Weekly News Roundup (7 July 2013)
Welcome to another WNR. Another fairly quiet week this one, so a nice an short WNR for y’all. I’m still PS3-less, as I switched my Netflix device from the PS3 to my Samsung smart TV. It’s a shame that the Samsung Netflix app isn’t as updated as the one on the PS3, and less usable in my opinion. I’ve also been playing around with switching the Netflix region, a feature that’s part of my Unblock-Us subscription. It’s amazing how much more content you can get access to if you switch regions (currently watching Dexter from scratch on Netflix UK, which isn’t available on Netflix US). For $4.99 Canadian, I’d say it’s a good investment even for those in the US that don’t normally need a geo-unblocker.
On to the WNR.
There was more EA/Maxis DRM drama this week as one of their old games, Darkspore, became unplayable due to DRM server bug. The problem was so bad that Steam was forced to remove the game from sale temporarily.
This latest server bug was eventually fixed, although other bugs, like the infamous 7300x server bug, may remain unfixed forever. That’s the problem with single player games with server connection requirements – even though you may have paid full price for the game, you’re only really getting half of the game, if that. The other half, the server based one, could at any time cease to work, and you’re left with possibly nothing or a very limited experience, even in single player mode. It’s expensive for publishers to keep and maintain game servers, and at some point, the financial cost of maintaining the servers will start to outweigh the cost of keeping gamers happy and you know what happens next.
It would at least be better if these server based single player games are cheaper than “standalone” ones, but normally they’re not.
Overall, it hasn’t been a good week for gaming companies as Ubisoft’s user database was hacked this week. User names, email and hashed passwords were all accessed, prompting Ubisoft to send out emails urging users to reset their passwords. If you were one of the affected users, and you used the same password on other sites, it’s probably a good idea to change those passwords too. This is despite the leaked passwords being stored in an encrypted form, which is difficult (but not impossible), to reverse back to clear form (especially if your password isn’t complex enough).
Luckily, no payment information was stolen, at least according to Ubisoft. There’s also no information as to the motive behind the attack, whether it has anything to do with the game publisher’s previously controversial DRM stance (most likely not though).
It’s quite annoying that every gaming company these days seems to have their own login system. It’s all very inefficient, not just for us users, but for each company having to secure all these user databases (not very well, I might add).
Studios are eager to push 4K video as the next evolution of home video, now that the 3D hype has largely died down, and Blu-ray has become more or less mainstream. But behind the main intent of trying to squeeze more money out of consumers lies an equally important intent to introduce new layers of copy protection to the masses. So at the Anti-Piracy and Content Protection Summit in Los Angeles last week, Sony Pictures CTO Spencer Stephens took the opportunity to outline some of the DRM measures he wants to see in 4K’s future, a Dystopian vision of home “entertainment” if there ever was one.
Online authentication before each playback, digital watermarked content that includes trackable personally identifiable data of the purchaser/purchase device, a new version of HDCP that limits the length of cables between the player and the display, and unique title-by-title protection that reduces the chance of a single hack or flaw making all content vulnerable in one go.
You’d think Sony would have learned something from the whole PS4 DRM victory, but I suspect what Sony’s consumer electronics people think about DRM, and what their studio/content people think about it, are very different things.
And that was the week, basically. Told you it was quiet. Let’s hope this coming week is a bit more interesting. Talk to you again, same time, same place.