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Bleak Future for Videogame Customers

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the imagine-a-boot dept.

Games 399

jvm writes "A recent commentary on Curmudgeon Gamer speculates on the future of the videogame market. Among the predictions: no more rentals from video stores, no used games market, no lending games to friends, less upgradeable computers, pay-as-you-play software subscriptions, and other consumer-unfriendly changes. In all, less gaming value for your hard-earned dollar."

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Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008245)

This isn't purely a gaming industy trend, but an overall trend in the software industry as a whole. Everything sold as retail software now comes with at least a CD key, if not an activiation system. Software publishers have always hated piracy, and always hated the idea of selling used software.

I don't see much of a difference between a play-for-play model, and the rental model... both leave you with nothing after your allotted time has expired. The Blockbusters of the world are the ones who are really shaking over the death of physical media, because they're not needed if everybody gets their rental content delivered online.

The divorce of software from physical media is a result of a shift in business models, but I don't think there's any more reason to cry over the loss of the console gaming cart than there is to cry over the death of the RIAA-backed music CD. We're just getting deeper and deeper into the information age, and if we want our high-speed networks to be any good, we've gotta have data availalbe on it...

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (5, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008305)

Everything sold as retail software now comes with at least a CD key

How does a CD key prevent copying anyway? I mean, pirates can copy a CD, but aren't smart enough to copy a 16 character key? Does it do anything other than piss off the consumer.

Someone help me, but this is a concept I've never understood.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008341)

It helps against people with pirated versions playing online. Fucking moron.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008348)

That's why they realized that serial numbers had to be washed against a list of compromised numbers in some sort of revocation process. The result of that is known as "software activation"... phoning home with the CD key to see if that key is still valid.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (5, Informative)

moresheth (678206) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008523)

Although it won't help regular office-type software, the CD-Key is the bane of online-gamers who don't pay for their games. Most games that use one will connect to a master server to verify its authenticity. So games like Quake 3 and Raven Shield require you to be legit to play in most of the open servers on the net, while games like half-life (even though it has a cd-key system) don't check the number online and are able to be cracked. I don't know this from experience, or anything.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (3, Informative)

bryhhh (317224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008540)

It doesn't make much difference for single player only games, but LAN & internet games will not allow installs using the same key to play together, but it still isn't that great a concept, as keygens seem to be widely available.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (4, Insightful)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008306)

I'd say that it's important to have actual, physical copies of the information. It's far harder to accidentally corrupt a plastic disc than it is to have a transfer error screw up an application.

I think that if big media seriously chooses this approach, a lot of people are going to abandon ship and start their own form of media distribution. This is just a ply for more money, going back to the old addage of not making something TOO good, or else your customers won't need to come back and pay for your services. This is a great way to lock people into your business, like electronic dope dealers.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008401)

This is just like trying to figure out how much or how little DRM to apply to music... right now there are several different models floating out there waiting for the market to pick the winner.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008452)

That's too bad, because the market is dumb...(ie. beta vs. vhs, mac vs. pc, DC10 vs. L-1011, AM stereo)

Discs are much more corruptable (4, Informative)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008531)

It's far harder to accidentally corrupt a plastic disc than it is to have a transfer error screw up an application.

If you have a scratch on your plastic disc, you'd better hope that the disc specifications put enough error correction data on at manufacturing time to fix the problem. If you're transferring data over a network, during most of the transfer you only need enough data to reliably perform error detection, since over a noisy link the client can re-request corrupted blocks and the server can increase the percentage of ECC data dynamically.

Re:Physcal media is dead, long live the bit... (2, Interesting)

zentu (584197) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008318)

See the real difference is that in the rental model if the consumer felt so inclined, they could copy the game to their X-box...

Also, you have a better ability to trial software before taking the plunge and buying it, something that many of my friends do with the PS2 since the majority of game seem to be rush jobs with little end result. I'm not saying that the GCN or the Xbox is any better, it's just Sony seems to encourge quanity over quality for their software library, always have.

The down side to this is you get very few quality games, but you do get a larger selection, and some fairly creative titles. Just not as creative as SEGA used to encourage.


The "new" assman! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008573)

Pay to Play is a viable model for Games Software.. (2, Interesting)

SkArcher (676201) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008575)

Rather than paying for "the software" what you are paying for is connection rights to the server. If a game was written to allow free-as-in-beer downloading and the servers required payment for connection time, then a competetive market would be there, which is, IMO, a good thing.

This works particually for MMOs and multiplayer FPSs. It might even be possible to open source the client software and have the server side code remain closed - although that would require rigourous security procedures it would allow for greater community enjoyment of community written features.

You just need to look at this from a different angle. Think of it like paying for petrol for your car.

One of the comments on the article's forums... (4, Insightful)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008248)

...makes a nice point:

For one thing, I don't think gamers will tolerate it. There are pay-to-play MMORPGs now, but people are willing to pay for those because there's a good reason. Servers have to be hosted, content has to be added, players have to be policed. There's no corresponding reason in a single-player game of Half-Life, and there's no evidence to suggest that gamers will be willing to pay monthly if there's no justification for it.

I'm certainly happy to have an actual CD of DOOM II so I can work on Ruby-DOOM [] on whichever computer I'm closest to.

Re:One of the comments on the article's forums... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008304)

nice plug

Re:One of the comments on the article's forums... (2, Interesting)

BeyondALL (248414) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008477)

I'm never going to pay a monthly prize for a game. The reason is that sometimes I play a lot, and sometimes I don't have time to play at all for a long time.
This is going the opposite direction of video-on-demand, now you can play whenever you want, with subscription you have to pay for the time you spend playing... *Hrmf...*

For the forseeable, I'm doing all right! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008256)

For the time being, my subscription is servicing my modded Xbox quite well, thank you!

I think its unlikely (4, Insightful)

Jarwulf (530523) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008258)

There will always be a p2p forum for trading games and piracy and quit harassing people and providing restrictive 'features' to control what users can do... The only way companies will end this is to offer better alternatives. Something I do not see happening in the foreseeable future.

Re:I think its unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008295)

If more DRM is applyed it would also make freeware and opensource look more atractive.

Re:I think its unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008309)

I'm sure people don't all agree, but I consider GPLed games a good alternative.

Re:I think its unlikely (4, Interesting)

AIX-Hood (682681) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008313)

Yes but that's not looking far enough into the future. When everyone has extremely high speed connections to their house, or impressive local ISP based content servers, the game will be entirely executed over the network. Nothing will reside locally, and be available to P2P swap. Cable companies are already looking into doing centralized DVRs this way so that the content is never sitting in your house, taking more control away from the user to do illicit things with it.

It's Likely Alright (2, Insightful)

Cirreus Krestel (721141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008321)

true , it seems unlikely now ... but 20 years from now (when high speed internet is as common as having phone service) , it'll be the norm. the article really is off track in that no real solution is presented (or even wanted ?)

bleak future for unprecedented evile (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008270)

no way around it. lookout bullow. this ain't no game.

Bleak? (5, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008272)

With a name like 'Curmudgeon Gamer', would you expect an upbeat article?


Re:Bleak? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008350)

Yeah bitch. And fuck you. Your mom likes it in the ass.

Best gaming value out there... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008277)

... is XBox Live, hands down. $50 a year, unlimited play, fantastic selection of games.

For those of you considering a subscription, give these three games a try - Project Gotham 2, Crimson Skies, and MechAssault.

It's a blast, I promise.

Re:Best gaming value out there... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008356)

How is parent a troll? Is admitting that you enjoy any Microsoft product enough to make you a troll now?

It's not like he/she was claiming that "Linux is teh sux0rs Windows rulez!"

Re:Best gaming value out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008478)

whoever modded this down should have his balls cut off and stuffed down his throat

Re:Best gaming value out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008533)

I find it hilarious that X-box is charging $50 (the equivalent of a new game) just to let you do what PC users have been expecting for free since years ago.

Imagine if Online games required you to pay a monthly fee just to connect to other people.

Reminds me of that Monty Burns quote:
"See Smithers, you thought I was an idiot for buying Ticketmaster. 'No ones gonna pay a 100% service fee, you said'"

Poorly written and poorly conceived. (5, Insightful)

dswensen (252552) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008279)

"And I also predict that in the future Valve will employ teams of jackbooted thugs to come to your door and shoot you in the face if they catch you using a CD crack..."

Okay, never mind the unthinking, chicken-little attitude of this article. Never mind the technological "predictions" that are often nothing short of ludicrous (a game that deletes the older levels as you play? What game company would do such a thing, and why?) Never mind the article's total ignorance of market forces, i.e. assuming that players will just put up with one staggering inconvenience after another and never migrate to an easier-to-use entertainment medium (isn't this why we have been hearing about the "death of the PC" for so long anyway)? This guy just needs to plain old proofread:

"Quake players didn't need to with for a no-CD hack and Half-life players didn't need to connect to a master server to play single-player games, but DooM III and Half-life 2 owners just might have to."

Apparently he's so curmudgeonly he's started speaking his own language.

Maybe I am just a naive Pollyanna, but if I saw any video game on the shelf that required a monthly subscription fee, no physical media, and gigabytes of downloading to play, I'd leave it there without a second thought. I'd like to think there are others out there who would say the same. (Note: I know there are MMORPGs out there that are already somewhat like this, but I don't play them.)

Re:Poorly written and poorly conceived. (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008319)

a game that deletes the older levels as you play? What game company would do such a thing, and why?)

Valve, and it already exists. You allocate a cache for STEAM and it clears it out as new stuff is added.

Re:Poorly written and poorly conceived. (1)

dandelion_wine (625330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008480)

if I saw any video game on the shelf that required a monthly subscription fee, no physical media, and gigabytes of downloading to play, I'd leave it there without a second thought

Bingo. This guy seems to think that "the next big hit" will force people's hand, without seriously considering that not many people are going to pick up something this restrictive. The future is customizability, not rigidly enforced programming and safeguards, and anyone who has been paying attention to the game market in the last 5 years will see this to be true.

Re:Poorly written and poorly conceived. (1)

Czernobog (588687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008507)

Not only what you've mentioned, but the need of owning something physical will always be there. Nevermind if it's pirated or original. If people can't have something that's theirs for keeps then well, whoever's trying to make a buck this way will be sorely disapppointed...
I guess noone has explained the concept of trade to the author...because the customer in this case would be buying nothing.

Re:Poorly written and poorly conceived. (1)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008577)

Now, isn't it true that you can pay for certain electronic/virtual Magic cards -- without obtaining a physical copy?

you guys are idiots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008289)

thats the most retarded thing ive ever heard,

esp - less upgradable computers

Keep Trying Harder (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008292)

If they try hard enough, maybe they can kill off the gaming market althogether.

Re:Keep Trying Harder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008559)

Every game is just CTF and DM with different skins.

Its already dead.

More restrictive technology = more returns (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008297)

I change computers every few years, and I seem to be behind the curve contrasted to many of my friends. I do buy games; I would think not many until I look at the book shelves next to me and realize how much I've laid out for games. When the games start getting so invasive that I can't move them to my next PC (which would be the same as not letting me lend a game I was done with and not using to a friend), I'll be back at the store making a loud and ugly sceen until I have a refund.

Re:More restrictive technology = more returns (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008312)

Or they call the police to have you removed from their store. No refunds and no exchanges except for the same title has been the policy for software since the beginning of time.

Re:More restrictive technology = more returns (1)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008391)

And the corresponding way around it is to exchange for the same title ("unopened," of course), then either come back later or to a different store and get the refund.

The "rinse and repeat" tactic (0, Flamebait)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008475)

No refunds and no exchanges except for the same title

Then watch me come into the store every few hours and start returning every copy of the same title that they give me. Once a few like-minded geeks begin to do this as well, watch the title's defect rate shoot up. What again does Best Buy do with a return if it doesn't have another copy of the same title in stock?

steam power.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008300)

At that point, Steam will be distributed to all those millions of computers, building a vast network across which Valve can begin selling software

This is an amazing technological breakthrough! But where is Valve going to get enough coal to power this vast network?

Oh Cmon (5, Insightful)

SparafucileMan (544171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008302)

"This is the model the game industry is evolving toward: one which allows you to access software on the fly, download the content on demand, and pay for every use according to a schedule dicated by the game's owner."

Look, the games still take up, what, 1-5 Gigs? Unless people are downloading _consistently_ at some 500k, you'll still ahve to go to the store and get the game on CD. Given the state of the broadband market in the US this pay-to-play crap is like 20 years away, and by then, the games will take up a few terrabytes anyway.

OT Spelling Rant (0)

ari_j (90255) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008547)


<with substance='salt' quantity='1' unit='grain'>
You mean terabyte. From tera, meaning "shitloads", and byte. A terrabyte is much larger, and is the quantity of data required to describe the entire Earth.

At the end of the day (5, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008307)

it's the people who decide things like this. If sufficient people stop purchasing games that restrict their ability to play them, then it's a simple business decision for the company to make - stop over-restricting the user.

If companies adopt the attitude that consumers en-mass are stupid (usually justifiable, to be fair to the companies) they might just get burnt on this one - gamers particularly and (to be fair to the great unwashed, this time) people in general are getting more au fait with the technology. Removing the ability to share games or play with friends may just result in non-protected-in-this-way games being more popular instead.

The games market is very very cut-throat. It's similar to the post-production market (where I work) except that the games companies are far more in control than the advertising agencies (our paymasters). If one company goes down the "wrong" alley, I reckon another might just jump to go down the "right" one, especially if they're currently not the market leader...


Re:At the end of the day (2, Interesting)

Talez (468021) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008329)

If sufficient people stop purchasing games that restrict their ability to play them, then it's a simple business decision for the company to make - stop over-restricting the user.


Blame it on the pirates, toughen up the DMCA and declare consumer hunting season open.

yes, well .. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008314)

we all know how full of acumen all these intarweb theorists are

and we know we can count on slashdot to bring us the latest hype, breaking FUD and otherwise piddly garbage from the mouths of fools

Sky Falling? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008322)

This is so much chicken little we are all doomed nonsense. Do you really think that the game companies are truly stupid enough to piss off their lifeblood? Granted they make some dumb calls, but I honestly do not think they are suicidaly stupid. Games a pain in the ass to own or play? Then just don't play it! They will die, and a service that meets the needs of gamers will surface. It all depends on what the gamers are willing to accept, end of story.

Then make better games... (2, Interesting)

YllabianBitPipe (647462) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008326)

If the game is good enough I'll go out and buy it, and even pay for a subscription fee to access the server or whatever. But don't think for a second I'd pony up dough monthly if the game sucks. Make sure it's worth the money. And if companies are all going to move towards charging more, don't think the customer is automatically going to pay more. I'll be even more price-aware and even more picky as to whether or not the game is worth the cost. In my opinion, out of all the games released this year, I could count the number of games I'd buy / subscribe to on one hand.

Re:Then make better games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008561)

You know, some can count to 31 on one hand ...

Nonsense (5, Insightful)

FTL (112112) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008328)

If customers want the ability to transfer a game from one person to another (be it cartridge, license code, or whatever) and companies aren't providing this ability, it simply opens the door to a new games company who does. Supply and demand.

Remember Id? Came out of nowhere, provided something that the heavy hitters didn't. Now they are a heavy hitter. It's not rocket science. (Ok, mabye it is in Id's case [] ).

Re:Nonsense (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008383)

Exactly. There are enough geeks in the world, and I'm sure there are enough gamers who code to simply start an uprising when this happens. Hell, if Microsoft can put together an overheating PC in a box and call it a video game console what's to stop some enterprising case modder from doing the same? Then pretty much all the game companies are screwed...

Wal-Mart (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008498)

what's to stop some enterprising case modder from doing the same?

Wal-Mart will never sell it because it doesn't have an established national brand on it. A significant chunk of the proverbial unwashed masses shop exclusively at the huge store chain.

That is, unless "some enterprising case modder" is Apex.

Why rent? (1) (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008335)

The game companies will be renting the games, not selling them. Similar to some of the lawsuits with the record label selling CDs without notice. When the companies start start admit that they are renting the games, they will drop the price.

A friend once told me that the money is in "Pay per play!"

Remember video games were $0.25 per play?

Re:Why rent? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008418)

Yep, and there was nothing to copy in your home, you'd have to go out in public to even play. Yeah, I don't think the value of video games will ever get back to that far in favor of the publishers...

Replay Value of Older Games (4, Interesting)

Myriad (89793) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008336)

In all, less gaming value for your hard-earned dollar.

I suspect that the longer this trend takes to implement, the harder it will be for the game makers to pull it off. Why? An ever increasing back catalogue of existing games that don't have such restrictions

Take a look at all the consoles over the years, that's a huge library of games. Ok, sure, the graphics and features decrease dramatically as you travel further back... but does the entertainment value?

A current Xbox, modded, can happily run MAME. Making one console able to play litterally thousands of titles.

If the software makers push thing to the point where it's no longer worth it to buy, I suspect many people won't. Oh, some will, because they'll always want the latest and greatest. But many may well be content revisiting some of the existing titles.

I used to contantly upgrade my PC hardware to the newest stuff released because I actually benefited from it. These days I rarely do. My existing gear performs well enough that I see only a marginal benifit. Maybe gaming will be similar.

Blockwars [] : multiplayer and free.. and I'll get around to updating it some more soon. :)

right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008337)

I could possibly see video game rentals going away since people can make copies of those so easily. But the rest of it sounds like paranoid rantings from some kid who's too poor to afford games. So, they're scared that they won't be able to steal their games anymore. Most video game makers/publishers aren't evil, like the record industry.

Gaming value for my $ = fun (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008338)

"no more rentals from video stores, no used games market, no lending games to friends, less upgradeable computers, pay-as-you-play software subscriptions, and other consumer-unfriendly changes. In all, less gaming value for your hard-earned dollar".

This is ridiculous - for people who actually pay for software, they do so because they get an equivalent in _having fun_ while using the software or hardware, as the case may be.

People who "borrow" (yeah, right) games aren't _customers_ anyway, why would anyone care about them?

I own two legal copies of CS and I'll pay for the new one when it comes out, no matter what the media is. And I'm sure I'll have fun.

This is just the marketing folks wet dream... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008351)

...nothing more. If game makers had their way, they'd insist upon all kinds of measures that would be customer unfriendly if they could get away with it. They can't. XBOX Live works since they're giving you something for your money. Yeah, you could network you games without Live, but it wouldn't be as good, and you'd have trouble from the hackers that would introduce cheats into the online play. None of this is going to happen unless they give something back to the customer in trade.

Who is this guy? (1)

bagOyew (742540) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008352)

I think the listing off of our favorite aspects of gaming (soon to be gone) just indicates the demand is there. This guy may have the knowledge of gaming and trends, but forgot the basic business principle of supply and demand. Anyone ever been to a Game Stop? I guess I may be the only one buying 15 year old games you cant get anywhere else.... As far as this copy protection of the future is concerned and portioning of software out in usable blocks is just too ludricrous without taking into account for some super-villain led software development team. How would this happen, downloads? They had better get some SERIOUS bandwidth to the average customer's doos before that becomes a distant reality....

Capitalism to the rescue (5, Insightful)

ImTwoSlick (723185) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008353)

In all, less gaming value for your hard-earned dollar.

This means fewer people will buy these restrictive games, and motivated entrepreneurs will release games we do want to buy.

Cheapskates of the World, Unite! (4, Interesting)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008361)

From the article: And that's where were headed, like it or not. No physical media. No rentals. No used games. No sharing games among friends. Limited hardware upgrades. Pay-to-play. Unless something seriously changes the course of the industry, this is the future.

Only one problem with this scenario: I'm not buying, and neither will a lot of other gamers. No doubt video game companies could come out with a really great sounding version of Half Life or whatever, costing $12 a month to play. But if they try to foist subscription fees on me, my money's staying in my pocket. Dollar for dollar, video games represent probably the cheapest form of entertainment ever developed. A few years back, I spent $20 on a copy of Unreal Tournament, and that is some of the best entertainment money I've ever spent. I've doubtless played that game more than a hundred hours. Same thing with NHL '94 Hockey on the Sega Genesis; I got it used for $10 or so, and I'm still playing that game today in emulation.

No doubt, the video game industry would love for all games to switch over to subscription on-demand models. The only trouble is cheapskates like me won't ever let this happen. When I buy a game, I expect it to be a one-shot expense, and I further expect to be able to play that game ten years from now. If, for the sake of argument, the next Half-Life comes out as subscription, I'll just buy UT 2004. And if UT 2004 comes out as subscription, then I'd keep playing my original UT until Quake 4 or somebody responsive to my needs comes out with a non-subscription game.

No doubt that subscriptions will capture a growing portion of the gaming market, but it's silly to think companies will forsake the model of one-time sales. There's too much demand from gamers who wouldn't have it any other way, and nobody's going to leave that much money on the table.

Re:Cheapskates of the World, Unite! (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008419)

Only one problem with this scenario: I'm not buying, and neither will a lot of other gamers.

Yeah, if I'm going to put money into something every month, I'll just start modifying my car.

I can't agree (2, Interesting)

flowbee64 (708623) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008366)

The videogame industry doesn't focus mainly on pc games, it encompasses console games as well. I can't remember any console game where I had to type in a cd key. I can't remember playing one that I didn't have the original media for. I don't remember need a no cd hack because consoles don't work the way our pc's do. Pay for Play online gaming has been tried as a business model before, and never has worked out. The closest we came in the states was Sega.Net, which tanked.

What do I know? It may change and videogame companies may start doing pay for play. But try and remember that these companies want as much of your money as possible. I know I'm willing to pay more for a box and a disc that for a download link on a subscription service.

My bet is, console games will continue to be the industry focus, and the pc ports will contain whatever hacked in protection is sexy at the time. The only places we're likely to see "innovation" in pc game protection is with games like Half life 2, where pc development is the central focus.

Mexicans eat chili.

Capitalism (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008368)

The great thing about a capitalist economy is that the cunsumers are nearly always going to have it pretty good, as long as a few conditions are met. Here, those requirements are met, and I don't see how a real problem could evolve. If somebody doesn't want to pay-to-play, they won't. If somebody wants to pay to rent something, rentals will continue to exist. Author of this article needs to learn something about supply and demand.

Server-based game lobbies have hurt gaming (5, Insightful)

bender647 (705126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008369)

The anti-pirating schemes already in place have all but killed the gaming experience for me. Why is it I spent uncountable hours playing my older games online with friends, but anything I've bought in the last year needs to meet up on a server. You spend wasted time in a lobby watching people type in profanity and hate speech, then as your friends all try to start the game, something happens and it doesn't launch. Time's too short, I'll just won't play games with needless restrictions and I wish others wouldn't either.

The article has it's strong points (5, Informative)

Crasoum (618885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008370)

But is hardly strong enough.

Yes games that allow you to play on OTHER people's servers are more restricted, because it is THEIR servers. Granted there are plenty of public Half-life servers, but they still are indexed by VALVes master server. In doing so they get people playing on their server, and VALVe is assured the people playing on these servers are using legitimate products.

If one has a problem with the 1984 style, then don't play on the servers, instead use other servers like one can use with open battle net. You can connect without any legit CD key, but you also are playing with less people; more then likely. As always a trade off.

As for Steam only downloading the parts you'll "Use in the near future" the author does NOT know what he is talking about. Steam downloads the levels as you play them, yes, aside from the core levels that come with the mod you are playing (or the original game). By core levels I mean, if you download half-life it downloads all the game content you need, but no added developer levels unless you go on a sever that has them, then it downloads them and you keep them on your hard drive.

It is for two reasons. To be gentle on VALVes bandwidth, and also if you never play any other levels/mods (like Counter strike, or Day of defeat) then there is less Hard drive space taken up on your computer.

As for the rest of the author's comments on making everything non-tangible, I doubt that will happen for a few reasons.
One of which is people like to have a product for convince they can grab and install if their system crashes.
Two people would want more for less, if they don't have that solid backup to go back to.
Example. Through steam, you either buy the game in the store or get an unlimited subscription to steam, or you pay 5 dollars a month for the same service.

I'd love to hear arguments against what I've said, so please...

It won't last (0)

daemon_underscore (684175) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008380)

Gamers just won't tolerate this model - it will probably be tried out by game makers for a while, and when it fails the game makers will drop the system. However, I think that there will be more protection for game sharing in the future.

So, now that the game industry has imploded (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008388)

what is going to take its' place?

More importantly, what is it going to take for the consumer to both stand up aggressively (none of this "oh, I hate the riaa --ooo! eminem has a new cd out -fap fap fap" crap) and be heard?

Given that the market is no longer consumer oriented, is it too late for any meaninful (note that clause) change to occur?

I won't pay, I won't pay... (4, Informative)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008392)

(Offspring, I believe)

To do any significant game-related downloading, you need a fast internet connection. A LOT of users (self included) are still on dial-up, simply for cost reasons. If you add the cost of a required broadband link, plus a pay-per-play or subscription model for games, people will decide it's simply not worth their hard-earned money. I know people who pay $80/mo for their cable TV & internet, but they're double-income, middle class families. Students, young workers, and other lower-income people will not - often can not - pay through the ass just to play video games.

Not unfriendly (1)

dybdahl (80720) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008408)

This is not consumer unfriendly - it's about getting a better experience, and especially a social experience where you meet other people.

One of the main reasons why Counter-Strike got so popular, was that dead players could chat with each other - it simply added a social experience to the computer game.

The future is not much different from going to Disney Land - you only have the experience during the time period you paid for, a big part of the experience is being there together with other people, and you don't own anything after leaving it (except for the memory).

If Sierra's Tribes 2 game was a pay-per-month service, I'm sure it would have survived longer than it did.

Euro Elite Force

Fantastic (3, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008410)

As soon as games are unrealisticly restricted, more people will feel the need to write GPL ones.

We are seeing the groundwork already, in good GPL game engines, and the free content community already has proved their worth on proprietary engines (NWN modules and Quake 3 mods etc). All it needs now is someone to tie it all together.

DRM is the ultimate free software motivator.

(Anyone remember Total Anihilation that had a multiplayer spawn install and let you play 3 computers with each valid set of disks over the LAN/Internet?)

Re:Fantastic (1)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008584)

'We are seeing the groundwork already, in good GPL game engines, and the free content community already has proved their worth on proprietary engines (NWN modules and Quake 3 mods etc). All it needs now is someone to tie it all together.

DRM is the ultimate free software motivator.'

Afaik, Steam, the new content-providing service by VALVe, will also focus more on mods, and the distribution thereoff in the future.
As of now a non-VAVLe-mod, Sven Coop, can be downloaded of/played on Steam.
I heard some rumours before that in the future, Modteams might have the opportunity to release their content, for a small fee (think 2 to 5 dollars) : it's the same principle, when you really dig a project/mod/artpiece, you contribute with either your own maps/models/sounds : or contribute with money.

The only downside to this would be , imo, that alot of fun will be pulled out of the Modmaking scene, which atm still seems to be the main arguement to make a Mod (besides brushing up your portfolio).

The writer's opinion (4, Insightful)

Metaldsa (162825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008415)

is just as valuable as any other forum opinion. Why this guy was posted on /. is beyond me (slow weekend). He says that it is guarenteed we will have to pay for play, no rentals, no used games, and no physical media. That is his GUESS people.

After reading 1/2 of the article I realized it was as useful as reading someone's opinion on any message board. He drew up educated guesses and that was it.

Now of course every industry wants a subscription like service for their product. Yearly upgrades and that sort of thing can equal huge profits. But it doesn't work in a lot of industries. Everyone thought MMO games would be HUGE after EQ. I mean EQ is a cash cow. But besides SWG which survives on the star wars name alone, no other MMO game has come close to EQ in the US. For every success I see a dozen failed attempts.

So how this author thinks I will pay $10 a month for an average game is beyond me. Doom3 and HL2 could squeeze a few months out of me but the second I stop so do my payments. And 99% of games out there AREN'T Doom3 or HL2 quality. The subscription based model would actually hurt most companies because they would rather take the $50 and run. Besides Doom3 and Half-Life2 I can't think of one game I would pay for longer than 1 month. Planetside is a great example of a FPS game trying to charge per month and failing horribly (with a decent product). And they had a reason for the subscription, server costs, while other games will not.

This author doesn't have anything to back up his opinion so its just as valid as mine (do I get the front page if I buy a domain name and post this?). The most obvious conclusion in the next 5 years of gaming is 90%+ games still being bought, rented, etc and maybe 10% have a subscription for things like Xbox2 Live and MMO type games. I rent almost every console game instead of buying it because I know I won't play it longer than a week. So if they try to force a $50 + $10 a month tag down my throat it would fail horribly and they know it.

Games as a service: the ultimate copy protection? (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008430)

Some of us remember older games that tried to protect their contents from illegal copying. I had a Commodore 64 and there were a few things game makers tried to do:

1) Keyword:
It was like the ID code that some games use today, but instead of ID that tied itself a single copy, this method relied on keywords in the game documentation that you had to enter at the start of every game. The thinking was that if you had documentation, you must actually own the game.

Some of them were like: "Enter the last word in the third paragraph on pg 14 of the manual". Others relied on a password/countersign. Some relied on decoder wheels. Of course, these were all easily defeated by a magical invention known as a photocopier. Some hackers who were probably very bored or cheap acutally wrote hacks against these protection schemes.

2) Copy protection build into the medium.
Back then we used 5 1/4" disks. To build copy protection into the disks, game makers broke standards on the disks. Game makers did things like add extra tracks onto a disk that only the game could access. Add code that changed the how the disk drives read and wrote. Some games actually required a part to be attached to a port on your computer.

These were harder to counteract, but there were utilities that could bypass most of these protections. Again hackers at work.

Much of the new protection is predicated on the fact that there is no medium to hack. There will be some software stored on your computer but the important parts are on the server. But that leaves the communication to hack.

Well, hackers are bright people, and these new protections only give hackers a challenge. There's nothing more that hackers like than a challenge.

Another potential problem with this type of protection is that it almost requires broadband due to the high bandwidth. Currently multiplayer games only communicate data about the user and the game environment. But if it has to send code as well as data, there's a lot more bandwidth to be needed. While broadband is gaining popularity, there will be dialup only users for a long time.

Re:Games as a service: the ultimate copy protectio (1)

dandelion_wine (625330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008517)

I remember going back to my home town and visiting what I remembered to be a great old shop. It had been replaced, to my surprise, with a Microplay (this is maybe 10 years ago). I went in and asked around, and it turned out that the previous place, which had rented games as well as sold them, had to go as NAFTA came into force. They had to meet anti-pirating standards, and that meant no more renting floppy-based games. So the owners bought into the franchise and went all-console.

It's like you say, one side builds new protections, the other breaks them down. It's always been like this. Look at the history of radar traps (and detectors, and detector detectors, and so on)...

Man, you brought back memories. I hated those "what is the last word" manuals. The code-wheel I made for one was cute but sloppy -- often easily digging up the wrong word. Precious "cracked" copies of these games were hard to come by and highly valued.

Warbirds (1)

old_unicorn (697566) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008432)

This trend lead to more alternatives such as . They have set up a free server on which you can fly your free warbirds 2 software. This is not breaking any laws, but is definitely not popular with iENT, (who bought Warbirds off iMOL), and who run it now, for $14 per month. So you get free offline software from iENT, and a free online environment. You wouldn't have had either with a CD-purchase based game!

Not only not news, but also just plain misguided (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008435)

Retail sales will continue because people like to make impulse buys. If people wanted all their games delivered via the internet, meatspace gaming stores would have gone under already. Most gaming stores have noticed that people want to buy used stuff too, so they have new and used games. An excellent example is Software Etc., which purchased Funcoland, basically the USA's leader in used games/game equipment sales, and the Software Etc.s started selling used stuff. As a consequence, I go to Software Etc. again. We even bought the Myst trilogy DVD box set there, but mostly I buy the used stuff. As long as there are successful outlets which bring in gamers, however, video games will be sold in stores. That means, stores which sell used games, stores which sell game consoles, stores which sell gaming peripherals.

Next, let's talk about registration keys. The only thing these keys can really be used for is preventing people without them from playing on official online servers, or these days, from using the official master browser server. People will patch their way to playing, otherwise. But so-called piracy prevention methods have never been about preventing people from pirating games. Game developers are not idiots. Well, some of them are, of course. But any of the good games necessarily could not have been created by total morons. These people know it is impossible to stop piracy. The point of these copyright protection methods is to make it inconvenient to pirate the games, thus ensuring that the majority of people will pay for them.

As for the death of game rental, this commentary is largely applicable to PC games, not so much console games. Console games will continue to be distributed in physical form for some time to come, and it will be a long while until every home in america has the broadband internet access necessary to download games, which are only getting larger. Playstation 2 games are typically on DVD these days, even on broadband it takes a while to download a full DVD. Not only that, but I got the "official" word from Comcast that I'm only allowed to download 80-90 GB/month. (Yes, I finally got a AUP violation letter.) Just a few games and movie trailers, and you're over your limit. So, it's going to be a while before the death of physical media.

The fact is that the widespread adoption of internet use necessitated the use of registration keys and activation in all types of software to make software copyright violation less convenient, because it became so easy to get copied software, and cracks/deprotects/serials for same. As usual, the users are to blame, not the companies. It will still be possible to copy these games well into the future; it is still a truism that anything a person can put together, a person can take apart.

No problem (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008444) more rentals from video stores, no used games market....

Until they come rip my 386 laptop with nethack on it out of my dead hands, I am safe.

Who's paying who? (1, Troll)

Saxerman (253676) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008448)

The bigger question that we've long been aware of is completely ignored in this article. The world needs a business model or seven which allows those who write content to profit from their work. After the original sequence of bits have been cobbled together, they can be duplicated endlessly without any help from the original author(s). The concept of "intellectual property" is crumbling, and something new is going to rise up in its place.

The end of mass-produced content (1)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008454)

...just means people will once again be able to create their own as we did before the days of Big Media.

Why is this a bad thing?

History repeats (5, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008460)

Remember CD keys?

Did he forget the generations of copy protection before this?

The C64 copy protection battles, with the crazy disk access.
The code wheels and papers, and manuals

Companies keep trying, get some success, then it starts to fail, then they improve. This is just the copy protection arms race.

Re:History repeats (1)

tr0llb4rt0 (742153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008562)

LOL Remember the early computer magazines with listings printed in colors that couldn't be photocopied easily??

If they spent the money on making games better rather than copy protection then the games would sell more.

Copy protection has failed before, will fail again (2, Insightful)

fname (199759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008469)

A lot of these schemes (such as activation) described in the article are nothing more than good ole' fashioned copy-protection. I think in the early 80's, software makers saw copy-protection as the holy-grail, and would go to great lengths to make there wares hard to copy-- even for backup purposes. For a while, I think many folks thought it was against the law to copy a make a copy of your own VCR tape.

However, many of these copy-protection schemes. USB dongles, codes that had to be typed in with each boot-up (remember SimCity?), or extra discs that had to be kept in a 2nd drive. Most of these schemes failed because mostly what they did was make it difficult for the owners (or licensees, whatever) of the software to use it. So instead of selling 100,000 copies and having 20,000 pirated, they'd sell 80,000 and have zero pirated versions. Seems hardly worth the bother, eh? This is most recently evidenced by the TurboTax fiasco of 2003.

Right now, this push is most evident in the world of digital music sales, which are grossly restricted compared to regular CDs. I think at one point a major label will decide it's pointless to sell copy-protected (I hate the term DRM) tunes when the pirates will never pay for them anyway and can get them from other services.

Will video-game rentals and re-sales go the way of the Dodo bird? It will start to look that way for a while, then a really good game will come out with any restrictions and sales will be tremendous, despite (because of?) the casual piracy that is sure to ensue. Publishers will then remember this: organized piracy=bad, casual piracy=both good & bad, copy-protection does nothing to stop the first and may in fact encourage it, while doing a great deal to hinder the latter. They'll then ask "what's the point again?" and will use the business model that works the best for their particular game instead of trying to restrict everything to the nth degree.

Pay to play: necessarily bad? (1)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008473)

Overall I don't like the idea. But there's a silver lining: I have a whole load of games I've bought, played for a few hours, and discarded. I tend to keep them in the vague thought that I might one day pick them up again (never happens), or that I can sell them on at some point (weee, that'll earn me $20, in total). With pay-to-play I'd possibly lose out on the top 5% of games, but I'd save a fortune on the crap. Perhaps this business model would discourage the release of substandard rubbish?

console modding (1)

dandelion_wine (625330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008550)

I was one of the horde of people who had their PS modded so as to be able to play copied games, and what an experience that was (apart from visiting the drug-den-like home of the modder -- velvet covered walls and a persian cat -- meow). I end up with 50 games and quickly realize that 45 of them are not worth my time. Sure, this appraisal was affected by my ability to compare so many at once (NEVER get your kids more than one game at the same time), but it staggered me how much I would have had to spend on each in the store, only to figure out it was pure trash -- and I'm not just talking about taste, here. Bad design, bad graphics, bad gameplay, bad, bad, bad.

If you'd been quicker, you might have gotten on the play-and-trade treadmill and gotten more than your $20 for the lot, but that isn't much fun, either. When I got on, it was with Super NES. Buy a game for $90 (Cdn); trade it in (you'd get less for cash) for $40 in two months' time (if you picked a hit), so you can get the next $90 game. At the end of a run like this, you have almost no games, a whole lot less money, and the distinct feeling that you have permitted yourself to be royally screwed.

this is not the future this is now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008485)

The things described in the article are reality not the future.

My provider offers a list of games to download and play unlimited for a 20 euro/month.

I think it's a ripoff because this means that you have to play and complete about game a month to gain anything from it. Meaning the average game costs about 50 euro. So if you pay 20 euro a month and do more then 2 months over finishing the game you could have bought the game yourself. If your not a real gamingfreak you just ain't going to cut it.

Add to that, that you can play offline even singleplayer games because the game interface that comes with it checks up with the server. And you have to download everything all over again if you want to use the game on another PC. etc etc etc...

To say the least... this stinks...

They just don't make 'em like they used to (4, Interesting)

dido (9125) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008487)

IMHO, I think that the worst trend that has been hitting the PC gaming industry in recent years is a near-total lack of serious innovation and originality. The kinds of trends described in the article are nothing compared to this. Compared to the 1980's and early 1990's, the games of today seem to me anyway, comparatively lackluster and boring. Every major gaming company seems to be suffering from a me-too syndrome that causes the market to flood with dozens of similar games on the coattails of the last major innovation (which comes more and more seldom thanks to this phenomenon). We have hundreds of first-person shooter games and their close variants, more and more games in a genre that was saturated long ago. Real-time strategy games seem to suffer from the same problem. IMHO, the worst thing that ever happened to the gaming industry in recent years was the 3D card, which has seen more than its share of abuse at the hands of the major game companies. They seem to think that making a game 3D with impressive graphics is enough to make up for all of its shortcomings; in fact it's usually more true that abuse of the 3D engine can very quickly become a game's biggest shortcoming. Good graphics does not make up for an RPG's lack of plot and coherent storyline (cough...Ultima IX...cough), nor is it even required for many genre of games (cough...Warcraft III...cough).

DRM-ish measures in games and the other inconveniences mentioned are relatively minor compared to the mess that is a mediocre or unoriginal game.

This article [] is a better, more insightful read into what's wrong with the gaming industry today.

What, you hadn't noticed it until now? (2, Interesting)

unfortunateson (527551) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008500)

PC-based gaming is on a decline. My two teens asked for not a single game for their windows machines, only X-Box. That's probably a good thing, since they're running 450MHz machines with wimpy 3D cards, and they'd have demanded upgrades.

And yet, they play on those machines constantly: java/flash or small games from places like MSN, Weebl, Homestar Runner, etc., and "The Apprentice" to let them play MtG or other card games without owning the cards.

Occasionally they foray into their unfinished back stock too.

Meanwhile, the subscribe or die approach is hitting X-Box: X-Box Live is the only requirement listed for "Phantasy Star Online" until you open the package, at which point you find that a separate subscription is needed to play the online game!

Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008501)

[Insert industry X] decides that [insert details of hair-brained scheme] is best way to make even more money.

It's not like it's important. Get on with your life.

Meanwhile, News at eleven.

History repeating; Darwinian market forces (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008504)

I don't share such bleak predictions for the future, even though I know they are within the realm of possibility. Why? Because that isn't how I want to play games, and that's what matters to the market in the end.

Anyone remember Divx as something other than an avi format? Or does anyone remember when the future of television was supposed to be pay-per-view after its success in the 80s?

The opportunities aren't being afforded by new advances in technology, they've been there for a while.

If companies want to stake their future on consumers playing the DRM game along with them that's fine - it's their dollar to lose or win. Corporate efforts to institute it across-the-board are mind-boggling, but I always have the option to buy something else - and the march towards centralized control, whether it's a slow and concerted push or a quick overhaul, will always create a niche market as a result. If the niche products are absorbed or converted, the niche remains. Ah, capitalism!

So I'm not concerned with companies banding together to push DRM - because all they're doing is shooting their monopolies in the foot, and giving potential competitors a (healthy, unshot) foot in the door - I'm concerned with cartels pulling strings in DC to make standards law.

If the conglomerates are willing to throw away market share in the mad shift towards total information control, why should we stop them? I eagerly await the demise of Sony & Microsoft-qua-game companies.

We don't _have_ to buy it (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008514)

I'd like to be able to play Half Life 2, but if they insist on selling it without physical media (that I can install and play without needing an internet connection) I am quite sure I'll be able to survive without it. Or better still, I'll wait for the inevitable hack to show up.

As much as it is Valve's prerogative to sell software with a limited lifetime and useability, is it also my prerogative not to buy it. It is entirely up to them, then...

Damn, now I have to compromise national security (5, Funny)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008518)

Quake players didn't find themselves looking for a no-CD hack and Half-life players didn't need to connect to a master server to play single-player games, but DooM III and Half-life 2 owners just might have to.

This is going to make it really tough playing it at work in a DoD Tempest-shielded room. I may have to drill a hole to run a net cable ...

(Just kidding, guys: put away your ISP subpoenas)

and linux is dead too... (1)

illumina+us (615188) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008549)

I beleive comments like these coincide with those saying linux is dead. Sorry, I just don't buy it.

Oh well.. (1)

MasTRE (588396) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008555)

I guess I will just not play games anymore. There are, actually, other things I'd rather do. Like read.

He seems obsessed with CD keys (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008557)

The way he goes on about CD keys, you'd think that they were the root of all gaming evils.

I don't read the site normally, so I have no idea how old the guy is, but surely he can't be so young as to not remember some of the hoops we had to jump through back in the old, 8 bit, tape-based days?

Hands up who remembers spending an hour or more fiddling with their tape deck to get Jet Set Willy to load? And then have to type in a particular colour code once it had loaded? Or the LensLok system that Elite used, where you held a very breakable plastic lens up to the screen to make a code readable? Some games even came with little hardware dongles.

He seems to think that it all started with Q3, when in reality, the computer games industry has been doing that sort of thing for about 20 years. Ubiquitous, high-speed net connections may well take it to the next level, but I can't see it being anywhere near as bad as he paints it. If that were true, it should've already been intolerable for a decade or so.

This makes no sense... (4, Insightful)

El Camino SS (264212) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008568)

With the proliferation of the video game market and the recent (last year and a half) realization by people that video games make a lot of money...

Every argument that the marketplace is going to stink goes directly against every economic theory out there. Greater competition and demand is a great thing. I am tired of people saying that a LUXURY ITEM like video games is having some EA games conspiracy or something like that. This is pure drivel.

When I was a child I payed sometimes $35 for a game on the original NES system. Now, I pay $50 for Call of Duty. Which do you think was a better benefit? Which was the bigger bargain? Which is the best deal? I think that argument alone is enough to debunk what people have been saying about the video game industry going to hell in a handbasket... and that we should all put on our crash helmets and prepare to be screwed.

This whole argument is bunk. Go spin some of those tinfoil conspiracies elsewhere... and stop crying because you can't rip off games anymore. When someone rips off the GPL, everyone is up in arms, but a game that is cracked? TOTALLY COOL, RIGHT?

Get a grip, whiners. Go live in a mud hut for a month if you need to get away from the screwjob of the video games because you think you payed too much for a copy of MADDEN 2004 or whatever.

Quake's CD Keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008570)

This guy starts off his argument claiming thatg because Quake III required a CD key and the previous two incarnations did not that the gaming world is about to come screaching to a halt? How old is this guy, 13?

I'm sure the rest of us who have lifespans that cross more than a decade rememeber the days when in order to play the game you were prompted to find the x word of the y paragraph of the z page of the instruction manual that the game came with. Every single time you wanted to play you needed to have that manual by your side ready to hunt down any word.

Even in the world of broadband the level of content in games is increasing. These same claims were made when 14.4k modems became available and the huge 200k games of the time were distributed on BBSes. I don't see most of it being realized; single player games with mostly static content will remain pay-up-front and get media. The world of multiplayer only adds a new facet.

Online books are a clear parallel IMO (2, Interesting)

asink (106056) | more than 10 years ago | (#8008574)

Even if you can only download a chapter at a time, you can _gather_ the entire book. Once you have the book, you can modify the phone-home code(tricky, but nothing compared to what has been done before). Another alternative would be to simply set up your host file to point to a different server to provide the pieces of the game on demand. The community of gamers usually responds pretty clearly to these types of restrictions.

It's like toilet paper (a little) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8008585)

"Many will say that these things can't come to pass, that the public will rebel at some point. They'll dig up the DivX debacle or other technological boondoggles from the past decade as evidence. Yet, it will only take one best-selling game, like Half-life 2, to introduce the masses to new and more restrictive technologies that will then become standard"

MIT published a book a few years ago called "The Bathroom, the Kitchen, and the Aesthetics of Waste : A Process of Elimination". Among other things, the book discusses the history of toilet paper.

In the late 1800s corporations first tried to market toilet paper, but the attempt totally failed. People were not foolish enough to pay money for paper they were going to use to rub shit on. But after a few years and the beginning of the "consumer" era toilet paper became a successful product. Attitudes changed over the years, with a gradual adoption of the consumer mentality eased along by increasing amounts of marketing.

The mere fact that a marketing attempt or product has failed in the past does not at all prove that it will fail in the present or in the future.

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