Comparing the Satellaview to the current-gen; My fears about DRM.

So, lately I’ve been disturbed by how the next generation of gaming is turning out.
Why?
Well, there’s this.

The very fact that this happened again doesn’t hold well for me either.

And, while I can’t find a source-link, the Sonic Retro thread where this was all being discussed in mentioned that Nintendo was considering a “pay to continue playing” style of DRM itself.
(EDIT: Ok, so they were referring to post five on the PS3hax.net thread? I’ll need a better source than that…)

Most people are disturbed by this because it hurts legitimate customers, who may now be expected to pay money to play games they already own.

I think there’s another reason to be concerned about this, though; one that’s more painful to the customers as well as the developers. DRM is damaging to a game system’s legacy… and I feel the Satellaview makes for a very good example.
I made this post there. Here’s a copy of the text for those who can’t log in/register to see.

“You know, much of the reason I look up the Satellaview is because I’m disturbed by how DRM basically damaged the add-on’s legacy.

I mean, a significant number of the available games for it are no longer playable because of the software-based restrictions the system had. Now, the motive for this was a bit different, because in the Satellaview’s case, any downloads after the initial set-up and subscription were [at least as far as I know,] free (much like Sega Channel, although the Satellaview had a more expensive setup.), so Nintendo (Rather than doing the smart thing and simply not allowing saving to private-owned memory, lulz) put the restrictions on them so they wouldn’t fear losing profits from retail carts – the results were games that locked up after a preset number of boot-ups (in the case of the Soundlink games, the DRM, which enforced playing on a specific schedule, prevented the game from booting up after the initial downloat/”stream”.)

What games were affected by this? We don’t know – new ROM dumps show up now and then with things that have -not even been documented on the internet prior-. Many of these are from packs where the DRM was activated. Thankfullly, a lot of emulators ignore the DRM (but -not- BSNES. True hardware accuracy has it’s catches!), although the possibility of poor/glitchy emulation is still high as a kite.
The vast majority of Satellaview games fell into an obscurity worse than “failure” systems like the Virtual Boy or true “limited releases” like Nintendo World Championships, because of a combination of factors – not limited to, but certainly including, the DRM – that led to a – lack of knowledge about the system, [and] a ridiculous amount of difficulty just trying to play the software again[.]
The disturbing thing about this? We’re not talking about things that would’ve gone into obscurity anyway; we’re talking about Mario games, Zelda games, Squaresoft games that AREN’T boring JRPGS, and interesting first-and-third-party titles that would’ve at -least- been cult hits if they were released on any other platform.

Now, think about this in the context of the current generation.
Imagine if that Zelda Tech Demo for WiiU ran off the DRM idea Nintendo [allegedly] proposed recently. Now, even if the game is initially a success, there will become a point where no one will want to support the pay model anymore. What will happen, then?
Yet another Zelda game – of all things – will fall into obscurity. No, I don’t mean that people will consider it a black sheep like Adventures of Link. I mean people will -forget what the game is like-. This happened to the BS Zelda games, and it took -years- (going from the initial BS Zelda broadcast to NND upload dates, 12 years,) for some folks at NicoNicoDouga to encode their old, slightly decayed, likely-EP VHS tapes and remind the world how that game played once before.
Do we really want the memories of the video games we play restricted to old, manual recordings? I shouldn’t need a DVD+R to remind myself how Super Mario Galaxy 3 was like 30 years from now.”

Sega fans, BTW, are probably already familiar with The Sega Channel, which was a service that many directly compare to the Satellaview due to their similarities. Among those similarities, of course, them having faded to obscurity due to a lack of content archival for years. I’ve still been seeking out documentation on the Japanese side of the Sega Channel to this date.

(EDIT: Since I’ve tracked down the source of the claims about Nintendo I’m questioning it’s legitimacy. The article has been edited accordingly.)


4 Comments »

  1. MH said,

    July 10, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I definitely agree with this. It’s amazing how blind gamers are to the dangers of DRM. If games are art (as I believe they are) then this is the equivalent of cultural pillagery. The distributors are selling out the future for present profits and the gaming community is letting them do it. They’ve claimed the moral high-ground by pointing to digital piracy but DRM runs contrary to fundamental concepts of property ownership. No longer do gamers own games, they only license and rent them.
    It’s pathetic but I think this is a very clear case of the tragedy of the commons. The majority of the gaming public is composed of children who don’t look further than next week.
    The only good solution is to always buy indie and to purchase directly from the artist whenever possible. When it comes to preservation of a game, the interests of the consumer and artist align against the interests of the distributors.

  2. Well, speak of the Shirikon Chounaikai! | Satellablog said,

    November 2, 2012 at 11:30 am

    [...] merely a day after this post is the upload date of a NicoNicoDouga [...]

  3. Deja Vu: Old problems are new again in the world of “digital rights”. | Satellablog said,

    May 26, 2013 at 4:21 am

    [...] Time to pad for updates with a write-up. This can be seen as a bit of a follow up to this old writing from 2011. [...]

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