Gamer Entitlement

I may be in the minority, but I want
to play Vita games on a Vita…

Jim Sterling is a man who writes about games on Destructoid. He also enjoys getting angry about things.

His articles are usually to be taken with a pinch of salt; he has strong, unwavering opinions that provoke a response and are usually used as troll bait for site hits. I’m not degrading him as a games writer – he has written some very good reviews in his time, but it’s obvious that what should just be a news piece usually gets an unnecessarily snidey comment from Mr. Sterling at the end. I respect his opinions as I would anybody’s, no matter how wrong they are. However, Jim seems to be the the most prominent example for something that is becoming a bit ugly in the gaming community – gamer entitlement.

The most recent example comes through Sony’s UMD passport. Basically, the Vita will be able to play digital PSP games, but not the UMD discs of the physical copies. As such, Sony have come up with this program to get a discounted copy of the digital version of the UMD disc you own, allowing you to play it on your Vita, and still being able to use the UMD disc with your PSP.

Sterling’s article, however, comes with complete indignation at the fact that gamers will have to buy a game they already own again to play on the Vita. I’ve already ratcheted on about backwards compatibility before, so I’ll try not to retread old ground, but the criticisms in the article and the comments (yeah, reading them was a mistake) warrant a few quick retorts.

The world wasn’t very backwards
compatible for Mr. Topsy Turvy…

1. The Vita has only ever advertised backwards compatibility for digital titles. Including UMD support would be too costly for a niche format

2. You are not being forced to re-buy your game. If you have the UMD version, you probably already have a PSP you can play it on. You know, the format it was fucking designed for. You can still happily play it on that console without even needing to buy a Vita. And even if you do buy the digital version, that’s an extra copy at a discounted price – that’s not a bad deal. What you do with the UMD then is up to you.

3. There is no way that any of these extra digital copies would be free, and it’s certainly not Sony’s fault (as seems to be the gist of the article) that you’re being charged for them. Blame the publishers if you want – they’re the ones Sony would have to compensate for each and every digital copy. This leads me on to my next point…

4. As much as we may not like it, digital and physical licenses are NOT the same. You can argue until your mouth feels drier than the Sahara that it’s not right morally, but the fact is these UMD games never had a clause in them saying you could use them on all future formats and get a free digital copy for the next handheld on the market. And you can bet the publishers are going to demand that money from Sony.

It’s the last two points I want to highlight. Why on earth is everyone expecting this stuff to be free? It’s probably because backwards compatibility has been done by Sony and other companies in the past and so people come to expect it, though this was before things became digital, and as mentioned, licence agreements are different for digital copies. However, a lot of gamers are whining about how they’re being treated unfairly, but I fail to see how. Sony have done the best they can with the situation and offered a compromise, probably at a cost to them as well, given all the deals with publishers they’ll have to make.

I fucking deserved those  games for free!

This is the latest in a long line of whinging from gamers about ridiculous topics. The PSN hack was a bad thing, no-one can argue that, but barring the Plus subscribers, Sony didn’t have to compensate anybody for the outage of a free service. The fact they did, with two free games from a selection five and free subscription services for a limited time was a decent attempt to apologise for the events that occurred. The response from gamers? “These games are shit!” (they weren’t), “I already own some of these games!” (Well, not everyone does and they can’t give out your choice of free game, that’s not how business works) – incidentally, the same complaint is often used with elements of the Plus service and holds similarly weak ground.

Other major incidents include the ridiculous Left 4 Dead 2 row, where gamers threw their buggies out of the pram because it only took a year to develop and they’d already bought the original Left 4 Dead (probably the same people who forget the COD, FIFA and Assassin’s Creed dev cycle), while elsewhere we’ve had the free-to-play saga of Team Fortress 2 as well as some equally absurd voices splintering from the well-intentioned Operation Rainfall.

Gamers need to relax, just enjoy playing games and moreover remember that while companies should recognise and respect their customers, they shouldn’t expect unrealistic things and go further off the rails than Thomas the Tank on a heroin binge when these things don’t go their way. Even if your name is Jim Fucking Sterling.


One thought on “Gamer Entitlement

  1. You're absolutely right, Steve.

    This whole thing, I think stems from something which is fundamentally broken about people in general. Most people seem to think, for whatever reason, that the world owes them. They've paid for something with their hard earned cash and, therefore, they should be able to [insert argument of the day here] with it.

    Of course, if they'd actually paid attention to those license agreements every game makes you agree to, they'd know that they're not purchasing a game, they're purchasing the right to play the game on certain hardware, deemed acceptable by the manufacturer. IE they should not be expecting it to be backwards compatible.

    Having said that, we should not all be mindlessly bowing our heads to our corporate masters by any means, that's why we should all pirate stuff occasionally, it re-distributes the balance of power a bit.



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