Some of this was culled from and inspired by a few updates on my Twitter Feed. Apologies if you find it repetitious.
Holy shit, you guys: Did you hear the news from E3? Sony is going to keep doing the same thing they’ve always done! Fuck yes, celebration time: Not all of gaming is not going to slide further down the maw of the DRM Sarlacc. Break out the bubbly!
Isn’t that sad? This extraordinary sense of relief at simply not being completely fucked over? We’ve officially stopped focusing on and rewarding promising new features, and instead rejoice at the preservation of the status quo. DRM has so completely inundated our lives that the mere prospect of it not invading further is cause for a fucking party. It has wormed its way into our movies, books, games and gaming services to an unacceptable degree. I fully believe that artists should be supported and paid for their work — I’m one of those bastards, after all — but at what point did intellectual property become the bad guy? The abstract stance that you should not steal media is sound. You’re an idiot if you argue that. If you don’t support creators, they will stop creating. They cannot subsist on your good feelings. The joy of your audience cannot be exchanged at the Safeway for Hot Pockets and beer. But I just want to know who proposed, with a straight face, that the solution to IP theft is not to let anybody own media at all.
“People are stealing our books!”
“Well, sir, we can’t just stop releasing them…”
“That’s exactly what we’ll do! No more releases! Now they have to make an appointment, come into our office, and sit in a monitored white room while they read, completely naked. They will not be allowed to take any materials out, and we’ll charge them for the privilege!”
And not only did the corporations not laugh that guy out of the room, they gave him a promotion and a corner office. DRM has slipped so subtly into our everyday lives, that we’re only shaken out of our stupor by the extraordinary: The Xbox One literally proposed to monitor our living room with spy cameras connected to the internet. Then they kindly offered to do away with the concept of ownership, and threw in persistent connectivity requirements as well. They stopped just shy of offering to kick all of our puppies for us – you know, save us the muscle strain of doing it ourselves. These kinds of restrictions would be a dealbreaker for a free, ad-supported game service – and they’re proposing it for a console that costs you $500.
If you guys like being abused so much, I know dominatrices that charge way less than that just to stomp on your balls for a few hours.
But all was not lost: After Microsoft was done spitting in gamer’s mouths so much that we nearly drowned in hate-saliva, Sony came out and kindly, graciously offered not to add further injury. Seriously, it’s weird that Sony’s “features” were mostly just the absence of threats…
“Still own things you buy! No always on connection! Will not actively try to bang your mom! Your console will not chase you into the bathroom and yell slurred threats through the door! It will NOT give you Hepatitis! No always-on camera monitoring your living room! NOT ENVENOMED!”
If you don’t think that approach is absurd, try it out in the real world. Take Sony’s lead on job interviews: Instead of talking up qualifications, just point out that you won’t set the place on fire. If they ask for your references, give them names of strangers off the street and tell the interviewee to ask if any of them have been assaulted by you. When the answers come back “no,” say “see? I don’t randomly beat pedestrians!” Then, to really sell your case, point out that the last guy they interviewed was a convicted murderer. “Sure, I killed a guy one time, but I’ve never been convicted!”
If it seems odd that I’m giving Sony shit for bragging about not being evil, while going comparatively light on Microsoft’s full descent into supervillainy, that’s probably because I assume the Xbox just committed brand suicide. Or at least I hope it did. I may complain, but ultimately I don’t have any passionate feelings against the Xbox One, because I know they’ve already cemented my decision: I won’t be buying it. End of story. If I do buy a console, it’ll be something different. Playstation, or Nintendo, or somebody else wanting to fill the gap. It’s only if the Xbox One sells really well that I’ll be disturbed. If anybody actually buys one of these things and proudly sets it up in their living room, happily forfeiting the right to own or use their stuff while simultaneously forking over objectively large amounts of money, corporations will know they can get away with anything. I can avoid the XBOne, but if it succeeds and proves the concept is sound, others may follow suit to the point that non-ownership and constant surveillance becomes the norm.
But hey: Sony’s still out there, if not being the good guy, then at least not being the worst guy. Of course, amid all the cries of relief, you may have missed that they’re allowing third party developers to institute their own DRM – which you’ll note is a step backwards from the current console market.
“But it’s such a small step,” we whisper, tears of joy streaming down our face, “compared to the giant boot to the face Xbox offered!”
Don’t get me wrong, I know Sony is just caving a little to pressures from major publishers. And though I do not intend to own their console at any point in the future either (I was a console gamer all my life, but switched to PC recently precisely for these sorts of concerns), I am still abstractly relieved that it’s not on Xbox’s level of fuckery. But still: The state of gaming is a little worse, all around, and here we are rejoicing that the loss of ownership rights isn’t as bad as it could have been.
But hey, Watch Dogs looks rad. So I guess tumbling head first into a consumer dystopia is all worth it.
Oh, right and I guess Nintendo probably exists still.