Software as a service

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Software as a service

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Years ago, when I first started playing games on my computer – maybe around 1992 or so, it was almost clear as day that you owned your games. You would get one or more floppy disks to install the game, and if you wanted to sell it, you could transfer the game by transferring the disks. The second user of the game could do everything that the first user could – in fact, you could give the disks to every one of your friends and they could install the game just the same. As the years went on, the software companies continued to make moves to lessen the ownership that video game owners (and other software owners) enjoy.

One of the first moves that was made, was to make video game owners agree that they only held a license to the game. This argument made by the producers of the games was a failure back then when there was little ability to restrict reuse of a game by a second owner through digital rights management, and there was no real way to distribute a game without distributing a tangible disk with the game on it.

As the years have passed, digital rights management has progressed to the point that games have serial numbers that can be used only once. Today, games are often downloaded and entirely divorced from any tangible disks.

I recently got a Playstation 4. Like the other next generation consoles, there was a move initially to make used games unplayable on it. The hardware companies relented on this issue. I think they realized that if they made used games unplayable entirely, there would be a revolt. Instead, they made it so that a used game simply has less content available to play than it did when it was new.

You see, the new games often come with little cards with codes on them. If you input the codes on the Playstation 4, the codes allow you to download expansions for the games. After being input once though, or after a certain period of time without input, the codes are unusable. So when I buy Destiny, which comes with three expansions, I download the expansions for free by inputting the codes. But when I beat the game and go to sell it, I cannot transfer the expansions because the codes can only be used once.

At least for now I have the disk, but a lot of games now are downloaded. In that case, you can’t transfer anything at all.


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