I never thought I’d see the day that I’d cheer for Sony.

Ok, I’m not a fan of Sony.  Remember the rootkit debacle back in 2005-2007?  Essentially using CDs from Sony would install hidden software on your computer that made it vulnerable to malware.  At worst, it could cause your CD drive to be useless until you formatted your hard drive (all your lovely files?  Bye bye).

How did Sony respond?

Sony’s software installs itself by stealth, conceals itself, then intercepts low level Windows systems calls. Removing it causes the CD drive to be rendered inoperable. The only cure is to reformat the disk and reinstall Windows.

What responsibility did [President of Sony BMG’s global digital business division Thomas Hesse] feel for the havoc his CDs had caused?

“Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?” he huffed.

Translation: “Fuck you.  We’re Sony.”  Good thing Doctors Without Borders doesn’t adopt Hesse’s outlook.  “Most citizens of [insert poverty-stricken nation] don’t even know what AIDS is, so why should they care about it?”

Then there’s Sony’s tendency to sue small re-sale gaming stores into non-existence.  Long story short: I don’t like Sony.  However, even I can admit that Sony has done better the last few years.  The PS3 was a well-built machine with good titles.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Sony’s main console competitor, Microsoft, is about to release the Xbox One which is their rival to Sony’s Playstation 4.  Microsoft has apparently decided that they have enough money that they can afford to lose shit tons of it by placing a huge list of massivce restrictions on sharing  and reselling games for the Xbox One.  You see, the Xbox One will need to be online for you to use it, and when you buy a game the Xbox One will register it to your particular machine.  Microsoft will then use that unique registration to restrict the CD’s use on other consoles.

On the used game front, Microsoft is punting the issue to publishers. “Today, some gamers choose to sell their old disc-based games back for cash and credit,” reads Microsoft’s post “We designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers.  Microsoft does not charge a platform fee to retailers, publishers, or consumers for enabling transfer of these games.” Taken at face value, this means that publishers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft will be allowed to make a decision on a case by case basis about whether used game sales will be allowed for a given game. Publishers could also set up fees for this transfer, but Microsoft claims it will take no part of those fees.

As for game sharing, Microsoft now says that game sharing will be allowed, but in a far more limited fashion than how passing a game to a friend works today. “Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days, and each game can only be given once.” In other words, people who have been newly added to your friends list won’t be allowed to accept game loans, and repeated loans won’t be allowed to the same friend.

Microsoft says they won’t put restrictions on reselling games, but that you can only lend them to one friend – and only if that friend has been on your friends list for 30 days.  How, exactly, will the restrictions on sharing with friends not interfere with the resale of games?  That’s a mystery.

Also, do you like renting games for your console?  “Fuck you.  We’re Microsoft.”

Gamers are outraged about this and they should be.  I honestly don’t know how Microsoft thinks it can compete with the PS4 while shooting themselves in the foot like this.  I’m sure it’s just competent marketing, but Sony had the chance to follow suit and didn’t.

What’s more, at E3 Sony released this video which delivers a swift, emotionless back-hand to Microsoft and the Xbox One:

Don’t blame Sony, Microsoft.  You handed them the metaphorical club and practically begged them to beat you with it.  You can’t complain too much when they oblige.

And on top of all of this, the PS4 is going to cost a full $100 less at launch than the Xbox One ($399 for the PS4, $499 for the XB1).  I suspect that will last until right after Christmas when Microsoft realizes that gamers have standards and they are losing buckets of money for taking an epic two-flush monster shit all over their consumer base.  This is especially true since the specs on the PS4 are slightly better, and since you’ll pay less for those specs and have waaaaaaaay more freedom with your device…

Yeah, Microsoft is boned on this one.  Way to take steps toward redeeming yourself, Sony.  I won’t buy either because I’m a PC gamer, but I’ll sure be rooting against the Xbox One.  If it does poorly enough, this will deliver a powerful message to gaming companies in the future.

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