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Region-free PS3 356

Posted by samzenpus
from the anytime-anywhere dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IGN writes that "In a QA session following the platform keynote address at GDC 2006 this morning, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Phil Harrison confirmed what was heavily demanded for import gamers all over the world and yet previously thought unthinkable for a major corporation: the PS3 will be region-free for gaming." There's no chance that the MPAA members would allow the same for movies but at least it's a step in the right direction."
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Region-free PS3

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  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:12AM (#14979975) Journal
    One of the biggest reasons mod chips tend to be "iffy" is that, while playing illegally-copied games is illegal, playing out-of-region games isn't. This move may buy them more than it costs, since that's one less reason to give for the legitimacy of mod chips. Now if they could just do something about that pesky "backup" excuse.

  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:17AM (#14979996)
    Region locks should never have existed in first place, they are only there so different publishers can publish the same game in different regions and to enable price fixing.

    No matter why this was done, whether to make sure mod chips don't have any legal functions or to really do something useful, it had to be done. Region locks are attempts to suppress international trade and competition. They have been ruled illegal in some countries and are not protected by any DMCA-like laws. There should have been some fines over region locks but well, knowing the corrupt governments we have it'd end up being 5.95$ total.
  • by clevershark (130296) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:18AM (#14980003) Homepage
    This announcement seems all flash and no substance -- Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway. What this *might* mean is that more Japanese-market games will be playable by NA gamers. Now don't get me wrong, that's a good thing, but it's hard not to think that the real reason for this is Sony wanting to save money where it can by not creating unnecessary "editions" of the same games.
  • by jlebrech (810586) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:20AM (#14980013) Homepage
    Sell backups along with the game.

    A duplicated of the disk with backup written on it, but official.

    there's the backup.

  • Here's hoping (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbesNO@SPAMxmsnet.nl> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:23AM (#14980038)
    The blurb says 'no chance' the MPAA will get rid of region coding for movies, but if the gaming industry sees a solid business case (as in, they end up with more money), then maybe the MPAA will see the light as well. After all, greed is eternal.
  • by babbling (952366) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:24AM (#14980040)
    While this was one of the main things keeping modchips legal (as modchips SHOULD be legal), it is a good thing that restrictions like this are starting to be dropped. There's no good reason why games shouldn't work in every region.
  • by Misfit Taz (962802) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:24AM (#14980043)
    that pesky "backup" excuse

    Its simple, offer free replacment for scratched disc.
    And chipping PS2's is now illegal, or at least selling/buying the mod chip(in most countries), so should be no problem getting it so that chipping the PS3 is also against the law.

  • Older games? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:27AM (#14980053)
    So the PS3 will be able to play PS1 and PS2 games... could this mean it'll be region free for those games as well? I finally get to play the Sakura Taisen games released for the PS2 but couldn't because they were dual-layered and wouldn't work with swap discs?

    If older games are region-free, the good word of mouth import gamers will be giving Sony will be strong enough to carry over into other markets I think.

    I might be very happy.
  • by Jaruzel (804522) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:28AM (#14980065) Homepage Journal
    Um, surely for there to be true 'non-region' - all PS3s have to be dual format of both PAL/NTSC (hey, what ever happened to SECAM?) - only that way will 'region-free' actually mean anything.

    PAL/NTSC are bunk terms anyway, with HDTV being a de-facto output on all these next gen consoles, surely 720p is 720p regardless where on the planet you are standing?

    Personally I still think there will be PAL PS3s and NTSC PS3s, meaning that us poor sods in Europe get games later than Japan/US, again :(

    -Jar.
  • by Lussarn (105276) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:29AM (#14980069)
    They can ship me 100 backups for all I care. If I buy something it's mine and I will still do whatever I want with it. Like installing modchips and making backups.

    The day Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Ford and everybody else tells me I just rent the games, software and music, just rent the playsations computers, ipods and cars. Thats the day they can make restrictions.

    But as long as they sell me stuff I'm taking for granted it's mine and I will do whatever I please with it (With possibly the exception of spreading copies of copyrighted material). If what I do is not legal they can call me a criminal. I don't care. I don't see myself as a criminal.
  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:29AM (#14980070) Journal
    Except that takes for granted that everyone is going to connect his/her console to the net.
  • three words (Score:1, Insightful)

    by aunticrist (952359) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:33AM (#14980088)
    Let. It. Go. Seriously. Its not even a horse being beat any more. It's the decayed remains of its carcass.
  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:36AM (#14980104) Journal
    Why not just implement the offline mode then? That way they don't have to run authentication servers at all.
  • by DerGeist (956018) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:36AM (#14980111)
    Stop thinking that just because they've made a one or two moves that seem reasonable that they've had some kind of religious experience.

    Believe me, they are still the same old rootkit slinging, DRM-pushing, grandma-jailing, DCMA-humping, RIAA-loving Sony they've always been.

    Even this move is probably just a ploy to make mod chips even less legitimate, as the first poster said. Call me cynical but companies don't make moves unless they believe that it will increase their revenue somehow. They are planning to make more money off of you in some way, don't ever doubt that.

  • Sounds nice... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RestartLater (877021) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:38AM (#14980118)
    Whilst it may have region-free games, will all the games actually be available in all markets at the same time? And will online retailers be allowed to ship games over to areas where a certain game hasn't been released yet?
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:38AM (#14980121)
    Or is it because Sony is satisfied with the court decisions in the UK, etc. where they successfully sued importers of the PSP for trademark violations?

    After all, why worry about the technical hassles of DRM when you can sue the pants off of somebody trying to sell Japanese games in the US, US games in the EU, etc?
  • by LordJezo (596587) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:44AM (#14980156)
    Wouldn't this be more part of the BlueRay news instead of PS3 specific news?

    Japan and USA to share BlueRay region codes [qj.net].

    Import games and movies here I come!
  • by jmv (93421) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:44AM (#14980158) Homepage
    Europe will STILL have to have a separate set of games because they use PAL instead of NTSC anyway

    It's actually the other way around. The US, Canada and Japan are pretty much the only places that use NTSC. Almost everything else (a few exceptions) uses PAL.
  • by rkcallaghan (858110) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @09:57AM (#14980243)
    Its simple, offer free replacment for scratched disc.

    This solution does not account for what happens if $GameProducer:
    • Goes belly up.
    • Provides 'mail in rebate' level of support.
    • Realizes in the year 2075 that producing the discs on demand is no longer a good idea.

    These are the reasons "Fair Use" allows for us to make our own backups. We as the owner of the product need to be the ones in charge of taking care of our stuff, not some distant third party who sees it as an expense they wish they didn't have.

    ~Rebecca
  • Re:three words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turnipsatemybaby (648996) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:05AM (#14980292)
    This is NOT something we should let go. It maybe a dead horse now, but it's a horse that should never have been born in the first place.

    It's this sort of "forget about it, I don't care" mentality that is allowing corporations to steadily erode our rights. It gives the corporations the artistic license to experiment with new and whacky control schemes and see which ones stick and which ones cause a backlash.

    I'm willing to bet that they'll try this exact same stunt again, or at least something similar to it, later on. They'll wait for the political environment to change a little more, maybe do a better job at testing and bug-fixing, and suddenly it'll be on all the disks again and people will think it's "normal". Just as CDs are twice as expensive as audio tapes and people consider that "normal". Or that region restrictions are "normal".

    If people were actually paying attention and fighting back as they did with the rootkit debacle, there wouldn't be the problems there are now with things like DMCA, region-coding, etc.
  • by Xymor (943922) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:05AM (#14980294)
    That's still not good enough.
    They should sell games not disks. That way if you bust your copy you could receive a new one thru mail paying as little as manufacture and shiping costs.
  • by m94mni (541438) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:07AM (#14980303)
    They are planning to make more money off of you in some way, don't ever doubt that.

    Yeah, but maybe they could think about doing that by pleasing their customers, eh?

    While I see your point, I hope you are wrong :-)

  • Re:three words (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aniseed (961588) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:16AM (#14980368)
    Oh, like Microsoft-bashers let go of the BSOD or the monkeyboy-thing? Sure.
  • by Znork (31774) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:17AM (#14980374)
    "There's no good reason why games shouldn't work in every region."

    There are, however, some very compelling bad reasons. The main being that intellectual monopoly products are not priced in free market competition, but priced depending on disposable income of the consumer group.

    Without regions, the price for revenue maximization will be set for a global consumption group, which will create a less evenly distributed market cover.

    This is an inevitable artefact of intellectual monopoly legislation (and any monopoly legislation), and until, and unless we get such legislation removed, we will continue seeing attempts to impose such artificial barriers in the pursuit of maximum revenue.
  • by Robaato (958471) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:27AM (#14980450)
    Wow. That sounds a lot like "Digital Video Express" (the original DIVX [wikipedia.org])...and we all know how well that went over.
  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:36AM (#14980509) Homepage
    Because you are purchasing a LICENSE!

    In case of a book, you are purchasing an OBJECT.

    A license is not dependable on a physical object, but grants you a right to use. The object/CD, is only there to help transfer that right to use. Hence, if it's broken, there should be a cheaper replacement than buying a new license.

    -b0fh

  • by Firehed (942385) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @10:59AM (#14980758) Homepage
    But the US and Japan still get games first.
  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:11AM (#14980855)
    Thus the reason why I think if a DRM type of system is really going to work (Steam for one example), the government needs involvement, or at least a government funded agency. Your argument about backups is just as much rellivent to current DRM ideas as the developer sending you a new disc. As I recall (as in I could very well be wrong in some ways), telcos and other utilites have been given special privlidges in the past and present since they are needed for our typical lifestyle. I think it would be a good idea for the government to sponsor or run an organization that would archive all software, music, and movies, and have that organization act as the distributor for online forms of stuff, so that you wouldn't need to worry about your software that is DRMed or not backed up being lost forever in case of problems. I know 30 years down the road I'll be lucky if I can play HL2 (Although it and the rest of the game industry will probably be swallowed into EA), and although many hate Steam with a passion (I know, you don't need to reply with hatred for Steam), it's probably the closest thing to a good working DRM system we have seen, with the biggest con (other than online activation) being the software on it being unusable 30 years from now possibly.
  • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:12AM (#14980858) Homepage
    Ok...where to begin...

    "You don't get to make a backup of books, art, or other physical media that is non-electronic"

    This looks like a good starter. Of COURSE I can make a backup of these. You see, I own them, this entitles me to back them up should I so desire. Of course, how I go about it is left up to me. I could certainly scan in the book to store on my computer, and depending on the medium of the art I could take a hires digital image or scan.

    "We no longer live in the age of VCRs eating tapes though, and on the rediculously rare (relative to tape eating) chance that your device does damage your disc, the player manufacturer should be responsible for procuring you a replacement. "

    You're right, we live in a the age where companies actively look for ways to make our old recordings obsolete with the newer players so we have to rebuy it all over again. Add to that the pathetically short lifespan of CD and DVDs and there is a damn good chance your media will become worthless just as quickly as it did with VHS.

    "If, however, you roll over your favorite video game CD with your office chair (not I know anybody who has ever done that...), why should you have more right to a replacement than the guy who had his paperback fall out of his jacket pocket into the toilet on a bus (not that... well, you know)?"

    The answer to this one lies in the depths of property law, and while IANAL, the difference seems to be that while you actually OWN the book, the trend these days with software and music etc. is to sell/rent you a license to use it. This makes the physical media irrelevant. So if I don't actually own something, but only have a license from the company to use it, then if I break it they had damn well better get me a new physical copy for nothing more than the cost of the physical media and shipping. They can't have their cake and eat it to, despite their best efforts.

    "DRM should never prevent you from doing something with your media that would have otherwise been legal under copyright law, but I'm not convinced that there is a good reason for the law to allow backups."

    If you can't think of any good reason for the law the allow backups, perhaps you are not qualified to debate this since in order to debate something correctly you need to have a thorough understanding of BOTH sides of the matter, which you CLEARLY do not.

    Please don't take this response in a negative tone...I just wanted to point out that there are serious holes in your logic and attempted to patch them up.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:12AM (#14980859) Journal
    Yes, but perhaps they've learned that that pleasing customers is more important to their bottom line than preventing piracy.

    I don't care if they're only after money. Sony is a company. It's what they do. What I do care about is how much I benefit from this.
  • by jeremy f (48588) <jmf_24@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:23AM (#14980949) Homepage
    They can ship me 100 backups for all I care. If I buy something it's mine and I will still do whatever I want with it. Like installing modchips and making backups.

    The disk they sell you most definitely is yours.

    The software contained on that disk is legally owned property of the company that sold it to you.

    So, you can do anything you want with the disk. You can paint it, tie a string through the center, and wear it as a necklace for all they care. But the software contanied on that disk isn't in any way shape or form yours. You are simply granted rights to use that software in the way the company wants you to.

    But feel free to play DVD frisbee.
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @11:50AM (#14981159) Homepage
    is that companies distrbuting games and other content want to have it both ways. On one hand, they say that they have "licensed" you the content, and thus you do not have the right to make copies. Your license allows you to have one instance of the content. On the other hand, they say that they have "sold" you the physical media, and if anything happens to the CD/DVD, it's something you owned that is now distroyed. Your purchase allows you to have one instance of the physical object.

    IMO, it should work one way or the other:

    If they're licensing the content, then if the physical media is destroyed and you can't exercise your license, there should be some way to either get some money back (since you've lost the use of the "perpetual" license you were sold) or to replace the media so you can exercise your right to the license.

    If they are selling a physical object, then you should be able to duplicate its contents freely, in case the object is destroyed.

    The way things are right now, the content distributers have all the rights, and the content purchasers are in a sort of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" bind. Duplicate your content, and you're a piratical anarchist. Don't, and it's quite likely that you'll be out of luck when the physical object is damaged.

    This is currently a problem for me. I bought Civ 4 to play on my Windows game machine. I played it for about three months before the CD got scratched. While the scratches were my fault (I failed to take into account how much dust was accumulating in the PC) now the $30 game that I purchased is unusable. Since I purchased a perpetual license, is it OK for me to download an iso of the game CD and burn it so I can play? Not according to the game publisher.

    I'm not talking about what is currently legal. I'm making a point that the way things stand right now, a lot of people are frustrated with the seeming one-sideness of content distribution as it's implemented right now.
  • by Comboman (895500) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @12:12PM (#14981340)
    We no longer live in the age of VCRs eating tapes though, and on the rediculously rare (relative to tape eating) chance that your device does damage your disc, the player manufacturer should be responsible for procuring you a replacement.

    You obviously don't have children. After buffing the scratches out of the Finding Nemo DVD for the fifth time, I was ready to go back to VHS. Then I discovered DVD Shrink. The original stays in the case and when the kids scratch the copy too badly to be played, I throw it away and make a new copy. Consumers need the rights to protect their property.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @12:47PM (#14981600) Homepage
    You don't get to make a backup of books, art, or other physical media that is non-electronic...

    Remove the "get to" and you're fairly accurate. It's time-consuming, the result is usually inferior and generally not worth it unless you do it in volume, which would fall outside personal backups. Also, typically if a work is valuable the value is inherently contained in that instance of the work - a first edition, a signed book, an orignal painting, an antique and so on. Also, you have insurance which will cover against the biggest losses. Maybe nobody has bothered to make a fuzz over a right noone is or would be using?

    If, however, you roll over your favorite video game CD with your office chair (not I know anybody who has ever done that...), why should you have more right to a replacement than the guy who had his paperback fall out of his jacket pocket into the toilet on a bus (not that... well, you know)?

    You have a very warped perception of what the CD, as in the thin slice of plastic that something is written on, represents. If you compare the price to a blank CD, you see I pay essentially nothing for the disc, only for the information that's on it. The disc itself is detachable, replacable and infinately less durable than the content which could be moved around losslessly in perpetuity.

    To me, not being allowed to replace the media is like not being allowed to replace the windshield wiper on my car. If I ask them, they say "Ford cars and Ford windshield wipers go together, replacing it with a generic wiper is against the law." "Ok, where do I get a new wiper?" "It's included with Ford cars." It just so happens that the car (content) is intangible and the wiper (disc) is tangible, but it is none the less insane.
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @01:04PM (#14981727)
    You obviously don't have children

    I hate when people say that.

    Are you implying that I wouldn't take a principled stance as soon as it was less convienient for me?
  • need a reason? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tacokill (531275) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @01:15PM (#14981805)
    but I'm not convinced that there is a good reason for the law to allow backups.

    I am. Why? Because
    a) it's technically possible to do
    b) *I* can do it myself
    c) It's not specifically outlawed

  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Thursday March 23, 2006 @01:18PM (#14981828)
    And when your children render a disc unreadable just by mishandling it?

    Use the appropriate dicipline to teach your children not to mishandle your media, or don't allow your children to handle the media. Why are people so afraid to dicipline their children these days? Your kids should be scared to death of damaging your stuff. They'll grow up just fine, and they won't hate you. You can start *really young*.

    What do you do when your kid spills whatever you put in their sippy cup all over some book you left lying around? Or scribbles all over it with a crayon?
  • by az_bont (782058) on Thursday March 23, 2006 @02:05PM (#14982268)
    Any television that is HD-ready should be new enough to support a 60Hz signal. Almost every television from the last decade or more should be able to handle a 60Hz signal.

    The number of PS3 owners without a 60Hz compatible television will be negligable. Nintendo have already released at least two games (Metroid Prime 2 and the Zelda bonus disc) which only contained a 60Hz version of the game, and it did not seem to impact sales.

    Besides, the quality of most 50Hz conversions is dreadful. There are a lot games which suffer from the 17.5% slowdown and borders - to patch a game to the PAL format in this way takes mere seconds, and has been going on for years with the PAL/NTSC selectors found at the start of many warez releases on the original Playstation. It would take a miniscule amount of effort to add a 50Hz/60Hz selector to a game, and anyone playing on an old enough TV to not support a 60Hz signal isn't likely to complain about borders and slowdown. In fact, they're very unlikely to buy a PS3 in the first place.

Waste not, get your budget cut next year.

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