Up a Level
Game consoles

A month or so ago, I finished Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time. It only took me about three days to finish it, spread out over a few weeks. I would have done it earlier, but I was trying to finish Final Fantasy XIII for over a year before giving up on it.

There are a few reasons that I'm just finishing a relatively old game. Three are the easier ones: I have a 26 month old in our house and he has a higher priority, I've been writing heavily this year and that takes a significant amount of my time, and I seriously don't relax enough for my own health.

The last one is the hardest: I've gotten into a philosophical disconnect with my PlayStation 3 and Wii. This is the strange thing, but I just don't want to play it because of the system (and company) itself instead of the individual games.

The Death of Consoles

Just this week, I read an article about how consoles are going to die. I don't happen to believe it, mainly because people have been saying that since Super Nintendo. Consoles will be around for as long as people want things that Just Work™.

My reasons for drifting from console systems are probably not normal. As my coworkers mention (more than a few times), I don't represent pretty much anyone besides myself. In this case, I've just thought about it for a long while before I realized I was already drifting away.

Rachet and Clank

Let's start with the positive. I love this series. I've played it pretty much from the beginning and it has the right amount of humor, responsiveness, and enjoyability that makes it fun to play. The game is just fun. Now, it is created by Sony (see below), but I'm a strong believer that disliking one part of a company/group doesn't mean you have to abandon the whole thing.

Final Fantasy XIII

I used to love this series, but the last few that I've played really haven't excited me. In the case of 13, I was getting bored of the constant cut scenes. It felt like it was ten minutes of playing for an equal amount of cut scenes. Not to mention, I had no empathy for any of the characters. But I tried, I really did. I just ended up giving up on the entire game.

Removing Features

Many years ago, Sony came out with the PS3. I managed to get one from my mother for various reasons. I thought it was fantastic because they let Linux run on it and it played all of my PS1 and PS2 games (this is a first generation PS3). The second generation PS3 removed the hardware support for PS2 games and made it software. The third removed it entirely.

I got rid of my PS1 and PS2 (which still had fun games) because my PS3 could handle them. It was the only console that had backwards compatibility and it was amazing. It made me a convert despite the PlayStation being a lot more expensive than any other system (at the time).

Then, they removed the Linux option entirely. It was a neat option because it had potential. I didn't use it to its full strength, mainly because Sony limited it pretty badly to start (couldn't use the Blu-Ray drive), but I hated that they removed Linux entirely as part of a mandatory upgrade.

Having the removing those features broke that charm I had for the PlayStation. I can understand why Sony chose to remove it (reducing cost and encouraging you to get the PS3 versions of old games), but that doesn't make the sting any less.

It is their choice, though.

Handling Hackers

A year or so ago, someone hacked the PS3 and figured out the master key. They were inspired by Sony's removal of the Linux feature (from what I understand). Naturally, Sony went after them. Microsoft does the same with XBox hackers and Ninentdo goes after their hardware.

And that is perfectly fine for those companies.

But, I didn't like that choice.

I'm a hacker. I like to mess with things and I really enjoy homebrew and indie games. I'm a bit of a script kiddie in this aspect, but I love following directions to side-load something. To see something that it a work of love that only thirty people would enjoy is a thrill. To get something working that doesn't follow the normal path, that's a joy. To have the comfort that I have an option besides a single store (re, Kindles and Amazon, i* and Apple, XBox and Microsoft) helps me fall in love.

There are games that will never show up in a game store now. For example, Sentinel Worlds 1 (one of my favorite games of all time) or the original Bard's Tale.

Sony couldn't allow that. If anything, to defend their regional sale (which I don't care for). They felt the need to sue, just as Microsoft did verses its hackers. It is also why they have so much effort during the DMCA review sessions to perfect it from becoming an exception.

I don't have to like it. Just as Sony is in the right to defend their property, I'm allowed to stop playing and tell people why. The money I spent on games is tiny and it won't matter to Sony. I'd just rather spend it on Humble Bundle games and books.

Legal Agreements

I read user agreements. All 25 pages of Sony's agreement that you must agree to every single time you do an update. It takes me about a half hour to read it and I'm still finding things I don't remember reading the previous times. It is a painful experience, mainly because I'm not an expert at legalese. I only understand about 30% and I do this far more than anyone else.

It bothers me that it is so long. It frustrates me that they put in verbiage to prevent class action suits when the entire point of class action lawsuits is because they just did something to harm a large section of their users.

(Related note, I find it interesting that companies are now putting anti-class-action stuff in their documents but still create lawsuits with 100+ John Does.)

It is their right to require it, just as it is my right to say no.

Alternatives

I've been enjoying plenty of alternatives for my games. I play Glitch fairly inconsistently until it was shut down. I occasionally play Triple Town. I have just about every bundle there is and I enjoy a lot of those games. I buy from indie game developers. I feel more of a connection with those developers and it gets me more emotionally connect to them; I buy from them because of that.

I have high hopes for Ouya, but I'll take that when it happens to (I am a kickerstarter for it though).

One of the key parts is that they don't try to defend their product at all costs. Humble games don't use DRM. I can walk away from Glitch without a problem, I just think it is cute.

None of those games require 20+ pages of legalese. Yeah, they aren't as pretty as Final Fantasy or Ratchet and Clank, but at this point in my life, I'm okay with that.