I’m getting awfully darn tired of having to pay for what I already own.
What do I mean?
Sony just announced that the PlayStation Portable titles you already own may be usable on your PlayStation Vita after all … for a price.
Plenty of people have already noted that the PS Vita doesn’t come with the UMD drive from the PS Portable. Backward compatibility is being ditched more and more these days. If Ninty can do it, so can Sony. Especially on portable gaming, where once it was a veritable guarantee that you could take your old game and plug it into your new Nintendo Gameboy handheld, the last few generations have been shooting that down quite rapidly. And Sony is doing the same.
Except where with Ninty you can pay to download the game you already own on a cartridge, with Sony you … wait … can pay to download the game you already own on disc. Err… So it’s basically exactly the same.
Through a device called the UMD Passport you basically get to re-pay for the PS Portable game that you already own so that you can play it on your PS Vita as well. Prices are reported to be in the range of ¥100 ($1.30) and ¥2,400 ($31.16). So yes, you could be paying over thirty bucks to continue playing a game that you already paid for.
That is, assuming that Sony even brings the UMD Passport to the US. So far they’ve only announced it for Japan.
Is it really too much to ask that we go back to the good old days of backward compatibility? I mean I was playing my old GameBoy carts on my GameBoy Advance, and loving it. Zelda brought back to life. Metroid 2 was still fun. Only since then I haven’t touched a Nintendo handheld because I want my GameBoy to be able to play all of my games, dammit! Nintendo has lost a lot of sales opportunity there from me.
And now Sony is taking the same route?
Looks like Sony is going to lose a lot of sales opportunity from me too then. Should have seen it coming though when Sony screwed over their emulation on the PS3.
It’d be pretty sad if I only bought PC games in the future. But then again, what with UMPCs and old games being released for free or even open-sourced, maybe it won’t be so sad after all. For me. For Nintendo and Sony however … too bad. So sad. No more hard-earned money from me.
If I own it, I own it. I’m not “licensing” it. I freaking own my copy. It’s the way it’s always been. You can’t just change that midstream now. Though it’s certainly not stopping people from trying to remonetize on what you already paid for. Like Apple and their iTunes Match, convincing people to pay an additional twenty five bucks a year to listen to music that they already bought.
I’m just really getting tired of these scams. I’m paying once and only once, thank you very much!
Now, on the one hand, I get it. The economy is down. Microsoft, with it’s exorbitant prices, has probably been suffering for it. On all sides. It’s no doubt entered a few corporate minds, “Why should we spend all of this money on Microsoft software when we can find free alternatives?” Why use Microsoft Windows when you can use Linux? Why use Microsoft Office when you can use OpenOffice.org? Certainly there’s some pressure on Microsoft.
And to some limited extent, Microsoft’s FUD campaign here does have a grain of truth to it. Often times the cost of a product is not just in the purchase price, but in how well a company can support and adapt to something new. Money is money, but time is also money. But this isn’t true of open-source or free software specifically. It’s true of any change to a new product in general. You will need to train. Until company-wide everyone is up to speed on the new product, productivity will suffer through the learning curve. So you have to weigh that “cost” to decide if change is for the better or not in the long run, because for sure, in the short run change always costs more.
And this is certainly true of … Microsoft Office! When Microsoft changed the user interface of MS Office 2007, it had a completely different look and feel. Frankly, one that I’ve personally never liked. To me it feels like going back to Windows XP’s GUI changes of rounded corners and bright primary and secondary colors, which I dubbed “Windows For Five Year Olds”. In much the same way, I found the MS Office 2007 Fluent / Ribbon UI to be equally as insulting of my intelligence. More importantly however, a lot of the features that I regularly used were now hard to find, buried away, because they were too “advanced” for most users. And I could swear that some of them were thrown out entirely. But perhaps they’re still there and I just haven’t figured out where they were buried just yet.
In that respect however, if your company (or you specifically for individual users) is sitting on Microsoft Office 2003 or earlier, and you have to upgrade, you’re going to find MS Office 2007 or later to be very costly in terms of training and the learning curve. More so, in fact, than switching over to something free like OpenOffice.org that still has a more classic user interface.
A point which Microsoft’s FUD campaign seems to somehow neglect.
Not that I would discourage anyone from upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Office. If that’s the direction that you want to take, learning the completely foreign and overly complicated user interface will be well worth your time. And it does make simple tasks that much simpler. It’s just that it also makes intermediate or advanced tasks a lot more complicated.
And there’s another sticking point to not switching over to a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) office solution: compatibility. Microsoft doesn’t just hand out their file format specifications. They have to be reverse-engineered. Which isn’t as hard as you’d think … except for the bugs. Microsoft’s document formats often contain bugs, that work just fine in Word, Excel, etc which created those bugs, so reads and reproduces them reliably. Once you get to products like OpenOffice.org however that don’t create the bugs that Word might expect however, some formatting problems can occur if you open the document in Word. It’s hard to say exactly when and where these compatibility problems will creep up, but they do from time to time. Now, if Microsoft were to fix their bugs, this wouldn’t happen. Or if Microsoft were to release interoperability libraries to the FOSS world to support their file formats, or even just document their file formats, this wouldn’t happen. But this is Microsoft we’re talking about, so none of that will ever happen. To Microsoft these aren’t bugs, they’re features.
So, until the open source world manages to reverse engineer all of Microsoft’s little landmines, there will be occasional compatibility issues where the formatting of a document may not always look right in a document created in OpenOffice.org but viewed in Microsoft Office. These problems are, as far as I’ve ever seen, always easy to fix in Microsoft Office once you find them. And these problems never occur in the native file formats used by OpenOffice.org when opened in OpenOffice.org. It’s only in creating things like a Word document from OpenOffice.org. But yes, it is something to watch for, if you plan on releasing Microsoft-compatible file formats to the public. But it is not something to worry about in your own intra-organizational usage where everyone has switched.
And, it should also be pointed out, that in the past Microsoft has in fact had this very problem with their own products. They have not always been 100% backward-compatible.
So yes, does Microsoft have a few points in their FUD campaign? Sure. Of course.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t use OpenOffice.org? That’s for you to decide. I can say that I’ve personally been using it for many years now, and have not been sorry. Certainly it can be done.
But the bigger concern here is, I think, why is Microsoft slinging mud? This is like a bad election campaign. No matter how “right” or “wrong” you may be, whenever you fling mud by the truckload, you will come out dirty. Is Microsoft really in such a hard place right now that they have to sully themselves with this kind of attack on OpenOffice.org?
And will it backfire on them? I can imagine right now many a CTO is thinking that they need to look into this free OpenOffice.org software that they’ve never heard of before.
And then there’s that 800lb. gorilla sitting there, waiting to be addressed: Google Docs. Microsoft sure isn’t mentioning them. And with all of their document sharing and collaborative work environment features in MS Office lately, the very bread and butter of Google Docs, one has to note this glaring oversight.
I remember the good old days. I’d plug in my old Metroid II Game Boy cart into my Game Boy Advance and happily play along, fully enjoying that Nintendo understood how important backward compatibility was. I’d even play my old GB games on my Game Cube thanks to a wonderful Game Boy Player converter box. It was all great fun. While Nintendo had most unfortunately suffered from severe anti-backwardness on their consoles, their handhelds were remarkably open-minded in allowing me to continue to enjoy my old games without having to simultaneously keep a shelf full of old systems to play them on. Let’s face it, eye candy is nice, but it’s the game concepts from before uber-graphics were possible that make some of the old games not just nostalgic wonders, but also just greatly fun.
Now, unfortunately, we have proof that some stodgy egghead from their console side has taken over the mobile games department at Nintendo. It’s been coming slowly, but now with the release of the new Nintendo DSi, backward compatibility is just plain dead.
The Nintendo DSi doesn’t even support the not-really-old GBA carts. But what’s worse than that, it also doesn’t support the GBA-slot-based accessories, like those used by the Nintendo DS versions of Guitar Hero, and like the Nintendo DS Rumble Pack. Yes, you read that right, by Nintendo getting rid of the GBA slot from the Nintendo DSi, it prevents you from using accessories that were designed for your Nintendo DS.
It’s stunningly bad thinking on Nintendo’s part, and something that I really hoped would have changed between the DSi’s unveiling and its actual release to the public. But apparently not. Nintendo really is that bone-headed.
Oh, sure, with the DSi you get slightly larger screens and better sound. With that better sound you can now play AAC (but not MP3 or Ogg) music from the new SD Card slot. You even get some remarkably poor quality 0.3 megapixel cameras (VGA 640×480 resolution) to play with. But does any of that really make up for the complete loss of backward compatibility and shorter battery life?
So owners of Game Boys, hold on to your old consoles. If you upgrade to a DSi you’re going to lose all GBA and earlier compatibility. In fact, I can even see a strange trend emerging where old Game Boy Advances are about to be picked up all over on places like eBay. If you’re holding on to one, don’t let it go!
It’s a sad day for Nintendo. They’ve completely forgotten just how fun they used to be.