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Is the Gaming Industry Moving Online Too Fast?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the fast-enough-to-stumble-now-and-then dept.

Cloud 185

RyanDJ writes with his reaction to the Sony PSN outage, wondering if our rush to online services and digital distribution for games is a bit too enthusiastic. "I love technology, I just want it to slow down. I know I sound like an angry old 'get off my lawn' kind of guy right now, but until my 8-bit Nintendo dies from plastic corrosion and age, it will continue to play any game I find just as it was supposed to. Online dedicated games, one day, will lose servers. System crashes, such as the Sony problem, will cause interruptions. I feel if we don't slow down, stabilize the current technology and ensure its safety, find ways to guarantee that items bought are permanently owned even without a physical copy, we might see a company such as Nintendo saying that online isn't worth it!"

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185 comments

8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (5, Funny)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060034)

I blew that thing so much trying to get it to work (often failing), I feel like a cheap whore now just thinking about it.

That was the only game system that failed on me.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (5, Informative)

SpiralSpirit (874918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060050)

...all you had to do to get it working again was to take a cotton swab with high purity rubbing alcohol and clean the contacts of the games and the system. Mine still works.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060070)

All you had to do was take care of your carts and not get crap inside of them. If it ever started doing the blinking thing, pop the cart up, pull it until the very edge of the cart is the furthest out it can be while still being able to be pressed down, then press it down. Worked every time.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (3, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060602)

All you had to do was take care of your carts and not get crap inside of them.

The 'crap that gets inside of them' accumulates from the oh-so-terrible act of putting the cartridges into the machine. What happened was copper rubbing on copper created a nasty black gunk that'd accumulate enough to interrupt the contacts. The cartridges and the system just needed to be cleaned. The NES's cartridge loading mechanism was far more susceptible to this than the other consoles... which is funny because the design they used was specifically intended to make it look more like a VCR than an Atari 2600.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061054)

Maybe so, but even more crap got inside the carts when people blew on them or didn't replace them back into the plastic sleeve. I don't remember ever needing to clean any of my NES carts for all of the years that I had them.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061248)

You may have been fortunate, but the plastic sleeve didn't prevent the copper corrosion that blocked the contacts. I used to sell used games for a living, we had no problems selling aging NES consoles simply because we educated customers about cleaning the carts.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060542)

Whatever alcohol he used trying to fix his sounds like more fun...

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060198)

Blowing onto the contacts may appear to be a quick fix, but the moisture in your breath promotes corrosion, which only makes the situation worse. It's not helped by the horrendous, over-complicated cartridge mechanism used in the original 'toaster' NESes - many of them seem to hardly work at all... and the only defect is the (easy to replace) contacts in the system's cartridge slot.

Savages (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060408)

or Timber Niggers.

as you prefer.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (1)

basotl (808388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060452)

76 pin connector. It was two bucks for me and made my console work like brand new. Extremely easy repair also.

Re:8-bit Nintendo is probably not the best example (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061268)

I blew that thing so much trying to get it to work (often failing), I feel like a cheap whore now just thinking about it.

That was the only game system that failed on me.

I've NEVER had to blow into any NES games that I play via my purely digital NES (emulator) -- And yes, I dump my own ROMs (did have to clean some of their contacts -- but never again!)

Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (5, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060036)

Honestly, this is ridiculous. I don't know if the submitter is some sort of apologist or just really lacking in the history of online gaming but online gaming and online game distribution has been around for about 25 years now give or take [wikipedia.org] , and thats just one example. This would be about EXACTLY as old as the revered plastic grey box in question, give or take a couple if you were living in japan or not.

Different networks and system have been more secure than others this whole time, and the real question is "Why would some companies risk security in the name lower maintenance costs given the number of terrible consequences these days". The PSN outage and data leak raises questions about Sony and their decision making processes, not about the state of digital distribution and online gaming in general.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (4, Insightful)

SpiralSpirit (874918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060066)

It's more than that, though. I didn't move to buying stuff online until I felt there was a company/service that would be secure and have a relatively promising future (so that they didn't go under next year). The service I did choose, Steam, also mentions that should they close for whatever reason, they will release a way to play steam games without needing the steam service. This is unlike EA's system, where you need to be online to play at all - causing problems with the games who use those DRM schemes. I have games on steam I bought almost 10 years ago that I can still download and play, and often still do play. That's the benefit of it. I've also backed up a complete installation with all the games I currently own to a spare hdd, in case something untoward happens. If I want to play in offline mode, I can. Not so with the latest crop of 'always online' drm. that's sort of what this guy is saying. That being said, haven't pirate groups already cracked many of these types of games? I imagine in the future, when the servers are long gone, cracked exe files will be the only way to play the games.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (2, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060362)

I'd be careful with Steam. They make mistakes just like every company. I had my very first Steam account disabled (I wasn't cheating or hacking or doing anything wrong) and they flat out refused to even tell me why. I had used pre-paid debit cards to buy my games, and they demanded I give them my CC info I used to purchase them to prove it was really me trying to get my account reactivated. Since I didn't have the cards anymore and they were one time use I wasn't able to provide it to them. They wouldn't budge, and they repeated that since I couldn't prove I was the account holder they would not help me or even tell me why the account was suspended. I think it may have been related to using too many computers at once. I had three computers at the time that I wanted my games installed to, so I suspect this triggered some sort of fraud defense mechanism when they saw too many computers trying to use the same account.

The result was I lost 250+ dollars in games, and now I refuse to give Valve any more of my money, and I feel justified in torrenting all their games for free until I get back what they owe me.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060730)

Steam lets you install your games on as many computers as you want, the service will only allow you to logon with one system at a time though. It's all in the EULA.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060798)

I feel justified in torrenting all their games for free until I get back what they owe me.

You do mean until you've downloaded $250 retail worth, by Valve, correct? Because while I disagree with the notion that two rights make a wrong, and suspect there's another side to that story, that way would at least be somewhat defensible.

If you're saying you'll download as many games as you want, OR from whichever company you feel like, until steam approaches you with a check saying "Hey guy, we're sorry, that was wrong what we did to you," then you're making flimsy excuses for scummy behavior.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061076)

$250 worth from Valve.

And there is another side to it, but Valve won't even bother to tell me.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061342)

If they won't tell you why it's been locked at all, write a kind short email to Gabe and ask nicely. If you're lucky he'll poke the right person and give you a real answer, I'd hope. I understand he's quite proud of his service, so having bad custom is not helpful to the business.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060372)

Agreed.

Just look at need for speed world. Not a bad game at all but and it's free to play but the whole point is when EA wants it gone it's their right to just shut it down. That on the whole is bad for gaming. Older PS2 games which had multiplayer shut down their multiplayer services, when you buy a game it should in theory never break and never become unavailable to you. This is the thing I hate about MMO's the most. MMO's mean revenue for game companies but it means no one gets to own the game and that sucks, especially if games keep putting online components in them which companies can simply disable or stop supporting.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060108)

Honestly, this is ridiculous. I don't know if the submitter is some sort of apologist or just really lacking in the history of online gaming but online gaming and online game distribution has been around for about 25 years now give or take [wikipedia.org] , and thats just one example.

The submitter's point flew over your head. He is simply complaining about the proportion of games released today that will be partially or fully unplayable in the future when the online services are discontinued. An example of a game that will be fully playable forever is Super Mario Bros. An example of a game that will not be fully playable forever is Pokemon xxx, where certain portions of the game are unavailable unless unlocked by some online event that the game must download. Even better examples of games that will not be fully playable (or not playable at all) are an overwhelming proportion of PS3 games which are released without a single player mode (or with a half-baked single player mode) bulk of the gameplay relies on a centralized online server.

An example of an online game implemented correctly is something like Quake x, where I can actually host a server daemon and play the game in the future as it was intended.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060240)

Forever ... or so long as the physical media (and the machines that can read it) last.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

dolmen.fr (583400) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060368)

Forever ... or so long as the physical media (and the machines that can read it) last.

With offline games you can:
- extract the physical media (may be hard, but do it while it still works)
- emulate the hardware
- play!
It's hard work but the emulator scene shows that it is doable to make games work like original and it's worth it.

With online games you have additionally to replace the centralized server infrastructure. And without access to the original code, it is impossible to make it work like the original.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060874)

i have a drawer full of pc games that don't work on my pc unless i install windows 95 or something. tbh i might as well throw them out, there's no way i'm ever playing them again.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061234)

There's a good chance that at least some of them will work with wine [winehq.org] .

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (4, Insightful)

hellwig (1325869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060148)

And yet, it took only 4 years for Microsoft to shut-down their MSN Music service [wikipedia.org] . This should be the point of the article (in my opinion). However, the OP loses ground when he talks about companies like Nintendo deciding Online isn't worth it. I think consumers will decide Online isn't worth it, especially if Sony can just shut down the actual game servers when the next iteration of their console comes out. And no, it's not paranoia, remember, Microsoft shutdown all Multiplayer servers for the original X-Box. [tomsguide.com]

Sure, I have a lot invested in my Steam games, and I hope if Valve ever shuts down their servers I can at least backup my games and play in "offline mode", but we'll have to wait and see. However, as opposed to a console, my PC is still useful even if Steam does go down. If future consoles play online-only, when those servers DO go down, the consoles will be worthless, regardless of how hard you blow into them. Will the manufacturers price the consoles and games accordingly? Doubtful, not as long as there's profit to be made.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060494)

The funny part? You can get "Steam rips" all day long on P2P so frankly Steam and GOG (who doesn't have any activation at all) are the only two I really trust. BTW anybody wanting a cheap game The Witcher Director's Cut is gonna be on GOG on Tuesday for $5, so snatch it.

But this is one of those things where "If I can't pirate it I don't want it" because as long as I can get a pirate copy I don't have to worry about something happening that would bone me or allow me not to play. For a good example I bought Bioshock II on Amazon for like $10, but I play the hacked version. Why? Because the not hacked version requires GFWL which frankly sucks donkey nuts and the last time I tried using it I spent more time fighting with GFWL than I did playing the damned game.

I have plenty of games like the original NOLF that simply won't play on x64 thanks to shitty DRM (thanks SecuROM, may you rot in hell) but thanks to the pirates I can just extract the files off the disc and with a NoCD I'm good to go. Thanks to NoCDs cooked up by the pirates there are nearly NO games that I can't play on my new X64 system-*.

One of the reasons I got away from consoles is I got burnt by one of the early Playstations that would scratch discs and was basically told "tough shit it's out of warranty" but with the PC I decide what runs and thanks to the pirates any game I have that is no longer supported can still be hacked and played. Between Steam, GOG, and Amazon I have more gaming than I could possibly ever enjoy, cheap prices, and no online BS if I don't want it. Thanks pirate hackers argh!

*.-The ONLY game I've found where I can NOT run it at all is my classic MechWarrior 3, because apparently they used some old Win9x hacks and when run on a modern system you get this "bouncing tanks" bug where things bounce 100s of feet in the air making them impossible to shoot. But even games where the company went tits up like Vampire:Bloodlines I was able to play through the game once a fan made patch came out, on a console that would have been impossible. If a game can ONLY be used online? Frankly they can keep it, it isn't like there aren't literally 100s of games I haven't gotten to play yet.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060384)

MUD-1 (which is still going strong on British Legends) is one of the oldest online games - if not THE oldest online game. (I'm ignoring games that were capable of multiplayer use, such as the BBC's Double Phantom, but which weren't online in any real sense.)

Having said that, I still play Oolite (the updated version of the 8-bit Elite - still the best space sim ever written) far more often than any online game because online games just aren't there yet.

Re:Uninformed Rant, or Sony Apologist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061320)

Its Sony's fault the PSN got hacked or whatever. Even noobs wouldn't store a password in plain text. Shame on you Sony for being oblivious to the basics of security!

Sounds practical (3, Insightful)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060038)

After all, there's lots of profit in making sure your games remain playable for decades.

Re:Sounds practical (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060192)

there's lots of profit in making sure your games remain playable for decades.

True, just look at the relative profits of World of Warcraft and Missile Command over their life spans.

No... wait--"true" isn't the word I was looking for.

There is certainly a value in 'the long tail'. But there is *FAR MORE* value in milking a property for all it's worth in the short term.

In 1989 Nintendo's Inflation Adjusted revenue was $4B.

Today Blizzard is making about $2B a year in revenue off of just WOW. About half of Nintendo at the height of the 80s. And that's a single game not an entire catalog of properties + more importantly: hardware sales.

If Blizzard shut down their servers today and if hypothetically $500M of that was profit. Then put it safe 1% bonds they would make more than $5m in profit. By comparison how much today do you imagine every last SNES cartridge in existence is making for Nintendo today? $50?

Re:Sounds practical (1)

LiquidLink57 (1864484) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060276)

Whoosh? Whoosh.

Re:Sounds practical (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060304)

Whoosh. :(

It's so hard to tell the delusional from the sarcastic these days. Haha...

Re:Sounds practical (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060636)

Whoosh!

Re:Sounds practical (1)

halowolf (692775) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061176)

Well you could of used Starcraft as an example. Blizz patched it for operating systems that didn't even exist when it was written. Say what you want about Starcraft II but blizzard does offer good game support for its legacy titles. Despite all its legal wrangles with people wanting to run their own servers :)

Re:Sounds practical (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060404)

I'll buy the "profit" argument. But picture a standalone game written in a highly modular fashion, such that any piece can be swapped out for an updated version. Much like the way the linux kernel is, in fact. You now have a game that can be updated forever, if you so wish. Sure, the original copies won't make much after a decade, but the game itself would still be being sold. And if you want to use WoW as an example, I sincerely doubt you'd get far running the very earliest release of the client, particularly if you disallowed any kind of updating. In other words, WoW already uses the rolling release approach and that is why they make as much as they do.

Re:Sounds practical (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061086)

Huh?
If Nintendo took their profit and put it into bounds, they would earn money at the exact same rate. Money that comes from online games works the same as money from cartridges, once you "bound" it..

Re:Sounds practical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061240)

There actually is. People will play your game and see your company logo for decades. They will come back to the game again and again. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.
People will think that your gaming company is totally awesome and trustable (since future titles are more likely to stay a live for long than competitors). The emotional investment they make in a game will not just be lost.

For instance, I have a lot of respect for Blizzard for still allowing me to play Starcraft and Diablo II online. Them having this respect has definitely boosted the sales of Starcraft 2, and will help boost the sales of Diablo III

It's a fair point. (2)

Bruce McBruce (791094) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060048)

I tend to agree with this. There's quite a few problems with digital distribution that still need to be ironed out - not least of which is actual bandwidth consumption in non-US countries. Not everyone has an unlimited download connection, and with games getting larger and larger these days it does raise the concern that it'll cut into the ability to feasibly get it to potential consumers.

In Microsoft's case, their digital distribution of most games cost as much if not more than what it costs to buy the game in a store, with no potential for resale. They're pricing things all wrong, and it's a huge download. I can't say I know about what Sony and Steam are doing as far as that goes, but I am aware that there's been a few pretty large bungles as far as DRM has gone.

Until this kind of problem gets fixed, I'm all for keeping physical copies of my games.

Re:It's a fair point. (1)

Salvo (8037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060100)

The Conventional Conservative Corporate Gaming Industry is moving online too quickly, but smaller, more Progressive Companies exist Online almost exclusively. iD and Blizzard made their money, and retained their independence online, while Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo can't seem to make the move to online content without screwing up royally.

Meanwhile, the App Store, Android Market Place, Ovi Store and have blown away other Portable Gaming Device due to their exclusive, convenient online presence while the only DS/PSP games available online were from Torrents, which generated no revenue.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo fought against online distribution (just like the Record Industry Behemoth) for so long that when they realised it was a good idea, they dove straight in and crashed-and-burned. They tried to sell brick-and-mortar product online, instead of adapting their product to the new medium.

Re:It's a fair point. (2)

drzhivago (310144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060178)

I'm not really sure if you know what you're talking about. Xbox Live has been around in its current incarnation for 5 years. Not only can you digitally buy the smaller online games, but they even sell (some) 360 games that way now. That doesn't seem to be crashing and burning. I don't think Sony had any major problems before this current one, either.

Also, id as a major company? They make great tech, but as a game company they've been a nonfactor for a very long time.

Re:It's a fair point. (2)

RagingMaxx (793220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060144)

I live in Australia, where we are only just starting to get "unlimited" broadband plans. I don't believe there's a very high uptake of these plans at the moment because they're relatively new, and to be fair the bandwidth allowances for quota plans are typically quite generous.

But in regards to the main point in your post, the bandwidth consumption issue, about half of the major Australian broadband providers host a Steam mirror for their subscribers. My ISP, Internode, has several regional Steam mirrors ensuring that I almost always get peak transfer on new games and updates, and it doesn't come out of my monthly quota. Other ISPs, typically cheaper ones, do not provide a quota free mirror, so my friends on TPG for example had to make damn well sure they had enough quota left over for Portal 2 on release day. This is a tradeoff between a cheap and a high quality service.

Perhaps where you live you don't get a choice between service providers, but maybe you and some of your gaming buddies could put together a petition to get your local ISP to set up their own quota free Steam mirror.

Personally, I like Steam's ease of use and great pricing. What I don't (always) like is forced updates, which every so often cause major bugs and can't be rolled back. It's a real shame when they roll out a Steam client update on Friday which borks your ability to play games, and it doesn't get fixed until several days later. That, in combination with a slightly buggy "Offline mode", would be my major complaints against Steam.

It is incompetence with regard to IT security (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060054)

Nothing about "too fast" here. Having your databases with customer data not adequately protected is just plain old incompetence. Same as with RSA on SecureID. My guess is IT security (and possibly network maintenance) spending is decided by managers without a clue, and on the other side the "engineers" supposed to operate the network securely are also incompetent. With just one of both parties screwing up, you do not get into a mess like this.

Caveat: I am a IT security consultant, and, yes, it is not only as bad as you think, corporate IT security is usually worse. There are a few players that really get it and these often in addition pay people like us to make sure they did get it right. But those that do not get it usually only go for help if they are forced to by outside forces. It is quite clear to me in what class Sony falls. Not a surprise either, this had to happen to them sooner or later.

Yawn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060058)

Time to go play some Team Fortress 2...

New-Gen Reliability (2)

Lysander7 (2085382) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060074)

The only issue I've had with the latest generation of gaming consoles is their longevity. Two 360's, a Wii, and now a PS3 have died within two years, whereas I can still play my N64, PS1, NES, and Gameboy. It's pathetic how much they sacrifice to maintain their profit margin.

Re:New-Gen Reliability (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060098)

I felt they were just cramming too much hardware in a limited space. The 360 and PS3 are essentially PCs but unlike a modern PC have to withstand much more abuse than the average desktop, and because of the need to make a consumer device small enough to fit in an entertainment center they just don't have the luxury of the same level of cooling.

Re:New-Gen Reliability (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060206)

Consider micro ATX and smaller form factors or a notebook for that matter. It's perfectly possible to have a reliable, powerful platform in a tiny form factor. The problem is simply in trying to build them too cheap with low grade components and underrated power supplies, and insufficient cooling. Modern consoles are typically sold cheaper than their cost to make, if they can minimize the loss they will.

Re:New-Gen Reliability (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060530)

Think about it this way: those consoles had the best GPU in them when they were designed. The best GPU right now takes two PCI slots because its cooler is so huge. Your theory holds little water. I wouldn't call notebooks reliable or powerful.

Re:New-Gen Reliability (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060286)

I have been very lucky really. Out of the 30-40ish consoles/portables I've ever owned (since Intellivision days to 3 DS's, PS3, 2 Xbox360's, Wii), the only real failure has been a Dreamcast that was DOA (RF Output) from Ebay. Even my PSP survived a soaking from a burst water bottle in my bag. N64 Pilotwings is a pain sometimes, but I just use some spray switch cleaner I have. Useful stuff that. I fucked a 48k Spectrum once trying to find a way of resetting it using a bent paper clip and the I/O expansion socket on the rear (instead of wearing out the socket by pulling the plug out each time) - I was very young - but I don't think that counts? Christ, I have been lucky haven't I?

Re:New-Gen Reliability (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060620)

The only issue I've had with the latest generation of gaming consoles is their longevity. Two 360's, a Wii, and now a PS3 have died within two years, whereas I can still play my N64, PS1, NES, and Gameboy. It's pathetic how much they sacrifice to maintain their profit margin.

If you've had a Wii and a PS3 die in the last two years, you're likely doing something to promote their decay.

No slowdown (1)

tomasd (1294992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060076)

It is fiascos like this that drive the technology and stability, sony could have waited for 10 more years rolled out PSN or whatever and it would still break. IMHO there should be no slowing down; full speed ahead fuck the icebergs is my opinion. In addition platform that is ahead in utilizing online gaming, billing, distribution will win. It's not new technology to blame, but implementation which is influenced by internal politics.

Loss of private servers and LAN play (2)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060080)

What about giving back those features?

Starcraft II and Transformers WFC come to mind...

Re:Loss of private servers and LAN play (2)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060104)

Oh and yes, I love to have the physical media on hand too...

Yer about five years late (5, Insightful)

lanner (107308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060082)

Former gaming industry guy here, who worked in the online (MMO) space for games (mostly PC).

It's incompetence. That's all. The gaming industry is full of excited youthful noobs who are willing to work 50-60-or-more hour workweeks in exchange for working "in a cool industry" and occasionally getting a free tee shirt or some other crap.

The "online" portion of most game shops is seen as sort of like support. In fact, I've seen several places (some of them failed) where the online management (sysadmins, networking guys, etc) was actually manged by the online support person -- the same person responsible for level-1 customer support goons.

Since it's not programming, not art, not design, and not the "core" part of making the game, it's just something necessary sucking money away from the people who really deserve it, so it gets minimal attention.

That's all.

Re:Yer about five years late (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060110)

I completely agree. My perspective is a bit different than yours (security consultant), but IT security is in a not very good state in other industries as well. I think your argument why it is possibly worse in the gaming industry is entirely convincing.

how many places are all devs and little QA / tech (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060156)

how many places are all devs and little QA / tech guys?

Some of the mess with System crashes / poor security is from dev's have to do system admin work as well.

Some of it may just be the rushed 80+ hour work loads if are working that hard to meet the deadline how much tech work is being push to the side? how much security is being bypassed to get things done faster?

How many places have NO QA / other tech guys for testing?

How some of rushed work loads is from lack of staff?

Not all company's do network infrastructure wrong (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060294)

Former gaming industry guy here ...

Same here.

... I've seen several places (some of them failed) where the online management (sysadmins, networking guys, etc) was actually manged by the online support person ...

Different here. I've seen outsiders from the Linux world brought in to establish and run the online infrastructure. Not guys who could set up a LAMP system from a standard distro, but guys who could put together barebones custom installations with only what the respective servers needed at run time - less opportunity for exploitation that way.

Re:Not all company's do network infrastructure wro (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060402)

It can definitely be done right. But it needs somebody high up enough realizing how to do it right. Minimal installation with only what absolutely needs to be on there is a good start. Then you can add mandatory access control (e.g. SELinux) and application integrated or -aware IDS. The FOSS BSDs are also a good choice, and so was Solaris before Oracle bought Sun. And then you get a team to operate these systems that not only monitors security alerts closely, but also can do something about them fast if their system is affected.

Of course, people that can do that are rare and expensive, but if you care, you can get them.

Re:Yer about five years late (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060424)

Welcome to corporate system admin, please move on.

I love technology..I love technology (1, Funny)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060084)

Well goddammit, go rent a room and fuck it then... jeezus!

Re:I love technology..I love technology (1)

RobDollar (1137885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060170)

Are you drunk or are you an alien who doesn't understand the concept of a turn of phrase?

Re:I love technology..I love technology (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060212)

He kept on repeating it over and over like a broken record.. broken record.. broken record..

Re:I love technology..I love technology (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060264)

There are plenty of geeks working [crunchgear.com] on that [cnet.com] right [guyism.com] now [wired.com] ...

Dedicated servers are a problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060158)

Get rid of this dedicated official server bullshit that we have to deal with, it gives me a headache when we all live within a block from each other in Australia but suddenly get shunted onto a US East server with 400+ pings. I understand why you would have to do it for something like an MMO, but a two or four player game? Ugh. Hamachi shouldn't be a requirement when you want to play games with brosefs without dealing with network shenanigans

Don't lay Sony's stupidity on the rest... (3, Insightful)

Leslie43 (1592315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060166)

Don't lay Sony's stupidity on the rest of the industry.

Just because Sony was too stupid/in a rush/incompetent to encrypt everything like they should have, doesn't mean everyone is moving too fast.
It just means whoever decided not to waste time on encryption, should have their head sitting on a stake at Sony Software HQ as a warning to others.

Too fast? Do you mean too slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060168)

From what I remember (and I'm not quite a geezer) they used to release a new set of consoles every 2-3 years, and I've had my xbox 360 since high school (I'm a year out of college now (thats like, 6+ years), if anything the gaming industry is moving too slow, I know having a mature platform is great and all, but we've only seen one round of internet enabled consoles (well unless you count the 56k modem for the playstation, gamecube and the dreamcast, but I dont) now that a good majority of society actually has consoles I'd like to see some more persistant online world games, I know WOW is king right now, but I don't understand why there aren't a TON of mmo's floating around. And besides that, consoles need to stop playing around with gimicks and start getting somewhere with new tech, I'm ready for some seriously awesome stuff in the next console cycle, but I still haven't even heard about a new range of consoles coming out.

I think G4 was still Tech Tv when the xbox 360 came out, and X-Play was still Extended Play, and I still watched G4, it's like, times are a changin.

P.S. sorrry nintendo fanboys, I'm tired of playing the same games over and over with slighlly better graphics, I know zelda was fun (on the super nintendo) but it's time to get away from the formulaic 3 dungeon 3 dungeon boss and go for a legit story or something. It's the same with mario and most of the other nintendo games, they were good at one point, but stop trying to milk the franchises and actually do something innovative, the Wii was dumb not because it wasn't innovative, but because the motion control sucks, and it's not fun for gamers. It looks like microsoft (Halo, car games, GTA) and sony (Katamari Damacy) will have a pretty good hold on the gamer market in the future, and I want to seen nintendo do something decent, but on their track record it isnt looking good.

Re:Too fast? Do you mean too slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060318)

2-3 Years. You are off a little bit.

They release things usually every 5 years.
(North America Releases)
NES: 1985
SNES:1991
N64: 1996
Game Cube: 2001
Wii: 2006

Playstation: 1995
PS2: 2000
PS3: 2006

Xbox: 2001
360: 2005

The Industry Interests != Your Interests (2)

nsolon (1064682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060174)

TFA makes the flawed assumption that the gamer's individual interests align with the industry's. The industry has an interest in making you buy as many copies as they can and they have an interest in obsolescence. [wikipedia.org]

Bad news. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060176)

I'm afraid that the poster is simultaneously correct, and totally missing the point.

Is it overwhelmingly the case that games are trending toward(and many are already there) a place where they will be somewhere between crippled and bricked when some ill-thought-out online integration or financially shaky company bites the bullet? Hell yeah. Are those same games increasingly likely to be locked down as hard as the publisher can lock them, ensuring that hacking together a 3rd party equivalent will be pretty tricky? Yup. In that sense, he is entirely correct.

However, he seems to be under the impression that this is some sort of honest mistake, a product of over-enthusiasm for cool gizmos among developers. Wouldn't that be nice. Beyond whatever bare minimum is required to sell the thing, longevity is a defect, not a virtue, from the perspective of the seller. After they get paid, you are a cost center, not a customer(Obviously, rank incompetence like having your walled garden go down during a major launch isn't in the seller's interest; but things like that are only a major deal because multiplayer functions are increasingly being forcibly centralized, rather than made a server offering that any player can run). People happily playing classic games are of no financial utility. I suspect that we will see much more of this, and it will not be by accident.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060182)

I feel the same way about transistors.

How much slower? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060184)

What the hell is this guy thinking, exactly? We've had "dedicated online games" for at least 14 or 15 years now. That's a long time by gaming, or even software terms in general. Can I assume he's posting purely from a console player's viewpoint and is somehow completely ignorant of the PC gaming landscape?

Digital distribution has been around for several years, and despite its youth incidents like this have been exceedingly rare.

As far as permanently owning copies? On the Wii and 360, the game is tied to the console, but it's there regardless of the status of the network (and IIRC, it's the same for the PS3). Direct2Drive and Good Old Games give you installers you can keep and reuse; I believe Impulse does as well, but activation is still required, rendering it moot. However, if Steam goes down and you reinstall your OS or upgrade your hardware, I'm pretty sure you're SOL. So sure, there's room for improvement there.

Not sure I get it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060216)

The OP wants the move to online games to slowdown and his argument for it is if we don't slow down the move "we might see a company such as Nintendo saying that online isn't worth it!"????

Umm, wouldn't a company like oh say Nintendo saying that online isn't worth it be the very slowing down of all games moving online that the OP pines for?

Is it just me or is this some really faulty logic.

online activation in SP games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060242)

The real problem IMHO is more and more single player games needing either online activation, or in some cases even an ongoing connection for the entire time they are running.

There's no reason for that except lockdown and control. The problem is that **people buy these games**. If we would just stop supporting them, that shit would go away, but each and every time people rush out to buy it without giving the slightest consideration to what this is going to do to our future.

a billion Chinamen can't be wrong (2)

Kevin Fishburne (1296859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060258)

You said it man, "Nobody fucks with the Jesus". In any case, the bottom line is that the games industry is quickly getting FUBAR, in the literal sense, and our terribly intelligent population doesn't care if they can't play a single player hard-copy game when the network's offline until it goes offline, which is rare and won't be enough to cause a ground-up revolution. While I'd like to have some feel-good explanation for this, I think people may just be too damned stupid to look past their nose while our corporate gaming overlords laugh their way to the next generation of ass-pounding excuses for digital interactive entertainment. Build your gaming bomb shelters now, as that's all you'll have 'til the silicon in your Intellivision dies. Mine still works. There should be a new category of software (unless someone's already described it) called Tempware, which describes software that only works if some other shit completely outside of your control works with it.

Re:a billion Chinamen can't be wrong (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060676)

"There should be a new category of software (unless someone's already described it) called Tempware, which describes software that only works if some other shit completely outside of your control works with it."

This has been one of Microsoft's goals for years. It will be coming to a cloud near you..

items bought are permanently owned (3, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060260)

find ways to guarantee that items bought are permanently owned even without a physical copy

That's just it! These companies don't WANT you to "permanently own" anything. This way they can sell it to you over and over again.

And, with the move to online distribution, they have grasped you at the base of your snarglies because when THEY decide it's time for you to upgrade, they simply shut down all the older stuff. Period.

And the lack of a physical copy simply gives them even more leverage.

"We have no record of you ever buying anything through us. Sorry! Maybe it was the PSN hack a few years back! Heheh! PAY UP!"

Re:items bought are permanently owned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061306)

Newsflash: Same thing for physical media these days. Thanks to DRM all you buy in your store is a piece of cardboard, a shiny round thing saving you some download time and a license to play the game under the restriction of the EULA you haven't seen yet. Might as well get it online in the first place and save yourself the "buy in your store" part....

Buy without DRM (2)

lucian1900 (1698922) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060282)

Just buy games without DRM, or at least the games you really care about. Also, donate to all open source emulator and server re-implementations you care about. It'll reduce the pool of games you can peruse, but not that much.

Tabletop Rant (0)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060284)

Another article with the word "Gaming"...another rant from a Tabletop Game Player/Amateur Designer.
The gaming world is straying too far from their roots. Meeting players/designers that openly mock tabletop gaming is becoming all too common. Video Games, especially RPGs (including MMOs, despite the lack of an RP element), take most of their core systems from Tabletop Games...from the 80s. With the exception of Dungeons & Dragons, which is just keeping itself classic for the sake of nostalgia, most tabletop RPGs have abandoned the "level" system ages ago. Few, if any, still use Hit Points. And Mana Points have gone the way of Vancian Casting. The next design company that takes from the modern non-Wizards of the Coast model of Tabletop Gaming without simply copying and pasting existing mediums is going to make a lot of money. Or is going to make Blizzard/Valve/etc... a lot of money when they take their stolen ideas and repackage it for the masses. Why a modern RPG still uses the level/class/HP/MP system is beyond me. Even life-bars are embarrassing at this point.

Re:Tabletop Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060358)

Developers have been getting rid of level, class and HP for a while. This is widely despised as making modern games "too easy" compared to older, more complicated ones. [Ignoring JRPG which is a genre founded on its lack of change]

Oh, and the level, class and HP abstraction works fine BTW, it may be a pain in the ass to manage on paper but video games have a computer to do all boring the number crunching for you. Getting rid of it may make a tabletop game more fun, computer based gamers don't care since it was already fun. Your rant also sounds dangerously close to complaining about things you don't play anyway [tvtropes.org] , so why does it matter? You already have your tabletop game to keep you amused.

Re:Tabletop Rant (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060412)

The 'too easy' thing is only true for people who confuse role playing games with 'isometric dungeons and dragons simulators'.

Re:Tabletop Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060616)

No, they really are too easy. FPS, strategy, action, action-adventure.. games in the last years have been increasingly, embarrassingly simple and easy. Entertaining in many cases, but disappointingly easy, completed within 20 hours or made boring within that time.

Multiplayer fixes this, but is not always 'fun' or entertaining.

Re:Tabletop Rant (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060822)

Length isn't a good measure of how 'good' an RPG is either. It's a measure of how much value for money you got perhaps.

But if I played a good 2 hour long RPG that cost me 5 bucks, I'd be delighted.

Re:Tabletop Rant (1)

LesFerg (452838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060420)

I think I agree with you, tho this is probably why online gaming is the better option; in a single user game with any of the levels of complexity you mention, I think the end-user can quickly determine if there has been a lot of time and cleverness put into the AI side of things, and the ability of the NPC's to keep things interesting in the game can sometimes be what makes a game worth continuing to play (or at least, continuing to enjoy, as I have played some to the end just out of sheer bloody-mindedness).

In recent purchases that come to mind, portal 2 probably dissapointed, in terms of single player challenge, long-lasting playability and the thought of ever replaying the game for nostalgia. This is why, I think, the current trend is to sell a game as a basic intro to an environment or scenario, which then urges the player to join into an online interactive, where hopefully the real live (or partially drunk/asleep/stoned/whatever on a Friday night) players will provide the challenge to make the game popular.

I'm not sure I prefer it myself, but it must work for those who calculate sales and margins and such. Is any major game producer putting all that much time and effort, any more, into the long lasting epic single-player offline game? Even the concept of breaking the story development into episidic releases seems to have landed on the big red Go Straight To Fail square. How long have we waited for another episode in HL2?

p.s. Proof reading suggested almost a criticism of Valve. This is unintentional, Valve are my top favorites in software, all time, no more to say there.

Re:Tabletop Rant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060518)

Skyrim is moving in that direction - they've done away with classes, levels are quick and mostly about bumping up abilities and adding perks. Most of the stats are going away for a model of "your character is the sum of the choices you've made." Which I'm sure is "dumbing it down" to some folks, but I like the idea. Spreadsheet RPGs have always bugged me.

  (Now if only Bethesda would do a Linux port. I think they're grudgingly doing a Mac port, but us Lunix dorks get jack shit. Hate to say it, but if I gotta warez me a copy of Windows 7 in order to play it, I'm probably going to warez a copy of Skyrim to go with it. And this is my most anticipated game of the past few years. Well, I suppose there's always Wine, if I have to.)

It's Online stuff (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060340)

A profound post! It's ONLINE gaming – either playing online, downloading, or licence verification that breaks the job and steals your dough. Now look at licensing, that's wrong too! Top Marks BTW!

Re:It's Online stuff (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060344)

Wouldn't it be nice to walk into a supermarket, buy a DVD and pop it into your machine and install it without being reliant on the internet, numbers, stupid DRM etc. What if that DVD / game was then YOUR PROPERTY.

Sony is an anomaly (1)

ohzero (525786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060352)

This breach is due to the transition from the capable staff at SOE to the new security retards at SNEI. In fact, Shannon Lietz and her entire group should be fired. It has nothing to do with the industries inability to adapt. If that were true, then massive platforms at companies like and google would fail regularly, but they don't. The server architectures and application deployments are practically the same. Bottom line - Sony is an exception, and they are an exceptional fuck up.

GoG to Your Rescue (2)

oakwine (1709682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060380)

"find ways to guarantee that items bought are permanently owned even without a physical copy" Try GoG, www.gog.com. Buy game, no DRM. Put installer on CD if you want. GoG has no client that must run in background. Games on GoG a bit old, but probably a huge improvement on Nintendo. That being said, Steam, Impulse, D2D all work. Bunch of 'em out there.

Let me paraphase for RyanDJ (1)

betelgeuse68 (230611) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060410)

"Why in my days..." (use your imagination to fill in the rest)

It's Not (Completely) Their Fault (1)

Shifty0x88 (1732980) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060432)

I think it is that people expect online streaming/downloading/storage as a standard now, pushing companies to release (often half-@$$) products to make a quick buck and get your online business. It is US that must slow down and force companies to re-think whether they really need that product online or not.

Not "online gaming", DRM (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060500)

Online gaming, as in a MMORPG, is fine. What's seriously objectionable are supposedly standalone games that insist on constantly checking in with a DRM server to work at all. They should forbidden the use of the term "buy" or "sell" in advertising, and should be required to advertise their products as rentals.

Nor should PC game installs require administrator privileges or installation of services. Game companies can't be trusted with those privileges given their track record.

On the other hand (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060648)

Do many of you play your old games? I have bought every Total War game up to Shogun 2. Once a new one came out I would rarely play the previous one. Same goes for the Battlefield series - I occasionally fire up BF2 but BC2 is my mainstay. Once BC3 comes out BF2 will go the way of BF1942.

As a bit of an aside, I detested Steam when it first came out. Used to rant at my computer while it didn't give me access to a game I had bought because it was updating steam. But I move a lot and change computers a lot. After not using Steam for a few years I was delighted to find that all my old games were still there, even though the boxes and CDs that I bought were long lost.

In the vendors' interest (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060658)

Online games make it harder to use illegitimate copies. That makes it very much in the vendors' interest. Yes, there is the risk that the vendor may decide to discontinue the service. If that concerns you, then don't buy the game. As long as there are enough people that will buy games like that, they will continue to be available. You have to find out for how long you are guaranteed to be able to play, and ask yourself if it is worth the price you will be paying.

Some might argue that if the vendor discontinue the service rendering the game you bought useless, they should be forced to pay back the original purchase price of the game. However, I have been told that some of these vendors don't even charge for the game, they just charge a monthly fee for access to the server. In that case you got what you paid for.

I think that if the vendor discontinue the service, the users who are still subscribing should be entitled to download a version of the server that they can use to play with their friends. But this is not important enough that I would think it warrants regulation. You should look at the contract at see if the vendor can cancel the service without providing another way to play the game, and if so, don't buy it.

Don't expect vendors to act in the interest of the customers. Expect them to act in their own interest. It's the customers' responsibility to make it the interest of the vendors interest to act in the interest of their customers. The way the customers can do this, is by choosing which vendor to buy from. Of course if a vendor has made a promise to the customers and don't live up to it, then that is a case for regulation and lawsuits.

No profit (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060668)

"find ways to guarantee that items bought are permanently owned even without a physical copy."

Well that's exactly what they don't want. It's more profitable to dismantle servers after a while and obsolete games so you buy new ones.
I think games are going to actually be more online dependent to support this business model. To the game maker it has many benefits:

Strong enforcement of DRM with constant patches, etc. ala Sony
Ability to add new content or tiers in which you must pay extra for.
To kill a game when they want your to buy something new.

With this new paradigm you will permanently own nothing.
It makes perfect sense.
Just another example of companies having control over things you purchase after the fact.

If I can't get it how I want it I won't buy it. (1)

solios (53048) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060678)

See topic.

Sony behave like assholes and don't provide anything that makes their attitude towards their customers something worth tolerating.

For me, "entertainment" is a mix of value, convenience, and cost. If "convenience" isn't convenient, if enjoying the work is too much work, if I have to create yet a-fucking-NOTHER account to access your whatever, well... your loss. The library got here first, I can talk to the used bookstore clerk (or owner!), and your Big Media Mandate just means absolutely fuckall to me.

We've been unsteadily lurching towards a "tipping point" in which the content providers will have to strike a balance between the data they can mine and the eyeballs they can get. I know this, and I accept and endorse this by participating in it as little as possible (/. included)

Utterly misses the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060824)

Online gaming (as with ~ all gaming) is all about the money, Lebowski. Online-only gaming kills piracy dead, and just take a look at the woeful trickle of single-player, offline, non-crippled-out-of-the-box (fu very much, microtransactions!)... non 'independent' pc gaming out there to see what the developers think. Ad supported, free-to-play, tiered/microtransactioned mmos seem to be it, by and large.

Whadda pity that these games have lost any story mode (kudos to Starcraft 2, for being an m?mo designed with a single player story!). Well, ok, I've seen some attempts at single player questing, as well as storyline, in mmorpgs, even free ones. Look - I gave up on twitchy pvp back with Doom 2, so these freaks now with the wasd mexican jumping bean meth addicted... you get the idear). And then there's the grinding in traditional rpgs which only gets some exponential progression layered in for the mmo treatment... yeesh. Makes me wanna go fire up Stella, outta spite. Yar's Revenge I can wrap my brain around, even when INCREDIBLY high.

Signed,
Grumpy

PS
Can someone dig Al Lowe up for me, btw? Lefty's bar needs another lick of paint.

PPS
Al Lowe - not dead yet, according to Jimmy Wales!

The best gaming... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060966)

...is offline, solo gaming.

I do not care about MMO community/ group-oriented content.

I do not care about stat/achievement whoring in a RTS/FPS game.

A good game is like a good book. You get it, you enjoy it, then you put it away.
It entertains, relaxes and educates. It is therapeutic, and remains a fond memory even after many years have passed.

Modern games put too much emphasis on graphics, DRM and online gaming.
Online play should be a bonus add-on, instead of the focal point of game development.
Gaming is simply an artistic and intellectual expression of the developers.
Everything else is secondary.

Screw Sony (1)

chedda1 (2042214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060976)

The only reason sony's servers got shut down in the first place was because they got what was coming to them, karma. Its a bad idea to use that as an example of why the online gaming industry is moving too fast.

Futurama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060994)

Or is is the Gaming Industry not Moving Online Too Fast enough?

Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36061324)

I feel that the speed its moving at currently is fine.. it, just like war has in the past, will push us into developing better and more stable technology. People want things to slow down or are scared of change, I think this is what really forces our technology to not progress at a speed that is ideal.

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