Console system creators frustrate me

I love console games. I grew up with Nintendo, Sega, and even the odd TurboGrafx 16. My favourite was RPG's, mostly jRPG's. Oh, and Zelda. I love Zelda. As I got older, I managed to keep playing console games pretty much right into my mid-thirties (e.g., the last time I played a game was four days ago). Sadly, what they call RPG's in today's market is not what I enjoy playing.

Some days, I question if I should keep playing console games.

Right now, I have a Wii and a PS3. I got the Wii because it looked like fun, but right now I just use it as a glorified bathroom scale that insults me every morning ("That's obese!").

I wanted a PS3 because it played my PS2 and PS1 games. It was one of the big selling points of the early PS3 and definitely a selling point of the PS2 (it plays almost all PS1 games!).

Then, Sony ripped out my heart with the second generation PS3. They downgraded the hardware support for PS2 and PS1 for software support. A generation later, they completely took out the legacy support entirely. Since I still enjoy playing my PS1 and PS2 games (see the comment about old-school RPG's), that means that I'll have to replace the PS3 with two systems or give up the games I do occasionally enjoy. Or, desperately hope that someone will convert the games I love to PS3 downloadable games. I haven't seen any PS2 games on the PlayStation Store yet.

The PS3 also could have Linux on it. There were news articles about the amazing things that the Cell processor could do on the PS3 and talk about datacenters with tons of PS3s doing Important Things.

They took that out some time ago. The decision to rip out Linux support entirely was a second stab to the heart. I liked having Linux on my PS3, though I didn't do much with it. It had Potential. But, Sony just tore it out.

I felt betrayed by Sony for making those decisions. They were the reason I got the PS3 and they've slowly tore out the bits I like. Now, it is Sony's choice to make these things. I don't like them and it's pushing me to not purchase a PS4 when it comes out.

In recent news, and partially inspired by the decision to remove Linux, someone hacked the PS3. They got around the boot loader and now you can play any game on the system. Naturally, Sony sued the hell out of him. That made saddened me, because I happen to cherish the Hacker Mentality. Hacking the system may have made a few games easier to steal, but it would also have given people like me a chance to play indie games or homebrew games. I would have loved to see some of my games on the PS3, but I'm not going to spend hundreds of thousands for a game that I will basically give away free.

I didn't hack my PS3, but I wish Sony would have embraced the hacker.

Another company that has recently was diminished in my eyes got in the news in the last month or so: Microsoft. There is this really cool infrared motion bar, Kinect, for the Xbox 360. People grabbed it and started to hack it, doing things that the system was never intended to do.

Microsoft's first response was threats. That was sad. But, then they effectively embraced it, realising that people were doing great things with it. People modified robotics to use it. Someone built a navigation system for the blind. A ton of people created Minority Report-style user interfaces. In a few short months, hackers took a system written for games and made it incredibly more useful and powerful.

In the last week, Microsoft finally came out with their own SDK for Kinect. The EULA for it is terrible. You can't make money off it, you can't use it on Linux, you can't do anything but use it in the pre-approved manner. In effect, they announced that they love the idea of people playing with the Kinect, but they don't want the people who did Amazing Things with it (since many of them use Linux or Mac OS, use their own programming languages) or to actually make a business out of using Kinect.

(Minor note: I highly suspect that the Windows-only clause came from a different department at Microsoft, not from the XBox folk, but when the company has a unified face, I have to treat them as a whole.)

This is the same company who is currently suing a company for making memory cards for the Xbox. Microsoft does sell a competing product (memory cards), but they decided to use lawsuits to protect their business instead of making a better, cheaper product.

When I heard that Microsoft was embracing the hackers, I started saving up for an Xbox and Kinect right away. It would be cool. I might not code for it, or use it heavily, but the promise of something more than a mere game. But, when they turn around and tell everyone that only one SDK is acceptable and highly limit it, it saddens me.

I like hacking stuff, though I don't make any money off it. I love getting things to do what they were designed and I love seeing how someone can take a product and made it do something its designers never intended to do. Sometimes, those become Amazing Things.

When it comes to hacking, I think the First Sale Doctrine is the key. It is also how we got competition in the first place, the thing that lets you use after-market parts in your car (the whole memory card thing) and allow used book, car, and clothing stores to actually exist.