Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Latest OnLine DRM Fiasco

Einstein defined idiocy as doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting a different outcome. A definition I was reminded of after the latest Must-be-OnLine-to-play disaster. If there ever were an attempt to prove that there is, indeed, bad publicity,  the release of SimCity 2013 sure was it.

Mega-publishers are repeatedly trying to turn the beautiful artform of gaming into a utility, where "gaming content" will be streaming to your TV or PC or phone - and you will be charged by the second for it. Monopolistic issues aside for the moment, are they even remotely ready for such a model? It matter because their every attempt is (involuntarily!) financed by the customers they manage to scam in paying for games that do not deliver the gaming experience advertised. Paying for a product or a service that you do not receive because the seller planed it this way is the definition of a scam. So calling it an idiocy is in fact generous

Let's count the number of times the same idiocy was repeated, shall we? BioShockSpore, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell (or any UbiSoft game at this point), Command & Conquer IV (was that a stinker!), Diablo III, SimCity 2013 (and every single EA game requiring Origin). The list is long and it could go on.

The problem with gaming today is not the hard-working and creative people working in game studios but the executives at the top of game publishing houses, the likes of EA, ActiVision/Blizzard and 2K.

They do not love, comprehend or even care about the product they are marketing. They might as well be peddling sacks of potatoes. And they clearly do not care about the game developers who provide them with games to market. They only care about one thing: their annual bonuses. And their bonuses depend solely on last trimester's profits.

That is why they operate on a very short-sighted basis.
Sell the most popular games for over $150 by portioning them in thin DLC slices? Sure!
Release games before they are completed to catch the Summer or Christmas market? Why not?
Exploit and truncate a beloved franchise in order to promote the new Digital Distribution DRM? Go ahead!
Ruin the experience of most paying customers by forcing them to log on to servers that do not exist? Who is to stop us?

They do not care about the company they are running (and the bigger it is, the easier to dissociate) because this time next year they may be running a company selling hardware or health care insurance or weed control. So, they do not care whether they insult, make angry and chase away customers the company they are now running enjoyed for years. It takes almost a decade for a game studio to acquire a loyal fan base. Yet it only takes a couple of months to chase them away never to come back.
But the bozos at the top do not care. They will have grabbed their fat bonuses and run.Who is there to stop them?

Well, we all are. I, for one, have stopped buying EA and UbiSoft games for some time now.

We are the Gandalfs standing in the bridge they want to cross. And THEY. SHALL NOT. PASS.

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