I noticed that a lot of the online angst about the Xbox One, apparently being referred to as the “Xbone”, which is hilariously awesome, is based on the fact that it will limit resale of used games on the platform.
While I understand the angst, I think it’s short sighted because Sony has been creepily quiet about this issue on the PS4, most likely because they’re going to do the same thing. Basically, digital content is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time before all content is digital and subject to the same rules.
I’m also generally against resale of used games because none of that money goes back to the creators of said game, and it enables a profiteering class of middlemen like GameStop who make tons of money for creating exactly nothing, just exploiting gamers by buying new games for pennies on the dollar and reselling them at huge markups.
And it’s not limited to console gaming either. Take digital content of any kind: book, movie, TV show, music, game, whatever, you name it. It’s 100% digital no physical artifact whatsoever. You bought it, it’s yours to do … what with? What do you “own”? What rights do you have?
I think what would be fair is the right for the original digital content owner to:
Transfer ownership of their digital copy to another user – once, ever, for the whole life of the item. For whatever reason they want. Donate, sell, who cares. Ownership transfers. The item can never be resold again to anyone else though. You obviously can’t pass down your single digital copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to 50 generations of your progeny over the eons.
Lend their digital copy to one other person for a fixed period of time. Once the lending period is over it could be re-lended, but there might need to be a cool off period (you can’t have an item lent sequentially to every citizen of the USA) otherwise… exploits. Obviously there would have to be some kind of exception for libraries.
Seems reasonable, yes? So then why isn’t this happening for digital content today?
You can sort of lend some Kindle ebooks which is awesome, but just try to do anything like #1 or #2 with digital anything and fuggedaboudit. Can anyone provide widespread, common examples of any digital content, other than the aforementioned Kindle lending, that you can do the above with?
I have some theories about this.
The industry(ies) aren’t that enlightened. After having no control with analog stuff, now they have full control with digital content and they are basking in their newfound power. Given that as I said above, these changes work to put more money in the pockets of more creators, and not middlemen who create exactly jack and shit, I am mostly OK with that.
Even if the industry(ies) were enlightened enough to want what’s morally right for the user, this stuff is complicated. Very. Just the technical infrastructure to make what I described above happen is … far from trivial and implies some seriously powerful centralized mechanisms for tracking everything, that work universally all the time with no serious exploits or technical breakdowns.
So yeah, good luck with that angst over limited resale of used games, guys. The upside is, more money goes to creators and not middlemen. The downside is, with the inevitable transition to digital items, the plethora of cheap used physical crap is kind of going away. Forever. It’s starting in our lifetimes, and it’ll be a stone cold fact of life in our children’s lifetimes.