Stardock Revises Gamer’s Bill of Rights

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has issued an update to the Gamer’s Bill of Rights that he initially released at PAX 08.

As reported by Shacknews:

The revision addresses the need for more specific wording in order "to get to a place that most users and most publishers can agree on." In addition, Wardell examined the common complaints regarding controversial DRM practices, breaking them down into legitimate, borderline, and illegitimate categories.


He also noted that while Stardock will continue to release titles with no DRM, owners will need to download meaningful updates directly from Stardock. The CEO further revealed that Stardock will soon add "IP protection services" to its digital distribution platform Impulse "so that publishers at least have an alternative to methods like SecureROM, Tages or Steamworks. As a practical matter, most game publishers who want to protect their IP have few options right now."


"There is no solution to the issue of protecting intellectual property (IP) that will satisfy all parties," explained Wardell. "There are customers who will accept nothing less than publishers acquiescing to a quasi-honor system for purchasing software. That doesn’t work."

Among what Wardell sees as legit consumer gripes:

  •  They don’t want the copy protection to interfere with their enjoyment or use of the software or game.
  • If a program wants to have a limited activation system, then it needs to provide a way to de-authorize other computers (ala iTunes).
  • A program should not be installing drivers or other hidden files on the system that use system resources.
  • Activation-based DRM means that if the publisher goes out of business or simply stops supporting their content that the customer can no longer use their legally purchased item.
  • Having an arbitrarily low limit on personal activations makes the program feel like it’s being rented.
  • Requiring the user to always be online to play a single-player game. Though we do think publishers have the right to require this as long as they make it clear on the box.

Wardell visited GamePolitics yesterday to respond to concerns about the Gamer’s Bill of Rights voiced by PC Gamer editor-in-chief Kristen Salvatore.

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  1. 0
    wiregr says:

    I take offense at the idea that there is an install limit at all. This limit means that I don’t own the game, I’m only renting it. What if I want to play the game 10 or 15 years down the road? I’ve gone through enough different computers and reformats that eventually I would run through any install limit they gave me. Even refunding tokens upon uninstall doesn’t cut it. Every hard drive crash or reformat without carefully uninstalling the game will whittle away the number of these imaginary tokens until they hit zero. And calling a company that may or may not be in business the next time I want to install and play the game isn’t an acceptable answer either.

    I haven’t seen a single example given of how any sort of install limit could prevent piracy in any meaningful way. The only thing it seems to prevent is people giving the game to their friends to play, or playing the same game a couple years down the road without having to buy a brand new copy. Maybe I’m just missing something? Is beating games and giving them to your friends really such a rampant form of piracy? 

  2. 0
    Fatallight says:

    I can see nightstalker’s point and I could probably accept a system that limits you to 5 installs that are returned to you upon uninstall because with something like Spore I’m not really worried about my HDD crashing 5 times, I’m more worried about playing the game on and off over the years and reaching the 5 install limit (and the fact that it installs securom, I’ll never be ok with them installing programs that use up system resources when the game is not on)

  3. 0
    nighstalker160 says:

    You’re never going to get a perfect system which is why I think they should up the install limit to something like 7 or 8 (what are the odds somebody literally has 7 or 8 computers they want the game installed on at one time?)

    The issue with the 5 installs seems to be more centered around the lack of install credits from uninstalling.

    If your HDD crashes that would really suck, but you’d probably have 2 or 3 more installs to play around with.

    But like I said, you’re never going to see a system that makes both sides 100% happy and both sides are going to have to deal with something they don’t like.  If your HDD crashes and you’ve used up all your installs, you’re going to have to wade through the customer service quagmire (and Cus. Serv. needs serious improvement, but that’s another issue entirely).

    I just think having this process would make things better.  HDD crashes are what backup drives and full disc imaging are for.  Might work, might not.

  4. 0
    gamepolitics says:

    ezbiker, I care about it and it’s an important topic. we will always have posts that get a lot of comments and some that get relatively few. I try to ensure that GP is a pretty complete source for all relevant news.

  5. 0
    Xveers says:

    Agreed Dennis. That’s the way some stories go. Thanks for covering this, I find the Gamer’s Bill of rights quite interesting, and I think that it’s something worth keeping us up to date on.


    Best keep your wits about you: The gears of life are always spinning, and ignorance eventually means you’ll get caught in them.

  6. 0
    ezbiker555 says:

    Edit: forgot to put qoutes in here, I know you do care dennis! 😀

    THompson: "Nobody cares about this Dennis, as the lack of posts indicates. Time to do some real stories for a change."

    Correction thompson:

    Nobody gives a flying fuck what you say. This is more of a real story than you could ever be. For all i care and the rest of the people here, your nothing more than a speck on the wall that needs to be painted over and ignored.

    So shut up.

  7. 0
    DavCube says:

    No, YOU don’t like it because it isn’t about YOU. Stop trying to derail the topic as such. (Don’t tell me that’s not what you’re insinuating, you and I both know that’s exactly what you’re trying to do.) Dennis isn’t going to post every little letter you send. Live with it. I certainly am.

    You have 9 days from now left to call yourself an attorney. I wait patiently for the day you’re arrested for false representation. Which will probably be in 10 days from now.

    David "DavCube" Gagnon, Not a Pathological Narcissist Lier, and You Are.

  8. 0
    Automancer says:

    Hi, Jack! For the most part, I don’t really think it’s your place to tell Dennis what to report on. Besides, lack of posts does not indicate lack of interest, you seem to get the two confused. There are those of us who read the article without commenting.


    ———————————————————————————————————————————– "Thank you, Detective Spooner. You said someone, not something."- Sonny from I, Robot

  9. 0
    Pierre-Olivier says:

    And what are real stories for you. Empty threats? Promises you can’t keep? Something about you?

    The only reason the stories about you get so many posts is that they’re sick of you and your delusional antics.

    And let us be clear Thompson. I have nothing against Christian or lawyers. What I can’t bear is intolerance.

  10. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    You do realise that statistically, the stuff people don’t agree with get more posts? That’s why your tripe gets so many, it’s not because you are important, it’s because you are ignorant.

    Fact is nobody cares about you, just the rubbish you spew.

  11. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    It’s his usual MO to be honest, he insults people until lots of people are paying attention to the thread, and then pumps out one of his abysmal ‘Press Releases’ whilst he knows people are paying attention. It’s an old attention grabbing trick, like a child screaming in a Supermarket because he can’t get what HE wants.

    Personally, I’d recommend Dennis or EZK delete the post, as he’s getting pretty transparent, and the comment adds nothing whatsoever, either positive or negative, to the conversation or the topic.

  12. 0
    Spartan says:

    In my opinion the current IPR protection system utilized by SD is the best thing going to be frank. Any DRM system that affects how or where a gamer plays or accesses the title and how many times they do so, is simply unacceptable. The music industry is starting to really understand this simple truth. Let’s hope the gaming industry start to understand this as well and soon!

    I think the GBR is a giant step down that road. Now if all the big-time developers as well as the independent ones would simply hold hands and start walking the road together it just may turn into a yellow brick 24k gold one.  


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

  13. 0
    Messatsu says:

    I personally have an issue with any program that REQUIRES activation of any kind in order to operate.  If I have a purchased product that requires activation, I find something to bypass it.  I do not want to have any restrictions that tell me what I can or cannot do with software I purchased for my own computer, period.  I have numerous old games that I’ve installed recently because of nostalgia or because they would run better on my current rig than one 5 years ago.  In some of those cases, the company that made them no longer exists, or the servers are offline.  Acceptable copy protections for me include the following:

    *CD Keys – Simple way to make people buy a copy if they want to play online.  Quake 4 actually phoned home to check to see if the key was valid and if it wasn’t, then it didn’t load.  This to me is okay, since if id dissappeared tomorrow, the game would still work.
    *Basic CD Protection – Safedisc, (old)Securom and the like were basic protection against Joe Copier who makes CDs for all his buddies.  Honestly I’m not a huge fan of this since I’d rather play a backup or have no cd in the drive, but it’s something I tolerate.
    *Steam – Don’t get me wrong, I HATED the whole HL2 bullcrap.  Oh, I bought the disc but can’t play it because the servers are swamped? WTF?! However, since you can backup any downloaded game and to my knowledge play offline, I don’t really feel restricted

    Plain and simple I want to be able to pop in the disc and play.  I don’t want to be required to have the internet, and I sure as hell don’t want to have to rely on a pirated version to play the game the way I want to.  Hell, I was really looking forward to Red Alert 3, but now I’m not sure if I’m going to purchase it or not.  I really do not want to reward companies for instituting this kind of nonsense in any way. 

  14. 0
    Lex-Man says:

    Couldn’t the installs thing top up after a certain amount of time.  Say you start with five and then every year one is added up to a maximum of five, or they just drop the limit thing after a set amount of time say five years.


  15. 0
    DarkTetsuya says:

    "That’s what I don’t understand about the "5 install" limit on mulitple computers.  I understand the idea of limited installs IN THEORY.  But is it really so hard to say "We’ll give you back the install when you uninstall it"?"

    When it’d be easier to bend over the consumer into getting them that much closer to plunking down another $60 for a replacement copy?

    They do need to add the part about the SecuROM.exe virus, though.

    — "Jack and listen are two words that don’t go together…just like Jack and sanity, Jack and truth, Jack and proof, Jack and win…" — sortableturnip |

  16. 0
    nighstalker160 says:

    That’s what I don’t understand about the "5 install" limit on mulitple computers.  I understand the idea of limited installs IN THEORY.  But is it really so hard to say "We’ll give you back the install when you uninstall it"?

    Gamers certainly have to be willing to compromise and having to manually uninstall all your games before reformating or doing a major upgrade is a fairly minor inconveinence in the grand scheme of things.  I’d be more than happy to do that (provided I don’t lose my savegames, but most games nowadays don’t take savegames when you uninstall) before installing say a new video card or anything else that doesn’t require a reformat.  And if something did require a reformat, it isn’t asking much to go through an uninstall all your games before doing the wipe.

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