What Happened to Consumer Rights?
I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now, if not by gaming media outlets or raging Xbox 360 fanboys, then by Sony fans themselves. With Firmware 3.21 today, you lose you’re ability to play video games online if you don’t update, but if you do update and own the original fat PlayStation 3, you lose your OtherOS option. April Fool’s joke? Apparently not.
Is this really a big deal?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: I have used this feature to install two different versions of Linux. I removed them shortly afterwards. It was a neat idea, but I use my PlayStation 3 for gaming and movies. I have a powerful PC for my other needs (such as writing this blog). So the removal of Linux really isn’t a big deal, but it is. The problem with allowing them to remove it, for any reason, is the inevitable question: where does it stop?
I’m sure some, if not most, are aware of the expolit in the Nintendo Wii with the ‘Twilight Princess hack‘. What if Sony finds a security hole in PlayStation 2 saves? Should I also lose my backward compatibility? I highly doubt this will happen, so don’t assume I’m saying this is going to happen next. But you can’t deny that it is a logical possibility.
The overall problem with this whole issue for a lot of people I don’t think is the loss of Linux. Some people, yes, of course, this is a much bigger deal, but I think we can all agree that this, that taking away a feature that was originally sold as a feature, then removing it is bad business. Very bad business. It wouldn’t even shock me if it wasn’t illegal.
There’s probably a nice selection of people that just ‘don’t get the uproar’ over such a stupid feature as “Install OtherOS” so I’m just going to address this. Again, this isn’t (for me) a complaint about losing “Install OtherOS”, but it is about consumer rights and what authority a company has to remove something they sold you.
Another problem with all of this also is that it clearly states that I can play games online, watch Blu-rays, and install Linux at my heart’s desire right there on the box. There’s just too many questions to ask with the box labeled as “can do” but the product says “nevermind”. Seriously, where does it end?
But think of the piracy!
I am sick and tired of being mistreated as a customer because of piracy. You want to bust pirates? Go right ahead! But where there are pirates, there are 10 fold the amount of customers that are buying. The world in general, not just the video game market, needs to learn to quit punishing the majority of people because of a few select scumbags. I am almost done with PC gaming completely because of the accusations that I’m a theif with DRM tactics. I don’t like having to ‘ask permission’ to use a product I paid for because I installed it a few times. I am tired of hidden things being installed onto my computer to ‘prevent me from making copies’. PC gaming is basically dead to me now and as a welcoming gift to being a console gamer now, I’m treated with either a console that breaks for any reason under the sun, a console that has hardly any online support, and a console that removes features that were originally on my system because they’re too cheap to fix the issue.
I don’t understand the piracy scare tactics in the gaming industry. The way I’ve seen it work is a company will check a torrent site, see all the people that’s downloaded their product, and then claim that X amount of people would have bought their product if it wasn’t for those pesky kids and their torrent site too. In reality, these pirates wouldn’t have bought their product anyway. They’re thieves. What part of ‘stealing’ do they not understand? Meanwhile, when a game ‘only’ sales a million, they’re still upset. Be happy to make a profit in this economy and quit hitting the legit customers with worthless features like DRM. Since when has DRM actually prevented someone from copying the product? It’s more punk rock to see a game be cracked, just to crack it.
And this ‘punk rockstar’ that found a security hole in the hypervision (OtherOS) on the PlayStation 3 is going to succeed just to succeed. Will piracy happen? Maybe, but if you’re providing a good service with good PR while also helping yourself, people are going to want to buy your products. This should be business 101, but given the trackrecord of these CEOs that think our money is their property, I don’t think it is.
My last thing about piracy, at least on the PlayStation 3 is that most people don’t have Blu-ray burners sitting around. Most people don’t want to copy a 25GB game to their HDD. Actually, I’m sure most people don’t want to sit around and download a 25GB game to begin with. That’s a long time to get a free product. But again, because a small minority of people are scum, we all have to suffer, even if it means losing our rights as customers. We do have them, you know.
I end you with a nice quote from my American hero, Benjamin Franklin, which states, “They [you] that can give up essential liberty [rights as a customer] to obtain a little temporary safety [anti-piracy measures], deserve neither liberty nor safety.”.