Sunday, August 17, 2008

PS3 Home Access to be Region Locked

News is trickling in that access to PS3's Home service will be region locked to the console region and not the the PSN ID or IP address. The purported reason behind this decision is advertising: Home will be ad supported and Sony doesn't want say people in India seeing ads targeted towards people in UK. In the meantime, if you have friends in the US and want to hang out with them, you can wish those plans goodbye. Of course, this could also have been achieved by locking onto the user's IP address rather than the console region, but that hilights Sony's other fascination - the destruction of import hardware sales market. No one knows as yet why Sony is so obsessed with blocking the sale of imported hardware - after all, more hardware sales are better right? But no - Sony refuses to repair imported consoles, even if you are willing to pay for it, and is prepared to go to unusual lengths to use legal means to shut down import shops. No other video game company does this - filing suits against importers, although, even M$ will refuse to repair imported consoles. Of course, M$'s console is region locked, thus giving them a pseudo-valid reason to deny repairs. Plus, we have the notorious RROD and the associated lifetime warranty - I could see how M$ India would go nuts having to replace consoles bought in Europe that they didn't get a paisa for. None of these are however, issues we can ascribe to Sony's system.

Right now, considering the fact that Sony makes it easy to install Linux on their system and has no region coding, makes it easy to think of them as consumer-friendly. However, back in 2005, Sony caused a massive furor when it was realised they had a Patent (#6,816,972) on a technology to prevent people from reselling or even sharing games with their friends. The technology essentially involves writing information onto a game disc the first time it is inserted into a console, thus tying that disc to that console. Even the LA Times picked up the article, albeit two months late. Sony also planned to introduce a licensing model for games - wherein ownership of the disc itself would NOT give you the right to actually play the game.

What changed all that? The XBox 360 and the runaway success of the Nintendo Wii, thus relegating Sony to a miserable 3rd place in the console race. Considering the fact that Sony was launching its expensive ($600) system a year later than M$'s one and that the Wii with its revolutionary gameplay cost only $250, Sony was forced to put a halt to these plans, thus proving once again that competition is good for the consumer. But at heart, Sony remains the same litigitous organization that is part of MPAA and RIAA. Some of that shows with their fascination with hardware imports.

The upshot - well there is no upshot, just that my mood with regards to the PS3 stays just as somber...

In other news, PS3 fanboy is maintaining an updated list of trophy status of PS3 games here. And (the big one) a hacker claims that he is able to run backups from a PS3 hard disk. (But you need a 60GB HDD, possibly to store the blu-ray data). Update - more on that (including a video) here.
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