Lessening the consumer?

After yesterday’s Ignoranus Totalicus it seemed to take another look at this level of ‘brilliance’ (read: active attempt to use sarcasm). And it did not take much time to find it. You see, whenever greed is at the foundations of things, less bright decisions will be made. And that issue was already the case at several places in that industry. Now, it is off course important to make distinction here. The makers do not seem to have this need, other than the righteous desire for the funds of their product. Yet, there is more than one side to the issue at play (isn’t there always?) One of the issues is facilitation. Here we see, as I see it, the consumer betrayal Sony is now starting to give us, which is only now starting to take shape. I initially wrote about this in ‘Pricing a Sony game!‘ in November 2013 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/11/20/pricing-a-sony-game/) this issue was raised, but in another shape. You see Don Mattrick made this speech on how the Xbox One would be mandatory. It drove the public on mass away from that system into the hands of the PlayStation 4. Now we see that Sony is slowly breaking that promise. In the first case (Fallout 4) there was a possible issue as Microsoft has never made the online ‘need’ a secret, which is why people have been flocking towards Sony so strong. Now we see quite a different scene and it is soon to get worse. For me it is the issue of a different matter, it is the part that now stops me from playing fallout 4. You see, a small accident broke my router, so when I initially started the game, whilst in the end of Automatron it told me that the DLC could not be found. Only after I got back online would the game load correctly with DLC and all. Now we get the second part, the fantastic achievement Ratchet & Clank, which came with a weapon called the bouncer (DLC code) was suddenly gone when playing offline. When I got back online, it was still gone and I had to purchase it again and got it at level 1 (purchasing it offline was not an option.

I personally do not believe it is a bug, or an oversight. It is merely another way to ‘force’ people to work online. You see, I have had a few issues with article 7 of the Sony service agreement in those days. The fact that games could no longer be pre-owned, which was my only issue. Even as I personally believe that people should be able to exchange their old games with other ones (just like books, records and movies). I do not have that sentiment when we look at DLC’s. They are separate additions to the game and as such often sold for a mere few dollars. So as the game goes, so do the DLC’s. I have no issues with that. Yet, the need to be online so that the DLC works is another matter. That has never been a requirement in previous systems. I see this move a mere attempt to keep a flair of innocence whilst now Sony and Microsoft are using other ways to force people to be online. They were already, in a feigned way, trying to keep people online by denying gamers their achievements, now the DLC’s seem to be become part of the additional pressure to keep people online. Online data is to be regarded as the profiling data mine of the future, and both Microsoft and Sony want their share of that coffer. So far the only two are Bethesda with their new DLC’s on Sony PS4. On the Xbox One Bethesda had already changed their way as it would not proceed the game without online logging in from the moment Windows 10 became part of the Xbox One, now this need has been added to the PS4. In addition, Ratchet and Clank has added them to the downloaded weapon (I have only one). It seems that the online push is going through. The rights of gamers now starting to be diminished, forced online against their choice (those who prefer to play offline), this issue had been in play for a while and the press had been very interested in ignoring this issue in the past, especially as the changes given came two weeks before the release of the PS4, like any decent prostitute, the press at large would hold off as much as possible for the need of advertisement and circulation. I wonder how the press feels after 3 years, now that it is less about advertisement?

It is hard to state how I feel about this. I am online often enough, but when you cannot continue a game because of a broken router and two weeks away from a pay check tends to make most gamers a little irritated. That is the part most of us know. The other group of gamers, the ones Americans (and Japanese) tend to ignore are the rural gamers, those with less online options, no great connections and those relying on wireless broadband, depending on 5 pounds per gigabyte, those gamers are soon to be left in the cold. Short-sightedness of a small group of people who look at the 90% of their flock and casually forget about the potential 3 million people forced to higher expenses. This is not a local group, there are several groups all over the Commonwealth, all requiring some connectivity to keep on gaming.

A nasty dilemma for those faced with it, a minor inconvenience for those greedy for data revenue. It is irritating how easy those deciding voices seem to ignore the need of the few. Sony has now illustrated itself to be no longer about being ‘for the players’, they are now the players who will exploit at the expense of the gamers, a simple path that was delayed for a mere three years. Now, it is back on track. Yet the interesting part is not just the choice Sony made, it is equally interesting that Japan today reported (at http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/clinton-pivots-from-obamas-asia-policy-with-tpp-opposition). Here we see thee quote “The TPP has been the main economic plank of President Barack Obama’s seven-year effort to intensify engagement with a fast-growing region and counter China’s rising clout with nations that count it as their principal trading partner“, which seems to prove that being the lame quack quack in the White House comes at a price, one that could now cost him a 7 year plan as it falls away completely. The fact that both sides of the American Isle regard the TPP as a disaster can’t be a good thing, apart from the fact that people all over the world had issues with it. There is more to the TPP, partially it does affect the digital world as well. The digital world (read: gaming as a mere fraction here), would be under massive duress due to the TPP, that is still an issue, but it seems to me that it now realises that the bulk of gaming might no longer be coming from the US. The shift of indie gamers is growing strong and even though this is extremely likely not the cause of action by Hillary Clinton (read: most likely financial and pharmaceutical industries), we might see a flitter of hope for gamers as they could profit from the events playing at present and as such, it is not entirely impossible that Microsoft and Sony will have to do a 180 on their current path of forced connectivity.

The last part is a mere speculation on my side, but not a farfetched one. I reckon that the DRM part of the TPP gave path to the ideas Microsoft had initially. The parts we hear now is not a given, one article is not a guarantee for any about face. Yet, the fact that both sides in the US were never happy with the TPP is an initial good sign. If we consider the DRM, than there are sides. Yes, I agree with the quote “deprive the public domain of decades of creative works“, yet in that same part I personally feel that when Bethesda makes digital content, it has every right to sell this material. I would never oppose this, yet if this requires mandatory online presence than the systems are either massively flawed (which is not likely the issue), or just a new path for Sony to walk and Microsoft will be walking the same path.

In the end, consider what you want, take the path you want, just consider that corporations will find a way to the profit they consider they are entitled to, games are just one medium. Which is exactly what seems to be happening in the world of Facebook at present. You see, Facebook doesn’t need to rely on connectivity, when you are on Facebook, you are online. Facebook shows us the next iteration of limited special deals, or perhaps we need to call it ‘intentional discrimination’.

You see, when we see certain special offers and we get the text: “Couldn’t Complete Purchase: We didn’t receive all the information we needed from this app to complete your purchase. You haven’t been charged for this purchase, so please try again. If you keep seeing this error, contact the app developer”, we are given the impression that it was a mere error. Yet, the truth is a lot harsher than you imagine. You see, when the ‘normal’ purchase works without issues, it is no longer about a mere error. The special deal is about collecting information. A special deal that gives you a trinket for the mere option of collecting identity and credit card details. The issue is that the special deal does not give clear indication of this, it does not state “in exchange for your credit card details we will give you an extra trinket”, so why does the offer not show this? Perhaps I am just assuming that and it shows that my assumption is wrong. That would be fair enough, we are all wrong at times, which is why I await initial feedback from Facebook and when that response comes, I will update this story.

 

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