Archive | January 2012

In the world of DRM, Microsoft is building a prison

Digital rights management (DRM). No consumer likes it, if they know what it is. It’s whatever security companies employ in order to try to protect their products from piracy. This can be requiring online registration, product key codes, requiring an online connection in order to use the product, or even something as covert as a line of code that is needed for the product to run, and it can’t be copied by normal means.

DRM is constantly evolving as the digital age advances. Companies are always pointing at piracy to explain why sales aren’t hitting expectations, although there’s no empirical proof. Truth be told, not every person that pirates a song, movie, or game over the internet was going to buy it otherwise.

In the midst of this on going struggle, Microsoft is rumored to be proposing a new approach with its upcoming video game console, the XBox 720. Speaking to Kotaku, sources said that the 720 would be using a new kind of security to prevent used games from being playable on the upcoming console. While it’s unknown how this could be done, its affects on the consumers are clear. You’re all going to the 720 prison.

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The X means “No used games”

While other companies have taken to requiring $10 online passes in order to access online mulitplayer content on used copies of games, Microsoft wants to ice the very concept all together. However they decide to do it, the system won’t allow a used game to be played on another system. This probably means there will be some kind of registration code that will bind to a console, or the XBox Live User account. Either way, there’s serious problems and restrictions to this kind of approach.

If this kind of system becomes a reality, Microsoft is going to do nothing but imprison its consumers, and do absolutely nothing to hinder piracy. Pirates are used to getting around these kinds of security measures. That is not the target here, however. The target is the lucrative used games market front-lined by Gamestop. This market generates billions a year, but sees not a single penny going to the game makers, except for the newly introduced online passes, provided the used game buyers purchase them.

So this new system will put a stop to that market, and maybe increase new game sales. Like piracy, however, not every used game buyer was going to buy the game new in the first place. Used prices are cheaper, and older games aren’t always carried on the shelves anymore, because they’re no longer printed.

The real victims here, however, are the millions of legitimate consumers that have always played it by the book. No longer will they be able to let their friends borrow games, or freely have a system in the man cave and the living room. Worse yet, if your console breaks and gets replaced, you’ve just been sent down the creek without a paddle. On the flip side, if the games are bound to accounts, what if you have siblings or roommates with their own accounts? Guess they’ll have to buy their own $60 copy to play the game that’s already in the room.

Why use a sniper when you can use a bomb? No, under the new 720 regime, there is no innocent.

Things I won’t be able to do with my kids.

Seeing how things have changed in the past ten years, I really had to wonder what things will be like when I have a family. Comparatively, my parents got to do with me a lot of what they did with their own parents. The advancement of the internet has really changed how we do a lot of things, and there are a few that could very well be changed forever.

Going to blockbuster could very well go the way of the dodo soon. My parents used to take me there when I was a kid to rent a movie or game, but I can already tell I won’t be doing that. With movie and game streaming services becoming more and more popular, the convenience of saving the time and doing it right in my living room will certainly make that the entertainment venue of choice.

Going to the bookstore. Here’s something I did a lot as a kid, but something I almost never do now. With my iPad, I can get almost any book, newspaper, or magazine in digital form through various online vendors, and these have only been a big player in the past five years. Before then, ebook readers were considered a very small niche. Ten years from now, will there even be any bookstores to go to? Borders has already gone down, and local book sellers are suffering greatly at the hands of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. B&N is focusing more and more on its digital front, trying to adapt to the changing market. We may soon see them downsize their megastores to smaller Apple Store like venues offering their various readers and a scaled back physical book selection.

The obvious trend is “going place”. The digital age is replacing those with the convenience of doing things from home. That is not to say that this is a bad thing. Saving time on errands can lead to more quality time with family doing things more enjoyable. Still, its hard to believe that a lot of the magical moments of my childhood could be forever lost to the coming generations.

I’m already saying “Back in my day.”

Tax Season: The Christmas for adults

Having just spent a couple hundred dollars at the dentist, and receiving options to handle my wisdom teeth, I’m thankful its tax season. Tax season is that time of year where working adults file their complete finances and find out just how much the government should have taxed them for the past year based on many other factors and programs.

For most people, this is a time to get back some money from the government, and for a working student, that can be quite a lot. I know students are looking forward to getting money back for many reasons, although saving it for tuition is always the most popular.

People at work talk about making big purchases, like TVs or sound systems. So I look at this is another christmas for adults, where they give themselves a big gift. I wonder if I’ll be like that come tax season once I’m out of school and no longer need to save my return for tuition.