Friday, July 01, 2005

Here, Sir, Please Have Another

Tycho's recent rant on the topic of subscription software has a lot to do with why I haven't gone for MMORPGs. The fact that, when you get right down to it, they're really fancy GUI MUDs is another, but I digress. I like the social aspect of them. I like the fact that that social aspect is not geographically-limited. I even like the properties they represent-- I'm a shameless whore for anything with the words "Final Fantasy" or "Dungeons and Dragons" on the box. I just can't get over the idea, foolish and outdated though it seems these days, that when I buy a game, that means that I can play the game whenever I want, without having to cough up even *more* money.

This isn't just gaming's fault-- Anti-Virus software, as he noted, is just as evil, and large enterprise customers have been renting their software for decades now. What worries me, though, is the DRM built into new computers and consoles that comes right out and says to my face that once I've bought a title, all that means is that I have entered a brave new world of financial torment.

Now, I'm mostly not worried right now-- I don't run Windows at home, and most of my gaming these days is console-based, by which I mean I own a PS2 and a Gamecube, neither of which have any significant chunk of online gaming. I worry, though, that with the PS3 and Xbox 360 (and somebody should REALLY point out to Microsoft that 360 degrees takes you right back where you started, which is maybe not the IDEAL sort of association you want for a brand-spanking new console) the default assumption will be that a disc is just the install process for a virtual vacuum hose extending into your wallet.

I dunno-- maybe it's possible that consumers will revolt against software rental as a generic way of life. Perhaps MMORPGs are inherently the sort of games that lend themselves to a subscription
model. After all, while Halo is nicer with Live, you can still have plenty of fun with it completely disconnected from everything. If it's a matter of, "Here's your game, have fun with it, oh and by the way, you can give us $$$ and we will let you have even MORE fun", then
I'm all for it. And hey, maybe consumers will revolt-- after all, DivX (the pseudo-DVD format, not the codec) failed because consumers didn't like the idea of buying something that they didn't really own.

No matter what happens, I have my Legend of Zelda disc, and nobody can take that away from me. Now all I need is Super Mario Brothers for the GC, and I'm set.

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