I may have to stop buying PC games…

After one Starforce scare with Dreamfall (which worked out in my favor because Ubisoft dropped the malware due to consumer outcry), and two wastes of money (one due to SecuROM with Sims 2: Bon Voyage, which I’m going to see if I can ebay for at least part of my money back — I made the mistake of opening the box before checking the copy protection — and the other due to Starforce with Obscure, which I purchased several years ago and almost installed on my computer a few minutes ago) I am at the point where I’m not sure I can continue to be a consumer of PC games.

I am not a criminal.

I am not a pirate.

And yet, companies treat me as if I am. The onus falls on me to make sure that I am not buying malware from so-called legitimate companies, rather than on those companies — and some of the biggest offenders are corporations like EA and Sony — not to silently bundle increasingly invasive and harmful copy protection products with their games. Products, I might add, which always get cracked within a few weeks of their release.

Sure, with a very simple google search I could access step-by-step instructions on how to bypass the software. And you can bet your buttons that I looked into it when trying to figure out if I could salvage the 20 bucks I spent on Obscure. But, in the end, I don’t want to have to jump through hoops just to safely play my legitimately purchased game. I also don’t want to risk damage to my machine, seeing as maintaining gamer-quality computers takes a lot of money.

Which means that I will most likely no longer be making any PC gaming purchases, excepting those that use different approaches to copyright protection such as MMO’s and games such as Galactic Civilizations II. I love PC gaming, but it’s just not worth the hassle anymore. I feel like telling all those gaming companies, “Congratulations, assholes, with your bumbling and futile attempts to stop pirates you have just lost yourself a customer who — despite having the knowledge and ability to pirate — has been making a conscious and concerted effort to be a legitimate consumer.”

Oh well, at least I still have console games.

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9 thoughts on “I may have to stop buying PC games…

  1. After narrowly dodging a bullet on a music cd, I’ve been reluctant to trust any disc. I just can’t figure out the mindset at the marketing departments that aren’t protesting that the organisation is burning the person paying the cash for the product. Unless, of course, there’s some tax write off / market failure thing going on with the accountants that I’ve just not heard about….

  2. Dr. Stephen:

    Self-selecting survey data aside (I do listen to older CDs too!), I’ve noticed that of all the CDs that I own that won’t play in my CD player (component, not PC), all of them have been released in the last few years. I was able to extract the MP3s without too much trouble, but I go to play them in a normal, stereo-shelf CD player and the thing will sit and grind. So I’m starting to come to the conclusion that copy protection really is about punishing legitimate users.

  3. You’re exactly right – the onus IS on the consumer. That’s why entertainment marketing targets young, male audiences – they want people who would rather do a bunch of extra work than admit it’s a crap product and they got the worse end of that transaction. (I’m not saying young men are all like that, but I think that is the perception marketers have.)

  4. I mentioned this at Mighty Ponygirl’s but Stardock games is releasing their titles completely copy protection free. So far they’re into “4X” type games, but I think they could be encouraged to branch out into other types of games if a broad spectrum of gamers were to encourage them. Ok, also I’m just in awe of how gorgeous “Sins of a Solar Empire” looks, even on a system with a completely poop video card like mine.

  5. You can be pretty safe with indie games. Even if they wanted to use them (which they generally don’t), indie developers can’t easily afford malicious protection schemes. As far as actual game quality, I can only vouch for Spiderweb Software and Telltale Games, though Planewalker Games and Iron Tower Studios look promising.

  6. That’s what so loverly about capitalism–its always on the consumer. Pretty much the most effective thing you can do is write the companies and nice sweet letter/email, like what you said at the end of your post, and send it out to all the companies you won’t be purchasing from anymore, and encouraging others to do the same. But yeah, you’re also not exactly the target demographic, so they may not care that much.

  7. Maybe they should use a USB stick with a ROM chip in it (would come in the game package box). Everytime the game runs, it checks for the presence of the ROM chip, and if it is not there, the game refuses to run.

    Of course, it’s a matter of time before the game is either tricked into believing the ROM chip is there, or the check is removed altogether, but I bet it would be more effective than what they’re doing now.

  8. Yeah, it used to be that downloading games was free, but a lot of hassle, the internet was slow, often movies of some sounds were cut out, you had to find a proper crack, some of them were glitchy etc, etc. So I would sometimes buy them just to avoid all that. These days though, it is a lot less trouble to download a game, as it comes with cracks as well as instructions and, if needed, additional programms for bypassing any protection it may have. So of the games that downloaded I have less of them not work then the properly purchased ones. That’s why i no longer buy them at the store… Well that, and I’m cheap ^^

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