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Dissecting the fan-rage over Street Fighter X Tekken
Posted on Thursday, March 8 2012 @ 08:29:54 Eastern

Go to www.everythingstentative.com for discussions like this, our weekly podcast, and game reviews.

This past Tuesday the world was struck with the King of Iron Fist Street Brawling Tournament known to us all as Street Fighter X Tekken. This game was first announced at the 2010 San Diego Comicon by Street Fighter Producer Yoshinori Ono. The first bits of game play featured Ryu squaring off against Kazuya. As the demo progressed Ken and Nina joined the fray. The game looked very Street Fighter IV-ish with the Tekken characters getting a fresh look to match the art style. The crowd, to say the least, went absolutely nuts over this mash-up since the cross-over thing has been a main stay of the Capcom fighting world since X-Men vs. Street Fighter back in 1996.

Fans freaked, I freaked, every fighting game fan freaked over this long-time-dreamt-of beat-down-fest. After a lot of anxious waiting with a year and a half between the official unveiling and its release date Street Fighter X Tekken has finally hit the shelves. And… wait… everyone is pissed off about it? How can this be? After the wait, the character teases, the fan hype, the preview builds, Cole being added to the PS3 version, Poison being playable for the first time ever, after all this fan service and details of bringing the Tekken feel and world into the Street Fighter world the fans are still angry. Well, let’s talk about why the fans are angry at Capcom and why Street Fighter X Tekken, despite being one of the best ideas ever to me, may have a long road ahead of it and why Capcom may have to tuck its tail between its legs to save face.

Many of you are probably wondering what the heck I am even referring too. Well here’s the skinny… about a week before the console release of the game Capcom announced that the PSVita version would be receiving twelve exclusive characters (yes, you read that properly, 12!!!). Many of these characters are fan favorites and have been requested since the game was announced to be included. On the Street Fighter side we have: Sakura, Blanka, Cody, Guy, Dudley, and Elena; while on the Tekken side: Bryan Fury, Jack X, Lei, Christie, Lars, and Alisa B. As you can see that is quite the exclusive! Fans weren’t too happy about this since the Vita version isn’t set to launch until sometime this fall forcing us all to wait to test drive them and practically ensuring a re-release of the current console version to account for the twelve that are presently absent. That in and of itself made us all cringe. This literally ensured a Super or Ultimate version of the game in six months. Everyone cried foul at Capcom for creating twelve characters that many wanted and placing them in the hand held version of the game only. Anger ensued, but that wasn’t the end of it… and here’s where things get really ugly.

Capcom released early copies to selected media outlets for review and so on. Some early copies of the Xbox 360 version were given out and some less than discrete folks started probing  the code of the game to see what all was included on the disk besides what we all immediately saw. Come to find out that the twelve characters, all the alternative costumes, additional gems, prologues, endings, sounds, and everything else you need for the code to run properly is already included on the disk from day one launch. This led to tons of videos surfacing on Youtube of players using hacked 360’s to access these twelve characters in their completed states and showing their intact move sets and animations. Some even demonstrated many of the nutty paid down loadable content (DLC) costumes that should be coming soon. Oh, also the Sony “exclusive” characters Bad Box Art Mega Man and Pac Man were seen being used in their completed states on the 360 version of the game. What the heck? These characters (along with Cole from Infamous) are even noted on the box art of the PS3 version of the game as being exclusive to the PS3!

Now this may not sound all that questionable or may even seem confusing for the level of fan rage this has garnered, but to those who are not quite familiar with DLC and Capcom’s questionable use of it over the past several years allow me to explain beginning with Street Fight IV.

Street Fighter IV launched onto the US console scene on February 17, 2009. This console version varied from the arcade version, which was only out in Japan mind you, by adding several characters as unlockables and making Seth and Gouken playable for the first time. The original arcade roster featured 17 playable fighters while the console upped it to 25. Fans dug it, I dug it, you dug it, and we all dug it! The roster update when coming to consoles was noteworthy since fighters like Gen, Sakura, Cammy, and Dan were added much to the delight of everyone who loved Street Fighter.

Capcom continued to support the game post release while the tournament scene embraced the game forming a whole new world of fighting acolytes who worshipped at the shrine of Street Fighter once again. Capcom seeing the success and fan demand for the fighter began developing a new update for the game which would be released on April 27, 2010 aptly titled Super Street Fighter IV. SSFIV added ten additional fighters to the roster and boasted a number of tweaks and balances. These balances were largely decided upon by the top players in the tournament world who knew the game and its technology better than many of us know anything. Capcom basically used the tournament world to balance the game which was a rather smart idea if you ask me. The price point of this new and improved SF was discounted and sold for a retail of $39.99. Many felt that making a full retail copy of the game was a little much feeling how the update could have been released as DLC for people who already owned the “vanilla” version of SFIV. Capcom responded to this claiming the addition of ten new fighters, new fighting backgrounds, re-balancing all the fighters, plus the other host of additions would garner far too large of a download feeling the consumer benefited from simply buying the newest version in physical media form. Fans didn’t really love the idea but the game sold in droves.

Capcom wasn’t done yet with SSFIV though. A newer re-tweaked version launched in Japan arcades known as Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition and featured the addition of yet four more characters bringing the total roster to 39. Capcom explicitly noted that these four characters would not be coming to US consoles and wouldn’t be seen outside of Japanese arcades. Well, fans weren’t having this… they (well we… you know, me too that is) demanded this content be released everywhere since some of the characters added were long time fan favorites from Street Fighter III, Yun specifically. Capcom obliged and released the Arcade Edition digitally on the PSN and Xbox LIVE on June 7, 2011 with a price point of $14.99. A physical media version was released on June 28, 2011 to accommodate those who did not have Internet connections at a price point of $39.99. This though, was not acceptable to the fans. Although Capcom went out of their way to release the Arcade update to the US there were still dissenters claiming that constantly re-releasing the same game was just a money grab by the company despite the fans being the ones who demanded it.

I am not trying to paint Capcom as the holy, fan minded game company that they may seem based on the last several paragraphs, but I wanted to demonstrate where this current business model may have grown from. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the next big entry in Capcom’s fighting game series that had picked up considerable amounts of momentum thanks to Street Fighter IV and its subsequent re-releases. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was released on February 15, 2011 to critical praise and fighting fan delight despite there being some suspiciously absent fighters such as the exclusion of Mega Man and Venom. It did feature 38 fighters in total, 36 out of the box and two of which were DLC released later in March. The two DLC characters were priced at $4.99 a piece or were free to download for those who purchased the collectors addition which sold at a ten dollar mark up compared to the regular addition so no one really got a better deal for buying earlier. These characters were discovered by hackers to already be on the disc at launch, but in an incomplete state meaning that some of the commands did not input properly and sounds bites were missing. Upon the official release in March, the download size for each character was only 100Kb (remember this it’ll be important later) along with a mandatory update when you booted the game whether you bought the new fighters or not.

The game hit the tournament scene hard, breeding the same types of dynamic, insane players that obsessed over MvC2 ten years prior. Again, Capcom would use the scene to balance the game. Just a few months later an Ultimate version of the game was announced with highly mixed feelings from the community. The addition of twelve new fighters was announced, new fight backgrounds which were basically variants on the existing ones, and the newly rebalanced roster making everyone and not just Wesker, deadly. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 released on November 15, 2011 at the discounted price of, you guessed it, $39.99.

While UmvC3 was touted as being the ULTIMATE and FINAL and COMPLETE version of the game, it still featured paid DLC costumes on the online marketplaces. Even more suspicious was the file size for the downloads. When referring to the online stores I will be referencing the PSN from hence forth since it is the one I used while playing these games. The file size was around 100Kb for four or five costumes upon purchasing. Now 100Kb is also the typical size for something like an online pass or unlock key for a downloaded trial version upon purchase. This means that the file I downloaded was not actually the data for the costumes but rather a key to unlock the data that was stored elsewhere which is this case was on the disc. More evidence that these costumes were already on the disc exists in looking at the pre-order bonuses from various retailers. Each of the major retailers out there offered “exclusive” costumes packs which were available for download on launch day. Since they varied at each place and each pack never contained the same fighters, this content must have been on the disc from the start since typically DLC is developed after the game has gone gold making it impossible for the costumes to have been included on launch day if they were treated as traditional DLC (note:we are not talking about day 1 DLC either, more on that in another article). As of March 6, 2012 all the costumes have been released for UmvC3. Taking this into account, Capcom took four months to release all the content that we all have technically had right under our noses since the game’s launch date of November 15, 2011.

All this means is that the copy of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 I purchased (at $39.99 mind you) did in fact include the costumes that were later slatted for DLC with price points ranging from $2.99 to $4.99 per pack. With a total of 47 additional costumes to download one could easily spend nearly an additional $30 just to get the costumes that were technically already on the disc for the COMPLETE version of a game I technically already bought eight months earlier. This is where things became questionable to me. It wasn’t the two re-releases of Street fighter IV or the paid DLC costumes for SFIV but rather that all the content in UMvC3 was already on the disc and locked out to me until I paid for the unlock key. This is about the point that the term DLC evolved from “Down-Loadable Content” to “Disc-Locked-Content” in regards to Capcom for me personally.

As I mentioned earlier, the entirety of this planned DLC to support the release of SFXT is all included in its complete state from launch day on the disc and has been proven to work unlike the DLC that supported Street Fighter IV and unlike the data which supported “vanilla” Marvel vs. Capcom 3. UMvC3 started the trend while SFXT takes it to the next level. From a business standpoint this makes a lot sense but looks rather bad to the consumers since it appears Capcom is blatantly rubbing our noses in our own wallets. Sony secured five exclusive characters for its version of SFXT which is a trick Microsoft used to be known for before they put all their money into the Kinect (delayed release dates for CoD map packs to the PSN was something Microsoft was known for securing). The Sony exclusive characters include: the Japanese Sony mascots Kuro and Toro, Bad Box Art Mega Man, Pac Man, and Cole MacGrath from Infamous. Three of those characters are mentioned on the cover of the case while it is even noted on the back of the box that the PS3 version has five additional fighters bringing the roster to 43 at launch. Well sort of, the roster at launch is really only 41 since Mega Man and Pac Man are not selectable until March 13, 2012 via a free download (another unlock key) for reasons unknown. Why the two characters that got some of the most hype prior to launch and were marketed on the box to be included were actually excluded for the first week is beyond me. Did I mention their portraits are both present on the character selection screen but remain unplayable until Capcom says we can? This is the first, of many, missteps this game has taken thus far. Locking out promised and advertised content for those who bought the game on launch day is totally unacceptable.

Due to all the fuss over the discovery of the twelve on disc characters, as well as the Sony exclusives on the 360 version of the game, some lame hackers uploaded the entire game to torrents sites in an attempt to get back at Capcom for “stealing our money.” This is the wrong way to respond to Capcom over this issue. Just because you feel wronged by Capcom doesn’t give you the right to turn around and wrong them by breaking copyright laws and risking your own freedom like a moron. Uploading the game was a stupid move and will only help to push the paid content DLC bonanza down honest paying costumer’s throats. These hackers are not Robin Hoods for uploading the game but rather something less noble. Whatever point they were trying to make has been made in a big way… that Capcom makes such desirable content that people are willing to risk their freedom and lively hood to have early, and free, access to it. You sure showed them. It should also be noted that the entire file size for the game is approximately 7.5 Gb which includes all 55 fighters and all costumes.

Technically Capcom has the right to handle their media in such a manner despite every consumer hating it. Capcom released what they promised to release and nothing more. The twelve characters would not have been known about until much later had the code not been delved into by curious gamers with access to early copies. I suppose Capcom should have known the code would have been found and perhaps they did, but did they think that they could just maybe pull a fast one on us? I really don’t think so. Capcom is a huge company with decades of gaming business experience so to be so naïve to think that they did not realize this was going to be a controversy is a little crazy. Maybe they were looking for free publicity? Who knows? I mean they have me writing about it right now! What I do know is that Capcom despite their many years in the industry cannot spell Revelations to save their lives.  

Anyway, Capcom did release an official statement on the matter noting that there were networking issues with SFIV due to some people purchasing downloaded content while others did not. Capcom claims that the inclusion of all the data on the disc from the start bypasses these issues altogether since all the data is always present and not needed to be updated through patches. As I mentioned earlier when talking about MvC3 and its DLC characters Jill and Shuma Gorath; although the download keys were only 100Kb, a sizable patch was released on the same day which I’m sure contained the extra data missing from those characters’ on disc content to ensure seamless online compatibility since not everyone bought them.

Now, all this wouldn’t be all that big of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that the fighters which are currently locked out in SFXT weren’t already complete and ready for play at the time of launch. I understand Capcom is trying to keep the game fresh for as long as possible but this is not the way to do it. If the content was developed prior to the game going gold then why is it locked out for the first six months I own the game? Why is Capcom hiding its labors in plain sight? Twelve characters are no slouch to develop and had they purely been DLC then the file sizes would have been considerable, necessitating the release of a super or ultimate version which Capcom has explicitly denied having plans to do. Well they don’t need to plan to do this because they already have when you think about it. If you bought Street Fighter X Tekken then you basically own Super Street Fighter X Tekken considering what “would have been” included is already included on your disc but locked away until Capcom says you can have it. They certainly have a release schedule for all this content but aren’t sharing those dates with the rest of us right now. Some theories are floating around that Sony paid Capcom loads of money to hide this content until after the PSVita’s launch to help drives sales of the new hardware. If that is the case then why the heck are Pac Man and Mega Man, Sony’s exclusive console fighters featured on the freaking front and back covers, locked until a week after release despite them being advertised on their own months prior to launch? The conspiracy theory that Sony paid to have the characters removed and locked away until a later date is totally unfounded at the time of this posting and is merely speculation by the good folks on the internet, but is worth noting because it seems possible based on the cross compatibility between the PSVita and PS3 as seen with UMvC3. Perhaps they were going for something similar with SFXT, who knows?   

There are far too many questions involved in this scenario that me as an independent fan and gamer could never know the complete answers to. All I can do is speculate at this stage and offer my take on the whole thing by taking into consideration how Capcom has handled its fighting games in the past several years as well as look at how the market responded to those choices. I don’t hate Capcom and I don’t think they hate me, but I cannot help but wonder why they worked so hard on such a huge game to play keep away with 25% of its content. We can all debate and hate over this issue and at the end of the day the ones who lose are you and I, the gamers. We miss out on using some of our favorite fighters because a suit who most likely has no vested interest in the game outside of the money it may make said we couldn’t. I remember there was a time when you could unlock fighters and costumes through conditional game play, now it seems the only condition I have to meet is having money. Capcom I want to defend you, but sometimes it is very challenging to do.



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Tech Guy Rant
Posted on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 07:07:41 Eastern

SOPA, the stop online piracy act, and PIPA, the protect IP act, are pieces of legislation recently proposed that the authors claim are intended to stop piracy with a focus on stopping foreign piracy. The original version of PIPA had provisions that would allow the US government to alter one of the fundamental elements of the internet, DNS. If you don’t know what DNS is, it stands for “Domain Name System”, and it is a collection of servers that maintain a hierarchical list of names for websites, like “Google.com” and “usa.gov”. When you connect to the internet, your computer retrieves from your service provider at least one IP address of a DNS server (or you can manually configure your DNS settings). When you type an address into your browser, your computer communicates with the DNS server and resolves the hostname (web address) to the IP address of the server that the hostname points to. Some DNS servers, by design, will forward an IP address to your computer of an ad server if the hostname you typed in isn’t assign an IP address. Most ISP’s do this. A DNS server that strictly follows the standards set forth by the Internet Engineering Task Force does not return an IP address for hostnames that do not exist, instead returning an error (server not found). Google’s DNS servers do this. The DNS alteration provisions of PIPA would allow the US government to alter the list of hostnames in such a way that if a website was blacklisted for perpetuating piracy, the DNS would not resolve to an IP address. This wouldn’t actually block access to the site. If you could find the IP address of the infringing server through other means, you could still connect. This would completely negate the purpose of the legislation and would open the door for people to take advantage of the fact that people would want to have a DNS server that doesn’t conform to the government’s legislation. This in turn would make the DNS system unreliable due to the fact that you wouldn’t know if you could trust your DNS server. You may be connecting to a DNS server that claims to not block any hostnames, but does in fact re-route some hostnames to competing sites.
These provisions were removed from the legislation months ago thanks to many internet security experts speaking out against these provisions. However, the current version of the legislation still allows for the attorney general to arbitrarily force the take-down of whole websites, not just infringing content, without the protection of due process. That means that if the attorney general so decided, Youtube could be brought down entirely due to a single video that contains copyrighted content. The same goes for any for service out there. In fact, even sites that do not contain user generated content can be forced to not do internet-based business with companies who’s sites contain infringing content. That means that Paypal may stop working for a random site , not to mention the cost that Paypal would suffer to make sure that transaction access is blocked for Americans trying to do business with a blacklisted site. This brings up a good point: this legislation would cause several business to spend money on reworking their infrastructure to comply with this new legislation and in turn would cost consumers more money, leaving them with less money to spend on the media that the legislation in question is meant to protect. All of this caused by inadequate legislation intended to protect the rights copyright holders.
But the copyright holders who can or would go after a website for hosting infringing content are the publishers, not the creators. Most artists, musical, theatrical, or otherwise, are forced by economics to sign away most of their rights as the creators in order to gain the financial backing necessary to share their creations. This is whole point of artistic creation in the first place: to share it. The companies that are pushing this legislation don’t care about sharing art, they care about selling it. Now, I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t sell art, quite the contrary. I think that if people want to experience art, they should compensate the creators for it. THE CREATORS. Not the dozens of hands in the pot that are only there because of the “manufacturing” process that artistic creation has been subjected to for the past several decades. With so many people making money off of one persons art or off of a group of people art, there isn’t much left for the creators. And guess who complains the least about piracy: the creators. The publishers, marketers, and business-people of the media industry, who make more money than the creators, are the one complaining that piracy is killing their industry. But I think their complaints are misplaced and wrong because piracy may not be hurting them as badly as they think. And if it is then perhaps it needs to be hurting them.
If the movie biz lost enough revenue that fewer movies were made, more people who pirate them might pay for them. Pirates, and people generally, have such ready access to movies and music that in order to watch all the movies and hear all the music that one might want to enjoy, one would have to spend very large amounts of money just to keep up. If the number of movies and CDs made would plateau for awhile, and let the economy catch up to the growth the entertainment industry has experienced, these so called pirates might actually buy this media. When supply goes up, demand goes down. Movies and music have turned into a product that is being manufactured rather than being created as art. Then those who are trying to push the creativity of media are being pushed aside by the big businesses because of a lack of “marketability”. I understand the need to be able to make money off of creativity, but at least give the little guys a chance.
As far as foreign piracy goes, chances are the individuals pirating can’t afford the high costs of entertainment and therefore are forced to go through “illegal” channels. As for the foreign pirates who illegally sell entertainment media, they are likely selling it at a price far below what if costs in America. They are taking advantage of the fact that they can obtain their products for free and sell it to people in a price range that their customers can afford. Chances are that the people buying from these illegal businesses would have never bought one of these movies otherwise due to them being too expensive to purchase through legal channels. Some of these customers may not even know that they are buying illegal content. Not to mention, if you cut off the easiest way for these illegal business owners to obtain their product (downloading), they will simply go to the next easiest way: order the dvds from the internet. So unless it gets outlawed to sell, on the internet, a dvd to someone overseas, this sort of legislation does nothing to stop the “loss” that these lobbying businesses experience.
So then there’s the issue of domestic piracy. Most people who illegally download stuff from the internet, do so because they have no interest in buying it. Take for example a piece of software ( or song/album, or movie)… if a person wants the item in question, but for one reason or another is unwilling or unable to spend the money to obtain it legally, their options are: do without, or pirate it. If the person goes without the software, the company that made it never makes any money off of this person. If the person pirates the piece of software, the person then becomes familiar with it and may recommend it to another and may very well decide to purchase it in the future. The point I’m trying to make is that if the company would have never made the money to begin with, pirated content is not a loss of money.
Consider that if a piece of software is commonly used in an industry a person is interested in working in, pirating it may be their only option for becoming familiar with it in order to get into the industry. This would be the case when the software in question is ridiculously expensive. And many of the applications commonly used in most media industries (graphic design, video production, audio production, etc.) are so terribly expensive that the only entities that can reasonably afford it is businesses or schools. So if a potential entrepreneur wants to get into an industry where the majority of work is completed in an expensive piece of software, the person may not be able to developed the necessary skills to even start a business. The obvious answer to this problem is for the individual to procure a business loan. The problem with that is the person may not be able to get approved for the loan due to the bank not having faith in his ability to develop the business when he has no experience in the field.
Let’s look at a music album. If someone likes the artist, they’ll likely purchase the album, go to a show or two, buy a poster, and a order a t-shirt. Then everyone else, who might like one song off the album will just pirate it, and then they might find they really like the whole album and become one if the aforementioned fans. Or they pirate it and find that the one song is the only one they like and is definitely wasn’t worth the cost of the album, end of story. I know that most digital distribution services allow a person to buy one song at a time, but then many people don’t want to buy one song from an artist who has only made one worthwhile song (in their opinion).
And then there are movies… blurays are expensive! So are DVD’s. So are theaters. If someone can’t easily afford a trip to the theater or a blue ray or even a dvd, they may pirate it. And they may really enjoy it. And since most pirated copies are of low quality, the person may decide they want to watch this film in higher quality. So they go buy it. And then they recommend it to a friend. This is a good thing because otherwise the person would have never spent the money at all. The only people who cause any harm by pirating media are those whose sole means of acquiring entertainment is through piracy. So here’s an idea, make it so that its not piracy if you buy the media within X time period. But the real matter at hand is that people who will ever spend the money, do so whether the option to get it free exists or not. Just like movie theaters vs dvds. Those who go to theaters go regardless of the fact that they can go spend the same money and have it forever… mostly.
Now, I’m not trying to defend the breaking of the law, I’m just saying that perhaps the businesses of the media industry are overreacting a bit.
If the era of big businesses running the entertainment industry has ended, then let’s let it die and avoid the potential for sacrificing liberty just to maintain the status quo. But the status quo is changing. This is evidenced by the insane number of independent bands popping up, producing professional quality albums without a record deal, and the number of independent films being produced. Some businesses are supporting peoples desire to make their own entertainment while others are trying to make it ever more difficult to do so. Presonus, for example has a whole line of audio recording hardwares priced so that most musicians can afford it. This takes power from the big records labels and gives it to artists. Even iTunes makes it a pain to be an independent digital entertainer because of the cost of getting music into their store. Not to mention that Apple only pays a very small royalty to artists. And oh, look, Apple supports SOPA and PIPA.
If we look at who actually conceptualized this legislation we’ll see that it is not the actual creators but rather it was the publishers that came up with the idea. The publishers control how much money the artists (musicians, actors, directors, writers) receive from sales and if the claimed losses from piracy were recouped, what incentive would the publishers have to make sure the artists receive just compensation when the artists already receive most of their compensation from other avenues. It has become standard practice for artists to receive next to nothing for their work from sales, and the publishers keep the vast majority of the sales revenue. These points pertain mostly to the music industry where artists survive on revenue form merchandise and concerts. The movie industry can’t complain about how much money they make or lose because they make ridiculous amounts of money anyways. The video game industry could complain if the publishers and hardware developers weren’t shooting themselves in the foot, repeatedly, ad nauseum. The game studios are trying their hardest to keep from getting financially screwed by their publishers and they can complain about piracy, because it directly affects them. Take Team Meat for example, their game Super Meat Boy was pirated quite a bit. But they asked that people stop pirating it and some of those pirates sent the money for the game directly to the guys that made it and did so because they so thoroughly enjoyed the game.
If we simplify the process of producing content, and remove the extra greedy hands in the pot, the content creators would make more money. It’s the extra hands that are being hit the hardest by piracy because they take the largest share of profits from the revenue pool.
Now that I’ve established that this is bad legislation, let me explain why stopping it from passing will not make any difference. To begin with, this is not the first piece of malformed legislation to be proposed that would affect the liberties of American citizens and threaten the security of the internet. This legislation is the first that has managed to garner a public outcry for opposition, but the only reason that anyone knows about it because half (kinda) of the internet shut down for a day. And although that day may have postponed the inevitable passing of this legislation, it will do nothing to solve the ultimate problem. What is the ultimate problem? The fact that malformed legislation gets proposed by, supported by, and pushed through congress by big business that don’t care about their consumers. The only way to stop this legislation in its tracks would be to boycott ALL companies that support SOPA and PIPA. But that means canceling your television service, avoiding Hulu, Netflix and the like, not buying media at Wal-Mart, and throwing out your iPhone, iPad, i-whatever, basically making your life entertainment-free. This will never happen.
The other way to keep malformed legislation from screwing up our entertainment is to vote for representative that actually have our interests as people in mind, and not the interests of the businesses that lobby for them. But since the candidates that wouldn’t support SOPA or PIPA won’t be supported by the big media companies, people will have to research who they will vote for. With the incredible throngs of misinformed lazy masses that have taken over our country, we’ll likely never get the idiots out of office.
And speaking of lazy misinformed masses, most people have no idea what sort of legislation is up for passing because they either do not care about it because they do not understand how it can affect them or they do not know anything about it because it requires some effort to research it. So unless a paradigm shift occurs in people’s attitudes towards legislation, we will never stop the likes of SOPA and PIPA.
Now that I’ve ranted about how SOPA and PIPA are bad, someone will inevitably wonder why I would be so against legislation that will protect the rights of copyright holders. The answer is this: we already have legislation in placed to protect rights holders. What legislation? The DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed in 1998, “criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.” (Thank you Wiki.) But in the DMCA are provisions that keep content servers like Youtube and Comcast from being targeted as criminals as long as these content servers maintain a mechanic through which rights holders can inform them that they are hosting or serving illegal content. This is the Safe Harbor Clause. Because of the different provisions of the DMCA, there is a good balance between protecting rights of copyright holders and content servers. It allows for stiff penalties for anyone pirating content and still allows for fair use, i.e. use in criticism and parodies. It works, so lets not screw with it.
I am no advocate of breaking the law, but when we begin sacrificing the potentiality for innovation in order to protect the profits of big businesses in industries fueled by innovation, there is something wrong. We need to, as the people of this country, educate ourselves and maintain a certain level of weariness of our political representatives so that their personal desires don’t outweigh their political responsibilities. That said, I leave you with a quote by John Lennon: “Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.”
Rant = Done.

This article was written by my colleague, Andrew McDaniel.  It was posted with his permission.  For more articles like this and our weekly podcast check us out at, http://everythingstentative.com/


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Ubisoft, do you hate your consumers?
Posted on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 07:06:08 Eastern

We all know that piracy is an issue that every publisher is fighting today. It is an issue that even the US government trying to remedy with legislation like PIPA and SOPA. However, some publishers stand out from the crowd with the policies they have implemented. Ubisoft is one of those publishers. For about four and a half years Ubisoft has been implementing very strict DRM policies on all of its PC games, starting with Assassins Creed. It required a persistent internet connection to be able to play the game, even during the single player mode. This made playing the game very problematic, because if Ubisoft’s severs went down (which they did) then you were not able to play your game.

It can be argued that Ubisoft implemented this DRM policy with the first Assassins Creed because the game was pirated almost 700,000 times before the game even launched on PC, but since the code that required that connection was so easily removed it could not serve its purpose. When the pirated version of a game doesn’t have unnecessarily restrictive DRM, the legally purchased version becomes obsolete.

Now Ubisoft is implementing far more sinister DRM policies along with its constant internet connection requirement. A couple weeks ago Guru3D was doing some benchmark testing with the Ubisoft published game Anno 2070. When they swapped out graphics cards in their PC they quickly ran into this new DRM menace. The changing of the graphics card required Anno 2070 to be reactivated. That’s right; the changing of any hardware component inside of the PC triggered the game to deactivate. The way the game knew there was a hardware change is because the game reads every piece of hardware in the computer so that it can’t be installed on different computer hardware. So when the game reads a different graphics card than the one it expects, it thinks it was installed on a totally different machine.

These policies have been implemented throughout the years with limited to no success and large amounts of consumer backlash. The main problem is they do not fight the current pirate. When a game is pirated all DRM is removed and it is posted online for all to download. I would argue that pirated versions of games are the superior versions simply because they haven’t been handicapped by their publishers.
I have come to the conclusion that Ubisoft is just ignorant to how the current pirate operates. They believe that antiquated DRM is the only way they can hinder their games from being pirated. But all they are doing is enraging their paying customers by giving consumers inferior products compared to what can be stolen for free. So, where’s the incentive to buy your games? I’m just not sure any more.

Check out more articles like this and our weekly podcast at http://everythingstentative.com/

- Nickson



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Tech Guy's used game rant.
Posted on Sunday, February 12 2012 @ 18:39:35 Eastern

So video game developers and game publishers are b*tching and moaning about how used game sales are killing their profits. And now we have hardware developers considering the inclusion of anti-used-game technology that will lock a game to the first c...   read more...

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