The Needles

The Needles: How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

Andy Chalk | 26 Jan 2010 21:00
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This is where I start to get angry. Legitimate attempts to protect intellectual property are one thing, but trying to put one over on people is another matter entirely. And that's all this is. Even though you can dispute the accuracy of claims by Cevat Yerli that Crysis was pirated 20 times more often than it was purchased or that the industry is losing a furbillion dollars a month to illegal file sharing or whatever the hottest unverifiable statistic of the moment may be, it's still pretty much universally acknowledged that piracy is to one extent or another taking a toll on the PC game industry. That's a fair complaint.

But hopping onto the "No SecuROM" bandwagon and pretending that you're doing gamers a solid while at the same time enjoying exactly the same "benefits" by way of a different system - which, for the record, is a big fat turd in its own right - is disingenuous at best.

For the record, I predicted all this years ago. I don't want to sound like the crazy old coot who sees aliens and government conspiracies everywhere he looks, but it was around ought-four, I reckon, when I discovered to my dismay that it was no longer enough to just pay for a game and install it on my computer. This new-fangled gadget called Steam demanded its own kind of tribute and if you didn't pay, you didn't play. I said back then that this exciting and ridiculously convenient new system of supporting and updating videogames would one day turn around and bite us in the ass, and I'm feeling a mighty powerful urge to start pointing my finger and yelling "I told you so!" at anyone who accidentally makes eye contact with me.

Okay, so that sounds a little paranoid. And I probably shouldn't be too surprised by Take-Two's willingness to treat its customers like morons. This is, after all, an industry that seems determined to shoot itself in the foot, or at least the PC, one way or another. Be it with "day one DLC" that punishes not only gamers who dare to buy pre-owned games but also the retail partners who sell them, or the outright abandonment of the PC as a platform, game publishers seem increasingly disdainful of the keyboard and the mouse and the gamers who love them.

Which doesn't change the fact that this is still one of the boldest, most barefaced switcheroos I've ever seen pulled. I don't even know if "switcheroo" is the right word for this; I honestly don't know what to call it. But the technical terminology isn't important. What really matters is whether gamers will see through this ruse and, perhaps more to the point, whether they'll care - not about the DRM, necessarily, but about the way it's being sold to us. I hope we're not as dumb as they think we are, but I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about how that's going to work out.

Note: This article previously misidentified Irrational Games as the developer of BioShock 2. The Escapist apologizes for the error.

Andy Chalk still hasn't made up his mind about BioShock 2 but it's a safe bet he won't be standing in line for it on release day.

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