Non-ownership
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 November 2012, 7:43 am
The Id DM has a brilliant post up about non-ownership. What I found particularly interesting there was the implied slippery slope from owning physical goods to renting virtual goods to stealing virtual goods. If "ownership increases perceived value to us", and companies insist on only renting stuff to us instead of selling it to us, we perceive the value to be lower, and thus feel less guilty if we pirate the content. We perceive stealing a physical CD as being a crime, but downloading the same CD as just a minor naughtiness; but in fact the part of the cost of the physical item in the price of a CD in a shop is actually rather small; there is very little difference in damage caused between stealing the physical item and the digital item.

On the other hand I believe that there is a difference in value between a physical game and a digital game which isn't just psychological. I repeatedly encountered the situation this year when various games were up to 50% more expensive in the digital pre-order form than in the physical form I bought on release day. Some game companies apparently expected me to pay up to 20 bucks for 3 days of early access. I would assume there is more cost involved in physical distribution, and a retail shop takes a bigger cut than a digital platform, so realistically digital games could cost me less than physical ones. But here in Europe the situation is often reversed, with the digital distribution platforms having a 1$ = 1€ exchange rate policy, while the retail shops have the real exchange rate and thus end up being a lot cheaper.

For that and other reasons the phenomenon of non-ownership seems to be more prevalent in the USA than in Europe. Here in Europe I can't watch TV shows on iTunes or Amazon or Netflix, they simply aren't on offer. Thus I still buy physical DVDs with those TV shows. If the Id DM is right, I'm getting better perceived value for my money like that.
Tobold's Blog



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