Cynic Gamer: They are screwing us over
I started writing the rant below to accuse publishers from blaming piracy for the downturn in PC Gaming while in fact they’re killing PC gaming themselves, but I ended up with quite a lot more. Just read on and find out how game companies are are screwing us over.
Some time ago, Ubisoft announced they would be dropping the annoying Starforce copy protection system. Everyone was happy to hear that, but the joy didn’t last for long. Instead, Ubi will be using a new scheme that requires a permanent internet connection and doesn’t even allow to resell your games afterwards. So not only do they deny anyone who doesn’t have a permanent internet connection to even play a game someone bought (effectively decreasing their potential userbase), the company also makes it impossible to sell (or give for that matter) it to someone else after having completed the game.
In order to justify this move, Ubisoft stated that now you can play your game on any computer as your savegames are put on a Ubi server. But how many people will benefit from that? How many people actually DO play the same game on multiple computers? And how does that compare to the amount of people who play games without having a permanent internet connection? Just think of being on a train for a couple of hours with your laptop. Forget playing Ubisoft games there as your internet connection will be intermittent at best. Yup, this really sounds as a move that will improve the service for consumers… NOT!
But don’t start blaming Ubisoft for being the devil in the gaming industry just yet. Electronic Arts (often referred to as the devil already) is doing something similar.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight will store everything you do on a server which indeed allows you to play on any computer with all the things you unlocked being available, but that results in the lack of being able to play on LAN or have dedicated servers. Thank you EA!
Or let’s have a talk about the often-hyped Downloadable Content (referred to as DLC). These days we not only get expansions and patches for games, but also DLC. Woohoo! Let’s have a party!
But wait. Didn’t we get this already in the early 90s?
Back in those days games like Quake or Unreal Tournament would get regular updates which would not only fix bugs, but would also give additional game modes, maps, skins, models and so on. And all for free! So what is the difference with DLC?
Well, for starters, most DLC is being charged to users. Yes, you have to pay for it as it’s “additional content”. I can agree with this when we’re talking about entire storylines and game chapters, but more often than not DLC comes in the form of additional songs (music games), cars (racing games), costumes (plenty of genres), etc…
Most of these used to be free and to top it off, the gaming community got the tools to create their own stuff which would also be released for free! There were entire communities with modders, mappers and skinners that created the most amazing things that people could enjoy. And nobody had to pay for any of it!
So what do our “beloved” game companies do? They decide that tools aren’t necessary anymore and then release such stuff themselves and charge you for it. All in the idea that it’s good for the consumer. Euh… hello? Did everyone forget that certain multiplayer modes were actually invented by the community before companies adopted them as standard in their games?
Electronic Arts wants to differentiate themselves and plenty of publishers seem to be interested in following their example: free DLC from release! Hurray!
Oh wait. Why isn’t that “DLC” included with the game? Why do you need to download it after installing what you just bought? If I don’t have an internet connection, am I not just entitled to get that same content as someone who DOES have an internet connection? After all, it’s not like someone without internet connection is paying less than someone who’s online. I’m sure this would make for a VERY interesting court case! And seeing how much Americans love going to court, I suspect it will only be a matter of time before someone sues one of the major publishers for exactly this.
But that’s not the only issue I have with “free DLC from day one”.
Electronic Arts has started a new trend with Mass Effect 2 where you get “free DLC” if you buy the game originally. It’s a good move in order to prevent piracy, but why do I have to PAY to get access to that FREE DLC if I buy the game second hand? Did I do something wrong here? Did I do something illegal? It almost sounds as if I have! But I haven’t. There are no laws that prevent you from buying or selling games (or any goods for that matter) second-hand. So again this seems more like a way to get additional cash coming into a publisher’s pocket than anything else.
Yes, publishers will promote this as an anti-piracy measure, but can anyone explain me why someone who legitimately bought a second hand copy would have to pay additionally to gain access to DLC that should be part of the game from the start? How does that fit in the “anti-piracy” policy? It doesn’t! It would be similar to a car dealer saying that because you bought your car second hand, you first have to pay him an additional fee before he will accept taking your car into maintenance and updating its electronics software to the latest version. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, apparently not in the gaming industry.
Game publishers are blaming piracy for decreasing PC game sales, but they’re moving into a direction where they’re excluding anyone who doesn’t have a permanent internet connection, in effect decreasing their potential market. They release “free” DLC that should be included from the start already and in exchange don’t allow their community to come up with some itself, a community that has spawned some of the greatest gameplay modes in history which are now commonplace in modern day games. And last but not least, they’re trying to kill the second hand market by charging people additionally for stuff that should be included in a product. All supposedly for the “good of the customer”. And this is supposed to be progress?