Sony upended the next-generation playing field with their announcement that they would not tack on additional fees to the purchases of previously owned games. The revelation is a direct counter to the public ire cultivated by their industrial rival, Microsoft, and their recent declaration stating that used video games would likely be forbidden on their new console. This stems from the in-depth licensing protocols Microsoft wants to implement as individualized contracts that bind each gamer to strict regulations regarding the property rights of the game and system. The decision by Sony to allow a lucrative market for used video games offers solace to gamers who were bracing for potential disenfranchisement.
Support for Previous Models:
The crux of the used games controversy revolves around backwards compatibility. The upcoming Playstation 4 system will be equipped with the hardware to support games from all of its predecessors; meanwhile, the forthcoming Xbox One will not provide functionality for games that were programmed for previous systems. Instead, they have a plan to make the most popular games in their back catalog available for download through their online store. This layout will require avid gamers to purchase duplicate copies of games they already own if they want to play them on their newest console. Critics of Microsoft’s maneuvering claim that it amounts to simple racketeering. Sony diligently paid attention to the negative responses that their opponent received, and fine-tuned their press release accordingly.
The Formal Text:
Keen observers of the video game industry will notice that the fine-print used by both companies is nearly identical; however, Sony asserts that their protocol provides publishers with a much clearer directive than Microsoft’s does. Both corporations have included a clause that allows game publishers to insert their own fees if they desire. Sony notes that this is merely a semantic technicality, because current industry conditions mandate that any publishers that inflates their rates will be subjected to mass protests. None of Sony’s game publishers have made any indication of implementing such user restrictions. By making their intentions public, Sony has maintained a positive status quotient that allows financially limited people to access games through a resale market.
Importance of Public Opinion:
There is no reset button on the public discourse, and Sony appears to have taken full advantage of the current technological conversation. Even with semi-congruent proposals, Sony has earned the upper hand by biding time, and striking at the most vulnerable moment. Microsoft has attracted a growing number of aggrieved detractors that see the corporations tactics as unjustifiably greedy. The public response for Xbox One already was clamorously apathetic. The lack of backwards compatibility is compounded with the privacy concerns of a built-in camera that never turns off. Furthermore, there will be no way to operate the system without a constant internet connection.
Conversely, the Playstation 4 will not require online access to function, and it will not have the set-up of a digital spy. Players can keep their massive collections of Sony games, because the new console will let them endlessly enjoy them. Devotees of Sony will have unfettered access to games that are affordable, simply because they were previously played by someone else. Microsoft is opting for invasive limitation, while Sony is pursuing liberal universality. The future of video games is murkily uncertain, but one aspect that remains sparklingly clear is that Sony is providing Microsoft with seriously steadfast competition.