Transfarring is a term coined by Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear fame. It is essentially a fancy term for cloud saves that can be moved between the PS3 and portable versions of games, and is the way I will refer to the process throughout the article. It allows players to take their saved games from home and continue their adventures on the road. Transfarring, if executed correctly, can be great for gamers and the companies making the games. The cloud can be a good place to put things as long as the idea doesn’t dissipate into the wind.
Saving your game has evolved through the years. My first memories of saving were having to deal with the NES cartridges that contained the battery that allowed for saves, such as with the Legend of Zelda. These saves were a fickle thing. One wrong button press and the save would disappear. And it wasn’t just button presses. Even looking at the cartridge the wrong way would cause it to lose your save.
The battery backup save method stayed around until the Playstation age began. Since disc-based games couldn’t be written to directly, gamers had to use memory cards. The original PSOne cards had something around 16 blocks. The PS2 was about 8mb in capacity. Games themselves could take up either very little space or nearly an entire card. It became an expensive way to save.
Then the age of HDD or hard disk drive began. Saves write directly to a built-in hard drive on the console. It makes memory cards unnecessary but there is limited storage space. That’s where the cloud and transfarring come into play. Being able to upload saves into the cloud allows players more opportunities, such as transfarring. When Konami releases the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the PS Vita, for example, players who own the collection on the PS3 will be able to play the game at home and then move the save to the cloud and onto their Vita, thus allowing them to take it on the road. This concept is wonderful in theory. I haven’t seen the execution first hand yet, but will soon. Now, from a consumer point of view, it could be the greatest thing since wireless controllers. Whether or not the concept is treated the way I think it should be is another story. Having to buy 2 versions of the same game, one for the console and one for the handheld, can be an expensive endeavor. A console game is typically $60 and the portable version $40. That’s $100 to own the same game twice. People will suffer through this like they suffer through ridiculous gas prices. However, I think there’s a better way to go about it. Make it cheaper for us consumers. I know that may sound crazy to a billion-dollar industry, especially when they know people will do exactly what we’re told to do. What I propose is this: give us an incentive to get the same game twice (and Sony, this is aimed mainly at you, until other companies follow suit). Gamestop did this with MLB 12: The Show. They gave you a slight discount, something like $20 off, if you purchased the PS3 and Vita versions together. I can do one better than that. The Vita allows for digital downloads. Instead of giving us alternate costumes or map packs or exclusive nonsense that will just get released later anyway, give us a download code for the PS Vita version of the game as a pre-order bonus. That will almost ensure players who own both systems will place a pre-order. Then, for a few weeks after launch, make the games cheaper as a bundle. If players still miss the boat then that’s their loss. A code costs nothing to produce. There isn’t box art or a manual that has to accompany it. And it’d be a good way to drum up business. With the way the economy is right now, businesses need us as much, if not more, than we need them. As I said before, the idea of transfarring can be a great one. The cloud allows for almost unlimited save storage. Transfarring allows for gamers to take their console saves on the road with them to continue the action. But, there’s an issue consumers take with having to buy the same game twice and pay full freight for both. If gaming companies are smart, able, and willing to give the consumer a bit of break, I bet there’s a good chance everyone will come out happy. -The 4th Wall is an imaginary barrier that separates a particular medium from its audience. It is also a weekly column on Vagary.tv born from the Just In Bailey column, written by Joey Alesia. Each week, Joey looks at video games and the industry as a whole and works to break the 4th Wall armed with over 25 years of gaming knowledge and a twisted sense of humor. Be sure to follow Joey on Twitter (@wrkngclsswrtr) or email him at Joey.Alesia@Vagary.tv.