According to an article I read today on Digital Trends, Sony is planning yet another step towards becoming the totalitarian overlord of consumer's electronic entertainment domain with a plan to limit the number of consoles that European PlayStation Network users can link their downloadable games to. The intention of the plan is [apparently] to reduce software "piracy" through the simple act of sharing content that you've downloaded by linking to your PS Network account on someone else's PS3 or PSP. The imposed limit is supposed to allow any given downloadable content to be downloaded and installed on a maximum of 2 PS3s and 2 PSPs at any given time. Attempting to access this content through any additional consoles will require you to use a special online tool to deactivate the content on a different console.
I call BULLSHIT!
There is already a limit of five downloads allowed for any given content! And that isn't even across multiple units! Re-downloading a game on the same console costs you one of your precious five activations. So if you have to replace your PS3, then you are going to need to re-download all of your DLC.
I wouldn't mind this new rule so much if they were also lifting the five download limit for DLC. But as far as I can tell, they aren't. If I can only activate a game on up to 2 systems, then why do I still need a 5 download limit? Shouldn't I be able to download my content as many times as I want/need since there are now other measures in place to prevent me from copying it onto too many systems at once? What if I have a small hard drive and need to regularly delete game installations to make room for new ones, and then sometimes want to go back and re-install the older games?
Besides, there is nothing illegal about sharing content with someone else to begin with.
It is perfectly legal for me to take a copy of a game that I own to somebody else's house and play it with them. With disc-based games, doing so is trivial. But if you want to be able to do this with downloadable titles (or allow trophy/leaderboard/etc support for your disc-based games), then you have to create an account for yourself on that person's console and link it to your PSN account. What ever happened to the good old days of being able to take your copy of a game and your memory card over to a friend's house to show them your wicked awesome gaming skills and sharing your cool new game with a friend so that he can buy it too?
Yes, there are probably some people who download DLC onto someone else's system and then let them keep it. That is unfortunate for Sony and for the creators of that content. But punishing those of us who are responsible with our DLC-sharing due to the illegal acts of a select few is going too far. It is exactly this sort of punitive behavior that lead to hackers targeting the biggest data breach ever against Sony's PlayStation Network, and that lead to the PSN itself being down for over a month. I know you're an evil corporation and have no problem degrading your consumer's experience to try to save a few bucks, and I know you have no problem with imposing new rules that will prevent people from legitimately utilizing advertised features of your products. But are you really willing to risk another PR nightmare like this in an effort to stop a few people from stealing DLC?
Apparently, in Europe, the answer is "yes". Although I highly doubt that this limitation will stay localized to Europe. I hope it does. But I'm pretty sure this limitation will rear its ugly head stateside at some point (probably next year).
But there are perfectly legitimate reasons for someone to have downloaded the same game onto multiple consoles. More so for the PS3 than for the PSP. Children with split custody may want a PS3 at both mom and dad's house so as to avoid having to disconnect the thing and move it every week. And what if those same children also spend a great deal of time at grandma and grandpa's house too? People who are dating but don't live together may want to have accounts on each other's consoles. People who spend more time at other's houses than at their own might want accounts on three or four other people's PS3s. Game testers, reviewers, or amateur programmers may want multiple units available for them to test games on. And professional testes, reviewers, and programmers may even have one or more consoles at the office that they will want to have their games loaded onto! People who frequently travel out of town for long durations of time to spend time with family or friends may have accounts on the consoles of those family or friends. And so on.
And, in fact, the whole point of having an online account is that it is portable! You can connect to your account from any internet-capable machine. That is what the account is for!
Shame on you, Sony.
Granted, Sony isn't preventing you from downloading the game onto a new unit. They're just making you jump through hoops in order to do it. So it's more of just an inconvenience. One that I'm sure that hackers and pirates will find a way around anyway. So it just ends up hurting the innocent people who were following the rules to begin with.
Sony, stuff like this is the reason that I'm not buying the Move or any of your 3-D gimmick crap. Stuff like this is the reason that I've started buying more and more of my games used from Gamestop (it sure as hell isn't to save money). Stuff like this is the reason that I haven't purchased any significant DLC from the PSN for months. Stuff like this is the reason that I didn't renew my PlayStation Network Plus subscription after the free trial expired. Stuff like this is the reason I haven't logged onto Home since the Beta. I have a PS3 and a healthy library of games. I'm going to continue to use it and won't ditch the whole console just because I don't agree with your policies. But I sure as hell am going to think twice about ever giving Sony any of my money ever again.
If you want to continue to punish me (and the rest of your consumers), then I am going to punish you by not opening my wallet for you as readily. And I urge all gamers to do the same.