The SimCity debacle — it’s your fault

I’m going to make this short and sweet:

If you bought SimCity knowing it had always-on DRM, you’re contributing to the continued decline of gaming and the erosion of your rights as a consumer.

You’re telling the publishers that you don’t mind them treating you like a criminal with a potentially unlimited wallet they can suck dry with DLC.

Consumer protection laws in the US don’t protect software purchases. Someone did the math and realized that at release, SimCity worked about 10% of the time. 10%. If your vacuum cleaner only turned on 1 out of every 10 times, would you deal with it, or would you return it and get one that worked? Well, software developers don’t have to let you do that. They can tell you to go fuck yourself. Dispute the charge on your credit card, and you risk having your entire account banned.

Software developers are in an unusual position of being able to treat their products as both products and services. You can’t share your games, even within your own household, because they claim you need one copy per computer, just as you would a physical product. And yet, they also want to act as if their games are services, subject to their whims regarding usage. If EA shuts down the SimCity servers, you can’t play the game any more (without hacks, at least, and that assumes EA doesn’t patch those out). If they only want to ship half a game and make you buy the other half via DLC, they can do that, too. Hell, they could leave off key elements, liking saving the game, or the UI, or the ending, and you can’t do a damn thing about it. No refunds, not even for a digital download.

There is only one way to fight it: VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET. Don’t buy games from companies that have anti-consumer DRM. Don’t let them treat you like a criminal. Make them make games that are fun, not just money-generators. That means:

Don’t preorder, especially if you haven’t tried a demo or seen gameplay footage, and especially if you don’t agree with the DRM.

Boycott companies that have always-online DRM for single-player games. Yes, the entire company. Ubisoft backed off their DRM because it was hurting their bottom line. I haven’t bought an Ubisoft game in years, and I know a lot of other people who haven’t done so, either. If they ever fix the DRM for Anno 2070, I’ll be glad to purchase it, but a three-activation limit and signing in through Uplay (despite already signing in to Steam) makes it still a no-purchase.

Don’t buy DLC before its released. Those Season Passes are becoming a popular way to pre-buy DLC, but you’re buying something without even knowing what you’re going to get. Wait until you actually know what you’re buying. Make them have to earn your money.

We can return to the days when AAA meant a truly fun game, not a console port with pretty graphics, loads of DLC, and not much else. We can make publishers stop treating their paying customers like criminals. But we can’t do this if people do nothing but bitch-and-buy. Because if you do that, don’t be surprised to find that someone keeps feeding you shit; you’ve proven you’re willing to eat it.


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