Monday, September 6, 2010

The Monthly Hate - PSJailbreak, and a bit of bitching about Sony.

The Monthly Hate is a feature where I try to complain about things. I'm not a huge complainer, but I'll do my best.

I'll start with swearing more.

I've never actually spoken about the now widely-available hack that allows the user to back up entire games onto their PS3 - to freely copy any game they wish. In recent weeks, news of it exploded across the net, Sony is no doubt scrambling to come up with a solution, hackers are no doubt burning with self-righteous fervor and pirates are giggling like schoolgirls at all the money they won't have to spend in the future.

Won't it be lovely, not to have to pay for your games?

A friend of mine who we shall call Red has a hacked PSP and had a hacked Wii, where he played almost exclusively pirated games, and we've had discussions on the subject. He knows my position: I love games, I want developers to continue making games, and I tell them that (and allow them to continue) by giving them money for games. It's a simple equation, and also the reason why I very rarely purchase used.

Red is a student, and a limited budget is his reason/excuse for the piracy. I shouldn't be too hard on him here - he has bought new, sealed games in my presence - and he himself admits he doesn't really value any of the games he procured through piracy. Why should he? They didn't cost him anything.

It's like a new jacket you found in a tree at the park. Sure it fits, and the cut is fine, but you'll always know: that jacket is, essentially, refuse. You're wearing trash.

The bullshit reason hackers give for cracking the PS3 is that it allows folks who are interested in the system's architecture to tinker around, and would permit a fellow like me to never again have to trek the ten feet to my games library to fish out a disc - I could have fifty-odd PS3 games loaded on a multi-terabyte hard drive! What a time to be alive!

For the sake of clarity, that is all bullshit. It's a hack that enables piracy. It's a tool for theft.

"It's not up to us what people do with this thing that allows people to steal stuff!" the hackers say. "We just made it for backing up your own collec-"

Bullshit! It's bullshit. You know it's bullshit, I know it's bullshit, why can't you just admit it? You made a theft-engine and unleashed it upon the PS3.

"Why are you so angry about it?"

(1) it's theft, and I pay for my games.

"Then you're a chump."

(2) it's theft, and you won't admit that's what it's for. That's all it's for.

"Okay, it's a theft machine. What's the problem?"

(3) piracy is killing the industry!

"Is it really?"

Good question.

Lord Playstation III (artist rendering at left) is the last of the current-gen consoles to be successfully hacked. The Wii, PSP, DS and 360 have all been hacked, and few would suggest those systems are anything but successes which continue to enjoy strong presences in the market - software included.

Any torrent site has the latest games for all of the above, often before they are even released to market - but blockbuster titles are still blockbusters, selling multiple millions of copies. Stores like Wal-mart, HMV and Best Buy still have huge gaming sections, selling exclusively new, sealed games to the public.

Hacking every other game device has hardly been a death knell for those products - is the PS3 any different? Of course not.

It's also worth noting that PSJailbreak and all its subsequent clones are not as user-friendly as a Wii or DS or PSP hack. This isn't a matter of simply copying a code onto a USB drive or memory card and firing it into the unit - you still need a very particular type of USB drive, and a bit of knowledge - which most of us (myself included) do not possess.

So PSJailbreak and its subsequent iterations - like a great deal of other methods of piracy - will likely continue to be the exclusive domain of the dedicated thief. Popular consumption - the means of the masses - will continue to be brick-and-mortar stores and the (ugh) prolific used games market.

A retail store loses, on average, 2% of total profit to theft and other losses. Given that gaming is a regular pastime for those with a vested interest in technology (and thus, the knowledge and ability to make use of hacks), I suspect our numbers are significantly higher, but it's still clear that Activision, Electronic Arts, Nintendo and Microsoft continue to make a profit on their software despite the existence of piracy-enabling hacks for every other current-gen piece of hardware.

"So are we all good, Mr. Blogger?"

No. You're a fucking thief. I love the gaming industry, and I support those who worked hard creating great games by giving them some of the money I worked hard to earn - because I want the industry to continue, and to thrive.

"We're just setting people free of a bullshit capitalist system that overcharges them for everything!"

You have your self-righteous bullshit, and I have mine.

"You certainly do."

* * *

News from the hacker community is that the next update from the PSJailbreak creators will allow you to back up and play PS2 games on any PS3. Fat, Slim, whatever.

Now, I know that Sony removed backward compatibility from the PS3 for the sole sake of profits. They said so. In so many words, they said they want folks with PS3s to buy PS3 games - not PS2 titles - and they want people to have a reason to keep buying the PS2 hardware.

It was, essentially, a money-grab from Sony - and I feel that too, was bullshit - which especially stings whenever I see the "it only does everything" campaign slogan.

"It only does everything - except the features we later removed to squeeze an extra few bucks out of you."

Ugh. So now I have to choose between my old 60GB with its jet-engine fan and backward compatibility, or a sleek new Slim with a massive hard drive and whisper-quite operation.

Y'know what, Sony? This isn't some miracle the hackers came up with. A Data Wizard didn't magically invent pure software emulation of PS2 games - you know how to do this! You patented it last year!

So what're you gonna' do, Sony? Finding a way to perma-ban any PSN account using PSJailbreak is a good start, but y'know what else would be awesome?

I'm not even gonna' say it. 'Cause you already know.


  1. Impressive, attacking both ends of the stick. Do you prefer nunchaku or shuriken?

    Also, I have a feeling you may have just increased your site traffic with this :P

  2. Heh, I doubt it - but that'd be nice. Which articles bump traffic seems pretty random.