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Serious toughts for gamers


Kosmo

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An article at Tom's Hardware Guide about new medias being implemented to use or in use right now (Sony UMD for PSP), so if you are bit concerned please read and post your opinions.

After seeing some new developments in the gaming world, I am not having much fun. We are about to repeat some of the same things we went through during the dawn of the PC era in the mid 1980s. Do you remember way back when with copy protected software, and incompatible disk media formats? Do the names Ashton Tate and DEC's Rainbow mean anything to you?

Gaming company executives need to study up on these and other spectacular failures of the PC era, or they will suffer similar consequences. Sony's PSP and the new game sampler DVD from Sapphire are just examples of where they are going astray.

When the Apple II first came out, one of its biggest innovations was a 5.25 inch floppy drive. Before this, you had very cumbersome mechanisms for loading software, including using cassette tapes that took forever to get your software loaded. The 5.25 floppy quickly became a standard fixture on many PCs, and was so ubiquitous that it was one of the last things to go from that era.

IBM and Microsoft made the floppy a standard format, and it was adopted by most of the PC manufacturers, except for one notable example: DEC. Back then, DEC was a proud company with its own computing history in minicomputers, but not in PCs. Their engineers thought of a better way to store more data on their floppies. Trouble was these were incompatible with the IBM standard. These better floppies were featured on their version of the PC, called the Rainbow. You could read and write IBM-formatted floppies in the Rainbow, but not the reverse. And while we are talking about spectacular failures, I should point out that the Rainbow had two floppies that were stacked on top of each other, but you inserted one upside down from the other. That sort of usability disaster was just the icing on cake.

The Rainbow had a lot of other innovations, including specialized graphics hardware, a special monitor cable (a precursor to some of the things that Jobs' Next PC tried out too), dual CPUS to run multiple operating systems, and special dedicated keys on its keyboard. None of these ideas took hold and the Rainbow quickly became a dinosaur.

What does this have to do with today? Well, Sony's new data format for the PSP uses media called Universal Media Disc. The oddly-shaped disc is smaller that the standard 5.25 CD/DVD media that we have all grown accustomed to, and unlike the smaller CD-Rs that Sony has in some of its cameras, it won't fit in any existing CD/DVD drive. But this is nothing new for Sony, who keeps trying to move the world towards its own media formats: the Memory Stick, its ATRAC format for music files, and now UMD. Sorry guys, this is broken and while there is a lot to like about the PSP, having to buy all new media to play games and watch videos isn't one of them. Rainbow alert!

Trymedia.com has teamed with Sapphire Technology graphics cards to produce a series of special "sampler" DVDs with various game software titles on it. These DVDs are include in the box with the card, making it easy to try out the games. Or so in theory. Using the Sapphire Select system, the full version of each game can be played for exactly one hour without purchasing it. If you decide you like the game and want to buy it, Trymedia's copy protection scheme, called ActiveMark, will allow you to enter your credit card information and purchase the game and activate it for your use.

As my staff at Tom's Hardware found out when they tried out this system, this procedure has its faults. You can't play the game on any computer other than the one you just activated it on. If you have mods or updates, you have to wait for the ActiveMark system to deliver them to you - if you try to do it yourself by downloading them from the game's Web site, you will break the copy protection and the game won't load.

Now, this is a terrible system. Let's go back in time to the mid 1980s, please, and learn from history. Back then, we had the major software publishers of the day, including Lotus and Ashton-Tate, who tried to foist their version of copy protection on the unsuspecting computing public. As quickly as they developed schemes, the public found ways around them. I had my "unlock" disks that I carried with me in my role as corporate IT support because invariably some user in distress had deleted his or her copy of the software and couldn't reinstall it. One memorable visit was over the weekend to our CIO (we didn't call him the CIO then but that is what he was) because his version of Lotus Symphony wasn't working. My unlock disks came in very handy, and I knew that this idea was bad then. It is bad now with games, and needs to be nipped in the bud.

It's too bad that Sony and Sapphire can't learn from these mistakes of the PC past. But maybe if enough consumers steer clear of these products, they will get the message.

David Strom

Editor-in-Chief

Tom's Guides Publishing

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I give a fuck. I strongly agree with the author. It's just silly how all those companies don't support other people's software/hardware, to make customers only use their stuff. Personally, i tend to buy the most flexible stuff, that supports lots of other hardware and software. Their stupid tactic just doesn't work, in fact, it hurts them.

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sensee you are not just ignorant, but you are a retard aswell if you really think that way.

The same thing can be seen in the web standards, a big company with lots of volume pushes their own products to market, not giving a shit about people who buy the products, and they very well know how hard they are making consumers life, forcing them to buy several different hardware/software with different medium.

This is what we call "ripping off" or "fucking in the ass" in common.

But who can stop Sony? Who can stop Microsoft? The only one who can stop them is the customers, they have the power to vote with their wallets. This is a serious issue when it comes to decide next standard, like the new "DVD" standard issues, do we go with blu-ray or HDDVD or something else, you can't actually go with anything since all these big companies still go where ever they want blatantly ignoring standards.

If you'd develop anything then you'd really know what I'm talking about.

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Product/technology standardization is a win-win situation for both companies and customers. There are some key factors, such as backward compatibility, that facilitate standardization.

The problem is that companies want first-mover advantages by creating their own technology, hoping it would be the next standard. They would then sell licenses of these copyrighted/patented products/processes to competitors. They would also have a cost advantage because of greater experience.

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sensee you are not just ignorant, but you are a retard aswell if you really think that way.

The same thing can be seen in the web standards, a big company with lots of volume pushes their own products to market, not giving a shit about people who buy the products, and they very well know how hard they are making consumers life, forcing them to buy several different hardware/software with different medium.

This is what we call "ripping off" or "fucking in the ass" in common.

But who can stop Sony? Who can stop Microsoft? The only one who can stop them is the customers, they have the power to vote with their wallets. This is a serious issue when it comes to decide next standard, like the new "DVD" standard issues, do we go with blu-ray or HDDVD or something else, you can't actually go with anything since all these big companies still go where ever they want blatantly ignoring standards.

If you'd develop anything then you'd really know what I'm talking about.

there's no need for insulting buddy...

all I wanted to say is, if sony brings out such a crap, not many people are gonna buy it...

that's why I came up with the mini disc thing - nobody buys it anymore because sony didn't realize that this "our-very-special-standard" thing doesn't work.

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Yeah but standards don't come from companies, most of the time they come from organizations like W3C and DVD Forum, comittees gathered from major players in the industry, still some companies even having their representative in an organization they want to do their own pantents to cash it in just like Sony with UMD (they get royalties from every game/movie/record sold on those discs) and Memory Stick DUO, they don't give shit about customers comfort.

The one who grabs most money is the winner, not the one who facilitates a patent worth a standard from a non-profit organization. Besides if it is internet or computer technology we are talking about, it's almost charity with standards, royalties from CDs and DVDs go to various other organizations watching the interests of the artists who made the product, be it a record or movie. But standards also makes these things cheaper for consumer because of the competition on the market, no one having the monopoly over one thing, it drives down the costs to make mediums like DVDs and at the same time drives down the price of the final product making it harder to make big fat payroll from them.

These things are why corporations are pissed at designers who use GPL and CC licences, they "eat" the profits from them when they invent codecs and different technologies or designs and let people use them for free under certain licences just so they wouldn't get ripped. Open source was just the first step, now after Creative Commons are being used by moviemakers, photographers, designers and in growing numbers they are at the same time eating away the cash flow.

These things should not be ignored, these things should be recognized and honored.

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Did you even read the article I posted?

You must know that Sony does alot more than just consoles, sony mentality is seen in every aspect, Sony decided to use blu-ray discs in their PS3 even when DVDForum is against the format, so what this means is that now again we get yet another new format from sony, and believe me it is starting to be a big bunch of "kiss my ass" attitude from sony camp with ATRAC, MiniDisc, Memory Sticks, UMDs and now blu-rays, and knowing sony, they will be looking in to blu-ray discs for the next new format to distribute movies just to up the PS3 sales (even tho PS3 does read DVDs).

But yeah, I can agree, "If you don't like it, don't buy it" it works, and that is exactly what people who are concerned about the future of consoles and PCs alike should do. But usually people don't give a rats ass about these things.

Consoles had their own standarts for decades with a big success.

Again a thing that should not be taken lightly, the game cartridges that are prettymuch dead now (except Nintendo Game Boy series) and we have finally got consoles to standards, DVDs or MiniDVDs (don't know if the NGC game disc is anything like DVD) why should we just trash everything?

Standards and unwritten rules are good for you.

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Product/technology standardization is a win-win situation for both companies and customers. There are some key factors, such as backward compatibility, that facilitate standardization.

The problem is that companies want first-mover advantages by creating their own technology, hoping it would be the next standard. They would then sell licenses of these copyrighted/patented products/processes to competitors. They would also have a cost advantage because of greater experience.

word. however there is such a thing as Second Mover Advantage. Basically, the first mover makes a mistake so big that it leaves a gaping hole in the market for a second mover to come in and capitalize. Microsoft Excel was certainly not the first GUI driven spreadsheet. We all know Windows was not the first GUI OS for a home computer...now look at it.

Further, sometimes inferior technology becomes the better whole product solution due to strategic moves and market conditions...which is a real bummer. I mean, anyone here remember the Windows 3.1 and earlier days? If you have problems with Win 98, 2000, ME, or XP...WHOLY SHIT you should have seen the problems with Windows in the 80s and early 90s.

One thing I don't like is this "omg the sky is falling" mindset. Sure Sony is trying to push proprietary technology and go after our wallets. I say let them try. Do you know how many times Sony has tried that? Remember Beta vs VHS? Sony actually had superior technology in the Beta format, but they failed get enough market support because they wanted to keep exclusive rights and ...well the rest is history. Oh yeah, remember the first Macs? Even though they were vastly superior for home computing than competing IBM and clone machines Apple would not license its operating system. Lack of 3rd party hardward and software support followed outside of core graphics and publishing...now look at the Mac marketshare. How many gamers here play on Macs? You know the score.

Ok i'm starting an angry rant. If you want some more history that is specific to the gaming industry read this:

http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/video/hov/

In it you'll see how these very issues have plagued the video game industry since its inception. Also note how Atari has been the industry's whipping boy.

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Product/technology standardization is a win-win situation for both companies and customers. There are some key factors, such as backward compatibility, that facilitate standardization.

The problem is that companies want first-mover advantages by creating their own technology, hoping it would be the next standard. They would then sell licenses of these copyrighted/patented products/processes to competitors. They would also have a cost advantage because of greater experience.

word. however there is such a thing as Second Mover Advantage. Basically, the first mover makes a mistake so big that it leaves a gaping hole in the market for a second mover to come in and capitalize. Microsoft Excel was certainly not the first GUI driven spreadsheet. We all know Windows was not the first GUI OS for a home computer...now look at it.

Further, sometimes inferior technology becomes the better whole product solution due to strategic moves and market conditions...which is a real bummer. I mean, anyone here remember the Windows 3.1 and earlier days? If you have problems with Win 98, 2000, ME, or XP...WHOLY SHIT you should have seen the problems with Windows in the 80s and early 90s.

One thing I don't like is this "omg the sky is falling" mindset. Sure Sony is trying to push proprietary technology and go after our wallets. I say let them try. Do you know how many times Sony has tried that? Remember Beta vs VHS? Sony actually had superior technology in the Beta format, but they failed get enough market support because they wanted to keep exclusive rights and ...well the rest is history. Oh yeah, remember the first Macs? Even though they were vastly superior for home computing than competing IBM and clone machines Apple would not license its operating system. Lack of 3rd party hardward and software support followed outside of core graphics and publishing...now look at the Mac marketshare. How many gamers here play on Macs? You know the score.

Ok i'm starting an angry rant. If you want some more history that is specific to the gaming industry read this:

http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/video/hov/

In it you'll see how these very issues have plagued the video game industry since its inception. Also note how Atari has been the industry's whipping boy.

Also referred to as first-mover disadvantages~ The first company spends all its money on creating a market, promoting and establishing a product offering, educating customers, creating technology, etc. These are called pioneering costs. Once the company has done all the hard work, the late entrants crush it. This is actually quite common in all markets.

Business is fun!~

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