No, Sim City Debacle Doesn't Mean Gamers Need A Bill Of Rights

from the vote-with-your-dollar dept

Like any good debacle, this whole Sim City SNAFU breeds all manner of hostility. The reviews have begun to reflect the incredible amount of frustration at EA’s mis-forecast of their launch-date readiness. Even retailers are poking the bear, so to speak, by offering reminders that past iterations of Sim City don’t have the same problems and are still super fun to play. The calls for boycotts have been getting louder. But let’s be careful not to slip into the land of the silly.

And by silly, I mean launching into a diatribe about how awfully the launch was handled by EA and then concluding that all gamers obviously need a wordily constructed Bill Of Rights. The explanation of what gamers shouldn’t stand for isn’t bad, actually.

We shouldn’t only be upset that EA didn’t have enough servers running for the game’s launch. We should be upset that it was unnecessarily designed from the ground up to require an always-on online component. We should be upset that a series that has always been large and single-player has been made small and multiplayer with gamers having no choice in the matter. This wasn’t an issue of not enough servers and poor planning. This was an issue of ignoring gamers’ needs and wants in favor of a system that treats users as children and criminals.

Hell yes! I’m pissed off about it too, and I didn’t even buy the damned game. I’m just angry by proxy, the use of which would likely cause a server connection error if I actually did try to play the game! What the hell, let’s do something about, comrades! What’s first? Storm EA’s building and issue them stern looks and wagging fingers? Tweet at them with specific insults about their lineage? Wrap aging cheese up in tin foil and mail it to their offices as a kind of methodical stink bomb? C’mon!

Because of this, I offer the Gamers’ Bill of Rights. It enumerates what we should expect from game developers, publishers, and retailers, and limits the unnecessary and offensive overuse of copy-protection measures. We should be able to expect a certain level of support for the games we buy, and we should feel safe in the fact that they won’t violate our computers when we run them.

Yeah! That’ll teach–wait, what? So…we’re essentially going to tell game publishers what we want from them? Don’t we…kind of do that already? Isn’t that what buying their products is? Do we not have the option to boycott, to buy elsewhere, and all that? Hey, how long is this Bill Of Rights, anyway? 355 words!?!?

You know what, let me see if I can create my own gamer bill of rights that is just a single bullet point.

1. Gamers have the right not to give money to assholes

The end.

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Companies: ea

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Comments on “No, Sim City Debacle Doesn't Mean Gamers Need A Bill Of Rights”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Isn’t the issue that those that bought the game don’t know or understand the issue at hand? Yes they go out and buy willy-nilly, but does that mean that if they knew they still would?

Who are these unconcerned purchasers? What would it take to direct factual information at them? If you want to get EA to hear, then one needs to speak directly to all of their consumers. Where’s that, Facebook? Twitter? Reddit? Something else?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

While those who are aware and still buy are…I wanna say ‘strangle-worthy’ but that’s way too harsh…let’s say ‘not helping’, it must be said that there’s a bunch of folk out there for whom the terms DRM or always on-line or even install limits mean little or nothing, IF THEY EVEN KNOW TO KNOW such terms. Or know to ask or research or have any awareness at all of these things that could or will become issues after purchase.

It’s not like publishers will tell them – this game is called SimCity, not SimCity On-Line, which is really what it is. I could see someone picking it up and not even completely understanding what is said on the packaging, presuming anything useful or thorough or completely accurate is said on the packaging.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

These people:

People buy into advertising, people buy into psychological tricks. Some people just aren’t “gamers” they don’t know they are playing a bad game.

EA markets well. They get tons of people talking about it before it releases. It has all kinds of previews, media coverage, nerds excitedly rambling on the internet, and a tiny beta that only lets you see how shiny it is. EA get tons of money from preorders and day one purchases.

Gamers get angry and buy tropico on sale on steam and children and casuals tell their kid friends and other non gamers how awesome it is and not to listen to the neckbeards and people still buy it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“”1. Gamers have the right not to give money to assholes””

“Feel pity for these poor folk, with their lack of restraint and good sense.”

Once upon a time, I did. I took the time to show my friends some Open Source games. Most of them snubbed their noses and went about buying the latest installment of whatever was popular. I continued to play OSS games and saw improvements and fixes to something I got for free while they dumped money into badly deployed (sometimes just plain bad) games, then whined about their “rights”. While they whined, I wrote documentation as a volunteer for one the games I was playing and got to provide input on the direction the game was going. Point is, your most powerful “right” is your right-of-choice and you already have that.

Please don’t ask someone to legislate more for you. You don’t need it and legislation always has unintended consequences.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

Actually there should be two law invoked that would prevent this from happening and prevent EA or any other game creator from doing what EA has done.

If a game does not work as expected when it is purchased the gamer has 7 days to request a refund.

NO DRM : that is no drm at all that affects the player. Yes have a code that you have to use to install the game, but that is it , nothing more than that.And if there is drm and it affects the person playing at any time during the first year of purchase, then allow a refund in that first year.

If there was a returns policy gaming companies would not be releasing crap like they are to unsuspecting gamers, and getting away with the loot in doing so.


It's a bit deeper than that.

This situation highlights the fact that individual property rights are under attack. This isn’t just about games. This isn’t even just about “intellectual property”. This is about everything as even something like a watch can be distorted to the point where it’s “intellectual property” too.

Basic individual liberties are under attack.

It’s not a gamers “bill of rights”, it’s just the plain old original. It’s a much broader issue.

Personal property rights individuals are being held as less important than the statutory rights of corporations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's a bit deeper than that.

Exactly, my thoughts. If I buy it, you don’t get to tell me what I can do with it after I bought it. EA has the right to release a game with a crappy DRM. I have the right to remove the DRM and fix their crappy game for my own enjoyment. THAT is what needs to be in the bill of rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh I don’t know, isn’t there room for people to be able to purchase something they do like without having to give permission for a whole lot of things they don’t like.

A warranty often starts off with the fact that despite everything they are about to offer, nothing about them affects your statutory rights, it says that because it has to, because nothing they say no matter how balanced and generous can supersede the manufacturer’s legal liabilities.
Wouldn’t it be nice for games to offer us everything we want in a game without having to trade that off against giving up control or ownership of your game or your computer.
The choice to buy or not buy is a bit crude and simplistic in the modern world where a canny company can run rings around you with conditions you’ve never read that can mean things you never thought of or could think of in relation to how it affects your life.
A persons internet connection is there for their benefit, not for the benefit of a games manufacturer for example. You may have an always on connection but that doesn’t give a games manufacturer a right to use it for their own purposes. Just as you may have a dvd player on your computer but games companies shouldn’t expect or have any right to be able to use that to require that their dvd or cd is always in an accessible drive when that isn’t necessary.


Re: Personal property and the UCC

Newsflash: Gaming is not a right. Wonder what brilliant mind came up with this…

Personal property is. That includes “entertainment” products. The fact that a form of personal property is somehow marginal or distasteful doesn’t excuse trampling individual liberty.

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Isn’t this the EXACT same thing as changing radio stations?

There are legal standards for product quality. These should apply equally to “intellectual property”. Media moguls want their stuff treated like something real. They should get the legal responsibilities that go along with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

or is it the exact same thing as finding that the terms and conditions of the radio manufacturer won’t allow you to change their preferred radio stations and they’ve managed to get laws passed that would mean if you circumvented their ban on changing the radio station you could be fined and or sent to jail.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Gaming is a right, it’s a freedom of expression thing. The developers are expressing themselves by making the game, I’m expressing myself by playing the game (Or not as in this case).

Gaming also falls under pursuit of happiness. As with everything that falls under pursuit of happiness, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s rights, go for it.

Your argument about being happy killing others really raises questions about your intelligence level.

Beech says:

Re: Re:

But consumer rights are rights. As for changing radio stations, it’s like being charged $50 to listen to a radio station only to find out that it’s static. No refunds. Found a way to re-encode that static to an actual audio signal? Sorry, that’s illegal even though you paid to listen to that station already.

THAT is how it’s different. “Changing the radio station” doesn’t involve a costly bait-and-switch. Put on the station (free) don’t like it? Change it (still free). Buy a game ($$$$$). Is it an inoperable brick? Fuck you: No refund! The DIFFERENCE is radio hasn’t made itself a worse experience at EVERY turn to stop a minority of people from doing something they don’t like (when the EXPERIENCE is the whole damn point of the thing.

Buy a game? Expensive as hell because they need to recoup the money they “lose” on piracy.

Can’t run a game? Sorry, had to cripple it to stop pirates, even though they can play it and only you, who paid, cannot.

Want to return a game for being crap/not working? Nope! What if you burned the CD/DVD and pirated it? Why would someone buy, pirate, and return a game when they could just torrent it? Who cares? No refunds.

Want to crack the game you just legally bought and are now stuck with just to make it functional? Oops, illegal. Piracy, move along citizens.

So: yeah. Try to pick a slightly LESS stupid analogy next time.

Beech says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, a Car Analogy is more appropriate

“Hey, I just bought this car from you, and it won’t start.”

“Well yeah. Duh. If the cars actually ran a car thief could come and take them. We’re trying to run a business here.”

“Well, I BOUGHT the car and kind of need it to run…you know what. Nevermind. I would like my money back.”

“Woah woah woah buddy! No refunds! This ain’t a taxi service. How do I know you didn’t just take the car out to do whatever, and now that you don’t need it anymore you’re trying to get a free rental out of me?”

“Besides that it doesn’t run at all…?”

“Maybe you fixed it, ran your errands, brought it back, and broke it again.”

“Oh, so it can be fixed?”

“Well sure, you just got to hook the battery back up. It’s simple.”

“Ok, I’ll do that then. Thanks.”

“Waaaaait a second there, Sparky! You can’t hook the battery back up! It’s against the law!”

“Why in the world would it be…”

“Because that’s exactly what a car thief would do! They would fix the car so they could steal it! We made SURE they made a law against that kind of shenanigans!”

LATER THAT NIGHT: The car lot’s entire inventory disappears overnight because apparently, some unscrupulous know how to connect a battery cable. Some wanted free cars. Some just wanted the car they FRIGGIN BOUGHT UNDER THE ASSUMPTION IT SHOULD BE WORKING!

Anonymous Coward says:

What would happen to anybody who get into your home and turn off the TV you bought and said to you you are not to watch anything that they didn’t authorize?

Now how come people accept copyright owners doing this exact same thing with the help of technology?

People wanting to get paid is ok, people wanting to get paid at the expense of my own rights is not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Minor point...

“We should be upset that it was unnecessarily designed from the ground up to require an always-on online component.”

The fact that it has an always-on online component may have been PLANNED from the beginning but it wasn’t “designed from the ground up to require” it. Designing it from the ground up would mean that the entire architecture of the game would rely on it making it such that the game would not be playable in any form without it. As the previous article demonstrated, that simply isn’t the case.

SMobius says:

how about an easy way to identify the assholes

As the assholes tend to ignore even basic consumer rights if they can get away with it a bill of rights seems a bit pointless.

On the other hand adhering to a published code of conduct which granted the right to put Gamer friendly logo of some sort on you product might not be a bad thing for the consumers. If you could find someone trustworthy to decide who got it..


Anonymous Coward says:

TotalBiscuit said it the best...

Don’t pre-order. Once you pre-order, you’re giving your money to the publisher on release day regardless of whether the game is good/bad/broken and at that stage the publisher doesn’t care about how upset you are. They have your money and will use every excuse not to give it back.

As far as the Finance department of EA is concerned, this game was a huge success with millions of copies being sold. Millions of copies were sold, because they were bought before everyone realized how shit the game was.

I know we can’t wait for our games now (me inclusive), but I’m forcing myself to wait at least 1 friggen day and read at least one review before even considering buying a game at the $50-$60 price range.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: TotalBiscuit said it the best...

I would tend to agree with you to a point. Once they have your cash, whether the game is terrible or broken no longer matters… you aren’t getting a refund. The fact that anyone would give EA any money at all amazes me, but giving it to them before even seeing the product is insane.

Where I disagree is ever paying 50-60 bucks for a game in the first place. There are simply too many good games that can be played for free or at a reasonable price on Steam/GOG to even consider dropping that kind of cash for the “new shiny thing”. Too many people fall into that category, but at least for EA, it seems like every new game they release loses more customers than they gain, so hopefully after a few more like this they’ll just be gone for good.

Rick says:

What if you did buy it?

It seems like a lot of people are missing the point. Yes people hate the DRM, and you’re right – don’t like it then don’t buy it. It was obvious up front.
Beyond the server issues they are having – What if after you bought it, it’s been buggy and they are unable to deliver what they promised? (They have disabled features too.) You can’t return it – it’s in the terms. You can’t get a refund, it’s against their policy. If you do a chargeback, they ban your entire account – locking you out of all their games that you liked and already ‘licensed’.

Those issues should have some sort of legislated rights. The new changes to the fact you can’t buy anything digital anymore, only ‘license’ it, has given all the protection to the publishers and screwed the gamers.

Random says:

May need some rights

I probably don’t think gamers should tell what makers should add and what not..

But I do believe that there is a bill of rights needed to allow gamers to do what ever they want once they buy it.
The right to make back ups, etc.

And maybe for a privacy protection too.

Honestly if this article is denying all that, then this article really upsets me. Because not only we have the right to buy, we need the right to have the rights of owning that copy as well. Even if we just download it for free.

Anonymous Coward says:

For me it’s very simple. If a game includes any form of DRM, then I won’t buy it.

The most idiotic part about DRM is that you can get a better version for free through file sharing. In other words, people give away for free a copy that’s better than the version you have to pay for. Wake up industry! Give people a reason to give you money instead of giving them a reason to pirate your software.

Englebert the Immensely Well Endowed In Trouser Sn says:

EA have the right to sell absolutely anything they want.

They can sell games; they can sell licences to access servers; they can sell their own home-made cheese. It should be up to the market to say “no, I don’t want to buy that”, and vote with their cash by spending it elsewhere.

There is an element of futility for people to buy the product and then complain it doesn’t work how they want or give the result they want. If the DRM is such that it impinges on the game itself, then don’t buy it. EA are not required to produce the product people want – but, unfortunately, enough people still pay their money to encourage the company to do it again and again.

I do think that statutory rights should be updated to reflect the trend to sell services rather than goods, and there should be mandatory markings to indicate which you’re paying for.

Englebert the Immensely Well Endowed In Trouser Sn says:

Re: EA have the right to sell absolutely anything they want.

I should that, since they’re effectively asking customers to contract to them under a service on their service, they should be required to commit to quality agreement clauses such as up-time guarantees. Otherwise there seems to be no way for EA to be in breach of such contract.

allll says:

No “Gamer Bill of Rights”? Sure, but its not like a few customers can band together and file a class action lawsuit. I fail to see how this will fix things since it could drag on for years in the courts and be completely moot by the time a decision is made. What would EA do other than possibly give them all a coupon for money off a future EA purchase which is basically what they did last week.

Players are already taking matters into their own hands with the new hacking tools. This is a very similar scenario to self-hacking/jailbreaking smartphones like the Iphone and rooting Android phones. When the manfacturer fails to deliver a good product, if there is a significant community/customer base for the product they band together and eventually come up with the a solution.

Anonymous Cowherd says:

DRM warning labels

There is one thing that really needs legislating about DRM: Disclosure.

There should be mandatory warnings not just that the software has it, not just a throwaway line in the system requirements saying you need an internet connection, but what it really means. A big yellow warning sticker that lists in no uncertain terms all the consequences an “always-on” DRM actually has. Especially the part where the manufacturer can, and eventually will, render the entire product completely useless by discontinuing server support.

I’d imagine such a sticker would cover most of the box of SimCity.

Anonymous Coward says:


No, there is actually very little room for buying something without accepting all the waivers of quality and/or support for aspects that the publisher wants. And it’s getting less so every day. This is because “games are a service” now and not a “product”.
With a product – coffee maker – you are entitled by law to it being able to make coffee for you within a built-in warranty about working “out of the box”. Were the company to LEND you a coffee maker (licensing it), saying with the caveat that it may or may not work at all times, you have no right to demand it work when it fails to.

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