Why can't we have a 'buy once, play anywhere' gaming model?

It's 2011. Why can't I buy a game and be able to play that game on whatever platform - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - I have access to?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

It's 2011, why can't I buy a game and be able to play that on whatever gaming platform - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 - I have access to?

It's not as crazy as it sounds. I can buy movies in a 'triple pack' that features Blu-ray, DVD and a digital copy, I can read my Kindle books on pretty much any platform at my disposal, I can take my Audible.com subscription with me wherever I go. But when it comes to gaming, why can't I buy a game that allows me to play it on multiple platforms?

It has already stated happening. With Portal 2, Valve gave PS3 owners a free copy of the game for PC, via the Steam download service. Which was a pretty neat thing to do. PS3 gamers got a free PC version of the game, and Valve got the Steam onto a few more PCs. It's a Win-Win situation. Sure, no one really got 'two copies' since you could only play one or the other but there's nothing wrong with that. Gamers got the choice of which format they wanted to play - PC or PS3 (no Xbox option as Microsoft doesn't allow Steam on that platform).

So why don't we see more companies do this? Well, I'll be straight with you. I know the answer to this already, and it's because they have no incentive to do so. While most gamers have a PC and a console, they generally choose one or the other for gaming (as a rule, the console for gaming because it's less of a hassle). Valve offered Steam (in case you've not been keeping up, Valve is the creator of Steam) because it was an easy way to introduce new gamers to Steam and all the stuff it has to offer. It made sense. It might make sense for a big distributor like Electronic Arts to try the same thing too; but on the whole, there are not an awful lot of reasons for publishers to do this.

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Well, I can dream can't I? What I'd like is the ability to buy a console/PC game bundle that allows me to choose what platform I play on. I'd be happy to pay more for this and I'd also be happy for there to be some sort of DRM (à la Steam) in place so that only one copy could be played at any one time. But the ability to be able to play on both a console and on the PC would be something that I'd find really handy.

What do you think?

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