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Sony's storefront shutdowns illustrate why persistent subscription libraries are flawed


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I don't own a PS3/Vita/PSP.  The shutdown in no way affects me.  In fact, I've only subbed to PS+ with a gifted subscription.


However, I do expect Nintendo to close their 3DS and Wii U stores before long.  I'll be scrambling to download everything, buying more storage to hold whatever games (and patches) that won't fit in the system memory.  It sucks, but it's a relatively small charge to keep the games that I bought.

 

This got me thinking... what about all those PS+ games people 'own' for PS3/Vita?  Those downloads would be rendered totally obsolete without a server check. You couldn't back them up.  You'd have to track down a physical copy, or purchase them digitally now while there's still time.
 

Microsoft is generally better about this.  Games Pass operates as a rotating library, so at least you know what you're getting into (especially the 3rd party stuff).  But it still became policy in the Xbox One era to lock XBL Gold games behind its DRM.  There's a chance that you could lose access to post-360 Gold games if Microsoft ever kills the Gold subscription outright.  Or they could jack up the price for access to your Gold library...

 

Sony/MS could choose to raise the subscription price, or not.  They could choose to keep the games downloadable, or not.  They could choose to keep the DRM handshake active, or not.

 

All digital storefronts run similar risks.  But I'm a lot more confident that games playable today without a DRM check will continue to work as such years later.

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  • crispy4000 changed the title to Sony's storefront shutdowns illustrate why persistent subscription libraries are flawed

I wonder a lot about the extent to which this concern is generational. If you spend most of your gaming time with Fortnite, CoD, etc., where the planned obsolescence is to some extent, part of the affair... do you care as much about something like this happening?

 

Not trying to imply this is less shitty than it is, just thinking aloud.

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Features you will still be able to access:

  • You will still be able to re-download and play previously purchased game titles.
  • You will still be able to access previously purchased video/media content.
  • You will still be able to redeem game and PlayStation®Plus vouchers.
  • You will still be able to re-download and play claimed game titles through PlayStation®Plus as long as you remain a member of the service.

 

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Just now, crispy4000 said:

@Keyser_Soze  Okay, that's fair.  With all the talk about games being lost, I must have missed that detail.

What happens if they pull a Nintendo and turn off the download servers?

 

:rose:

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14 minutes ago, XxEvil AshxX said:

Welcome to the digital age.

 

True on some level.  But doesn't explain why digital unlocks should require an ongoing subscription to function.

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5 minutes ago, crispy4000 said:

 

True on some level.  But doesn't explain why digital unlocks should require an ongoing subscription to function.

 

This is just how the service has always worked. If your subscription doesn't continue you can no longer access the game. You haven't bought the game they just let subscribers access it for the length of service.

 

If you want to keep the game you have to buy it.

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9 minutes ago, Keyser_Soze said:

 

This is just how the service has always worked. If your subscription doesn't continue you can no longer access the game. You haven't bought the game they just let subscribers access it for the length of service.

 

If you want to keep the game you have to buy it.


On Sony platforms, yes.  But not on the 360.  Redeeming a 360 game with a Gold subscription is essentially the same as buying it.

 

Humble Choice operate similarly on the PC side.

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2 minutes ago, crispy4000 said:


On Sony platforms, yes.  But not on the 360.  Redeeming a 360 game with a Gold subscription is essentially the same as buying it.

 

Humble Choice operates similarly on the PC side.

 

Well, I know that, which is why PS+ was always just a lame wannabe service to me. Sadly Microsoft decided to change it with GWG on Xbone.

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3 hours ago, crispy4000 said:

@Keyser_Soze  Okay, that's fair.  With all the talk about games being lost, I must have missed that detail.

What happens if they pull a Nintendo and turn off the download servers?

 

Hack the device and stop caring. By the time a console hits that level of legacy hackers/homebrew will have found a way for easy installation of homebrew and pirated titles. 

 

The market where legacy is a huge issue is in cell phone games more than anything else. There are a staggering number of games lost to time in that space. :cry:

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28 minutes ago, chakoo said:

 

Hack the device and stop caring. By the time a console hits that level of legacy hackers/homebrew will have found a way for easy installation of homebrew and pirated titles. 

 

The market where legacy is a huge issue is in cell phone games more than anything else. There are a staggering number of games lost to time in that space. :cry:

 

Yup, hit up archive.org, they've got all the playstation 1 games (and PS2 I think) on there. I'm guessing these titles will be hitting there soon enough.

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Subscription and digital libraries have had an example long before this. Licensed games. When a publisher loses the license and delists a game you only owned digitally means you can’t get it back if you deleted it. 

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It's why I like just outright buying for plenty of stuff.

 

If there's a licensed game, or a game with licensed music, that I like on a subscription service, I'll buy a physical copy for sure.

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36 minutes ago, Spawn_of_Apathy said:

Subscription and digital libraries have had an example long before this. Licensed games. When a publisher loses the license and delists a game you only owned digitally means you can’t get it back if you deleted it. 

 

I don't think this has happen all that much that you think it does. What normally happens is the game is delisted for sales but if you own the title you can always redownload it at any time. The rare instances where full rights were revoked are limited to thing like PT (demo) or games that were not to go no sale and the owner was refunded. This includes subscription services like psn+.

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1 hour ago, Spawn_of_Apathy said:

Subscription and digital libraries have had an example long before this. Licensed games. When a publisher loses the license and delists a game you only owned digitally means you can’t get it back if you deleted it. 

 

What's different in this case is the DRM.  If they remove the subscription and/or the handshake, the game you unlocked is gone.  Even if the files are still there.

It has more in common with online-only games with server shutdowns.

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Idk I look at that and then think how games used to be before, and you get so many more games for so much cheaper or bundled into cheap subscriptions now. Like the ease of amassing a giant library is so much greater now, on the software side gaming just seems so much cheaper to me. The access to try things out you may or may like is also often much easier/cheaper now.

 

I think back when I was a kid and would get maybe a few games a year during christmas/birthday and that was it. Nowadays you get them game pass and they have all these options now and a constant stream of new stuff to play. I would have fucking killed for that back then.

 

Its a trade off that I think is worth it. We have emulation for preservation. All Nintendo stuff is already covered, ps3/vita will get there probably sometime this gen, some good ps3 improvements lately. If you bought a game and can no longer play it then feel free to download the iso/rom and enjoy your game service subs at the same time. Works better for me anyway.

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Yes, subscription based models for media are inherently bad, as they take ownership out of the equation and become purely about consumption and discardment.  It also creates a drive to calculate the value that can be extracted from membership - I need to play x games or watch x movies to make my subscription worthwhile - which turns it into a chore.  As we've seen with Netflix, the quality of content slowly degrades over time because the only thing that matters is that there is quantity enough to be consumed by the rabid subscribers (who aren't very discerning).

 

Ironically, the company with the best current games subscription service is also doing the most to ensure that legacy digital content is supported (and enhanced!?).  My primary motivation for buying a new Xbox was the realization that purchases I made in 2009 are perfectly playable today, and in some cases include additional graphical features.  The effort put into backwards compatibility on that platform is outstanding, even if there is so much more I'd love to see.  As modern games become more and more "service" oriented, and thus less and less complete and satisfying experiences, my time is primarily spent with older titles.  PC is of course the best place if you really care about access to older games, but being able to play console purchases from 10+ years ago is fantastic.

 

Ultimately, there is no way to stop this.  It happened with music and film, so there is no reason to assume it's not going to happen with games.  When Filmstruck was shut down, a huge catalog of classic films became instantly unavailable.  I will go to wherever I can access the largest library of legacy content, because that's what I care most about, but that's really the best you can do.  Otherwise we'll just have to rely on emulation I suppose.

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I dont really have dog in this fight but Sony doing this just irks me from personal stand point. What ever the cost to keep the servers and stores open is a drop in the bucket of what they make. There is also a lot of buyers out there dont have a new console yet, and I could see this swing buyers to MS.

 

Also this drives the market up for physical and prices folks out of being able to play games they would have otherwise been able to buy.

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No, Sony doing this shows why gamers being a bunch of limp-wristed spineless shills is a bad thing. People have been defending their libraries being obliterated generation-by-generation for decades. Whereas I can still play my entire Steam library from damn near 20 years ago. Demand better. Don't fucking blame digital for this, don't blame subscriptions for this. This was 100% Sony. Don't let them off the fucking hook by blaming an abstract concept.

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It seems too soon. And they should just do the work to make all of those old games (with some wiggle room for those vita games that require touch I guess - even tho they could) just work on the PS5 and going forward. 
 

I agree this is more of a Sony issue and less specific to digital. 

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1 hour ago, Xbob42 said:

No, Sony doing this shows why gamers being a bunch of limp-wristed spineless shills is a bad thing. People have been defending their libraries being obliterated generation-by-generation for decades. Whereas I can still play my entire Steam library from damn near 20 years ago. Demand better. Don't fucking blame digital for this, don't blame subscriptions for this. This was 100% Sony. Don't let them off the fucking hook by blaming an abstract concept.

 

1 hour ago, Paperclyp said:

It seems too soon. And they should just do the work to make all of those old games (with some wiggle room for those vita games that require touch I guess - even tho they could) just work on the PS5 and going forward. 
 

I agree this is more of a Sony issue and less specific to digital. 


I don’t think it’s specific to Sony or something that should be expected from digital storefronts.  What I brought up pertains mainly to the way MS and Sony run XBL Gold and PS Plus in modern times.  Unless I’m missing some other service that does it the same?

 

What other subscription service asks you to manually redeem your games monthly, but lose access to them after it lapses?  
 

How is this DRM not redundant with Games Pass and PS Now in the mix?  Or needed when you won’t even be able to buy some of these games anymore?

 

It takes the issues already associated with server closures or subscription price hikes and exacerbates them.

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5 minutes ago, crispy4000 said:

 


I don’t think it’s specific to Sony or something that should be expected from digital storefronts.  What I brought up pertains mainly to the way MS and Sony run XBL Gold and PS Plus in modern times.  Unless I’m missing some other service that does it the same?

 

What other subscription service asks you to manually redeem your games monthly, but lose access to them after it lapses?  
 

How is this DRM not redundant with Games Pass and PS Now in the mix?  Or needed when you won’t even be able to buy some of these games anymore?

 

It takes the issues already associated with server closures or subscription price hikes and exacerbates them.

 

I mean I guess I don't give a shit about my PS+ library. It's a little odd, but the understanding from the jump is that you do not own those games - no different from when I subscribe to Netflix I do not expect to have those movies in perpetuity. 

 

The digital games I've purchased individually, however, I take issue with both having to rebuy them on the next gen of same-branded hardware or losing access to them altogether some day. They are doing the bare minimum here by allowing you to re-download your purchases. 

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1 hour ago, Paperclyp said:

 

I mean I guess I don't give a shit about my PS+ library. It's a little odd, but the understanding from the jump is that you do not own those games - no different from when I subscribe to Netflix I do not expect to have those movies in perpetuity. 


The key difference is that Netflix doesn’t brand itself a service where you redeem individual movies/shows to your account.

 

What Sony invented with Plus was a halfway model between a subscription and ownership.  It used to be the closest thing to a digital games subscription.  Now it’s in a no man’s land. 

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3 hours ago, crispy4000 said:

 


I don’t think it’s specific to Sony or something that should be expected from digital storefronts.  What I brought up pertains mainly to the way MS and Sony run XBL Gold and PS Plus in modern times.  Unless I’m missing some other service that does it the same?

 

What other subscription service asks you to manually redeem your games monthly, but lose access to them after it lapses?  
 

How is this DRM not redundant with Games Pass and PS Now in the mix?  Or needed when you won’t even be able to buy some of these games anymore?

 

It takes the issues already associated with server closures or subscription price hikes and exacerbates them.

 

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I feel conflicted by the fact I do believe that these games should be available for eternity, but...I’m never going to play another PS3 game and can only see the minority really being affected here.

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9 hours ago, crispy4000 said:


The key difference is that Netflix doesn’t brand itself a service where you redeem individual movies/shows to your account.

 

What Sony invented with Plus was a halfway model between a subscription and ownership.  It used to be the closest thing to a digital games subscription.  Now it’s in a no man’s land. 


Yeaaaaah but I dunno, it’s not that different. They were extremely clear upfront what the deal was, and I think that’s the important part.  
 

Personally I’ve NEVER considered the PS+ library I’ve collected as my personal library of games - like the thought has never occurred to me. 

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7 hours ago, Keyser_Soze said:

 

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There's a lot of PS+ library digital games you won't be able to buy anymore.  This is your last chance to purchase them if you'd ever want to play them without an active subscription, while it's still upheld on these machines. 

So I'll maintain the store shutdown sheds light on what's wrong with that delivery model.

 

34 minutes ago, Paperclyp said:


Yeaaaaah but I dunno, it’s not that different. They were extremely clear upfront what the deal was, and I think that’s the important part.  
 

Personally I’ve NEVER considered the PS+ library I’ve collected as my personal library of games - like the thought has never occurred to me. 

 

I feel differently about the library thing, but perhaps that's just my exposure to other services where I can still play the games I redeem without even being online or subscribed.  It's good that they're upfront about it, I agree.

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24 minutes ago, crispy4000 said:

There's a lot of PS+ library digital games you won't be able to buy anymore.  This is your last chance to purchase them if you'd ever want to play them without an active subscription, while it's still upheld on these machines.

 

It doesn't work like that though. You can only claim the PS+ games the month they are on PS+ If you don't claim them after the month you have to pay for the game normally.

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9 minutes ago, Keyser_Soze said:

 

It doesn't work like that though. You can only claim the PS+ games the month they are on PS+ If you don't claim them after the month you have to pay for the game normally.

 

I was talking about purchasing the PS+ games you've already claimed over the years.

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If a game is not BC on my current gen console, I don’t play it again. I get rid of my previous gen consoles as soon as I get the new one.

 

I would guess most gamers are more like me than those who continue to play their old games on their old consoles.

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21 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

If a game is not BC on my current gen console, I don’t play it again. I get rid of my previous gen consoles as soon as I get the new one.

 

I would guess most gamers are more like me than those who continue to play their old games on their old consoles.

 

Probably.  But that also implies Sony doesn't gain much from subscription gating previously redeemed games.  Especially those that aren't BC and will no longer be sold.

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Do you just have to tweet at Jim Ryan a lot? I know the PS3 is more complicated, but it would actually be extremely convenient to have the same kind of backwards compatibility with that. I’m going to plug my PS3 back in to play some ratchet and clank games, and it’s not the worst thing in the world to do that, but still!

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