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Games Entertainment Your Rights Online

The Gamer's Bill of Rights 272

Edge Magazine is running a piece by Brad Wardell, CEO of game developer Stardock, in which he presents a "Gamer's Bill of Rights." Stardock teamed up with Gas Powered Games to develop a list of ideals they think all game publishers should follow. Some are rather basic operational guidelines (not requiring a disc to play, minimum requirements that make sense), and some are aimed at repairing the damaged relationship between game companies and customers ("Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers"). Wishful thinking or not, it will be interesting to see if they manage to get other publishers to sign on.
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The Gamer's Bill of Rights

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  • by mactard ( 1223412 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:04PM (#24805257)
    not have to pay fo...wait what?
    • Re:Gamers shall... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @02:38AM (#24807325) Homepage

      Why only gamers?

      Replace it with Consumers. All the DVD:s with the non-skippable FBI warnings that nobody ever wants to see and which destroys the experience of the movie.

      • Not only that, some DVDs disable the fast forward so that you have to look at up to 10 minutes of trash before you can view the movie. It gets even worse, the movie that they were hyping often is a bomb and no longer available but you have to sit through the previews nonetheless. Disney is a BIG offender in this and add to that they specialize in kids movies. Try to explain to a crying kid that just wants to view his favorite movie that he has to wait until the trash is done showing.

  • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:05PM (#24805259) Homepage
    They do what they preach. Galactic Civilizations I, II and their expansions were always released like that, and they were highly successful.

    I really don't see the "wishful thinking" part. Their model actually works. People who pirate aren't gonna be stopped by copy protections. The only effect those protections have is to annoy the hell out of the paying customers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:42PM (#24805543)

      Copy protection will not stop piracy in general, but it will stop ordinary people from sharing their newly bought game with their friend.

      People who play games like Galactic Civilizations have no friend so copy protection is useless.

      (Hint to clueless moderators : that's a joke)

      • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        Copy protection will not stop piracy in general,

        I agree, they should remove the DRM, then I don't have to work around it.

    • by thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:07AM (#24806203)
      This is how they annoyed the hell out of customers back in the day. link [] I'll give you a hint... "Don't copy that floppy"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:06PM (#24805273)

    Brad Wardell is also calling for:

    * Ponies for everyone

    * Sunshine and rainbows, everyday

    * World peace out of the power of love

    And in his most daring position of them all:

    * He's AGAINST kicking puppies

  • Right #11 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kwabbles ( 259554 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:10PM (#24805303)

    Gamers shall have the right to modify their games to alter their singleplayer experience.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Why? Ok, it doesn't harm anyone as it's basicly like cheating at solitaire, but is it something the game developer/publisher should spent resources on? Unless of course they intend to have user-created content through an editor of course, but I don't see any ethical problem with just saying "this is how the game works, enjoy!" If you really wanted to pull that angle I'd focus on having bugs fixed instead, but that applies equally well to single and multiplayer.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        It seems to me you've answered your own question. They might want to do something with user mods. The exclusive right to do something commercial with user mods is one of their assets under copyright law, but it isn't worth much if people are just going ahead and doing it without you. If you've ever been involved selling a company, you get through things that have real value fairly quickly, then you spend ten times the time haggling over things that might have value in some kind of radically different fut

    • And don't forget the Ten Commandments [] of gaming.
    • by SamSim ( 630795 )

      This is a contentious point. I have a friend who outright refuses to play any videogame or PC game unless the source is open and he can create or modify all the levels. But the thing is, while you ARE free to manually edit the binary code making up the game, for the developer to provide the game engine is a completely different thing from providing the game.

      The way I see it, a game is a creative work, like a marble sculpture. If you buy the sculpture, you ARE free to chip bits away from it, because it's you

      • by Gnavpot ( 708731 )

        If you buy the sculpture, you ARE free to chip bits away from it, because it's your sculpture now. But you have to figure out how to do that by yourself. The original sculptor is under no obligation to teach you to sculpt, or provide you with his hammer and chisel.

        Are we reading the same comment?

        The GP did demand any help in modifying the game. He demanded a right to do so. Which is exactly what your sculpture example is all about.

        • by Gnavpot ( 708731 )

          Should of course have been:
          The GP did NOT demand any help in modifying the game. He demanded a right to do so. Which is exactly what your sculpture example is all about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:23PM (#24805413)

    "#9 Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play."

    I don't want to EVER have to connect to the Internet to play a game after I buy it. Product activation, DRM, Steam - these are all the reasons why I have stopped buying games. And I used to buy a lot of them.

    I'm still curious as hell over whether Half Life 2 is as good as Half Life 1. But I'll never know, because Valve doesn't want to allow me to buy it.

    • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:43PM (#24805557)
      To be fair, I was furious with Valve when I purchased HL2 and only had modem (56k) at the time. Over time I have become less hostile towards their content delivery/activation. They did a little thing like recognising that I already had licences to various games when I bought the orange box, and allowed me to give away copies of these previous purchased games. Compared to MS and others, I found this strategy to be wonderfully "honest" and rewarding. I still hate the internet registering/activation/communication thing, but what valve/steam did (in my eyes) put them up quite a few notches in my respect-meter.
    • by Kneo24 ( 688412 )

      There is... offline mode, and despite what others have told me, I have gotten it to work with Valve's games too.

      Yes, Valve does snoop on how you play their games. But what they do with the data is make their games more fun through patches. They'll go, "ok, we see this is where people die the most. Why do they die the most? Sheer number of enemies? Low health? Puzzle is just *too* hard?", etc... So it's not entirely without merit on their end.

  • These are actually more closely related to business ethics than anything else.

    More developers are calling for the removal of DRM in their games these days. Publishers don't seem to listen or care and that's part of the problem.

    I seriously see EA just not listening to customers. They don't care either. EA believes it doesn't need PC gamers. They believe they can be profitable with console titles alone. And more publishers are believing this every day. LucasArts has decided not to publish for PC due to

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This gets pointed out a lot but while your praising STEAM it is its own DRM implementation, and the important part here, watch carefully;

      It's not the DRM most people hate, it's the poor implementation of it. If it worked smoothly nobody would notice it. But since every user is stuck with CD keys, looking for the play disc, online activations, and verifications, and its all buggy as shit. Then it gets noticed.

      STEAM is a method of DRM that doesn't intrude on your gaming experience, most people don't even real

      • by j0nb0y ( 107699 )

        I like steam. Even though it's DRM, I feel it's a good trade of. They get their DRM, and I get the ability to reinstall any of my games with a single click. And I don't have to keep the CD in the drive. And there is a friends interface. And there are achievements.

        It's the closest thing to xbox live available on pc. And there's no subscription fee.

      • I've known that Steam is a DRM platform since I started using it when they first released it.

        I don't mind the phoning home for my multiplayer games since I need to play them online anyway.

        but for third-party single player games, it doesn't actually require the phoning home if you launch the app from it's own exe

  • It's nice that they're saying that... but doesn't their Impulse digital distribution platform contain DRM? Their own site [] doesn't seem to say either way, the Wikipedia article [] says it's a DRM platform and this post on their forum [] suggests that Impulse supports DRM but Stardock doesn't take advantage of it in their own products.
    • I use Steam and Impulse and have bought games through both systems. GalCiv2 has a limit on how many times you can install a game. The advertise that you can install it on multiple machines. I installed it on two computers at home, a laptop, and another machine at work. I ended up formatting and re-installing the laptop and Impulse said I had used up all my install codes.

      I opened a support ticket and it took about 30 hours for Stardock to review the ticket and add more install codes to my account.

  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:36PM (#24805501) Homepage

    Like I said on GamePolitics, here's one additional "gamer right" that Stardock wouldn't like (their EULA forbids it), but which I think is essential:

    "Gamers shall have the right to sell their copy of the game to somebody else, provided they remove any copies of the game from their own systems upon doing so."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by delt0r ( 999393 )
      I do believe in most countries they can't stop you. In NZ all warranty etc must also be honored even after a few rounds with eBay.
  • Can I expect that their next release will live up to each and every one of these rights?

    If so, I am already interested.

    If not, then I have to assume this is all bravado in order to paint their company in a "Holier then thou" image.

    As the man said, "Put your money where your mouth is".

  • 0: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
    1: The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
    2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
    3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    • That wouldn't be a perfect world, because like most GPL fanbois, you have failed to notice that no-one would be producing top class games in that environment. The GPL and commercial reality are fundamentally incompatible without some sort of mitigating factor, and high quality games are probably the single best example of this.

      • So why is John Carmack still working on new engines, and releasing them for free at the end-of-life?
  • For my November 2006 Escapist article "StarForce Must Die []," I asked blogger Bill Harris to present a "DRM Bill of Rights []" that resembles Brad Wardell's list. Really, in a sensible world that recognized our right to control the information stored on our own computers, this would all be common sense.

  • It's kind of disturbing when people label something that would otherwise be good to have, but otherwise don't have a real *right* to, a "Bill of Rights", when the original, real "Bill of Rights" were more fundamentals being put in for a "just-in-case" measure, more clarifying what they felt were always being protected, for a safety measure. In fact, some opposed the Bill of Rights' inclusion on the grounds that it would lead us down the route it has today--that they are what prevents the government from pa

  • Except ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ColdSam ( 884768 )
    11) Publishers are free to break rules 1-10, but they must clearly state the violation on the box.
  • Gamers have the right to remain silent (about bad games). They have a right to an attorney.

    Anything they do/say can and will be used against them in their moms basement.

  • 11 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mollymoo ( 202721 ) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:56PM (#24805681) Journal
    11: No publisher should ever be so stupid as to think a server browser isn't a necessary component of an online game. Infinity Ward, are you listening?
  • Thou shalt listen to your customers.

    • by SamSim ( 630795 )

      Corollary: make sure the people you're listening to are indeed your customers. Not, e.g. pirates. Their opinions don't count.

  • hmnn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vexorian ( 959249 )

    Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.

    Hmnn... This would kill blizzard's bussiness model of releasing a half-complete game while they finish it and finally release the completed work as an expansion.

  • Linux Rights. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:07AM (#24806207)

    What about the right to play the game under Linux or Mac? Trust me, Game developers hate Linux with a Holy passion.

    Its a religious thing.

    • by malkavian ( 9512 )

      You already have the right to do that. However, you don't have the right to expect support for it (unless there's an official port), and you'll need the emulation tools to make it work.
      However, you do still have the 'right'.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      What about the right to play the game under Linux or Mac? Trust me, Game developers hate Linux with a Holy passion. Its a religious thing.

      I'd like to see a headcount on how many zealots we have on each side here, please. If anything, they're the atheists into money and here's some valid points in the business case:

      1. How much do we have to change from our DirectX Windows version (if not DirectX, fill out questions 11-2000)
      2. Total size of market: Very small, but growing a little. Huge percentages don't count.
      3. Are they gamers: Very few, since there's very few games for Linux. Catch 22, but not our problem.
      4. How many of the gamers will buy t

    • I think it's a bit unfair to expect game developers to let me play a game under Linux, given that at the moment running most OpenGL applications makes my Linux system unstable and/or completely locks up the system. When graphics card manufacturers and/or Linux developers can make my graphics card work properly, then I'll expect game developers to make games for Linux. Until then, I won't blame them, because making a game work well on the majority of Linux desktops is more trouble than it's worth.
  • These rights are more fleeting than the electrons delivering them to my computer. There are two reasons for this.

    The first, including rights 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, is because company executives think that the number of pirated copies equals that many copies worth of revenue lost. This grossly overestimated loss of revenue means that they will spend more than the appropriate effort in trying to reduce pirated copies.

    The second reason is that the remaining rights expect companies and their investors to be

  • Gamer's Manifesto []
    Video Game 7 Commandments []
    The Scratchware Manifesto []

    All good reads, if you haven't checked them out... and all very valid complaints!

  • He's got redudant points (not having to connect is a given if assuming you're not being treated like a criminal), and the list does not cover having to be online every time you wish to install a game.

    One would think that would be covered by the "not treated like criminal" point, but apparently it's not, since StarDock forces you online to install unless you bought a physical copy of the game.

    That is the only issue I have with both Steam and SDC/Impulse. I can create local backups easily, but I cannot restor

  • Uhm... I'm confused. Where is the button to mod up the post itself???

  • Let's face it the game developers aren't the only ones who need to do a little changing. I would like to see console makers improve their shit as well. How about making consoles that don't have major issues, like the red ring, or the original Playstation having to be turned upside down in order to read the disc. Let's also not forget the classic NES, where blowing into a cartridge was the norm for trying to get a game to play. If that didn't work, then put the game in, but not all the way, the press down so
  • we are not joe average, clueless in the middle of idaho or arizona. we are gamers, we are technologically affluent, socially aware and have wits.

    we give boon to those who respect it, we give the shaft to those who dont. and i assure you, we have given the shaft to many companies before.
  • Because if you are a console gamer, most of those don't apply to you.

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.