PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

October 15, 2008 -

Kristen Salvatore, editor-in-chief of PC Gamer, writes in the December issue (available now) that she is suspicious of the Gamer's Bill of Rights issued at PAX 2008 by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell (Sins of a Solar Empire) and Gas-Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor (Total Annihilation).

Kristen writes:

I am 100 percent committed to the belief that, as consumers... PC gamers deserve to feel confident in their purchase... But the Gamer's Bill of Rights is riddled with ambiguities, which is why I and others are eyeing it with some suspicion.

 

What constitutes a game's "finished state," and who determines it? What makes for a "meaningful update"? And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?

 

I applaud Brad Wardell of Stardock and Chris Taylor of GPG... But if the Gamer's Bill of Rights is to transcend publicity-stunt status and become a catalyst for real change, it needs to be the starting point for a tough conversation about which rights PC gamers should really expect to enjoy - and which, as the result of enjoying the freedoms of an essentially open platform, they may need to give up.

GP: What do you think, GamePolitics readers?


Comments

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

"And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?"

First: prove your premise that it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated.

Second: YES, even if it DOES.  Nobody would ever ask this question about any other type of software besides games.  It's absurd.  Picture having to put the disc in every time you want to use PhotoShop.  It's LUDICROUS.  And let me tell you something: PHOTOSHOP GETS PIRATED A *LOT*.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

You don't know what a finished state is??!?!?!?!?

WHEN YOU CAN COMPLETE THE GAME AFTER HAVING TAKEN IT OUT OF THE BOX AND INSTALLED WITHOUT ANY PATCHES...

 

Meaningful update?

When the update actually adds something to the game rather than fix pre-existing problem...

How does a cd-check prevent piracy? You can copy the game as much as you like but keep all copies in drives!!! Seriously though cd-checks don't prevent piracy. Then again it isn't a major issue. No-dvd cracks are freely available and perfectly legal(i think)...

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

 with the current state of IP laws, i highly doubt that they are legal. 

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

CD cracks aren't legal at all (in the US), but it is pretty sad many people have to get them in order to play the game they purchased.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

They aren't? oh no I am a horrible criminal... I have been using cd-cracks for my purchased games for years!!!

Since I am never going to stop using them, does that mean that I should stop buying/playing games???

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

 I am actually fairly up in the air about the disc check thing. On the one hand, I in no way believe that discs are a legitimate permanent storage solution. Whenever i buy music, I immediately put it on my computer and then burn at least one new copy of the CD, because otherwise my cars CD players destroys my irreplaceable investment within a few months. I am nowhere near as good as Joker at keeping my old game cds playable. I have ended up cracking many of my old purchased games cause my computer will stop recognizing the disc. Also, I play more games than I have optical drives, and I do not appreciate constantly changing discs, cause my computer is tucked away where I don't normally have to get at it. 

On the other hand, Bethesda has promised to only include a disc check as the only sort of protection. So as a compromise to EA style DRM craziness, I will gladly take a disc check. I understand the reluctance to just fully let a multi million dollar investment go to the wind, and a disc check doesn't really have any long term pain in it, as long as they realize that down the road they will have to either replace failing discs or people will be cracking it. Actually, that is my friends plan, to buy the game, and the immediately crack it. 

So, not a fan of checks, but there are plenty of worse things out there. oh, and go stardock. woot, etc...

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

I feel this bill of rights grossly favors the PC side of things a little much.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Idk, i got the feeling that this won't do us gamers any good.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

"And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?"

No? That's why companies should implement simple solutions that prevent their game from being pirated just because the disc is not in the drive?

Apparently industry leaders are still unaware of how requiring the disc to be in the drive introduces a lot of people to game cracking?

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

CD's in the tray?  I don't have an issue with that.  Of course, I still pull books off a shelf to read one. :)  But seriously, I've managed to keep my CD's playable for literally decades by simply caring for them properly.  What I do have problems with is those nasty drivers and such that are part/parcel of DRM.  Those I can live without.

As to a games finished state?  I think I have to agree somewhat with the author.  I'll concede that game-play bugs should be swatted prior to release, but the majority of 'crashes' are driver conflicts.  I think it's a bit naive to believe that any publisher can test their product on every known combination of PC platform.  In my IT career, I've seen platforms that Office, or Adobe Professional won't play nicely on.  Then again, it's a rarity, but also, they don't utilize sound and such (the majority of driver problems in my experience).

So perhaps on that issue, they simply need to define the configurations they've tested and certify that they'll run on those rigs and that others may work but aren't 'guaranteed'.

My 2 pennies, YMMV

 

 

 

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Considering the amount of ambiguously and, to be frank, dangerously worded Anti-Piracy Bills that have not only been suggested, but passed, I consider the Gamers Bill of Rights to be rock-solid and pretty straight forward compared to them.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Since the announcement of the Gamer's Bill of Rights, we have had a lot of positive reaction from game publishers who want to put some sort of standard together that will enable a better customer experience for gamers while at the same time protecting intellectual property holders.

The latest news on this is actually being released today as part of the Stardock 2008 report which you can read here:

http://www.stardock.com/media/stardockcustomerreport-2008.pdf

------------------------

Brad Wardell President & CEO Stardock Corp.

------------------------ Brad Wardell President & CEO Stardock Corp.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Thank Frogboy! I knew you would hop over here and set the record straight for gamers everywhere.

Now about that merger with Paradox I keep suggesting...  

 

@GP - I hope you guys do a feature story on this [the report].

 -------------------------------------------

"The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" - Herodotus

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" - Herodotus

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Great to see you here, Brad!

We covered the Gamer's Bill of Rights on the day you released it. As a mainly PC gamer, I'm very pleased at your approach to the issue.

 

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Great Job. You addressed every concern above in this update. Thanks.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Unfortunately, it does not for me. I'll explain why by opening with a quote:

"Yes this bill of rights needs discussion between publishers and consumers. So why doesn't the ESA, Games For Windows and their pals in the PC Games Alliance or whatever they are called and the ECA meet together to discuss it? For one, the industry organizations seem to have this thing about talking to consumers. They don't want to. They would rather make massive sweeping generalizations about the people who keep them in business."

Right now, I couldn't care about the ESA if I tried considering just how hard they pushed for this craptacular PRO-IP act. Secondly, Games For Windows, aka: Microsoft, also pushed for the above act. Both agencies also pushed for prior Intellectual Property increases. Now I'm all for proper ownership and right to ownership by holders of Intellectual Property, but this is getting ridiculous at this point. When I have to crack my own legally purchased games to get them to work properly (I've had to do so since the original Call of Duty), there's something wrong. Suddenly, it's being claimed that Gears of War 2's PC release will cause rampant piracy derailing console sales. I guess those guys spent anywhere from $300 to $600 for paperweights, not even to mention that Gears of War for the PC suffered a case of mysteriously dissapearing save files.

The only games I own that I've purchased in the past few years for the PC which apparently was done properly is Guitar Hero III, Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas - the latter 3 of which I also own the PS2 versions of. I unfortunately don't own Sins of a Solar Empire as my College budget only takes me so far. I can't even play my legally owned Star Wars Battlefront II online unless I play my PS2 copy. For some reason, I feel inclined to place the fault for that one on GameSpy. Shall I even begin to lay out the problems with Assassin's Creed which I purchased for the PC after enjoying it on the Xbox 360?

The fact of the matter is is that PC gamers would like to purchase PC games granted they actually work and the player actually is purchasing the game to own. Not purchasing for the right to play. I will never buy a game again if it ever becomes the situation that a company is dictating what the hell I can and can't put on my computer so I can use their software. So I may miss out on an experience but I'd rather apply my $20-$70 elsewhere granted I could actually use my computer the way I want.

What ever happened to the good old days of CD-Keys? Blizzard apparently did something right. Why doesn't anyone follow their example? The only company I've seen give me some incentive to use their software as I see fit is Rockstar Games with the Grand Theft Auto series. Hopefully they continue that trend with GTAIV granted the giant hand of Take Two Interactive doesn't sweep in and do with GTAIV what occured with 2K Games' Bioshock, which, even over Steam, includes SecuROM DRM. What the hell? This is the reason why I do not own or even possess Bioshock. This is a shame too because it goes back to what I previously stated: I'll willingly miss an experience before experiencing the infernal hell of SecuROM Digital Rights Management.

Stardock did alright in my eyes and in the eyes of my peers whom are also PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360 gamers by not including Digital Rights Management in their product, Sins of a Solar Empire. Likewise, their upcoming title which I cannot recall the name of will also not contain any DRM. This is good for everyone as a whole, especially consumers. After all, no matter how many times EA, the ESA, and other complicet agencies sounds the Siren, Pirates will get what they want, how they want, when they want; and typically prior to it even hitting retail store shelves. Why would we wish to be treated like criminals when it is truthfully those who pirate the games who have no problems what so ever as their pirated versions contain no DRM what so ever. Consumers will rebel and refuse to spend their money.

I also find it interesting that no one in mainstream media (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) isn't paying much attention to these Intellectual Property movements, let alone the all of 10-20 seconds appropriated to reporting off-handedly about the passage of PRO-IP, prior to which I heard absolutely nothing of it except for that on here and other New Media outlets.

----
Papa Midnight
http://www.otakutimes.com
http://www.thesupersoldiers.com

 

----
Papa Midnight

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Thank you for that link, Brad.  And, y'know, the whole document and concept itself =)

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?

*****************

It's been said about, oh, 10 times above but maybe if we keep saying it they'll have to stop arguing this point because it is completely baseless.

CD checks Do. Not. Prevent. Piracy.  Period. 

All it does is inconvenience paying customers who actually bought the product.  Every game gets cracked anyway, so all a cd check presents is a disinsentive to buying the game.  Treat your customers like criminals and they'll go away.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

In the actual bill of rights, certain ambiguities seem somewhat intentional and allow for reinterpretation as time permits. Perhaps this was the plan of Stardock. Maybe they thought that the terms "Finished State" and "Meaningful Update" could be changed through time and enacted accordingly. The problem is, I guess, that the actual Bill of Rights is a legal document so we have judges that interpret it and make those interpretations into laws. Here we just have game developers interpreting it which means they'll interpret it (if they even choose to follow this bill) in a way that causes them the least work and gets them the most money.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

I call shenanigans on the skeptics. StarDock (SD) practices what it preaches and so do the developers that work with it. I have been a customer of SD since Frogboy started the company and I have NEVER had an issue support or content wise and am still getting regular updates for titles I purchased YEARS ago at no charge. This situation is simply unlike my experience with every other developer and publisher I have ever purchased a title from.

-------------------------------------------

"The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" - Herodotus

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" - Herodotus

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

"And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?"

The thing is Ms. Salvatore, it doesn't.  DRM doesn't work and that has been proven unquestionably a hundred times over now.  I paid for the game and am already being subjected to crap like in-game advertising which is making the publishers more money and translating into nothing for me the customer.  Treating me like a criminal in order to fail to stop piracy is completely backwards.  Publishers can make nonsense statements about legal obligations to shareholders until they're blue in the face.  As game consumers, none of that is our problem.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

I was confused by this statement of hers thinking she was saying...

Either way, DRM was just made to kill the second hand market, not piracy.

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Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Am I the only one here that finds Kristen Salvatore attractive?

Sortableturnip's Law: As an online discussion of video game violence grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Jack Thompson approaches 1

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Here are some definitions and answers. I agree with just about everything said here so far.

Finished State: The game is free from bugs that crash the game or make the game other wise unplayable. If a game cannot be finished without some sort of patch, it is not in a finished state. An example that springs to mind is the original Warcraft. In that game on the Human campaign, at level seven or so was a rescue level where you had to save some peasants before being able to finish the level. Unfortunately, as soon as you got to the peasants, a wave of a hundred orcs came through an wiped out your forces. You could not beat that level or the game without the patch to fix that.

Meaningful Update: I do not consider patches that fix bugs to be meaningful updates. Those fall under what constitutes a finished state above. If on the otherhand there was a bug that did not kill the game but allowed exploitation, that would be fine to patch. But a meaningful update in a gamer's eye would be something that adds value to the game, such as a new level, weapon, class, vehicle, something that would expand the experience. If you are throwing out patches to fix bugs, why not give us something to say you are sorry for releasing crap code.

Playing without the Disk: PC gamers want their PC experience to be seemless. No other software they use requires a disk to be inserted in the drive. Office? Nope. Adobe? Nope. Real DVD? Nope. No retail software requires a disk to run that software. As for the claim that it prevents piracy, I have seen no game invulnerable to a no-cd crack. Pirates play without the disk. It does not stop them to require that disk.

Yes this bill of rights needs discussion between publishers and consumers. So why doesn't the ESA, Games For Windows and their pals in the PC Games Alliance or whatever they are called and the ECA meet together to discuss it? For one, the industry organizations seem to have this thing about talking to consumers. They don't want to. They would rather make massive sweeping generalizations about the people who keep them in business.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Outstanding summary, EZK.  Thanks for saving me some time typing up similar points =)

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Outstanding commentary Zach! You have encapsulated my thoughts and position flawlessly.

-------------------------------------------

"The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" - Herodotus

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" - Herodotus

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Once again Zach you summed up my thoughts exactly.

What's funny is I wonder if they trully believe that the cd in the drive actually lasts that long ... most people I know the first thing they do after installing the game is find the no cd crack (especially if they are playing it on a laptop).

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

I still play off of all of my CDs...  of course I reformat my harddrive every 6 months typically...

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Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

I don't understand why people think they are entitled to anything at all in the first place. If you don't like what you are paying money for, then stop paying.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

You know, lately I've started to realise that games are both a service and a product. Sure, you don't have to buy it, but buyers should be able to expect a reasonable/acceptable level of service if they do buy it. I mean, if you take a taxi you are entitled to being taken to the place you want to go, right?

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

IF EA ran the taxi service:

You would only be allowed to ride in up to 3 taxi/driver combos. If your taxi/driver combos ever became unavailable, you would have to call EA anytime you wanted to take a taxi and ask them for permission to use another taxi/driver combo.

You will have to have a chip implanted somewhere in your body that will shock you if you ever tried to ride in a taxi/driver combo you are not allowed.

Everyone else would simply drive their own cars.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

You forgot that the cars will smell bad, not be aligned, and have no mufflers.  You will be forced to do uncomfortable things during your ride most of the time (like trying to fix problems on the car or putting things up bad places), and you will be drop off at least 1/4 mile away from your desired destination, though it will typically be around 2 miles where they are picking up the next person because they are cheap bastards.

I do want to know the StarDock taxi service too, haha.  I don't know enough about it...

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Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Nah, if you tried to ride in the wrong taxi combo they'd probly have lawsuit papers waiting for you at your destination. And the driver would probly treat you like crap the whole way.

What would a Stardock taxi company be like? I'm thinking an affordable limo service.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

 "Finished State" - The game has gone through a whole round of Beta testing without any major bugs springing up.  I'm not paying to beta test your software, I'm paying to play the damn game through beginning to end without NEEDING a patch to finish.  If I have to get a patch to access content/fix a glaring mistake/play the game as intended, the game is not in a "Finished State".

 

"Meaningful Update" - The update actually does something, like add new content, fix glaring bugs/errors, or alters play balance.

 

"My right to play without a disk in the drive" - Yes.  Here's the bottom line - pirates are going to do what they do no matter what, and requiring the disk in the drive won't stop anyone who has a cd/dvd burner.  Those who ARE going to pirate software will, and no amount of anti-piracy tech can stop them.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Agreed with Finished State and Meaningful Update...

My right to play without a disk in the drive - Having the option to install where a disc is required or install where disk is not required and it pings their servers online. (your text) So don't put in crazy measurements that hurt the real consumer or hardly anything really, since when you do that you turn your consumers into pirates.

---

I think that games that do not avid by these rules should sell for below market price just to screw them over.  Where the retailer's standard cut is the price of the game, and the retailer gets all of the money. (Retailers get between 25-50% if I remember correctly...)

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Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

I'd say follow Stardock's example of what constitute's meaningful updates and what is a finished game. I would think "finished" would mean bug-free on day one and without having updates withheld for DLC.

Despite it being a right or not to have the disc in the drive, having to require it in there likely hasn't prevented any piracy. But that's just my opinion, but I'm sure she believes some people will just share the game amongst on another without worries.

I think what most PC gamers want to enjoy, is just the comfort of knowing they won't have to jump through hoops to get their damn game to run, without having malware (or anything else other than the game) installed onto their pc.

No one wants to play devil's advocate here, but I'm glad she was willing to take the chance and start the conversation.

Unfortunately, I don't think much can be done unless you can organize the varying groups of gamers to agree to some sort of boycott until such demands are met. Either way, I don't have much confidence in publishers ever listening. It will likely reach the point where they protect their IP so much that no one bothers to play or buy.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

 without having malware (or anything else other than the game) installed onto their pc.

 

THIS.  Seriously, this shit is why I never bought Spore.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

Same here.

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

The same here

Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

THIS.  Seriously, this shit is why I never bought Spore.

Dido, wait a second, how did that get italicized...

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Re: PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

considering the new IP law, we're getting to the point of not OWNING what we buy.  i want to not be treated like a criminal for legally purchasing an item.

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