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Brad Wardell's Plan To Save PC Gaming

Soulskill posted about 6 years ago | from the he'll-cure-cancer-after-lunch dept.

Games 250

A few weeks ago, we discussed Stardock CEO Brad Wardell's "Gamer's Bill of Rights," a proposal for removing some of the PC gaming industry's more obnoxious characteristics, such as annoying DRM and no-return policies. Shacknews sat down with Wardell for a lengthy interview in which he discussed his reasons for starting the project, how it's being received by game companies, and how he wants the gaming community to help. Quoting: "I've already gotten calls from Microsoft, from Take 2, and other publishers who are interested in moving forward on this. Obviously the first step is we have to really define these items. And I've had other developers and publishers who have come back and said, 'No, because it's not flexible enough.' For example, what happens if someone wants to do a policy where there's CD copy protection, but after the first month [consumers] can download a patch that gets rid of it. So obviously that's a perfectly good solution too, but our thing eliminates the ability to do that."

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Great idea, and all.. (4, Insightful)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#24928569)

I wasn't aware that PC gaming needed saving.

At least, not any more than console gaming needed saving...

Re:Great idea, and all.. (1)

DanWS6 (1248650) | about 6 years ago | (#24928611)

Haven't you been listening to console zealots for the past 10 years? With every new generation they proclaim that PC gaming will soon be dead.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#24928681)

...And it isn't? Granted, people still buy PC games, but not as much as console games. PC gaming still has a lot of enthusiasts, but for the casual market PC games are as good as dead (unless you count freeware/free software/games priced at $3).

Re:Great idea, and all.. (5, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 6 years ago | (#24928773)

I think you're a bit confused.

PC gaming is very much alive. Casual gamers number in the tens of millions for PC. Ever play a flash game on the web?

Even the hardcore gamer who upgrades his rig once a year or more is still very much alive. Hardware manufacturers wouldn't exist if we weren't buying their stuff.

That being said, I think large publishers like EA and Ubisoft are trying to kill PC gaming. It's not really as big a revenue stream for them as console games.

It is, however, the place for innovation. Ubisoft wouldn't exist if not for Cliff Blezinski and Tim Sweeney. And, Epic is continuing to innovate, though not as much as some other developers. Their revenue stream has shifted to something way more sustainable, engine licensing.

You still have plenty of developers continuing to innovate. Steam, ID, Crytek to name a few.

Though I agree with a few others here, that the large publishers are bad for the vitality of the gaming industry on a whole, it stands to reason that just as shit floats to the top, the industry will continue to consolitdate as long as their is money to be made. And, as long as there is money to be made, publishers will try and take as much of the pot as they can through consolidation and other anti-competitive practices.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929101)

"Ubisoft wouldn't exist if not for Cliff Blezinski and Tim Sweeney"
"Epic is continuing to innovate"

LOL! What The Fuck???

Re:Great idea, and all.. (5, Informative)

Danse (1026) | about 6 years ago | (#24929157)

That being said, I think large publishers like EA and Ubisoft are trying to kill PC gaming. It's not really as big a revenue stream for them as console games.

Don't forget about Microsoft! Games for Windows is a cruel joke. It seems to be primarily about them padding profits by giving the PC sloppy seconds on games that get shoveled out for the 360. They tend to look like ass and play even worse because nobody bothers to make the games actually play like PC games and take advantage of the strengths of the platform. Seems like Microsoft is more determined than anyone to kill PC gaming.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (2, Insightful)

tibman (623933) | about 6 years ago | (#24929659)

I remember something about Halo originally being designed for the PC then msft bought it and had it ported to console, which was later changed into a PC game again?

I did enjoy the Dungeon Siege games though.. probably more because of Gas Powered Games than by Microsoft.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (5, Informative)

varcher (156670) | about 6 years ago | (#24930031)

I remember something about Halo originally being designed for the PC then msft bought it and had it ported to console,...

Don't let any rabid Apple Fan hear you. Halo was originally a full OpenGL Mac game. Fans still remember the Jobs keynote "Great games are coming back to the Mac", with Jason Jones showing a cinematic with "all this is rendered real time, in OpenGL"... Bungee was a Mac-only outfit, until Microsoft, sniffing out a potential flagship game for its new XBOX system, bought them out in 2000, sank the whole Mac/OpenGL part, and... the rest is history.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (2, Interesting)

rk (6314) | about 6 years ago | (#24930137)

It was worse than that. Halo was originally going to be a Mac game with the Windows version coming out the same day. Bungie made their rep as game developers for the Mac, most notably the Marathon franchise.

Halo got revealed at Macworld in 1999 I believe. Then MS bought Bungie and then there was no Mac version at all. It got immortalized [penny-arcade.com] in a PA strip.

The GP has a point, but games is about the only thing I use Windows for these days. Without 'em, I have even fewer reasons to hop on the Windows upgrade mill.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24930281)

Supreme Commander comes in GfW brading...

Re:Great idea, and all.. (1)

MarkKB (845289) | about 6 years ago | (#24930579)

Don't forget about Microsoft! Games for Windows is a cruel joke. It seems to be primarily about them padding profits by giving the PC sloppy seconds on games that get shoveled out for the 360. They tend to look like ass and play even worse because nobody bothers to make the games actually play like PC games and take advantage of the strengths of the platform. Seems like Microsoft is more determined than anyone to kill PC gaming.

GFW is only a branding program - the idea being that games designed for Windows will stand out better, rather than look like a jumbled mess - and therefore, it has no effect on the quality of games. Perhaps they've alway been that way and you haven't noticed?

Poor ports of console games have been around since the dawn of gaming. It is, therefore, no surprise that a great deal of shelf space is dedicated to these games. This would happen with or without GFW.

Besides, the idea that Microsoft is trying to kill off gaming is pretty laughable - many of the studios under Microsoft's umbrella are pretty much PC-exclusive. (And, for what it's worth, all those that are release under the GFW banner.)

Re:Great idea, and all.. (3, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 6 years ago | (#24930761)

"Don't forget about Microsoft! Games for Windows is a cruel joke. It seems to be primarily about them padding profits by giving the PC sloppy seconds on games that get shoveled out for the 360."

*Looks at the Sins of Solar Empire box he just purchased*

Wow! Danse's right. Just look at the sloppy seconds, games for Windows tagged box I just got. Whatever will I do?

Re:Great idea, and all.. (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 6 years ago | (#24929205)

That's the thing about scum and cream; they both end up on top eventually. I'd rather my cream not be tainted by scum, but I've bought so many crap games for my consoles in the past that I almost religiously pirate them on PC first. I buy what's worth playing, and everybody in the gaming community wins. The only people harmed by my piracy are the ones foisting shit on us for a quick buck; and we'd all be better off without them.

I don't think they're trying to kill it (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#24930187)

I don't think anyone is trying to kill the PC market as long as:

A) they're still publishing games for it, and

B) the one biggest money-printing license is PC-only. Seriously, WoW rakes in yearly income equal to some small countries GDP. And I don't mean that as just a figure of speech. _Literally_.

C) some of EA's own most lucrative franchises are on the PC. It's the likes of The Sims and EA Sports that end up subsidizing some of their games (which fail to break even), not the other way around.

Now if you're about to point out that their sports games are all ported to consoles too, and they've been trying hard to make The Sims themed games for the consoles too, you'd be correct. The days of PC _exclusive_ games, and for that matter of catering to small groups of insecure willy-wavers who need to feel tougher than the casual gamers, are gradually coming to an end. But that hardly equals killing PC gaming.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 6 years ago | (#24929273)

They would have been more correct if the fucking console and games let me use a MOUSE!

I'd have no problem playing optimized games on a "no upgrades for years"-platform if the titles I wanted to play was available on the platform.. But well, without a mouse I doubt Starcraft 2 come to playstation 3.

Re:Great idea, and all.. (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 6 years ago | (#24929721)

Complain to the developers, not about the console. It supports mice just fine, I always have a mouse attached to the PS3 (and the PS2 before it). The PS1 had a mouse as well, you could even play Warcraft II with it, which surprised me when Starcraft was released for the N64 and not the PS1 (where all the other RTS's ported to console had gone)

Re:Great idea, and all.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929489)

Maybe it doesn't, but he can be a savior all he wants if he rids of those silly DRMS.

When will they learn? (5, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 6 years ago | (#24928599)

what happens if someone wants to do a policy where there's CD copy protection, but after the first month [consumers] can download a patch that gets rid of it. So obviously that's a perfectly good solution too, but our thing eliminates the ability to do that."

That CD copy protection doesn't even work. The game gets pirated before it's released!

These companies are just fucking stupid. SOMEONE IN YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN IS STEALING FROM YOU! Why punish us?

Where do games go after they get mastered? Keep a closer eye on that.

Dangerous. (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24928897)

I think that policy is a fine policy, assuming that the copy protection was at least risk-free -- that is, assuming that if you bought the game legitimately, if it didn't work, you could just upgrade with a patch in a month, and the protection is gone.

Well, it's not risk-free.

Some of these CD schemes, in particular, have actually installed drivers which screw up things like DVD burning. Some have installed rootkits. There's really no way for a gamer to know that it's completely gone -- and if there was a bug in it, there's no way to know that we could completely remove it.

Parent has a point, though:

The reason you should remove CD copy protection from your game is that it doesn't work -- at all, ever, the game's cracked before release, and people can make perfect copies.

The second reason is that CD copy protection can be so intrusive as to drive legitimate customers to piracy -- which means that it has to have a significant benefit to justify that risk. It doesn't.

So, if CD copy protection is such a clear net loss, what's the point? Why would you want to only shoot yourself in the foot for a month, instead of, say, not shooting yourself in the fucking foot?

Re:Dangerous. (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#24928989)

I guess I'm the oddball here but the thinking that I had was that they'd have to maintain some sort of CD copy protection. If they did that then they *might* be able to justify getting rid of the no return policy. The percentage of people who would buy a game, copy it, and then return it for a refund or an exchange is probably so high that they are afraid to do these things.

The reality is that there are plenty of tools out there that will enable you to copy most any disc on the market. Easily.

So I see both sides. Legit users are buying and maybe even making a backup copy. Illegal uses are easy, sometimes easier, and sometimes have greater benefits even to those who purchased the game.

These statutes don't seem likely to save anything. Unlike small companies the major releases are owned by corporations who are beholden to the almighty dollar. But, well, I digress...

I'm thinking a compromise would be in order... Maybe no DRM other than copy protection (one type of DRM) and a return policy. Maybe a return -33% restocking fee, no return on bargain prices.

Re:Dangerous. (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929035)

The percentage of people who would buy a game, copy it, and then return it for a refund or an exchange is probably so high that they are afraid to do these things.

RTFA. Bascially: Stardock measured an increase in sales when they added refunds, and not that many people bothered to return it.

I suppose there would have to be a point at which you start dealing with abuse, but keep in mind -- most people who want to pirate the game know about BitTorrent. The people who actually bought the game are, mostly, legitimate customers.

I'm thinking a compromise would be in order...

Well, I believe it does allow for the scheme Greenhouse [playgreenhouse.com] (Penny Arcade) uses -- interestingly, also the scheme Windows XP uses, which was so controversial at the time -- where it phones home once at install, and once on significant hardware changes.

It doesn't do anything with that, yet -- no retarded limits like 3 reinstalls -- I assume it's to serve more as a watermark. If you're sharing it with a thousand of your closest friends via BitTorrent, they'll notice.

That does still bother some people, but honestly, I'm fine with it -- I wouldn't dare reinstall anything without access to the Internet these days. Of course, I'd feel significantly better if there was a crack in escrow somewhere, so that if Greenhouse fails, I can still reinstall.

Re:Dangerous. (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#24929287)

Just for the record, I always RTFA. ;) I know, I know... You cite one example that doesn't counter the perception of the people who drive the larger companies. To me, really, I think it is going to take a compromise - a lot like the latter portion of your post. Sort of, "Well, I'm okay with this much DRM but no more and it had better be easy to deal with."

Re:Dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929989)

I had to call Microsoft once before I was allowed to install Windows XP. I had installed it four or five times (never more than one simultaneous install) and it wouldn't authenticate as genuine windows.

I called the number the installer told me to, punched in a long number string and a few minutes later it authenticated and I was on my way.

Re:Dangerous. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24930361)

Ok, I don't mean it was exactly the same. I mean that it's roughly the same mechanism.

That is, once XP determines that you're "genuine", it won't check again until you have some "serious" hardware upgrade, on the order of new hard drive, or new motherboard. Same with this.

Only difference is, XP is a lot more trigger-happy about when they make you make that phone call -- Greenhouse hasn't actually done more than gather statistics, so far.

Re:When will they learn? (1)

MaineCoon (12585) | about 6 years ago | (#24929181)

There was a study done by a major publisher that tracked sales vs when a functional crack was released.

The first week is key; after first week/two weeks of sales, they drop off in general. Additionally, it was proven that when a crack is released, sales will drop off right away.

Games that did not have working cracked versions in the first week or so, saw more overall sales than those that got cracked quickly.

The prevalance of the cracked version on torrents would also correspond to drops in sales - the more quickly a a game became widesread torrented, the quicker the sales dropped off.

Re:When will they learn? (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | about 6 years ago | (#24930021)

There is more to it than that though... take Bioshock for instance, that game got slammed again and again, especially here on slashdot, i can't even count the number of people who said "i won't buy it because makes you connect online when you install and keeps track of your installs" but then at the same time it really did take weeks for a *WORKING* crack to appear for the game. well the game was up right away but a real crack to you know, actually play the game took at least a full week if not longer, and even then it got proper'd like 3x till some group final got it right.

now bioshock did have strong sales (along with high ratings) but could it have been better, if they hadn't included an online-connect-at-install part?

i dunno, i bought the game and later on i torrented it also so that i could have an "easy install" version just in case.. never really needed it tho.

opinions?

Re:When will they learn? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24930141)

i'd bet 10$ that SPORE outsells Bioshock, even with all it's even-more-omg-drm-sucks messages and despite it being cracked a full 4 days before it was released.

Re:When will they learn? (1)

mikenator.L (1360425) | about 6 years ago | (#24929245)

I'll agree there. Also, even if the supply chain is safe from pirating, still there's plenty out there who are just itching to crack these games and develop generators. No ones gonna be able to stop pirating, more security = more challenges. Sadly alot of legitimate gamers are gonna take hits from retaliation.

My suggestion (5, Insightful)

FoolsGold (1139759) | about 6 years ago | (#24928633)

Ideally? Get rid of DRM. It NEVER benefits the consumer, and the pirate copies have it removed anyway.

If you HAVE to use DRM because the old farts who run these companies insist on it, have the game hosted on something like Steam or GameTap.

If you do decide to go the Steam route, don't incorporate further DRM on top of the Steam version of the game (I'm looking at you, BioShock).

Re:My suggestion (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24928753)

What happens when Steam or GameTap go out of business?

Re:My suggestion (3, Informative)

Atriqus (826899) | about 6 years ago | (#24928843)

Well, Valve has already announced their contingency plan: if they're on the way out, they'll release a final patch to steam that disables the phoning home.

Re:My suggestion (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 6 years ago | (#24928969)

Well, Valve has already announced their contingency plan: if they're on the way out, they'll release a final patch to steam that disables the phoning home.

Yeah, and companies that are going out of business are always able to see it ahead of time, wrap things up neatly and wind the business down gracefully. They're always able to implement their "going out of business scenario."

It never happens that things just spiral out of control and one day they find that their creditors have locked the doors.

Re:My suggestion (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929047)

I'd feel a lot better if that patch existed, somewhere in escrow, in case that happened.

But honestly, it's a compromise I can live with. Steam doesn't force me to keep track of a CD, doesn't fuck up my computer, and does let me re-download the game as often as I like, on as many computers as I like.

Re:My suggestion (1)

jaxtherat (1165473) | about 6 years ago | (#24929319)

What about Troika? Even after they went out of business the developers kept releasing patches for VTM.

It's very easy to beat the drum of 'ZOMFG we're all fucked', but there have been examples where even in dire circumstances a company (or rather, it's staff) did the honourable thing.

Re:My suggestion (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 6 years ago | (#24930691)

What about Troika? Even after they went out of business the developers kept releasing patches for VTM.

They did? I'm aware of only one official patch, and tons of fan-made bugfix patches.

Re:My suggestion (1)

tibman (623933) | about 6 years ago | (#24929779)

I'm a fan of Valve in general. I bought Half-Life when it was under the Sierra flag and everyone knew it was basically ID's Quake engine. Look how far Valve has come. Steam was a terrible mess in the beginning but they didn't lie about that, they explained why things were broken and told the community what they were fixing/improving. They said they would make TeamFortress 2, which at the time was unbelievable. It took them forever but damn did they do a great job. They honestly seem like a good gaming company.

But you could certainly be right.. it's possible that Valve would collapse before releasing a patch that disables the need to Auth and so forth. But i'd like to think someone would strike up the band as the ship is sinking for one final song.

Read the ToS!!! (2, Insightful)

Nick Ives (317) | about 6 years ago | (#24929587)

The Steam Terms of Service say no such thing. You buy a one off payment subscription to games on Steam, you don't own them. I'd link but I'm late for work so just google for the Steam ToS.

If Valve went into receivership them I doubt the bankruptcy courts would look favourably on their directors nuking their most important asset!

Re:My suggestion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24928959)

If you do decide to go the Steam route

That's exactly the route Stardock is taking [impulsedriven.com] .

Which is why I wont be buying any more Stardock games.

They pulled a nice bait-and-switch with Sins. If you want the latest patches, they make you install Impulse.

Re:My suggestion (1)

SWCommand (983311) | about 6 years ago | (#24929267)

And yet you don't have to have it installed to play the game it doesn't need to be running to play the game all it does it update your game. Now it can do a lot more then that but it isn't going to try to force you to use it. Your game/app is updated, you install impulse update and then uninstall it. It is as simple as that. But if you lose the disk you can always install it and download your game, as long as you registered it with them you can download it from them.

Truth be told it was never meant to be a "bait-and-switch" impulse just was not ready at the time. When it was ready they tried to move everyone over to it. Was it a smooth roll out? Not exactly but from what they have told us it was a lot smoother then StarDock Central's roll out.

Re:My suggestion (2, Insightful)

makomk (752139) | about 6 years ago | (#24930815)

And in a few years time, when Stardock have gone out of business, Impulse have shut down, and there's no way to get the patches required to make the games actually playable/run on modern hardware/whatever anymore because they were never released as standalone patches? Basically, people who'd paid real money for the game won't be able to play the latest patched version, because the patches don't exist anymore since there was no way to save a copy of them.

Re:My suggestion (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 6 years ago | (#24930713)

That's exactly the route Stardock is taking [impulsedriven.com] .

I can't find anything about a change in direction with Impulse. As far as I can tell, it's just their old Stardock Central under a new name, which means it's only needed to install updates, not to actually run the game. Basically it does stuff for you without getting in your way. At least, that's what it sounds like to me. I've never used Impulse, only Stardock Central.

They pulled a nice bait-and-switch with Sins. If you want the latest patches, they make you install Impulse.

If you want patches, yes. Not to play the game itself. How exactly is that a problem?

Microsoft's Xbox Fiasco (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24928963)

Consoles have tons of DRM yet that segment of the games market is so healthy and growing that even hardcore PC developers are switching to it as their main focus.

Microsoft use to be one of the driving forces behind PC gaming. Now they are letting it rot and die while they are off wasting billions on the Xbox fiasco. Just think if Microsoft had pumped the 7 billion dollars they wasted on their two failures in the console market on PC gaming.

The PC gaming section at the local giant electronics and games store keeps getting smaller and smaller and moved farther and farther off into an area that no one goes to. I can't remember the last time I actually saw someone browsing in the PC games section in the last year.

Microsoft needs to wake the fuck up and drop this Xbox shit. The piece of shit Xbox 360 hardware is selling just as poorly worldwide as the first Xbox marketplace flop. The Xbox 360 did nothing to stop BluRay. Knife the baby Microsoft, you know you want to do it.

Put those billions in wasted Xbox money into marketing for PC games, buying better shelf space and endcaps in stores, and better support for PC developers.

Re:Microsoft's Xbox Fiasco (1)

Locutus (9039) | about 6 years ago | (#24929427)

in the last thread on Xbox stuff, someone mentioned Microsoft was poised to get back into the PC gaming market and with the obvious failure of the Xbox at stopping the PlayStation market growth, it would seem the logical thing for them to do. If they don't, they would have destroyed their own user base with the Xbox since the whole purpose of the Xbox was to protect the Windows marketshare. By moving people from the PC for games to the console, they've probably moved them to the PS and off of Windows and they'll probably stay on the console. IMO.

LoB

Re:Microsoft's Xbox Fiasco (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 years ago | (#24929497)

"I can't remember the last time I actually saw someone browsing in the PC games section in the last year."

Who actually buys PC games in a retail store anymore?

They're much easier to buy online, either by ordering the box from an online store which actually has the game you want in stock, or paying to download through Steam or one of the numerous MMOGs that make up the vast majority of the billions of dollars a year of PC game revenues these days.

But I agree, the Xbox was a colossal screwup on Microsoft's part; they largely depend on gaming to drive consumer Windows upgrades and sales (what home user needs a new quad-core 5GHz CPU with 8GB of RAM running Windows if they're not playing new games?) and the morons went and tried to kill PC gaming with a new console. What the hell were they smoking?

Re:Microsoft's Xbox Fiasco (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 6 years ago | (#24930727)

"I can't remember the last time I actually saw someone browsing in the PC games section in the last year."

Who actually buys PC games in a retail store anymore?

I don't. They rarely have the games I want. Instead, they carry all sorts of terrible crap I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.

Re:My suggestion (1)

Minozake (1227554) | about 6 years ago | (#24928967)

No, no, no! Fuck Steam.

I'd RATHER have some annoying DRM short of malware that allows me to do what I
want with the software I have on my hard drives. I've had nothing but bad
experiences with Steam, and I don't want to continue them ever again.

Re:My suggestion (0)

jaxtherat (1165473) | about 6 years ago | (#24929385)

I dunno, i'm still yet to personally see (or hear from my gaming circles) ANY horror stories of Steam. I like the fact that I don't need to keep my CDs or CD keys around, and can just format my computer, install Steam and presto! there are all my games. I find it incredibly convenient.

I DO instead have plenty of horror stories of that bloody retarded copy protection thing that came with the Race Driver series that completely b0rked my XP installation because I happened to be using Daemontools.

I honestly think Steam is the least evil of the copy protection schemes.

Lets face it, the reason the companies are employing DRM is because (most, not all) gamers fucked them over and forced their hand by just greedily pirating everything we could get out hands on. If no-one pirated games, there would be no business case for DRM.

You reap what you sow.

Re:My suggestion (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 years ago | (#24929533)

"Lets face it, the reason the companies are employing DRM is because (most, not all) gamers fucked them over and forced their hand by just greedily pirating everything we could get out hands on."

When I was a kid in the 80s, pretty much everyone in my school who owned a computer pirated games, and all the fancy DRM scams they used were broken by ten-year-olds in their bedrooms; after trying more and more intrusive DRM scams, eventually the distributors gave up because it simply did not work, and games were released for years with no DRM at all.

DRM is 'sowed' by retarded control-freak publishers who have no clue about technology and don't care how much they screw their customers; piracy has little to do with it. Which is fortunate, because the ten-year-olds are still cracking DRM scams almost as soon as they're released.

Re:My suggestion (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 6 years ago | (#24929689)

Back in the 80's they also stopped developing on platforms that high percentage of pirating. I remember reading interviews at the time with devs that said they dropped Amiga/ST/C64 support and went entirely DOS/X86 because of the massive piracy in the cheaper platforms.

Re:My suggestion (2, Interesting)

jaxtherat (1165473) | about 6 years ago | (#24929793)

I'm not saying DRM is a successful method of preventing piracy, but instead that it is a typical knee jerk reaction of (as you quite accurately, if cynically called them) retarded control-freak publishers who are freaking out and losing revenue through piracy.

On the other hand, how do you go about convincing dumbass board members and investors (who often only care about the bottom line) that you're not going to do anything about piracy, and that it won't hurt the bottom line to do so?

I can understand how piracy helps companies like microsoft, as all you're doing by pirating windows is increasing their market penetration, but how about small/medium sized developers who don't have the market power of say EA? How do they remain competitive if their already meagre sales (Troika or Majesco anyone?) are hammered by piracy?

I'm not saying the situation is awesome, but neither am I agreeing that this is something that we're not responsible for (as gamers who pirated).

Re:My suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929821)

No Steam horror stories? How about the fact that if a game won't work, you can't get a damn refund!?

If I can unlock a game via Steam purchase but it only runs THROUGH Steam, couldn't they re-lock it if I requested a refund (say within a 2 day period or something like that...? ...long enough to find out if it works or not).

Re:My suggestion (1)

jaxtherat (1165473) | about 6 years ago | (#24929875)

But you can't refund retail PC games either (at EB or Game in Australia, where I shop), so for me the inability to refund is unavoidable either way.

Do you know the reason they don't let you refund PC games? You guessed it: piracy.

Console games on the other hand, are fine O_o.

Re:My suggestion (1)

tibman (623933) | about 6 years ago | (#24929865)

When Steam first came out it was horrible, hah. I say that with love though. I remember going to a 200+ person lan party a little after converting to Steam. The host didn't think of needing an external connection for Steam auth, let alone Steam downloading updates. Charlie Fox right there.

Also the internet back then wasn't what it is now. Downloading a Gig took forever. So Steam would convert your existing Half-Life install and then patch/update from there.

The Friends thing didn't work.. at all.. ever.

VAC sucked balls at first too. Cheaters everywhere.

But like most things Valve makes.. they fixed their mistakes and listened to customer complaints.

Solution is simple : (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | about 6 years ago | (#24928641)

Get the annoying f@cktards we call 'publishers' out of the way

The "/." Solution is simple : (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 6 years ago | (#24928709)

"Get the annoying f@cktards we call 'publishers' out of the way"

You mean the people who pay the bills? How's that suppose to work?

Re:The "/." Solution is simple : (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 years ago | (#24928937)

"You mean the people who pay the bills? How's that suppose to work?"

Publishers don't pay the bills; game players do. Publishers may fund development, but at the end of the day the people who pay for it are the ones who buy the games.... the people who the publishers are screwing over by shipping buggy beta-quality games with intrusive DRM, to the point where at least some of us have simply stopped buying the games whose development they're funding.

Obviously many companies would struggle to raise funding without publishers, but there has to be a better business model than having developers funded by people who hate games and gamers and just want to rush some overhyped crap out the door.

no (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 6 years ago | (#24929073)

more importantly, publishers are forcing game developers to rehash old, proven game titles for making assured bucks. this prevents innovation, but more importantly, fun, in gaming. the spiral downward started in 1995, with the introduction of cd, and gaming going big with this distributable medium - publishers stepped in big time. if you do a follow up, youll find that game titles started repeating and looking like manufactured out of a mold, after that date.

publishers are the enemy.

Re:The "/." Solution is simple : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24930061)

"Publishers don't pay the bills; game players do. "

That's not really saying anything. The people who buy cars fund the development of cars. However they're not the ones who take the initial financial leap of faith or have the most to lose if it fails.

  Creating anything new be it a game, car, or other things is about risk taking and the consumer while taking a risk that something doesn't meet their needs isn't taking as much of a risk as those who create something anew. The consumer has many sources that can mitigate some of the risk, e,g, reviews, ask friends, etc. The publisher only has previous history to go upon and we all know how tricky that can be.

"the people who the publishers are screwing over by shipping buggy beta-quality games with intrusive DRM, to the point where at least some of us have simply stopped buying the games whose development they're funding."

I'd buy that argument if I didn't see said games available on P2P sites (you all know the ones). It's one thing to complain about the state of gaming, but quite another to still be a consumer of the output of said system.

"Obviously many companies would struggle to raise funding without publishers, but there has to be a better business model than having developers funded by people who hate games and gamers and just want to rush some overhyped crap out the door."

Like I said earlier it's about risk and despite all the slashtalk no one's set up a better system for managing that risk. People really are lazy and want someone else to do all the hard work and they enjoy the benefits. So far despite the gloom and doom the gaming industry has enjoyed success to the tune of making more money than Hollywood so they must be doing something right.

Re:The "/." Solution is simple : (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929081)

Get some investors who have balls, then. Or find a better publisher.

The publisher ultimately doesn't pay the bills. They put money down initially, which they expect to make back when the gamers pay the bills.

Which means, ultimately, the least replaceable part of their job is essentially either a loan or an investment.

I don't think the games themselves really need much help, once they're made. In fact, if a game was made using this system -- a full-on, triple-A production (or whatever you call it) -- but without all the traditional advertising channels... Don't you think Slashdot would pick it up right away?

Are you fucking kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24928657)

A gamer's bill of rights? These publishers just suck. PC gaming will do just fine if they all die.

Whatever. (1, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 6 years ago | (#24928667)

1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don't work with their computers for a full refund.

Try taking the box store to court for not providing basic fitness. Guess what? The business is willing to "deal with you".

      2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.

Definition of finished? Perhaps they want mathematically proven code? I'd rather have a continual ladder of bugfixes and more content.

      3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game's release.

Conflicts with #2.

      4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.

How about: Dont include updates that remove features.

      5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.

If people had the balls to sue, they could do so under truth in advertising clauses.

      6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won't install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.

Companies that do so should be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law.

      7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
      8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
      9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
    10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

All fixed by using the ThePirateBay images backed up with the appropriate cracks and servers. The crackers crack the software so you have no hassle. Why pay fo it when you are treated ike a criminal anyway. Might as well live up to the ideal.

Re:Whatever. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#24928733)

The main problem I see is with companies advertising software for the "PC" or just plain "Home computer"

And by PC they don't mean the standard definition of PC such as

A) Uses an x86 CPU
B) Is an IBM compatible computer that runs DOS
or even C) A computer used by 1 person at a time.

But rather it becomes A computer running Windows XP or higher with 512 MB of RAM, and a good graphics card.

Re:Whatever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24928813)

are you for real? go invest in a machine less than ten years old

Re:Whatever. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 6 years ago | (#24929183)

Umm, that's been a reasonable expectation for quite a while now. My current rig is capable of running Win XP and has 2gb of ram. If I were to add the DVD burner, hard disk cost and license for Win XP, I'd still have spent less than $400 on the whole thing.

And it's going to be more than enough for any game with that level of requirements. You're not going to have too much trouble doing the same thing with an out of the box name brand PC either.

Malware, how you think you get it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24930473)

You donwload cracks and you get virused to death. This no way a solution. Maybe for crooks it is.

Re:Whatever. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24928975)

Try taking the box store to court for not providing basic fitness.

Isn't that in the shrink-wrap license, though? I know just about every piece of software I've ever used disclaims itself from fitness for a purpose.

Definition of finished?

Might be better to give an example of "not finished" -- I believe the Unreal Tournament 2003 Linux installer had a blatant bug where it would ask for the wrong disc.

So, maybe "finished" as in "at least one actual test by an actual person". Or "contains no game-breaking bugs" -- nothing sucks more than a game which autosaves yours in an unwinnable state. (Jak II on the PS2 did this, I think -- somewhat worse, for a console game.)

Conflicts with #2.

Not really. A game can be playable, and reasonably solid and complete, yet still have bugs which will only be discovered when millions of people hammer it, and still have things to add.

Example: Half-Life 2 was complete. Maybe not at release, but certainly before my example -- Lost Coast. Major engine upgrade (HDR), and a whole level which was cut from the original game (think "deleted scene"). And more recently, various Counter-Strike levels (and probably a fair amount of HL2 itself) have gotten the HDR treatment.

Now, that's more than I think gamers should demand, but I certainly wouldn't expect to have to pay for that upgrade.

A more extreme example: Support new OSes, or open source it. Quake got ported to Windows, at least (as glQuake, if I remember). Doom was never ported by id, but it got old enough that we got the source, and fans have ported it to everything.

I'm not saying it has to be Certified for Vista or whatever, but it shouldn't become abandonware, and I shouldn't have to fire up a 10-year-old computer in order to play it.

How about: Dont include updates that remove features.

Not going to happen. Maybe don't include updates that break features, though...

All fixed by using the ThePirateBay images backed up with the appropriate cracks and servers.

Or by finding companies which actually follow these rules. Stardock is one.

Re:Whatever. (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 6 years ago | (#24929037)

---Isn't that in the shrink-wrap license, though? I know just about every piece of software I've ever used disclaims itself from fitness for a purpose.

I dont care what some stuffy license says. Try telling a judge that.

User: "Yer honor, I bought this game, and it wont even run right. I took it to Geek Squad and they said it put some spyware called Secure Rom on it. I want my money back, my time, and court fees."

Game Company: "Judge, our contract stipulates that our software is not guaranteed fitness"

Judge: "So why's it 50$ if you say its worthless? It evidently has worth, and has fitness. After all, you set the price, and claim it is a game. Judgment for Plantiff."

Re:Whatever. (1)

spf (1295092) | about 6 years ago | (#24929029)

3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game's release.

Conflicts with #2.

How so? Games in a "finished state" can still receive patches with minor bug fixes and new levels/features. For example, take a look at some of the Diablo II patches http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?articleId=21358 [blizzard.com] . I don't remember any major issues with the unpatched version, but some of the patches seem to add interesting new functionality. For sports games this may mean roster updates for x number of years after the release, though I doubt companies would really put much effort into that.

7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.

8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.

9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.

10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

All fixed by using the ThePirateBay images backed up with the appropriate cracks and servers. The crackers crack the software so you have no hassle. Why pay fo it when you are treated ike a criminal anyway. Might as well live up to the ideal.

The whole point of the Gamer's Bill of Rights is so that you DON'T have to illegally download and crack a game to enjoy it without the negative effects of copy protection. It sounds like you'd rather break the law than shell out $50 for a game anyway. The reason you should pay for it is because it's being sold, not given away for free by the company.

Lets see... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#24928669)

Develop

A) Cross-platform games
B) Get rid of the insane DRM, if you want a CD serial key thats fine as they are easily cracked later in its lifetime, but don't activate it online (with the exception of say, a MMORPG)
C) Develop for a generation before, don't develop a game for quad-core CPUs and dual video cards, develop for a generation before the current generation. Optimize for multiple CPUs and video cards all you want, but I won't upgrade my graphics card/RAM just to play a game.

Re:Lets see... (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929145)

Cross-platform games

Yes, please. Double-win for the gamer -- I can play it on Linux, and more platforms means more ways for it to break, so it should have fewer bugs even on its main platform by release. With the state of the industry now, just about any reduction in bugs is a win.

if you want a CD serial key thats fine as they are easily cracked later in its lifetime, but don't activate it online

I can live with activation online, as long as it's not constant. I'm going to be online when I install, since I need patches then, and since I'm probably downloading it anyway. I'm not going to be online every time I play.

Develop for a generation before,

No, no, a thousand times no. In fact, if you want your game to last, develop for a generation from now. But to do that with any measure of sanity, it needs to be scalable -- and if you've done a half-decent job of that, it should scale back to a generation ago.

See:
  - Half-Life 2 (plays on ludicrously cheap hardware, but Valve keeps patching it with new stuff like HDR)
  - Doom 3 (required damned good hardware for the time to even play, but you could tweak it to run on a Voodoo3 -- and came with modes which crawled, due to sheer lack of video RAM, even on the biggest card at the time.)

Counterexample:
  - Crysis (need I say more? Barely ran on top-of-the-line hardware at the time. Didn't scale down well at all.)
  - Introversion games (ok, Darwinia does look cool, so I'm not saying they shouldn't do that -- worth mentioning that it won't ever look better than it does now, though.)
  - Starcraft (deliberately low-res for the time, and with almost entirely raster graphics, no way for it to look better until Starcraft II)

Re:Lets see... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 6 years ago | (#24929217)

Yes, please. Double-win for the gamer -- I can play it on Linux, and more platforms means more ways for it to break, so it should have fewer bugs even on its main platform by release. With the state of the industry now, just about any reduction in bugs is a win.

Unlikely, the most likely way to do that would be to develop a set of cross platform libraries and then just use those to develop the games in.

While, it's not an easy task to write libraries that work properly and efficiently across multiple platforms it's a hell of a lot easier than doing it a huge number of times for each new game that comes along.

It would probably end up being something like either the JavaVM or possibly Winelib. Definitely not going to find more bugs by doing it, just add cost to the project. The only additional problems would be from the local implementation being buggy.

Re:Lets see... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929329)

Unlikely, the most likely way to do that would be to develop a set of cross platform libraries and then just use those to develop the games in.

Which promotes proper abstraction in the game engine, and still has a chance to expose assumptions you've made (unknowingly) about the way a certain compiler, OS, or CPU architecture operates -- assumptions that might change.

And those are just the obvious ones. Sometimes, there's a real bug which simply occurs more often on another platform.

It would probably end up being something like either the JavaVM or possibly Winelib.

Already exists, somewhat, in the form of OpenGL and SDL -- and that's a hell of a lot better than Winelib, at least.

Of course, the JVM would be a more thorough approach...

Re:Lets see... (1)

SirSlud (67381) | about 6 years ago | (#24929625)

Saying Starcraft is a counter example is silly. People *still* play it in droves, and it still looks good. With the DS still trucking on with tons of essentially 2d games and even consoles having some (Metal Slug 7, Megaman), the game may not get better looking with newer hardware, but if it looks good to start with, who cares?

And Crysis didn't scale that poorly. Introversion games may never look better but still looks awesome .. now that is a great example of art direction working with limited work resources to create something truly awesome looking.

To make up for those disagreements, I can't agree more with you on Valve's Source engine - it does scale very very nicely, and while its never accused of being the best looking engine, it can look really nice and they do manage to update older games with newer asset-independent rendering features.

As for cross platform, Linux is still going to be last on the list for reasonable reasons. One major problem is that as much as people (and even developers like myself) love to bitch about Microsoft, DirectX stomps OpenGL in current day form, and that buys you 90% of the cross-platform that is PC and XBox, keeping in mind that they are two different platforms unless you wanna get religious about it. Developing games for the PS3 (or PSP) and the Wii, you are pretty much forced into CodeWarrior .. its the kind of IDE that makes you want to stick forks in your eyes.

I think its telling that developers realize doing a game thats cross platform for the 360 (and lets say PC as well) and the PS3 is hard enough, the Wii would be your next target, and then OSX and then Linux. Maybe you think its unfair to bring in consoles to what appears to be a PC gaming discussion, but saving PC gaming involves saving PC gaming - it does not imply that you don't release on consoles as well because the business decision is why release on Linux if you've already got a DirectX-friendly abstraction layer that can get you on the 360 as well?

Lastly, I was a former FreeBSD programmer myself, so please don't assume I don't realize how kickass Linux and *BSDs are. Linux kicks serious ass, but in so far as gaming developer support, MS holds all the cards - Visual Studio and DirectX arn't quite the utter pieces of shit that the OS is, and if you wanna program a generation into the future, OpenGL is trailing developer expectations while MS has been much more consistent with regards to their announcements of whats coming up. If you wanna game on a PC, as much as I am loathe to say it, I don't see Windows being threatened anytime soon in the gaming market. And I don't think that's a function of the buyers, I think it's more of a function of the creators.

Re:Lets see... (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24930337)

Saying Starcraft is a counter example is silly. People *still* play it in droves,

Yes. People also play Doom, Pong, and Solitaire, in droves. What's your point?

and it still looks good.

Respectfully, no it doesn't. It looks no better than it did at the time.

the game may not get better looking with newer hardware, but if it looks good to start with, who cares?

Well, you're right -- it looks exactly as good as it did to start with.

I cite it as a counterexample, because you know what? No game can look worse now than when it started. But because Starcraft looks exactly the same, it also means that other games look better.

As for cross platform, Linux is still going to be last on the list for reasonable reasons.

Fair enough -- yet for most games which would bother to make a Mac port, I don't see Linux as a major hurdle. They already had to make it OpenGL to make it play well on the Mac -- that's most of the work right there. Unless they somehow made it stupidly dependent on Cocoa, Linux would barely be a recompile from that.

DirectX stomps OpenGL in current day form, and that buys you 90% of the cross-platform that is PC and XBox

It doesn't buy you the 360, not entirely. If it does, I count the PS3 and the Wii for OpenGL.

And you're not comparing apples to apples. I don't think Direct3D is any better than OpenGL. DirectX is better, because it does more than just graphics -- so the fair comparison would be DirectX vs SDL.

And given how well UT2004 does, I think a good game engine should be able to switch between the two, without too much trouble.

Visual Studio and DirectX arn't quite the utter pieces of shit that the OS is,

True enough. But having used both Visual Studio and Eclipse, I'm not sure I would want Visual Studio back.

I don't see Windows being threatened anytime soon in the gaming market.

True. But it doesn't make a Linux/BSD port any less cool. (That's most of the reason I impulse-bought the Penny Arcade game.)

And remember Doom 3? Pushed GL ahead by at least a year from where it was, I imagine. Most developers insist on DirectX, true, but it only takes one big game to make the manufacturers start to get their shit together.

Lastly:

if you wanna program a generation into the future, OpenGL is trailing developer expectations while MS has been much more consistent with regards to their announcements of whats coming up.

If you wanna program a generation into the future, it doesn't matter -- you need both, and more. You need your engine to be so rock solid and agile that if Intel suddenly makes a cheap 500-core card that speaks x86, you'll be able to render on it before GL or DirectX.

Granted, that's a bit aggressive, but I know how poorly game engines have done, traditionally -- game development in particular tends to lag years behind the rest of the world, mostly because of performance hacks to squeeze out another couple frames per second.

I'm not entirely sure if the modern GL ports of Doom even use less CPU than the purely-software renderer Doom came with. But that kind of shows the endgame of an overly-optimized engine -- how many modern features could we actually add to the original Doom? Ramps, even? We have enough CPU now to run probably hundreds of instances of Doom on a single machine, so the optimizations no longer matter, but the lack of features and portability does -- I imagine much of the "porting" is taking old assembly routines and rewriting them in C.

Blech. I'm rambling, and it's 4 AM. Sorry to be so abrupt... Let me know what you think.

Thank god for brad wardell... (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 years ago | (#24928697)

It's about time business's (and customers) re-established good will over mindless abuse of one another.

Eat your own dogfood, Brad. (2, Interesting)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | about 6 years ago | (#24928855)

If anyone wander's on over to Stardock's website, you will find they have a return policy, but it's got all kinds of ugly exceptions.

I think they should really consider having the same policies as he is demanding of the gaming industry.

Pot.. Kettle.. Black..

Honestly, I really do not like to say it, but I am thinking if any anti-DRM movement sprung up effective enough to get traction, companies would likely consider console-only release, rather than face the "risk" associated with releasing for a PC-- no matter the real costs vs unreasonable fear.. Regardless of who says they are "interested" in front of the press.

Re:Eat your own dogfood, Brad. (2, Interesting)

kfx (603703) | about 6 years ago | (#24929149)

Where are you getting that from?

We've offered to buy back *retail* copies of Political Machine 2008 if it didn't run on someone's machine, since it was released early this summer.

Got an issue with a direct-download game that's keeping you from playing it and support can't get you fixed up? Full refund. Yes, that's right, a refund on a download, and you've got three months to figure out if you need one. That part's not a new policy at all.

That there is right #1, already in action well before the gamer's bill of rights was announced.

Link, please? (2, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929201)

The policy in question [stardock.com] :

Please note that most Stardock programs have demo versions available for preview prior to buying... full refunds will not be issued for functional software that doesnâ(TM)t live up to your expectations.

Makes sense, doesn't it? And it fits that bill of rights -- that's specifically about games that don't work with your computer.

We do not give refunds on beta software.

Kind of a "duh" moment there.

We do not give full or partial refunds for any subscription renewals.

Might help if they allowed it for a single renewal, but consider the asshat who subscribes for a year, then it stops working, or he wants to stop playing -- so he tries to get his entire year's subscription payments back.

If you are not willing to work with technical support on any problems you are having, or request a refund even if you are not having problems using the software, we will issue a partial refund only.

Also makes sense, given that the refund is for actual problems, not just because you didn't like it. You'll find similar conditions with just about any warranty.

And consider that there really aren't any other publishers offering any kind of return policy. You'd think Steam could afford that -- just disable the game on that account, then you know they're actually no longer playing it.

Note also that there's no limit on it. I've bought laptops with no more than a few months to a year warranty -- that's on a multi-thousand-dollar purchase. So if I can swallow a purchase of thousands of dollars that I might not be able to return, I think I can manage the same for a purchase of, oh, $50 that I might not be able to return.

But in either case, it helps to know that if it's completely DOA, I can return it.

Re:Link, please? (1)

thermian (1267986) | about 6 years ago | (#24929849)

You'd think Steam could afford that -- just disable the game on that account, then you know they're actually no longer playing it.

Eh? That's retarded. By that logic you could buy a steam game, play it through then ask for your money back because you've played it now.

hmm (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | about 6 years ago | (#24928915)

While I applaud every item on the list, I don't really think those things will "save" PC gaming simply because they're not the reason PC gaming was weakened so much.

The problem with PC gaming is that a lot of the smaller companies were driven out of business, while the bigger companies obsessively followed each other. How many WW2 FPSes have we had to endure over the past decade? How many futuristic and ancient world RTSes? At first that works. If someone loved starcraft, then there's a good chance they'll buy the next two clones, but after a while it just gets tedious.

I mean, look at CRPGs; the neverending AD&D gold box RPGs killed the CRPG market until Baldur's Gate. Doom was a great game, but we had to spend the next several years getting forcefed Doom clones (half of them produced by Id themselves). Starcraft cloned countless futuristic FPSes, and Starcraft itself originally copied off of Dune (via Warcraft maybe). I lost track of all the Age of Empire (itself not an especially original game) clones.

Re:hmm (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929185)

And this is different than consoles, how?

How about some local multiplayer games? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 6 years ago | (#24928977)

What's the difference in gaming between consoles and PCs for multi-player games?

For the PC, one person per computer. Want to play with another person, they need another computer. The Wii has 1/2 the power of the typical home computer yet you can have multiplayer games with the people in the same room. PC gaming is individuals sitting at individual computers, looking at tiny monitors (not your 60" TV) Multiplayer on the PC shouldn't be two people sharing the same keyboard.

Consoles while inflexible serve a great purpose, to play games. Why can't the game companies, say "Here, buy this PCI card so you can hook up standard controllers and use the power of the home computer to act more like a console." Why not have two keyboards/mice? Surely it can't be that much more (if any) power than two game controllers so you can play splitscreen while the PC is connected up to the TV..

My computer can do more than the console, I should be able to configure it to act as an appliance (ala a console), and when I'm done go back to doing computer only functions (word processing, email, etc..).

Re:How about some local multiplayer games? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | about 6 years ago | (#24929215)

Which brings up another difference: PC games are inherently antisocial. Is the Wii popular because the games are unique? No. It's because you can have parties with your friends. PC gaming? Usually played with strangers, or at the very least people you don't necessarily know in the real world. Even if you did, the gameplay isn't the same because everybody is in different rooms in different places on the planet. Even with voice chat features it isn't the same as needing the person in the room with you to play with them.

The genres have morphed into two different demographics serving completely different types of players. The kind of person who enjoys WoW and Quake is completely different from the person who enjoys Mario Kart and Guitar Hero.

Re:How about some local multiplayer games? (1)

Zardus (464755) | about 6 years ago | (#24929675)

This generation we're seeing more and more games on consoles that are multiplayer only. Want a good split-screen shooter on the Wii? You're fucked. Closest thing is online-only Metal of Honor Heroes 2. Want to play Halo 3 co-op with three friends? I hope you have another console somewhere. Found that one out after buying two controllers. I bought Battalion Wars 2 a while back to play with my wife and to my great shock found out that multiplayer was online-only. Hadn't even bothered to check the box because it never even occurred to me that this shit could start happening on consoles.

There's loads of other examples. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that consoles are headed that way too. It seems like everything is adjusting for a more spread-out world (see Diablo III not supporting LAN games) and it's shitty and depressing for those of us who prefer to get together with friends to play games. I'm not saying there shouldn't be online play, I'm just saying that it shouldn't come at the cost of split-screen or LAN.

Re:How about some local multiplayer games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929261)

you can have more than one player per computer in a number of ways:

Connect a few gamepads (xbox360 ones work perfectly well) and theres loads of games to play. MAME is probobly my favorite. And if your worried about the tiny monitors you can easily connect your computer up to a TV for a bigger screen.

OF course you could always play a hotseat game. The space empires series is again, one of my favorites. Deep turn based space strategy and you can have many many players at once. Stick it on while your playing xbox or watching tv, and just rotate taking turns. Makes for great fun when alliances and rivalries start forming.

Re:How about some local multiplayer games? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24929289)

PC gaming is individuals sitting at individual computers, looking at tiny monitors (not your 60" TV)

The smallest monitor I have anymore is a 17" laptop monitor. Mostly, I use a 20" desktop monitor -- or both, at work.

Given that it's a diagonal measurement, that's a third the size of that 60" TV. (Not that it would stop me from using that TV anyway -- I have a DVI->HDMI adapter, and my laptop has DVI out.) But it's difficult to split it into thirds -- mostly, it's split into halves or fourths.

Not all games use split-screen, and for those that don't, the console makes sense. But for those that do, suddenly, you've got a 15" chunk of a monitor that's quite a bit farther away, and everyone can see everyone else's screen. With a PC game, I get a larger chunk of real estate, only a couple feet away, with a reasonable assurance that no one else can see my screen.

Why not have two keyboards/mice?

Depends on the game.

I know that with StepMania, even on Linux, I can, in fact, plug in a real CobaltFlux pad. If I remember, I could actually plug two in, and have them correspond to different players -- or have one person use the keyboard, if I wanted to make it completely unfair.

Most games don't support that, though, and while there have been some experiments, most desktop apps really aren't equipped to deal with two cursors.

If you want to, you can configure one computer to power two complete terminals -- two monitors, two keyboards, two mice. It's not going to be easy, and I don't know if Windows can do it (I know how I'd do it on Linux), but it can be done.

Re:How about some local multiplayer games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929563)

The Wii has 1/2 the power of the typical home computer yet you can have multiplayer games with the people in the same room. PC gaming is individuals sitting at individual computers, looking at tiny monitors (not your 60" TV) Multiplayer on the PC shouldn't be two people sharing the same keyboard.

Same room? Guess we have never heard of LAN parties. Tiny monitors? I play on my wall with a projector, all 110" of goodness

Why not have two keyboards/mice? Surely it can't be that much more (if any) power than two game controllers so you can play splitscreen while the PC is connected up to the TV..

My computer can do more than the console, I should be able to configure it to act as an appliance (ala a console), and when I'm done go back to doing computer only functions (word processing, email, etc..).

Have you never seen USB controllers for the PC? My friend and I use to play madden together on his computer. Split screen? Isn't that a down side to consoles? And lets how hard is it to double click a game to go into it and click exit to go back to the desktop.

Seriously it just sounds like the console has made you more lazy and consumerist. Oh yea and you missed one important note, FPS are worthless on consoles because of one factor; the controllers, give me a mouse and keyboard any day when it comes to fragging and you can keep your controller along with paying your license fee to Sony, Microsoft and/or Nintendo everytime you buy a game.

Pussy Nazi Sez (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929067)

No pussy for YOU!

Totally the guys that we needed help from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929161)

"I've already gotten calls from Microsoft, from Take 2 [...]"

YES! Thank the flying spaghetti monster for those two.

Although in all honesty Microsoft only has the continuing existence of Windows in its mind since a large reason for people not to move to Linux is the fact that games either go through a compatibility layer (Wine/Cedega) or don't work at all because support for them hasn't been implemented in said compatibility layer.

If games eventually abandoned the PC (not frigging likely but yeah), there wouldn't be that much reason to run Windows as a gamer (then again, not much reason to own a PC but yea).

TLDR: Microsoft prefers if both PCs and Consoles succeed because this way 1) They sell Windows copies, 2) They sell XBox'es 3) They make a ton of cash from supplying "RUNS ON WINDAZ" or "GAMES FOR WINDOS" certifications

If you want to save PC gaming... (1)

DesScorp (410532) | about 6 years ago | (#24929177)

... then start by making games that can run on the vast majority of hardware that's sold... boxes off the shelf from a Wal Mart or Target that have a Celeron or Sempron, and low-end onboard video.

That means sacrificing graphics, but so what? Games like Wolfenstien: Enemy Territory, will play fine with newer off the shelf boxes. And that standard of graphics is good enough for a lot of people. Many people would take an ET-caliber graphics game with superior gameplay and story over a Gee-Wiz supergraphical art wonder that sucks to play.

With the economics of making and selling PC's, you're just not going to get a lot of boxes out there off the shelf with a 512 mb Nvidia card in it. Either compromise for the PC platform, or look forward to most of your sales being on console platforms.

Re:If you want to save PC gaming... (1)

Zardus (464755) | about 6 years ago | (#24929615)

For the most part, I agree with you. I used to preach the whole graphics-are-irrelevant thing as well until I found Dwarf Fortress. While it's a great game and I personally love the graphics, NONE of my friends will give it so much as a chance because of them. They all concede that it's probably an amazing game but all of them pass it off with "the graphics aren't for me". I'd normally just figure they're all retarded, but this is a lot of people, most of whom are also bored with the status quo in gaming, rejecting a very new and very unique game because the Dwarves look like Qs and the cats are 'c's.

I guess what I'm getting at is that graphics matter to some extent. For me personally, SNES-level (or early-mid-90s level DOS) graphics are perfect. I can like pretty much anything if it's a stylistic choice (which I kinda see DF as being), but I guess people's standards vary.

Oh, for the good old days . . . (5, Interesting)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 6 years ago | (#24929281)

Back in the '80s when things were fresh and new, I remember the eagerness with which I went to Egghead/Babbage's to look at the computer games.

There was so much variety in the games. People were trying all sorts of different things. These games were not hundred-megabyte heavyweight games, they were much lighter--but they were more interesting.

Now everything is so similar. The gaming mags freak out over frame rate and animation quality. I could care less. I value freshness and cleverness much more.

My wife plays, and loves, the popcap kind of games on the internet. They are nothing special at all, but she likes them because they are novel and fun.

I think I had more fun playing the original ASCII empire game and CIV II than I get playing later, overwrought, Sid Meier games (and he designs among the best).

The massive multiplayer games could be tons of fun, but there's no way I'm putting down a subscription to play.

All the damn game publishers are trying to hit home runs all the time, like the movie industry. That sucks. I'd rather see a lot more variety out there, like in the '80s.

Anyway--that's my gripe.

yeah genres (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24930471)

Now when a game is considered to be avoiding one of the main genres, it is clearly a fusion of other genres.

Back then the genres weren't so established and if you wanted to add a quirk to a game, the novelty didn't take 5,000 pages of text, voice actors, and a herd of graphic artists.

Games are a victim of the success of the genres. Each genre is clear and obvious now, and offers value to a gamer and cohesion to the developers and audience. We know what we're getting and it's fun and it's easy to write since it fits a standard templates. I think that developers have to go back to those games you are talking about for research if they want to step outside of genres (instead of the transparent fusion splices as I mentioned.)

At least until the "upgrades in the texture mapping of the bruises on the whores" in the latest video game hits the perceptual wall, and the natural focus swings back to the game ideas instead of the upgrade hamster wheel.

Local Availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24929839)

The availability of the new games in "other countries" (i.e. 3rd world countries) is very limited. When a game CD/DVD is available for purchase at a location, it's price is double of that online; online retailers don't ship to third world countries (and when they do the shipping fees are high > $30). Downloading the game legaly from steam/other will cost more since bandwidth is sold at ~ $10/GB (you pay for the game and then pay more for the download); even when someone downloads a pirated game some are actually paying the ISP the same price. The illegal coupies are sold $10 - $20. I still do not understand why can't they have vending machines where a central office at that country (who may handle the business of many vendors) will burn and ship you the game locally. This would eliminate the international shipping costs, local merchant cost (man in the middle) and credit card issues since many countries have yet to develop one. A client can send a local check or walk in the office with cash. A single or two machines per country/state seems like a good way to tackle the problem of availability and limit piracy.

Crippled for a month? (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 6 years ago | (#24930095)

"... if someone wants to do a policy where there's CD copy protection, but after the first month [consumers] can download a patch that gets rid of it [...] that's a perfectly good solution too."

No, it's not. You're selling me a crippled game on the promise that you'll fix it in the future. A month may as well turn into a century for all a promise is worth.

it still missed the point (1)

tatermonkey (1199435) | about 6 years ago | (#24930417)

$60 for a new game is too much and then there are of course the sucktastic titles not even worth buying.

DRM not *that* big a deal (2, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 6 years ago | (#24930487)

I know an fair few PC gamers - a dozen or so. All but 1 wouldn't even know what DRM is. They don't hang out on slashdot, gamer sites etc or get involved in the Internet Zeitgeist of people wrining their hands about how terrible the DRM in game x is. They but their PC 'What PC Game' magazine, go to their fav. bricks and morter shops and buy the game - sometimes they'll use Amazon.
Maybe I know a very skewed demographic but I'd suggest that the % of gamers who care about such things as DRM is actually quite small.

Solution for what? (1)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#24930741)

What's the point of "For example, what happens if someone wants to do a policy where there's CD copy protection, but after the first month [consumers] can download a patch that gets rid of it."?

I don't understand what the company would imagine they would get out of that. The logic would be "If you can disable the copy protection, then as soon as the first consumer can do so, what's to stop that person from sharing the patch, or the patched copy." The only way that would work would be if they're not actually "removing the DRM", they're just changing what it's locked to. Why would he see that as "legitimate"?

Free Software gaming (1)

kipman725 (1248126) | about 6 years ago | (#24930771)

Still plenty of inovation in GPL land: http://wz2100.net/ [wz2100.net] a stratagey game where you design your own units. low system requirments; opengl 1.5, mac, linux, windows.

"Save" PC Gaming (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 6 years ago | (#24930819)

Stop coding exclusively for Windows.
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