News: Making the Case For Cleansing the Genepool

Sony Bowing
Sony’s entire executive branch requires a sound drubbing.

What Do the PS4’s Used Game Commitments Really Amount To?

Despite the PS4’s rather poor initial showing on the software front [and its complete lack of showing on the hardware front], it nevertheless delivered several implicit messages which were of some importance to core gamers. The take away points of the presentation were that the PS4 console is likely to be the only hardware of the next generation that has core gaming as its primary focus, and that the appropriate investments have been made to insure that the PS4 will be the most powerful games console of the next generation. These two points were then supplemented shortly thereafter when in an interview Shuhei Yoshida seemingly confirmed that used games would be compatible with the PS4. When pushed for clarification on Sony’s stance on the used games trade, Yosida responded:

So, used games can play on the PS4. How is that?

The issue of used game sales on the PS4 is an issue of some importance to all parties involved, seeing as moribund and greedy dinosaur game publishers have been throwing a tantrum about the issue for the better part of the seventh console generation, and have been demanding unprecedented protections from this perfectly legitimate pre-owned market. All reusable physical goods are subject to a secondhand trade of sorts, yet this fact has done little to lesson the game industry’s undeserved sense of entitlement, leading to a situation where many gamers have been wary about the introduction of new consoles. Thus, when Yoshida seemingly confirmed that the PS4 would not travel down the dark path of used game lock-outs, many viewed the situation as settled and breathed a collective sigh of relief. Not so fast.

While Yoshida put on a good performance [no doubt aided by a convenient natural buffer in the form of interpreter mediation], not all Sony employees are gifted with such convincing proficiency in circumlocution. Case and point, Worldwide Studios vice president, Mike Denny, gave an interview which should cast some significant doubt on Yoshida’s original promise.

It’s a massively important issue and I understand why it’s one that keeps coming up and will keep coming up, because people want to know what the exact stance is. At this moment in time the announcements have been about our philosophy and vision for PlayStation 4, our motivation to put the gamer at the heart of it and why we’ve got the development community on it. In relation to points like that, of course we’re mindful of what the game development community wants and what the wider industry issues are with those things. I think in good time that will become clearer. It’s not something that I feel I have any further announcement or comment to make on, other than to acknowledge with you that it’s a massively important issue and of course we are going to do the right thing.

To translate: “we know that this issue is important to gamers, but we are also concerned about the demands of the major publishers, and in any event our policy is not yet set in stone – but please trust us to make the right decision“. This is a message which hardly inspires confidence, and requires that Yoshida’s initial pledge be reevaluated. The sentence “So, used games can play on the PS4. How is that?” does not actually mean that much when one pauses to further examine its implications. It is a promise which would still remain technically true even if only a small handful of used games were compatible with the system. Moreover, Yoshida’s promise remains fulfilled even if every used game required the user to pay a reactivation fee to Sony before their game would function on the console. Both of these eventualities are clearly unacceptable. At any rate, it would appear that Sony’s stance on used games is still undetermined, and will be finalised at a later date.

Sony would later state: “We are just now announcing the basic vision and strategy of PS4 and will have more information to share regarding used games later this year“. Sony has something planned with respect to used games on their new system, and will share the details of this later in the year. One is inclined to think that the best console of the next generation may just turn out to be the Steambox.

Panty Stocking Police
Australia’s new classification guidelines were drafted by the loli police.

Australia, You Are Doing it Wrong

When the various Australian federal and state governments at long last implemented their much discussed R18+ rating earlier in the year, many gamers [seemingly bereft of the capacity to order goods online at a significantly cheaper price] applauded the medium’s coming of age in the land of booze, semaphore, and Welsh Prime Ministers. It would seem that this transition has not occurred without a few slight hiccups however.

One is not much of a connoisseur of lolisploitation otaku games, and so is ill-placed to know whether the forthcoming Gust title, Atelier Totori Plus, is some sort of shocking and edgy reboot of the series, but assuming that it is not, then some sort of stunning error must have occurred during the classification process. Atelier Totori Plus has been classified R18+ for high impact sexual violence under the new rating system. To contextualise this, previous entries in the Atelier series have been rated either ‘PG’ or ‘M’ [Australia’s closest equivalent to a ‘PG-13’ rating], yet Atelier Totori Plus manages to completely leapfrog the next rating up, ‘MA15+ [Australia’s closest equivalent to an ‘R’ rating], and has managed to become one of the first games in Australia to receive an R18+ rating [Australia’s closest equivalent to an ‘NC-17’ rating].

Assuming that this result is no mere aberration, then it would seem to suggest that there is some significant deficiency in the text of the new classification guidelines, probably driven by a personally held ideological bias against Japanese schoolgirl fan service. One has not had a chance to play this unreleased game, and so is not in the position to know whether it does indeed contain anything in the way of legitimate adult content, yet would nevertheless hazard a guess that the game has not been rated based on its content, but rather on the fact that it features as its protagonist a young girl with a suggestively short skirt. Lending weight to this theory is the fact that Dead or Alive 5 Plus was earlier this month slapped with an MA15+ rating, which is shockingly out of line with the content of that series. Thus it would seem that Australia’s new ratings guidelines were either drafted by excessively dour feminists, or whoever wrote them had a severe antipathy towards games with the the word ‘Plus’ in the title.

Problem solved.

Absentee ‘Parents’ Fleece Ill-Deserved Boon

The cause of personal responsibility has suffered a major setback this week, with Apple settling with a group of entitled fucktard parents who wish to abrogate their responsibility for allowing their children to access their credit cards, and then turning them loose on the App Store. iOS devices have parental controls and they also will not save an individual’s credit details unless instructed to do so. More to the point, it would take a morbidly retarded child to not realise that they were spending their parent’s money, given that doing so prompts a pop-up button to appear in order to confirm purchases.

In any event, having their child rack up a bill in excess of a thousand dollars due to a lack of supervision stood to be a valuable learning experience for both parent and child, but will instead be rendered meaningless by Apple’s decision to settle. These bad parents are everything that is wrong with society, and yet they will materially benefit from their own stupidity, with Apple giving away $5 iTunes gift cards to parents who were marginally effected, and in-store credits and/or a refund to parents hit with a more substantial bill.

7 comments

  1. Australia, having been recluctant to have a proper rating system for a long time, have implemented their incarnation thereof with the greatest possible conservatism. I wish I could say that I am surprised by this, but I’m not. Think of the early days of the ratings agencies in the United States compared to today: things that then would have received the maximum rating are today available in many Teen-rated games.

    In time, Australia’s system will catch up to the reality of how its society views things. For the moment, however, expect the disparity to be more than a little noticeable.

  2. Does blocking used games even make sense for the console makers? If they’re being cagey about their position, then I guess it could work out or else I’d like to believe (this assumes some intellect on their part, I know) they wouldn’t even entertain the idea. Don’t they still get the majority of their game sales through Gamestop?

  3. @Lusi: At this point [and with lack of available evidence] I think it’s too early to tell whether the new rating guidelines are broadly conservative, or whether the response in this particular instance was hypersensitive on account of someone’s puritanical agenda with respect to the depiction of lolis. Honestly, this is hardly even a surprise since it was drafted under the aegis of the Gillard government [MISOGYNY].

    My main reason for thinking this way is that I’m fairly sure that it is not actually the content of the game which has been rated. It seems more like the guidelines dictate that any game which sexualises a young girl and subsequently allows [turn-based] harm to be done to her = HIGH IMPACT SEXUAL VIOLENCE!

    Of course, the guidelines at this point are probably fairly conservative also – I just detect a hypersensitivity to sexualised depictions of females which goes above and beyond any such conservatism.

    @Mel: Would you really want to bet against Sony blocking used games?

    They may be eyeing a larger slice of the proverbial pie, or they may have been pressured by publishers to adopt this measure.

  4. Yeah, I probably wouldn’t bet against it, but I thought it was still too early to cut Gamestop out of the equation. And cutting used games would do just that.

  5. @Mel: I don’t know that Gamestop is (or has been, for a long time–if ever) the number one brick-and-mortar retailer of video games. Amongst many other reasons, they buy a very small number of games and usually cover only their pre-orders except for certain massive-seller titles.

    I would expect that both Wal*Mart and Best Buy sell more games annually than Gamestop could ever wish to. And I also believe that Gamestop doesn’t matter a fig to Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo. They could not possibly care less about whether Gamestop is in business or whether they are out of business. The only thing they care about is profit/sales, and they know full well that if Gamestop goes under, that just means more sales for Best Buy, et al.

    If they go the anti-used route, it will be because they have numbers showing that the money lost by cutting out used will be more than made up for by the new revenues associated with increased new sales.

    (I happen to think such a result would lead to an INITIAL upturn in new sales, followed by a massive decline in sales across the industry, once enough people are burned on $60 purchases which 1) they have paid full price for and do not like, and 2) which now have no resale value, so they are completely out the full $60 and are therefore less likely to take such an expensive risk in future.)

  6. In the US, Gamestop is pretty pervasive. According to wikipedia, they have over six thousand locations in the US. For a relatively small company, that’s a big number. And you’re probably right–if they’re gone people would just drive over to a big box retailer like Best Buy or who ever. But I don’t think it would be a small matter if the console industry were to lose that retailer (and retailers like it) or else I feel like we would have seen lock-out measures against used games this generation (not just online passes). It would also come at a loss of another outlet for games to sell, and another (probably the biggest in the US) advertiser of the product. I feel like if anyone’s itching to get Used out of the market, it’s not the console makers. It’s the publishers. And, of course, this wouldn’t effect just Gamestop but game-centric retailers worldwide.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with your view on how a lock-out will hurt this industry. It should also be noted that not every used game sale (or pirated game, for that matter) represents a lost new game sale. A point publishers are probably ignoring or minimizing to get the 1st party manufacturers onboard with cutting the used market.

  7. The only way that I think the loss of Gamestop would impact Sony, is through the sudden loss of the used game trade to subsidise the purchase of new games and hardware – which may cause something of a eventual contraction.

    A far more immediate impact of the loss of Gamestop would be on the sales of games that are not Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc. That said, I would welcome this if it made room for the return of more “Mom and Pop” game stores.

    There’s always someone ready to fill a void. Mel.

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