How, in 2018, is there still no good way to digitally purchase a movie?
While I’d prefer it, I’m not strictly talking about DRM-free downloads. My main problem is owning something with a time limit.
Let’s say I purchased Iron Man on Amazon, as one would do. There is no good way to download the movie, and it can disappear from my library at any point at Disney’s or Amazon’s whim. It’s also limited by how long Amazon continues to exist.
The same is true if I purchased it on iTunes, Google Play Movies, or even Vudu. Sure, I can download them on some apps, but their DRM is super restrictive, to the point where it’s kinda pointless.
When I talk about downloading movies, I’m not strictly talking about making them available offline. I’m talking having a file that I can save onto a storage medium and hot-swap between devices. This still doesn’t seem to be possible.
Let’s say I used iTunes to purchase a movie. These purchases can only be played on up to five authorized computers, synced with any iOS devices, or synced with an Apple TV. Even if I download the movies, I can’t move them between devices. The only advantage this gives is viewing the movie offline.
How about Vudu? With this, I can download a file to watch the movie, and yes, the movie is only viewable with Vudu’s application (I have no problem with this), but the movie can only be viewed on the device it was downloaded to. If I moved it to an external drive to view on another computer, it would not work. This places an effective time limit, as once Vudu disappears, I can only view the movie on the devices the movie was already downloaded to, assuming the app still works. The only advantage this gives is viewing the movie offline.
What about Google Play Movies? I can only download the movie on an iOS, Android, or Chrome OS device. On Windows and Mac, I’m out of luck.
What about Amazon? Once again, only on iOS, Android, or Chrome OS devices, and not on PC.
So what’s the verdict? There are no good services to purchase movies on. They all have highly-restrictive DRM protections that effectively puts a time limit on my purchase.
Even when it comes to music, this isn’t a problem. I purchased Imagine Dragon’s “Evolve” album on Amazon, and was able to download DRM-Free MP3 files that I can use anywhere I please. I have them saved to my SD Card right now, safe even if Amazon goes out of business or decides to remove the album from my library, or if Imagine Dragons decides to revoke Amazon’s permission to distribute it. This is why I’m okay with using Amazon for future music purchases.
Once again, I don’t have a problem with DRMs as a concept. However, when the DRM is so restrictive that I could lose access to my purchase whenever the company decides to stop supporting it or goes out of business, then the question becomes why did I even purchase it in the first place. I might as well rent it, or wait for it to be available on some streaming service. Sure, it’s all temporary, but I go into it knowing this.
It’s 2018. The only good way to own a movie is through DVD or Blu-Ray. This should not be the case. Why can I digitally purchase music from Amazon in a DRM-Free way, but I can’t do the same for movies?
My problems with this situation is the same as my problems with the current look of the gaming industry. If I, say, purchased Splatoon 2, there is no good single player or local multiplayer mode. It was designed with the online multiplayer game in mind. However, what happens when the servers go offline?
Here’s what happens: The game is no good. Even if it works, there are no servers to support it.
Why would I purchase something with a time limit? I might as well just rent it or set up a subscription to it. Yes, this even… no, especially concerns Steam purchases. What happens when Steam goes offline? You effectively lose all of your games. Even if you downloaded them, now they’re only going to be available on the devices you downloaded them onto.
This is why I would stick to purchasing discs or cartridges for games, rather than buying them digitally. Say I purchased Super Mario Odyssey. If I purchase it digitally, then it’s existence is dependant on the existence of the Nintendo eShop. If I purchase the physical medium, I will be able to play the game for as long as I have the cartridge.
I understand the reason for DRM existing, and once again I don’t have a problem with it, but can it exist while allowing people who own the product to have the freedom to use it freely? The original Playstation was able to accomplish this. If this is an impossibility these days, then I guess I would rather just not have DRMs.
Sure, my VRV subscription would only exist for as long as I pay for it, or for as long as it exists, but at least I pay for it with this understanding, and don’t have an expectation of owning anything I watch.