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Matter Of Perspective - E3 Special: The Gamer's Options

The future is in our hands.

This week I’m not going to talk about any games, characters or series. This week I’m going to talk about the ones who spend money to support the games industry, the ones who explore worlds and analyse everything about them, the ones who have a passion for the virtual worlds. I’m talking about us. I’m talking about the gamers.


E3 2013: An important event in gaming history.
E3 is kicking off today and with it we’ll finally know exactly what choices we’ll have and what virtual worlds will soon be ours to explore. After E3 we may well each know which console (or consoles) we’ll pledge our money towards and just how much control we’ll have over the devices.

This E3 is the first time that we’ll be dealing with something other than consoles and games. E3 2013 is about what being a consumer means, and the ownership of goods.

Let’s look at our options.

Microsoft

The Xbox One is the console we’ve heard the most about recently, and most of what we’ve heard has been very negative. The reveal didn’t seem to be aimed at gamers (at least not those outside of the US), the PR was confusing and the resulting clarifications sparked outrage across the web.

We now know the console will have to check in every 24 hours or you’ll lose access to your games. We know the ability to rent is not there, second hand sales will be restricted to approved retailers, and lending games to mates is also severely limited.

We also know that the Xbox One is a machine interested in being a full media centre with games being a portion of it, not the main attraction. If they were, then offline single player games might still be accessible even without authentication. Instead it’s only some of the media features that you’ll be able to access if you’re not connected.

Games wise the Xbox One has currently positioned itself as the AAA machine. Microsoft have set up deals for exclusive content with EA for games like FIFA and Activision for Call of Duty, while the leaked Titan Fall by Respawn Entertainment will be entirely exclusive to Microsoft’s consoles. Forza V has also been confirmed and it will be unsurprising if Halo or Gears makes an appearance.

For us, the consumers, we’re presented with a media centre with very restrictive measures. It’ll be likely you’ll need a LIVE account to access the majority of the features like the Cloud and multiplayer.

From our perspective Microsoft have to promise the world to earn trust. E3 is damage control central.

Sony

Sony are being quiet. As gamers we’ve positioned them to be the saviours of the next generation and that attitude has been fed by positive reinforcement. We know the PS4 won’t have an online check, so they’ve ticked one box that pleases gamers.

We also know that the support for both the big publishers and the indie developers is there; Sony are courting everyone they can.

Game wise Sony are all over it. They’ve announced that’ll there will be 40 games present for the PS4, PS3 and Vita, so you can expect a variety of genres represented on all three consoles. Killzone: Shadow Fall, DriveClub, Tearaway and a host of other titles will be shown off, as well as who knows what else. It’s an exciting time for fans of all sorts of games.

However, the question with Sony is just why are they being so quiet? What are they hiding? Will there be an online fee present on the PS4? With the likes of Plus and Gaikai being present on the console, will there be a fee to access them? Multiplayer is free this generation but will it be next generation? We don’t know.

The second hand market is also something Sony has been quiet about. All we know is they’ll make the “right choice.” But who for? The gamers who trade or the publishers who would love to see the second hand and rental markets collapse? We don’t know.

So far, Sony have been positioned as the saviours of the next generaton. They’re waiting in the wings to announce a console with no DRM, no always online, no second hand fees. At least that’s what we want, but the truth is we don’t fully know what Sony is planning. We have to be wary. Sony could still introduce these things.

Nintendo

In the furore over the second hand market, backwards compatibility and consumer rights, Nintendo seem to have been forgotten. The Wii U has been out several months now and we have all the facts here.

There are no restrictions on second hand sales, there are no issues with always online and the console has backwards compatibility. The Wii U has been built as a games console first and foremost, with no major extras to detract from that.

While we’ve been concentrating on whether Sony or Microsoft will “win” the next gen, Nintendo is on the brink of making a huge impact too. Imagine if both Sony and Microsoft have some form of restriction on game lending and trading. As gamers we can either live with such restrictions or head to a platform that’s missing those restrictions entirely.

Game wise Nintendo is focusing a lot on first party titles for the Wii U and the 3DS. Third party support is bare, especially for the Wii U.

This E3 Nintendo has the advantage. Play it just right and gamers as well as developers could be attracted to the platform.

The problem is, at the minute the Wii U is in a vicious cycle. It has limited sales because of a lack of third party support, and limited third party support because of a lack of sales. However, Nintendo have the chance to come out of E3 smelling of roses, which could break the cycle.

What It Means For Us

E3 2013 will be exciting, big and important. This is where the very future of the games industry will be decided. How each console maker presents itself this time will determine where we spend our money, and how we own media in the future.

If Microsoft manage to sway the majority of gamers then it’s a future of always online with DRM and the eventual extinction of the second hand trading market.


Remember, we hold the power.
Currently, Sony seem poised to “win” E3 2013 but that is all based on our own hopes and perceptions. Yes, Sony are remaining quiet but whether that’s a good or bad thing is yet to be seen. They’ve done everything right up to this point but they can still throw it all away.

Nintendo are the ones we should be watching though. They already have their next gen machine out and it’s free of anything that is concerning us about consumer and ownership rights. Sure games are a bit slow to appear on the Wii U but this is Nintendo’s chance to take away hype from the other two consoles.

E3 2013 will be one of the landmark conferences of the games industry. It’s here that our consumer rights are being tested.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re not affected because your internet is solid. Think of the long term consequences, like servers being switched off and losing access to something you paid for. Think of your fellow gamers who may not have excellent internet.

Yes, E3 marks an important time in the industry we love and the fallout following it will determine the path the industry goes down.

29 Comments
  1. Voolar
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    Nice write up. I really want Sony to nail it but I’m afraid that a big chunk of the restrictions are coming from the big publishers. If that’s the case Sony may have their hands tied. I can’t believe they’d risk not having FIFA, COD or Battlefield on their console.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 09:27.
    • Germanos
      Member
      Since: May 2011

      Well, if the restrictions will come from the developers ( i.e. online/season passes) then SONY won’t be targeted as being the ‘bad one’. So it’s a win again, right?

      Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 09:56.
    • Klart
      Member
      Since: Jun 2010

      Well they probably can’t avoid any restrictions by EA and Activision; if these publishers don’t want you to play games second hand (or only under strict – paying – conditions), then that’s what it’ll be and Sony won’t be able to change that.

      However, there’s a huge difference whether this “blocking second hand games” is the model for every game (like MS has for the XB1) or if publishers can do this if they want to (not that Sony can stop them from doing it). Sony themself can not take any measure whatsoever to block second hand games, so at least that is the principle, which would go a long way.

      Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:07.
      • blarty
        Member
        Since: Apr 2011

        You make this sound like it’s all in the hands of the publishers…. but it isn’t – all those games that cost boat loads of cash to make and market – that money has to be recouped somehow – if Sony doesn’t implement DRM (or certainly implements it in a far more acceptable fashion than MS), huge swathes of gamers will defect from the restrictive practices being implemented in XBone, which means the paying public (the ones who essentially make the money flow back to the publishers) will be paying for games on Sony’s platform. Exclusive publisher deals will mean nothing if there’s a reduced pool of buyers.

        Publishers will go where the money is, and MS will not be able to placate the likes of EA and Activision with exclusive deal sweeteners indefinitely.

        You also have to remember that the whole DRM function of the XBOne runs on MS azure platform, so a separate platform will be needed for PS4 anyway.

        Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:21.
    • yiddo
      Member
      Since: Jun 2010

      Do you really think that if Sony stood their ground, EA etc wouldn’t release games on their platform? No way. Then they’d only have the Xbox platforms and PC as revenue streams, as they’ve already ditched the Wii U. I’d say the ball is in Sonys court to be fair.

      What I also don’t understand, is if the decision to do this is left to publishers (like Sony has said) why didn’t both console manufacturers say ‘No, we are not having this business practice’. Why didn’t both of them stand their ground and keep things how they were, instead of getting bullied into supporting this.

      Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:26.
      • blarty
        Member
        Since: Apr 2011

        For MS everything revolves around XBL…. many online passes were implemented on the multiplayer portions of games, if online passes aren’t being bought, gamers aren’t playing the multiplayer sections therefore have less of a need for XBL gold subs.

        The interesting thing is how all the unknown ‘extras’ like Gaikai (and possibly including lower DRM limitations) factor into PS+

        Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:32.
  2. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Great summary of the state of things. We’re all bad at dealing with change especially when it’s not apparent that its for our benefit, but I’m not sure that we should be expected to be happy about change if we as the consumer aren’t the main focus of the change. If Sony do what we want with their console they will will have success, simply because they’ll set themselves apart from Microsoft and they’ll be seen to be listening. Good luck to Nintendo too!

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 09:57.
  3. Germanos
    Member
    Since: May 2011

    I’ve got my Skype ready, beer in the fridge and my two mates already checked to be present as we (as each time in the last 3-4 years) are watching the E3 conferences “together” (discussing them via Skype).

    I so much want the PS4 to win this E3. I have so much faith in PlayStation, that I’m not so much bothered by them ‘being silent’ for the last fee weeks. I think it’s more related to: “naaah, we basically nailed MS with everything we said so far and did not counter with anything interesting”.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:03.
  4. TheShepanator
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    I will not be buying any Activision/ea games for as long as I can help it, it’s quite frankly appalling that they think they can charge £60 for a license for a game, which is basically a rental of the game until they decide to turn their authentication servers off

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:05.
  5. KippDynamite
    Member
    Since: Mar 2013

    Here is how Sony can easily “win” E3 and the next console generation:

    Tretton (or Yoshida, or whoever) come out and say the following:
    “The PS4 has no DRM whatsoever (applause).
    It does not require an online connection in any way (applause).
    The Playstation Network will still be free (applause).
    You can buy and sell new and used games just as you can now. Used games will not be restricted in any way. (standing ovation with American journalists whipping around their shirts above their heads).

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:05.
    • Mickey2010
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      Hit the nail on the head!

      if this happened it would make Sony the so called ‘winners’ of E3 for me! As long as Sony do not show any more of The Last Of Us i will be happy been trying to avoid everything to do with it so i can be blown away Friday

      Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 11:45.
  6. Origami Killer
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Lovely read. I really do hope Sony don’t follow suit with Microsoft, well not like for for like. If they do something similar with less effect then that should be fine.
    As for the Wii U, well has anyone actually bought one?!

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:07.
    • TheShepanator
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      I’ve never actually seen one in the flesh, it has literally no support, I think the next game for it doesn’t come out until mid august or something

      Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:11.
  7. Dar-Kaus
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Good article Aran and nicely wraps up the current standings of where we are as of today. But one way or another, the future of video games is about to be written today and will have long term implications for all gamers online and off.

    My decision which next generation console I buy is already decided with the PS4 no matter what restrictions there may be because for me it has the games I want to play. But I take little pleasure in seeing MS screw over their loyal core gamers in favour of advancing their influence over the future of living room media and by squeezing every last buck of profit they can along the way.

    I realise that Sony could go down a similar path to MS and we may see today as the beginning of the end for what have come to enjoy with our consoles over the previous generations, but I genuinely believe that Sony’s PS4 will be the console of choice for gamers. Sure I’m not naive enough to think that we’ll get off scott free of DMR tonight, but Sony will have seen the backlash over XB1 and if it was part of their plans have probably made some alterations to it to appease to the masses. One thing is for sure, if Sony play their cards right tonight, strike the right balance between DMR and pre owned games, then they will have the next generation of console gaming in the bag and if they do surprise us all and decide on a different path to follow that effectively negates these issues, then MS will loose the core gamers to Sony for sure.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:22.
  8. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Microsoft will be seeking to gain gamers’ trust but so far they’ve exhibited very little trust in gamers so they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them.
    Sony have to reveal their intentions at this point or their whole presser will be moot imo – just like Microsoft’s will be unless they announce a complete u-turn on used game restrictions.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:28.
  9. blarty
    Member
    Since: Apr 2011

    Nintendo might be one to watch, but essentially the WiiU is current-gen in the eyes of many gamers, why jump to WiiU now if the 360 and PS3 will be supported alongside their newer counterparts and see where the land lies with respect to the newer consoles in 12 months.

    Unless the WiiU really pulls some big first party and sorts out it’s third-party support, I fail to see how used-game restrictions and backwards compatibility can really give it the boost it so dearly needs.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 10:35.
  10. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    No PS3/360 owners are gonna opt for a Wii U over of PS4/X1. The fact it has no DRM/second hand restrictions/etc.. doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t have the games, which, as everyone has made very clear after the X1 reveal, is by far the most important thing.

    I think Sony will announce that the PS4 isn’t hugely different to the X1. Maybe no online connection needed, but I’d be very surprised if there is no DRM/restrictions. I’m think PS+ will start to have more ‘necessary’ features too, rather than just the current luxury ones. Whether that’s online multiplayer, I’m not sure.

    Personally, I won’t be making my next gen decision until they’ve both been out a while and real consumers, the general public, have road tested them.

    Comment posted on 10/06/2013 at 11:46.

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