April 28th, 2013

Digital Downloads are Worthless

So I’ve been trying to get my mom into the whole digital revolution and she hasn’t taken to it. I also can’t disagree with her.
I’ve been trying to get her to buy books she might enjoy on Amazon which comes up with a few problems:
“They are three times as expensive as the physical book I can buy at Wal-mart!” True, fair enough. Amazon eBook prices are ludicrous.
“What if I don’t want it anymore?” You can just delete it from your library. “Do I get my money back?” No. “Then I don’t want it!”
See, with something digital, you can’t sell it back, nor sell it to someone else. It’s worthless once you pay for it the resell value starts at $0. It’s worse that buying a car!
So I talked her into getting some free books that are offered for a short time or books that were free forever. That seemed cool, but then she wanted the books by the authors she read for free. That’s her mindset, digital items needs to be free. Why? Another point. She had read about a woman who was locked out of her entire Amazon library and there was NO WAY she was getting it back. She couldn’t sue because she wasn’t in the US and Amazon was ignoring her.
“So they can lock me out of all my book at anytime?” Yes… yes they can and for whatever reason. Then you just hope the courts back you if/when you sue. I tried to explain to her why they can do that.
Well mom, you don’t actually buy (a copy) of the book. You more or less rent it.
“So I pay triple the price to rent it? BULLSHIT!” Yeah you do mom… That new game on PSN, you just paid $70 as a rental/license fee. You don’t own that game. Sony can at any time stop doing business and you won’t have access to that game. They can do that. It’s even worse for Nintendo owners as it’s tied to your device and if your device dies.. you ain’t getting your games back ever! I think the way you can transfer the account is through one of those transfer things, but it’s only ONE per device and once the device is dead.. it’s too late.

Let’s take a look at physical objects. When you pay $70 for a physical copy of the game, you own that game. You get what’s called “First Sale” rights to sell that game to someone else. (Of course now game companies have eroded that away with DRM and such that people embraced with open arms.) You can take that game and put it into a blender. You can lend it to your friend, who you hope won’t put it into a blender. Or as my mom enjoys, gong to a used book store and buying used books that she can access, sell, burn whatever.
With digital game, you can do this. At any point the $3000 you spent on games can just be cut off. The companies don’t even have to compensate you for it NOR provide you with a copy on physical media. It’s… just.. gone… poof.
Of course people will argue “Well you never owned the right to physical media…. DRM… license… etc…” They basically rolled over and let companies make new laws on how YOU the consumer get to do with what YOU OWN.

Let’s look at what an actual license let’s you do. You can get a license to drive, a license to sell alcohol, a license to fish. However if those licenses are revoked, you don’t lose your car, your bottle of booze, or your fishing tackle. You just aren’t authorized to use them. You can take those items and sell them, donate them, or find someone with a license to use them for you. In the case of digital media, it seems that the license is the thing itself, the game/book/movie was revoked. You can’t even let a friend use it. Also in all those cases, not having a license doesn’t prevent you from driving, selling booze nor fishing… you just hope you don’t get caught.

So yes, digital downloads are worthless and you pay for them. You can never get the money back you spent on them, nor can you get a physical copy of what you spent your money on.

SOLUTIONS! There are of course easy solutions to this, however it’s getting companies to agree to them.
If for whatever reason you are banned from a service (Amazon, Steam, PSN) that company MUST provide you a DRM free copy of whatever you bought in a format that is most understood for no charge. (That fee was in the initial cost). The latter part basically so they can’t give you a DRM filled .XYZ file that you need a specific program to access it with that you can’t use because you’ve been banned from the service in the first place.
Allow you to sell back your purchase at a discounted price, OR allow you to sell your copy to another person. The only problem with this one is, digital things are like bacteria. They can split off and make more of themselves, thus what’s stopping someone from buying a new copy. With physical media you can count the copies. Still, it could be offered that there are “used” copies available at ripoff GameStop prices ($5 off the new price and you one get $5 of that!)
Allow you to request physical media FOR SALE, where the DVD/CD/BD might have a code on it which when activated dumps your entire library off the computer and only available from the disc. Problems however include having to have internet access to do this, which physical media (is supposed to) not have.

In the end, mom was right. This digital thing muse be approached with caution and questions, lest you end up with no money and no items.

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6 responses to “Digital Downloads are Worthless”

  1. Skyknight says:

    Not really germane to this, but to an old post about a disagreement in Atlus about whether there should be a female option for the SMT4 protagonist (in part because I’m worried it’s already closed)…The naysayers have a slight problem on their side. Namely, precedent from SMT: If. Not only did that one have a male/female option, but the Persona series is considered to be a canon sequel series to it. And those games establish the FEMALE player-character as the canon one. While I would consider male-only unavoidable for SMT1 because of the whole Adam-Eve-Lilith constellation, I’m not aware of anything story-integral (as opposed to target audience-integral) that would have made it necessary for 2 or 3.

    Especially odd when you consider that, at least in Japan, the Persona spin-offs are quite a bit more popular than the mainline SMT games. SMT: If should be on their minds more often, given that.

    • Maverynthia says:

      Oh wow, that is interesting! I’d post your comment onto those articles with those quotes. :D I’d be good to get the word out about that. ALSO, Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine (The MMO) allows for M/F options as well. I know it could be argued “But of course, it’s an MMO” but that’s just a weak retort.

  2. Skyknight says:

    I can’t say I’m fond of ANYTHING other than an MMO that requires you to be online as a matter of course (I’m looking at you, Diablo III). What makes the companies so sure that everyone’s online all the time? There’s a reason why public libraries offer free internet access–not everyone is willing and/or able to pay direct internet access fees.

    I use Kindle through my iPod, in any case. Although I still prefer physical books, simply because it’s so much easier to sift through them for a particular place.

  3. 01d55 says:

    It’s not only the e-books that aren’t fully yours; the Kindle itself isn’t under your control. Amazon controls it through the software they wrote – if you try to replace it with software of your own choosing, the device is designed to stop working.

    • Maverynthia says:

      D: Wow I didn’t know about that! :c Honestly I think we give companies too much power over stuff that we used to be able to say we “owned”.