Anger: My platform is the best

It is necessary to develop standard methods for software to communicate with other software and host hardware. These standards can be developed once by a programmer, learned as few times as possible by the user, and used infinitely by developers. These standards come in the forms of instruction sets, operating systems, drivers, APIs, user interfaces, and so forth. The typical issues arise when there are multiple standards with finite lifespans and legal restrictions placed upon its users, both “downstream” developers as well as end-users. Such is the definition of proprietary platforms.

And the best heavily-restricted and redundant box is…?

Exclusive titles are used to draw customers from one platform to another. If you are a fan of Ratchet and Clank and wish to play their sequels then Sony’s hardware will be on your credit card statements ad-infinitum. Halo, except for the good one and its decent sequel which are both available on Windows, are stuck in the land of Xbox. It’s a me? Not if you’re anywhere but Nintendo. The underlying question is, “Why do we have these exclusives?”

Let us look to the Internet for an example of platform exclusivity and how an open consortium mitigates all problems. In modern day times, we are seeing proprietary web platforms dissolve in favor of open alternatives. The development of the Internet is designed around groups of companies who develop features for their respective product and contribute them to the standard for consideration and maybe adoption. This model pushes for every entity to continually progress in their own way without wasting money and potential market share trying to fragment the industry favorably for them.

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When a proprietary platform exists you either get competitor(s) or a monopoly. When two or more proprietary platforms exist, the industry is severed into chunks and each side wastes resources in an attempt to fight everyone else. If two or more companies share an open platform, such as the members of the W3C, they each make money and share the burden of maintaining the platform. Exclusivity of art is also senseless as there is no segment of the market to be locked into.

It would be expected that proprietary situations would cause dissension (which it does occasionally, see: this whole article) but what often happens is the opposite: customers develop a loyalty to the platform they invested in for no reason other than their investment in it. You might ask how PC gaming is any better. Windows is proprietary by nature albeit to a lesser degree than consoles due to some degree of hardware agnosticism. The ideal solution would be migrating to a legally-enforced perpetually free (as in speech, though often also as in beer) platform such as Linux; this is still a PC-exclusive solution.

As an added benefit of a perpetually free platform: the modifications do not need to come from the consortium. Should the platform require alterations to support art that is either abandoned or unsupported, the community cannot be legally threatened (and in fact are encouraged to) take the steps necessary to preserve the art. You currently see that culture frequently in the communities surrounding WINE and platform emulators. You may not consider creating an emulator to be illegal, and it is not for the most part, however it is illegal to create a full emulator for recent platforms. The PS2 requires dumping a BIOS from an existing device which constitutes copyright infringement if done by the author(s) of the emulator; later platforms could require the breaking of encryption which is a felony under the DMCA unless an exemption is added.

Are you willing to put up with these issues for a bargain?

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