Last night I was elated after hearing Sony announce not just the price of the new Playstation 4 (a paltry $399) but their steadfast commitment to consumers – the PS4 was going to support used games! As I’m likely to do after most great evenings, this morning I awoke a little bleary-eyed, tired, dehydrated, and still excited. Sony had not only watched their main opponent make mistake after mistake in their pitch, but turned around and capitalized! Sony managed to erase the last 7 years of being the number 2 console with one simple phrase: “The Playstation 4 WILL support used games.”
The crowd rewarded SCEA CEO, Jack Tretton with an uproarious applause that got Microsoft Store’s official twitter handle went into counter-programming mode by reminding the fickle public (with Xbox retweeting) that everyone wants to play Killer Instinct, an Xbox One exclusive.
And then the reality hit.
This afternoon, Polygon gave the sad report that Sony appears to be back pedaling on their brave and consumer-centric claim. “The DRM decision is going to have to be answered by the third parties,” Tretton tells Polygon. “It’s not something we’re going to control, or dictate, or mandate, or implement.”
In less than 24-hours, Sony has effectively handed back their win from the night before. Tretton’s comments to Polygon are another sad reminder that as consumers, we have failed ourselves. (Update: Polygon has updated their original story; Sony has confirmed that there will be no DRM on any disc-based games. That does not, however, mean that a publisher won’t be able to charge an activation fee for things like going online.) The state of video games today seems to be fairly clear – lock it down.
The Playstation 4 is probably not going to be as bad as the XB One; Sony still insists that you will not be required to log in to the PS Network and have your games “call-home” to keep them active on your system every 24-hours. PS Plus will continue to be a great value, including access to Drive Club as a day-one title for free. But why should we settle for the lesser of two evils?
Personally I do not pirate software (I haven’t since I got my first big-boy job) – the caveat here is that I tend to upgrade less frequently and make sure that I will use it. I also started actively searching out indie developers for everything from productivity software to games – because they definitely can’t afford to have me mooch off their work.
My decision to not pirate software also means that I’m actively looking for deals on things that are usually not in the budget. Like buying a game from a friend or, *gasp* borrowing it for free! Last night Sony talked about how they’ve been paying attention to gamers’ social activity; I hope they truly take a long, hard look at those Twitter feeds as this clusterfuck continues to unravel.