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Sony Flips You All the Bird (Maybe)

Hey great news from Kotaku! The PS4 is codenamed Orbis! How cool is that? I know I love knowing the code names of the new consoles. Torch, Rolling Thunder, Market Garden, Overlord, Cobra, Dumbo Drop. Awesome stuff. And it’s pinged for holiday 2013. Mark your calenders…when you buy a 2013 calendar, which will likely be months from now.

Kotaku goes on about the name–the trees of life or something-rather. When I think Orbis I think of Orbitz, the travel booking site which in turn makes me think of Travelocity which makes me think of that funny little yard gnome in the commercials.

Sadly, there is more news to report aside from this naming business. They mention the specs which I could not care less about. I am sure it’ll be fast and pretty. Ps3 games will not run on Orbitz. I do care about that. That kind of sucks.

And then the hammer is dropped and my playful snarky-ness vanishes as it’s revealed that used games will be met with much scorn.

Here’s how our main source says it’s currently shaping up: new games for the system will be available one of two ways, either on a Blu-Ray disc or as a PSN download (yes, even full retail titles). If you buy the disc, it must be locked to a single PSN account, after which you can play the game, save the whole thing to your HDD, or peg it as “downloaded” in your account history and be free to download it at a later date.

Don’t think you can simply buy the disc and stay offline, though; like many PC games these days, you’ll need to have a PSN account and be online to even get the thing started. If you then decide to trade that disc in, the pre-owned customer picking it up will be limited in what they can do. While our sources were unclear on how exactly the pre-owned customer side of things would work, it’s believed used games will be limited to a trial mode or some other form of content restriction, with consumers having to pay a fee to unlock/register the full game.

Drinks are on me.

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Three Orange Whips?

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

26 thoughts to “Sony Flips You All the Bird (Maybe)”

  1. A lack of backwards compatibility will be very bad for Rock Band. I might be one of the only people who actually cares about that, though.

      1. It is a deal breaker for me. I still play Rock Band. I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars on Rock Band over the years. I’m actually afraid to sit down and calculate exactly how much it’s been. I started playing drums and guitar because of RB (although Rocksmith is killer for practicing guitar) and bought a freaking electric drum kit to use with RB via the RB MIDI adapter. Before they made an official MIDI adapter, I had a custom-built box using the PCB from a Rock Revolution drum kit ripped out and soldered to a MIDI decoder board. I’m a Rock Band addict. If my Rock Band doesn’t work on your next console, I’m not buying it. Period.

  2. Well then I guess I’ll stick to the PC for the next generation then. I know there is an irony there where basically all PC games are digital and cannot be traded in but by removing or making us pay for the ability play pre-owned feels like punishment for something I barely do and that feels plain wrong.

    1. There’s a trade off. Sure with Steam games there is no used trade in. But for losing that ability, I gain something more important (to me). I no longer pay full price. Wait a few weeks and I’ll pick the game up for $20 instead of $50.

      It’s simple for me, I lose the ability to resell in exchange for a lowered price. What that value difference is depends from game to game. As a consumer I consider that an acceptable alternative.

      Now for Sony, I doubt this will be true. I’m almost certain that games will retail for $60, if not $70 new. That comment by Dennis Dyack about used sales forcing higher prices a pile of horse crap and he knows it. If that were true why hasn’t the price of new games for PC gone down accordingly? Unless Sony runs it’s PSN store like Steam, with price cuts and sales frequently, then they’re dead to me.

      And Sony can take that stuff about used games being unplayable and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

      1. Exactly, the price is the sticking point. See if Sony decided to make the next console digital only and kept prices competative then I would gladly buy it but they aren’t and would never lower prices (I mean on PSN games are fixed at slightly above RRP which is insulting to anyone who is fooled into buying them). Low prices are why I give so much money to Valve to the point where I am probably spending more than I would overall on consoles and I am quite fine with that, as long as I feel I’m spending my money well I’m happy but this, this feels like a kick in the teeth.

        I would like to think this rumour isn’t true but the mainstream industry seems so out of touch nowadays that I have no doubt that they are at least investigating ways to make this work. As people keep pleading to games companies, lower the costs of game to entice new players especially since with this market a game loses more than 50% of its value after a month.

        1. Having everything digital means that perhaps they can sell games in a similar manner to valve though. The digital stores on current consoles are something that was very new and has never been a real marketplace. The new PSN exists in a post steam world and if the rumour is correct and every game is just a digital license in the same way as on steam Sony have a real digital platform that everyone of their customers has to be a part of, it gives them the same control and influence that valve has over steam.

  3. The writing is on the wall for used games, it looks like. Because we’ve got crybaby developers like Denis Dyack claiming that used games are killing the industry. Oh no, it’s certainly not 10 hour, zero-replayabilty games with tacked-on mulitplayer and a storefront mentality that every game is a DLC marketplace. Not at all. And it’s definitely not over-monetization, annualized franchises, and astronomical financial expectations. No, certainly not. And it can’t be the fact that most new games are available for as much as 60-70% off of their initial retail within 6 months of release- BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT SELLING. Or everybody is done with it.

    It’s me going to Gamestop today to take advantage of their 50% bonus credit on trade-ins. It’s me picking up a $10 copy of Ninja Gaiden Sigma. It’s that copy of Mass Effect 3 that Gamestop will sell for $5 off full retail.

    It’s a suicide, not a murder.

    But yeah, punish the consumer, that’s how you take care of it. Not by providing quality products that give players good value for their money that they actually WANT to buy at full retail. And not just to get some god damned passcode to download an extra costume or some worthless shit like that.

    1. What is this logic you employ? I am not understanding. Clearly you are wrong and the currently-employed-because-the-government-gave-us-money Denis Dyack is correct.

      Seriously, Microsoft and Sony are both gunning for used game sales and we’ll see who it ends up hurting the most. I’m curious if sales will tank and people will spend their money on the iPad 5 instead with $5 or $10 apps.

      And no, I’m not generally a “everything will go mobile” person, I’m wondering if the big giant companies will just commit suicide (as you mentioned) and then we’ll all have “Steam Boxes” through which we buy our digital gaming content from Microsoft, Sony, etc. Most gamers care about the games. We may love the hardware, but it’s the software that really matters and if a better solution than multiple pieces of non-backwards compatible, plastic and metal heat machines comes along I’m all for it.

      Of course, I’m primarily a pc gamer anyway, but I can see that changing too … for somewhat different reasons.

  4. I wonder also if this is the phase of development where they leak every nefarious thing they’re planning, only to scale back the madness a little closer to launch.

    I sure am done with the console chase. It’s an interesting feeling. But I’d agree with Mister Barnes’s general malaise – I can afford to own every console – at long last – and suddenly find I no longer want to.

    My third XBox 360 blew up, so they can go to hell. And take Mass Effect’s non-transferable save games with it.

    I live in one of those parts of the country that will never have reliable internet, so always-on can go to hell.

    Assassin’s Creed’s main storyline will be over this year, so I have no further desire to pursue AAA titles specifically after that moment.

    Indie games on BootCamp for my Mac, it is.

  5. Hm.. wow. The no backwards compatibility is a real kick. That might be a serious dealbreaker for me, more than the dagger in the used games market. Maybe this generation will be my last for a while, I dunno.

      1. Pretty much every console to date has been better than its predecessor in some way. Maybe they never reached the popularity of the predecessor, but they bring something new to the table that tries to make the experience *better* beyond just graphics. New controller schemes, media changes, hard disks for saving, online functionality, something.

        Now, it’s obviously way too early to say this won’t be the case, but will it? Blu-Ray is carried over. Removing backwards compatibility is removing a feature (or at least comparing my PS3 version to the PS4). Same with the ability to sell used titles. PSN? Already on PS3 and will probably be just as terrible on PS4. I’m waiting to hear how PS4 will be *better*, not just able to push prettier graphics.

        I won’t be shocked if they announce the next gen will run $70/game. So far, every bullet point I’ve read has looked like a blatant money grab, lack of compatibility included.

  6. If this turns out to be true, I won’t be buying in on the next round of consoles from Sony. Hopefully Microsoft doesn’t up the ante against used game consumers. And I am one of the few people who bought ps3 when it wasn’t backwards compatible which doesn’t matter now but did when I bought it and all those relatively recent ps2 titles were calling to people like me who do Xbox one generation, Sony the next.

    In short: no backwards compatibility and no used games means no money from this consumer.

  7. My allegiance to Sony ended after the PS2. The multiple versions of the PS3 and PSP, not to forget Kutaragi’s many quotes, convinced me that Sony has long been out of touch with the desires of gamers.

    In fact, my console gaming has dropped significantly over the past six months, and it will take some serious convincing to pick up a new Microsoft offering within the first year. You can thank the Xbox 360’s numerous failings for that. The PC has become my system of choice. After all, I can pick up most of the same games, for cheaper, largely DRM-free, and best of all, I can still play them five years from now.

    As for used games, if they’re killing the market, why didn’t the market die out 20 years ago when I traded in my NES collection for a SNES? I managed used media stores for five years, and I can tell you that the majority of people purchasing used games are not going to line up to shell out $60 on launch day anyway.

    The main changes over the years have been on the development side. Yes, I know about piracy, but I also remember being able to bring a game to a friend’s house and play with four other people, none of whom bought the game. So, wouldn’t it make more sense for devs/pubs to look in a mirror to find the solutions, rather than place the blame on consumers?

    If publishers want to ensure higher profits, they should be focused on providing gamers with the better experiences as consumers. In other words, instilling higher levels of replay value, not sucking us dry with DLC, and not throwing multi-million dollar budgets at stupid PR stunts.

    The video game industry has a serious spending problem, so why should it be up to the consumer to pay for all the unwanted extras on the bill?

    1. “The video game industry has a serious spending problem”

      This is absolutely the biggest issue in this entire industry.

      Bigger than piracy, used games, and Chobot.

      Spending and expectations. When these two things don’t jive, you have a problem. And you get the Monoliths blaming their financial malfeasance on the customers.

      Sony screwed up the PS3 launch and support in almost every conceivable way from the way the PS3 was built to how the company handled PR (basically acting like they still ruled the roost) and yet game trade ins are killing the industry.

      Well, killing the fat, bloated part of the industry, anyway.

  8. Oh, case in point. Dyack.

    “If used games continue the way that they are…there’s not going to be an industry.”

    Better solution: don’t completely bungle development (Too Human) or release crappy games (X-Men Destiny) and blame failure on the consumer.

  9. This is shocking, although not surprising.

    What I find most interesting about it is whether or not, if this proves true, Microsoft and/or Nintendo will step up and announce similarly draconian facilities on their next generation machines. It seems to me that anyone who *doesn’t* fall in line with Sony will be at a very significant market advantage, and the temptation to play that off against the “losses” from used games sales will be huge.

    Makes me wonder if the driver for this is coming harder from software houses than from console manufacturers.

    Anyway, if this does prove to be an across the board thing, then I’ll just have to snap myself up a 360 before they disappear from the market. I’ve sat out this entire console generation so far, so I can just spend the next one playing the games from the previous one.

    1. Pretty sure I recall a patent or something about Microsoft looking into making discs one-use/one-install only. Or that was Nintendo. Believe me, they both don’t want used sales to exist.

  10. I was talking with my wife about this, and we devised a vicious cycle that seems really likely.

    The allure of a new system is normally the initial line-up of games, some feature or other that makes the up-front expenditure bearable, and the buzz from early adopters. If there’s 6 launch titles, one of them will be the sucker-in “killer app”, normally the hotly awaited sequel to something you already like.

    In a successful scenario, the killer app does well, at least two of the other titles at launch appeal to an early adopter, and that guy goes to tell his friends.

    Compare this to my Vista launch experience. Uncharted 3 disappointed the hell out of me, and when I heard that Golden Piss (or whatever it is) was a lot of touch-screen gimmick minigames, I told them to keep it. So much for killer app.

    The game I wanted, which was pimped before launch, was Gravity Rush. Still not available. LBP not available. Wipeout 2048 was not obviously better on first blush than the PSN title already available. Katamari game was good, but more expensive than the PS2 title was at launch.

    Best title, far and away, is Super Stardust, which costs half as much as any launch title.

    Features? Well. I can’t play any PS1 titles, though I can on PSP. The vaunted Crossover function requires compatible games that you buy *twice*. Eff. YOU.

    At this point, I’m keeping it, but only because my wife can play Katamari without taking the TV.

    Now, let’s fast forward this awesome track record to the PS4. Early adopters now see the 70-dollar price tag, so all they buy is the killer app. Or, they buy some of the “maybe” launch titles, then rapidly discover they can’t sell back something that isn’t worth anything. And some of those early adopters used to be me, and I now know enough to stay the hell away on Day One.

    Early adopter goes to work. Buddy asks “hey, is that any good?” He’s like, “Yeah, I guess. Call of Duty Whatever is awesome.” “What else did you get?” “Nothin’.”

    Early adopter can’t take risks anymore, and so cannot brag up new console. Hold-backers now have no one to ask on day one whether something is good. And all the risk is now on the consumer. Everyone waits for the price drop.

    But wait, Sony says. We don’t care about you, because your kids will want our shiz anyway. We release at Christmas, and YOU WILL BUY.

    Oho, I say to Sony. And what did the buying-for-kids public do, those first two holiday seasons after 360 and
    PS3 dropped? They bought Wiis. When the kid has some ability to negotiate, he pitches in some allowance and asks for a specific *game* – he doesn’t give a rip about the console. When the parent is buying alone, he gets the cheapest thing that will shut the kid up.

  11. This whole thing is cyclical for me, on a personal level.

    I tend to sway back and forth between PC gaming and consoles. I’ve always had a beefy, dependable rig that could run most (but not all) demanding titles. And that’s good enough for me, for the most part. I only bought a PS2 when a friend was looking to sell his. As such, it was a cheap purchase and I was able to enjoy 90% of the library and big releases on the PS2. Then I built a new rig and gravitated back to PC, which is the rig I own today. Then, after watching the console wars for awhile, I purchased a PS3… about a year and a half if not two years after its official release. And I’ve enjoyed the hell out of my PS3. I’ve done 90% of my gaming for the past 4 years on my PS3. So here’s how I look at it…

    My PC is going on 8 years old. I honestly wouldn’t mind building a nice, new machine. I’ve also noticed that a lot of my most beloved PS3 titles were also available on PC (Skyrim, Arkham, COD). So why not build a new rig and sit on that for awhile. All of my Steam purchases carry over (how’s that for backwards compatibility), so I can still enjoy my Civ 5, etc.

    And so I’ll sit there, on my golden throne, and watch Microsoft and Sony wage their war against the consumer. And when the dust settles… one, maybe two years after the launch dates… I may purchase a console at a discount. Maybe I’ll stock up on greatest hits exclusives, etc. Or maybe I’ll find that I don’t need a console at all, because my PS3 will still be there to satisfy that urge.

    Backwards compatibility isn’t a huge issue with me. Know why? Because console games rarely draw me back for a replay. To me, the only ones worth a replay are MMO, MMORPG, and RTS (never cared much for fighting games). And those all have a comfortable home on the PC. So I consider myself fortunate that I’m comfortable weathering the storm and seeing how the playing field levels off after a little while. Also, I am thoroughly excited at the prospect of building a new machine myself and getting back into PC gaming. I’m on my second PS3 after RLOD, and most Xbox users I know are on their 2nd or even 3rd console. You know what never fails as a whole? A PC.

  12. I think the used game thing is dumb, but I don’t buy that many games anyways. I agree with all above – I can’t trade games on Steam and that’s fine. But it’s fine because games get massive discounts.

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