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Talroth

This is the future of video games? No wonder I've been buying so many board games lately.

112 posts in this topic

Apparently asking EA for refunds is not going well.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BEvc-ozCIAAJrfy.jpg:large

 

First they offer refunds to disgruntled customers, then take back those words after too many people take them up on that offer:

http://i.imgur.com/ktqJ8Zq.png

 

In Australia, if you take home any product and it doesn't perform as advertised, you're legally entitled to an unconditional refund. They would have to warn about server outages on the box to get out of it.

 

On the last console game that I shipped, there were some disgruntled customers asking for a refund, which the publisher was refusing. Our CEO (the developer, who makes no money off sales and has nothing to do with selling the game) stepped up and offered to refund anyone out of his own pocket, just because good-will is a powerful thing.

 

EA has already won the award of "the worst company in America" and "the most hated company in America" before... they could use a bit of good-will...

Edited by Hodgman
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Apparently asking EA for refunds is not going well.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BEvc-ozCIAAJrfy.jpg:large

 

First they offer refunds to disgruntled customers, then take back those words after too many people take them up on that offer:

http://i.imgur.com/ktqJ8Zq.png

 

In Australia, if you take home any product and it doesn't perform as advertised, you're legally entitled to an unconditional refund. They would have to warn about server outages on the box to get out of it.

 

On the last console game that I shipped, there were some disgruntled customers asking for a refund, which the publisher was refusing. Our CEO (the developer, who makes no money off sales and has nothing to do with selling the game) stepped up and offered to refund anyone out of his own pocket, just because good-will is a powerful thing.

 

EA has already won the award of "the worst company in America" and "the most hated company in America" before... they could use a bit of good-will...

 

I guess it helps if you invoke consumer laws... http://i.imgur.com/VEJIVmk.jpg.. remember online customer service is almost always outsourced (and sometimes you even get bots) so if you want to get any sort of help it's better to call, otherwise your only option is to pretty much threaten the representative. Of course, nobody likes doing that, and it shows the sad state of EA's customer ethics.

 

lol @ the security question, too.

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Is that legal? Do you have to accept a new Terms of Service during that span of time?

Refunds aren't dictated by a terms of service, they're dictated by local consumer laws. Companies can choose to go beyond the legal minimums if they feel like it.

e.g. many clothing stores offer "change of mind" refunds, which are a nicety that's not required by law, but they could abolish such policies at any time.
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Ugh, let's not have this devolve into another DLC thread.

 
Of course not. I just wanted to illustrate why the quote bellow is wrong. ( And as I said, DLC are not a problem in themselves )
 


What the flow of events Should have been:
Server is down: Ah, sorry, you will have to manage your city with whatever external data you had at the last server sync. Your local save will be synced up with the server as soon as we are back online. It won't be as fun, or cool, but you will still be able to get some enjoyment from the game.

I'd agree with that, but that's the way it always works as new technology becomes pervasive. [...]


Let everything be part of the standard is not a good thing. Edited by Rakilonn
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Back on topic, I can't stand a requirement that I be online to play a single-player game. It adds no benefits to me as a player (I don't care about having achievements in an online showcase to show off to others), introduces a lot of potential problems (as have been noted above), and adds ongoing maintenance costs to the game which divert sales revenues away from actual game development.
 
There's something to be said for a connection requirement for DRM

The problem is that it's not just drm. The game's data and some of the simulation exists primarily in the cloud. If it were just drm they could have turned it off for a couple days to save the bad publicity.
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Back on topic, I can't stand a requirement that I be online to play a single-player game. It adds no benefits to me as a player (I don't care about having achievements in an online showcase to show off to others), introduces a lot of potential problems (as have been noted above), and adds ongoing maintenance costs to the game which divert sales revenues away from actual game development.
 
There's something to be said for a connection requirement for DRM

The problem is that it's not just drm. The game's data and some of the simulation exists primarily in the cloud. If it were just drm they could have turned it off for a couple days to save the bad publicity.

 

And from a basic design stand point, this was a stupid idea from the get go. I have seen nothing to suggest that the entire simulation could not have easily been handled by my home system. The game uses a reasonably small fraction of my system resources. As it is now the game is almost unplayable to rely on supporting multiple cities in a region, even if they're all your own, as the servers are not allowing things to sync up properly.

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More than a decade has passed, technology evolved a bunch and still: Diablo3 was cracked (even before release); Max Payne 3 was cracked; SimCity will be cracked.

If you consider a dumb client without any gameplay as "cracked" then yeah, Diablo 3 was cracked.

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I understand DRM is a tricksome beast and that piracy of games is way out of whack - though this situation has been around for as long as I can remember, the only real change being the increased ease of sharing pirated games around the net to the point that it is akin to the commonality of the VCR and it's use to copy films, tv programs in breach of copyright etc. The irony of a recent game on Steam being greenlit after using Pirate Bay also comes to mind.

 

I also understand that come the launch day of any major title there is going to be glut of people trying to play and that this glut will most likely hang around for a few days.

 

I know that some MMO's do not like to reduce the number of servers they maintain despite low population levels as the marketing perception is that the game is failing....but being upfront and saying that we have temporary servers in place to handle the "Boxing Day" crowd and they will disappear after the rush settles cannot be perceived as anything but logical planning. As to testing server loads I am going to assume that the technical ability is out there to do this, not to mention isn't this part of what Beta testing is meant to discover.

 

 

So here is my completely non-technical question.

 

Is there something unique about a server structure that makes it unique to that game only (other than the game software that is)? I mean would it not be somewhat sensible to for example: temporarily rent servers, install your game managing/drm software in preparation for this glut and then pull those excess servers down as the glut returns to normal player participation levels?

 

 

Or is this simply a case of why spend the money to ensure sufficient space is available when we can simply add servers to grow with the demand which means launch day will slways suck.

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You are right about an initial launch day demand. It always happens. There are lots of graphs and post-mortems available online that prove it out.

Remember that SimCity had a phased launch for that very reason.

Many major server-involved games will do this. They start in one territory (usually the one nearest the developer) and then slowly expand to the rest of the globe over the following weeks.

Lots of people (including reviewers around the globe) noted that on day one they had US servers only. People in Europe, Oceana, and other parts of the world were complaining about ping times and how servers were entirely based in the US. By taking steps to avoid the multi-step launch they unintentionally contribute to the problem of it being a difficult launch.


That is probably why Valve does employ Google to handle their servers. Google has the capacity to add many servers for launch week and reduce them later as they are unneeded --- for a cost, of course.
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I understand DRM is a tricksome beast and that piracy of games is way out of whack - though this situation has been around for as long as I can remember, the only real change being the increased ease of sharing pirated games around the net to the point that it is akin to the commonality of the VCR and it's use to copy films, tv programs in breach of copyright etc. The irony of a recent game on Steam being greenlit after using Pirate Bay also comes to mind.

 

I also understand that come the launch day of any major title there is going to be glut of people trying to play and that this glut will most likely hang around for a few days.

 

I know that some MMO's do not like to reduce the number of servers they maintain despite low population levels as the marketing perception is that the game is failing....but being upfront and saying that we have temporary servers in place to handle the "Boxing Day" crowd and they will disappear after the rush settles cannot be perceived as anything but logical planning. As to testing server loads I am going to assume that the technical ability is out there to do this, not to mention isn't this part of what Beta testing is meant to discover.

 

 

So here is my completely non-technical question.

 

Is there something unique about a server structure that makes it unique to that game only (other than the game software that is)? I mean would it not be somewhat sensible to for example: temporarily rent servers, install your game managing/drm software in preparation for this glut and then pull those excess servers down as the glut returns to normal player participation levels?

 

 

Or is this simply a case of why spend the money to ensure sufficient space is available when we can simply add servers to grow with the demand which means launch day will slways suck.

 

It is simply a case of why spend the money to ensure sufficient resources is available when the load will decrease after the initial rush and while the customers will complain most are idiots who forgive and forget before the next game is released anyway. I'm still boycotting 2 companies because of their past fuckups, Sony and Ubisoft) and i've started buying from one company again because of how much they've improved (Microsoft) (Allthough part of their improvement was forced by various governments its still an improvement and i don't care why they do the right thing, as long as they do it)

 

As a customer the only sane response is to boycot the owners of those companies (If you know who the owners are, otherwise just boycotting the company in question is better than nothing), voting with your wallet is the only thing that helps. The shareholders/investors tend to demand the highest possible return on their investment, if treating customers/workers/the enviroment/competitors/kittens/whatever else you personally care about,  poorly results in bigger profits then they will be treated poorly, if doing the right thing results in bigger profits then big "evil" corporations will become saints (or atleast try their best to look like saints)

 

While one persons money doesn't add up to much it will have an effect if a lot of people do the same.

Edited by SimonForsman
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I agree with the 'vote with your wallet'. I go to the movies for the movies that truly great. The rest, I just wait for the DVD and *rent* it.

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The problem is as the video game industry is now widely expanded, it's more and more hard to vote with your wallet, especially for games like SimCity because that's the typical game which  may interest people which doesn't played video games.

 

So in the end, "core" gamers might become a minority and their actions will be insignificant.

 

Of course it has some good sides, but not for this. And I also fear a good part of games become shallow like Hollywood movies in order to please a broader audience.

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I think the bigger picture about these sorts of things that bothers me is not with DRM itself, its just that as someone who manages a portion of a very large corporation, I have an inherent belief (and fortunately my employers tend to go the same way, despite this being a very big company) that a business should always do everything in its power to ensure that its most loyal paying customers are happy first and worry about issues beyond that only when that first criteria is satisfied.

 

The business I'm in is a service industry that deals with the public.  We get complaints constantly, some are legitimate, others not so much.  The default, however, is to give freebies and consolation to most of those that complain, provided those complaints are even remotely reasonable.  The reasons behind this aren't because we're lazy, or we don't want to deal with angry people, its because accidently denying ONE loyal customer with a legitimate complaint is far worse than letting a hundred get away with something that maybe they shouldn't have.

 

Once upon a time I used to rail against monthly payment type business models in games.  I didn't play an MMO for a long time because of it.  But the more I think about it, the more I'm starting to think that this sort of business model might be the way out of this mess.  If EA (for example) was dependent on people to continue liking its products over some period of time in order to make a profit... well I can't imagine they'd be doing things the way they are.

 

Edit:  To clarify, I'm not advocating each and every game having a monthly fee associated with it.  I'm more thinking about having a AAA version of a service like Gamefly.  You pay a monthly fee to play all you want of the games available on the service.  I'd be willing to pay a pretty big fee for that sort of thing, probably $100+.  Then the service provider would divvy up that money based on which games are being played the most.  Thereby creating a direct relationship between a game being played more, and it making money.  If you have a launch like SimCity where people want to be playing the game and aren't able to, EA is directly losing money.

Edited by Plethora
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To clarify, I'm not advocating each and every game having a monthly fee associated with it.  I'm more thinking about having a AAA version of a service like Gamefly.  You pay a monthly fee to play all you want of the games available on the service.  I'd be willing to pay a pretty big fee for that sort of thing, probably $100+.  Then the service provider would divvy up that money based on which games are being played the most.  Thereby creating a direct relationship between a game being played more, and it making money.  If you have a launch like SimCity where people want to be playing the game and aren't able to, EA is directly losing money.

An interesting idea. I'd love to see something like this. I suppose the real question is if existing power houses could potentially make more money this way than at present. A system where you're free to play whatever, invites more diverse playing. That seems likely to disturb the balance of power we see today. 
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To clarify, I'm not advocating each and every game having a monthly fee associated with it.  I'm more thinking about having a AAA version of a service like Gamefly.  You pay a monthly fee to play all you want of the games available on the service.  I'd be willing to pay a pretty big fee for that sort of thing, probably $100+.  Then the service provider would divvy up that money based on which games are being played the most.  Thereby creating a direct relationship between a game being played more, and it making money.  If you have a launch like SimCity where people want to be playing the game and aren't able to, EA is directly losing money.

An interesting idea. I'd love to see something like this. I suppose the real question is if existing power houses could potentially make more money this way than at present. A system where you're free to play whatever, invites more diverse playing. That seems likely to disturb the balance of power we see today. 

I'm a big fan of subscription models, but you run into a lot of problems when you get narrative games that players tend to play once and never play again. With a buy/once model you get $60 for the 10 hour experience that might carry more weight for a user than 30 hours of fps multiplayer. With a subscription model you have to cater your game to keep people playing longer rather than more meaningfully.

 

Not sure of a system around that, but it's just a problem I've thought about. Maybe add payouts based on some user ratings system? But those most always end with people who troll rate things. You'd have to do some serious fidgeting with weighting ratings by hours played then paying out based off of a pay rate deemed by that rating.

 

It becomes super hard because so many people rate on a 5 point scale; it was terrible, it was bad, it was ok, it was good, it was great. But this scale doesn't really say anything about the differences between great games or the net enjoyment you get out of it. Did you get more out of 3 hours of journey than 3 hours of counterstrike? etc. NON TRIVIAL PROBLEM.

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Since 2000, I've learnt not to buy a PC game on release and certainly not at full price.

 

No offense to any professional developers out there, but on release day I am forking out £40 for a program that hasn't had the bugs ironed out through patches, nor enough information shared on the internet to deal with any known issues.  If we are now adding game-server issues as well...then its more reason to hold back buying a PC title on release.

 

I certainly hope they don't try this stunt on console games, because console gamers have even less patience and understanding than PC gamers when it comes to "faulty" games...

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Let's not generalize Anri, there are very good game studio for PC. My last example is Arma 3, which gives support for mods and editor day 1 of the alpha version.

One may say "Oh yeah but Arma 3 is an upgrade of Arma 2". But still, that's really huge, especially nowadays where there are less and less support for mods or even editors for the whole life time of PC games.

 

I think the fault (for problems like always-on games) is more on people which are not gamers, and also new gamers which don't know what was done before.

Edited by Rakilonn
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Let's not generalize Anri, there are very good game studio for PC.

 

There are indeed many great game studios for the PC, and nor did I say otherwise.  My point is, though, that its sods law that when you buy a PC game on release - theres always a 50/50 chance theres some issue with the game that might require a patch or a work around - sometimes even a hardware upgrade just to get playable performance with low detail settings, even though you have the required minimum spec.

 

Throwing in persistant internet connections for single player games is only going to add to that frustration.  I hear rumours that the next MS XBox machine will have such a "feature", but I doubt console gamers will stand for it...

Edited by Anri
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Couldn't they... not make a single-player game require a permanent connection to the internet in order to work?

That.


QFT.
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The problem is that it's not just drm. The game's data and some of the simulation exists primarily in the cloud. If it were just drm they could have turned it off for a couple days to save the bad publicity.

Apparently not as much as they claim. There are several stories around the web where people are simply disconnecting their pcs and the game continues for minutes or even hours, so their "computations are handled server side" seems like bullshit. Hell, even if it were true, there's a simple fix for that part; release a server binary that can be run locally or even on another machine on your LAN. Yeah, the saves wouldn't be cloud and you couldn't interact with other cities, but it's definitely possible.

So, lets be honest, this is primarily about DRM. And to some extent, I can understand that. I may not like it, but I can appreciate the intention.

That said, a developer is going to require a consumer to be always online for the developers benefit, then the developer should be ALWAYS FUCKING ONLINE for the benefit of the consumer (ya know, the ones who are paying for the service). No excuses. Otherwise, AFAIC, you have sold people a product that is not fit for purpose.
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Yep, a few reports exist of people playing unconnected - I don't have a link to the post but someone apparently created a new city and then pulled their network cable and managed to play for 7 hours!

The only thing the servers get you (the player) afaik is being able to play with others in a region and trade with them etc however given you can set a region to 'private' and then play on your own kind of makes a mockery of it.

The fact they seem to have lied about it (including an oft repeated claim that the simulation couldn't run on someone's home computer) and then lied about being able to get refunds just makes it even worse.

I'm not saying I'm going to boycott EA games (although them being on Origin makes me buying them unlikely) but they have basically lost any and all pre-order chances from me until they can prove that they aren't a bunch of cash grabbing unreliable bastids smile.png
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The fact they seem to have lied about it (including an oft repeated claim that the simulation couldn't run on someone's home computer)

They didn't lie about it. They've said a bunch of times in r/simcity exactly what gets simmed on the server. If you aren't connected to the server you lose pretty much any interaction with the region and the global market until you reconnect.
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The fact they seem to have lied about it (including an oft repeated claim that the simulation couldn't run on someone's home computer)

They didn't lie about it. They've said a bunch of times in r/simcity exactly what gets simmed on the server. If you aren't connected to the server you lose pretty much any interaction with the region and the global market until you reconnect.

Unfortunately, what seems to be getting reported on (and popular opinion) is different e.g. here http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/03/12/simcity-server-not-necessary/

Also unfortunately, there are now some criticisms being reported about the simulation/gameplay itself: e.g. here http://kotaku.com/5990362/with-simple-ai-like-this-why-does-simcity-need-cloud-computing

However, since I have not played the game I cannot opine how badly the latter would affect the fun level, if at all.
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