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EA Editor Criticizes Command & Conquer 4 DRM 266

Posted by Soulskill
from the preach-it-brother dept.
Command & Conquer 4's DRM hasn't garnered Electronic Arts as much bad press and fan outrage as Ubisoft's scheme, despite being very similar. Nevertheless, it's been causing problems and frustrations for some users, including EA.com's own editor-in-chief, Jeff Green. An anonymous reader points this out: "Green wrote on his Twitter account late last week: 'Booted twice — and progress lost — on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions.' He continued later, 'Well. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky — and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable. The story is fun, the gameplay is interesting and different at least — but if you suffer from shaky/unreliable DSL — you've been warned.'"
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EA Editor Criticizes Command & Conquer 4 DRM

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  • by santax (1541065) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:32AM (#31623740)
    Because A) he is surprisingly honest and B) he will be needing one.
    • by montyzooooma (853414) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:41AM (#31623762)
      "@probib1 great. :) thatll do wonders for my employment! . McDonalds--here I come!"

      His reply on twitter when someone pointed out his original comment made the D*gg front page. He's @greenspeak

    • by Swifti (801896) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:19AM (#31623986)
      Jeff Green used to be part of 1UP's editorial team as a former video games journalist. Very frank guy, very funny guy. Even if he gets fired from EA because of this, which I doubt, there are tons of games publications needing an accomplished and insightful editor or game publishers wanting Jeff's charisma for their public/community relations.
    • Ya know, I remember a post where Bill Gates honestly complained about how convoluted and messed up Microsoft's website is, and how annoying and misleading many of the files used on the site are. It's one thing to be honest in a casual setting like twitter, another thing to do it on the job.
      • by santax (1541065)
        Well he did the same about windows 95 or 98 I believe. I have once read a email from him and he was real harsh, frustrated even. Made me giggle cause a lot of things that were irritating him, were the same things I was running into. But I don't think his job was in any danger when Gates did it :P I think it was more the other way around, that the senior management knew at that point it was their jobs, that were in danger :P
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jo_ham (604554)

          Gates is well known for stuff like that. He is (or was, since he's semi retired now) passionate about a good product. He is driven in almost the same way as Steve Jobs - they just went about it in different ways. The fact that so many people had just cause to call Windows "annoying and convoluted" would have been very troubling to him - especially since he faced the same issues when using it himself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Borealis (84417)

      Jeff Green is the former excellent editor of Computer Gaming World magazine. He's always been on the level.

  • by xtracto (837672) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:46AM (#31623814) Journal

    Hey Mr. Green, the solution is quite simple and at your fingertips [thepiratebay.org]

    That patch will fix your broken version of C&C4 ;-)

  • by Raynor (925006) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:50AM (#31623842) Journal

    Some people can just pay for a better connection; living in the middle of the desert in a Marine Corps barracks leaves me with fewer options.

    While I'm more than willing to shell out the cash for a game like C&C4, my internet is horrible (one of the main reasons I like playing SP games so much now) and to make SP games reliant on a constant internet connection means one less sale for them. Ubisoft has already lost my sale on AC2 and now it looks like EA is going to follow in their footsteps.

    A shame too because I loved AC and the C&C series.

    • by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:11AM (#31624358)

      I quit buying EA Games when C&C 3 Kane's refused to play after I purchased Alcohol 120% .

      Apparently they felt they had the right to tell me what programs I am allowed to run on my PC. Unfortunately, they forgot who had the right to open up my wallet to purchase things.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vectormatic (1759674)

      A shame too because I loved AC and the C&C series.

      dont worry, they screwed up the gameplay too, no more basebuilding, apperently a single building produces all units, and you are supplied with all needed building at the start.. so you arent missing much.

      As i commented in an other thread (i think about the ubisoft shitstorm days after release), EA lost me, and my girlfriend as a customer, even before i read about how they butchered the entire C&C core gameplay, with this ridiculous DRM. Part of the fun of CnC for me always has been toying around with di

  • by Tepshen (851674) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:53AM (#31623866)
    ..its likely a planned statement. The guy is supposed to be a "mouthpeice" for the company. I highly doubt he would just up and "go rogue" on EA since its a really good way to lose his job in the long run. More than likely the intent is a bit more subtle. Perhaps to throw the (slow selling) game under the bus for awhile only to result in either a patch after the story is run awhile to ramp up news reaction to the break. Giving them quite a bit of press for having to "listened to the fans" or just allow them to retain cred by trashing a game thats not going anywhere anyway cutting thier losses and putting a good spin on a bad move "hey, it sucks, but we admitted it sucks. So, we're cool and can keep the money you paid us right?" or something along those lines.
    • by jadin (65295) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:02AM (#31624298) Homepage

      "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." - I really doubt they planned on designing crappy DRM so that they can remove it and gain the good will of the fans.

      I think it's much more likely a bunch of execs thinking they can do whatever they want and "those desperate suckers will buy it anyway".

    • by tapo (855172) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:21AM (#31624434) Homepage
      Jeff Green earned my trust after years of being editor-in-chief for Computer Gaming World/GFW Magazine, and his great personality and style on the GFW Radio podcast. As nice as your conspiracy theory sounds, the man is being honest and trying to change things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      Ok, let's take your idea to its logical conclusion:

      1) Game company releases popular game with draconian DRM.
      2) DRM irritates gamers. Game doesn't sell well.
      3) Game company sends briefed spokesperson to the world to say "Hey, I feel your pain!" and gamers gobble it up.
      4) Game flops in sales. EA pretend to be upset with blogger.
      5) EA releases patch to remove DRM. Game sales explode.
      6) Gamers enjoy game DRM free.
      7. - REDACTED -

      The last item was supposed to be "Games companies realise that DRM is hurting sa
  • by TyFoN (12980) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:55AM (#31623876)

    I was in my local games shop the other day and I brought this title to the counter. In the queue I noticed it said "requires online connection". So I asked the clerk if it was an online game but he said no. I subsequently put it back in the shelf and walked out of the store.
    That's one lost sale EA. I'll buy it when you loose the funky DRM. (I have bought almost every other C&C title)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by delinear (991444)
      Ironically, the first time I played C&C (Tib Sun) was on a friend's LAN, he had one official copy but also had it pirated specifically to have LAN games. I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought myself a copy to play online. I've also bought pretty much every one since then, all on the back of that first play, and now the thing that will likely stop me buying any more is their anti-piracy DRM, despite the fact that if piracy didn't exist I'd have likely never bought/played any of these games in the fi
      • by Lucky_Norseman (682487) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:55AM (#31624244)
        Not pirated, but fully legal.

        From the start of C&C you got 2 cd's. One with GDI and one with NOD. And you were explicitely permitted to lend one to a friend while you were using the other yourself.
        Thats how I got hooked too.
        If I remember correctly the first where this was not included/allowed was C&C Generals.
        • That is correct and even the playstation one versions of the originals were multidisk games.

        • I always thought that was a great bit of marketing. A lot of people I knew borrowed one CD from a friend and then bought the game when they wanted to play the other campaign.
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:57AM (#31623894) Homepage Journal

    Assuming, that is, your goal was to destroy the PC as a gaming platform.

    • by Abstrackt (609015) on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:03AM (#31625544)
      Fuck that. The better choice is not using the product at all. When users are driven to piracy it proves there's still demand for the product, which creates incentive to forcibly convert the pirates into paying customers. When users don't want anything to do with their product, that's when companies see the real problem.
  • by Amarantine (1100187) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:59AM (#31623906)

    ...why i am losing interest in games rapidly.

    While i can still play games i bought 15 years ago, there is no guarantee whatsoever that i can play today's games in 15 years. In the past, i got the feeling of really 'owning' a game (well, a non-revokable license to play it, you know what i mean), but now, i can only play it if the publisher is still in business *and* allows me to activate the game, so essentially holding hostage a game i paid good bucks for.

    Another reason is that intolerable dlc business, which i still suspect is a mechanism for publishers to hinder the secondhand market, and/or generate 50% more revenue of a game by selling content that (in most cases) might as well have been included in the release.

    Then again, maybe it is just me getting older, having kids, etc.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:25AM (#31624030) Homepage Journal

    Razor1911 is on it.

  • > the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable

    So how is the producer of the game get the message via free market tools, when EULA's as well as store policies prohibit the return of 'opened' games? From what I can tell for at least this user above the product is clearly defective. It relies on the non-defectiveness of things outside the package, such as his ISP etc.. Yet I am sure they will not give him a return/refund because they'll disagree about the defectiveness of the game. B

    • Not sure about your jurisdiction, but in the UK they can not legally refuse the return, as long as all of the original packaging is there. Ask to talk to the manager, keep repeating your complaint loudly enough for other people to hear it, and refuse to leave. Suggest that if they want you to leave that they should call the police, who will be able to explain the relevant law to them.
  • by VMaN (164134) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:27AM (#31624044) Homepage

    these DRM failures have scared me away from buying games, life is too short.

    Much like Sony demonstrated that CDs are fair game for malware deployment, I'm never buying another CD or game again.

    My gaming is pretty retro by now, so I can live with it, and the occasional pirated/cracked game.

    It's kinda funny that I have more faith in crackers to give me a "clean" product, than i do in the publishers.

    I have the money for the odd game i want, but I have exactly zero patience with DRM. Oh and my original Quake and Diablo install discs don't require any kind of activation from a remote server, and should work just fine in another 20 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I know exactly what you mean. Basically a Sunday evening goes like this:

      Me + 2 roomates. Lets play a PC Game. What genre? If its RTS we'll go with Either Starcraft or Age of Empires 2 mostly. Turn Based? Probably one of the Civs, or Age of Wonders. First Person shooter? Well we got Rainbow 6 Rogue Spear or the Original Ghost Recon if we're in the tactical mode. Original Halo. Anything in the Half Life verse, 1 or 2. If we want to try a new FPS we normally just browse the free HL2 Mods on Steam - find one we

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:59AM (#31624276) Journal

    I've been stung by this one. There was little (or in fact no) warning in advance of release that the copy protection would take this form and, as this was an EA rather than an Ubisoft game, I didn't assume that it would. So, like a fool, I went and placed a pre-order with an electronic-only retailer.

    Of course, the release day comes and various forums explode with news of the DRM. I had already made a decision not to buy any games with Ubisoft-style DRM... and now find myself accidentally in breach of that. I try to get a refund... and fail.

    After a few days of unsuccessfully trying for a refund, I give up. I say "ok, I'll see for myself just how bad this is". So I pass up any lingering hopes of a refund and download and install the game. Just getting the launcher to start up is a hassle, as there are assorted known issues with it. Eventually, I figure out that I have to manually update the EA Download Manager (an entirely separate piece of software) before the game will run. Having done all of this, and created an account, I click the button to try to play the game. And get told that the DRM client "cannot connect to the internet". I check my net connection; no problems - I've had an IRC client running the whole time with no interruptions. Ok, maybe it's a router problem... nope, everything's fine there. I check a few forums and find that the solution is "keep trying, it works eventually."

    Ok, so I do this. On the 7th or 8th try, it succeeds in logging in (so yes, it's just an inappropriate error message). The game starts, and I marvel at how retro and primative everything feels. Yes, it's defaulted my graphics to 800x600, despite the fact that pretty much every other game around these days will default to my desktop resolution and take a stab at estimating my graphics settings. Ok, no big deal, it only takes a few minutes to change things.

    So, time to start the game. I'm only interested in the singleplayer campaign. I don't tend to play non-subscription games online these days; I've long since gotten sick of tolerating the 14 year old pottymouths who infest pretty much any other kind of online play. So you can imagine how delighted I am to find myself in a chatroom full of said lowlifes... on the singleplayer campaign menu. Yes, while I try to read the mission briefing, I have a window open below it full of idiot children amusing themselves in the usual way. Clicking past that, I get into the mission.

    I knew from the pre-release reviews (none of which mentioned the DRM) that the C&C gameplay had been radically altered; that base building had gone. I hadn't been massively enthused by this, but I'd decided to give it a go. After all, I got plenty of enjoyment out of Dawn of War 2 and its expansion, even though I would have preferred they stuck to the traditional RTS approach. Anyway, the first couple of C&C4 missions are tutorial type things, which is fine. I'm already starting to worry that we've lost some gameplay depth, but now I've committed my money, I'm determined to give it a go. The first two tutorials are over very quickly. I get into the third, and notice that while it's still a tutorial, it's a good bit longer. 15 minutes into it... disconnected from the server... progress lost.

    Fantastic.

    It takes me 10 minutes to manage to log into EA's servers again (and this isn't launch day, but several days later). When I get back in, I manage to complete that mission. I then get into the game proper, and choose my faction. Starting the first proper mission (for the Nod faction) my worries about the gameplay really start to grow. There's no robustness to the micro-level combat. You're just dragging a force around from one waypoint to the next. Mid-mission, my objective changes abruptly, from conquest to escort. Before I've really cottoned on to this, the vehicles I'm supposed to escort have wandered off and been destroyed. So I revert to a mid-mission save, and go again. This time, I'm ready for the objective switch. I escort the units across the map. Just as they're a

    • by thijsh (910751)
      What an excellent review. I won't be buying C&C 4 (while I own practically every game in the series).
      Seems to me they'll be losing quite a few fans if the continue like this... It's not even hard for me not to buy the game, I stopped caring just now.
    • by Urza9814 (883915) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:52AM (#31625420)

      If you're in the US, it's illegal in most states for them to refuse you a refund if the game doesn't work (and it sounds like it doesn't) within 30/60/90 days of purchase. Doesn't matter what store/company policy is, doesn't matter what the EULA says. Check your state's consumer protection laws. You may be able to unbreak that boycott.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Digicaf (48857)

      The funny thing that occurs to me is that, part and parcel with the game is the understanding that the purchase price buys a service from EA. That service is EA keeping the activation servers up and insuring that the game talks properly to the server.

      In my view, you paid for a service and are not being provided that service. This opens the door to all kinds of things on your end, least of which is issuing a chargeback if you paid using a credit card.

      All that being said, I am not a lawyer.

    • by DarthVain (724186) on Friday March 26, 2010 @11:51AM (#31627248)

      Although this also brings us back to the "golden age" of gaming on my 286.

      Where you had to FIGHT to get the game to even work. Playing with batch files, EMS and XMS memory, loading with 15 floppy disks, etc... Seriously I think it was the messing around with computers to get them to even play games which is what got me interested in computers in the first place, which led to my education path, and presently my work environment....

      Wait a tick. I take all the nostalgia back. Burn it all.

  • Hello there EA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:53AM (#31624730)
    Here's a nifty statistic for you:

    Command and Conquer style games I've bought (first sale):
    - Command and Conquer
    - Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun
    - Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun - Firestorm expansion pack
    - Command and Conquer: Renegade
    - Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
    - Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars - Kane's Wrath expansion pack
    - Command and Conquer: Red Alert
    - Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2
    - Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 - Yuri's Revenge expansion pack
    - Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
    - Command and Conquer: Generals
    - Command and Conquer: Generals - Zero Hour expansion pack

    Command and Conquer style games I won't be buying because of DRM restrictions on single-player gameplay:
    - Command and Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight

    So, there you have it. One guaranteed, demonstrable lost sale because of your choice to implement a ridiculous restriction on single player gameplay. Thanks for reading.
  • by Yunzil (181064) on Friday March 26, 2010 @12:18PM (#31627656) Homepage

    Because it's pretty terrible. Well, let me clarify that. If it was some other combat game set in any other universe released for cheap on Steam it would be OK. For a Command and Conquer game it blows.

    No base building?
    No resource gathering?
    No continuity with the previous story?

    Did anybody in EA management play any of the other C&C games? Or even know of their existence?

    C&C 4 is the Indiana Jones 4 of the gaming world. What is it with 4s?

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