PC Gamers get Bill of Rights
An amendment too far?
A special Bill of Rights has been created in an attempt to secure every PC gamer's ten most fundamental privileges.
The Gamer's Bill of Rights: don't expect it to become law any time soon
The bill was created by desktop utility software developer Stardock and games designer Gas Powered Games. It's basically a list of the ten “key elements that publishers need to adhere to in their games”. The two firms believe the game industry has increasingly strayed away from these principles.
So what are these rights? First up is the right to return games that don’t work with the purchaser's computer for a full refund. Fair enough, but shouldn’t a PC gamer know their machine’s specifications and then match these up to the system requirements listed on the game’s box?
But this is better: 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.
The bill also states that gamers should have the right to “expect meaningful updates after a game’s release”, in addition to the right to play games installed on an HDD without having to insert the disc each time.
Brad Wardell, President and CEO of Stardock, presented the bill in a blog, where he said that PC gamers are entitled to basic liberties, which this bill seeks to state. He admitted that they are all “pretty common sense”.
It’s worth noting that Electronic Arts has already pledged to make things easier for PC gamers, by unveiling plans to release pre-configured PCs alongside big name videogame launches. It’s hoped, by EA at least, the machines will blur the boundary between high-end PC gaming and consoles.
The full Gamer’s Bill of Rights is listed below:
- Gamers shall have the right to return games that don't work with their computers for a full refund.
- Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
- Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game's release.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won't install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.
- Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
- Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
- 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.
- 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.
Apparently, you've never tried to play the Russian release of STALKER: Clear Sky. GSC Game Works might currently be in a world of legal hurt over that one. They pretty much released the game ahead of schedule as "Retail", but it turned out they were using the Russian customers as nothing more than a large scale Beta test. Due to all the problems that they've been having, the have pushed back the Worldwide retail release twice that I know of (Three if you include the publishers foul-up of not printing CD Keys in the manual, which ended up as a recall, and another delay).
Mine's the one with the geiger counter and a pocket full of bolts.... Yeah, the AKS-74U is mine too.
re: None of these things are "Rights"
Uh, merchantability? That covers a few of them.
rights of first sale covers another one or two.
misrepresentation (fraud acts) cover another couple.
@Kevin Murray etc
UNIX does it this way and seems to have no problems at all.
If it doesn't work under Windows then this must be something to do with the way Windows handles user accounts and home directories.
Steam: @ alistair millington and Pete; crap games.
LAN days can be ruined through Steam. If everyone bringing a PC has a different patch level of a Steam game, then everyone with an `outdated' copy needs to update, which can be *slow* (since the patches can be quite large, you're doing this for 8-30 users with no local caching or torrent-type distribution and you're probably updating more than one game). If your LAN day location has no internet connection, you're stuffed. Tough luck, you can't play these games. Not to mention that "Play offline" can only be run when you're *online*, a problem which you'd usually only find out about the first time you try to play offline! This stops play entirely... I assume the publishers do this deliberately to boost license sales to gaming cafes and to cause trouble for pirates. They seem to not notice that a warez copy and cracked .exe/libraries make for easy LAN day playing, which might prevent legitimate sales for those few who didn't have a copy, and who would have bought one anyway.
I also personally know of two fellow Steam users who got stuffed via Valve and Steam, one of whom will probably never play a Valve game again due to his level of displeasure with the companies' behaviour.
(Apologies for the dodgy English, I am knackered.)
I agree about the Valve going out of business thing, too. What is going to happen to your collection of Steamy software when this occurs? Imagine if large application companies started distributing their expensive desktop apps through Steam (Final Cut, Photoshop, Office-y software, all that crap). You'd be pretty pissed off if all that stopped working magically one day.
Also, what the hell is up with the DRM crap on Bioshock, EA games, etc? These poorly-designed DRM systems infuriate me (since I'm currently offline at home I feel like I've been experiencing all the possible problems!) and they only punish your paying customers anyway. The pirates have a much nicer experience: either zero-install (just unarchive and play, as it should be!) or ISO bundles with cracked activation-removed .exe's.
Perhaps EA (in particular, though there are others) should think about whether it's maybe that their games are crap (hundreds of near-identical sequels, or formulaic gameplay with zero innovation) rather than large-scale piracy which causes their sales `problems'. They seem to have enough cash to me...
Whilst I'm ranting, I'd also like to see these crappy console conversions die a horrible death. I have played two games (original Bioshock before the patch being one!) which think taking the acceleration system for a thumb twiddler and directly translating that to a mouse works, or that low-res textures in a PC game is acceptable. I assume the former is due to lazy or clueless coders/testers. I assume the latter is a result of having low-res textures for the Xbox 360 and PS3 (256MB graphics RAM for one, 512MB shared RAM for the other, IIRC), and not creating high-res textures for PC use due to costs or backroom deals agreeing not to make certain non-PC systems look bad, since they do shaders well but textures and polys worse. I have 768MB of texture RAM, a PCIe bus and 3.25GB of system RAM available. I think it's fair to say most hardcore gamers will have at least 512MB of video RAM and >2GB of system RAM. Let us use it, damnit!
[edit: I Googled it; I have proof: http://www.steampowered.com/status/survey.html
PS - 9.7% use Vista, ha ha!]
Finally, why are games so damn expensive? £30 max. is OK for an absolutely top-notch game (or a pretty good one if it's got a good community of modders and the like providing extra content), provided you get some decent hours out of it. (i.e. more than 30 hours, please!) Why not sell mediocre games at £20 or other impulse-buy level? I refuse to pay release prices and wait until the price comes down to these levels, unless I'm really keen on a new game, which only happens a max. of once or twice per year (come on Fallout 3!). Bethesda really sucked with TES:4, though: all the typical console port problems (interface, textures, simplified gameplay), plus sucky gameplay and paid crappy little additions which were probably in early builds of the game anyway (horse armour!). Compare and contrast with TES:3, Morrowind.
I like the prospect of this. It should be made legally enforcible, just to set an example for the future, then let evolution take over as the bill is moulded over time and use.
And Ash? I believe you meant "Seriously, how difficult is it to store the configuration file to the game directory instead of somewhere in the Documents and Settings\Username directory?" instead of the other way around, because storing configuration data for any kind of program, game or utility, inside a user account profile of the host OS is truly appalling in pretty much all circumstances.
Where games are concerned, especially the multiplayer capable ones, they should be equipped with their own profile manager that can keep settings preferred by the players of the game. A game capable of this would for example be Warhammer 40.000.