If you followed the changes, then it is clear that the console war is currently getting fought and they are now going for all kinds of niche based solutions to keep a handle on greed (as in, to make it more money in any way they can).
In these hard economic times we are all trying to find a solution to make ends meet. If we focus on the gamers, then we see a group of people that is massively represented by those still being tertiary students and many of them are younger than that. So, this is a group that is not overly wealthy. Even the working population that might be into gaming is trying to make ends meet and they too are not swimming in loads of cash. It was in this environment that places like EB-Games are making decent cash to sell pre-owned games. When you do not have a load of cash, getting a pre-owned game at $15-$50 is a lot more appealing than getting the newly packed unused version at $89-$119.
As per last week that commercial game is changing fast on two fronts. The first one is the TPP (Trans Pacific Pact), if this one gets pushed through (the Australian liberal government was trying to do this in secret, but several sources are now openly aware of it), that pact will be an option for Microsoft AND Sony to make even more money than before (as in charge us more for products, as discussed in my previous blog). So, the fact that we in Australia pay on average 35%-60% more on a game was perhaps not enough margin, which will mean that new games will find even less appeal.
But have no fear, Sony (Microsoft too) already has a solution to stop alternatives. In the updates last week, my PlayStation 3 was shown a new agreement and we either agree with this or we lose the online options, which is disastrous for ALL gamers owning a PlayStation.
In this new agreement it stated:
7.1 You must not resell either Disc-Based or Software downloads, unless expressly authorised by us and, if the publisher is another company, additionally by the publisher.
So, the end of pre-owned games has come. Basically, until they can check and enforce it, we are breaking the law, which might give Sony the option to cancel our PSN account and once they can check whether a game is new or not (perhaps they already can), they will just charge us an additional fee or shut the game(r) down. The agreement has many more needles involving unlocking regions, reverse engineering and so on. There are a few sides to that, but in that regard, personally, I think that any company would want to protect their own product, which is fair enough.
Did anyone realise this? So, not only are they greed driven on selling new games, they are destroying a commercial part that has not ever been illegal. Many expected this, but most did not see this coming from both sides at the same time.
No matter how we go next, whether we go to download games, which means Sony stops paying a lot more corporate tax in Australia (and other nations too), or we end up paying way too much for games. So, nextgen consoles will now start to show that it will cost us (more).
In regards to borrowing, Sony never stopped others borrowing a friend’s game. For Sony it is just good business, however, the console game has changed and will keep on changing a little longer at high cost to many of us. So, it is important to see that they never lied; they just did not mention other changes.
So our world is changing fast and it starts changing faster and more extreme as per the end of this year. It is interesting how America, who claims to have high morals, will sell others down the track to big business for simple greed; this is how I see the TPP.
Consider that this could be the end of gaming as we know it. If you think that this is exaggerated, consider that good games are original games (or come directly from them). EA and UBI-Soft are showing us less and less originality. (An 11th version of a sport game or a 4th sequel to Assassins Creed is not an original). Our hopes were with the Indie developers who come with that golden idea that will invigorate us with the passion of a new gaming era. As the TPP reads (for as far as I read parts of them), the pact is there to push IP powers to the US and its allies (where these big businesses are based). This is not what IP was about, it was always about protecting innovation, not for big business to exploit and to hammer down their interests to their extent.
In gaming, innovation has not come from big business for a long time!
Consider Minecraft and Catherine, some will not call them great games, the first one is massively addictive, both are originals. Even next year’s release of ‘the Evil Within’ which comes from a small player called Tango Gameworks should be seen as an original. Even though many of their staff come from Capcom, this new player has the creative mind that brought us Resident Evil. It is important to protect these small developers, even (or better especially) if they are not from Japan or USA. Forcing them under some IP umbrella designed by the TPP was never the goal (this is how I see this going in the future). When innovation goes, games (or art) will suffer first! That has been proven more than once. So how will you feel about a $500 console when big business decides what makes a good game? Consider that NONE of the big boys (in those days) wanted to publish the game Lemmings. I remember that it only got out because some people at Psygnosis were not too busy. It became one of the most successful games EVER to make it to the home computers and to my knowledge the only game EVER to be released on most 8-bit and 16 bit systems (it was a really addictive game).
If we look at 2013, then in my view, ‘The Last of Us’ (by naughty dog) and ‘Beyond Two Souls’ might be the actual original games of 2013, even though the latter one is based on the Heavy Rain engine, so originality is a little bit of an issue there. If you want to see another example of originality then ‘Dragon Story’ comes to mind. Even though I think that they made several greed driven mistakes via their IOS edition, this game could be on Nintendo, the game that will compete with Pokémon. If they grow the engine beyond what they have now, it could become a mega seller for the younger players on any console if they add more game play to what they have.
Yes, 2013 had great games, but they were all sequels beyond the ones I mentioned (I apologise for any titles I missed), so if we are to grow as gamers, then we need originality! The changes as we see them will drive us all to other systems and perhaps that might become the very expensive lesson that Sony and Microsoft will have to learn the hard way. Consider the option of getting that Google console for $99 and buy (and play) a ‘Minecraft like’ game on that! Over a hundred hours of fun for the price of a single Sony/Microsoft game.
Gamers do not like to get boxed in, both Sony and Microsoft better learn this fast!
If consumers who are into gaming would consider waiting no less than three months before they buy a next Gen console. They might end up getting a much better deal in both the short run and the long run. How much damage are Sony and Microsoft willing to suffer? Holding a 16 billion dollar industry at ransom is currently the only option I can think of, especially as governments (Australia included) are very willing to give the keys (and powers) of Intellectual Property unjustly to big business.