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Is It Time To Enforce a Gamers' Bill of Rights? 469

adeelarshad82 writes "The SimCity launch debacle is only the latest in an increasingly frustrating string of affronts to gamers' rights as customers. Before SimCity, we had Ubisoft's always-on DRM (that the company only ended quietly after massive outcry from gamers). We had the forced online and similarly unplayable launch of Diablo III. We had games like Asura's Wrath and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest that required you to pay more money just to complete them after you purchase them. And let us never forget the utter infamy of StarForce, SecuROM, and Sony's copy protection, which installed rootkits on computers without users' knowledge. As one recently published article argues, maybe it's time for gamers to demand adoption of a Bill of Rights."
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Is It Time To Enforce a Gamers' Bill of Rights?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:35PM (#43152559)

    Seriously, as long as you keep buying from them, do you think they give a shit about your "gamers bill of rights"? Here is how EA looks at rights: "We've got a right to your money, you've got a right to give us your money and STFU." And as long as you keep playing that game, they're going to keep screwing you.

    Why should they care if the game actually works? They got your money and they know that no matter how much you bitch, you'll be standing right there in line for the next one--begging to be butt-raped by EA *yet again*.

    Oh, and my favorite quote from the article:

    This was loosely based on the Gamers' Bill of Rights website, which hasn't been updated in three years

    Yeah, fight the power. Such a powerful and organized movement must be giving EA nightmares, while they sleep on a big pile of your money.

    • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:43PM (#43152671) Homepage

      Harsch but true. I guess there are a few questions to be answered:

      • 1. Is the actions of EA hurting enlightened gamers, who chose to give their money to better companies?
      • 2. Is it likely that EA will release a game that "pro gamers" want to play? A game that is not a glorified FarmVille.
      • 3. Is the industry in large damaged by the actions of EA?

      If the answer to these questions are all "no", then it does not matter much what EA does, except the usual moral issues about parting a fool from his money.

      • *shrug* if other big game manufacturers see EA's model working, then guess what.

      • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:39PM (#43153385) Homepage Journal

        In regards to #3: EA damages the industry by buying up smaller studios and diverting their profits into non-innovative game designs and rehashed sequels. They consume talented developers who could be working on titles that are more friendly to enlightened gamers—and, as Synerg1y said, they make other publishers want to copy them, further reducing the amount of money and talent invested into friendly games.

        In regards to #2: Spore is a prominent example of a game that had many people excited when it was first announced. It was (almost?) entirely because of EA's DRM and business practices that it fell flat.

        In regards to #1: EA may choose to buy out those companies or inspire them to lose interest in serving enlightened gamers. (See above.)

        • In terms of Spore...I played even with the DRM nonsense. My feeling was....meh. Nothing in the game was particularly well done. Each stage felt derivative, and none were that fun.
          • Even if that's true of all games that have been given EA's kiss of death, the people responsible for them can't refine their work properly because EA will never let there be a Spore 2. Sid Meier's first Civ wasn't exactly the fan favourite that Civ 4 and 5 are.
          • I'm pretty sure it was "meh" because of EA again... I remember reading an interview saying that a good chunk of what the game ought to have been was pulled and the game dumbed down significantly to "broaden the audience".

      • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @08:14AM (#43158135)

        Is it likely that EA will release a game that "pro gamers" want to play? A game that is not a glorified FarmVille.

        SimCity existed way before FarmVille. If anything, FarmVille is a dumbed down SimCity rather than SimCity being a glorified FarmVille.

        Some of us who have been playing computer games for 30 years remember SimCity and SimCity 2000 quite fondly. I'm not sure what you define as a "pro gamer", but as a long time gamer, I'd love to give SimCity 5 a go to see if I like it, but EA and their draconian attitude towards their customers means I won't.

        I think that's a shame.

    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:54PM (#43152817) Homepage Journal
      How one would "enforce" this document is pretty vague to me. What I wouldn't mind is some sort of "Seal of Decency" that publishers could put on their game if and only if it follows a specific set of guidelines like "no always-on internet requirement", "no rootkits", and "multiplayer servers shall remain active for at least 3 years".
      • by Bardez ( 915334 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:11PM (#43153045) Homepage

        and "multiplayer servers shall remain active for at least 3 years".

        I have a problem with this guideline. I really do. There should, in all cases of multiplayer networked capability, be a direct connection ability and/or a server program that you can download and install. This was pretty standard not too long ago, where you could set up a private server if you wanted to. It should be standard again. If you buy something, the product should not have a lifespan the ends with no usability. It should end with no further support, where the user can install and tweak and run in 20+ years.

        • I strongly agree with this. Minecraft did this right, and I hope that people will see Mojang's success with DRM free and community driven development and learn that it's still a viable business model.
    • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:58PM (#43152863) Homepage Journal

      This is true, but there's no way to tell a company that they haven't got your money for a specific reason. A game flops when people don't buy DRM stuff(or more accurately the informed audience doesn't and the game does slightly worse than average), and EA just says "oh, no one wants complex city-builders anymore, let's just put that money back into the sports and shovelware departments."

      There needs to be some way of specifically telling companies: We don't want to be abused.

      • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:16PM (#43153103)

        There needs to be some way of specifically telling companies: We don't want to be abused.

        The current favored method appears to be reviews on Amazon.

      • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:33PM (#43153329) Journal

        It doesn't matter. Companies won't hear that. If their numbers don't suck, abusing the customers is vindicated. If the numbers do suck, they'll trot out their usual bogeymen and blame piracy, with healthy manure-carts full of (synthesized) market evidence.

        I wouldn't predicate any action of mine on the expectation of some desirable outcome from another, especially any other which has proven to be so amoral and abusive. Instead, for your own sanity and self-satisfaction, just break it off and let them sink or swim in their own sewage. Find a game publisher that isn't abusing you--maybe a good indy, for instance--and make them a success.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Companies won't hear that. If their numbers don't suck, abusing the customers is vindicated.

          Amazon pulled SimCity from its store due to poor customer reception. That means zero sales from one of the largest online stores worldwide. Call me crazy, but I think their numbers might go down because of that.

      • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @06:54PM (#43154087)

        In this case, probably the best way is to back Civitas [] on Kickstarter: It appears to be SimCity the way EA should have done it. If they succeed widely while SimCity flops, then it's fairly clear that it was EA's approach to that was the killer, not the type of game.

    • If anything, we just need a more organized boycott method.

      Sure, most of the fine folk here on /. know about DRM, why it's bad, and how to look for good games without it ... I fear the majority of the gaming populace has very little insight or knowledge on the subject matter. Especially these days, now that the Wii and it's ilk have expanded "casual gaming" to just about every nook and cranny (and granny) of the populace.

      SimCity is a perfect storm of problems too, which can be used as an example. It's a

      • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:13PM (#43153071) Homepage

        The Free Software Foundation [] campaign about this all the time, and have for some time now. They do have the organisational structure to do this.

        But nobody listens, because they also care about linux and free software in general, and that's eww hairy nerds, don't take my capitalism! Maybe if angry gamers would join up, they would get the manpower to actually get heard.

        • by captjc ( 453680 )

          No, nobody listens to them because everybody only hears the vocal whackjobs who insist that if you pay even one red cent for software and if you can't do any and everything with it than it is a crime against humanity. God forbid you can't see every line of code. I like the FSF and the EFF. I am a fan and a supporter of the GNU project and FOSS in general. However it sometimes feels like it has been taken over by the crazies. No different from every other social movement.

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:27PM (#43153249) Journal

        If anything, we just need a more organized boycott method.

        Strategic consumption is the grassroots political movement of the future.

        Nothing else makes any sense. Nothing else will have any impact.

        But it has to happen before we go much farther down the road of corporate consumption. What are we, down to 3 national airlines now? Every time a company gains what they call "pricing power" it means they can exercise their will on consumers more freely.

        It's going to require a big company or two getting a consumer-initiated "death penalty" before they get the message. A national company is going to have to go tits up after a concerted and publicized boycott, and then you'll see things change.

        Any suggestions on who should be first?

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Oh, and my favorite quote from the article:

      This was loosely based on the Gamers' Bill of Rights website, which hasn't been updated in three years>

      Well, yeah, how long since the other Bill of Rights got updated?

      Updating just for the sake of change is folly.
      Some of the sites I go to haven't had their content updated in ten years or more. RFCs, for example.

      That said, I disagree that there should be a Gamer's Bill of Rights. That's the same as giving carte blanche to anything else.
      A few organized boycotts would be far better.

    • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:19PM (#43153145)

      Skyrim uses Steam, pretty sure you can play it offline, but what if you couldn't? Would you still buy it? I would. They get away with this type of DRM because they understand gamers better than some understand themselves. A must have title is just that must have, bugs and drm are secondary. That and piracy... piracy has hit the gaming industry hard, and now we're left with less video games and less producers again leading back to bolder DRM attempts and even computer infringement.

      That has left the door wide open for EA, who has pretty consistent revenue from it's sports titles to step in and definite how big corporate America should run the gaming industry. Now we're pretty much fucked.

      • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:32PM (#43153311) Homepage

        Ahhh... the piracy argument. Which has hit the game industry hard since the early 80ies. I have magazines here from 1981 where the publishers whine about piracy and how it will make sure that there will be no computer games in the future.

        And it's the same, every year. The business just grows and grows, people spend more and more money on computer games. But no, the piracy will kill the industry, look at the evil pirates, forcing us to make half-finished games with mandatory DLC.

        • by Mattcelt ( 454751 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @06:12PM (#43153697)

          So very true. I thank the heavens every day for the crack scene - I have original games from the mid-1980s which would be unplayable if it weren't for THG, RAZOR 1911, and others like them. I probably spend at least $100 on games per month, but I won't put my money into any title until a crack is available. EA, Blizzard, and other companies have lost thousands - perhaps even tens of thousands - of dollars of my money because of their godawful DRM, and the problem is only getting worse. Starcraft II, Diablo 3, and now SimCity, for instance - all are games I would have loved to play, but only when they're unencumbered.

          And don't get me started on steam or, either. I don't rent games!

    • A boycott is still the way to go. Here's what happens with a "Gamers' Bill of Rights": hours, days, weeks, months, etc, spent working on the language, gauging support among various publishers, educating the public, etc. The result is that EA says they aren't going to support it, using the same type of reverse logic that companies originally used to call DRM a feature ("it helps you manage your rights!"). In the end, EA still does whatever they want to do, and people are still left with the option to eith

  • How about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:39PM (#43152613)

    You have the right not to buy horrible shitty games. Is that so hard?

    • A problem is that major video game publishers have every incentive to collude to pass off "horrible shitty games" as all that's available to console owners. What do you think players will do to work around this? Buy a PC to hook up to the TV in order to play games from indie developers outside the cartel? Or stop video gaming entirely?
  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:40PM (#43152619) Homepage

    We had the forced online and similarly unplayable launch of Diablo III.

    We? We had no such thing. We had the option to not purchase the game. Many of us took that option.

    You can only complain if such requirements aren't publicized. In most cases, these requirements were made clear not only prior to sale, but prior to the game's release. If you didn't want it, why did you buy it?

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      All my imaginary mod points to you sir.

      So far I have just avoided buying these games. EA, Ubisoft and Blizzard have made it very clear they do not want my money. No problem I can spend it elsewhere.

    • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:51PM (#43152773)

      I disagree. Having a requirement to connect to their servers does not and should not imply that those servers will be unavailable for extended lengths of time. You might argue caveat emptor, but the fact of the matter is that there is no legal recourse in many places when a game is unplayable. If I take the shrink wrap off a game and through no fault of my own the game is unplayable, I should be entitled to a refund. It doesn't matter if the cause of that is undocumented requirements, an unstable game, or lack of server capacity.

      • I'm no expert on this area of law, but my very strong suspicion is that you are actually entitled to a refund regardless of what EA tells you if you buy the game and it just doesn't work through no fault of your own. If there's anyone out there who has a more informed opinion than mine, I'd be very happy to hear it.

        • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:03PM (#43152941)

          It's the kind of thing that is legally almost certainly true, but to actually verify it you would literally have to take them to court over it. At best you could document your attempts to return it and the reasons why and then dispute the charges on your credit card. Consumer protection laws in the US have very few, very dull teeth.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        It will eventually.

        If you buy a game that has to connect to the company's servers they will at some point stop supporting that. You should know that up front. So long as you never want to play Medal of Duty 8: Call of Honor in a couple years feel free to buy, otherwise stay away.

    • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

      What sucks is when they screw you over with updates after you give them your money. I can think of a few recent titles, such as MechWarrior Online and Guild Wars 2. I'll never get my money back, but they'll never get another dollar from me either. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

    • I gambled on buying it because Blizzard has a history of being good to gamers so I figured it would be ok. (Ya, wow has issues, but their other stuff used to be good)

      They have now lost that good faith with me.

      Not many companies left I am still willing to gamble on like that. Valve is one of them, and I expect them to retain that as long as they remain privately owned.

    • I'm pretty sure we have a right to complain even if we didn't buy it. In fact I'm pretty sure companies would rather hear us complain (quietly) so they have some idea of the sales they may be missing. And I'm pretty sure would-be buys would rather hear us complain (loudly) so they can hear the negatives and make up their own mind about whether to buy a game, or even whether to boycott a company.

      I have never understood this "shut up and buy it or don't buy it" attitude. It benefits no one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:40PM (#43152627)

    It is called the Right to Refuse to Buy, coupled with the Right to Obtain Decent Reviews Before Purchase.

    • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:56PM (#43152847)

      What about the right to no bait-and-switch in the form of "updates" after purchase?

    • by Meeni ( 1815694 )

      Not all consumer are perfectly informed and rational agents. Actually, a very slim minority is.

      In practice, decent reviews are seldom, as most magazines are bed and toothbrush with the game editors.
      In practice, people do things that harm themselves in the long run to get instant gratification. That includes doing drugs at the extreme, but spending money on a videogame that looks cool to discover later that it is crippled by DRMs is pretty common.

      That being said, I stopped buying DRM games a long time ago, a

  • by drcagn ( 715012 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:40PM (#43152631) Homepage

    Stop spending your money on this garbage.

    There are plenty of great indie/homebrew games out there. I know it's a long shot that these titles will ever be "mainstream," but the biggest problem is that although I hear gamers whine and bitch about DRM and the like, none of them have the self-control to stop buying these titles. Stop. It. I know it's hard, for example, for a Final Fantasy fan to NOT buy the latest FF title, but realize that as long as you do so, you will keep this going forever.

    • by Creepy ( 93888 )

      People say they won't buy the game because of the DRM, but enough still do that it doesn't matter to the publisher - they've protected sales and stopped piracy and it made them money. Sometimes you need to find a different answer - as a developer in the 1990s, we weren't allowed to put our studio name anywhere on the box because it "diluted the brand" of the publisher. Enough developers got ticked enough at this that the founded GoD Games (Gathering of Developers) and that was enough to force change in the

    • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

      I quit giving EA money a long time ago. But lately, just about every developer I gave money to changed their game and made it unacceptable after the fact. So I guess the lesson is, never give game developers money?

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      There are plenty of great indie/homebrew games out there.

      How many of these great original indie games are for platforms with multiple gamepads or for handheld platforms with physical buttons?

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:41PM (#43152635)


    If you feel they're giving you the short stick, don't buy their product. There are plenty of games and devs out there who do not enforce this kind of stupid crap, and the quality of indy games coming out these days is huge. The case for buying AAA titles, which are the only ones that try to pull this kind of crap, is quite weak.

    The reason they try this shit is that people will still buy the product if they do. If they do it, and nobody buys it, then the issue will solve itself.

    • The reason they try this shit is that people will still buy the product if they do. If they do it, and nobody buys it, then the issue will solve itself.

      Not only that, but no one was ever injured because they didn't buy the game. They only suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous DRM because they forked over money to pay for it. So not only is this an issue which will solve itself if people stop spending money, but it's not hurting the people who aren't spending the money, either. If one feels some other purchase was devalued because they didn't buy some game or another because of the DRM, then it's probably time to reevaluate that other purchase, too.

    • Just don't buy it.

      "Bill of Rights" issues are for people who don't have a choice, like "Patients Bill of Rights" You do not have a choice about getting sick, you do have a choice about gaming.

      • "Just don't buy it. "Bill of Rights" issues are for people who don't have a choice, like "Patients Bill of Rights" You do not have a choice about getting sick, you do have a choice about gaming."

        I agree that there is some choice here, so "Bill of Rights" might not be terribly appropriate, but as the other poster pointed out, much of it is now a matter of law, and so everyone and their brother have adopted it, and there *IS* in fact some question of actual rights involved.

        I would go even further than the other response, though, and say that it is a problem with all software, not just games. I think it is pointless to address this question just for games, and leave the wider software world out of

    • Their list of rights is about 50/50 reasonable and ridiculous. Half of it is undefinable (what makes a "finished game" with DLC vs a "unfinished game" for instance) but the other half is what any consumer anywhere should expect. Really though a gamers bill of rights should only have 2 items:

      The game should work.
      If the game doesn't work, the customer is entitled to a full refund.

    • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

      Single player games bore me. So I play exlusively multiplayer games. The problem is multiplayer games are constantly being changed, and not always for the better. You can't just "not buy" the update. I buy games I want to play, but they don't stay the game I want to play, and I can't get my money back. Sure, I can refuse to buy another game from the developer, but that doesn't really fix anything. They already have my money.

      • The problem is multiplayer games are constantly being changed, and not always for the better. You can't just "not buy" the update.

        Sure you can. (Or should I say "Shoryuken"?) If you don't like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a multiplayer fighting game, you can always buy Super Smash Bros. Melee and use it in a Wii that has GameCube controller ports, or you can buy Super Smash Bros. (N64) on Virtual Console. Unlike online multiplayer games, local multiplayer games don't get balance-breaking updates that players are required to accept.

        • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

          1. Stop trolling. You and everyone else knows I was talking about online multiplayer games.

          2. Your example is not game updates. Your example is about game series.

      • Multiplayer games that rely on servers organized by the players can actually stay unchanged. All it takes is a few players deciding they liked the old version better and refuse to use the latest update patch.

    • There are plenty of games and devs out there who do not enforce this kind of stupid crap, and the quality of indy games coming out these days is huge.

      The problem with indie is that certain genres are underrepresented due to limitations in the input and output devices traditionally associated with PCs Are there many indie fighting games? Or indie cooperative platformers? Or indie party games in the vein of Mario Party and WarioWare? These genres have traditionally been exclusive to consoles because despite all PCs being capable of using gamepads and HDTVs, the use case of PC + TV monitor + 2 to 4 gamepads happens to be far less common than console + TV mo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...the right to not purchase a product.

    All else is just a bunch of whining; if you want change, STOP BUYING THE GAMES that have this sort of offensive DRM.

    If you're not willing to go without Call of Honor: Modern Ops 6 in spite of its ultra-heinous requires-a-credit-card-on-file DRM, then you have no power to assert any other demands on the companies requiring such things to play the games they're selling.

  • To enforce it you need people to stop buying crap like that. But given that SimCity has been selling hugely apparently, despite the horrible reviews and the protestations.

    See, I don't like any of that stuff either... so I didn't -BUY- it.

    You want to protest this stuff, then do it. Don't buy it, don't steal it, it's entertainment, you seriously don't need it to survive or even to enjoy the day. There are other things to do. Support the companies that show respect to you and tell the other companies to sc

  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chryana ( 708485 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:47PM (#43152717)

    The idea of a Bill of Rights for gamers seems to me ridiculous (and also very US-centric). How about a Bill of Rights to clean laundry? I mean, there would be new Bills of Rights being written every five minutes if this was a reasonable solution. What you may need is stronger consumer protection laws. I think I read the other day that people in England are entitled to a refund on game purchases, which turned out to be useful in the wake of the recent Sim City fiasco.

    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rogue974 ( 657982 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:53PM (#43152793) is a Bill of Rights! How could you possibly say what you are saying, this is a Bill of Rights! We have the right to have companies provide us with video games on our terms that we agree to! That is a God given right and we all need to stand up for our rights as individuals.

      The above was sarcasm. I point this out for the sarcasm impaired.

      What we really need to do, which is part of what you said, is stop cheapening the right we actually have by using Bill of Rights as a buzz word and make everyone think they are entitiled to this because it is a right! If we need new consumer protection laws, fight for them. If we have unenforced consumer protection laws, the fight for them to be enforced.

  • Giving EA & UbiSoft your money is like a walking into an alley with a thug holding up a sign that reads ...

    Services for Sale:
    Rape: $60
    Non Penetration sexual assault: $40
    Egregious but quick fondling: Previously $30 but a Manager special for $15

  • Ea refused to refund purchases when the game clearly didn't work as advertised. Implied warranty should come into play unless ea can prove that most attempts to play the game worked

    Otherwise don't buy the game on release day
    You people fall for the supermarket checkout aisle high margin item impulse buy scam

    If you buy the game on release day then you're tagged as someone willing to pay any amount to play the game. Just like sports fans paying for the sports packages and music fans paying today's ridiculous t

    • Without responding to the point of your post: "Pavlovian" is the adjective form you're looking for.

    • The only ones who really wins in a class action lawsuit are the lawyers. The customers would end up with some lame EA credit or a few bucks back at best.

      Much better at least to *try* to work with EA/Maxis on resolving the issues first - so far they are offering a free game to everyone registering by 3/18 (which is at least as much as a class action would get, without lining the pockets of the only people I can think of who are sleazier than EA execs - class action attorneys). And hey, they may still actua

  • So you're proposing a "Bill of Rights" to prevent game publishers from playing games with gamers?

    As a group, gamers have no rights. As human beings, citizens, purchasers, and other titles, they have lots of rights they're not exercising. Don't complain about your need for new rights when you're not using the ones you have, or you water down your argument and start a rights race in which the corporations will say they need more rights because the gamers just got more rights.
  • Just enshrine the four software freedoms in law. The rest will work itself out.

    • Better yet, don't enshrine them into law. That way the lawyers and the lobbyists won't have a chance to fuck them up.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )
      Red Hat builds its business on selling support, but non-MMO games don't appear to need as much "support" as business software. So how would you recommend that freely licensed games get financed?
  • SimCity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ironicsky ( 569792 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @04:57PM (#43152853) Journal
    With SimCity, I had no idea that it was forced cloud - 100% of the time. No where on the FAQ does it say that you must be online. I assumed that the cloud storage, and Live Service where there if you chose to use it. Like most games that require a central hub for multiplayer, I assumed this was the case here too, just to realize after that I couldn't play for 3 days. I still can't find anywhere that states the game is 100% online
  • Keep in mind that various forms of copy protection have been around almost since the dawn of the personal computer. I can't even begin to count all the Apple II and 1980s PC software that was copy protected - and caused so much pain for legitimate users who could not back up what they bought.

    At least it seemed like by the early 90s most vendors gave up on crazy stuff like checking for intentionally bad/misnumbed/nonstandard sized sectors because they couldn't guarantee that such non standard tricks would wo

    • by Mista2 ( 1093071 )

      When I was a kid, we would club together to buy a gmae on cassette tape for our ZX Spectrums, then have a dubbing party, running the cassettes through high speed dubbing decks. Then they started doing document checks, looking for words from the manual, so we photocopied the manuals.
      Then PC games came along with intentionally bad sectors, and along came the hacks disabling the sector checks.
      Then the internet happened, VHS gave way to DVDs with DRM in the form of CSS and region locking, which was then hacked,

  • If you are this upset about DRM and bought Sim City you are to gaming what an anti-racism activist who couldn't wait to vacation in apartheid South Africa is to the cause of fighting racism. Sorry, but that's just how it is. The level of DRM was well-known in advance. You chose to buy it anyway. You want the government to force them to make the game you want work they way you want.

    Talk about first world problems. I don't think you could come up with a way to make 95% of the human race "see things your way"

  • The SimCity launch debacle

    The launch aside, it's yet another terrible incarnation of a great series. I've been peeking at a few videos on youtube because I was hoping for something with a little depth to it, but it's even below my worst expectations (and given Simcity Societies, the expectations were already pretty low).

    Simcity 4 with NAM installed still beats this game gameplay-wise hands down from what I can see. It's one of the few games that get reinstalled every X years on my computer. It's ridiculously in-depth if you want it

  • A compromise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by subanark ( 937286 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:02PM (#43152931)

    There seems to be multiple problems here:
    1. Game can't handle intake of people at launch.
    Ok, the issue here is that the game company has to shell out a lot of resources to support all the people who want to play it at launch. These resources will need to be reallocated later since chances are that the usage will never peak that high again, or even that close.
    A single player "demo/tutorial" of the game at launch that players must progress though in order to access the online version. Since players play at different rates, this should reduce the load peak that games experience.

    2. Gamers want a guarantee that they will be able to play the game indefinably, even if servers go offline.
    The game company puts in a reasonable minimum support timeline when you buy the game that they will support it for. E.g. If they guarantee to support the game for a year, you buy it 1 year after it is released and they cancel it 6 months later, then you get your money back, but everyone who bought it at launch doesn't.

    3. Gamers don't want bandwidth to interfere with their gaming experience, and don't want maintenance down time.
    None really. This is simply one of those items a game is judged by. If latency on their end is bad, then gamers may have a case that they are receiving poor service, and perhaps a standard contract of compensation could be drawn up addressing this issue.

    4. Gamers want to modify the game they are playing, or simply create their own cheats.
    None. It is too a lesser extent a good thing as it makes cheating in an online game harder.

    5. Gamers want to pirate the game.
    Shoo... go away pirates.

    • 4. Gamers want to modify the game they are playing, or simply create their own cheats.
      None. It is too a lesser extent a good thing as it makes cheating in an online game harder.

      Perhaps a group of friends all want to play the same mod in a private realm. Where's the "cheating" in that?

    • I don't see why there should be a compromise. Games publishers have relentlessly taken and taken and taken from us. Every time they come up with a new idea, we suffer. Fuck compromise.

      With all the virtual server farms you can hire now there is no excuse for a poor service at launch. They want a big bang launch with lots of hype and sales? Then fucking build the backend to deal with it. Don't want to build the backend? Then stop putting artificial single points of failure in your code.

  • by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:05PM (#43152955)

    A consumer protection law for software is what you want. Too bad we all agree to waive any expectations of warranty once we've agreed to the license agreement which few people actually read.

    The right to get a refund on digital media, particularly media that is DRM enabled should be introduced however. If the company is using DRM to protect their intellectual property by enforcing per seat licensing then consumers should have the same right to return this software within some time frame established by law - ie. 15 days. The company selling the software can remotely disable the DRM function in the case of games that require an account, the only concern I see companies having is with people cracking the DRM after they've already downloaded it, then requesting a refund.

    However, calling it a "Bill of Rights" makes you look like some entitled idiot who believes this is on the same level of some US Constitutional amendment.

    I bought the latest Simcity and I like the game. It has its flaws, but this is the PC gaming industry - I expect nothing short of bullshit from new releases. I could spend a lifetime just compiling a list of bugs in newly released software ...

  • No, just no.
    No one is forcing you to buy the games.
    If you don't like it, don't buy it. It's really that simple.
  • by Pianodog ( 1337165 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:09PM (#43153017)
    I'm a relatively old school gamer. I played games when they came out in DOS, and remember times when getting a game patched was something of an unknown. Heck, if the game didn't play or was too buggy - you just returned it to the store like any other product. The last game I got to do that with was Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall.

    I've watched the evolution of companies trying to scrape gamers for any profit they can. First there were developers who sold a game and then released minor content for free as a thank you; Expansion Packs were substantial affairs. Then they stopped adding the thank you gift of minor content. Expansion Packs got smaller. Eventually Expansions got so small they were sometimes called DLC. Lots of games started offering some DLC as time went on to keep bringing in money for the game. Soon DLC started being included in the game at launch, but was unlocked with an additional purchase or pre-purchase. Now it's everywhere - the DLC costs for a game wants to equal or exceed the original cost of the title at launch.

    I used to pre-order when a game got me excited ... until I got burned once too much. Now it's off the menu for me, regardless of incentive or bonuses. I could care less if I get a Team Fortress hat with a $60 purchase if that $60 purchase is bunk. I don't need a free copy of a 3-year old game that I would have bought if I wanted it a year ago. It's just not worth it.

    DRM has been a messy nightmare across the board. Many games do just fine without it. I generally don't care as long as the game and my system are not impaired by it. If I have to be online to play a game I'd normally play solo, I don't buy it. If I have to run something like StarForce, I skip it.

    I no longer buy DLC one at a time and patiently wait for the *entire* game to be sold as a single "complete" package. I consider the copy-protection choices as an important variable in my decision to buy. I never ever buy a game on day 1 or pre-order anymore.

    I have my rights because I never gave them up. I suppose a "Bill of Rights" might be useful for people who haven't been jaded by the industry, but it only takes a few sour titles to turn any gamer off the crap they're being fed.
  • Just wait for the next round of consoles. You won't be able to buy disks for them, all the games will be download only, require online access all the time and no, you can't sell them. And all your movies and music will be streamed, and no, you can't keep them or transfer to other devices to watch/listen to them. But you will be allowed to buy install credits, 500cr at time for $100, but the games will be 510cr, so you have to buy two credit packs, and just like a strip joint, wont let you cash out the funny

    • Oh, malarkey - you're letting your biases and paranoia override your ability to reason.

      You won't be able to buy disks for them

      Sony has invested entirely too much in BluRay technology to not include an optical drive on the PS4. Not to mention, "It plays BluRays!" was a major selling point for a lot of people who bought PS3 systems, myself included.

      all the games will be download only, require online access all the time

      Making the consoles "online DLC only" would severely limit their ability to sell consoles - I know this might be hard to fathom, but the entire world population does not necessarily have access to alway

  • At the time of sale, the latest SimCity was unusable for the purpose for which it was sold.

    I'm not seeing any need for new rights here, just enforcement of existing law.
  • Honest reviews (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:15PM (#43153093)

    Why don't we start with honest reviews that focus on the DRM that the game will use as a playability issue just as they would framerates or any other issue? If all of the major review sites started reviewing games with a DRM section saying:

    ( ) Serial Number
    ( ) Registration
    ( ) Activation
    ( ) Online connection to play
    ( ) Replaces DVD driver
    ( ) Wont work if you have installed ______
    ( ) Works only on one computer
    ( ) etc

    Let people know what their actually buying and let the market make informed choices. When game reviews start reflecting and scoring the playability of DRM and sales start trending accordingly than publishers will start to review their practices.

    Unfortunately most review sites would be blacklisted if they tried by themselves, so you would have to do it en mass like the cable companies did with 6 strikes. Band together and they wouldn't be able to blacklist the few sites that started reflecting the playability of DRM.

    This problem could be fixed by the review sites, if they gave a damn.

  • I don't see any point in trying to enforce something like this. What I would like to see would be a "Bullshit Inside" badge attached to a game that meant it had any of those things. Then I could choose to spend money or not. We had to put stickers on music that had a naughty word in them, and we have ratings on games for every other type of potentially offensive content. Doesn't seem like a stretch to blatantly mark something as DRM enforced, or additional money required.

  • by EdgePenguin ( 2646733 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:23PM (#43153205) Homepage

    The entire Internet is failing its users; from hamfisted government website blocking, through disparate exploitative walled garden systems with arbitrary censorship, right up to defective-by-design always online games.

    Its easy to say "don't by service/product X" but the problem is that service after service throws up the same problems, and many such services offer unique functionality that through either innovations that others haven't caught up on, or patents that prevent others from duplicating the functionality. Companies force you to either accept unreasonable terms or not partake in some of the services on offer. Other industries don't seem to get this kind of caveat emptor free pass (remember the lead in Chinese toys? Dodgy Romanian horse meat in burgers in the UK?) Ill not get started on the outrageous flouting of tax law by Internet businesses.

    We need to move on from two polarised sides, greedy authoritarian government/corporate lockdown of computing one on and strident unyielding crypto-anarchism on the other. We need to work out what are the rights and responsibilities of business and users on the Internet, enshrine them in international treaties, and perhaps strengthen them with cryptographic methods.

  • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @05:40PM (#43153391) Journal

    The market will, in fact, be the judge on these kinds of things. If people stop buying these products, and their complaint is that the lifespan issue is the reason they said "fuck off" then the game companies will change their policy, and provide games without these hooks.

    If you are a gamer and MUST HAVE THE LATEST SIM CITY EVER, and U HAVE TO DOWNLOAD IT NOW!!!!!. Well, then, this is the game for you, this is the Sim City game that is available. Enjoy.

    I have seen my favorite franchise get awesome, then suck again with F2P game that recently came out. (Mechwarrior). The standard model games I enjoyed (mechwarrior living legends, even the mektek mech4 free release) are all gone now.

    So, I don't give MWO my money, and if enough people dislike it, then the game goes away and maybe they make another game in the old style.

    If they don't then they don't.

  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2013 @06:51PM (#43154059)

    We already have the actual bill of rights. Living in a free-ish society means that we are free to support whichever products we wish by voting with our dollars as consumers.

    What would a gamers bill of rights even do? Would it imprison or fine people or companies who violated the rights of gamers? I doubt it.

    I. Gamers shall receive a full and complete game for their purchase, with no major omissions in its features or scope.

    Don't buy games that are not complete. Wait for a game to become complete before buying it. It'll probably be even cheaper once it has become complete.

    II. Gamers shall retain the ability to use any software they purchase in perpetuity unless the license specifically and explicitly determines a finite length of time for use.

    Don't buy games that require activation servers that undermine their perpetuity. Treat every game that has such a mechanism as an implicit limit on the time the game will function, and make your purchasing decisions accordingly.

    III. Any efforts to prevent unauthorized distribution of software shall be noninvasive, nonpersistent, and limited to that specific software.

    Don't buy games that have invasive copy protection. Don't buy games from companies likely to release game patches which add invasive copy protection. Treat every game that requires new patches (e.g. games like those described in rule 1 and 2) as likely to acquire invasive copy protection in new patches, and make your purchasing choices accordingly.

    IV. No company may search the contents of a user's local storage without specific, limited, explicit, and game-justified purpose.

    Don't buy games that ... same as 3.

    V. No company shall limit the number of instances a customer may install and use software on any compatible hardware they own.


    VI. Online and multiplayer features shall be optional except in genre-specific situtations where the game's fundamental structure requires multiplayer functionality due to the necessary presence of an active opponent of similar abilities and limitations to the player.

    What? Buying the game is already optional!

    VII. All software not requiring a subscription fee shall remain available to gamers who purchase it in perpetuity. If software has an online component and requires a server connection, a company shall provide server software to gamers at no additional cost if it ceases to support those servers.

    This is the same as 2.

    VIII. All gamers have the right to a full refund if the software they purchased is unsatisfactory due to hardware requirements, connectivity requirements, feature set, or general quality.

    How will this right be granted? There is already a judicial system complete with class action lawsuits to adjudicate such matters.

    IX. No paid downloadable content shall be required to experience a game's story to completion of the narrative presented by the game itself.

    Don't buy g....

    X. No paid downloadable content shall affect multiplayer balance unless equivalent options are available to gamers who purchased only the game.

    Are unbalanced games fun? No. Don't buy games that are not fun. I am surprised I even have to tell people this.

    This whole thing sounds like a guys bill of rights.

    1. All girls must be hot.

    2. All girls must be cool to be around and not bitchy at all.

    3. All girls must agree to be my girlfriend.

    4. All girls can not break up with me until I am tired of them.

    The consumer/producer relationship is a mutual one like romantic relationships. You can demand all this stuff if you want, but unless you change a bunch of laws nobody is obligated to follow them. Any company that decides to v

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham