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DRM Games

EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems 259

An anonymous reader writes "The SimCity launch earlier this week was a complete disaster. Single player games that require an Internet connection to enable forced multiplayer features (as well as acting as a form of DRM) is bad enough, but then to not be prepared for the demand such a popular franchise has, well, that's just dumb, and Lucy Bradshaw, EA's general manager for the Maxis Label, has admitted exactly that." They did not provide much details, but supposedly anyone who has SimCity now should get "a free PC download game from the EA portfolio." They are unrepentant about the always-online requirement though.
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

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  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:01PM (#43126095) Homepage Journal

    EA has been producing crappier and crappier games and screwing over customers for years now. Their workers operate in near sweatshop (ok I wax hyperbolic, but it's not good) working conditions. They could give me their entire catalog for free and I still would never buy another one of their future titles.

  • by Beavertank ( 1178717 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:05PM (#43126111)
    There's an easy fix to this: Never, ever, ever buy a game that has always on DRM.

    Eventually the game manufacturers will learn.
  • by grim4593 ( 947789 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:06PM (#43126119)
    A free single-player version of the new SimCity game would be nice.
  • The better product (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Groo Wanderer ( 180806 ) <charlie@semiac[ ] ['cur' in gap]> on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:06PM (#43126121) Homepage

    And they keep bitching at me when I write up that piracy has moved past "free" and now is about a demonstrably better product. Free is almost lost in the noise now. The state of modern consumer fleecing has gotten painful to watch.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:22PM (#43126217)

    You, sir, are an optimist.

    The actual wording is pretty smarmy. Using the word portfolio leads one to believe one will be able to select any title from their portfolio. But read it carefully and you'll see not only does it not say that, it doesn't say you will have ANY choice as to which game.

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:26PM (#43126241)
    What sense does it make to give SimCity players another game from EA that they probably don't want? My dad got this game and he's not interested in playing Dead Space or whatever else, he only wants to play SimCity. They should just fix the problems the game has in the first place and allow "offline single player mode" a.k.a. normal fucking single player mode like any other game has.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:30PM (#43126255)

    Don't pay to be a beta tester, and get an old game as a "reward'. Continue to ask for refunds, and dispute bank charges. Games shouldn't be rentals.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:34PM (#43126285) Journal

    So in other words, EA is saying: "we're sorry you discovered that our product is complete DRM-ridden shit, so we want to allow you to download any of our outdated examples of complete DRM-ridden shit from our online catalog!"

    I'm thinking that a lot of otherwise unconcerned folks are discovering the hard way that maybe DRM is a bad idea?

    Nah - too much to hope for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:34PM (#43126297)

    What's interesting is the date they've set for the claim:

    On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.

    That date is over a week away, and almost two weeks from the initial release: why would they set it so far ahead? I guess the logical explanation for it is to allow for people who ordered a copy via snail-mail, but the cynic in me wonders if they're trying to bulk out the sale numbers with "look, it now comes with a free game, and you've got ages to join in! Please buy it! Ignore the bad reviews, think of the other game you'll get for free!".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:38PM (#43126319)

    There's an easy fix to this: Never, ever, ever buy a game that has always on DRM.

    Eventually the game manufacturers will learn.

    We HAVE voted with our wallets. And we're getting clearly outvoted, else publishers and developers wouldn't keep doing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:40PM (#43126333)

    Yeah, how dare they expect a game to work at all on day 1! What a bunch of assholes!

  • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:44PM (#43126361) Journal
    This is why I've simply decided not to buy another EA game. Battlefield 3 was the final straw for me - 3 downloads of around 2Gb each in the first three months? Any you have to download them to continue to play online? And the patches required are only a few Mb and the rest is DLC which you have to download whether you want to pay to have it activated or not?

    To top it all, when I tried to contact them to see if patch-only downloads were available (I'm on a slow connection that 6Gb of downloads would swamp) I was told I didn't have the right date of birth. I ended up having to use the UK Data Protection Act to get hold of my account details, and sure enough my DOB was correct. The data also included "customer offered 15% discount" - which was news to me.

    I give up , I'm simply not going to buy another £40 coaster from them, I have enough of those.
  • Re:Reality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <> on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:50PM (#43126409)

    Which is to say EA hasn't learned at all. I'd love a new SimCity game, but I won't buy it in this state. So not only did they spend the money to make it unplayable, but they lost some numbers of sales. I am hard-pressed to believe the *real* losses from piracy (i.e. those who would buy the game, but don't) are greater than the losses they are creating for themselves.

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @02:02PM (#43126477) Journal
    It an unrealistic expectation that the game be made in a such a way that the offline use-case isnt ignored outright? This game was designed so that it cannot exist without EA servers, absolutely rubbish game design.
  • by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @02:17PM (#43126561) Homepage

    Games shouldn't be rentals.

    But they are going to be, because this is the one and only form of copy protection that can actually work. Publishers are not going to give that up any time soon.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:32PM (#43126997) Journal

    You know, it just occurs to me... their problem with piracy and with second hand games is that someone gets to play one of EA's games, and EA doesn't get paid for it.

    So let me get this straight, the result of putting the idiotic DRM in SimCity, is... that now a LOT of people get to play one of EA's (other) games, and EA doesn't get paid for it.

    Sure, most of those wouldn't have bought the other EA game, but then neither would have most pirates. That is, outside of putting the BS in BSA.

    But if you do the the maths BSA style, where every single copy downloaded is a lost sale -- and you just know whoever came up with that over-the-top DRM is -- yeah, great job, EA. Did you need a scope to shoot yourself in the foot so neatly, or is it a natural talent?

    No, seriously, releasing SimCity without DRM would have probably resulted in less people playing an unpaid copy, AND saved them from all the negative publicity and angry customers.

  • by DR.F33LG00D ( 2809487 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:36PM (#43127021)
    Lol, it's hilarious watching these companies spend billions trying to fight piracy. The pirates always get an easier version to install and play than the people who pay, and sometimes, we even get the release ahead of time. There is NO WAY to secure some code that is running LOCALLY on my computer. I mean, wtf do they think they can do...put a dll or exe that has a check to verify you are logged in the EA servers when playing single player and make it impossible to crack? Hackers will isolate that code, remove it, and/or put stub API calls to always return true for where it is doing the API call to their servers, and the whole "security by online verification" goes out the window. These kinds of patches are happening all the time with games today, with cracked versions being released ahead of time or at most within a day or 2 after the release. Guess who has to deal with the issues where the servers are down? Paying customers... Theoretically, if they ran everyone's installations on their servers and it was streamed to the customers local machines, I am sure hackers would still find a way to aggregate all the content and make a distro. Or, they would just hack the servers and get the source code. This is why content providers would embrace a service like On-Live as a means of distribution for their titles. It streams the actual rendered frames to the user instead of giving them access to the binaries that run the game. Too bad that us 'old-fasioned' gamers (god, I'm did this happen) will never be happy with the input lag and other issues with a service like this. I tried beta testing on-live and literally LOLed at the irony of the fact that it errored out due to my video card not supporting shader model 3.0. I heard the beta testing they did was a complete failure, as expected, because no one can handle that kind of bandwidth yet. EA, Blizzard, etc. we've seen their servers fall to their knees during releases of major products. And On-Live somehow thinks they are going to be able to stream all this content to end users for all games without their servers falling to their knees? Yea right, not in the next 10 years. Yes, getting an ISO with a CRACK folder that I have to drag and drop over to the installation directory is such a trivial task that I find it easier than paying for a game from a local store, Amazon, or any other means of distribution available. With torrent speeds that max out my connection, from the right super secret sites, I can get games faster than downloading it from any content provider and have it running within 20 minutes from the point of clicking download. Steam is amazing, though. That's one service that I feel was done right. I use Steam for purchasing games that I want to play online with other people. So for now, torrents for single player games and steam for online games seems like the way to go.
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:38PM (#43127025)

    Not any more. Now days, most companies have betas that you have to pay $10-30 to participate in or buy another game to participate in. Or pre-order the game to participate in.

    Of course, I don't know why anyone would want to participate in a beta. That just sounds like doing work for your recreational time.

  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:50PM (#43127089)
    "Vote with your wallet" does NOT work unless you can get a massive portion of the entire market to participate. (Or more accurately, refuse to participate.)
    All the retailer sees is a slight dip in sales for campaigns that start after something has been on the market for a while. If it's a new product, sales just aren't as high as they could be, but the retailers have no idea what it could have been.
    Not buying the product is INVISIBLE TO THE RETAILER. Unless, as I stated earlier, you can virtually wipe out all sales, something that is virtually impossible. (Ebola plague juice being an exception.)

    Here's the best way to get it through their thick adamantium plated marketing spin enhanced skulls. COMMUNICATE!
    Email, in large enough quantities, can get their attention. However, some companies kind of ignore or filter that stuff, and besides, they are wary of scriptbots spamming them.
    Dead Tree Format Snail Mail may be old fashioned, but companies will pay a LOT more attention to it. I've seen email campaigns that got thousands of responses that got ignored, when a letter writing campaign of 60-80 letters got an immediate and positive response for the same issue.

    Here's another hint. Don't attack, insult, or threaten them. That's another fast way to get you attempt neutralized, and maybe even get some cops knocking on your door. That doesn't mean you can't tell them what you don't like, how you feel about it, and what you think is a better idea, just be polite and civil about it.
    You see, the person reading the mail, usually isn't the person in charge. Though they may forward your mail up the chain of command. Attacking that person is NOT going to help you, in fact, that kind of stuff usually makes them roundfile your letter. (Yes, that means throw it away, or if that's illegal, throw it into the dusty box in the backroom that nobody ever looks in.)
    You being an impolite thug with lots of profanity and the like will get a similar response to attacking people.
    And I wish I didn't happen to mention it, but don't make threats. Either physical or legal. Physical threats will get you in a permanent troublemaker file where you will be ignored by everyone except the police. And yes, they do occasionally respond to these kinds of threats with investigations and arrests.
    As to legal threats, they are a different problem. You may get ignored, depending on the details, but most likely you will get sent to the legal department that will decide how valid your threats are, and proceed from there. As to proceeding from there, nothing will ever happen until the legal paperwork for a court date or whatever shows up. You can't bluff a lawyer with legal threats, you actually have to follow through, and of course, taking legal action against a company is not what writing to them is for. Legal threats will get even less attention from a company than physical threats, and neither one will advance your cause.

    One final note for everyone. A well written letter is good, but a thousand identical letters isn't a thousand times better. Have a skilled writer make a template or example for people to use, but everyone should personalize it to make each letter unique, but clear and to the point. After all, the same exact letter over and over will just be treated as spam.

    That's about all I can say, other than I'm as sick of hearing people say vote with your wallet, because it just doesn't work.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @04:42PM (#43127363)

    No, they should have abandoned the DRM. That's the whole point.

    Even IF this system had worked out I would not have bought it. I do not like the idea that I only get to play while hanging on their leading-string.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @04:44PM (#43127375)

    Actually, it's the one form of copy protection that will not only not work but actually drive customers away.

    Let's be frank here, what is happening now?

    1. People buy game.
    2. People try to play and fail.
    3. People search for solutions.
    4. People stumble upon someone telling them that the game has been cracked and that the cracked version works.
    5. People download cracked version.
    6. People play game.

    For other games, they'll just omit the (for them pointless) steps 1-4.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @08:11PM (#43128291) Journal

    Well, that much is clear.

    In fact, here's a thought: they said that the processing was so complex, they had to do some of it on their servers. But... if my still fairly top of the line 4 cpu / 8 thread Intel couldn't do it... what was EA going to do that actually makes a difference? Add one more CPU of their own for everyone who plays at a given time? Yeah, I'm so going to believe that they'll buy a 1 million CPU server farm just to handle everyone at launch. NOT.

    So, yeah, it was clear that they're just shovelling ridiculous BS and hoping that enough morons would actually believe that.

    The sad part, though, is that I've actually seen morons repeating it in excuse of the crashing servers fiasco.

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