Sony At E3: Look How Unlike Microsoft We Are!

from the no-connection-required dept

It has been no secret that Microsoft’s handling of the launch of their Xbox One console has been controversial at best and a complete debacle at worst. As rumors of mandatory internet connections and fees for playing used games made the unsteady transition to reality, dedicated fans of other consoles mobilized to make sure their voices were heard. Most substantial was the fanbase of the Sony Playstation, who made their wishes for a more traditional and open PS4 known. I had mentioned in that post that Sony in particular had a real opportunity on their hands, assuming they were willing to both stick up for their customers and take the issues against Microsoft head-on.

Well, to some extent, that’s exactly what they did at this year’s E3 convention, going out of their way to point out all the ways in which they are not doing things the Xbox-way.

During their Electronic Entertainment Expo press event, Sony Computer Entertainment of America president and CEO Jack Tretton says its PS4 will not restrict used games, nor will it require an online connection.

Tretton specifically noted the PS4 “won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated within 24 hours,” a jab at the Xbox One and its requirement to perform online checks of consoles.

Now, to be sure, this isn’t a completely unambiguous stance in favor of its customers, but credit Sony for doing what many of our commenters thought they wouldn’t: seeing an opportunity in sticking up for customers and running with it. Having said that, there are still many questions surrounding whether or not the Playstation platform will simply be agnostic with used games, leaving that decision instead up to the game developers and publishers. It might seem a better thing for Sony to simply say they won’t allow the kind of used game pocket-picking that MIcrosoft is codifying, but that might be a bit too much to ask. After all, Sony needs developers for their platform, too. Besides, as long as it isn’t Sony acting in an anti-consumer way, developers that might wish to be restrictive on used games can be judged on their own individual merits. In other words, we’ll actually get to see what the market impact of anti-consumer behavior on used games is.

And if some of the reaction I’ve seen thus far is any indication, such as Sony Entertainment now being listed on Wikipedia’s list of “burn centers in the United States” after they torched Microsoft at E3, developers might begin rethinking their plans.

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Companies: microsoft, sony

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Comments on “Sony At E3: Look How Unlike Microsoft We Are!”

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78 Comments
Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

Sony has a reputation of saying one thing, then doing something else which is completely anti-consumer.

They sure set themselves up well to get millions to buy their console, and then months after doing so, customers get a rude surprise their “featureless” console is now full of those very features the XBox One has.

Developers are not going to “change their ways”. There are billions out there to tap into, if we’re to trust Gamestop’s business model.

Do you really think they’ll not try every possible attempt to get those billions as they trample over customers to get it?

You must be new to America. Welcome.

Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Indeed. The worst part about all this is that people don’t understand why the XBox One requires a 24 hour check in while giving customers the ability to sell digital games.

I mean, common sense dictates why this is a necessity. I’m excited I can finally sell my digital games rather than delete them from my console, losing everything I paid into it when I’m done with it.

Physical and digital can’t live together without restrictions. Otherwise, everyone will be selling both, and you can bet that won’t go over well with publishers.

“Authorized” retailer means they need access to the gamer’s XBox Live account to ensure they don’t have a digital copy of the game (and if they do, it gets locked out) while trying to sell their physical copy.

Common sense, yet most of the internet’s all “But I can’t play my games without an internet connection??!! Lame!!!”

Derp. It’s how we gamers, the whole customer-friendly aspect, can have the best of both worlds.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Indeed. The worst part about all this is that people don’t understand why the XBox One requires a 24 hour check in while giving customers the ability to sell digital games.”

The thing that pro-MS people don’t understand is that the people complaining don’t want this ability in the first place. They’re being asked to accept a console that assumes you’re a pirate and blocks access to what you own, in order to deliver something that’s never been necessary. This would be fine if it was 100% digital distribution, or if you could opt out of the ability to use those functions. But, it’s not and you can’t, and that’s where we have a problem.

“Common sense, yet most of the internet’s all “But I can’t play my games without an internet connection??!! Lame!!!””

So, you’re fine with an outage by your ISP, MS’s servers or simply moving house causing you to lose access to your entire game collection because you might be trying to play something you’ve not had prior permission to access? You’re OK with being blocked from using any content at all if you live in an area with poor or non-existent connections (just because you’re commenting online doesn’t mean you have access to a connection usable with your XBox).

Cool. I sure as hell am not, and no other games console is going to add this restriction. So I’m not buying it.

“It’s how we gamers, the whole customer-friendly aspect, can have the best of both worlds.”

Let me play my physical disc without being spied on. Removing that ability is not the best of any world

Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You see, this is where I fail to understand the hate.

When XBox Live goes down, people are upset. This tells me the internet isn’t the problem.

I get people are upset there’s an always-on connection required, but the benefit outweighs the non-benefit, in that we can finally sell digital games, an option we don’t have now.

And my ISP doesn’t have outages that extend 24 hours. It never has, and I’ll be damned if people are going to convince me this is a significant problem.

If it was, I’d say they’re fighting the wrong battle.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I live near a major US city & keep my internet paid up. I’ve had a few outages last 3 days. It happens. When they do, I get a partial refund (subtracted from the next bill).

I’ve also read about people who may not have internet access for a week sometimes.

Also, 1/3 of the US doesn’t even have reliable broadband. Microsoft’s solution: get a 360.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

A 100% online connection isnt required to sell a digital game.

Just connect to the internet when yo uwant to sell it, done. If you cant connect, then you cant sell it digitally. Why do I have to have an internet connection to digitally sell my physically purchased good?

If I can’t connect WHY ARE ALL MY GAMES BLOCKED.

Why do I need to always be online?

There is no benefit to an always on connection for the consumer, it is an option, never a requirement. Not being online shouldn’t restrict you from doing things the console was designed to do in the first place.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

When XBox Live goes down, people are upset that they can’t access the online services. However, they are not blocked from using offline services. They can use anything that’s not affected by the outage as normal.

The new system will block everything whether it needs a connection or not. Your legally purchased physical disc will not play on your legally purchased console because MS is unable to check on you. Does that not strike you as a problem worth discussing?

“the benefit outweighs the non-benefit”

No it doesn’t. that’s your opinion, not the opinion of those complaining.

“And my ISP doesn’t have outages that extend 24 hours.”

So, because you’re OK this won’t affect any of those complaining? Plus, you seem to be ignoring the other concerns people are voicing that have nothing to do with an ISP outage, not least of which is the concept of them having the ability to block you from playing your legally purchased games even if that’s not likely to happen (see the reaction to the Amazon Kindle fiasco).

Your personal situation is not the same as many of those complaining, and your opinion is not truth for everyone. Consider that.

Robert Doyle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Paul makes a heck of a good point here. I really do hope they reconsider and make a good decision on this point.

“So, you’re fine with an outage by your ISP, MS’s servers or simply moving house causing you to lose access to your entire game collection because you might be trying to play something you’ve not had prior permission to access? You’re OK with being blocked from using any content at all if you live in an area with poor or non-existent connections (just because you’re commenting online doesn’t mean you have access to a connection usable with your XBox).”

I think I will be ok if they require a connection at some point to confirm a transfer has taken place (in regard to physical media I mean) but why should we lose access to something they just confirmed 24 hours ago that we had purchased legitimately? You have to go online at some point and they can do their little check then – so what if I get to play a game I purchased at some point and sold at a later point for a few more days? I can’t imagine that is worth the negative press.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Why do you need a 24 hour check in to sell the games? So long as you have to be online to sell the game then the game is removed from your account. At that point you can no longer play the game on your system or any other system with the game installed, you go offline and… what changes exactly?

The only reason for the 24 hour check in is that microsoft presumes that since you can install games you will side load them because you are criminal not a consumer. As a result you are being asked to let them dictate when you can use your console, that you paid $500 for, because you can’t be trusted.

Steam allows me to be offline as much as I like and even if steam fails I only lose my ability to play games I have on that service not my ability to play games on my hardware. If microsoft service fails you have a $500 paper weight that can’t do anything the device you typed this post on already does.

It’s utterly amazing to me that you could be so easily spun.

S. T. Stone says:

Re: Re:

Sony has a reputation of saying one thing, then doing something else

Kinda like how Sony filed a patent on setting up the sort of restrictions Microsoft ended up implementing with the XBox One, then openly said ?yeah we?re not gonna do that? when Microsoft?s plan blew up in their face.

Almost makes you think Sony did it on purpose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First of all they can’t do that untill xbox one has been released and they can confirm that the console is infringing. Second; it might not be the best of ideas as it’d not only give them bad publicity but it’d force microsoft to undo some of the decisions that lead to sony’s current ‘lead’ in the console wars.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You echo my feelings about Sony. Sony has demonstrated that they don’t respect the customers first sale rights and feel that it is acceptable to remove product features after a customer makes a purchase. Ultimately they are an MPAA company and are likely to implement ill conceived anti-piracy measures in the future.

My personal policy still stands: Don’t buy any Sony product that connects to the Internet and has rewritable firmware.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Indeed, or better yet, just play PC games, where you can go from playing games, to web browsing, to checking email, all at once.

Probably over 75% of the games I play on a semi regular basis throughout a year on my PC are over 5 years old. And close to 50% are over 10 years old, a few that can still run are over 15 years old.

TimothyAWiseman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unfortunately, you have a point. And it is a point that should be remembered by consumers.

With that said, the PS4 currently looks far superior to the XBox in being more consumer friendly and having better hardware as well.

Given Sony’s history, I agree you have a point and we should approach with caution to make sure they stay with it. But for the moment I am happier with their stance than I am with Microsoft’s and I have money waiting for PS4 launch day as long as they don’t change their policies.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sony has a reputation of saying one thing, then doing something else which is completely anti-consumer.

Yep.

What I think is telling is that everyone who cares still knows how bad Sony is.

And yet, Sony is being seen as the hero.

That is how bad Microsoft is handling this. Microsoft has made Sony, with its rootkits, with its disabling of features, and everything else, to look good in the eyes of people who has hated them for years.

MaJoR (profile) says:

Gah. I thought TechDirt of all places would know better than to mix developers and publishers! Who are the guys making the decisions to keep you from using used games? Publishers. The developers have no say in the discussion. This is the nature of the developer-publisher relationship right now. The publisher can even dictate parts of your game and you either comply or be fired (and they keep your company and all your franchises). This is why the indie movement is so important: it means publishers can’t boss us around anymore. That means more room for risk and better games.

Please don’t blame the poor developers for what their publishers demand.

PaulT (profile) says:

“Tretton specifically noted the PS4 “won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated within 24 hours,” a jab at the Xbox One and its requirement to perform online checks of consoles.”

While I’m sure Sony are not actually trustworthy overall, at least they recognise the major problem many are actually having with the XBox announcement. This is definitely one of the major killers, if not the major killer, for me. I’m not buying a console that either won’t let me use it if my internet connection is down or becomes useless when MS decide to discontinue the service.

That’s more than I can say for MS and their fanboys, who seem to be sticking to ridiculous “solutions” to the problems they themselves have created (ranging from “get a job, loser” (?) to “if you don’t like your internet connection, move where there’s a better one”). Like the other content industries, they seem overconfident of the value of the product and believe that people will just pay up regardless of the crap they pulling because Halo/the Xbox brand/whatever is so valuable people can’t do without it.

I sincerely hnope that they either realise their mistakes before launch proper, or they’re in for a very rude awakening in the sales figures. As I’ve stated before, MS have gone from a guaranteed sale within 18 months to absolutely no sale, ever, in my case. I hope I’m not alone. The sale MS lose won’t necessarily translate into a sale for Sony, but at least one side is listening to what people say to some extent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I myself may not have an internet connection (out in the sticks) for a week at a time or more. Even steam lets me just go in offline mode and I play all my games with no problems. I certainly will not be buying the new Xbox One basically because of this “feature” alone.

The used game thing doesn’t bother me as much only because I haven’t been able to really buy used PC games in years,though pc games I can often get for five dollars eventually. I don’t think I’ve ever run across a five dollar xbox game, even used. I am angry in spirit though.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The thing about this is people keep saying “but ya it won’t be an issue for me” which totally misses the point it is an issue for you because it shows the mindset with which Microsoft regards you as consumer.

Imagine your dad sold you his car, now imagine if your dad said he would come around once a day to check you haven’t messed with the car and if you had he’d take the keys. More imagine he said that if he was unable to come around or if you happened to be out when he came to visit that he would insist you didn’t drive the car until he could check it else he’d take the keys. How much do you feel you would own that car?

Microsoft presumes you are going to break the law and is placing restrictions on you for something you’ve not done. Why the fuck would you want to give people who hold you in such regard money?

Slayn82 says:

What really surprised me about the incoming PS4 is the promisses of having 150,000 movies and 20 million songs availiable. So is Sony using the PS+ to integrate their catalog from Sony Pictures and Sony BGM? While allowing popular services like Netflix and others to stream through the console without strings attached?

Well, looks like maybe the new management is paying attention to what people have been talking in the last five years. If everyone who has a PS4 rents a couple movies per month, it would quickly offset the subsides on this machine, while sending a lot of data around. Maybe Sony could use a P2P distribution to ease that load on their servers? And maybe, thanks to not being region locked, well finnaly have a convenient way to acquire cheap access to media?

And how about the news that Sony will create apps to integrate the PS4 experience with Android and IOS tablets and Phones?

Dannie blaze (profile) says:

Anyone heard Microsoft’s response to this debacle? Don Mattrick has gone on record saying ‘We have a device for those without a net connection – its called the Xbox 360’

Wow. Just wow. He’s basically saying ‘We don’t care about you mere peasants without a net connection. Be happy with the scraps we’ve already thrown you.’

(Further details here: http://uk.gamespot.com/e3/microsoft-xbox-one-will-be-leading-product-people-love-and-embrace-6409895/)

I also must agree with those above in the comments. Sony have shown little inclination towards protecting consumers thus far. The stance on used games and always-on at E3 is admirable, but its not carved in stone. And the fact that early indications are that online multiplayer will require PS+ membership is a bad sign of things to come.

Howeve,r if someone held me at gunpoint and asked me to pick Sony or Microsoft right now, I’d probably pick Sony.

As always, vigilance and strong consumer pressure is required here, methinks.

out_of_the_blue says:

It has been no secret -- Even I've heard it! Techdirt LATE, as usual.

Timmy opens with a variant of Techdirt’s motto: “This is hardly surprising.” Having read those for years now, and commented on it for over a year, I’m near certain hat the frequent use of such phrases by the re-writers here is precisely because the first point that pops into their minds is that they’ve read this all over the web and need to find a fresh slant. That, plus some condescending of “old hat to me, but still new to the schlubs”.

Anyhoo, as was pointed out elsewhere: Microsoft will still sell a gazillion at $500 for hardware plus “service” and games. It may be a short gazillion, but still plenty. The 14-year-olds who play games won’t be as upset as Timmy is here, won’t regard always connected or that games can’t be re-sold as unusual. It’s just the way things are now… You guys are past it. Had your day in the sun, now you’re rapidly aging out of the 18-34 year old (physically) category, turning into grumpy geezers. You’ll soon be muttering “Back in my day, we had REAL games on DVDs, I tells ya! And we could sell ’em, and trade ’em, in a GEN-U-WINE brick and mortar tradin’ post! And we didn’t need no new-fangled cameras to play! Wavin’ around like a bunch a maniacs, pffft! We kept our hands where they belong, on joysticks!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: It has been no secret -- Even I've heard it! Techdirt LATE, as usual.

It was more about the :Had your day in the sun, now you’re rapidly aging out of the 18-34 year old (physically) category, turning into grumpy geezers. You’ll soon be muttering “Back in my day, we had REAL games on DVDs, I tells ya! And we could sell ’em, and trade ’em, in a GEN-U-WINE brick and mortar tradin’ post! And we didn’t need no new-fangled cameras to play! Wavin’ around like a bunch a maniacs, pffft! We kept our hands where they belong, on joysticks!”

Im turning into a grumpy geezer indeed.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It has been no secret -- Even I've heard it! Techdirt LATE, as usual.

Except even that part is a bunch of crap given that a) the average age of gamers is 30, and the most frequent game purchaser is 35 years old (source: http://www.theesa.com/facts/) and b) the complaints aren’t about the lack of physical games, it’s the fact that our first sale and other rights regarding them are being removed. So, while those comments might be amusing if you believe the cliches, they’re utterly false.

ootb is a lying asshole, unable to address even the most basic identity of the people he’s attacking, let alone the actual opinions of those people. Don’t encourage him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It has been no secret -- Even I've heard it! Techdirt LATE, as usual.

It’s 2013. The average age of a ‘gamer’ is around 30. You even acknowledge this with your 18-34 year old quip made all the more obvious because the common demo is actually 18-24. The core demo for games has been 24-30 year olds for a generation now. They’re the ones with means. Try to keep up with the times.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: It's a cheap shot, but I can't resist

The yearly EA ‘sports’ titles, which are basically the exact same game with a few extras thrown in, or maybe some improved graphics added continue to sell, so I think it’s fairly safe to say there will always be enough idiots around for a new system to be sold out at launch, no matter how bad it is.

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

Such as every 30s.

You can read what you like into comments they make. On this one I’ll take it at face value as no “always on” requirement.

Of course I still won’t buy Sony since, as was noted above, just because they have that at launch doesn’t mean they’ll have it six months in. Their track record is abysmal.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re:

That did cross my mind when I came across that phrasing.

But they also said gamers w/o an internet connection won’t be locked out. Overall, it seems PS 3rd Parties can/ will be falling back to the Online Paywalls for Online Multiplayer, like PS3 had.

Either way, I have my Wii U, & I like what Nintendo said at E3:

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – on Wii U
Batman: Arkham Origins – on Wii U
Splinter Cell: Blacklist – on Wii U
Watch_Dogs – on Wii U
X (Xenoblade spiritual successor) – sounds like only on Wii U
DKCR: Tropical Freeze – Nintendo Exclusive, on Wii U
Super Mario 3D World – Nintendo Exclusive, on Wii U
Super Smash Bros. – Nintendo Exclusive, on Wii U
Beyanetta 2 – Wii U Exclusive
Sonic Lost World – Nintendo Exclusive, on Wii U
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut – (don’t know much about this one)
& other games I’m not as interested in.

If the top 4 games look more or less the same on the Wii U, Sony may actually have competition to deal w/.

All the games listed + MarioKart 8 should help Nintendo move some Wii Us. There’s also a price drop anticipated before Christmas.

I’m waiting on the new Wii U Zelda that’s in development, that wasn’t talked about yesterday. I’ve also read Nintendo may have another Nintendo Direct before E3 ends, w/ more game announcements.

crade (profile) says:

“It might seem a better thing for Sony to simply say they won’t allow the kind of used game pocket-picking that MIcrosoft is codifying”

To me, this does not seem like a better thing. Certainly it’s a better thing for Sony not to provide the ability for or encourage shutting down used games, but imho they should not be saying “if your game has DRM that restricts used game sales, it’s not welcome on the PS3” either. The less controlling they are of the content that runs on their platform, the better I think.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t really buy ANY consoles, and despite my dislike of Sony for the PS3 debacle, I plan to buy a PS4 just to show how much I disagree with microsoft.

I can spare $400 bucks for that.

Whatever you think of Sony, they came out and very clearly presented a video showing you can share physical game discs, no check required, PS+ will give you free games, and it only really matters if you WANT to play online games (another thing I don’t care about), and functionally itll still have things like movies and such playable through it.

Alas, if they overhaul the firmware later on, that’s their choice, but right now I want to drop money on the people who’ve said things that support the consumer and hope that they follow through on them.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

The next step

There was a roomer, long before the XBone was announced, that said both the new Xbox and the PS4 were going to block used games. At that point I knew I wasn’t going to buy ether of them. At least not at first. The idea was to let Sony and Microsoft get their shit together, let the dist settle, and see exactly how each of them is screwing the customer.

The only way that plan has changed is that I’m not going to give Microsoft a few months. They lost me as a customer when they gave the ability to kill off used games to people like EA. Sony still has a chance, but I’m still going to be sitting on the side lines for a little while.

BigKeithO says:

Re: The next step

I’m not really sure why everyone is cheerleading for Sony here. After their conference they came out and said that first party games would be just like they are now. It is 100% up to the publisher to decide the restrictions on any third party software… just like Microsoft.

I was able to generate some nerd rage when I heard about the restrictions on the new consoles. I’ve since decided that I don’t really care either way. I’ve already got a “next-gen” game machine, my PC. I’m just going to connect my PC to my TV and be done with consoles.

grimmz78 says:

xbone sucks

the bad part about the forced online for the xbox one is what if you go on vacation or just forget to turn it on that day? I dont have my 360 on every day i love to game but everyday, they dont have a new game out everyday that i like to play. i beat their games with in 24 to 48 hours and i play online only on a few games and cod and stuff suck now so their is no real reason for me to go buy something that if i forget one time to turn it on in 24 hours you cant use it any more and i will never keep it on stand by in combo with them forcing kinect!

the 360 was hacked and people could look in at you and list goes on for them. idk they really bent you over this year tell me this if your handicap and cant move your house around to use the kinect why should they force something onto you that makes you do that just to play the system? i know a few people that are handicap and systems are some of the only ways they have fun dont get me wrong if they called and asked me to help i would but what about the people who cant? they force you to change your own house to accommodate for the kinect that really you dont even need on the system.

The only reason they want to get rid of used games is so you can not rent games really and it puts more money in their pocket i bet you they will start renting games out on their system when it comes out. this is all they see is how they can get more money.

grimmz78 says:

xbone sucks

the bad part about the forced online for the xbox one is what if you go on vacation or just forget to turn it on that day? I dont have my 360 on every day i love to game but everyday, they dont have a new game out everyday that i like to play. i beat their games with in 24 to 48 hours and i play online only on a few games and cod and stuff suck now so their is no real reason for me to go buy something that if i forget one time to turn it on in 24 hours you cant use it any more and i will never keep it on stand by in combo with them forcing kinect!

the 360 was hacked and people could look in at you and list goes on for them. idk they really bent you over this year tell me this if your handicap and cant move your house around to use the kinect why should they force something onto you that makes you do that just to play the system? i know a few people that are handicap and systems are some of the only ways they have fun dont get me wrong if they called and asked me to help i would but what about the people who cant? they force you to change your own house to accommodate for the kinect that really you dont even need on the system.

The only reason they want to get rid of used games is so you can not rent games really and it puts more money in their pocket i bet you they will start renting games out on their system when it comes out. this is all they see is how they can get more money.

Stephen Sieb (user link) says:

possible article of interest

Hi, my name is Stephen. I saw your coverage of E3 on your website, and thought your readers might be interested in a new kickstarter I posted for a similar conference called G3 that will be open to the public. The link for the kickstarter is: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/899630965/g3-the-ultimate-gamers-conference-open-to-the-publ It would be greatly appreciated if you were to put a short article up about the event. Thank You.

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