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Console Makers Pushing For More Network Reliance

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the can't-escape-the-cloud dept.

Networking 198

There's a story on Joystiq about the convergence of games consoles and network play, suggesting that the industry is slowly moving away from physical media, preferring the control and simplicity of online distribution. The article points out that Microsoft's Games for Windows Live, despite being relatively unpopular, has seen continued development with an eye toward interacting with Xbox Live. Quoting: "While it's unlikely that the next generation of consoles will completely forgo disc-based media, downloads are quickly becoming a much bigger part of the experience. Some games, such as Rock Band 2 and Gears of War 2, are now shipping with codes for free downloads. This isn't because the publishers like you and want to give you free stuff. It's part of a larger strategy to increase the importance of the online presence, where content can be tightly controlled and decrease the importance of physical media, and thus, used-game sales and rentals."

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Arrrr (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158171)

Plus, any online connection forces you to have a legal purchased copy. But that's not part of it at all :)

Arrrr you being serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158283)

Actually, people from some of the big companies have come out in the past and admitted that online activation and content is aimed at the reseller market, not piracy, as the pirates will still have their pirate servers / torrents with the downloadable content / way around the activation.

Re:Arrrr (2, Informative)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158327)

Only if you're Sony or Microsoft at this point. Nintendo seems unable to detect or unwilling to ban people loading copied games.

Re:Arrrr (3, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158411)

> Plus, any online connection forces you to have a legal purchased copy.

Or a pirated server on the near-by PC.

Let's go on with the arms race. We'll see if the result pleases them.

Re:Arrrr (3, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158685)

But then, the value of a network is related to the number of people on it.

You could pirate, say, Left4dead and then play it by yourself or with other pirates. But you can't take your pirated copy and play with everybody else; the legitimate network is closed to you. Your experience of the game is not as good, because there are fewer players. So there is a good reason to pay up: the game is better if you do!

Re:Arrrr (4, Insightful)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158987)

isn't it the position off the game companies that their games are pirated so much that they are loosing most of their sales to pirates? wouldn't that mean the pirate community is larger than the legitimate community? wouldn't that mean you could conceivably have a larger network of people on the pirated version? this applies more to the pc versions of games atm i suppose.

Re:Arrrr (1)

whoop (194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159885)

No! Every CEO knows the pirates will be forced to purchase every game they play on their system, and that means billions of more dollars. There's no other way to think about it...

Re:Arrrr (3, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159155)

You can join a pirated server with thousands of players. How many more do you need to play a four players game?

Your reasoning only really applies to MMORPGs and yet some people play in WOW pirated servers.

Re:Arrrr (2, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159387)

IIRC, most console makers can detect consoles modified to play pirated games and ban them from their online networks anyways (I know MS did this with the original X-Box). In that case pirated games currently are only good for single player or at best pirate server play anyways. This wouldn't change that.

My only concern in the whole matter would be: all my game now rest on a single hard drive. A single, fragile hard drive. The things that fail with an alarming frequency compared to optical discs. How do I go about getting all that replaced if the hard drive fails? If there's DRM involved, then backups wouldn't be possible.

Also, consider the longevity: I have Atari and NES cartridges over 20 years old now, and they still work fine. Somehow I don't see a hard drive full a games working a few decades later.

Re:Arrrr (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159267)

Actually that's not necessarily possible. Consider.

Server has a private key. The game has the public key. The server signs messages. Even if you take the game totally to bits the private key used to sign is nowhere to be found only the public key used to verify signatures.

Of course you could crack the game so that it doesn't check. But that implies you have the whole game image. Potentially each level could be a new exe file sent down from the server, and before running it could check for cracks. Hell the server could send out bits of code that would run on the client. E.g. you could checksum a random area of memory and compare it against the value from a known good machine as a way to find cracked machines. A console doesn't have the resources to run two copies of the game, one cracked and one genuine so theoretically a cracked machine must be vulnerable to this sort of test.

The hardware can verify signatures too and make sure that modified software is not run.

None of this stuff is absolutely foolproof. You could have a cracked console talking to a reverse engineered server. But the vast majority of players are going to give up way before this point and use the genuine server and a non cracked console.

You can see it now with XBox360. There is a crack, but only for the old firmware. New games need the new firmware so if you want to use cracked games you have to download before you use them and upgrade if you want to play anything new. This is so fiddly that most people don't bother. And the PS3 has never been cracked as far as I know.

Trusted hardware and trusted servers probably means no cracked games. No cracked games means no piracy. That's the reason that software companies like consoles more than PCs.

Re:Arrrr (3, Informative)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159753)

You seem to be very confused about how cracking the 360 works.

The way the anti-piracy works is that they burn the game dvd's in a way that can't be done by a home burner and then they tell the dvd drive in the xbox to check for those signs of it being burned by a real burner.

The crackers get past this by installing new custom firmware on the dvd reader that tells the console that the dvd was industrially burned regardless if it is or not.

The reason some people get banned from live is that the live server sometimes asks questions regarding the data on the dvd and badly made copies sometimes have missing/bad data.

The new firmware you speak off isn't actually new firmware, it's a new dvd drive all together that apparently uses millitary technology to make the firmware tamper proof, the current work around is to just install another dvd reader and I suspect the anti-tamper itself will be cracked eventually.

The game console itself is never involved in this piracy war,, it's all waged in the dvd firmware.

Re:Arrrr (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26160041)

You seem to be very confused about how cracking the 360 works.

I got the information on XBox360 here - []

It mentions the crack for the old firmware and having the bootrom verify code signatures before running games.

The idea about the server sending out bits of code to detect cracked machines is mine, and as far as I know no one has implemented.

Re:Arrrr (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159297)

It will. Because every step they take down that path incrementally loses people who decide that their cost savings is no longer worth the time, effort and headache.

Even in your example it's not clear what "server" means. Is there one huge server that runs everything? Or, and I consider it more likely, is there individual servers for games that come out, or at least some sort of "module" that plugs into an uber-server for that purpose? Even assuming that you get such a thing and the releases for games are timely and people don't mind doing it, how do you get these games to talk to your server instead of the main one? Do we now have to hack our consoles in addition to run our own servers? And then crack the games? Or are we talking about some sort of router tricks where you're going to redirect all outbound traffic to back locally?

How many of the pirates' friends are going to be able or willing to do this so that they can play with the pirate for any multi-player games? Have we reached the "not worth it" phase yet?

They're pretty much never going to knock out the hard-core pirates and uber-geeks, for reasons that you've probably seen on this site a million times. In that sense, it is and always will be an arms race that they can't possibly win. It won't ever be over. But so long as the causalties the pirates' side is taking in the form of people no longer willing to bother outweighs (in their minds!) the costs to their own side--even at some point down the road--they'll continue to do it and, frankly, be winning.

Re:Arrrr (2, Informative)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159475)

1 - I make a cracked server app and release it in public domain.
2 - Someone unrelated to you or me runs the app in a public server and releases the IP to a semi-public list of cracked servers.
3 - You pay 20$ to have your console cracked, or directly buy it cracked for +15$.
4 - You download the list and connect to the servers.

The point is:

IF 5 - They push harder and make intrusive systems.
6 - More people make the effort of joining the pirate network.
7 - More people get involved and add their effort. For example an app that reunites the cracked servers IPs and keeps the lists up to date or a worm that infects machines and installs a distributed cracked server or whatever else.
8 - The pirate network becomes easier to use so less geeky people join.

Re:Arrrr (2, Insightful)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159347)

Exactly. The most stringent DRM and basically, the least complained about form, too. It's a very smart setup and I don't think if I were a game maker, I'd be making anything less than a network emphasised game.

And you can't sell that game used (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159365)

It has long been the dream of the media studios to kill the secondary (used) market for media (music, movies, software, etc.). Now they've finally stumbled upon the perfect solution (ironic that they actually *fought* the idea tooth-and-nail back in the Napster days).

A sad thing for me, too. I buy most of my console games used at a huge discount online. All you have to do is wait a few months after release and you can get most used games for a fraction of their retail price.

Re:Arrrr (1)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159671)

No, it's so you can't sell it used later. They want a piece of every sale.

Preferring (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158175)

the control and simplicity of online distribution.
control and simplicity of online distribution.
control and simplicity

Makes Sense (3, Insightful)

johnsie (1158363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158197)

Why waste money producing cd's, dvds or whatever when you can sell it online and make a bigger profit. I hardly ever buy physical games or software for my PC, why should it be any different on a console?

Re:Makes Sense (2, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158267)

I hardly ever buy physical games or software for my PC

Most people don't either, but because they work standalone, they can get away with it. The whole "online services" thing software companies are trying to ram down people's throats these days (online OSes, word processing, spreadsheets, games...) is just so they can wrestle control of the software from people's hands and charge whatever the hell they want for anything.

So in short, you'd better not hope software on CDs and DVDs disappears, because you'll be very sad if it happens.

Re:Makes Sense (3, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158361)

So if you had access to all of today's technology, and you were designing a software distribution mechanism....

You would put the software on little plastic disks that can't be updated after they are written...
Put those disks in expensive packaging.
Put those disks on consignment with a company that will truck/fly those disks around the country.
To other companies that will put the disks on shelves in stores where consumers can buy them (during business hours).

That doesn't seem very efficient.

Re:Makes Sense (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158481)

You know, you're right. Downloads are more efficient.

While we're at it, markets aren't efficient either. Some people might be willing to pay MORE for a product, but due to everyone buying a game for the retail price, our company Looses all that extra money that the person would have been willing to pay (Consumer Surplus [] ). Lets Find some strategy(Price Discrimination [] ) by which we can get all this money! Then we can drive everyone in the primary AND secondary markets out of business, or buy them.(Monopoly [] )

Re:Makes Sense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159093)

It's "lose," not "loose."

Re:Makes Sense (1)

Inglix the Mad (576601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159291)

Maybe not to you, but perchance I want a physical copy I can play when my Internet goes down.

Even simpler yet: Perchance that I want a physical copy I can load if the company goes out of business (with the patches on CD)

Re:Makes Sense (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158479)

It's not the physical waste, it's power.

When you sell directly to the customer, you don't have to deal with Walmart/Target/etc who will take a cut of the action, and bend you over when they feel like it. Of course, in this case "you" being Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft who set up the central gateways - it's they who won't have to deal with Walmart/Target as much. The developer still will have to deal with those three. Reminds me of the high cost of cartridges, especially with Nintendo being the only one making them for their console.

ATM, only PCs and Flash games put the power in the developer's hands.

Re:Makes Sense (4, Informative)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159247)

I agree with everything you've said, but I have a slight pedantic nitpick.

Nintendo of America was the only one to produce cartridges for the North American market (not counting unlicensed games). In Japan, several development houses made their own cartridges, and the Famicom Disk System required only a special floppy drive to publish games. NoA adopted this business strategy because they wanted control over what cartridges were published while still encouraging third-party development houses. They felt that uncontrolled development and publication of sub-par third-party games was a major cause of the Video Game Crash of 1983 [] , and wanted to avoid having a second video game crash.

This hit Konami hard - Nintendo of America's guidelines were to only allow five releases per developer in a calendar year, so in order to publish all of the games that they wanted to market in America, they had to start up an American subsidiary called Ultra Games [] .

Re:Makes Sense (2, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159543)

Tell me Mr. Anderson, what good is a Game Stop if you don't have physical media to sell them?

Re:Makes Sense (1)

pockyninja (987878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159681)

I dunno, people don't seem to be willing to pay as much for a download than they are for a physical copy of a game. I mean really, when was the last time any of you actually PAID for a game/song/movie you downloaded? :)

Its always nice to have a hard copy (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158551)

Or at least a backup. If the download price is the same as the CD/DVD price then why not buy the latter because then you don't have to bother making a backup yourself? And thats assuming the console will allow you to make a backup in the first place and if it does whether than backup will run anyway. The way DRM is going I doubt it would.

Re:Its always nice to have a hard copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159223)

so far, I know only steam and gamersgate that allow redownloading. maybe direct2drive

Re:Makes Sense (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158675)

>>>I hardly ever buy physical games

And what happens when you decide "Well this game sucks. I think I'll sell it on ebay to recoup some of my waste money"? Ooops. Nothing to sell. I rarely keep the games I buy since, as Isaac Asimov wisely observed, only 1% of anything is truly good. The other 99% I play, don't like, and then sell online.

I can't do that with virtual media.

Re:Makes Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159181)

Play the demo first then. Most games nowadays have demos you can download for free.

My argument against this (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158213)

Let's have a look at the current broadband availability here and everywhere. Now let's compare that to the people who have these consoles. My guess is that there will be plenty of people that will be left out in all of this. This move obviously presumes nearly 100% broadband availability. That can't be smart.

Re:My argument against this (2, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158299)

Because you thought "pushing for more network reliance" is a user-oriented wish? How quaint.

Console makers wouldn't mind it if only 1/3rd of the population had access to their online games, if said 1/3rd has to pay and pay to play. They don't care about providing service to the other 2/3rd, they only care about their bottom line.

Re:My argument against this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158443)

This is incredibly stupid.
No company is stupid enough to leave out 2/3s of their userbase, not even Microsoft are that stupid.

Do you seriously have any clue about the gaming industry, at all?

Re:My argument against this (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158587)

Are you so sure about that? They did release Vista, after all.

Re:My argument against this (2, Insightful)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158467)

Console makers wouldn't mind it if only 1/3rd of the population had access to their online games, if said 1/3rd has to pay and pay to play. They don't care about providing service to the other 2/3rd, they only care about their bottom line.

Uh ? Telling two thirds of your customers to screw themselves doesn't look like a reasonable business decision...

Re:My argument against this (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158573)

Uh ? Telling two thirds of your customers to screw themselves doesn't look like a reasonable business decision...

If this decision makes you more money from the rest 1/3, yes it is a very sound decision.

Re:My argument against this (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159471)

A very important detail is they must make more money from the remaining 1/3 than they would have made selling it to the other 2/3 for it to be a sound decision. Good news for them and their customers is that with the cost of hardware to supply the other 2/3, it won't mean the PS4 owners will need to pay $1200 a console. The bad news for the customer is that it and/or the games will be more or you don't get to play at all...

Re:My argument against this (2, Informative)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158651)

Might work in the US and other countries with good net, but it would be a stupid decision here in Australia. I mean, the average broadband plan would probably have maybe 4GB of usage. I'm paying a bundle for 40GB a month.

Unless of course they got the ISPs to host the data unmetered...

Re:My argument against this (1)

the 9a3eedi (1068628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158997)

Not only that, but just because you got broadband, doesn't mean that you can download all you want. A lot of people have bandwidth limits, some are very limiting. And games nowadays can take up quite a lot of space.

Re:My argument against this (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159123)

If they assume that people without broadband are not worth selling to then they have a potential market of 100% of the people they want to sell to ...

With an online service as the game (or an essential part of the game) then you can ensure people have legal copies, pay for the service, cannot transfer the game/service when they no longer want it

Bandwidth caps will kill it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159701)

Not to mention it presumes bandwidth caps won't be a problem.

No thanks (5, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158265)

I've bought a couple of games on the PSN recently and now that I'm done with them, what can I do? Here are my choices:

1. Leave it to fester on the HDD
2. Delete it

Great. What's worse is that a couple of the games I bought turned out to be shit so I can't even trade them for something different.

Make a subscription service instead if you're going to do this. Here's one way it could work:

You pay a certain amount each year and the amount you pay determines how many games you can have downloaded at a time and each game have a number of points allocated to it, so you could for example have Braid (1 point) and Bionic Commando (1 point) and Geometry Wars (1 point) or just BioShock (3 points).

When you're done with the games you can delete them to refund the points.

Good idea? Bad idea?

Re:No thanks (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158321)

If you cannot really buy a game, then it should be called rental service, and that's it. What can be seen currently is that vendors try to keep the client to think he buys the game, while the cut his rights to effectively change it to rent.

Re:No thanks (3, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158703)

Yep. If you buy a crap game, but can not sell it on ebay to recover your money, then you never truly owned that game. You were just granted a perpetual rental.

With Cartridge, CD, and DVD games, at least you have something you can physically trade or sell. You OWN it. This past year I've sold off about $4000 worth of my N64, PS1, PS2 game collection. Now imagine if that had been downloaded material instead; I'd be $4000 poorer.

Re:No thanks (1)

0xB00F (655017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158381)

I like the way Metaboli does it and I wish they would grow internationally. In their model you choose between "Essential" and "Ultimate" collection. Flat monthly fee, download all the games you want (wherever you want) from the collection you are paying for.

Re:No thanks (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159583)

"Good idea? Bad idea?"

I think it's a great idea! Mainly because I came up with it first and you stole it.

But, in all seriousness, I think this is something the *PC* market needs desperately! When you buy a PC game, you're stuck with it. You can't trade it in or exchange it if it's rubbish. There's too much risk!

However, if you could pay a subscription to, let's say Steam, and download as many games at a time as your subscription allowed, then there will be no more risk. Once you're done with the game, you could relinquish your lease on that game and download another. And if you wanted to keep it for good, you just have to pay a little bit extra to buy it.

Of course, this will never happen and legit gamers will just have to put up with DRM...

Re:No thanks (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159713)

I think it's a great idea! Mainly because I came up with it first and you stole it.

I know, I'm such a bastard aren't I? :P

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26160101)

3. Back it up then delete it off the harddrive.

DLC is online activation for consoles (4, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158275)

Just like the activation servers for PC games will disappear in the future, and thereby rendering your game useless, DLC will disappear in the future, and thereby render your console game crippled.

Requiring online activation/DLC actually means you rent the game, rather than buying it. If you want to replay an old game in the future you probably have to rent the remake of it.

Re:DLC is online activation for consoles (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158323)

I've been saying this all along.

Combined with the game makers pushing online features so hard with games means that a game is really only playable for a couple of months to a year.

That's why I have no interest in the current generation of consoles. 60, 70, 80$ games that you don't get to actually play once all the hype around the game dies down? A console that will surely max out my ISP's invisible bandwidth cap? No thank you.

No future (1)

FornaxChemica (968594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158341)

Not everything can go "to the cloud". The time when people will have nothing else but a large screen and a collection of virtual data sets instead of books, movies, games won't come. People like to own things, there's a materialist in every one of us more or less eagerly amassing personal treasures.

Re:No future (1)

dmneoblade (848781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158395)

Since the world population is continuously increasing, so is population density. And as more people have to fit into the same space, "owning" a few relics like books will be less common. One may have a nice display, a bed, a shelf of things like books or toys, and leave everything else to be stored digitally.
It is definately worth your time to read some old science fiction (like Frakenstein or older) and see how much the future can change things. Buildings over two stories? Impossible! Now, many people live in multi-story apartments. It may not change in our lifetime, but I think it will eventually come.

Re:No future (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158461)

If population density increases to the point where we no longer have room for DVDs, where are we going to grow our food?

Re:No future (1)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158935)

Soylent green.

Re:No future (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158701)

Uh, I'm pretty sure there have been buildings over two stories for hundreds, if not thousands of years...

Re:No future (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158745)

>>>s more people have to fit into the same space, "owning" a few relics like books will be less common.

I'm sure lack of food will be the limiting factor on human population, not books. The average person needs a couple acres of farmland to sustain him. A private library only takes a few cubic feet. We'll run out of food long before we run out of space for our "stuff".

Sure win on both counts (1)

OlivierB (709839) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158383)

a) publishers and Co make sure that ther are less middlemen, but however the prices to the consumer are the same --> more margin for the publisher and hardware vendor

b) you won't be able to rent your games from BB, Netflix etc anymore. Just shut-up and pay full price, no more renting. "Demos should be enough for anybody to make up their mind on a game; if they like it, buy it"

c) forget about re-selling your games or trading them in for new ones. this is just like those nice little DRM tunes from iTunes. no transfer nada. How this works with the first sale doctrine I don't know. "Just shut-up and pay".

Re:Sure win on both counts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158599)

Merge this with the microtransactions topic further down the main page, and you have a full house.

a) No middlemen, the Co eventually owns the publisher through the microtransactions agreement.

b) 'Renting' becomes 'Buy level 1 of the game', still not sure 'Buy level 2 thru X of the game', eventually, you've got such a sunk cost in the game that the 'rational' choice is to buy it.

c) Most microtransactions systems are already set up with DRM, so nothing needs to be done to disable Secondary market sales.

Re:Sure win on both counts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158897)

There is no 'more rational' choice with sunk costs. They're sunk, so you shouldn't care about them. If Game X's later DLC'd levels start sucking, stop playing Game X, don't think you have an obligation to buy the next pack of content.

That isn't to say that the whole scheme of tying everything to central servers is good or anything. It's completely nefarious. I just wanted to point out an error in your logic.

Interplay with unit bias. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159779)

You're wrong, as anyone who's pumped quarters into an arcade machine, read a serial novel can tell you a bit about Unit bias and the Sunk Cost Dilemma [] . So let's say you've already paid for 5 levels and want the full game (of an unrevealed length). The rational decision at that point is to buy the full game, as you don't know how many more increments are left to buy on a level basis. If there are many chapters left, you've probably saved money. If however there is only one more, you've probably spent more buying the game than was neccessary, since you paid for each step (likely at a higher rate) + the full game.

Unit bias also plays into this choice. There's a concept called 'story arc' in gameplay. So from our previous example, once you've bought chapters 1-X of a game that's constructed with cliffhangers at each transition and a knowledge that the arc will eventually end, you ask yourself 'What's going to happen? How's this turn out?' This tends to drive a game player to finish the game, even if enjoyment lags near the middle, or the end of the arc is not enjoyed.

Re:Sure win on both counts (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158711)

I taught my daughter this one recently.

She wanted a $50.00 itunes card. I drove her to a second hand record store and told her to pick $50.00 worth of music.

she did not understand until I told her... Anything you buy here, if you take pristine care of it, you can sell back if you dont like it anymore in a couple of months. Same with a regular CD from the store.

you cant sell or give away any of your itunes songs. All you can do is delete them and that money is gone forever.

She no longer wants itunes cards and only wants to buy CD's. (next I'll show her DRM free amazon songs. those you CAN give away to friends.

Used / Direct from Musician (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158973)

Not to mention you can buy alot more music/albums with $50 from a 2nd hand shop.

The last time I seriously bought music, not counting direct from musician and Magnatune stuff, I picked up this way and ended up getting 2-3x the number of albums then they would have been new.

Overall, I don't resell music/games/whatever anyway.. I alittle more picky on the front side of the games I buy so I've only had a few lemons I didn't like. Lately, I get demos or wait for things to go on sale on Steam before I usually buy them as well.

Re:Sure win on both counts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159097)

you should have just showed her bittorrent

Re:Sure win on both counts (2)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159201)

Umm... most iTunes music is now DRM-free as well these days.

"we don's show a record..." (3, Interesting)

shadowimmage (1433951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158409)

Just wait, The day will come when a great game will be made that everyone will want to play, and the company will 'have no record' of you ever purchasing the game, and make you pay again. And what if someone goes to their summer house, or loses their network connection for a day/week, what will those people do if their machines can't 'verify' the game?? Games need to stay on physical media that can speak to the console for itself, so that everyone can play without worrying about losing their legitimate access. And, where would distribution companies keep information? Your credit card that you used to purchase the game? What if you changed cards? In your account? What if you forgot your account, or it was lost or deleted? What if your hardware to store game purchase info was destroyed/lost/failed, and the information that verified that you were you was there? What I'm saying, is that with a DVD, someone can lose it, but that's their fault. They don't have to worry about any of the scenarios above because they have the physical media and case to prove that they OWN the game. And I totally support trade/sales of used games. What if you had a friend who wanted to borrow a game? You can't just FTP your game to them and have that work...

Re:"we don's show a record..." (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158683)


Consoles with Internet Access (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158417)

Something I pre-emptively hated before they even existed. Additional unnecessary points of failure are bad.

With a PSX/PS2, I have a disk, I have a console, I have a working setup. And I can (and do) put my disk and console in a safe place when I no longer use them, so I can come back to them in years to come. I cannot keep someone else's activation server online.

When I buy a physical product, I know what I am getting, a game and the device which plays it. It is limited by the lifetime of the hardware and the media, but I can live with that. I will not accept paying for 1's and 0's which may one day be arbitrarily rendered useless, on consoles or otherwise.

Wouldn't be an issue on consoles if they hadn't gotten Internet access in the first place.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (0)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158457)

And due to this fear, you've never purchased online content in your life. If you had, you would know that this is not an issue and never has been.

DRM is a separate issue, and remains an issue with or without internet access.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158545)

That's only because online distribution is a recent development that only the really big players have been doing for any length of time. We'll see what happens when quarterly profits are down and they start to see all those activation server farms as huge money sinks.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (2, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158769)

>>>this is not an issue and never has been.

I have several online games that no longer work because the servers no longer exist.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159037)

MMOs or from one of the failed game services?

They are separate animals with regards to this topic. So if it's an MMO, you're just SOL. If it's a game from a failed download service, then I'd suggest you look for a emulator of that service.

I agree that the risk of an online content service going under is a possibility, and it really sucked for many of the legit users that used some of the ones that failed earlier on. I believe at least one of them however, worked with some of the game companies to try and provide physical media replacements, imo, the 'right' thing to do in that circumstance.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159087)

In this case it's just simple age. There's no one out there to support old 1980s-era Commodore games for online play.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159649)

On a console? Unlikely. The only games that I'm aware of that no longer work online are MMO's of some sort, an that is a whole separate ball game.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159131)

I know this is not currently an issue, that is why I referred to the possibility of playing these games in years to come.

Also, DRM is not an issue for consoles with physical media, as it needs only the console and the disk, as I outlined in my post. Downloaded content must use activation servers or similar for its DRM scheme, at which point it becomes an issue, as it takes control away from the user.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158493)

So because Internet access provides the potential for this, it's bad? That's flawed reasoning. I liked playing Phantasy Star Online with people around the globe, thank you.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158801)

That's fine. Enjoy PSO.

On the other hand I shouldn't need to keep rebuying & redownloading a non-internet-based game like Super Mario 64 every few years, just because the old servers no longer exist to say "yes it's approved". When the old servers go down, the game stops working.

With the cartridge I buy it once and play it forever.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159605)

With the cartridge I buy it once and play it forever.

It will stop working eventually. ROM chips don't last forever. Of course, that's where emulators come in.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159897)

>>>ROM chips don't last forever.

Well that's true, but neither do people. The Mario 64 ROM only has to last until around 2050 which I'm sure it will. Ditto the Final Fantasy 7 CD. They'll likely both outlive me.

A downloaded version of these games - well their lifespan is only 4-to-5 years. That's the point where the server either ceases to exist, or Nintendo/Sony decides to force you to download another copy, or whatever.

The point is your ability to play is dependent upon the corporation, and corporations have shown themselves unfaithful. Just ask anyone who "bought" music at Google or Walmart but can no longer play that music because the companies scrapped their authorization servers.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159161)

How is it flawed reasoning? Internet access provides possibilities for a number of issues which consoles were immune to up until it was added. Thus it is bad. If you want online gaming, go play on a PC. Most multiplayer games belong on PC anyway.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (0, Offtopic)

slash.duncan (1103465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159341)

I never hated consoles with Internet access, they're useful for running emerge --sync and then emerge --update --deep --newuse --ask --verbose @world for instance. No X need be loaded for that! =:^) But network RELIANCE? Well, I suppose if you're running remotely, you're relying on the network, but what about those of us who only run a single home computer and don't need or want remote console access? Why would we want to RELY on the network to even get a local console CLI running? Are they proposing a TCP socket interface much like X may use, only setup directly from the kernel using (possibly 2.6.28 configured-in) kernel command line options? Why?

Seriously, I read the title in my RSS client and couldn't figure out why Linux console makers (and is that the kernel folks, or the BASH folks, or what?) would be pushing for more network reliance. The best I could come up with was that the maintainers (or some patch submitter) of the early console stuff used for debugging, typically over a serial terminal, wanted to update it to handle Ethernet. It wasn't until I clicked on the link to see what the story was, and started reading the summary, that I realized it was GAME consoles it was talking about.

Re:Consoles with Internet Access (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159653)

I hated the concept too, but for different reasons, which have all come to pass-
The real poison of the generation of connected consoles is the release of unfinished games and witheld content. A lot of people played consoles because they didn't want the headache of PC gaming, now it's just as bad or worse.

Now everybody but DS gamers gets to enjoy bugpatches and micropaymeOHSHI~ []

Nostalgia is being threatened (1)

GFree678 (1363845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158469)

Apart from the obvious issue of crippling second-hand games, replaying games in the future is going to be seriously threatened if online activation/authentication becomes the norm. There's no way companies are going to keep servers running for old titles.

They're listening to their audience. (2, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158489)

The only game I bought recently was Fable II on the 360, because I had to. Most of the games I buy for my PC are either via Steam, or other methods (I play LOTRO, the latest expansion was just me paying the upgrade fee and download). I don't see why consoles seem to see the need to lag behind. Sure I copy games for my console, mainly due to the price (AU$100+ for a new release) and also from the lack of ease of buying online.

I used to copy PC games, now I'm happy with a demo and digital delivery. I think the PC market has wised up to the way things ought to be. I bought Far Cry II days after it came out for 1/2 the price of the shops here in Australia. Even if price wasn't an issue, you have to pre-order, wait in line, all that kind of useless crap to say "I got a first copy". Why not give people the option of post-to with digital stop-gap a-la Warhammer Online (yes, I bought this from Amazon).

Even that seems smarter than this whole "you need to own the disc to own a license to our product" crap.

I say good on them, the more digital delivery, the more economical high volume high speed broadband (whatever the flavour) will become. The more music, movies & games delivered this way the better. It will force the hand that controls your packets.

first poSt (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158619)

preferring the control and simplicity of online (4, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158657)


Blocking me from my two favorite activities: (1) Buying a game, playing it, and then selling to someone else to recoup my money. And (2) Buying a game, loving it, and keeping it for the next 10-20 years (classic gaming).

If things devolve to the point where I have to pay full price (versus my current average of only paying $2-3 per game), or where I have to keep buying/downloading Super Mario 64 every five years, instead of simply buying it once and keeping it forever... ...then I will simply stop gaming.

This is what the music industry is trying to do with perpetual renting of music rather than letting us OWN the record, cd, whatever. The game industry should not follow that same path.

Re:preferring the control and simplicity of online (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158733)

think what they said on the summary:

The article points out that Microsoft's Games for Windows Live, despite being relatively unpopular, has seen continued development

ie, no-one wants it, but MS is going to give it to you anyway. The sooner the latest court case finished and MS gets broken up the better - a standalone gaming division will quickly go under if it had to provide what the users actually wanted instead of being subsidised by the rest of MS.

They are LYING. (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158667)

They want internet connected and online distribution for two main reasons.

1 - it instantly KILLS the secondhand game market. you can no longer buy used games, this drives the price of old games back up to retail levels. no more buying Gears of War for $12.99 used at the local EB or on ebay.

2 - it eliminates 60% of the cost of a game. Packaging and distribution.

Game prices will stay the same or go up, your Quality of gaming will go down, and you can no longer buy used games or rent games to try them out.

That is their goal, everything else is pure BS to make the consumer have buy-in to their plans to screw you over.

Re:They are LYING. (3, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159019)

You're forgetting another very important reason: game companies can keep up the good old "release first, make it actually work later" schedule. I haven't bought a single game this past year where the final conclusion was: "ok, it's fun to play but buggy, let's put it on the shelf till they can be bothered to patch it". Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Civ4Col, all the same thing.

I for one don't need a network for my gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26158689)

They'll have to pry Pong out of my cold dead hands!!!!

Yet another advantage of on-line distribution (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158735)

The article doesn't mention one of the biggest advantages (to publishers) of on-line game distribution, an advantage that PC game publishers discovered long ago. You can sell unfinished games and then release the actual working game later as hundreds of megabytes of downloadable 'patches'.

Re: releasing broken software (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158911)

*cough*Falcon 4*cough*

Thankfully, in that case, someone leaked the source code... development and expansion still continues 10 years after release.

Adding more DRM to an already DRM heavy industry (1)

Brad_McBad (1423863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26158817)

I can see a time in the not too distant future where the likes of the hated spore DRM make an appearance on consoles, stopping you from lending the products to friends and selling it secondhand when you're bored with it. This kind of distribution platform normally stops this activity and downloading / activating the games *you've paid for* on a new / replacement / wiped console without a lengthy email correspondence with someone who really couldn't give a shit.

I bought Gears of War 2, and frankly, it's the most amazing game I've played all year. But I have an issue, and it's specifically with the downloadable content.

Basically, people who buy the game new get to download a map pack that (seemingly) is more popular that the "shipped" ones. This means I can't lend it to a friend so he can try it out, and it means I can't sell it to a second hand store if I get bored with it and have the person who buys it have the "complete" product. They've got to buy a new one. It forces people to purchase a new copy, driving up revenue.

Thin end of the wedge.

Space ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26159053)

The problem with this is the space. I just bought an XBOX360 last week and of the 60GB I started with I'm down to ~35GB and I only own two games. They're f'ing huge. Granted that's because I've installed the DVD-based games to the HD (mostly to avoid wearing out the DVD drive) but even the demos are huge. Like why is the NHL09 (good game btw) demo 900MB?

Don't people realize that's 900 million bytes of information? WTF is in there? The demo only comes with two teams and one stadium, one 30 second track, and the standard voice commentators.

Similarly, Quake4 demo was 1GB, so was the Star Trek game demo (which was horrible btw)

The real problem with online distribution is storage. Unless you start selling consoles with TB drives [or allow the use of external storage] people are just gonna run out of room super quick. Alternatively, they could just make better use of space. These games don't need to be so f'ing huge.

Re:Space ... (1)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159829)

And given the price of a 1TB drive these days what makes you think they won't be included in the next generation of consoles once they're even cheaper?

also piracy (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26159877)

If what you're buying is essentially an account on a remote server so you can experience interactive online play, that's much harder to pirate. Sure, you can share the client software and your login info with all your friends, but the server admin can address simultaneous logins by either freezing the account or arbitrarily locking out one of the clients.

The upshot of this sort of system is that publishers can completely do away with DRM on the client software, since it's the account on the remote server that "matters".

They should also look at the iPhone apps model.... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26160023)

If they want to go download only then they should adjust their pricing strategy for games that don't require big server investment... ie 1 - 4 games. These should all go down in price to say $4.99 - $9.99

Even MM games should drop in price for the Client app (charge whatever you can for the monthly subscription or whatever makes sense considering the investment in content, admins, etc.) even make it free with a subscription for 3 months or more.

We're at what, 5 years, since iTunes went live? (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26160115)

... and I'm still buying the vast majority of my music on CDs. Internet music is nice for instant access, but having to manage by own backups is a pain.

For movies/games, it may well be faster for me to walk into town and buy it, than wait for it to download. They're not appreciably cheaper, plus I have to fork out for my own media if I want to do backups, assuming I even _can_ do backups. Oh, and they take a chunk out of my bandwidth allowance for the month.

Remind me why I'd want this?

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