A changing console war

We are 12 days from the beginning of a new war, an all-out war, it is the war of the consoles and this war will start now and will go on until past Christmas. Yes, Christmas is the new center of these war efforts.

On the left side we have the one, and on the right side, the other. It is Sony versus Microsoft and it does not matter who you choose or support, you the gamer will make at some point a choice. Some with get neither and some will get both, 4 groups! From my view, I choose the Sony side, as the PlayStation 4 is stated by them as a system for gamers! Yet, both sides made the same mistake, even though Sony had an optional alternative, both systems come with a 500 Gb drive. The PS4 allows for the system to be upgraded with a bigger drive. What I do not understand is why they did not install a 1Tb drive for a mere $20 more. There is a lot more to this, but about that part more a little later.

I will mention at this point, right now, that part of the view that follows has bias. I want to be completely impartial, but to claim impartiality when a person’s passion is attacked is at times way to ludicrous!

My issue with the Xbox One, the Microsoft (aka Micro$oft) product had issues from the very beginning. First, they (Microsoft via Don Mattrick) announced on the need for a once a day login to the Microsoft system. I discussed that in my blog called ‘Discrimination or Segmentation in gaming? (UPDATED!)‘ In June 2013, that part was later recalled, which is why I updated the blog. I do believe in keeping people abreast of the correct information. Microsoft made the blog again in August 2013 in my blog called ‘Tax evasion, copyrighted by Vodafone?‘ This was all about ‘pay as little as taxation as possible‘, which will link to this later. Then in September 2013 we get the blog ‘The marks of trade‘ which again links Microsoft. So, why are these linked to the console war?

The last article has the mayor link to what the consumers of their choice in the console wars are not getting informed about.  “When the digital world is entering the field where more and more possible ‘new’ consumers are updated through the net, it seems that their marketing and party lines need to get a massive overhaul and it should all get a much better mentor system then it currently seems to have.” There is a side that had been hidden, even from me. This side is not on the up and up and even game sites like Gamespot have until now been silent about it. The latter one is silent about it as they might not be aware at all, which would be fair enough.

So what is going on?

The next generation of consoles will evolve into a new world that is all about DRM (Digital Rights Management). Even though you think that this was off the table, certain changes are now becoming visible doubting that all no matter what some executives claim to be the case. In case of Microsoft, for their system, as this is not a gaming system, but it has been labelled as an ‘entertainment system’ this all will become a much bigger issue. Do not think that Sony is off the hook here, they will be part of all this down the road too!

The issue came to light when I was made aware to an article called “TPP ‘A Substantial Threat To Australian Sovereignty’” (at https://newmatilda.com/2013/11/14/tpp-serious-threat-australian-sovereignty). If we ignore mentions like ‘secret law‘ for now and concentrate on “a law that will override the High Court of Australia” as quoted, then we see that our attention was pulled away from lawmaking that will have a massive influence on global users of all forms of entertainment.

Suelette Dreyfus a research fellow from the University of Melbourne states “At its heart the TPP is basically a grab for money. It will take money out of the pockets of average Australians and give it to large corporations in the US“. She also makes a mention on how illegal movies will now have to be policed by the ISP’s, even though the high Court of Australia had already ruled in ‘Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16‘ in this matter. The law changes would influence future events. I dealt with the initial issues of illegal downloads somewhere during the year, but the change might, if enforced mean that, should illegal downloads stop (I am not against that), that the economic fallout would be enormous. Consider that Telco’s would see a bandwidth drop of two marks, which would mean that the consumer bill would lower an average of $30 a month, with over 7 million users this amounts to 210 million revenue per month less (spread over several providers), this would have a massive consequence, but the effect would soon be global if this path continues. To be frank, it does not affect me, I never download movies. I prefer the quality of a DVD/Blu-Ray on my TV screen, whenever I want it.

Brendan Molloy, the Information freedom activist and Councillor for Pirate Party Australia has an interesting view on other changes. “Perhaps the most shocking inclusion in the TPP IP chapter is criminalisation of non-commercial copyright infringement.” The Australian patent law changes, discussed in what is referred to as the ‘raising the bar act 2013‘, is all about promoting innovation. These events change everything. His quote “The text even attempts to consider temporary copies to be copyright infringement!” is an interesting (read dangerous) change. It implies that personal owned transfers (like CD to MP3) could be affected. A final quote is “There is language that would lower global standards on medical patents and potentially extend patents beyond 20 years, all supported by the United States.” This means that there steps in place to thwart innovation and strangle hold commerce. This means that only the big boys will be able to dictate progress for the next few decades, which means innovation goes out the window for a long time to come.

Angela Mitropoulos, Researcher at the University of Sydney has the following to say “The biggest winners in the TPP are the largest global corporations and, with the proliferation of mechanisms proposed, they intend to fully harness the infrastructures of the internet and the full force of the law in order to capture and extract even larger profits and a wider share of the world market.

Basically, the new world terrorists will be the large corporations, if these reported events are true. So how does this strike back to the console war of Sony and Microsoft?

First of all, games and consoles are ALL about innovation. A console is only as good as its games and without innovation a console dies fast. Sometimes reverse engineering is the only way to get true progress. Consider the parts mentioned earlier, and if you have a console (either Wii, Xbox 360 or PS3), look at all the parts you have and how many of these parts were not an official Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft product. Items like recharge-able batteries, controllers and head sets. All that could stop! The issue goes a lot further, if we consider the quote from Brendan Molloy “article QQ.G.10 reinforces one of the worst parts of our current IP regime, which consists of legal protections for technical protection measures. Why should it be illegal to jailbreak your iPhone?

So products like Blu-Ray’s and DVD regions and Smartphones. All of it treated under scrutiny of big business! Consider that due to these changes the new iPhone 6 could then only be there for the Telstra (or Vodafone) customers (presumption). These changes would make these events possible. Smaller firms would quickly be pushed out of existence, giving even more power to big Telco’s. This could also have an effect on consoles. If we consider the implications, then the danger becomes ever more apparent that the innovation that we desire to see gaming go forward is also in danger as a sizeable part of the indie developers are in the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and a few others, who are not part of this agreement. So, if Sony and Microsoft set their IP stranglehold to such an extent to drive these developers away, then what happens to innovation?

The TPP seems to be about segregation not about innovation (as far as I saw the information pass by), which means that whatever happens will be under complete control for Sony and Microsoft for their respective consoles. Is this bad or is this good?

I think it is a bad thing, if we consider innovation in gaming. I am not against Activision protecting themselves against a reverse engineered version of Skylanders on one side, but to strangle hold a market will never lead to innovation, which translates in our case to better and new original games.

The next part is on Microsoft specifically. This is because they ‘wanted’ to label their system as an ‘entertainment system’ as such; the changes that the TPP is trying to push through will have additional consequences for the Xbox One.

The initial TPP article made the following mention, which came from Brendan Molloy “The United States has proposed several provisions that are anti-innovation. One such provision is a blanket ban on the retransmission of TV signals over the Internet in Article QQ.H.12, regardless of purpose, without permission of the rights holder.” This is where I get back to that small drive in the Xbox One. There are two sides. If we cannot store too much on the Xbox One, then we must either park it on the cloud (where we can be monitored), or we download it again and again (costing us bandwidth). That was ‘yesterday’, when the TPP comes into play, the retransmission of a movie from the cloud might come with additional limitations where any additional ‘replay’ could be charged. I am not stating that it will, yet the changes are ALL about economic control, so it could happen. This reflects back to the part in ‘Tax evasion, copyrighted by Vodafone?‘, because even though we are all charged, the provider is likely to pay a lot less taxation on these services, so not only will local commerce get hurt, those local governments will collect a lot less corporate taxation because of this all. We saw that in cases of Apple, Amazon, Google and a few others.

That means that the digital movie and TV options from Microsoft would go through very specific bans and very tight rules. This means that picking up the Swedish or the Dutch newscasts online might not be possible. You see, QQ.H.12 is one step away from WHICH stations your entertainment system will receive, all set in a nice package pushed through by a nation that is one step away from bankruptcy, desperately in need of money! You still feel safe with your Xbox One?

So, as we see the interaction of QQ.G.10 (jail breaking) and QQ.H.12 (retransmission) we see that in the broadest sense of the word that Microsoft could decide what we see and when we see it. Is this the global, shared world we were supposed to move forward to?

The site ‘Business Spectator’ quoted the following in regards to the TPP. “Besides the United States, the pact would include 11 other nations, among them Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Mexico, though it excludes regional powerhouse China as well as Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy.” So, it seems that the IP world is no longer about making a global effort in moving forward, with these different trade pacts we will get a new war, not on resources, but on who gets to play with what, when and how and the new consoles are smack in the middle of this changing landscape.

So if your console does more then play games, the question will soon become ‘at what price‘ will it do what it does?

Philip Dorling from the Sydney Morning Herald reported this 2 days ago “Australians could pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer games and software” so even though we get to pay 30%-60% more on games at present and 60% more for movies, we might end up paying even more then that? I am not even touching medication, which is a hot iron on several levels. To read that Tony Abbott is quoted in the article with “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he is keen to see the trade talks pushed to a successful conclusion next month” gives us further pause for concern. The man just got elected and it looks like he sold us out to the Americans within 80 days of his election, this must be a new world record!

So the choice of your new console could come with an additional price tag, one that the politicians will happily leave to big business to decide. I have not known ANY instance EVER, where greed driven entities EVER decided in favour of the consumer! It is an expensive lesson gamers might soon be forced to learn again soon.

Have a great holiday and don’t let that new console hit you too hard in the Credit Card on the way out of the shop.



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Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

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