Greed in Gaming – why I'm worried

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The prices of games don’t worry me, let’s get that out of the way. I like where they’re at right now. I can stand the price points, if I have to, and I’m always glad to see that consoles are being revised, but prices are still coming down. Very exciting.

I also think that the PlayStation Network trying to get everyone to go with the PlayStation Plus membership is understandable. Having an infrastructure the size of the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live isn’t free.

BUT PC gaming was always free!!! Yes, and PC Gaming has always been decentralized. Even at the end of life for most games, a patch would be released that would allow people to host their own switching servers that would list all of the game servers. These things don’t happen much any more (anybody seen any Matrix Online sandbox servers?), but more importantly: this doesn’t happen in console games.

You see, I’m not writing because games are too expensive, or the online services are – but this attempt to make a buck by making us register to play your game online? This worries me. Not just because of the price, but because of the problems that these greedy publishers are causing in the long term.

Earlier this week, I awoke and wanted to play some more of the single player races in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. I was connected to Xbox Live, but I was not connected to NFS’s “autolog” server, it appeared to be down. Maybe there was an issue with my modem or router or something else, but it shouldn’t matter. I’m on Xbox Live, I’m on the internet – I should NEED to be VERIFIED by your server, just to play the game that I purchased, particularly if I want to play it offline!

These new off-site servers have been a fear of mine as long as online gaming and DRM has existed. Nobody likes it, but they keep pushing it on us, to protect their product. Here’s the thing: Microsoft protects your product via Xbox Live. Leave me alone. I don’t need another middle-man.

Season Pass for EA Sports games. Call of Duty Elite. Autolog for Need for Speed. Mortal Kombat’s Kombat Pass. These are all ways that the developers want to make an extra buck. So far they have “graciously” included the services with retail copies of the game, but as demonstrated in my experience with Autolog – membership or not, it doesn’t matter… if the service is inaccessible, so is your game – even if you just want to play locally.

The other games may not follow the same “authentication first” formula, but all of these little middleman services worry me, and they’re all in an effort to reduce piracy, and make a few dollars from the used games industry, which, in my opinion, is solely motivated by greed.

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