“The new Nintendo Network ID system that debuted on the Wii U is a sign of progress for a company that has, historically, not shown a lot of savvy in setting up its online systems,” according to Ars Technica.
With Wii U, users can connect up to 12 separate Nintendo Network IDs to a single system.
“The new Wii U eShop includes many retail games for download on the same day they reach stores, and does away with the ‘Wii Points’ virtual currency that characterized Nintendo’s previous console,” notes the article. “The company has even promised to roll out a cloud save feature sometime next year.”
All of this would allow users to access their own games when at a connected friends’ house. However, as the article explains, “it also means a game downloaded to the Wii U in the living room won’t be playable on a second system in the kids’ room, even if the same password-protected Nintendo Network ID was used on both systems.”
“It also means that if your system breaks down, you can’t just go buy a new one (or borrow one from a friend) and immediately recover your content using your account. Instead, you have to go through Nintendo’s official repair process, waiting up to two weeks for the system to be returned just to maintain the system-locked license data.”
“I understand that Nintendo is worried about piracy, but its not like Microsoft, Sony, Valve, Apple and Google aren’t,” writes Kyle Orland for Ars Technica. “Yet those companies have all found their own ways to balance protection for their online stores with the ability for users to access that content in their own way.”
Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell has reiterated his take on the issue of piracy. Valve is the creator of game platform Steam that distributes games to a global community of 35 million players.
Newell believes that DRM does not work and pirates are not necessarily always seeking free content.
“One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It’s a service issue,” he says. “The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates.”
“Most games available on Steam are easily found in pirated form on the torrent sites,” writes ETCentric contributor Nick Nero. “Even if you buy the game, many users download the torrent because most DRM requires the disc to be present which slows down the game startup and level load/access times.”
“What keeps me as a Steam customer is their cloud service,” adds Nick. “I can download any of my games to another PC, I can backup my games to encrypted physical media, my game saves are stored in the cloud, and I can easily find my friends for mulitplayer. The service layer is what brings in the customers.”
New research from Rice and Duke universities challenges conventional wisdom by suggesting that the removal of digital rights management restrictions can actually decrease music piracy.
“Marketing professors Dinah Vernik of Rice and Devavrat Purohit and Preyas Desai of Duke used analytical modeling to examine how piracy is influenced by the presence or absence of DRM restrictions,” explains the press release. “They found that while these restrictions make piracy more costly and difficult, the restrictions also have a negative impact on legal users who have no intention of doing anything illegal.”
“In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” said Vernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”
According to the research paper, copyright owners don’t necessarily benefit from less piracy. “Decreased piracy doesn’t guarantee increased profits,” Purohit said. “In fact, our analysis demonstrates that under some conditions, one can observe lower levels of piracy and lower profits.”
The press release includes a compelling statement from the late Steve Jobs: “Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.”