Format Transitions: The New Cash Cow.

Thanks to the engineer in me I’m somewhat of a hoarder. My wardrobe at home is littered with components of PCs gone by and hundreds of CDs that contain various drives and backups that I will probably never, ever end up looking at again. My garage is filled with all manner of junk that I’ve kept on the off chance that I might have a use for it some day in some weird project and every box of every product I’ve bought over the years if I ever want to sell them. It comes as no surprise then that I also have an extensive range of old video games around the place, from my goold old NES (which currently resides at my parent’s house) to my original Playstation games.

In all honesty I haven’t played any of them in quite a long time. Every 6 months when the big clean up and chuck out comes around I always look on them fondly, but none of them make the transition to the lounge room for a playthrough. The same could be said for the games folder on my PC which I’ve only ever deleted games from when space was getting critical (and thanks to my new 1TB drive for it, that won’t be for a while now). Still they remain there should I find myself in a situation like I did a couple years ago where I was without Internet for a week or so when moving house. Warcraft 3 and Freelancer are still my fallbacks during these times.

More recently it seems that many publishers are looking to cash in on our nostalgia. At the end of last year I picked up the Eidos pack (mostly for Batman and Tomb Raider… don’t judge me bro) and noticed that it included Deus Ex and Deus Ex 2. They were definitely a bonus as I tried to run the original from my massive game folder only to find it threw up some strange errors that my Google-Fu was unable to fix. Talking to a mate who had also bought the pack he said it worked without a problem and I saw him playing it a couple times over the next few days.

Getting past the fact that I got these titles for basically free (They’re $10 each on Steam by themselves) it still took me back that in essence I had paid again for a game that I already owned. My original install of the game refused to run properly under Windows 7 so I can understand that at least some effort went into reworking it but I wasn’t paying for the game per say, I was paying for the transition of format. The sour taste this left me with only got worse when I found a few people who had got the game to work without incident which in essence meant I had paid for a service I really could have performed myself.

Eidos aren’t the only one cashing in on fan nostalgia and format transitions. Nintendo has the virtual console which has a selection of games from many of Nintendo’s old systems as well as some of their former competitors (Sega being one of them). Sony brought out the PSOne Classics section of the Playstation store to do much the same thing, offering up a catalogue of games that can be played directly off the hard drive. That also opened up the option for those who purchased a second generation PS3 fat or any slim console to play old games that their hardware no longer supported. Microsoft, as far as I can tell, hasn’t got a service like this for the Xbox360 but since it can play nearly all the games (with 470 verified as supported) there’s probably not much of a market for it. Plus the Xbox hasn’t been around as long as any of Nintendo or Sony’s consoles, so there’s little for them to cash in on there. Still they’ve done well with their online marketplace, which is arguably the best out of the big 3’s offerings.

Still for someone like me who does actually have a rather large collection of old games the thought of paying for them again feels a little rough. I’ve got original PS1 games that still work in my PS3 that I’d love to be able to rip to the hard drive for those times when I might enjoy a 10 minute bash on something, but despite the fact that the technology is obviously there Sony will never let me do it. I’ll admit their service does provide something that is worthwhile (like when your originals are scratched to hell) but what about us long time fans who have massive backlogs that we’d love to play on our new consoles?

The primary argument from Sony et al is that most people buying new consoles are doing so to play new games, and I agree with that sentiment. The occaisions when I bust out an old game are few and far between, especially when I struggle to finish one game a week these days. Still asking long time fans (and let’s be honest here, these are the guys who are buying the old titles) to pony up again for games that they more than likely still have doesn’t do them any favours. I can understand that opening up such a service would present quite a few problems (how do you verify that the ripped game is playing on one console only?) but it’s still something I and many other fans would love to see.

Maybe I’m just spoiled since I’ve been doing it for a long time anyway…

4 Comments

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  1. Good article bud, but I take a point of difference with your opening line.

    Please provide evidence of your assertion that there is a causal link between being an Engineer and being a hoarder.

    You should know that compulsive hoarding is a serious mental illness. I refer you to the following excerpt from a random internet article on the topic for which I will not post the URL:

    “encourage the hoarder to seek professional help. Most often, hoarding is due to filling a void, such as the loss of a loved one. Mistakenly, they think that holding onto sentimental things will bring comfort. Hopefully, once they realize being overly sentimental does not bring happiness—that storing up stuff only brings misery, chaos, and isolation, they’ll want to change.”

    What void are you filling, Dave?

  2. The only evidence I have is completely anecdotal. The reason I tend to hoard things is based purely on a perceived notion of usefulness of said object. If I have something that I cannot find or imagine a use for, it is rightly discarded. I say the engineer in me is responsible merely because the majority of things that I keep are based on the fact that they might become useful, not because of some compulsion to fill a void.

    Additionally I do a big clean up of all my hoarded junk every 6 months or so which sees a good chunk of the stuff that was once perceived as useful discarded. Whilst this might imply some kind of misjudgement on my part I’d probably chalk it more up to laziness. If I can’t find a good reason to throw it out I’ll store it.

    When I’m cleaning up however, I’m far less attached to the crud that has accumulated πŸ˜‰

  3. Heh, you know I was just yanking you mate πŸ˜‰

    One good habit I picked up from Mr Ferris’s writings is to be fairly brutal with clean outs. It makes it much easier to find the stuff thats actually useful when you have thrown out all the cruft you never use!

  4. I can never resist a good troll πŸ˜‰

    Yeah that’s exactly why I force myself to do the big twice a year cleanouts. It makes sure that crap never hangs around for too long and to make the most of what I’ve got rather than hoarding something I may need in the future πŸ˜‰

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