SimCity’s DRM Goes Too Far, This Is Completely Unacceptable
SimCity has launched to a widespread uproar. Its always-on DRM has caused similar problems to Diablo III’s launch, where thousands of gamers are left unable to install or even play the game, or are victims of terrible wait times. This is the fourth day and people still can’t play. It’s so bad that, according to Polygon, EA has had to shut down some non-essential features of the game itself just to keep it running while they race to add additional severs and infrastructure. Even worse, CinemaBlend reports that the game has been removed from Amazon due to these issues preventing people from playing. If you’re wondering why, it’s most likely because Amazon wants to avoid the huge liability and potential hits to their reputation if they become the victims of consumer abuse for selling a broken game.
However, EA isn’t offering any refunds to consumers for this, and while we’d usually get that to be because of their policies, this time it was rather messy. In the middle of all the chaos, Origin global community manager Marcel Hatam apologized to players in a post on the EA Forums, and said, “If you regrettably feel that we let you down, you can of course request a refund for your order at [Origin’s “contact us” page], though we’re currently still in the process of resolving this issue.”
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However, the man’s post was edited shortly after, and now asks customers to “please review our refund policy here,” with a link that takes you to the refund policy, which says Origin gives no refunds for digital games. Another player actually posted a transcript of a text chat with Origin customer support, showing how he asked for a refund but was rebuffed. When said customer linked the support to Hatam’s initial post, the rep replied, “You can request a refund, but … it is also the our [sic] discretion to process a refund. The user proceeded to say that he would call his bank and dispute the charge, only to be threatened by the rep, “If you choose to dispute it, your account will be banned.”
The Origin Twitter account later clarified that statement though by saying, “We will not ban players for requesting refunds.” There are plenty of other stories going around about this.
But this is just unacceptable. Seriously. If the last decade of DRM has taught us anything, it’s that the only people who suffer here are the real paying consumers, and that DRM does not work. Ever. Now, if there are a two things I can’t tolerate in this world, it’s consumers who love taking it in and around the mouth and seem to love being oppressed, and publishers who treat gamers like crap.
I remember when Diablo III had its horrendous launch because of its always-on DRM policy, and thousands couldn’t play the game because the servers were buried under the weight of so many people playing it. However, when thousands of gamers complained about these issues (I mean, you paid R500 for the game and you couldn’t even play it single-player), you actually got some complete and utter moronic free-thinking human beings telling them off for being “entitled” because they were complaining. In my opinion, people like that are the real scum of the gaming community.
Why? Because there just must be something mentally wrong with you if a publisher has wronged you yet you still take their side over your own and your fellow gamers. Worse, you turn on gamers rightfully complaining about it, and you’re saying it’s okay to be treated like this. We should suck it up, and you’re a bad guy if you complain. There can only be something disturbed about you if you find it wrong to complain about the fact that you bought a game yet can’t play it not because of a reasonable and understandable problem, but because of trashy always-on DRM that shouldn’t exist in your single-player experience to begin with. Let me quell any defense you have for publishers with the following:
Listen here, here’s the real truth. Always-on DRM does not punish pirates or in any combat piracy. If you think it does, you’re as warped as the publishers who implement it. Why do I say so? Because the pirates go on to play the game DRM-free and without paying for it. When Ubisoft’s hateful Assassin’s Creed II DRM damaged the single-player experience for players and prevented them from playing it when the servers crashed, the pirates happily held up the middle finger and played without problems. When Ubisoft talked to the press about their new and improved DRM software, they got introduced to a giant foot in their mouth when pirates cracked it in less than a day after the game’s release.
Who suffers after that? The loyal consumers who actually bought the game.
If you don’t find that messed up, then you probably need to get your brain examined for a tumour. Do you realise that you’re actually encouraging piracy when you make people feel frustrated, punished and like criminals for having bought your game? Personally, I wouldn’t blame anyone for turning to piracy in the wake of these issues. For me, the best and most effective way to combat piracy is with consumer loyalty, and with offering a better service than the pirates. Have a chat with Valve’s Gabe Newell about that one. Talk to CD Projekt RED who actively removed DRM from The Witcher 2 after it caused problems, and then actually made up for it by giving consumers tons of free content in future updates. You shouldn’t be focused on piracy. I really dislike the misconception that people mostly pirate instead of buying the game. It’s not true. Many people who pirate your game weren’t going to buy it to begin with. Many people who pirate your game do so because you make it hard for them to want to pay for it given issues like these. But honestly, I know that if you treat consumers right and make them feel cared for and rewarded for their loyalty, they will buy your game. That is the truth.
You know, maybe developers Maxis don’t deserve this because I hear that SimCity is actually a great game and they really put a lot into developing it, but sadly all of that becomes irrelevant the moment paying for a game doesn’t let you play it because of DRM a publisher forced. Look, if there was some genuine unforeseen technical error, we could all understand and be supportive. It’s happened before. Not all games launch perfectly, and sometimes all it takes is a little fix or some time to work on the servers. But at least we can play single-player in the mean time, right? Well, there is nothing to be supportive of here, because we don’t even get to play single-player, and secondly you can’t tell me it’s too difficult to see these issues coming with always-on DRM given the past and given the amount of pre-orders and interest SimCity got, and the caliber of the game itself.
EA, you are really not doing yourself favours here, and you’ve arguably ruined the launch of a game many, many people bought and wanted to buy because they loved the franchise. You’ve spoiled that love. And you absolutely deserve the wrath of consumers for it.
Enough is enough. Publishers, stop making your problems our problems. It isn’t our responsibility or duty to worry about piracy and your server problems, and it certainly can’t be after you use always-on DRM. The equation is simple. We pay, we get to play. If you’re missing that second part, then you deserve whatever negativity is coming your way. We shouldn’t have to put up with this.