The Needles: You Only Have Yourself To Blame

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Fenixius:
Oh wow. I am disappointed. As someone who is decidedly not to blame for this (ie: non-pirate, non-purchaser of DRM-laden products), I am insulted by you when you try to wake people up and get some accountability going, but then turn around and just laugh when people try to discuss it with you.

Yeah, god forbid we try to inject a little fun into this. It's not like we're talking about videogames or anything.

Get over it.

matrix3509:

Andy Chalk:

Sorry, dude. People who get caught in earthquakes are victims. People who bought Asscreed 2 for the PC are consumers who either made an informed choice or couldn't be bothered to make an informed choice. Either way, sow, reap, etc.

So to take your metaphor to its logical conclusion.

"Sorry mister earthquake victim about losing your house, wife, children, dog, and everyone you ever knew, but you were knowingly living in an area that had a potential to have earthquake. You took the chance, and now you are paying for it, tough shit."

Yup, makes sense.

Also, why the hell does buying a piece of entertainment require making an informed choice? What the hell happened to just buying a fucking game, going home, playing it, and not having any fear of being ass raped later on?

That's not remotely the logical conclusion. If you are walking down a street and you get mauled by a lion, you can hardly be blamed for it. If someone tells you to stick your hand in a lions mouth, you do it and it get bit off, it's your own damn fault.

If anyone actually bothered to read the damn thing, he's not defending Ubisoft, he's just saying "If you knew about this DRM and you still bought it. You have no right to complain, because you knew damn well this could happen."

nametakentwice:
*snip*

Anti-gamer? Hardly. My entire point is that the consumer has to protect him or herself. Ubisoft isn't going to look after your best interests, only you are. You deserve to get the best experience you can for your hard-earned money, but their are two sides to that equation. The first is Ubisoft's -- in exchange for your $60, they should provide a functional game. You can't control whether they do or not, though. Your side of the equation is being heads-up enough to protect yourself and make smart purchases based on what you know. If you think that by expecting gamers to empower themselves I'm insulting them, then I'm afraid you've grossly misinterpreted my point.

The single best way for gamers to make sure Ubisoft - or anyone else - doesn't have DRM like this again is to simply not buy the game. Your dollars speak louder than any comment on any forum ever will.

Andy Chalk:

Gildan Bladeborn:
Victims was hyperbole on my part sure, but is it really so unreasonable to believe people can simply purchase games that looked enjoyable and expect them to function as advertised? I hardly think a "reap what you sow" is applicable - the only sin of the paying customers who purchased this game is "wanting to play a fun title on their PC". Not everyone even knows to be mad about DRM, let alone what it is and why they should be angry, and (this part is key) they shouldn't have to.

But it is functioning as advertised. "If the servers fail, you don't play." And that's precisely what happened.

And as long as you're promoting willful ignorance in the consumer, do you think it's okay for them to scream like they've been kneecapped if they get home and discover their videocard won't support the game? Or that their processor can't keep up?

I think you're overstating it.

If this problem were an issue limited to people on say the Escapist alone, undoubtedly you'd be right. We're all here because we're immersed in the culture, it'd be hard to hang around this website and not know what DRM is.

But even then you cannot expect people to share your skepticism. Many people want to believe the creators of a technology will work. Because most of the time it normally does. To blame a consumer for trusting the seller despite obvious risks which they may not even be aware of is unfair.

It's unfair to think that everyone should share your mentality. As for Susan's response of not buying a DRM? I think that's even worse. Why should everyone care? It's easy for you to say since you're in the industry, but do you honestly think that all people who play games is as passionate or even self-aware as yourself.

You can't expect everyone to meet your standards.

I feel like I should clarify some of my points, although honestly I'm not entirely sure how to go about it since most of the counter-arguments seem to focus on the idea that consumers have every right to be as ignorant as they can possibly be about their entertainment choices. And that's fair enough. All I'm saying is, if you put yourself in that position and it doesn't work out real well for you, don't pretend that you have no culpability.

Here's a story I like to tell that I think actually fits this situation rather nicely. Over the summer, some friends and I toddled off to the theater to see Watchmen. Just as the movie was about to begin, a man, I'd say late 30s, maybe early 40s, came walking in with his son - who was maybe late 8, maybe early 9. They had a bag of corn, and they settled down in one of the middle rows, next to an aisle, ready to kick back and enjoy their superhero movie.

I don't know if you've seen Watchmen (and if you haven't, you really should) but it ain't your every-day X-Men-style superhero movie. Lot of peen in that movie. Big, blue peen. A drawn-out sex scene or two. The violence is brief but harsh, although nothing too unusual in this day and age, but man... lot of peen.

Anyway, they put up with it for awhile but the big love scene finally pushed them over the edge, and they were gone before it was over. So what happened? Dude looked at the poster, saw some costumes, figured it would be a good movie to watch with his boy and was probably very surprised when it didn't work out quite like he expected. Who's responsible?

Andy Chalk:
*snip*

The main argument you make is "buyer beware"

Which is a fair enough point. If you know the risks, than you shouldn't be surprised when it happens. Although I think a person still holds the right to complain.

But the feeling I think we're all getting from your article and even Susan's position is that we've done something wrong. Because of ideologies we may or may not hold we are suppose to behave in a certain way. Yes it's true, we're responsible for our entertainment choices. Yes it is true it is better to make an informed choice. However you forget that we're buying a game, not a car.

I think I speak for many of us when I say we're offended that we're somehow in your eyes seen as "culprits" in all of this. Even if we were aware, and let's assume that we have knowledge down to the letter concerning the AC2 DRM issue, what is so wrong about buying a game we wanted to play?

As for you Watchmen comparison, there are clearly classifications on the poster. It was clearly the man's fault and he was an idiot to bring in his child. But you cannot compare that situation to this one. Classifications are pretty obvious, DRM fine print is not.

Andy Chalk:
Yeah, god forbid we try to inject a little fun into this. It's not like we're talking about videogames or anything.

Get over it.

I'm sorry if I take this a little more seriously than you do. I made the "right" (ie: pro-consumer) choice, and it doesn't matter because a lot of people didn't. It's not like you're wrong - people need to take some level of accountability. But I know that the reserved collector's edition of AC2 I had preordered was sold before I could come in to collect my refund, after I told the guy on the phone that morning that I didn't want it anymore. And the people you write to, here on The Escapist, aren't really the sorts of people who're causing this problem.

I know I spoke strongly, Chalk, but it's frustrating seeing the medium I like be damaged, maybe irreparably because people are stupid, and then see writers who have the chance to communicate on a larger scale than me, potentially to people who might make a difference take that chance flippantly, even in part.

Doesn't help that I am also very, very angry that I can't play Assassin's Creed 2, and may not be able to play Splinter Cell: Convictions.

So, what, should people ignore a good game because the people who made DRM for it are idiots?

I think that, maybe, just maybe, some people wanted to play the game they've been waiting ages to play so badly they took a chance with Ubisoft's crappy DRM and now they're angry because this stupid system is screwing them over.

It's just not a good way to go running a business, treating all your customers like they're potential criminals.

Andy Chalk:
I feel like I should clarify some of my points, although honestly I'm not entirely sure how to go about it since most of the counter-arguments seem to focus on the idea that consumers have every right to be as ignorant as they can possibly be about their entertainment choices. And that's fair enough. All I'm saying is, if you put yourself in that position and it doesn't work out real well for you, don't pretend that you have no culpability.

Here's a story I like to tell that I think actually fits this situation rather nicely. Over the summer, some friends and I toddled off to the theater to see Watchmen. Just as the movie was about to begin, a man, I'd say late 30s, maybe early 40s, came walking in with his son - who was maybe late 8, maybe early 9. They had a bag of corn, and they settled down in one of the middle rows, next to an aisle, ready to kick back and enjoy their superhero movie.

I don't know if you've seen Watchmen (and if you haven't, you really should) but it ain't your every-day X-Men-style superhero movie. Lot of peen in that movie. Big, blue peen. A drawn-out sex scene or two. The violence is brief but harsh, although nothing too unusual in this day and age, but man... lot of peen.

Anyway, they put up with it for awhile but the big love scene finally pushed them over the edge, and they were gone before it was over. So what happened? Dude looked at the poster, saw some costumes, figured it would be a good movie to watch with his boy and was probably very surprised when it didn't work out quite like he expected. Who's responsible?

I understand where you're coming from...I really do. But the vast majority of people are like the man in your example.

Many people in this thread keep hammering off how easy to use the internet is and how nobody has an excuse to be ill informed. I'll use and example off of Shamus Young's blog as an example of why this is a logical fallacy:http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=7244

We who call ourselves well informed are in the vast minority. It won't change any time soon, because many ill informed people DO NOT DESIRE to be informed.

Wrong in sooooooooooooooooooooo many ways.

DoW Lowen:

Andy Chalk:
*snip*

The main argument you make is "buyer beware"

Which is a fair enough point. If you know the risks, than you shouldn't be surprised when it happens. Although I think a person still holds the right to complain.

But the feeling I think we're all getting from your article and even Susan's position is that we've done something wrong. Because of ideologies we may or may not hold we are suppose to behave in a certain way. Yes it's true, we're responsible for our entertainment choices. Yes it is true it is better to make an informed choice. However you forget that we're buying a game, not a car.

I think I speak for many of us when I say we're offended that we're somehow in your eyes seen as "culprits" in all of this. Even if we were aware, and let's assume that we have knowledge down to the letter concerning the AC2 DRM issue, what is so wrong about buying a game we wanted to play?

Nothing at all, so long as you're willing to accept the potential consequences of that decision. As you say, it all boils down to "buyer beware." It's certainly not the consumer's fault that Ubisoft instituted this DRM or that the servers went down, but it is your fault if you put yourself in a position to be affected by it.

Also, I'm a bit confused by one point you made. "We're buying a game, not a car." I just don't follow your point...sure, one purchase is a great deal larger than other, and one is a luxury while the other is a necessity, but a purchase is a purchase, no?

DoW Lowen:
I think I speak for many of us when I say we're offended that we're somehow in your eyes seen as "culprits" in all of this.

You are a "culprit" in this. An accomplice, a cohort, whatever. You supported Ubisoft's DRM by giving them your money. That's not a judgment, that's a fact. Being offended because I had the temerity to point it out doesn't change anything.

DoW Lowen:
As for you Watchmen comparison, there are clearly classifications on the poster. It was clearly the man's fault and he was an idiot to bring in his child. But you cannot compare that situation to this one. Classifications are pretty obvious, DRM fine print is not.

I'm just going to quote this because I think it needs to be said twice.

Andy Chalk:

Gildan Bladeborn:
Victims was hyperbole on my part sure, but is it really so unreasonable to believe people can simply purchase games that looked enjoyable and expect them to function as advertised? I hardly think a "reap what you sow" is applicable - the only sin of the paying customers who purchased this game is "wanting to play a fun title on their PC". Not everyone even knows to be mad about DRM, let alone what it is and why they should be angry, and (this part is key) they shouldn't have to.

But it is functioning as advertised. "If the servers fail, you don't play." And that's precisely what happened.

And as long as you're promoting willful ignorance in the consumer, do you think it's okay for them to scream like they've been kneecapped if they get home and discover their videocard won't support the game? Or that their processor can't keep up?

I think we're operating under entirely different interpretations of the word "advertising" here. But as for your question, yes, of course it's okay for somebody to "scream like they've been kneecapped" in that scenario - they just purchased something they almost certainly can't return that doesn't work. What they shouldn't do is rant at the company that publishes the game, unless the reason it doesn't work is the minimum specifications being filthy lies.

Now back to the advertising thing - the 'advertising' says "requires an online connection to play". That's it - Ubisoft's PR spin presented some hypothetical scenarios about what happens if you get disconnected, but they were all from the perspective of your internet connection being patchy or otherwise suddenly unavailable.

There was precisely zero advertising that told prospective consumers the risks of Ubisoft's servers getting attacked and shutting them out of their single player games as a result of those attacks - online naysaying by the likes of us is not actually advertising.

Hurr Durr Derp:
I agree 100%. While I'm not about to place the blame for what happened anywhere but at Ubisoft's feet, it's the gamers' own fault for being affected by Ubisoft's mistakes.

If you're paying to support and stimulate Ubisoft's retarded schemes, you deserve to reap the consequences. For better or worse.

well, nothing to add there, isn't it? and thus... /sign !!

Apart from steam, I have consciously chosen to avoid any game that limits my access in any way - whether it be limited installs, 'must connect' DRM or whatever (I still don't own spore or Crysis warhead - two games I would like to play, but won't for that reason).

Its a little depressing this happened as soon as it did, but it is fair to say when the facts are put in front of you, you ignore them at your own risk.

I won't be buying pc games from any company that does this kind of "always online" form of DRM (I'm looking at you EA with C&C4) and not just Ubisoft. BUT I will not be pirating these games either. I'm going to make a stand in my own small way. If the game is really something I can't live without, then I'll relent and buy the Xbox 360 version used (deny the ahole publisher any income from the game). If a publisher offers friendly (like disc check only) or no DRM on a game, then hell yes I'll buy it, even if it's something I'm only lukewarm about.

I wish more video gamers weren't such tools and stand up to the publishers who constantly crap on them. The fact that many gamers are under 30 might have something to do with them not caring about what will happen to their purchases a few years down the road. Most people under 30 aren't really familiar in having something for 10+ years.

DoW Lowen:

It's unfair to think that everyone should share your mentality. As for Susan's response of not buying a DRM? I think that's even worse. Why should everyone care? It's easy for you to say since you're in the industry, but do you honestly think that all people who play games is as passionate or even self-aware as yourself.

You can't expect everyone to meet your standards.

I don't. I'm very aware that most folks buying games don't know a tenth of what someone on this site does, and honestly, they're the ones I feel worst for in this situation. All they know is they bought a game they now can't play. They likely don't even understand why. It just doesn't work, and they can't take it back. That's an awful situation.

My comments about not buying a game with insidious DRM are directed solely at people who a) know what it is, and b) have a problem with it and/or don't want Ubi to continue making games with it.

That's quite insulting to think that EVERYONE who's capable of finding a forum about some game that isn't working was able to "do their homework" about DRM. The casual gamer will buy a game in the store and expect it to work - without having to do any BULLSHIT homework.

To be fair to Ubisoft, steam was a bag of fail when HL2 first came out. The pirates were enjoying the game a good 12 hours before the legit purchasers were (depending on their internet connection speed :)

Gamers should NOT be responsible for the fine print in the game's EULA. They shouldn't have to know what the word "DRM" means at all.

Car buyers are not responsible for making sure they buy a functional and safe car. Car manufacturers and distributors are responsible. It should be the same way for software: just walk up and return it.

I am so glad Andy wrote this. I was afraid of getting lynched if I tried to do ANOTHER DRM column, but SOMEONE had to talk about this.

It really is sad all around. Wasn't this hobby supposed to be about having fun? I could swear I remember there being something about fun...

Yeah it is totally the fault of those car buyers for not debugging all 2 millions lines in the Toyota drive by wire software.

Or to extrapolate it is totally the fault of anyone who buys a defective product and expects it to work as implied by the box, the advertising, and the fact that it doesn't expressly state how it doesn't work like every other similar product out there.

If someone offers a product for sale, there is an implied promise by the seller to the person who buys it that the product works as reasonably expected. If it doesn't work, and the seller knows it, then they have defrauded the buyer.

I would be surprised if there wasn't a class action suit in the works right now.

Edit: dammit i'm old, I didn't realize I already replied to this article.

Shamus Young:
I am so glad Andy wrote this. I was afraid of getting lynched if I tried to do ANOTHER DRM column, but SOMEONE had to talk about this.

It really is sad all around. Wasn't this hobby supposed to be about having fun? I could swear I remember there being something about fun...

Now, those were the days...

rembrandtqeinstein:
Yeah it is totally the fault of those car buyers for not debugging all 2 millions lines in the Toyota drive by wire software.

Or to extrapolate it is totally the fault of anyone who buys a defective product and expects it to work as implied by the box, the advertising, and the fact that it doesn't expressly state how it doesn't work like every other similar product out there.

If someone offers a product for sale, there is an implied promise by the seller to the person who buys it that the product works as reasonably expected. If it doesn't work, and the seller knows it, then they have defrauded the buyer.

I would be surprised if there wasn't a class action suit in the works right now.

But isn't the main argument in the article that many buyers knew, or at least suspected this was going to happen?

Robyrt:
Car buyers are not responsible for making sure they buy a functional and safe car.

What? Are you being serious? This statement just floors me. Are you honestly suggesting that car buyers have no responsibility for ensuring they don't end up behind the wheel of a piece of crap?

This is getting rather off track here, but the number of people in this thread who seem to think that consumers have no responsibilities or obligations as part of the buyer/seller relationship is absolutely astonishing.

Ultimately, the hoo-hah generated by the DRM was so loud that ignorance really cannot be used as an excuse in this case, in my opinion. However, for other games (e.g. Bioshock 2's use of both GfWL and SecuROM) you really do have to do your homework.

Susan Arendt:

nametakentwice:
*snip*

If you think that by expecting gamers to empower themselves I'm insulting them, then I'm afraid you've grossly misinterpreted my point.

I get the point you're trying to make, because it is the exact same point you and the writer are making over, and over, and over again without discussing any of the other statements anyone with a differing viewpoint has made. I wouldn't say you are being particularly insulting about it, but the author is, particularly in his response to Fenixius.

Andy Chalk:

Fenixius:
Oh wow. I am disappointed. As someone who is decidedly not to blame for this (ie: non-pirate, non-purchaser of DRM-laden products), I am insulted by you when you try to wake people up and get some accountability going, but then turn around and just laugh when people try to discuss it with you.

Yeah, god forbid we try to inject a little fun into this. It's not like we're talking about videogames or anything.

Get over it.

The author has yet to say a single funny thing. He talks about people taking responsibility, but only in one defined instance that he approves of - not buying a game. Anything else is ignored. As Fenixius notes

Fenixius:

I know I spoke strongly, Chalk, but it's frustrating seeing the medium I like be damaged, maybe irreparably because people are stupid, and then see [b]writers who have the chance to communicate on a larger scale than me, potentially to people who might make a difference take that chance flippantly, even in part.[b]

[emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, I disagree with your point, Susan. I note the following two statements you have made.

Susan Arendt:

The single best way for gamers to make sure Ubisoft - or anyone else - doesn't have DRM like this again is to simply not buy the game. Your dollars speak louder than any comment on any forum ever will.

Susan Arendt:

I'm very aware that most folks buying games don't know a tenth of what someone on this site does...

My comments about not buying a game with insidious DRM are directed solely at people who a) know what it is, and b) have a problem with it and/or don't want Ubi to continue making games with it.

As you note yourself, "most" people don't know about the DRM. This refutes your earlier point about the best way for gamers to take a stand is not to buy the game. Gamers not buying the game would be a dramatically powerful statement to the company if and only if a vast number of them act in concert in not buying this game. Plus, console gamers would have to act in unison, or the company would likely just stop making the PC port and concentrate on the consoles. These are theoretical concepts that currently have a very low probability of happening. There are better actions for individual gamers to take. Not buying the game is an anonymous action that the company will not even be aware of, unless a statement is made to the company at the same time.

As for the car statement

Susan Arendt:

Also, I'm a bit confused by one point you made. "We're buying a game, not a car." I just don't follow your point...sure, one purchase is a great deal larger than other, and one is a luxury while the other is a necessity, but a purchase is a purchase, no?

No, not all purchases are equal. A car isn't simply "a great deal larger", it is a product that involves the safety of your and other people's lives.

Robyrt:
Gamers should NOT be responsible for the fine print in the game's EULA.

Seriously?
So I take it you download programs off the internet and install them only to complain that that software contains loads of adware and spyware because it was never your responsibility to read or even skim the documentation in which is says boldly that it does?

You make it sound like consumers are not responsible if they piss their money away on something that may fail them. That's wishful thinking in the grandest.

If you buy something off-brand and it doesn't turn out to be the same as the brand version, is it the manufacturer's fault that it's not the same?
No, nor is it the customer's fault that the object isn't working right.
It's the same with buying a recognized product. If something goes wrong, it's the manufacturer's fault that it happened, but it's the customer's fault for thinking that all things are infallible. You can't go through life with your eyes closed and claim your stubbed toe is in no way your fault, especially if you eyes work.

That being said, Ubisoft's DRM is a joke, a poor implementation that's been tried in the past and failed then too. I can't remember the service, but it relied on your constant connection to play the game. Not to mention I've heard much about such systems existing in the future, all reliant on constant internet to work.

The consumer is still culpable for their purchase problems, because let's face it, in today's age it's up to the consumer to know what they're getting into. Any thought otherwise is ignorance that should no longer be accepted.

DRM is the process of a company shifting from making games to making money.
A bunch of suits sit around a table discussing how to maximise profits, and if that plan makes profit then they will continue to use it.
Simple logic being, if it doesn't make money then they trash it.

Simpler logic; Know what you are getting yourself into before you leap into the abyss.

There's a good point made in this article, but I think it went a little far in its conclusion. The headline especially seems to be suggesting that there's no excuse not to know about AC2's DRM, and that's just not true. Plenty of people play games but don't follow gamer-oriented specialist publications like this one. Even more people might buy a game for a friend or family member without understanding the DRM shackling it.

Generally speaking, it's better for the industry if people feel comfortable with "impulse buy" games. You want people to see interesting box art or a good sale and feel confident enough to toss the game in their shopping cart. If a gamer's parent or significant other is shopping for a gift, the packaging ought to be enough to make an informed decision about the purchase. This standard is applied to all sorts of products, if necessary by law: groceries carry sell-by dates and nutrition facts; cigarettes and alcohol carry surgeon general warnings; software carries system requirements and compatibility info. Similar labeling for DRM should be instituted immediately, and describe the EFFECTS of the DRM ("game will freeze and be unplayable") rather than the fuzzily-defined scenarios that might activate it.

It's also relevant that this is a paradigm shift in the way DRM operates. Gamers who have never had their play impeded by DRM before understandably pay less attention to news about it, and will be unexpectedly screwed over by this stuff even when conforming to totally predictable and legitimate play patterns. I personally don't read any game-consumer publications; I'm just lucky that my favorite game-culture publication (you guys, natch) happened to run articles on this in its culture-oriented sections. (I pay less attention to the news feed than the columns and weekly features, I'm afraid.)

So, as a consumer you have to inform yourself about the products you're buying; that's a solid point. But (a) the box should tell you all you need to know, and (b) industry standards have to be stable and predictable. The industry is failing catastrophically on both counts. That consumers have wrongly thought that the information available in the store ought to be enough to make an informed decision is an understandable and minor mistake by comparison.

And the industry's failure is not just bad for consumers; it's bad for the industry. Anyone who buys a game, only to have it not work, is going to be really gun-shy about buying ANY games in the future. Non-gamers aren't going to know Ubisoft from Adam; they're just going to correctly realize that buying games is a minefield and steer clear of it entirely. Even well-informed gamers who might have picked up a title on an impulse won't until they get home and can do a web search on its DRM -- by which time they'll probably forget all about it.

So I agree, buying AC2 is a mistake, and an avoidable one. But I still can't level blame at consumers as heartily as I can at a company that is deliberately hoodwinking them.

Andy Chalk, that was a great article. Thank you for saying everything I've felt about this entire DRM business for years.

DRM may not stop pirates, but the developers and publishers will use it anyway, even if only to say that they are trying to increase sales. They don't care if it pisses off their customers, as long as their customers keep paying. That's where we have to take a stand and say, "We won't pay for broken games."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of this. I bought Age of Conan, knowing full well that I could never resell it. Sure enough, three days in, I hated it, and I had no recourse: I had just wasted $60 of my hard earned money. I've done the same with Bad Company 2, which I've barely been able to play for more than an hour at a time without servers crashing. It's hard to say no to a game when you are honestly looking forward to it. I even tried Spore, despite the DRM fiasco, because I just had to know what it was like. The desire to experience something new, and the social aspect of having played the popular games can be overwhelming. It's hard not to buy a game that you are interested in, despite the DRM.

But we have to say no. As long as we pay for these games, we are sending the message that we will pay no matter how obtrusive the DRM is. Maybe we haven't crossed the threshold yet where people start to realize how detrimental this trend is, but we're certainly starting to see now. Until we put our money where our mouth is, the developers and publishers have no reason to stop.

What can we do? We can make our point clear. Every time a game comes out with obtrusive DRM, send a letter to the developer and the publisher. State explicitly that you would have purchased the game, but refuse to if it comes with DRM. And stay true to your word: do not purchase it. This is what makes a difference to them: they want to believe DRM leads to more sales, not fewer. If they receive 100,000 letters and their sales are poor, they will hear the message loud and clear, and everybody from the lowest level to the shareholders at the top will be clamoring to remove the DRM. It just makes good business sense.

We may not be able to stop everybody from buying these games, but we can certainly make our point clear. Spore was a hugely anticipated game, but from Amazon to the bottom line, the message was clear, and we already saw results: DRM schemes since then were generally more lenient. But that's not enough: 10, 20, 30 installs -- the number doesn't matter. What matters is that we don't own our games. Call it a license if you must, but we should be able to install and play it when and where we want, without having to ask permission from the publishers. We should be able to resell it or give it away without it losing functionality. If this were a physical item, even a video or an album, there would be no question, but somehow the software industry has come up with EULAs and DRM that impose restrictions beyond our rights as consumers.

I don't deny that the studios lose a lot of money due to piracy, but punishing their paying customers isn't the answer. The only way we can stop it is if it hurts the studios themselves, and that means the bottom line. Unless we stop buying things with DRM -- no matter how much we want the game itself -- they'll just keep making worse and worse DRM. We have to make our point clear: do not purchase anything with DRM.

There are some people who don't know anything about DRM, but sometimes play games. And they got owned.

I do agree with this article but I have to wonder how many people actually did buy the game out of ignorance. I'm willing to bet it's quite a lot more than we're assuming. Non-gamers buying the game for their friends or kids certainly calls for pity. But in general I think it's a little too much to assume that the majority of people who bought the game had prior knowledge of the risk involved. I have a friend who loves to game but would not have any knowledge of these matters if I or someone else didn't warn him before hand. Had he bought the game for the PC and not the 360 I have no doubt the DRM would have taken him completely by surprise.

DoctorDisaster:
The headline especially seems to be suggesting that there's no excuse not to know about AC2's DRM, and that's just not true. Plenty of people play games but don't follow gamer-oriented specialist publications like this one. Even more people might buy a game for a friend or family member without understanding the DRM shackling it.

...

So I agree, buying AC2 is a mistake, and an avoidable one. But I still can't level blame at consumers as heartily as I can at a company that is deliberately hoodwinking them.

I fully agree with you. From parents buying mature-rated games for their 12 year old, to fully-knowledgeable adults buying it for themselves, we can't expect the average gamer to understand DRM.

Part of the reason is that, until recently, it hasn't been important to them. Older DRM schemes consisted of a serial number or keeping the disc in the drive, and that has rarely been a problem for people. Especially for people who aren't otherwise computer experts, it may just seem natural to have to do those things. It's only been recently that DRM schemes have become so Draconian that the average consumer would be reasonably affected by them.

Another part of the reason is that the companies themselves have been trying to down-play DRM. They say it's to prevent piracy and won't affect you if you aren't pirating it. They say it's harmless, safe, stable, and tested. Usually, they just don't say anything at all and the consumer doesn't even know it's there. If it does manifest a problem, they probably don't even realize it's the DRM: they'll think the disc is scratched or their computer malfunctioned. Developers have gone out of their way to hide DRM so that it doesn't scare their customers.

I don't know if it's fair to say that the packaging should contain labels explaining it. I don't think it would mean anything to the average gamer anyway, at least not the same way that a mature rating or explicit lyrics label means something. Getting the industry to police themselves in this respect is highly unlikely, because as far as they are concerned, there's nothing wrong with it. Who are they to warn us of the potential dangers?

Unfortunately, like all products, caveat emptor. It's up to us all, as consumers, to do the research. Just like we look up reviews and scores, we should be looking up known issues, like bugs and DRM. We should also be looking more carefully at our EULAs and trying to change the laws to change what sorts of limits they can institute through them.

But what about the average gamer? We can't really expect them to do all this, or at least we can't expect them to know that they should be doing this. The public doesn't know there's a problem until it affects them. If we can raise our voices loud enough and say it in the right places, maybe the public will see the message. Run an ad on TV, perhaps? But, I think the game makers will accomplish this for us, eventually.

As DRM gets worse, more and more people will be burned by it, until the average consumer realizes they need to take a closer look and think twice when buying a game. They learned the lesson for computers and components themselves and they recently learned about checking age ratings and system requirements. Soon too, they will realize that DRM can burn them and that they need to check for it. Maybe the Ubisoft incident will be the tipping point for this or maybe it will take more. Whatever the case, as long as the studios keep pushing worse and worse DRM, we'll eventually reach the limit where the average person is affected by it and then people will start realize the problem. Hopefully, it won't turn out like music and video copyrights, where a lot of damage was done before people started to take notice.

True and true.

The games industry has been the same as Film and Music for years, where your purchase means you can play your game as easily as watching your movie or listening to your music.
DRM is like purchasing a priveledge to play their game that requires constant permission to do so, like a selfish spoiled brat wanting to keep tabs on you playing with his stuff.

But games aren't the same anymore as Film and Music, and those have been trying to implement anti-piracy too.
While I do agree that it's unfair to pay full price for something that you will never own, like having a digital only version of a book, game, movie or song that is as fleeting as a power outage or hard drive failure. It's also not fair that people assume things will always be the same, and then get into an uproar when things then change.

DRM info should be mandatory box material, and furher it shouldn't exist in this moronic form anyway.
People will always surpass any measure taken and pirate the game, so there's really no point to punish the whole for bad apple the few.

Considering that most game companies market up to, and possibly more than, a billion people, even a 1% turn around at $60 is 600 Million, which for many games makes profit. Seeing as more than 1% of people buy many of the games marketed to them, this profit mongering DRM stands for is moot, because the money has already been made in spades.
I'm not referring to merely one game, but a company as a whole. Every game they market potentially makes them profit and pays for new games. If they sell five games one million times each, and it's more than the production costs, then they have made their profit and maybe more.

The reason for poor sales should be poor product. Not the implementation of punishment for those who didn't buy the game, that affects those who do.

But once again, today is not ten years ago. We as consumers need to be aware of what we buy regardless if it's impulse or not. It all comes down to this; if you don't know what you're buying, find out, because if all goes to hell you can only blame yourself for falling into it.

That being said, like it has been stated many times before.
If it has the DRM, then don't buy it and the DRM will eventually go away.
Alas, most people don't want to understand even this much, so the problems will continue.

Andy Chalk:
I feel like I should clarify some of my points, although honestly I'm not entirely sure how to go about it since most of the counter-arguments seem to focus on the idea that consumers have every right to be as ignorant as they can possibly be about their entertainment choices. And that's fair enough. All I'm saying is, if you put yourself in that position and it doesn't work out real well for you, don't pretend that you have no culpability.

Here's a story I like to tell that I think actually fits this situation rather nicely. Over the summer, some friends and I toddled off to the theater to see Watchmen. Just as the movie was about to begin, a man, I'd say late 30s, maybe early 40s, came walking in with his son - who was maybe late 8, maybe early 9. They had a bag of corn, and they settled down in one of the middle rows, next to an aisle, ready to kick back and enjoy their superhero movie.

I don't know if you've seen Watchmen (and if you haven't, you really should) but it ain't your every-day X-Men-style superhero movie. Lot of peen in that movie. Big, blue peen. A drawn-out sex scene or two. The violence is brief but harsh, although nothing too unusual in this day and age, but man... lot of peen.

Anyway, they put up with it for awhile but the big love scene finally pushed them over the edge, and they were gone before it was over. So what happened? Dude looked at the poster, saw some costumes, figured it would be a good movie to watch with his boy and was probably very surprised when it didn't work out quite like he expected. Who's responsible?

I'm sorry, that's a very flawed example. Sure they were ignorant of the material in the film but the material didn't break the movie. Yeah, it's 10 bucks they'll never get back but how many people actually considered that money well spent? I'm willing to bet it was quite a few more than bought AC2 for the PC.

Also, I agree that you shouldn't support willful ignorance of the consumer. However the fact is that ignorance was not willful. It was there and Ubisoft took advantage of it. Of course I have no pity for those who knew about the issue and still bought the game. But I think they are far outnumbered by people who just plain did not know. Not only that, they didn't know that they needed to know. Say "Let the buyer beware" all you want but you can't beware without sufficient prior experience. Everyone needs to touch the stove at least once to know it's hot.

So it's not that they're ignorant. They just haven't been educated. Well, they damn sure have been educated now. The second time this happens on this scale you can blame them all you want, but the fact is this is the first time such extreme measures have been taken and you can't expect people to know beforehand that they're about to take it in the ass in broad public daylight. "Sure that woman got raped but she was asking for it by dressing like a slut." The same faulty logic is being applied here.

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