Despite scoring a brand new TV and a Wii U, consumer electronics haven’t exactly been on my good side this week.
The first came in the form of updates for the Wii U, which I frankly found kind of ridiculous that I had to sit through two hours of system updates the moment I plugged the console in before we were able to play a single game.
The second came just earlier today when we tried to watch a movie on said brand new TV and were promptly told by our blu-ray player that’s only a few years old, “I can’t play this disc.” because apparently Samsung doesn’t want to update the firmware anymore to support new changes to blu-ray DRM when they’ve got plenty of newer players on the market that can handle the newer encryption just great!
And don’t get me wrong, I’m a tech guy through and through so I kind of get some of these arguments – not all, but some – but at the same time as a consumer I also find it kind of infuriating that I can go out and drop $299 on a game system and not even be able to play it when I get home because first it needs to go online and download the rest of the system that wasn’t included when the thing shipped! I was digging around online while they were downloading and read horror stories of kids doing the same thing on Christmas morning and not being able to play at all because of course, the servers were overloaded due to capacity issues that one could only expect with a holiday morning rush.
As for the DRM, well, I’ve always been kind of up in the air on DRM but I think this simple incident finally turned the tides for me because if I buy a box meant to play movies and suddenly it just doesn’t want to anymore, that’s bullshit. The worst thing is, I picked up a new one this evening while we were out Black Friday shopping and I still ended up going with a Samsung anyways because my TV and sound bar are Samsung and I want everything to play together all nice, whereas any sane person would’ve said fuck Samsung and chosen their direct competitor as a result.
Funny how the super old, circa 1999 Panasonic DVD player that I’ve carried with me across the country still plays DVDs just fine, but this newer, more sophisticated box that I bought four years ago is suddenly obsolete because the studios are so paranoid about piracy that they’re ruining their discs for their actual customers. I didn’t steal Maleficent, or Frozen, or A Million Ways to Die in the West. I bought them all legitimately at a retail store – the same place I bought your player – but now the two don’t want to work together anymore because … thieves.
When I buy something at the store, I expect it to just work. No contingencies, no software updates that don’t add new functionality beyond what I just paid for, no hoops. Game + System or DVD + Player should equal what I paid for … nothing more, nothing less.