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On The Download Issue 23: Digital Rage
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On The Download Issue 23: Digital Rage

You know those little things that start to bother you when you think about them, but don’t really matter otherwise? This issue of On the Download features a few little pet peeves of mine in the world of digital gaming - things that may upset some people, enrage others, or you’ll just shrug it off if it doesn’t effect you.

First, what brought on this rant in the first place? Funny question, and one that many people may not even notice - but the Playstation Network has started charging TAX to nearly every state in the United States. Not normally a big deal when you consider buying things that are packaged by people, delivered by trucks that use our roads, processed by shipping plants that take up space on land, etc. But digital content?

Why would digital content require taxation? New digital laws are considering adding this to just about everything people buy on the Internet. Some states already charge tax for things on Amazon.com or other online retailers - but something that’s purely digital? I’ve never seen an insert booklet arrive at my door for Hoard, or a nice box to display the art from Trine on my bookshelf - so what gives?

Many states; my own state (Colorado), Nick’s state (Pennsylvania), and other states (included: New Jersey) are all charging tax on digital items purchase from the PSN store on your Playstation 3 or PSP. Read the screen carefully the next time you “check out” at the PSN store and let us know if you suffer from digital tax rage, too.

The reason this makes me so angry: I go out to a store to buy a PSN card for $20, and go home to buy a game that should cost $19.99 - only to find out I don’t have enough digital money to buy a digital game thanks to digital tax.

This little tidbit of frustration brought about another annoyance in the downloadable world - DRM. DRM is “Digital Rights Management” that basically is the excuse many game developers use to load up your computer with what might be considered spyware in order to monitor how you play their games, or adding restrictions on purchased materials, etc.

Unstable internet connection? No game for you.

The idea behind DRM is a noble one - it’s supposed to allow game developers to keep the dishonest gamers from illegally downloading and enjoying their product. If you made a product you’d want to see legitimate sales, right? Sure.

The only issue is, DRM doesn’t work. Gamers that want to steal things online will find a way to pick apart your DRM to get around it. That means the only people being punished are your loyal customers who have paid good money to play a game. Ubisoft is the most guilty mainstream company, but many others have loaded your machines with garbage that restricts your gameplay, whether you know its there or not.

These are just a few of my annoyances with the digital world at the moment. For the PSN Tax reason, I’m appreciating Microsoft’s strange money system - you can’t charge tax on a non-monetary number associated to content. That’s the same reason Microsoft points go “on sale” periodically. I suppose I’ll take what I can get before the whole Internet is taxed into society.

What causes you rage in digital gaming? Something as political as taxes, or something else? Something like a quality control issue you’ve noticed? There are a million ways to rub people the wrong way. Find things you love and hate about downloadable content or digital gaming and blog about it.