On the future of some gamerscomments powered by Disqus
Posted on Wednesday, May 22 2013 @ 16:47:26 Eastern
Before Microsoft and Sony do something regarding their future in the video game business, I wanted to write, and I've wanted it for a long time now, but other things kept getting in my way, and fearing that tomorrow might be too late, today will have to do.
Months ago, when I heard Dark Souls was being ported to the PC, I instantly assumed I would be buying it even though I already owned it on PS3, to see how the experience would be enhanced by the power of my PC. I expected many things from that game, but it ended up being a poor port, with little optimization and advantages over its console counterpart. In more than one way, it was a disadvantage to buy the PC version. In my case, it was impossible to do so.
Turns out it used Games for Windows Live (GfWL)! To any citizen of a first-world country, it means you need to bear with something less useful than Steam when you want to play the game. However, to anyone not living in one of the 41* countries where GfWL is available, it means you cannot buy the game, let alone play it.
More recently, there was a sale going on in the PlayStation Store celebrating Final Fantasy's 25th anniversary, and I thought, “Great! I can finally use these PlayStation cards I bought on my trip to NY and buy me some digital games!”. So filled with joy I turned on my PS3, logged in, found the Redeem Codes option and began typing the codes on my cards, pressed Start, and then... “Error”.
“?” I said, and typed a code again, rechecking everything, but the same thing happened. It was only after spending some time on Google and its search result that I found the answer to my problem: My account has a Canadian address, and these cards are from USA, so I cannot use them. I ended up creating a new account with an address from USA in order to be able to activate them.
Now, if you have made it this far into the article you may have some questions like: 1) What is this article about? 2) Don't you live in Peru? 3) Why did you register as a Canadian in your PS account?
The answer to the last two questions is simple: When I bought my PS3, the PlayStation Network and Store were only available in countries which were not mine**, so I used an address a friend from Canada gave me to be able to use their services. I never realized I needed Canadian cards if I ever wanted to buy something from the Store; nobody told me that. So I hope nothing gets billed or shipped to any of those addresses, as it will leave more than one person confused.
This relates to the next-gen consoles in the same way it relates to current digital distribution platforms. What really matters to some people, though I don't know how many, but I'm guessing quite a few, is not whether the next-gen has better visuals, or more apps, or a Share button on the controllers. What I really want is a more globalized software with which the name of the country I'm indoesn't matter.
I can stand having no backwards compatibility for technical reasons, but I cannot swallow having to deal with more of this stuff just because some people think it makes some sense, because it doesn't. We are talking about digital products, logistics, and transport fees not coming into the picture anymore. Why can YouTube host millions of videos from all over the globe in their servers for free and you cannot digitally sell me something I want to buy just because I don't live in your neighborhood?
Imagine going into a store in Miami to buy a prepaid phone card to make a call to Seattle and being told that to get it you have to travel at least 3078 miles by car to Walla Walla and buy it there, and that it can only be used while you are in Washington. Or not being able to use your cloud service on your iPhone not because there's lack of signal or you are in a place you aren't supposed to be, but because you say you are in this place.
I believe there is an opportunity to embrace a neglected market and make it massively consume a product with a small amount of investment, and the one who does it first (in a decent way), whether it is Microsoft, Sony, or (who knows) EA's Origin, will see at least one customer spending money in their brand and their games will start to be slightly less pirated than they used to. This might also define where my gaming future lies, which is quite steamy at the moment.
**Last checked in Wikipedia. They added my country to that list since then.
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