May 7, 2015

ESA's Anti Consumerism and the Future Death of Retro Gaming

Many moons ago I discussed how games going digital download only was not only inevitable, but that it is a bad idea, a form of digital rights management. Recently the Entertainment Software Association came out slamming emulation and game preservation, threatening to bring the hammer down onto it. Really it just seems like a fancy cartel to me- the ESA protects the gaming industry's "interests". Lately, as we have seen with Konami, among many other developers- digital copies of demos and games have been permanently removed from Playstation Network and Xbox Live with no reason given.

Worse, when customers complained, companies simply ignored them. This is the model that gaming is following. Yes it will be nice to have instant access to a game, but at the cost of you 'not owning' the disc, which is an entire other conversation about copyright. Once that game becomes vaporware, that is it. There is no more downloading it, and just to ram us one final time I would wager there is a delete timer on each file that you download, and I don't care how illegal it is or it is perceived to be- they will do it.

There will be no more retro gaming once we transition into digital only copies. You own a copy of the game yes, but not the rights to it, and some, like Ubisoft in the past, have argued that you don't "own the game" either, just a "license" to play it. It is anti-consumer. Including copyright laws, I should be able to do whatever I want with the product I purchase. Just because you want to protect your copyrights does not mean you can have control of my product after the transaction is complete. Blizzard does this. Multiple other companies do it. When the servers go down- you are out of luck; and that is just the nature of some games today that require always online authentication- like Simcity 5 or Diablo 3.

It is a sad, inevitable future we are arriving at unless customers speak with their wallets. You can yell, you can kick, you can scream all you want- companies just don't care about you. When you hit their sales numbers and then tell them why, either they will begin to comply or another company will come out with a CD copy. But remember the ESA? Console manufacturers can simply refuse to design a disc drive into the next generation of consoles. It will be then that I call bull honkey and enjoy what is left of physical gaming media.

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