The digital age is indeed upon us and gamers will be shocked to find out what these companies have in store. On TQcast Episode 132, Desz Martinez and several distinguished guests from SFX-360, Talking About Games, and Dead Pixel Live had a debate about digital gaming. While most angles were covered, there was one noticeable argument absent to evince why digital gaming is a must in eyes of companies: hackers.
To some, Geohot is a hero but to those with foresight, people like him are the biggest reason why games will literally be taken out of our possession. Sony’s attempts at legal restitution failed simply because the console physically belonged to Geohot once he bought it. But rest assured, Sony pursued legal actions to send a message to all gamers…”you have pushed us too far.”
But they do have a choice. One that could put an abrupt end to piracy and hackers alike. Considering how many consoles and handheld devices have already sold, where is the motivation to spend money researching, developing, and creating another physical console especially when the laws do not protect your creation and hackers fail to respect your innovation?
That’s exactly why OnLive will be the new model of gaming. Anybody hacking into the network is banned and furthermore, subject to legal ramifications. Pirates will not be able to back up or copy games because they are strictly server side and any attempt to access a secure network without permission would be illegal.
If you notice, the handheld devices Sony and Nintendo are putting out are becoming more advanced along with their controlling schemes. The latest rumors even indicate that the new PSP2 will have a 3G modem and WiFi. Who is to say these new handheld devices and future iterations will not be used to access digital gaming networks thus eliminating the need for consoles altogether? Utilizing DLNA or some new technology, you can output the video to your television for wireless gaming at home or possibly a tablet / iPad. Why else have the power of a PS3 inside a PSP2?
Gaming is a luxury, not a right, and the gaming population is due for a rude awakening when they find out HALO 5 or Uncharted 5 are not available on disc. If you want it, you have no choice but to join the digital revolution. No pirating and no torrents. You will be forced to vote with your wallet.
Why would a game publisher not jump at the chance to do this? Just like the Netflix model, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony would pay to make their games available on these services. That is guaranteed money for publishers without having to worry about producing discs, shipping them out, the used game market, or piracy. Of Course Activision and EA Sports will not abandon current generation tech immediately, but look for the online versions to be given more content and bonus features.
OnLive is proof that the concept is feasible and with the first party games like HALO or Uncharted, the hardcore gamers will indeed flock to it despite their chagrin. In essence, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony can use exclusives, online incentives, and features to slowly increase their online infrastructures and audience. First the hardcore come. People with money to burn and a moderate interest in gaming will come next. Then the mainstream follows.
And when can we expect this gradual digital shift to begin? Look for implementation of this to begin within the next two years. The steps have already been taken. The concept is proven. Hackers and piracy have left companies with little choice. And for the people that do not possess access to Internet, the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii will still be available for sale. All you have to do is look at the PS2’s longevity as evidence.
There is a dark side to all this. Besides no longer being able to play hit titles on your own console without an Internet connection, gamers will be at the mercy of publishers and any company that offers this type of service where pricing is concerned.
It becomes even more worrying when you acknowledge that “net neutrality” laws are not in place to prevent throttling to such a service. Should Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo care about “net neutrality” especially when growing numbers of gamers currently hack their consoles and pirate their games?
Absolutely not. These companies are here to make money and unfortunately, the current model has proved troubling. Hackers may be the victors now but their arrogance will cost all of us a heavy price. Soon we will have no legal recourse, no ownership, and no control over how much we can play.