Ownership of games/software, what are my rights as a consumer?

MSE has always interested me in how the tagline has "fighting your corner" so I have a dilemma that is currently rearing its head in the digital marketplaces.
Years ago, digital content was sold through physical media such as you have a CD or a case that holds a unique identifier for a license to download and use a piece of software from the creator of said software. You own it, you can install it, gift it to another person, sell it on second hand.
Physical media has been slowly phased out from the supply of digital media, nowadays you can buy games or software through digital marketplaces such as gog, steam, adobe which being as it is would be the natural progression, but theres something new that has come up, or rather something old that is now coming up into mainstream use.
Digital streaming, and no I do not mean like TV streaming, or perhaps.. there is overlap. Allow me to explain:
Google had plans. To capitalise on an old problem. The problem being that as software becomes more complex, you need better hardware to run it. Computers, laptops, PC's have improved vastly in power, graphical output and so on, but upgrading requires constantly spending and time to find something that can last through the next few generations of software that is being produced. They came up with a system called Stadia where they would provide upgraded hardware for a monthly fee. Sadly they decided to be a platform. Any Games you already own, you have to buy separately on their own system in order to use it on there. As of yet, it does not seem to be showing the results that they expected.


Roll on 2019/2020 and nVidia has now opened up a streaming service with a similar purpose but with a slightly different aim and this is the important bit.
They will provide the hardware, set up a virtual machine for your use and charge a subscription fee to said service. They do not sell games like any of the aforementioned services or companies. What they do allow is to use said services on the virtual machine. Anything you have bought, you can use. Except... you cant. Activision Blizzard, EA among others have complained and refuse access through such a service.

So my question is, if I own a license to a game or software, why can I not use it on hardware I can afford and what are my rights I can bring to bear so I can use the digital products I have paid for?

Extra information, you can Rent actual PC's, have them delivered to your door, pay a monthly subscription, the only difference between this and Geforce NOW (nVidia's service) is that this is local as opposed to a virtual machine and yet wouldn't this be counted in the same vein? Still a service, still borrowing hardware from a company for personal use.

Extra extra. Microsoft and Sony announced that for their new consoles, if you have the last generation of console, the games you can play on one can be played on the newer console with no extra upgrade fee.

TL:DR
Companies want to challenge the fact of ownership. Charge per machine/service. What are my rights to say I own this license and I can use it on the hardware I choose?

Replies

  • NBLondonNBLondon Forumite
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    When you bought the software; you bought the right to use it on the hardware you had at the time and/or the hardware that the software publisher agreed it would run on.  If they didn't guarantee that it would run on an emulator (which is what the virtual machine is) then you've got no comeback.  They agreed to supply it to you - not to or via the third party who are making the virtual machine available.

    The streaming model does make sense - I'm sure many people would pay to use the NVidia service in the way they use Netflix instead of buying DVDs and Blu-Rays.  It will succeed or fail on whether the most desirable games/publishers are available on that platform and it might be a bit chicken and egg - if the publishers don't do a deal; they may lose sales but if the service doesn't have the games on offer; they may lose subscribers.
    Wash your Knobs and Knockers... Keep the Postie safe!
  • shanrishanri Forumite
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    If software worked like you described, every time you change a component, new graphics card, change your processor, reseated the squeaky wheel the hamster runs on, you'd have to buy a new copy of the software. No. I refuse to acknowledge that I'd have to do that. Rights should be that I can run the license on any hardware to achieve the purpose.
    nVidia's model is the hardware that netflix runs its service on. Steam runs on top of geforce now. They are only renting hardware, not software. I need my own license of a game in order to use it on nVidia's hardware. nVidia arent a platform. They dont sell the games. And thats what the publishers are crying about. They wouldnt be able to sell you 2 copies of the same game instead of just 1. You dont see that problem?
  • Johnmcl7Johnmcl7 Forumite
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    Your analogy is flawed because those are minor changes and crucially they don't change the compatibility of the system, it's one of the main advantages of the PC platform that the hardware architecture hasn't changed and maintained compatibility so even very old games will often work directly on a current PC.  It's the same reason the new Sony and Microsoft consoles will run the same games because they're using an X86 architecture and a compatible GPU model (the original Xbox was X86 as well but differed because neither Intel wouldn't let anyone custom fab their chips).  If they had decided on an incompatible architecture then you'd likely be looking at buying games again because the game itself has to be different to run on different hardware.

    Your post seems to imply this is a new problem but it's always been the way that if you need to run software on a different architecture then you have to buy another copy of the game.  Porting between architectures is not free and in some cases can take a significant amount of time so there is no logic either technically or legally that developers should not be allowed to charge money for that porting work.  

    The simple solution is buy a PC and you can run pretty much anything that's ever been made for X86 regardless of when you bought it and you have the added bonus you can choose almost any form factor you want.
  • ErgatesErgates Forumite
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    IF you want an analogy:  If you own a game on PlayStation, you can't expect to play it on the Xbox (or the equivalent online services)
  • NBLondonNBLondon Forumite
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    shanri said:
    Rights should be that I can run the license on any hardware to achieve the purpose.
    "Should be" and "are" are not interchangeable. The publisher says it will work on X; it may also work on Y. But you don't have a right to demand it work on Y.
    shanri said:
    nVidia's model is the hardware that netflix runs its service on. Steam runs on top of geforce now. They are only renting hardware, not software. I need my own license of a game in order to use it on nVidia's hardware. nVidia arent a platform. They dont sell the games. And thats what the publishers are crying about. They wouldnt be able to sell you 2 copies of the same game instead of just 1. You dont see that problem?
    If you rent a physical PC of the spec that matches what the publisher agrees the game needs to then it should run.  If you rent time on an emulator - or through a remote access application - it's not guaranteed to run.  Now if you want publishers to offer that higher level of guarantee then you'd better be prepared to pay more for your licence to cover the extra development and testing.   
    Wash your Knobs and Knockers... Keep the Postie safe!
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