EditorialsGood and EVO

What I learned from Apple, Google, and XBOX One: buy physical

Grump old man baby wants nothing to do with digital licensing
Grump old man baby wants nothing to do with digital licensing

This isn’t about gaming, although it starts out that way, this is about some things we don’t generally think of when purchasing digital media. At least I didn’t until recently.

<old man waving cane>

I’ve been gaming more lately, baby passed out and drooling on my stomach. I got an XBOX One a little before baby #2 came as I knew there would be nights when I needed to be a heat source, and I also really wanted Batman: Arkham Knight (get it, but skip the season pass, it’s a ripoff. Also don’t get it on PC, it’s broken).

Since my time to get out of the house is extremely limited by toddler and newborn, I’ve purchased two games though the XBOX store. Both of them I regret.

Unfortunately with digital media downloads you can’t go on Craigslist and say “Anyone want to buy a copy of Halo 5? $20 OBO”. With a physical copy I’d be out maybe $40 for the game, but that’s better than $60. Can you tell I was a bit disappointed in Halo 5? Want to buy it from me? Oh wait, can’t.

But there are other reasons to go for physical copies than just getting some return on a letdown, and this is something I had to deal with recently with a family that’s been all digital for as long as it’s been possible and that is there are no methods in place to exchange digital media assets once they’re purchased.

I was recently tasked with separating a child’s purchases over the past 10 or so years from a parent’s as she’s in another state doing college and stuff. The split was easy to spot, I needed to move a couple of paid apps from parent account to child, a couple hundred albums, and some movies.

After banging my head against a wall for a while, I went to the Genius Bar and was told the only way to get this to work was to export the music from profile 1 (he said burn it to disc) and then import it on profile 2 from disc. There was no hope for transferring the applications, so they were out money there.

I’d wanted a solution that didn’t involve creating physical media, but whatever. I managed to get some CDs created for shipping off so that they could be imported, there were a few movies purchased too that’re going to stay with the parents that they’re never going to watch.

The main issue here though is that when you’re purchasing content through these stores, you’re purchasing an extremely limited license. XBOX One bans me for saying what I’m thinking about campers, all my digital games are gone.

We have a datacenter meltdown with Google or Amazon, good chance I’m caught having to prove I actually purchased a digital download of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (it’s really amusing if you like horror films, you should rent or buy it).

Then again, I guess the counter argument would be that if my house burned down, which is a much more likely scenario statistically, I’d be out the same as if I lost the account, but then insurance would probably cover the media I lost.

And what about divorces or breakups? What happens to the shared media library then? One person wins the media regardless of who paid for it.

I guess in the end the issue to realize is that you don’t own anything you purchased, you own a non-transferrable license bound to your account/email that relies on your continued keeping within the terms of usage agreement, and a third party to back up that license and provide that content (stream, license, etc).

Add to this digital rights management which can sideline you when a DRM or licensing server blows out (looking at you Xfinity,) your clock is off by an hour, or you haven’t updated to patch X revision Y of your operating system.

Just something to think about. Not saying it’s the devil. Just perhaps if you and your soon-to-be-ex are considering purchasing eight seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you might want to consider which one of you really wants it.

</old man waving cane>

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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