Also, it means game makers can save money by only needing to press one disc, not a different disc for each region.

Older games? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980053)

So the PS3 will be able to play PS1 and PS2 games... could this mean it'll be region free for those games as well? I finally get to play the Sakura Taisen games released for the PS2 but couldn't because they were dual-layered and wouldn't work with swap discs?

If older games are region-free, the good word of mouth import gamers will be giving Sony will be strong enough to carry over into other markets I think.

I might be very happy.

Re:Older games? (1)

KrisW (613034) | about 8 years ago | (#14980235)

That's an interesting point - there are quite a few import only games I would love to get my hands on, but I'm not a modchip kind of guy.

Sounds nice... (2, Insightful)

RestartLater (877021) | about 8 years ago | (#14980118)

Whilst it may have region-free games, will all the games actually be available in all markets at the same time? And will online retailers be allowed to ship games over to areas where a certain game hasn't been released yet?

Is Sony being charitable? (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 years ago | (#14980121)

Or is it because Sony is satisfied with the court decisions in the UK, etc. where they successfully sued importers of the PSP for trademark violations?

After all, why worry about the technical hassles of DRM when you can sue the pants off of somebody trying to sell Japanese games in the US, US games in the EU, etc?

FTA: NTSC bPAL? (2, Informative)

cyclomedia (882859) | about 8 years ago | (#14980157)

TFA suggests the possibility of a "no play" screen if an import game demands an output signal that is incompatible with your region coding so that things dont go bang. which to me suggests two possibilities.

1. the author is dumb
2. all my tvs have been magic tvs

currently (well, not this very second) i'm playing a US NTSC import of a PSone game on my PAL telly in the UK, sure the picture is a bit stretched but even this cheapo 19" tv has a 16:9 anamorphic button, squashing said picture back down to something more pleasant on the eyes. same goes for NTSC DVDs too.

Re:FTA: NTSC bPAL? (1)

jandrese (485) | about 8 years ago | (#14980229)

Sounds like you have some halfassed TV that accepts both PAL and NTSC inputs, but doesn't account for the resolution differences. Normally if you play a PAL game on an NTSC TV or vice versa, the picture will roll in addition to being squashed.

Of course the PSx and PS2 hardware is the same on both sides of the pond. The games are pretty much the same too. The only difference is a file on the disc that has the line "FORMAT = NTSC" or "FORMAT = PAL" or something like it. It would be trivial for Sony to just get rid of that line entirely and have the owner choose which format (perhaps defaulting to the correct format based on the country it was sold in) when they first power on the console.

Re:FTA: NTSC bPAL? (1)

davidoff404 (764733) | about 8 years ago | (#14980275)

However, as has already been pointed out, the converse doesn't hold. North American TVs have a real hard time trying to play PAL content, whereas Europeans have no difficulty playing NTSC content on their TVs. It's a problem for the Yanks, not us.

HDMI (1)

the computer guy nex (916959) | about 8 years ago | (#14980206)

The real DRM question is HDMI.

This is a proprietary version of DVI created by Sony. Some new HDTV's have HDMI hookups in the back - most don't.

It is rumored that Sony will require HDMI connections from the PS3 to the HDTV to prevent Blu-Ray movie piracy. If you need to run out and buy a HDMI capable TV (or an expensive DVI-HDMI adapter) there will be many unhappy people.

HDMI IS the reason why Sony has already pushed things back.

Slashdot censorship! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14980226)

Slashdot is censoring comments critical of the site!

Go to this thread [slashdot.org] (note -1, nested) and search all three pages for this comment [slashdot.org]. Try searching for "grammar" or "it's official dell". You can't find it. The only way to find it is to go to Search Discussion and type in the title! The only conclusion is that Slashdot is hiding posts critical of the website! Normally such comments are modded to -1. But I guess when this doesn't happen the editors have no choice but to manually blacklist the comment!

PAL/NTSC (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 8 years ago | (#14980246)

"A PAL PS3 game, for instance, will have difficulty running on an NTSC TV, unless the developers have thought ahead and planned for that issue."


Is that really much of a problem nowadays? I know my TV automatically switches PAL/NTSC based on the signal, and AFAIK pretty much every reasonably sized TV does, as do most smaller TV's.
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