Video Game Companies Need To Stop Adding Restrictions to Games

In my opinion, the SNES is probably the greatest gaming console ever created. One of the first games I purchased for the system was the city-building simulation Sim City.

There’s been many versions created over the years. One of my favourites was Sim City 2000. Electronic Arts (EA) recently released the latest version of the series. Simply titled Sim City, this reboot has been long awaited.

Electronic Arts, are for want of a better word, bastards. They have very dubious business practices and rarely make decisions based on the interests of their customers. Sim City got fantastic reviews, however the launch of the game has been labelled the worst video game launch in history.

Many gamers bought the game in advance. EA later announced that you would need a consistent internet connection to play the game. EA refused to give refunds to customers, even to those who had yet to download the game, citing the fact that they do not offer refunds for digital purchases.

You can understand why people were pissed off. This was a game that retailed for a retail price of around $59.99. It gets worse. After refusing to give refunds, EA announced that if any customers disputed the payment through their credit card company, they would lock their account (called an Origin account) and stop them from playing any games they had purchased previously. What a shitty way to treat your customers. Essentially, what they have done is offer a limited version of the game to customers. And to those that were unhappy, they threatened to remove hundreds of dollars worth of games they had legally purchased. EA is the largest video game company in the world, however I’m still unsure as to how they can get away with this.

Sim City 2013

So why was the launch such a failure? Well, the game forces people to be connected to the internet, however the EA servers were down. I can only imagine how pissed off I would be if a game forced me to be connected to the internet…and then I still could not play it.

They later gave their sincere apologies and offered customers a free digital game.

Video Game Piracy

EA forces players to stay online all the time to enable always-on digital rights management (DRM) technology. That is, to check that the person playing the game bought the game legitimately. This kind of thing really pisses me off. I have played games on my laptop many times though South America, particularly when the internet was down and I could not work. Why should I be connected to the internet to play the game, when I bought the game legally.

It is unfair for games companies to penalise the people who actually bought the game, just to stop those who didn’t. This happened to me years ago when I bought Football Manager for the PC. I had been a long term fan of the game, right back to the early 90s when it was called Championship Manager on the Amiga. I bought most versions of the game.

I remember when Sega, the new publishers of the game, introduced DRM technology to those who bought the game. It was a disaster. I paid £25 for the game brand new. Unfortunately, I was unable to play the game as I the DRM steps they forced you to take did not work. After a week or so of Sega sending me patches (that didn’t work), I downloaded the game illegally. Here I was, sitting with the original game in front of me, and I had to download the game illegally in order to play it.

Are these restrictions really reducing piracy? Or are they just pissing off the people who do buy games legally?

Clearly, the move from customers buying games in physical form to buying digital versions of the game, is causing many problems. I understand that these companies need to tackle piracy, however I do not believe that placing so many restrictions on digital downloads is the way forward.

Nintendo recently did this with the Wii U. People who purchased games digitally through their Nintendo Wii, cannot play them on Wii U. They are forcing people to buy their games again. No wonder people are moving away from buying consoles.

I still love playing games. I will definitely buy the Sony PS4 at the end of the year, and I’m tempted to buy the Wii U (even if it isn’t a great console). However, I hope that video game companies start looking after the interests of paying customers, rather than worrying about the people who aren’t paying for their products.

Kevin