Gamers' Bill of Rights

By Mike on 11:43 am

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Stardock and Gas Powered Games have created a Gamer's Bill of Rights. As readers will know, I've praised Stardock in the past for their user friendly and DRM free gaming experiences. They have been highly critical of the industry and the general attitude that legitimate gamers need to be clamped down on to prevent rampant piracy. Previously, the company was quite frank in saying that if you make a game that's good and sell it for a fair price, people will buy it. The "bill" contains 10 rights that Stardock and Gas Powered believe that PC gamers should have, as published on Edge by Stardock's Brad Wardell.

  1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don't work with their computers for a full refund.
  2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
  3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game's release.
  4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
  5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.
  6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won't install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.
  7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
  8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
  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.
  10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.
I have to agree with this list 100% since it sums up perfectly the grievances I've had with PC gaming in the past. The whole industry has declared war on both legitimate and illegitimate gamers, and it's the former who is suffering the most. Of course I have some comments on each of these 10 rights.

1. The days of burn and return are long over when its simply easier to download something off a torrent. For some reason, it became part of copyright law that "intellectual property" cannot be returned for refund at a store regardless of whether it is faulty or not. It can only be exchanged for another copy of the same thing. Some stores like EB skirt around this law by allowing gamers to trade in games for store credit, though at lesser value of what they originally paid. PC games have historically been valued much lower than console counterparts. This basically allows developers to sell faulty products without consequence.

2. The patch thing I mentioned before. Many PC games are released with mountains of bugs. What you get in box basically amounts to a public beta. Gamers then report problems to the company and patches are (hopefully) released. I talked about this in depth previously.

3. Meaning patches that work to actually fix issues and/or add new content. UBI's Blazing Angles is an infamous example of how not to do this. They actually gave up on patching it.

4. More of an irritant than anything else but I don't consider this a major issue.

5. Back we are to Lock on: Modern Air Combat. Perhaps my most hated game. The game ran at slide show speeds despite me exceeding the recommended requirements. Microsoft Flight Simulator also has this problem. There is no way you could possibly enjoy the game with the minimum requirements FSX lists. For example, it lists as minimum, a Pentium 4 1.0ghz or equivalent, 256mb RAM for Windows XP, and DX9 video card with 32mb ram. I have an Athlon X2 3800+, 2gb of RAM on Windows XP, and a Radeon HD 3850 256mb card and yet the game still struggles and cannot be run on full settings. On a minimum system, the game would be a blur. Crysis is yet another example.

6. Starforce and SecuROM are two DRM schemes used in PC gaming. They have received a lot of flack for installing drivers, spyware, and registry keys that often cannot be removed from a system even if the game has been uninstalled. Technically, it's illegal to install software on someone's computer without their consent. Of course, you give this consent by agreeing to the EULA, which nobody reads or understands. That's how they skirt the law. These DRM schemes have been known to do unintended damage to a system or trigger false alarms. As such, people actually turn to pirated copies of games they bought just to get around these damaging DRM schemes.

7. Basically saying that gamers should be able to obtain patches or download new versions of downloadable content without fees.

8. Digital Rights Management has been getting more intrusive over the years. At one point not too long ago, all it required you to do was type in a software key at the back of the manual. More recently, its started phoning home to make sure you're not pirating the game. When Mass Effect and Spore were announced, they were going to phone home weekly to keep checking for piracy. Not only is this ridiculous, it's an invasion of privacy and basically labels all gamers as potential criminals.

9. Goes with #8 and the whole phoning home debacle. If you're on a laptop and not near a Wifi hotspot, some of your games may not be playable because they can't connect to DRM servers. Criminalizes mobile gamers.

10. Another thing that criminalizes mobile gamers. Most games once they install on the HDD don't require any more data from the DVD. It's basically a measure to make sure you're not sharing your games with friends. You can actually take the CD/DVD out of the drive when the game starts up and it will not effect play at all. With all the DRM schemes they put on the system when you install the game, why is a disc check still required? For desktop gamers, this isn't a big issue since it's no different from console gaming but mobile gamers don't want to carry around stacks of discs.

Source: Edge-Online

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