Malik  (8/6/04)

Well, I have many things going on, so I will skip the BS today and get right into it...I'm Malik, and your entering my world now.

Is It The Right Time? 

Well, with the latest word from Steve Ballmer, CEO at Microsoft, that there will be "no new XBox in the next year", some geeks are feeling cheated and disappointed. Quite frankly, I can't understand these sentiments and the feelings that the next generation of consoles needs to be rushed. 

So far, Sony and Nintendo have been rumored to (or have said that they will) show the next generation of their non-portables at the next E3, while MS has been a bit more elusive on details. However, many geeks are acting like the news that a console will be shown by 2 of the big 3 at the next E3 as something more than it is. In reality, when previous consoles have been shown at E3, it is usually still more than an entire year before their launch become eminent. So, with no word of a new XBox in the next year, geeks are freaking out, only due to taking the news of the premiers of the next from Nintendo and Sony at the next E3, despite how this most likely means that all of the consoles are more than a year away. 

It seems to me that any new console is not a necessity at this point in the lives of the XB, GCN, or PS2. New games are still being developed at a fevered pace, with each couple of months bringing us a new breakthrough in gaming development. So, I don't think that this is, by any means, the right time to feel like new consoles are required. We are still getting all of the top end games we could ever desire...this is a time for us geeks to be excited about new software and not to demand new hardware to only further drain our wallets. 

True, the current generation is getting to be one of the longest lasting console generations in recent years. The PS2 is nearing a half decade in age, which is more than the usual four year lifespan, but when the games are still pushing the technological envelope, this is definitely not something to be concerned about. With the next XB, it is even more evident that a new generation is not yet needed when we'll soon have games like Fable and Halo 2 in our greedy hands. These games are ones that many would've never thought possible within the abilities of the XBox when it was first released, yet they are not only possible...they are soon to be reality. 

From a financial standpoint...and I mean the financial standpoint that matters; the wallets of us geeks...the longer we wait for new technology, the better. I mean if new technology is easily being obtained (well, easily for us, not for the developers who must work for it) in terms of software, then who are we to complain about this elusive next generation. I am still getting more fun out of this generation than the last generation could've given us (I mean with the last generation we have the Playstation as the only good console...did anyone get their money's value out of the N-64 or the Saturn? I know I sure as hell didn't), so if a new generation was released in the next few months, which would match the usual lifespan of consoles, then we would have to drop extra money on the hardware for the great new games that are coming out soon. Plus, we would lose out on the massive floods of new games that have recently become so strong...this in turn would lower the number of titles being dropped to insanely low prices so soon after release (I bet if Beyond Good and Evil was on a new generation of consoles that didn't yet have a massive onslaught of new games, I wouldn't had found it for only $20 so shortly after it's never would have been lost in the game flood to lower it's value). 


Until the technology that can be pushed from the XB, PS2, and GCN becomes stales and impossible to derive, we should not ask for more than we are ready to handle. If a new generation is rushed to market, we would also have to face the possibilities of a bunch of poorly designed titles and nothing to justify our $300 per console other words, we would have to relive the great PS2 plague that hit us not so very long ago. 

In a nut shell, before we all get concerned by the lack of new consoles at this time, we should be happy for the games that are coming our way. After all, is it really the consoles we love? I think not. I don't buy a shiny new console to show it off to my friends...I buy a console to buy the fun games that I can get entertainment from. There is a time and a place for everything...and while the place for a new console is always there (a video game store and next to my TV are good places that will never go away), the time is not upon us yet...and this is something we should be thankful for. After all, until that time comes, we are still getting technologically superior games that are always striving harder and harder for our money due to the healthy competition that can only be found in a generation that is at the middle (not end) of it's lifespan. 

While many geeks may keep looking too much to the future for any elusive thread of news on the next generation, I'd rather look to the present and be glad that I am not frightened to look to my wallet. 

A Little Exageration is a Teh Gay Thing 

Prior to the release of Doom 3, had a short blurb about the massive numbers of people pirating Doom 3. This info is quite solid, considering it gives a rather large range of the number of people downloading the game...although I bet the number is probably a bit higher. The BBC may assume they can keep an eye on every download on P2P servers, but they can', there are more ways to download than just P2P... 

However, Gamespot was also quick to point out that the cost of these pirated games would equal to a loss of over $2.7 million for ID and Activision. I love these knee-jerk reactions. Yup, everyone who pirates anything is someone who would normally be spending their money on said title if it weren't for P2P...and I thought Doom 3 would actually ship so soon. That's called sarcasm. 

This is the same logic behind RIAA, who says that every pirated song is the loss of $15 dollars that would have been spent on an album. The simple truth of the matter is that a majority of people who illegally download a game, music, a movie, or whatever would never buy the title even if they had the money and no access to P2P servers. On one hand, there are many who wouldn't spend $55 on Doom 3 because of the high requirements, the fear of the game being as crappy as the previously released still images made it look, or just don't have the money to begin with. However, given the P2P option, they will give what one could expect to be a crappy experience a shot. That same logic applies to music; if there is one cool song on an album, most people who have P2P access would rather just get the one good song and not waste their money on Razorblade Suitcase...I mean, the album. 

So, in the end, while the value of the stolen software is great, the wording used by Gamespot, the RIAA, ID, BCC, or whoever is involved in a particular piracy issue, the amount lost to the company is a different matter. Considering most people who pirate something have little to no interest in the actual product aside being a short term diversion, you cannot, with any sort of realistic logic, compare the value of what was stolen with the amount of money the companies involved stand to lose. To lose something means either you had it or were going to have it to begin with. I think it's safe to say, with the anger and lack of enthusiasm in the geek community with the status of Doom 3 prior to it's launch, not am many people are bound to buy as pirate it. 

I'm going off about this for a simple reason. I won't say my view on piracy of software, beyond saying that it is illegal, or on P2P servers, beyond saying that they are an innovative and useful technology with potential to be illegal really easily. However, I will say that the villainication of given people for something beyond what they did is bull shit. I hate people who try to spin doctor something that is not there. Yes, there are a lot of people who pirated Doom 3. Yes, they have something worth a given value ($55) and did not pay for it. Yes, that would mean they stole, in the legal sense of the word. However, no, it does not mean that ID is going to lose millions of dollars, since they were never guaranteed this money to begin with. I just hate to see facts distorted and manipulated to make one side, like ID, look worse off and more violated than they actually were. 


Whenever one sees facts and statistics about something, always look deeper into any interpretations and sources. In everything from election polls, to piracy stats, to game sales, there is usually an easy truth and a far fetched story that will help people get support, sympathy, love, or attention and it's sad when people fall for this without considering the entire truth. It may be true that ID's stolen software is worth a lot, but someone stealing something they wouldn't normally buy, and someone stealing something they would never dream of buying are two completely different thing. Now you know and know the rest.

321 Studios Is No More 

321 Studios, the company that made Games X Copy and other such utilities that allowed copies of PC games, DVD movies, etc. has gone belly up. This is a sad day for our rights in the capitalist sector of America. Under copyright law, we citizens have the right of fair use, but due to legal obstacles and the ability to use almost anything for evil, our fair use rights have been damaged. 

Fair use is a statement that basically means we are allowed to make a single backup copy of any digital media we have. This is to ensure that if something happens to our software, movies, or whatever, while it is being played, we will still have the original. It's pretty much a type of insurance to ensure that anything we use to play our digital media cannot mess up and destroy our expensive software, since we would be allowed to use our backup instead of the costly original in the player. 

However, since backups are not limited, with innovative steps, to just one, and these extras could be sold, given, loaned out, etc, then it becomes a copyright mess. Since there is no good way to make a clear backup of any of our software without innovative programs like those offered from 321 Studios, we are being denied our fair use rights. Until the paranoia that enveloped the game companies, movie studios, and RIAA has cleared, or until they are allowed to watch our every move, we will have to do without one of our rights under the copyright laws of America. 

Pretty much, this boils down to a classic struggle of our rights and the illegal activities of piracy becoming blurred due to some rather ambitious people. While some of us, such as myself, who have seen their games destroyed by crappy drives (who hasn't heard the horror stories of a CD drive making a few alterations to a some nice circular scratches) are more than content to make a single backup, and follow fair use laws, others will always strive to get a little more than their money's worth, if you catch my meaning. So, I guess you could say that this is, yet another, case of a few people ruining it for the rest of us as paranoia claims the minds of those who stand to lose their dignity and the judges who almost seem more like deer in headlights than experts on the legal ramifications of denying fair use to us Americans. 

This is where the final problem is found. It's not as much a problem of the piracy and illegal use of software designed for one thing being used in another way. The real issue comes down to the paranoia aspect of the US legal system and the companies that stand to lose out on any business. Sadly, no matter the case, people are going to take advantage of the system, when they can...not all people, but a decent number. However, in the end, this paranoia results in one simple fact; we who obey the law are actually the ones being punished. The law breaker will always find a new way to circumvent the law, however, those who go the legal route are stuck with a smaller number of options. These options are the ones that get shut down, while the illegal options usually escape detection. So, while a lawbreaker will only get punished if caught, tried, and sentenced, we who obey the laws are stuck with being denied our rights simply for being so legal minded/ethical. 


Am I the only one who sees the problem with us being punished for doing nothing? Actually, I'm not, since 321 Studios was trying to correct this issue. However, the legal system doesn't see this problem anywhere, so it doesn't matter how hard we fight for our rights. As long as the RIAA, the game studios, movie studios, or whatever keep making all people look like villains, we are basically screwed. So, in short, the solution is for us all to take down our pants, bend over, and brace for a nice bit of...ummm...pain from the US legal system. Sucks to be us. 


Like I said, I'm wrapped up with a lot of stuff right now, so why dance around the subjects.  Yes, I made up some words along the way, and yes I hate being looked at like a criminal because I like to exercise my rights as an American.  So, like I always say, if you don't like something I've said, or you want to let me know you agree, you can contact me, or you can hit the forums.