Saturday, April 26, 2014

Let's Talk - "Going All Digital pt.2"

Yesterday I don't think I made my message entirely clear. The header of yesterday's article, which was appropriately titled "Let's Talk - 'Going All Digital'" was meant to reflect exactly that. The point I was trying to make at the core of it all is that not all digital practices are bad, but that the ones in which you pay full price just to have the rights to play the games, or use the online services are. Not only that, but I also stick by the possible scenario in which gaming companies could go under in the near future. The fact that modern-day consoles are wholly geared towards online usage greatly limits their offline functionality, and in doing so presents a huge problem should a gaming company lose interest in providing their online services. Consoles these days, in comparison to retro consoles often times will not fully function without the support of the applied online network. Whether it be Sony's PSN, Microsoft's Xbox LIVE, or Nintendo's whatever you will be hard pressed to re-download, and use past purchased digital content, or games in general once the online services are void. In retro days with retro consoles we did not have this issue, because those consoles were grounded, and fully functional in the offline scenario.

I honestly feel that the digital practices being put into place are unjust, and unfair to the consumer. If the digital games were significantly less in price than the physical counterparts then that would be a different story. Unfortunately you'll find companies charging full price for digital games, music, and movies that are limited by an "End User License Agreement". Owning the right to use a digital product is not the same as actually owning it. Plain, and simple. In the end with physical, or digital copies in place the whole "Have & Have Not" issue is still very valid. We only have the rights to play the game, and use the online services. The newest gaming consoles have already had their players agree to an "End User License Agreement" in order for them to be able to play on the consoles, and enjoy the online gaming that it offers. All you now own as a result is the right to use a sophisticated piece of technology that you payed hundreds of dollars for as well as that piece of technology itself. Without the online gaming services, or the ability to play the games that the console offers that expensive gaming console/piece of technology is nothing but a brick. That's the facts. The same goes for tablets, smartphones, PCs, and Macs.

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum retro consoles are still very much viable, and very much playable to this day. You literally own those retro games. You own the ability to play on those retro gaming consoles. Not even Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo can take your retro gaming away. You wanna know why? It's because retro gaming is a mostly offline experience. It does not carry binding legal agreements, online limitations, and hardware/software that will become void once the gaming companies go under. Think about that for a sec. Going "All Digital", and going fully online is the worst thing that could ever, and did ever happen to gaming. It makes the consumer a slave to digital technology, and online offerings. In order to enjoy the entertainment options at hand you either agree to the binding legal agreements, and pony up the dough for the services, or do without. That is what the world of entertainment has become. Whether it be gaming, movies, music, or streaming content it's all the same.

Once again I'll stop the rant there. Feel free to comment, or whatever. I hope this time you fully understand what it is I was trying to say in regards to "Going All Digital". Unlike the rest of the entertainment industry I'm looking out for you, my friends.

Your Last Samurai,
Brad Carver (OtakuDante)


  1. On a related note, there are some old consoles that 'lost' games due to online functionality being shut off- mostly Japan-only. There's the Satellaview for the SNES/Super Famicom which 'broadcast' games in episodes and had radio-like audio commentary in certain games. Many games have been preserved but without music due to the relevant radio broadcasts not being available.

    There's also the Mega Modem for the Mega Drive, which had specially-made games to download to a special cartridge. Two were released as cart-based games overseas (Flicky and Fatal Labyrynth), others were gathered together on Mega-CD compilations, but some weren't, the most notable being an otherwise-unreleased Sonic game, Sonic Eraser, that's only shown up in recent years.

    This is one of my personal concerns with digital distribution- in the future, digital-only games are going to be very difficult to preserve. It's already happened with games being delisted. There's an interesting article on it here:

    That said, one advantage with the way things are at the moment (physical and digital) is games that stood little chance of a boxed release in the West get a fair shot at it with digital (especially on the PSP with games like Corpse Party, Carnage Heart EXA and Trails in the Sky SC getting US/EU releases when the system was on its way out/dead in stores). I'd always prefer a physical release but often these games have smaller publishers and arrive too late so it's not viable.

    1. Thanks for the input as always. Yep, I guess my comments about retro consoles were geared more towards the western console releases. Things like the NES, Super Nintendo, Gameboy, Gamecube, etc., ... were what I was referring to.

      Your concerns about the preservation of digital games is also a good point. I've seen things on the PSN removed as well as stuff on XBL that I actually paid for. Going all digital is definitely a huge mistake in that regard. I also agree with you about the Japanese games that could have not made it to western stores otherwise. I would still prefer an actual physical copy though, because the truth is you only own the game on an online dependent console so long as the online service is provided on said console, and so long as said console functions fully offline.

      Like I told @Fireforge_Audio though my main point was geared towards digital content that was bound by the infamous "End User License Agreement", and the fact that with the economy as bad as it is digital offerings, and digital services may not last the long haul. I have nothing against software, or hardware that does not bind the consumer by contractual agreements. I do however have issues with content that you do not actually own, or that is owned so long as you abide by the console company's rules. Regardless of the fact that physical, and digital copies of games exist these days for the newer generation of gaming consoles it still does little to address the issues at hand. Whether it's physical, or digital you can only play it so long as you are abiding by the "End User License Agreement" rules, and so long as you have access to the console's online services. Both the PS4, and Xbox One had players agree to an "End User License Agreement" before they could ever play on the consoles.

      On the flip side retro consoles such as the American NES, and Super Nintendo can function without the use of online, and have no binding agreements tied to the use of them other than the bans against streaming certain things. You can always play them if they are not broken. If the PS4, or Xbox One could fully function offline you would not find me complaining so much, but these consoles like other digital supporting electronics require online service connectivity to use. These practices, and features were put into place on purpose to make the consumer dependable on the offered services for their entertainment/gaming needs. It's all about money in the end.

      Another thing concerning about digital products is that the servers allowing you to download the content are always vulnerable to hacker attacks, and server failure. Having an actual physical copy helps one to avoid the need to depend on such servers for re-downloads, or downloads. The added fact that digital files are corruptible including those of video games, and other entertainment offerings such as music, and movies makes having access to those servers a must in the case of an emergency. If the servers/download services become unavailable for some reason, and you can no longer access the digital product you paid for you are SOL (Sh*t Out Of Luck).


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