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Let's Talk Video Games

When I’m Good And Ready


My CD collection was one of biblical proportions; now it’s all but gone.

As a student, I would spend an inordinate amount of money on CDs, with the collection growing each and every week. As a member of a band, it was like a badge of honour; a reflection of my seriousness to the cause. Spanning everything from Nirvana to Duke Ellington, it sat proudly upon a series of shelves that I had fitted especially to the bedroom wall. It was a shrine to all things aural.

Now, anyone that’s ever collected anything will know the joy that can be had by simply perusing your cherished items. I find it’s like taking a mental snapshot of each one; like having a quick play-through of each CD in your head. I can well imagine, then, that any collectors out there would be completely dismayed if they saw my collection today: half a dozen CDs rammed into the glove-box and a few more in a cheap wallet, gathering dust atop the bookshelf. The rest? Sold, gifted or binned.

I am shame.

CD Art 2

Maybe some went on to serve a higher purpose?

My love of music has not dwindled, it’s just that for the price of a couple of CDs each month, I can stream all that I want to any of my devices using Spotify. I mean, seriously: the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks – even if I am now on the kill-list of Collectors-R-Us.

And yet even though I’ve abandoned all traditional ownership principles with music, I’m not quite there with films just yet.

The DVD cases may have been binned and the Blu-ray ones put into cold storage, but the six-hundred-plus collection still takes pride of place in the drawers beneath the TV, lovingly alphabetised (don’t start) in a series of wallets. I do occasionally look at purely digital options such as Netflix and have even been know to rent the odd film via PS3, but the thought of giving up on my physical copies and limiting my choice to the narrow view that streaming-services seem to employ isn’t something that fills me with much inspiration.

If I had a way to easily digitise and store my entire collection, that could then be supplemented with further digital sales, I’d probably jump ship – similar to the situation that I reached with CDs almost a decade ago. As soon as I realised I could rip them into Window Media Player, there was no going back. But the time and space required to do that for all of my films (many of which are now HD), is quite simply ridiculous. Believe me – I’ve looked into it.

CD Art 3

Making art from art: don’t even try to quantify the man-hours this photo represents …

Which would perhaps explain my utter dismay at Microsoft’s attempts to make me go digital with my third and most complex love affair: games.

In the aftermath of E3 and of Microsoft’s Xbox 180, the community is now reflecting on whether or not the Internet was right to be so indignant and so vocal about Xbox One’s DRM policies. Microsoft’s vision was clearly fuelled by its corporate as opposed to altruistic desires, but it is undoubtedly a vision that will eventually come to pass. Indeed, in many areas, games already have gone purely digital in the form of Steam and App stores. But games represent a much more diverse and fragmented ecosystem than either music or film and one that simply isn’t ready just yet, for such an enforced and premature departure from the ways of old. Digitisation of other markets happened gradually, with consumers making the mental switch when they were good and ready, not when they were press-ganged into doing to.

Microsoft’s cataclysmic error was not in its vision, then, but in its timing and its delivery. It’s dominance in the PC and Office markets is unquestioned and well-deserved. It’s dominance in the gaming industry exists only in its mind and in its over-inflated ego and we did well to remind it of its place. For now.

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Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.

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4 Comments

  1. I think the thing that stuck in my throat was that MS were trying to ‘DRM-up’ hard copies, which was never done in music or movies. Imagine only being able to play a CD on one stereo!

    So, I think it should properly follow the path of the other industries- keep disc based stuff as it is, and offer subscriptions/renting/DRM on the bits you download and stream.

    PS Plus is an excellent service, and this sort of rental/subscription option is a brilliant path for videogames, combined with traditional disc sales.

  2. Yep. If they had approached it from a customer perspective they would have seen the reaction and complaints coming a million miles off. They thought they could just fob people off, but they were wrong.
    Funnily enough, I think part of it is because they are Microsoft. People do not trust them to be fair on pricing and competition, whereas I bet Sony would have been given more leeway.

  3. You’re absolutely right, Simon. I actually think that they’d have had more success if they just removed the optical drive and went purely digital. People are already half-way there and doing the whole disc/DRM nonsense was a real brain-fart.

    Or was it? Perhaps they were fully aware this would happen and were just testing the water to see just what the temperature was?

    • I don’t think that is true of consoles though. The total failure of PSP Go showed that people are not willing to give up physical games yet.

      Some are, but they are likely to be the people who also own PC’s for games and so on. Steam is easier because PC games are generally used by one person, whereas console games are for sharing and interacting with friends. Removing the ability to share takes away part of what makes consoles in the first place, MS tried to have a replacement but the sacrifices were too much for the benefits it offered,

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