Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
 
Alternative theory on who won

Interesting article in Time about XBone vs. PS4: The author speculates that while Sony's policies on disc based DRM might make them popular now, it could backfire in the long run. On a PS4 the disc with the game on is the principal mode of distribution, and all the advantages of being able to sell used games or play them at a friend's house only apply to discs. Thus people will gravitate towards buying PS4 games on discs.

On the XBone on the other hand, a disc is basically an inconvenience, a crutch for people with a slow internet connection, having all the disadvantages of a physical object without having the advantages of trading or transporting, as those are removed through the online account lock. Thus as long as you have a fast enough internet connection, you'd be better off to buy your XBone game online. Why bother with a disc if it doesn't offer any advantages?

The possible (but far from inevitable) consequence could be the XBone ending up with a much better online store than the PS4. And online DRM hasn't exactly hurt Steam on the PC. Thus if we believe in a future where most games are sold and downloaded online, and physical discs become an artifact of the past, the currently less popular Microsoft policies might actually be the cleverer thing to do.

Not saying that this is necessarily how it will play out, but as I haven't bought a game on a disc in a box for my PC for a long time, I can't discount that possibility. And the PlayStation Network for the PS3 has caused me more trouble than it was worth.

Comments:
Much the same with me. It's been some 4-5 years at least since I've purchased an actual physical disc of a computer game. It's why I couldn't understand the outrage over used games and all that. Buying, selling, trading game discs feels very antiquated. Like writing checks instead of paying with debit/credit cards. You look at someone doing that and are taken aback, 'People still do that?'. I'd hoped both consoles would move away from that, but it seems not.

I don't know, I'm worried about PS4. The PS3 had such a poor selection of games I was interested in, I don't know if I want to take a chance on the PS4. I'll see how it looks a year after release.
 
Well, nice theory. Probably nonsense, but hey.

Aside from the advantages of being able to take a game to a friends house without encountering DRM problems and spending hours downloading stuff, there remains this huge advantage:

The disc is recoverable money. Maybe in a third party vendor manages to get on these consoles and allows for Steam style competition, but the disc is the link to breaking the monopoly, and so will be treasured long past the point where it's completely obsolete unless the online shop develops competition.

Like an MMO that flops out of the gate, it doesn't really matter how good it gets later on. It flopped and you can't recover from that.
 
Although Sony did spend some efforts on digital distribution. At their launch event, Sony was talking about their predictive download: based upon your buying patterns it will download games you do not own so they will be on your machine ready to go. As well as play while downloading and some interesting discussions about their Cloud service.

Unlike most, since I have never bought/sold/pirated a used game, I prefer the XBox DRM as well as their TV PR. For the rest of features, it sure seems like poor old Sony is doing better in nextgen, albeit for products that won't even ship for six months.

 
Steam isn't an online DRM system, since you can download the game, go offline forever and keep playing it. It's a distribution system that is particularly popular, due to its heavy discounts on older titles.

The viability of the XBone online store will depend on Microsoft selling consoles. While they may do that in the US, due to the deals with NFL and the immense popularity of the so-called 'bro-games', us plebes here in Europe don't care about any of that and a giid chunk of us has craptastic internet connection (with the exception of Scandinavians).

And while you (and me actually) are at an age that you can afford brand new 60 Euro games every couple of months, in addition to a 300 Euro console purchase, for ages 14-22 that sort of cash if extreme. Sony just winked at them and said "we hear you, we're on your side".

If Miscrosoft offered a similar 'Steam' where you can buy stuff online and then play them offline (you know, kinda like the PSN marketplace), thay'd be golden. But the always-online DRM and the dracodian restrictions on lending games ans such are dealbreakers.

Not to mention having a device in your living room that may or may not be recording stuff you don't want it to.

Maybe Microsoft will reap the rewards in the longterm, IF it survives that long. I forsee people flocking to buy a PS4 on release, which will result in more PS exclusives and quality games in the long run, making the comparison between the 2 consoles even more skewed towards Sony, creating a fail-cascade for Microsoft.
 
They are different business models. Just like planes and cars get you from A to B but with wildly different rules.

You might not like used games or understand it but it is a multi-million dollar industry. I like the idea of trading disks with my brothers and being able to play them when I get them back. I like being able to play Final Fantasy 10 today even though it came out 13 years ago and if it did have online DRM I'd be unable to.

Steam and GoG do online gaming well through distribution and DRM. Microsoft's model is archaic comparatively. It wouldn't fly on the PC (see SimCity), so why would it work on a console for every game?
 
You know, one of the bigger drivers might be product placement in retail outlets. Think about going into a Target when you want to buy and X-Bone game, what are you going to buy, a credit card? Probably. How much shelf space do these take up and how much shelf space does the traditional DRM Disc based approach take. If I bring my kids into a department store, the first place they go to is the game isle and they stare into the glass case (ok I do too, but hey I bet we all do). If that is replaced with racks of pre-paid cards, I think you end up loosing some of the draw on the shelf and maybe even some sales through retail outlets. I agree with the idea that on the DRM on a disc is going the way of the Dodo, but I think it is silly to think that these companies aren't paying a little attention on what impact it might have to the current distribution channels.
 
Nicholas Lovell over at Gamesbrief (I won't link it, or this comment will get eaten by the spam filter) has an interesting analysis:

"Content is vital to both platforms. So are users. But to summarise the difference between the strategies, Microsoft is focused on “If we have the content, the users will follow”; Sony is focused on “If we have the users, the content will follow.”

So is content king, or is it distribution? Most investors would plump for distribution over content every time. If I had to pick sides now, I would go for the platform that is focusing on giving the users what they want, not the content suppliers. Over the next decade, we will see whether I am right.


That makes a more persuasive case for XBone than 'MS are morons' - it doesn't mean the XBone will win, but at least it explains why it's pursuing the strategy it is.
 
Yeah but they are also morons. When was the last time MS took a gamble that paid off? Their massive revamp of Windows 8 was adding a launchpad to the front end of the same old thing, which was just enough to piss off their stalwarts while impressing nobody.


I mean, XBox or not, MS has not had a killer app since Windows, ya know? The XBox was about the only thing they had that was competitive and they tank it to please the companies that will ditch them like a used condom if the customers aren't there.


 
I'm an older player, old enough to be the parent of many of the XBox players. My experience is that the games I downloaded (mostly indy games) end up getting played a couple times and abandoned. The ones with discs tend to be played for a long time.

I'm also a laggard. So I rarely buy games when the come out, but usually get them when they're starting to get discounted at the retail outlet. I've got about 50 games and with the new Xbox not being backwards compatible, it will be a long time before some game comes out that I have to buy the console to play (almost certain to be the next Elder Scrolls game).

And I don't think you are considering just how egregious the Prism scandal will be, and with the always-on kinect, just how much information about me is Microsoft passing to the new Stasi? I usually throw a cloth over the current Kinect because it isn't anyone else's business what I'm doing when I'm not playing a game that requires the Kinect (basically they're exercise games).
 
My current computer (got it 1 year ago or so) doesn't even have a disc player!
And why waste money on one these days anyway?
 
By the time Steam was doing their big sales, the retail presence of PC games was already almost gone. It did not upset them since they weren't selling them anyways.

Micrsoft can't really do that. They still need to be friendly with retailers to sell the hardware and accessories. If Microsoft some day did aggressively sell digital games with big sales like Steam, of course they could make up a lot of ground, but I don't think so as long as they want hardware sales to be good.

Sony is in the position to have the best of both worlds if they can have all games available digitally on day one. You can buy a disc version if you want trading and lending to possible, or you just buy digital if you only want it for yourself. They could even give a $5 discount for digital to make up for the lost value.
 
[Steam]'s a distribution system that is particularly popular, due to its heavy discounts on older titles.

This is the key difference between Steam and Xbox Live. Steam actually offers competitive pricing on their online store. Xbox Live does not. All the games that I have considered buying on their store have always been at least $5 over the going in-store price if the price has been reduced in any shape or form (i.e. older games). And I'm still talking new games here. Used games will be far cheaper than that.

At least PS+ offers discounts to members. Xbox Live does no such thing.
 
The thing that everyone seems to forget is that Sony is still selling digital games too. There is still going to be a Playstation Store, and there will still be Day 1 digital copies being sold (depending on the publisher). So, really, the only choice you are being asked to make is whether you want the option of used games, lending of games without restrictions, and so on.

Or, really: did you like this generation, or do you prefer to trust Microsoft to look out for your consumer surplus?
 
There's only one thing that can save Microsoft this holiday season: A crippling shortage of PS 4's.

As long as a $400 PS 4 and a $500 XBone are side by side on a shelf, casual users are going PS 4. The hardcore users who were watching E3 have already stated they are going PS 4.

The profile of the person who would choose the XBone over the PS 4:

1.) Doesn't mind spending more money.

2.) Isn't concerned about privacy issues.

3.) Loves obtuse and restrictive DRM.

I'm sure those 3 people will be happy with their purchase.
 
I totally agree. I have been bombarded with talk of the XBone and Ps4 and to be honest there is so much controversy over it all.

It even comes down to the size because the Ps4 is 50% smaller than the XBone and don't get me started on all the pricing, it is one for a massive debate

I have done a video about this check it out at my website:

http://thosetwomen.weebly.com
 
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