consoles are all going x86 chip and AMD GPU

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fireside 141 Feb 21, 2013 at 03:13

This is what I gather from rumors. Sony didn’t say anything about their hardware, but rumors are it’s an x86, AMD chip. Should make porting easier and be good for AMD since games will be optimized for their GPU.

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Reedbeta 167 Feb 21, 2013 at 04:58

Sony did release the tech specs for the PS4. It is indeed an x86 (64-bit) AMD chip. It’s an AMD GPU as well and the CPU and GPU are all together on one chip.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the new XBox is also using a system-on-a-chip (what AMD calls an “APU”). The fact that AMD offers these all-in-one chips, and NVIDIA doesn’t, might have been the deciding factor in the new consoles going with AMD (this is just a guess; I have no special knowledge of this). There are a lot of benefits to systems-on-a-chip - lower power requirements (hence also less heat generated), lower-latency communication between CPU and GPU, it’s easier to use a unified memory architecture since the memory only has to talk to one chip, and it takes up less space in the device.

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tyree 102 Feb 21, 2013 at 06:44

this is good for both amd and sony. but its strange with the ps4 soon to be released. no price drops for the ps3, 360 is now 99 but on craiglist one could be purchased for 40 dollars. for the past 2 years. there are ps3 still being sold for 300. hopefully sony wont make this new console so future proof. they end up pricing it beyond most reach

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rouncer 103 Feb 21, 2013 at 07:26

consoles are for the younger generation, us old guys should just stick with our pc’s, theyll always be the cheapest and fastest.

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tyree 102 Feb 21, 2013 at 07:46

rouncer if you can. you should try one of the consoles, get a cheap one. never having to be concerned with if a game will work is a main draw for consoles.

at this point, there is no shortage of games for any of them

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Stainless 151 Feb 21, 2013 at 09:35

@rouncer My laptop cost me….. well the company .. the best part of £2000

You can buy a hell of a lot of consoles for that

Hell you could put together a console farm for that

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rouncer 103 Feb 21, 2013 at 09:45

but the performance you get for the price?

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Vilem_Otte 117 Feb 21, 2013 at 11:51

The price/performance will always have PC as a winner, also you can’t change GPU/CPU/whatever in console, you can’t just add this or that, because it doesn’t allow you… should I continue? There is like a TON more things you can’t do with console and honestly there is no thing you can do with console but you can’t do with PC.

Their tech specs isn’t anything so shining. First of all AMD CPUs are a lot behind Intel’s ones right now (not just in performance, but also in technology) - their 8-core systems have hard time beating Ivy Bridge i5’s … although I like their idea “Need more cores!”, it doesn’t work if they won’t scale the rest of stuff accordingly (see Bulldozer epic fail with caches).
Using graphics memory instead of standard memory is not as clever idea as it seems to be. Okay it will work for graphics, but doing wild allocations/delocations on GDDR5 is a lot worse thing that doing it on DDR3. Running some fully managed code on this might be a bit of hell (especially at time when garbage collector comes in) - of course it probably won’t be problem number 1 for games, but it can be problem in few years when they’ll be running … peak bandwidth also doesn’t say that much.
1.84 TFlops gpu doesn’t say a ****. And I mean it, peak TFlops rate are measured as “how much MADD operations can we make in one second” and multiply this number by 2. So it sounds nice, but unless they say what specific model is, it’s information with value of 0.

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fireside 141 Feb 21, 2013 at 12:43

I don’t have a console, but I like the idea of putting a freeze on hardware specs instead of forcing constant upgrades and unknown hardware to run games. It’s topped out a lot since the old days anyway. We’re playing 3d games on tablets and phones and not seeing much difference anymore. The only reason I don’t have one is because I can’t write games with it and the price of games doesn’t drop as fast. I’d rather just use old hardware on a pc and play old games. I am due for a new machine, though. This also helps even if you own a pc because the games are made to run on older hardware to satisfy porting to consoles. I’ll either be getting a laptop with an AMD chip or an Intel with discrete graphics next time around because prices have dropped enough.

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TheNut 179 Feb 21, 2013 at 12:59

@tyree

there are ps3 still being sold for 300

Probably because Sony is still paying off its research contribution funding for the cell architecture :D No doubt the execs are kicking themselves hard on that one.

I read about AMD’s fusion, or APU brand for desktop PCs a while back. The benchmarks were horrid, on par with integrated chips. I just did some recent checks on AMD’s new “Trinity” brand and the benchmarks have improved, but are still lacking when rendering 1080p. I’ve always liked the idea of simplifying the architecture into a single chip, but if performance is important then sticking to a dedicated card is the way to go for now. Though I do imagine in a couple years, like what happened with sound cards, video cards will become obsolete. Now if they can make those chips small enough for phones… profit!

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Vilem_Otte 117 Feb 21, 2013 at 14:43

#fireside - but honestly thats not problem with hardware, but with game developers (and sometimes drivers - but it’s less common, most likely a lot of developers doesn’t read standards and expect some driver to behave differently than how it’s written) - most of them can’t standardize their game and use “wild” libraries changing specs now and then. Not even mentioning Java or C# that is horribly dependent on version of your VM (where is even some portability)? Isn’t it better to write in native C, or C++ (without stl, or generally ugly C++ standard - because it’s over-complicated, large and not even mention portability) - using TinyStl (or another open-stl standard that is clean and simple), and some heavily standardized libraries (preferably open sourced) that doesn’t change iface every 2 years is a lot better way.

#TheNut - I don’t think it’s great idea to pack 2 chips into 1 like this. There still is gpu -> and thats still horrible. Gpus are a big bunch of mess, don’t get me wrong now - I use OpenCL and CUDA - but these languages are bloody mess compared to standard C, working with them feels like scratching with toe on left feed at your right ear (and I don’t even mention debugging, where most useful is the printf function - because debugger is garbage compared to anything on standard CPU). So honestly I believe more into Intel Xeon Phi or such platform.

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Reedbeta 167 Feb 21, 2013 at 17:23

@Vilem Otte

there is no thing you can do with console but you can’t do with PC.

I disagree. There is plenty you can get up to on a fixed-hardware platform with low-level APIs, that you simply can’t do on a PC where you have to work with an abstraction of the hardware and a D3D/OpenGL driver that you don’t control, that you don’t know what it’s doing and it doesn’t know what you’re doing. I could give a lot of examples of this on PS3. We’re still getting the hang of the PS4 HW, but I’m sure in a couple years there will be a lot of examples on it too.

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Vilem_Otte 117 Feb 21, 2013 at 19:34

Oh… that is though possible - but I’d say that named OpenGL/D3D isn’t the best example here, because you want to stick with them on console (for portability).

On the other hand you actually can (in really REALLY strong brackets) do the same on PC, but you have to do it for each piece of hardware out there (or at least those that you’re going to support). It isn’t worth it for a game project, but F.e. some driver project with standardized interface (open source drivers for AMD are out there and quite useful). But this is more-likely because situation in GPU is very messy, F.e. in CPU part you can work with assembly because there are some solid standards supported by vendors … so it’s more likely problem of GPU vendors on PC.

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Reedbeta 167 Feb 21, 2013 at 20:09

@Vilem Otte

I’d say that named OpenGL/D3D isn’t the best example here, because you want to stick with them on console (for portability).

Only if you care about portability. ;) But OpenGL/D3D aren’t even available on consoles; they use custom APIs. They are broadly similar to OpenGL/D3D (after all, it’s the same hardware underneath) but different enough that porting is not trivial. And, as mentioned, the console APIs give you access to lower-level stuff like memory management and command buffers that would be hidden behind the driver in OpenGL/D3D.
@Vilem Otte

On the other hand you actually can (in really REALLY strong brackets) do the same on PC, but you have to do it for each piece of hardware out there…(open source drivers for AMD are out there and quite useful)

Yes, I haven’t looked at the open-source Linux drivers, but it would definitely be interesting to see what you could do by taking over some of the driver responsibilities in your own app. I suspect it’s still not quite as much control as on a console though, since in a PC environment you have to allow for multitasking. On consoles, you still have to cooperate with the OS (it will take up some memory and compute resources, has a hook to render stuff over your frame, etc.) but it’s a limited amount of interference.

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Vilem_Otte 117 Feb 21, 2013 at 21:55

When you’re writing a driver (any kind of driver), it’s up to you how much control you’re going to give to your users. As for Driver <-> OS communication we’re getting a lot into OS, and I think that a simple post is definitely not enough to cover the whole thing.

There are different kinds of multitasking implementation, there are different OS kernel implementations (and so different ways to communicate with drivers and thus devices), etc. - and basically this will be based on specific OS. You actually *could* give user full control over hardware, but implementing this in driver can also be bloody mess, and it will most likely kill a vision of having somehow “portable and usable driver” without rewriting it from scratch on another OS, and writing a little more abstract api for using it. Also the question is, would most users use the functionality? Because building such applications for few users out of large user base is definitely not worth it.

Basically it isn’t caused by multitasking, it is caused by high complexity and generality of modern operating systems (and not just modern … all general operating systems*). It is better to follow the way OpenGL actually does - build some kind of (not entirely high-level, neither entirely low-level) abstraction over drivers, and “force driver developers” to implement needed functionality. The result is more usable than giving user full access to device without any abstraction (also this gets really messy with more hardware, because you can end with lots of ugly ifdefs in code).

* I’m though not blaming OS developers, I and my friend once (few years ago) tried to roll my own operating system, ended with very simple Unix/Linux clone. Even though it just was able to run simple elf_i386 binaries and use some standard libraries (smaller variant of libc), it could use SSE/MMX instruction sets and of course mutlitasking (it ran several command lines switchable through F1-F12, because I haven’t implemented any graphics interface :D) - and this bare minimum is really BIG and bloody mess. It was for educational purpose of course.
I wrote a simple graphics driver for it too, you could just switch text mode resolutions, clear screen, write character, change character settings (color) or move carriage. Note that in standard generic gfx drivers you give user like 1000 times more control that I gave him through my driver, even though OS gave me ability to do anything to hardware from driver - like changing text mode to grahics mode (but not from user application).

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Stainless 151 Feb 22, 2013 at 10:12

I’ve written a couple of OS’s, they all started out small and with unique features, then as people started to use them we had to add this or that and they got big and complicated.

Taos started out on transputers, it could work out network topology in a couple of seconds and optomise itself on the fly.

It feature binary portability and you coded in a custom assembler like language called VP. (virtual processor)

Most of you will have used it at some time, without knowing about it. We wrote a java vm in vp that ran 140 times faster than Sun’s so it was bought for lot’s of devices.

But in the end we didn’t have enough money to deal with the growing numbers of cpu’s appearing and we couldn’t get the big boys to realise that Taos was the way forward. Imagine a world when you never had to port anything, it just ran on any device.

That didn’t fit with what the big boys wanted. They wanted differentiation between devices. They want product that you can’t get on any other platform.

So we went bust.

Now as the market starts to merge, as TV’s stop being simply a display and start to become interactive, as the difference between a computer and a domestic device becomes smaller and smaller people are starting to realise that we need something. So we are now doing Antix Game Player.

Antix Game Player gives you the binary portability that Android tried to provide and failed.

The bad thing about this is that you have to have a high level graphics API, and Opengles has become the standard. Note not Opengl. OpenGLes

The first two version of opengles were flawed, 1 was fixed function pipeline, 2 had shaders, but was missing things like render to texture.

Opengles 3 is looking very good, I should be getting my first es3 device in a few months. Going to be fun.

D3D is dieing. Microsoft have already started pulling support for it, MVP’s have been told they are no longer required, which only leaves us with Opengl

When you write for a PC you have all sorts of problems. The test department at Pure had 24 PC’s with different hardware configurations, and all of them had removable hard drives so we could swap OS versions as well. Even then we had issues with some end users machines.

The PC market is a nightmare, when was the last time you walked into a shop and saw a rack full of pc games? Around here you are lucky if there is a single shelf in the whole store.

Rack after rack of XBOX and PS3 games though. So many you struggle to find what you are looking for.

I would not be suprised at all if the big developers started dropping the PC as a viable platform.

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Vilem_Otte 117 Feb 22, 2013 at 12:05

I’d like to post something longer (e.g. I will later - right now I got just a minute of time) - I must oppose to Stainless, I live in Czech Republic and consoles aren’t too popular here, people are playing on PC and there are racks full of PC games, and smaller racks with Xbox/PS3. I can confirm that it is same in other central european states, so basically I’d say that it also depends on location (consoles are popular in US/Japan, but not so much in Europe).

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fireside 141 Feb 22, 2013 at 13:50

I would not be suprised at all if the big developers started dropping the PC as a viable platform.

I think that was a stage games went through for a while, but it’s been changing lately because of Steam. Mostly, they were tired of piracy which Steam has taken care of and most customers are happy because they can get reasonable prices and don’t need it. Most games I care about or want come out for the PC, some are ported later, which I don’t care about because they are too expensive when they first come out anyway.

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TheNut 179 Feb 22, 2013 at 13:52

@Vilem Otte

I’d like to post something longer (e.g. I will later - right now I got just a minute of time) - I must oppose to Stainless

Haha… You made my day today Vilem :D
@Stainless

The PC market is a nightmare, when was the last time you walked into a shop and saw a rack full of pc games?

I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that PC gaming has evolved to online purchases and digital downloads. Sony even addresses this with their PS4. This will more or less be the future of digital consumerism.
@Stainless

That didn’t fit with what the big boys wanted. They wanted differentiation between devices. They want product that you can’t get on any other platform.

It’s interesting how it turned out though. Their business model was proprietary technology. Lock people in and rake in the profits. Since the market and competition was small back then, it was a viable choice. As the competition and number of platforms grew, business costs soared just to support all these platforms. Now the new business model is the opposite. More and more businesses are creating their APIs to allow cross-platform development. The demand for open and clean standards is becoming very vocal. I don’t anticipate next gen consoles to follow through just yet, but they will eventually have to capitulate. Sony’s shift from their cell architecture to x86-64 is a clear indicator of this. The money has and always will be in the software, not the hardware.

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tyree 102 Feb 23, 2013 at 09:27

downloading has most certainly changed the way games are distributed. and mobile developers will be glad to know the ps4 controller has a touchscreen. its a traditional controller, but it does have a touchscreen. and the ps4 is supposed to interface with more than just the vita but tablets and phones. times have indeed changed

the nut your exactly right about sony using existing tech instead of creating new tech. that should make it easier in pretty much every aspect from cost to development

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Stainless 151 Feb 23, 2013 at 09:36

I did some more research this morning, and the results surprised me.

PC sales of physical product (cd/dvd) are running at about 5% of console sales.
Digital sales in the UK add very little to the equation, so overall the PC market in the UK is now a minority market.

However, world wide is a different matter. It is very difficult to get accurate figures, but it looks like pc sales may equal console sales.

I find this very worrying, there are already court cases in Germany that challenge the legality of digital downloads.

The argument goes like this.

1) Consumers buy games on physical media.
2) When they have finished playing the game they can trade the disc in or sell it
3) Digital downloads cannot be resold as they have no physical media
4) Consumers have the right to sell articles they have bought
5) Therefore digital downloads are illegal

I guess we better hope the court case fails or we are all in the sh1t.

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fireside 141 Feb 23, 2013 at 10:53

Countries all have their own trade and copyright laws, so it would only apply to Germany and would effectively limit the country from Steam purchases among others. Digital Media is something kind of new and we are still adjusting to it. When it was sold on physical media, we understood it as part of that physical media. With the danger of piracy, that pretty much changes when the transfer of goods is electronic. If we want things to run smoothly as far as copyrights, we’ll have to accept the way Steam and Amazon, etc, are doing it.

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Stainless 151 Feb 24, 2013 at 10:09

Don’t forget that we have Europe now, if Germany rules in favour of this nutter, then it is only a matter of time before it becomes a European law.

And don’t think they won’t, if you saw some of the stupid laws they have passed you wouldn’t believe it.

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Kenneth_Gorking 101 Feb 28, 2013 at 09:28

@Stainless

Don’t forget that we have Europe now, if Germany rules in favour of this nutter, then it is only a matter of time before it becomes a European law.

Unless it gets appealed and goes to the European Court, where it could get overturned, and thereby never be a law in any European country. Could go the other way, though, but I doubt it. Steam has done very well in combatting piracy, but a law like this, would just return thing to the way they were before.

On another note, I was quite surprised that Sony included an optical drive in the PS4. I think I heard some bullshit argument about games being to big for download, so that’s why they did it. My Battlefield 3 installation is 27.8 GB, and I never sat around moaning “I wish this was on a disc!”. ISPs are slowly pulling their heads out of their asses and upping the speeds, so I was quite confused by this direction.

Also, this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/6905-New-Generation-Old-Bullsh-t

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fireside 141 Feb 28, 2013 at 13:49

I don’t get the Blue Ray disc thing, either. Even Microsoft’s console will have it this time around. It seems like a needless expense.

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Albertone 101 Feb 28, 2013 at 14:26

@Stainless: you’re British, right? Well, with some luck and British people well known determination, I’m confident UK will leave the Soviet Union II (former European Union :( ) just in time for the tea ;) . After all, living on a rainy island has its pros :P

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Reedbeta 167 Feb 28, 2013 at 19:24

@Kenneth Gorking

My Battlefield 3 installation is 27.8 GB, and I never sat around moaning “I wish this was on a disc!”. ISPs are slowly pulling their heads out of their asses and upping the speeds, so I was quite confused by this direction.

The USA is really behind on broadband speed though. The average speed was only around 5 Mbps in 2011, according to Wikipedia. Your Battlefield 3 installation would take 13 hours to download at that rate. I think it’s still too soon to get rid of optical drives; Internet speeds are getting faster, but they’re not fast enough yet that a new console can afford to rely on Internet alone.

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fireside 141 Feb 28, 2013 at 23:48

I’m using 512 Kbps because it saves me 20 dollars.

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Vilem_Otte 117 Mar 01, 2013 at 03:08

Lets get to OT on inet:
So I’m kind of exception running on some 16 Mbps and having it at least 2 times LESS expensive than our over-priced telecomunication companies. Currently paying like 400 CZK per month (thats like EUR 15), although the price is not that shiny if you take in account that average salary in “my part of the country” is EUR 800 (it’s equal to F.e. teacher’s salary) with expenses (house/flat, food, etc.) actually same like in any other EU country.

But basically you can download through night don’t you? :D

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Stainless 151 Mar 01, 2013 at 09:16

I am in a new complex only built 5 years ago, in the centre of a major UK city (Southampton), and the best broadband I can get is from Sky.

I get about 2.5M down and 500K up.

The place I lived before this one I only got half that speed. I wouldn’t pay to download a game that would take 15 hours to arrive at my machine.

The blu-ray disc is lovely, I’ve got a stand alone 3d blu ray player and the difference between blu-ray films and dvd is amazing.

I support the choice of a blu-ray player in a games machine as it actually reduces the number of devices I need on the rack below my TV.

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_oisyn 101 Mar 01, 2013 at 13:38

@Stainless

Don’t forget that we have Europe now, if Germany rules in favour of this nutter, then it is only a matter of time before it becomes a European law. And don’t think they won’t, if you saw some of the stupid laws they have passed you wouldn’t believe it.

Never gonna happen. Much more likely is that distributors of downloadable content are required to allow the transfer of purchased content to someone else. This is already happening with other software licenses (such as MS Windows) that according to the EULA cannot be transferred, but the EU says they can.

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Kenneth_Gorking 101 Mar 02, 2013 at 10:18

@Stainless

I am in a new complex only built 5 years ago, in the centre of a major UK city (Southampton), and the best broadband I can get is from Sky. I get about 2.5M down and 500K up.

I just tried looking at Skys site, and I feel bad for you man. The lengths they go to, to hide the actual speeds of their connections, is depressing. I had to roam around in some legal bullshit to see the actual speeds.

I just tried looking at some local deals on broadband here in Aarhus, which is about the same size as your city, and the slowest I can get is 20/3, and the fastest is 150/15, with a data cap of 2.5 terabytes per month. And I live in a building that’s older than my mother.

IIRC, a price war broke out here in Denmark, I think it was around 2006-2007. Several new companies appeared that underbid the few large companies that existed at the time, which then forced them to either lower their prices or increase the speeds for the same price. This still goes on today, which is great for us consumers. There was also laws put forth by the government, regarding binding periods. They used to for 12 months, but were legally forced to be no more than 6 months, and in an attempt to keep customers, the ISPs all decided to just drop the binding period altogether. The only form of ‘binding’ there exists now, is a 30 day cancelation period, and that is it.

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Stainless 151 Mar 03, 2013 at 11:37

:o JEALOUS :o

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geon 101 Mar 03, 2013 at 13:27

@Stainless

5) Therefore digital downloads are illegal I guess we better hope the court case fails or we are all in the sh1t.

I’m puzzled by that logic, and the implication of it. Wouldn’t it force digital distributors (like Steam and the App Store) to let you resell your downloads, rather than making them illegal altogether? Europe is still a large market, and distributors wouldn’t just ignore it.

And why would we all be “in the sh1t”?

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fireside 141 Mar 03, 2013 at 16:38

Once you allow the private sale of apps, it opens it up to simple piracy again. Steam has just gotten distributors to look seriously at the PC again. They may be able to allow sales within the Steam framework to go through. Maybe that would satisfy them. That would kind of go along with Newell’s idea of multiple stores. At the end of the day, people need to get money for the work they did. That’s what copyrights are all about.

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geon 101 Mar 03, 2013 at 23:50

> it opens it up to simple piracy again

How? The same DRM would still apply, but the ownership would be transferred to another user account.

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fireside 141 Mar 04, 2013 at 01:09

How? The same DRM would still apply, but the ownership would be transferred to another user account.

From what I understand of it, they think they should be able to sell it to anyone. I haven’t been following it that close, though.

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_oisyn 101 Mar 04, 2013 at 11:32

So? That doesn’t imply you should be allowed to copy it and run it everywhere. Just that you’re able to transfer the license. With Steam that would mean using some sort of tool or request form to move a game you own to someone else with a Steam account, after which you will no longer have the game in your list but the other person will.

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Stainless 151 Mar 04, 2013 at 14:15

It’s a nightmare.

We let an end user create an account, then they register devices. I think we allow 5 devices per user.
The DRM works by creating a UID for a device and when the game is downloaded the user with the device UID owns the game. He can then play it on any of his registered devices.

We allow sharing of games, but this requires the owner of the licence to be within comms range of the other player. If the other player leaves the vicinity of the owner, then the game goes to the unpaid state. This usually means it goes into demo mode.

Selling the game on would be a nightmare, it could be done, but any devices that a paid for game is installed on would continue to appear to be the full paid for version until the device is connected to a network.

Without a network connection I cannot see any way the DRM could be disabled.

I really don’t like the idea of using a time out, if the game hasn’t been connected to a network for a given period of time then the DRM goes to an unpaid state.

If I was playing a game and it suddenly went dead I would be pretty pissed off.

We have to hope that the court case fails, otherwise downloadable games might become a thing of the past. Like Concord, a beautiful moment long gone.

A few years ago I would have laughed at the idea, but with some of the unbelievable rulings I have seen in the press in recent years, I am genuinely worried.

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geon 101 Mar 04, 2013 at 19:44

You could require that the game is disabled for user A before it gets enabled for user B. You don’t need to make it *easy* to transfer ownership, just possible.

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Stainless 151 Mar 05, 2013 at 01:02

@geon

You could require that the game is disabled for user A before it gets enabled for user B. You don’t need to make it *easy* to transfer ownership, just possible.

But if the device is never connected, we cannot disable it.

So we would be forced to tell the end user that he must connect all devices and wait for confirmation before the sale could go ahead.

Then we are into the situation were the end user may have lost/sold/traded in the device, etc.

Not good

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geon 101 Mar 05, 2013 at 09:09

> Not good

DRM is by definition “Not good”. It goes against the interest of the user. Somewhere you have to make compromises.

You said it is a bad thing if the user must connect all devices and deactivate them before he is able to transfer ownership. Remember that the alternative is to not be able to do it AT ALL.