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.

March 3rd, 2012

The Movie Measuring Stick

Whenever I hear about the price of games, I always here it compared by some to the price of a movie per around two hours of entertainment. The price of a movie is usually quoted $8~$12 depending on where you live, extra discounts, etc. “So!” it is said “A game for $60 is a STEAL! :D!”. No I don’t agree with this at all. Why? Because it is never asked if people want to pay $8~$12 to see a movie and have that experience. It is assumed that people enjoy paying that much. They also ignore that the number of people going to theaters has decreased, and last I checked was at an all time low. For whatever reason people aren’t going to watch movies as much anymore, probably because of cost VS spare time. They’d much rather save the gas and spend the $12 towards the DVD or Blu-Ray, or even spend the $8 or such and stream it online.

Another reason why the movie measuring stick fails, is that a movie is a set length of time. If it runs for 120 minutes, it runs at 120 minutes (unless edited for TV, then it runs less). Games on the other hand have varying times of completion. However the stick is always applied to some magic invisible number of hours that the game makers FEEL that you should be having. A movie is a personal experience to someone, the running time of the movie is the entertainment to be had. A game? Not so much. The simple fact that it’s one hundred hours to finish might actually detract from the amount of fun being had. Thus someone walking out on a movie is out ~$10 VS $60 and with the whole DRM schemes/download only and such designed to thwart people reselling the game, that $60 is gone for good. Also movies usually come with extras and bonus features (deleted scenes, director commentary, etc.), where games take the opposite approach and try and hack and much out of the game and still be playable and sell the rest off as DLC.

“Well then what’s a better stick to measure with.” Good question. You know what often gets overlooked when talking about game pricing, but arguing about games? Books!
Books provide hours of entertainment and can be scaled to games better. It may take someone two hours to read a book VS a whole year or more. Games are the same way, where someone can complete the $60 Skyrim in two hours, some people are still playing on it. You can skip parts in books, and games sometimes have side quests or such you can skip as well. The cost of a book is around ~$8 depending on the book, length, format, etc. I think games should be held to book standards. Considering a book can take forty hours to read, and that game takes forty hours to play, how about that? “NO!” your cry “That’s too low!” Well maybe you should restructure the price scheme away from movies and more towards something more realistic like books, where $8 buys you more time and more content, considering how much gets cut out of movies that are based on books. People usually agree that the book was better.

April 12th, 2011

New Humble Bundle

There’s a new Humble Bundle called the “Humble Frozenbyte Bundle” at the Humble Indie Bundle site. The setup is the same, pick what you want split it the way you want. Only thing here is that all the games are from Frozenbyte, they did Shadowgrounds and Trine and have a few others there too, even a preorder for Splot. Only 14 days left! (Yeah that’s a lot of time NOW..)
That link is:
Humble Frozenbyte Bundle