How an Online-Only World Damaged PlayStation 3 and Threatens Everything Else

Game developers and publishers love to complain about lost revenue. They tell us that we are evil for selling our old games to GameStop. They tell us that we are cruel for buying used software because they don’t get a cut of the profits. They insist that if we move to some magical, online-only world, these issues will be removed, piracy will be obliterated, and the game industry will forever flourish.

Boy, when they’re wrong, they are really freaking wrong.

If there is any bright spot to the PSN disaster, it’s that you don’t have to be online to experience the joy of a single-player masterpiece like Metal Gear Solid 4.

Unfortunately, we are not in 2008 anymore. MGS4 is officially old news, and the latest/hottest games (such as Mortal Kombat) include multiplayer components that cannot be enjoyed without a working PlayStation Network.

You're just too old Snake...

That, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. When producing its long-awaited online network, Sony felt that it should require PS3 users to be online before they could transfer their handheld games to their PSPs. Never mind the fact that we had to log in to PSN just to download the games--that, according to Sony, was not good enough. No, the company that made PlayStation a household name treated every single one of the millions PSN users like pirates who couldn’t be trusted. Thus, we must jump through hoops to play the games that we obtained legally.

The actual pirates, of course, are free to install their games whenever they please.

This has been a complaint among law-abiding PC gamers for quite some time (particularly those saddled with Ubisoft’s lovely DRM). But up until this point, most PSN users didn’t think twice about this issue. After all, when PSN worked flawlessly, the whole download and transfer process was nothing more than a waiting game that required a few clicks of the X button. It’s something that most gamers do without even thinking. But we sure are thinking about it now, aren’t we?

The absence of PSN has been doubly painful for journalists who attempted to download games (expecting to play and review them in a timely manner), only to discover that the network had crashed and would not allow the download and/or the installation to complete.

Of course, journalists are a much more forgiving bunch than everyday consumers who spend months waiting for Game X to be released. How horrific it must have been for Mortal Kombat fans who wanted nothing more than to spend Easter weekend playing the game online. If you were lucky, you may have gotten a taste of online play the day it was released. If not, you have been royally screwed out of half the game’s $60 value. NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment should be equally enraged, as they worked hard to perfect the online content before the game shipped to retail. Had they known that Sony was going to mess things up, they might not have been so eager to launch the game in April.

No online fatalities for you Kratos

It Can Only Get Worse

The thing to remember about new technology (especially disruptive and destructive technology) is that it can only reach its full potential after the general public has been fully informed of the risks, fully understands those risks, and accepts them. Right now, most gamers don’t understand that there are evil geniuses attempting to force us into a cloud-based, online-only world. Most gamers don’t understand the utter chaos that would cause.

But if PlayStation Network has taught us anything, it’s that even the greatest online gaming networks can harm consumers and giant corporations and leave a lasting impact the industry will never forget.

So let this be a lesson to every gamer: no matter how enticing the promise or exciting the technology, the Internet should only be used to enhance our gaming experiences. It should never--under any circumstances--become the primary source from which we retrieve our games.

Louis Bedigian has been writing about games and entertainment since 1999. He joined GameZone in 2001 and has worked for Radish Creative Group as a videographer, editor and production assistant. He is also a staff writer at Benzinga.com, The Trading Idea Network.

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Louis Bedigian
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