Nov 04 xbox, open source by Ebrahim Sadien
I have always been attracted to platforms which are open and allow for nearly unlimited customisation. I have dabbled a bit with Open Source software and most recently with the Knoppix live CD. I have heard that the Ubuntu live CD is very good and I will start playing with it as soon as I get my hands on a copy.
This may seem a bit unrelated to gaming but it is not. The primary reason that I became interested in computers is because I started playing games on them. From my ZX Spectrum through to my 486 and on to my AMDs I learnt more and more about computers so that I could run games on them. This led me, via a long and winding road, to my present career as an IT consultant.
I was not as excited about consoles because they seemed like a one trick pony. They played games and that is it. This was true until the Xbox came along. The Xbox was essentially a cut down computer which allowed you to install all manner of homebrew software and even a legitimate Open Source operating system.
The next candidate for the homebrew treatment was the Sony PSP. The amount of homebrew software which has been developed for the handheld console is mind boggling and has extended the life-span and functionality of the console far beyond anything that Sony could have imagined.
But in neither the case of the Xbox nor the PSP has the homebrew community been embraced by Microsoft or Sony. In the case of the PSP Sony has actively pursued a path of updating the software to add security and block homebrew applications. The obvious reason for this is that applications exist which allow copied games to be played on the consoles. Companies are well within their rights to protect their intellectual property but they seem to have a problem finding the balance between protection and fair use. Sony especially appears to have erred on the side of the draconian when protecting their rights.
If Sony embraced and supported the homebrew community they would be able to enlist their help in order to achieve the balance between fair use and protecting intellectual property. After all this is a community which is using their own time and resources for absolutely no financial gain.
I don’t see this happening any time soon but here is food for thought. The bogey of piracy is regularly wielded by the gaming and music industry. News reports document massive financial losses suffered by each industry and also document the campaigns to act against piracy and prosecute offenders. How about dropping the stick and trying a carrot? Promote a second hand market where games can be purchased conveniently from a major retail chain without having to trawl through forums or classified advertisements. Establish a loyalty programme where you can obtain a discount after purchasing a certain value of games or game related merchandise.
The idea is to achieve a cycle where the game has a specific pre-determined after-sales value. This value serves as an incentive to return to the store and purchase a new release with the price offset against your trade-in game. The trade-in further bolsters a second hand catalogue which boosts sales because the lower purchase price provides a lower cost entry point for the consumer. The store gains by being able to sell the same game at least twice.
Incredible Connection, CNA, Computer Mania et al are you listening?