back to article PC Gamers get Bill of Rights

A special Bill of Rights has been created in an attempt to secure every PC gamer's ten most fundamental privileges. Gaming_bill_of_rights The Gamer's Bill of Rights: don't expect it to become law any time soon The bill was created by desktop utility software developer Stardock and games designer Gas Powered Games. It's …

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  1. Geraint Jones

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

    I've always felt a little put off by games that give me the message "this serial number _appears_ to be valid" (my emphasis), as if I might somehow have faked the key I've JUST copied from the manual...

  2. TeeCee Gold badge
    Stop

    Er, aren't 2 and 3 sort of mutually exclusive?

    If the thing's "finished" (a tad woolly this one, granted), surely it works as intended and, therefore, doesn't need updates?

    2 and 3 taken together break the *real* Rule 1: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

  3. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Too Right!!

    This bill of rights makes perfect sense, most (normal) people will agree with most, if not all of them.

    No. 10 is my biggest gripe; working with small children, if a game needs the disc every time, it soon gets too badly damaged by little fingers to play, so I end up making or downloading pirate versions of a legally bought game to save the original from damage.

    Can I add item 11 to the list though??

    11/ Copy protection should not cause physical damage to CD/DVD drives.

    I have a copy of "Dora the Explorer - Dance to the Rescue" that has killed THREE drives in the space of 6 months.

    If I can find a hacked HD only version of this I will download it, until then the children are not allowed to use this game.

  4. Martin Gregorie Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Just games?

    Much of this should apply to all software products, not just games. In particular, points 1,2 and 5 have general applicability.

    Having said that, point 2 is probably covered by 'fitness for purpose' legislation and points 1 and 5 fall foul of misleading advertising laws.

  5. Steven Foster

    EA?

    Pledged have they?

    1 word answer to that; Spore.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Partially paradoxical.

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

    This does make sense.

    But then again, if all games were released in a finished state, why would we need:

    a) "meaningful updates after a game's release"

    b) "download managers and updaters"

    c) "to re-download the latest versions of the games"?

    I don't see any call for updates of any sort after purchase if they get rid of all the bugs before release.

    In fact, lack of updates means less reliance on registration, hence increased privacy for users

  7. jai

    1st amendment

    11. Gamers shall have the right to play the GTA series of games and enjoy them without fear of being villified and victimised by the press in an attempt create a scandal where none exists

  8. Roy Mudie

    Not necessarily PC requirements...

    Many people have had trouble trying to install games due to dodgy copyright protection rather than just a miss understanding of requirements.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is EA helping?

    Offering to sell you a new PC for each game doesn't really count imo. Good on Stardock and GPG - hopefully they will abide by this for their own releases even if no-one else does. I would like to see a lot more titles remove the DVD check once the game has been out for a while, Forged Alliance would be a good one to start with GPG ;)

  10. James

    Specs of own PC

    Games not working on a user's system are not always down to not meeting the specs listed. Some optical drives just don't read discs properly (firmware/design bugs?) and the latest and greatest drivers are hardly bug-free. Sometimes the drivers just don't exist *coughVistacoughCreativecough* allegedly. There are probably other reasons certain systems just won't run certain games but not meeting the minimum specs isn't the only one.

  11. jonathan keith

    Points 2 and 3

    Not mutually exclusive at all, if you consider "meaningful updates" to be more then just bug-fixing patches. More tracks or cars for racing games. More maps for FPS or RTS games. That sort of thing.

  12. adnim Silver badge

    A couple more

    Gamers should have the right to expect the game play to last for more than 15 hours for a budget game and over 30 hours for a full price game.

    Gamers should have the right to install a game on as many machines as they own that are located in the same household.

    Gamers should have the right to a complete refund if the game does not meet the hype.

    Games should have the right to expect significant differences in content between annual releases of the same game title.

    The last one is aimed specifically at EA.

  13. james
    Stop

    err

    "Fair enough, but shouldn’t a PC gamer know their machine’s specifications and then match these up to the system requirements listed on the game’s box?"

    you mean like when i bought battlefield 2142? where i made sure that my machine surpassed all recommended specs? including the internet speeds?

    game still wouldnt work, due to the crap online drm used by EA. took 3 weeks of arguing to get my cash back, but i guess that was my fault huh?

    you spout that crap like the gamer is the one at fault, let me ask you this: when was the last time you saw a pc game released which wasnt broken or unplayable due to multiple bugs? 99% of modern games are rushed so badly that you have to wat 2-3 months after release to get a fully working version after several patches - if - IF - it even works then.

    none of which is helped by stupidly ported console games which seem to be the latest fad, heads up game developer peoples - THEY DONT BLOODY WORK.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's a family affair / it's a family affair

    Related to point seven, perhaps gamers should have the right to install the same as many times as they like on the same computer, instead of simply refusing after two or five or eight installations (as I believe was the case with Bioshock and other games).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Timber / all fall down

    While I'm in a creative mood - thank you, Sly Stone - how about "gamers who have achieved a certain level of proficiency in Microsoft Flight Simulator should have the right to fly an actual aeroplane, e.g. an airliner in case of pilot sickness".

    "Gamers who play Counterstrike a lot should have the right to be taken seriously by actual military men at NATO when they propose a brand new type of rifle / incredible military strategy for invading Russia, that involves little robot wasps armed with railguns".

  16. nbc
    Dead Vulture

    Ah the irony

    I'll be looking for a refund for Sins of a Solar Empire then which totally hoses my machine.

  17. Killian
    Thumb Up

    Yep

    "Points 2 and 3... Not mutually exclusive at all"

    Quite right.

    I think the authors' definition of 'finished' doesn't mean 'bug-free perfection' but rather 'not riddled with obvious bugs and flaws and pending a series of patches that fix some but create new ones'.

    This, as well as the other points, are worthwhile goals and full credit should go StarDock any anyone else for setting them - however, if they think the f*cktards at EA, etc are going to follow them, they're pissing into the wind.

    Shame really.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Return for full refund

    Let's not forget those games which worked on "Windows 98 or later" and broke on XP/2K.

  19. Spudman

    Number 1

    I agree with James that you can have problems running games that aren't covered in the specs listed on the box.

    I've had games that won't run because of bugs with certain graphics card drivers. There are usually complaints about it in the manufacturers forums, but they never add the information on the box about unsupported graphics cards (or other hardware) that is still above the minimum or recommended spec. They coulc just stick an extra label on the box to let people know.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Rights schmights

    In the UK at least, you're already protected by consumer law under the 'of merchantable quality' clause: you can demand a refund from the point of sale if the goods don't deliver the goods, regardless of whose fault it is.

  21. Jason Togneri
    Stop

    @ jonathan keith / Points 2 and 3

    Just when I was beginning to despair, I'm glad to see that there's *somebody* else who's not an utter cretin. No, they're not mutually exclusive at all. Even if it's theoretically to get the bugs out, and also to add more features as you suggest, there's also FUTURE compatibility - patches designed to allow you to use new hardware that wasn't even out when the game was released. Loads of reasons why 2 and 3 aren't mutually incompatible. I really wish people would follow the simple process of think --> speak.

  22. Charles Silver badge

    @TeeCee

    They need not be mutually exclusive. The game can indeed be released in a finished and complete state, and then later on the developers may choose to provide additional content that is not critical to the game--extras, in other words.

    As for the ability to re-download games, this kicks in if a player gets tired of a game, uninstalls it to make room for another game, and then changes his/her mind down the road and wants to play the first game again.

    If you want an 11th right for gamers, here's a good one: "Gamers shall have the right to be addressed by developers and publishers in a straightforward and completely honest manner. Statements from developers and publishers must be completely and solely truthful."

  23. Kevin

    Whole heartedly agree with most of the points

    Especially #5 I still remember when WarCraft 3 came out my computer, at the time, was 2X the recommended system requirements (not the minimum req's), as stated by blizzard, and the game was barely playable with everything set to minimum, and screen resolution set to the lowest supported by my monitor. Now if any mages would cast blizzard or more than 50 units were on the screen at once, my computer would completely freeze for 1 minute and on a lot of occasion lock up from it and require a reboot. I cannot even imagine how unplayable it would be with the minimum system requirements.

    And #6,#8-#10 I believe completely in, and are reasons I will not be purchasing Spore when it comes out even though I was really looking forward to it since the day it was announced. I will not install any game that requires SecuROM on the pc and have to beg EA to allow me to play a game I purchased every time I swap a piece of hardware out. And best of all if you uninstall the game SecuROM is not removed and stays silently running in the background causing potential problems with processes and potentially a major security related issues just like other Sony made DRM programs in the past.

  24. Xander

    <title>

    Jonathan Keith is very correct when he says there is a significant difference between "finished" and "updated". After all, balancing can sometimes Only be achieved after many more hours of playtesting than can be reasonably done by a developer, especially for small teams.

    I also think some people are very unfair when they say gamers should "know their system specs". A lot more people these days are just buying PC's ready made and do not know the exact specs. Also, many boxes will only name one or two components and many folks don't know if a Radeon XT6500 is more or less powerful than an NVIDIA RIVA TNT2.

  25. Caspian Prince
    Linux

    Re: 2 & 3

    Why the hell should it be a *right* to receive *free stuff* for a game you buy?

    Tux, for the freetards.

  26. stranger on the road
    Go

    nice, here is some more

    11. all games that require activation will automatically be de-activated (on the server side) after 12 months of that said activation. (this will help with people who's computers do fail, 5 activation per _year_ should be enough!).

    12. all games that require an internet connection to play must be made to use account based activation instead of PC based activation. (this should allow the user to move with his/her game between PCs).

    13. digital edition of the games should be sold worldwide and not to selected countries. If there is a localised online shop to the selected country, then it is understandable that user of that country to be forwarded to their localised online shop, but if there is _no_ localised online shop to that country, then the users of that country must be allowed to buy from the any 3rd party online shop (such as steampowered, direct2driver or gamestop).

    points 5-8 can't be over emphasized, developers should really remember that honest gamers still exist and that they should be treated as customers and not some criminals.

    P.S. set those rules to apply to digital media as well ;-)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Yeh, Right

    Lets see if Stardock and Gas Powered Games live up to the bill and obey 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10.

    Nice idea, will never happen and just a publicity stunt.

  28. alistair millington
    Thumb Up

    HA Ha HA Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha HA HA Ha

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha HA Ha

    Sorry I just read Gass powered games were involved...

    They came up with supreme commander that was shockingly bad code and game play on a dual core top spec machine... so they broke their own bill of rights... Nice...

    Ea are the biggest and they would never sign up to it

    They break nearly all of them with just one game. BF2142, buggy, DRM riddled with spyware (their words) internet connection needed which drops at regular intervals crashing your game (you got out of sync with main server), spec far to high, code quality far too low... and the EA downloader (download your games so you don't need CD's) became the EA shop so that was a waste of time... And don't even consider Steam which seems to be the biggest thing out there for waste of space... I have had entire LAN parties die because Steam needs to be run on 20 PC's through one Virgin Media internet connection which is shite just to play a LAN game.

    Stardock have their good idea hat on, sins of the solar empire played after copying the directory from another PC, no disk as it was downloaded from them (no european release for a long time) and no installation required. Sweet..

    But gas powered games...

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

    I do like this comedy article though... EA committed to gamers... You make funny jokes James...

  29. Mark Lawson

    Software specs

    "Fair enough, but shouldn’t a PC gamer know their machine’s specifications and then match these up to the system requirements listed on the game’s box?"

    That depends on whether the "minimum specs" are genuinely based on requirements for the thing to run at all, or merely represent what someone putting together the box art thinks sounds like a likely spec of an average PC within the last 2-3 years.

    I run a machine elements of which are on the ancient side (GF3Ti200 and an Athlon 850). I regard even the minimum specs on the box as suspect - my machine chugs along with Doom 3 happily whilst miles below the official specs and handled Prey without issue but won't touch Quake 4 as it specifically needs SSE (which the old Althlon lacks) - the QIV specs don't mention this, they just demand a P4 class or above (even though it would probably run fine on a P3). I understand that companies can't test their software with every feasible hardware combination but the information provided isn't enough to make an informed judgement - its frustrating knowing that on the offchance that your purchase won't work you're potentially out of luck "because you don't meet the published specs".

    (I'm not a hardcore gamer and the machine works very well for its main role as a family PC/ PVR - it'll get replaced when it dies)

    With hardware purchases its even sillier as you are very unlikely to need a 2GHz+ machine to install a new DVD burner or printer successfully... but it still gives the reatiler a get-out clause should it not work.

  30. Steve

    Re: "finished state" and "meaningful updates"

    These are not contradictory - there's a difference between patching a glitch that only becomes apparent under certain specific conditions and someone like Egosoft releasing X3 in a state where it was literally unplayable because it was unfinished and basic game features that were in the manual were not present until a patch months later.

  31. A J Stiles
    Go

    @ Ian Emery

    If the damage to your optical drives was demonstrably caused by the software's copy-protection scheme, then you may have a criminal case against the publisher -- whether under the Misuse of Computers Act 1990, or just good old-fashioned Criminal Damage.

    This would be a very interesting test case ..... but somehow, I suspect the CPS might be just a tad reluctant to pursue it.

  32. Liam

    hmmmm

    :: Gamers shall have the right to return games that don't work with their computers for a full refund. - OR take it back after installing, grabbing the key and using a crack for no cd?

    :: Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state. - define 'finished'? no pc game can guarantee that all h/w will work with it as its impossible to test. maybe they should use a more mainstream process, does it work on nvidia and amd gfx cards, amd and intel chipsets (as others are less well used - especially in gaming pcs)

    :: Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game's release. - erm... if a finished game is released why expect updates?

    :: 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. - so they can lend the cd to everyone? surely this is a means of copy protection?

  33. David Evans
    Thumb Down

    Sorry but...

    The way they're written 2 & 3 ARE mutually exclusive. Its simply not reasonable to expect a game to be 100% bug free given the almost infinite variety of hardware configurations out there (MS & Sony can't even manage it with single platforms); which means item 2 is impossible to deliver, which makes item 3 impossible to deliver as well (as some updates will only be relevant to some people). I'd also suggest that item 9 is a tolerable price to play for piracy; I know YOU'RE all good little chillun but unfortunately there are an awful lot of naughty boys and girls out there who abuse retail returns processes with a quick diversion to gamecopyworld; checking against an online registration database is the "least worst" piracy solution.

  34. RW
    Pirate

    @ A J Stiles

    Criminal case against publisher of games that fuck over optical drives: won't work because criminal law requires an element of intent and the manufacturer didn't *intend* to destroy your drive.Remember the old adage "never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence."

    Civil claim would work better, but judging from what's said about British law you might be able to go after the retailer rather than the manufacturer.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    www

    Warning, Weasel Words. Sounds all a joke to me. All this talk of "right to demand" and "right to expect" rank right up there with "adequately play" and "meaningful update" as just so much shite. Clearly they should add that you have the right to meaningfully expect adequate disappointment. Frankly, number one with a nominal grace period should cover damn near everything. As for updates, that depends on whether you mean a patch or the next release as going from v2.2 to v2.3 is different from going from v2.2 to v3.0.

    Finally, why should gamers get any special rights? Why am I subjected to typing or pasting 1/32 into a spreadsheet and having it think I mean January 1932? It's easy enough to fix but try pasting in a few pages of data. Shouldn't I have special rights that allow me to enter data into a cell and not have the software jump through hoops trying to fit it to a date?

  36. Dave Eyraud

    Sometimes games just don't work, period.

    >> First up is the right to return games that don’t work with the purchaser's computer for a full refund. Fair enough, but shouldn’t a PC gamer know their machine’s specifications and then match these up to the system requirements listed on the game’s box?

    Yes, but you are forgetting the fact that sometimes a game just won't run on a PC. For instance, I can't play SimCity Societies on my Gigabyte MA790X-DS4 with AM2+ 5600 CPU and eVGA 8800GT 512mb. Even though my specs are well beyond their requirements, the game just does not like my vid card and I haven't been able to find a driver that doesn't crash the game.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice

    As to point 2... maybe they should have said 'somewhere resembling finished'.

    I know exactly where they are coming from... I mean if you buy a boxed game off the shelf something probably isn't right if you install it and it looks like an alpha version...

    Updates should be available, but they shouldn't be required to getting something you paid money for in the shop working properly.

    And 'No CDs required'.... amen to that. I've also been in the ludicrous situation where I've bought a boxed copy of a game and had the installer tell me that I'm using a copy... I'm looking at you Bioware!

  38. Charles Silver badge

    @David Evans

    But to counter your counter, what if you bought your copy brick-and-mortar and have no Internet access to speak of? You've essentially bought a "coaster" and can possibly file a legal claim for not being able to use the product you purchased...and/or for assuming everyone who wants to play the game possesses a usable Internet connection.

  39. Gordon Fecyk
    Stop

    2nd Amendment: The right to defend ourselves

    The right to use the best defence against what we hold evil: Viruses, spyware, rootkits, etc, especially from the game makers themselves.

    Those of you who read what I write know what I mean, but you can take this amendment in whatever direction you want. It should cover all ways we can defend ourselves from abuse.

  40. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    #14 smooth exit and #9 - CD to run?

    14) PC Gamers also expect games to exit gracefully to Windows; I'm thinking of Oblivion, which takes down my sound system and leaves a mess on the screen.

    If they ran from a non-boot CD (#9), the battlechest version could come with its own external CD drive.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    You can't go through with this!

    Think of all the crackers and hackers that release patches that actually allow you to play the damn game as it should have been without CP crap! We'd have neighbourhoods full of game crackers hanging around street corners, with signs like "Will patch for food!" or "Spare a protected EXE? Save a soul!".

  42. DodgyLurgy

    @ alistair millington

    "I have had entire LAN parties die because Steam needs to be run on 20 PC's through one Virgin Media internet connection which is shite just to play a LAN game."

    I think the key phrase there is the 'Virgin Media internet connection'......Goes down more times than a whore on a see-saw (putting it politely), running a LAN party on that connection is just asking for trouble :-)

    But....I doubt any game released will ever be bug free so patches are inevitable. If the game is an online one then very often the patch will contain extras like maps/weapons etc (in the case of the Call of Duty series and probably others) so a patch is beneficial in that respect.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ea?!

    you mean ea is trying to go back in time to when it started out?

    i will belive it when i see it....

    i still remeber when ea started ouit and it was great their mission statemnt was pretty much what the bill of rights states minus the cd/dvd floppy return policy

  44. Pete
    Stop

    @ alistair millington

    Steam works fine, theres nothing wrong with it. If you'd bothered to read the instructions you might've discovered that you don't need an internet connection to play any of the games and they can be played offline just fine.

    So before you bash a platform, get your facts right.

  45. Antony Riley

    Published in a finished state.

    Great idea, then everything will go the way of Duke Nukem Forever (Is it just me, or is DNF a rather accurate acronym?)

    The "right to expect updates" is however an astounding idea, given publishing games^Wsoftware and firmware in a finished state is never going to happen.

    I'd like to see a similar list regards hardware which contains firmware:

    1) Every effort will be made to ensure the initial version of the firmware is correct before pushing it out the door (this means users won't find obvious flaws in the firmware within 1 hour of installing the product).

    2) The manufacturer will supply timely firmware updates when bugs are identified, or when new features are added to the firmware, and will include full release notes detailing these changes with the firmware.

    3) The purchaser will be made aware of firmware updates and have the opportunity to install the updates when she/he chooses.

    4) Installing firmware updates will either use well known means (such as tftp for network devices) or the manufacturer will publicly document the protocol(s) used.

    5) Firmware updates will be published binary image format. (not incorporated inside other formats such as .exe or .dll, shipping inside a tarball containing the update software is also reasonable).

    6) It will be possible to reflash the device even if the user brick's it.

    If this is not possible then the manufacturer should be responsible for replacing the device (for free, or a negligible fee).

    I don't think the above list is asking for very much.

  46. Wokstation

    @NBC

    You'll probably get said refund.

    I had issues with GalCiv2 due to a faulty GPU, and after spending a while in IRC with Mike Sama (of Stardock) diagnosing the fault, they offered a full refund.

    I said "no", because I'd be replacing the GPU soon anyway.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Not bad, needs work.

    Let me try:

    1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that are not satisfactory for a full refund.

    2. No game shall be released for sale without complete playtesting nor with defects found in playtesting left uncorrected.

    3. Any bugs found after release shall be patched promptly.

    4. Applying updates to games shall always be voluntary except as required for compatibility in online play.

    5. The minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.

    6. No game may install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without the user's express consent.

    7. Gamers shall have the right to install games they have paid for on their own computers any number of times.

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

    9. An internet connection shall never be required to play a single-player game.

    10. Games that install to the hard disk shall not require a CD/DVD in the drive for later play.

  48. Kanhef

    re: "finished state"

    This doesn't mean the game is perfect and bug-free. It means it isn't rushed out the door in time for Christmas with large sections unimplemented or shoddily done. For example, Oni had 20 levels planned, but only 15 were made, leaving out important plot elements. Fallout 2 was almost unplayable when it came out, still had hundreds of bugs when patched, three areas were left out and a couple more only half-finished.

    #3 is questionable, though - some games are finished when they are released, and there isn't any content to add other than bugfixes.

    #9 is not "a tolerable price to pay for piracy". Why should I be unable to play a single-player-only game I own just because (a) I'm travelling (on a train, for example) and have no network connection, (b) I'm at an internet cafe or other open access point with a restrictive firewall that only allows common service ports to be used, (c) my ISP is on the fritz, (d) I'm on dialup and don't want to be connected for a 3-hour gaming session, or (d) the server it phones home to is down/crashed/ddos'ed?

  49. Wokstation

    @Pete re: Steam

    Sure, it's fine and dandy until the unthinkable happens and Valve shut their doors.

    What ya gonna do with your games then? And before you say "they'll release DRM-removing patches!"... yeah... sure they will.

  50. David Barrett Silver badge

    Ill have a 1 and a 10 and a load of free games please Carol

    .. This simply wont work...

  51. Ian Emery Silver badge

    @ AJ Styles

    Despite the fact that 20+ disks a day may be put into the drives,(so many games require the CD present and I cannot get hacks for all of them); all 3 drives died with "Dance to the Rescue" loading; one brand new drive lasted less than 2 weeks!!

    The trouble is that as a business, we have far fewer protections than the normal consumer, just read the small print on many products.

    Since I removed the game from the PC we have not had another failure, although the kids are on their 4th "copy" of Lego Racers; even the 2 y/o's love playing it!!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    PC gaming will die

    ... consoles will continue in their ascendence.

    These 'rights' mean nothing.

    Paris: cos I like her

  53. Kevin Kitts
    Boffin

    Some things to consider...

    Comments are after each point:

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

    Tell this to Best Buy. Or any other store with a "unwrap it, you bought it" policy.

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

    Define "finished", then think of "Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion". I expect the entire world to be modelled (not just one kingdom). THEN it's finished. For extra credit, make sure you define the scope of the "finished state".

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

    Okay, so people having glitches will have to wait until a map expansion pack to come out prior to any glitches being fixed? Come on, you realize that no game will work 100% with every machine. And I'm not going to upgrade my computer every 6 months just so EA can say the game works on every machine, either.

    "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."

    That's a start. Also, I want the games to run at the highest level of priority in the operating system. No stuff running in the background, period. No connections to or from my computer except for the ones in the game itself. I'm sick of my virus scanner periodically contacting the mothership to tell me if I need an update (dropping my frame rate in the process), when I'm clearly not going to be doing so - I'm playing a damn game, and I'm not going to drop everything just to update my virus scanner. And I do NOT want it updating in the background with the standard 50% CPU priority that Windows uses if the game isn't programmed to have highest priority in the OS. That's the one thing I miss most about MS-DOS - no multitasking grinding down my frame rate.

    "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."

    Define "minimum" and "adequately". In FPS, and with reference to how many times the game locks up periodically to load something (I'm looking at you, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.). For extra points, throw in something about "the best interests of the gamer" instead of "the best interests of the game companies".

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

    And any company that does so can be sued for violations of the ECPA and their CEOs and CIO put into jail for felonies. If we can't hack your software, your software can't hack our computers. Now, if only they'd do this for virus scanners...

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

    Bioshock and other limited-install games, I'm looking at you. Your time is over. I am still playing M.U.L.E. (1984) by EA, and I still have the original C64 disk. I own the permanent right to play it, and I will pay for nothing less (the arcade days are dead and gone, IMHO - I'm not renting a machine or software anymore). If my disk goes bad, I want the right to return it and have it replaced (for free within warranty period, and for cheap if beyond that period). And I want to be able to purchase software long after it gets removed from the shelves. If you don't sell it anymore, and I can't get a copy via retail anymore, you shouldn't have the copyright anymore, because you're not making money off it anymore. In the days of terabyte-sized drives, you can store entire games and their documentation permanently - I'm sick of going through Ebay and worse to try to get a valid copy of "System Shock 2".

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

    I agree 100%. Just because a few people hack and distribute your software, doesn't mean that you have to treat the rest of us like crap. After all, WE are the ones who pay your paychecks. If you don't treat US right, you will lose your jobs when we fail to buy your product. I didn't buy Mass Effect because of the install limitations, and I won't buy Bioshock 2 when it comes out for the same reason. I hope Fallout 3 and other titles won't have such measures, as I'm very much looking forward to them. If the limits are in there, I'm not buying it, no matter how good it is. I won't buy it unless I can go back and play it 20 years from now.

    "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."

    Since I play mostly single-player games, I am vehemently for this. Unreal Tournament 3 has a connect screen that I have to flip past every time I play, and I always worry what's being sent over the net when it loads. This dovetails nicely with #4 above. If I wanted to play a multiplayer game, I'd load the multiplayer version.

    "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."

    And the game industry responds with limited installs and SecuROM crap (which can cause my PC to fail to boot if I leave said CD in the drive on booting). Once again, quit treating us normal pay-for-play gamers like crap. I don't mind leaving my CD in the drive for copy protection, but QUIT LOADING FROM IT (I'm looking at you, Diablo 2). When my CD spins down, and something gets checked, the entire game locks up for 5 - 6 seconds before the drive spins up again. I HATE this, as much as I hate the in-game lockups as data gets loaded in the middle of a level (S.T.A.L.K.E.R., I'm looking at you again).

    And now for the additional rights:

    11. Gamers shall not have to pay more than $50.00 for any game, unless it's a special edition with enough new non-game stuff added to justify the price. Even then, the standard edition of the game must be marketed at the same time. Games should not cost you a week's wages, ever.

    12. Gamers shall not have to pay more than $400.00 for any base console game system. Even then, the base console shall have everything it needs to play 95% of the games released for that console (and the other 5% should be clearly marked as needing expansions).

    13. Gamers shall not be forced to give up old games because of operating system changes. OS makers shall make 100%-backwards-compatible emulators within the new OS ***AT LAUNCH***, so that old software doesn't have to be discarded. This goes for consoles and PCs (I'm looking at you, Microsoft). The emulators shall be able to run the old games at the original speed of the old console for which they were designed (or at specific PC speeds, for PC OS emulators).

    14. Gamers shall be able to download patches directly to hard drives rather than be forced to use in-game update software. If I like version 1.09 of Diablo 2 better than 1.10-1.12, then I should be able to play it that way. I'm looking at you, Stardock Software - if I ever have to re-install "Sins of a Solar Empire", I'll be pulling out my hair trying to download a patch at the 56K-modem-speeds your site typically uses for patch downloads. The Sins patch took over an hour to download - that is unacceptable.

    15. Gamers shall be able to patch their software DIRECTLY from the software manufacturer's site. I'm looking at any company who uses FilePlanet as the first point of contact for downloading their patches - I will NOT pay to download some patch for software I just purchased, and I will NOT wait 30 minutes in a public queue just so I can see a Save As dialog box!!! If you, as a game manufacturer, are too poor to have your own patch server, GET OUT OF THE GAME BUSINESS!!!

    16. Gamers shall have, as an option, to load the ENTIRE game into system RAM. No hard drive/CD/DVD access necessary, if you have the RAM to do so. It will play a lot faster, and be more fun as a result. Again, having the highest priority in the OS will be critical.

    I could think of more, but frustration is setting in. Feel free to use these and add more.

  54. Bill
    Thumb Up

    'Bout time

    All I can say about this is that it's about time it happened! Would actually make purchasing of games worth it again. You can also tell that a lot of thought went into this, sure it's not perfect, but neither is the American Bill of Rights, that's why this should be open to amendments, voted on by gamers for gamers.

  55. This post has been deleted by its author

  56. Rebecca

    2 and 3 are not mutually exclusive

    For some games, it might seem that way, but the best examples I can come up with off the top of my head are the Diablo games by Blizzard.

    The original Diablo was a complete game in of itself. Then they brought out the expansion, Hellfire, which updated the game with a new character and two new areas, which was really cool.

    Diablo II is an even better example. The game was a complete game. Then the expansion came out that added the fifth act to kill Ba'al (rather than making that Diablo III) and added two more characters.

    On top of that, they've shifted the game through patches to match the complaints about the game. This is something that really should be done. Some of the monsters were made easier, some things that couldn't be bought when the game came out can be now, and yes, some bugs were fixed.

    Regarding bugs, it's insane to expect game companies to get all the bugs out before releasing a game. There is no way they can find every single bug. That's why it takes players to test it. Then they find bugs far faster and more efficiently. This is not only how it's done with games and software, but with hardware as well. I refuse to buy anything new technologically until it's around a year old, but I can't blame the companies. They simply can't manage a bug sweep on as grand a scale as giving it out to the public.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    (untitled)

    > I have a copy of "Dora the Explorer - Dance to the Rescue" that has

    > killed THREE drives in the space of 6 months.

    Eh, if I had kids, I won't let them near Dora the Explorer anything. If the creators of the show have such low views of kids that they think kids learn by forced repetition, they're very wrong. I tried watching it once and it felt like the Ludovico technique.

    > Let's not forget those games which worked on "Windows 98 or later"

    > and broke on XP/2K.

    What about games that break on later hardware? Here's looking at you, EA! My copy of Final Fantasy VIII has graphical glitches because NVidia changed their hardware and as a result something the game relies on has been removed, and now the graphics glitches up! And they do not want to fix it AT ALL!

    > That depends on whether the "minimum specs" are genuinely based

    > on requirements for the thing to run at all, or merely represent what

    > someone putting together the box art thinks sounds like a likely spec

    > of an average PC within the last 2-3 years.

    Well, my copy of Final Fantasy VII said Pentium 133 with 16MB RAM minimum. And it crashes every few minutes with my Pentium 166 MMX with 32MB RAM. And yes, I had 3D acceleration from a S3 3D ViRGE and a audio acceleration from a SB AWE64. I eventually got so pissed I gave away the game for free.

  58. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    I've got a much shorter bill of rights for gamers

    1. Caveat emptor

    But then I work in the industry. This bill of rights is ridiculous. Game developers work under heavy technical limitations and heavy time constraints dictated by economics. The problems are almost exclusively down to PCs. It's simply not that easy to make any kind of 3D application which manages to be robust on a million different hardware configurations. There are hardware bugs, driver bugs, etc. etc. Not many problems are actually down to the developer.

    If the technical faults of PCs piss you off so much, buy a console or a Mac, where everything (more or less) just works.

    (Agree with the anti-DRM stuff though. You think it's bad on games? I paid £500 for some software I use professionally and I can't run it on Vista 64 because the dongle lacks a driver. You think it's annoying when you pay £40 and get treated as a potential criminal? Try £500. And that's peanuts next to MAX or Maya.)

  59. Saucerhead Tharpe

    3 isn't as daft as it sounds

    it's says MEANINGFUL updates.

    So it there are no meaningful updates then there are no updates. It should depend on the game

    I play Lord of the Rings Online. There have been several meaningful (and in some cases fecking huge) additions to content. This is only fair as it is a subscription game.

    If I was playi9ng a race game then new tracks/cars might be expected, at least if I was paying a sum each month

  60. Johnny FireBlade

    Bit of a dig?

    "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."

    Spot the blatant dig at Steam! lol

  61. jonathan keith
    Thumb Up

    @ Workstation

    "Sure, it's fine and dandy until the unthinkable happens and Valve shut their doors.

    What ya gonna do with your games then? And before you say "they'll release DRM-removing patches!"... yeah... sure they will."

    TBH, Valve is one of the few companies anywhere that I'd trust to do that. They have stated categorically that if things go tits-up, they will revoke the DRM on all Steam titles, allowing players to use the games freely and without problem.

    I believe them. Valve have a) the money to remain independent, and b) the integrity to do so.

  62. Mark
    Stop

    "This simply wont work"

    Why?

    Will games companies become unprofitable unless they can screw a customer as if they were a consumer?

    No DRM: well, no DRM has stopped piracy and because digital software replicates without error, only one copy needs to be cracked. So chuck it. No DRM has turned a pirate into a customer. I didn't buy X2 or X3 because of their copy protection. DRM cost them AT LEAST two sales PLUS the cost of buying the protection. PLUS support call overhead.

    EULA insanity: Berne convention says that copies required to make the use of the product is not a copyright controlled action, so EULA's are not required for playing games. And it brings no extra profit in to the company. It does get their lawyers something to bill for.

    CD in drive: well how does this help? Daemon Tools avoids this and if you're careful of the disk (I.e. an adult), by the time the game CD dies due to the death by a thousand scratches, the game is no longer available, so no new sale there. Then again, the games I play most have been patched to no-CD use and often if I think "I'll just play I-War 2" I find I have to find the CD first, I won't bother playing.

    If they can't get a game out right, then allow a full replacement of the CD. It'll cost 30p for two stamps, another 30p for a new CD and a few quid to pay for some desk jockey to swap out the CD for a working one. This does mean they don't have to keep a patch server running.

  63. Mark
    Thumb Down

    "Steam works fine, theres nothing wrong with it."

    Oh yes there is.

    When you bought the CD did you know you can't sell it on? You can't pass it to your brother when you've played?

    What happens when Steam service no longer supports your game?

  64. Mark

    LAN games

    Given that LAN games either mean "your immediate family and friends" or having to lug a computer over to a neutral territory and set up, it should be possible to run a LAN game without an internet connection AT ALL. Even if it requires one CD installation (only one key for all installs).

    After all, what's the likelihood that you'll go to the trouble of lugging a computer to a LAN party and NOT have the game?

    But dropping the requirement means that I can install the game on my machine at home and if I have my brother in law over, we can have a lan game there and then with my two computers in a small home network and have a laugh. No revenue loss, since I wouldn't buy two CD's just so I can play a LAN game once in a blue moon and LAN parties can be done safer (one install on a central system means your machine won't get hosed by someone else's virused machine because you can netboot and not have to use your own HDD).

    And a game with more use is more valuable and therefore more likely to sell.

  65. Ash

    I can't believe EVERYBODY here has missed this one...

    XX. Games shall run as well in a Limited Access User Account as they do when run with Administrator privilages. Settings files, Saved Games, and any temporary data will be stored appropriately on the computer to facilitate this.

    XX. Games shall recognise a change of User Account when run, and will retain customised settings based on the Logged On user.

    Seriously, how difficult is it to store the configuration file to somewhere in the Documents and Settings\Username directory instead of a single file in the game directory?

  66. Nick G

    @ David Evans

    As has been stated before points 2 & 3 aren't exclusive.

    There's a difference between a game that's released with a few bugs/glitches & others that, say, have things in the manual missing (X3) or, in the case of Vampire The Masquerade:Bloodlines a bug that means you can't get to the next level (Society of Leopold Mission...) meaning you couldn't complete the game when it was released.

  67. JC

    After the first step comes the second

    Now we need a Bill of Rights (BOR) symbol that can be placed on game packages and websites to denote adherance to these principles so the buyers can have confidence and decide for themselves.

  68. Mark

    @jonathan keith

    What if valve go into receivership before they can get around to making a DRM removal patch? What if they are bought (especially on a hostile takeover)?

    They cannot then release such a patch.

    Bioware have done it for DiabloII, but I don't want D3 because they kept nerfing the single player of D2 so that you eventually HAD to play online as the only way to avoid either

    a) MASSIVELY reduced damage potential by ensuring you have no weak spots

    b) a quit-and-reload when a MSLE FE Fire/lightning/physical immune boss turns up with his MSLE exploding pals

    c) getting Level 2 character magic stuff only dropped from monsters a L20 character can kill, making the drop USELESS

    So I don't want to play D2 online. Especially when they nuked the battle net clone that WORKED BETTER by complaining that it didn't have the copy protection and missing out (or not having to explain) that they refused to tell them how to put the copy protection in their servers. And they kept patching it and changing the gameplay until it is worthless playing SP.

    I'm not going to spend money on them to make me pissed off. I can do that just by burning my cash in front of me.

  69. Wokstation

    @Jonathan Keith

    I'm glad you trust them. I don't - they're a commercial entity. Their board/CEO/shareholders change, so do their policies. It also assumes they'll have the financial and technical resources to release said DRM-removing patches.

    So given the choice between "it'll definitely still work" (CD/DvD Deployment) and "it has the possibility of breaking if the company folds" (Valve/Steam), which is the logical choice? I can't see any reason why someone would choose to take the gamble.

    @Eddie Edwards

    Wah, wah, wah. I'm also in field and I agree with it totally. It obviously DOES work because Stardock have built a successful business model following those rules themselves.

    What you're saying is you don't want it to work, because it means no more getting away sloppy workmanship, fobbing off the customer and treating them like scum.

    If you "work in the business", I suggest with an attitude like your's you won't do for long...

  70. A J Stiles

    Ah.

    RW -- I thought the requirement for _mens rea_ had been abolished, along with the old-fashioned ideas of not being tried twice for the same crime and not being punished for something that was not an offence at the time or in the place where you did it, as part of Tony Blair's wiping his arse with the Magna Carta?

    Everybody: It's worth noting that there is *already* a document which amounts to a "bill of rights" for all software users (not just gamers) and developers. Try

    file:///usr/share/common-licenses/GPL

    or failing that,

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

  71. Kevin Murray
    Thumb Down

    @Ash

    "Seriously, how difficult is it to store the configuration file to somewhere in the Documents and Settings\Username directory instead of a single file in the game directory?"

    There are quite a few games that do that, and they are a complete pain in the arse. Having to switch users every time a different person wants on a game is a farce - anyone should just be able to go into Load Saved Game, rather than having to log off their account and back in (or using Run As, which also requires exiting the game and starting back again).

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes

    I like the prospect of this. It should be made legally enforcible, just to set an example for the future, then let evolution take over as the bill is moulded over time and use.

    And Ash? I believe you meant "Seriously, how difficult is it to store the configuration file to the game directory instead of somewhere in the Documents and Settings\Username directory?" instead of the other way around, because storing configuration data for any kind of program, game or utility, inside a user account profile of the host OS is truly appalling in pretty much all circumstances.

    Where games are concerned, especially the multiplayer capable ones, they should be equipped with their own profile manager that can keep settings preferred by the players of the game. A game capable of this would for example be Warhammer 40.000.

  73. This post has been deleted by its author

  74. Dave Handley
    Flame

    None of these things are "Rights"

    What has been listed here is one gamers idea of a nice to have wish list. It certainly isn't a bill of rights. A bill of rights gives people the right to life, or the right to a fair trial; not the right to cry when something doesn't live up to the hype.

    To be honest, what gamers should be petitioning for is better work from the game reviewers. If people reviewing games took all the things in this list into account, and then gamers didn't buy ones that didn't meet the list, then you would effectively have implemented it. But no, when Half-Life 2 came out, everyone happily went out and bought it, despite knowing that Steam was highly intrusive and was going to cause untold problems.

    It's a market, if you don't like the way people do things, don't buy goods off them. Simple as that. Most countries have a fitness for purpose clause within retail law, this covers the more serious items on this list, the rest are nice to haves, nothing more. Now stop crying.

  75. Mark
    Boffin

    re: None of these things are "Rights"

    Uh, merchantability? That covers a few of them.

    rights of first sale covers another one or two.

    misrepresentation (fraud acts) cover another couple.

  76. Mark
    Alert

    @Kevin Murray etc

    UNIX does it this way and seems to have no problems at all.

    If it doesn't work under Windows then this must be something to do with the way Windows handles user accounts and home directories.

  77. IT Department
    Flame

    Steam: @ alistair millington and Pete; crap games.

    LAN days can be ruined through Steam. If everyone bringing a PC has a different patch level of a Steam game, then everyone with an `outdated' copy needs to update, which can be *slow* (since the patches can be quite large, you're doing this for 8-30 users with no local caching or torrent-type distribution and you're probably updating more than one game). If your LAN day location has no internet connection, you're stuffed. Tough luck, you can't play these games. Not to mention that "Play offline" can only be run when you're *online*, a problem which you'd usually only find out about the first time you try to play offline! This stops play entirely... I assume the publishers do this deliberately to boost license sales to gaming cafes and to cause trouble for pirates. They seem to not notice that a warez copy and cracked .exe/libraries make for easy LAN day playing, which might prevent legitimate sales for those few who didn't have a copy, and who would have bought one anyway.

    I also personally know of two fellow Steam users who got stuffed via Valve and Steam, one of whom will probably never play a Valve game again due to his level of displeasure with the companies' behaviour.

    (Apologies for the dodgy English, I am knackered.)

    I agree about the Valve going out of business thing, too. What is going to happen to your collection of Steamy software when this occurs? Imagine if large application companies started distributing their expensive desktop apps through Steam (Final Cut, Photoshop, Office-y software, all that crap). You'd be pretty pissed off if all that stopped working magically one day.

    Also, what the hell is up with the DRM crap on Bioshock, EA games, etc? These poorly-designed DRM systems infuriate me (since I'm currently offline at home I feel like I've been experiencing all the possible problems!) and they only punish your paying customers anyway. The pirates have a much nicer experience: either zero-install (just unarchive and play, as it should be!) or ISO bundles with cracked activation-removed .exe's.

    Perhaps EA (in particular, though there are others) should think about whether it's maybe that their games are crap (hundreds of near-identical sequels, or formulaic gameplay with zero innovation) rather than large-scale piracy which causes their sales `problems'. They seem to have enough cash to me...

    Whilst I'm ranting, I'd also like to see these crappy console conversions die a horrible death. I have played two games (original Bioshock before the patch being one!) which think taking the acceleration system for a thumb twiddler and directly translating that to a mouse works, or that low-res textures in a PC game is acceptable. I assume the former is due to lazy or clueless coders/testers. I assume the latter is a result of having low-res textures for the Xbox 360 and PS3 (256MB graphics RAM for one, 512MB shared RAM for the other, IIRC), and not creating high-res textures for PC use due to costs or backroom deals agreeing not to make certain non-PC systems look bad, since they do shaders well but textures and polys worse. I have 768MB of texture RAM, a PCIe bus and 3.25GB of system RAM available. I think it's fair to say most hardcore gamers will have at least 512MB of video RAM and >2GB of system RAM. Let us use it, damnit!

    [edit: I Googled it; I have proof: http://www.steampowered.com/status/survey.html

    PS - 9.7% use Vista, ha ha!]

    Finally, why are games so damn expensive? £30 max. is OK for an absolutely top-notch game (or a pretty good one if it's got a good community of modders and the like providing extra content), provided you get some decent hours out of it. (i.e. more than 30 hours, please!) Why not sell mediocre games at £20 or other impulse-buy level? I refuse to pay release prices and wait until the price comes down to these levels, unless I'm really keen on a new game, which only happens a max. of once or twice per year (come on Fallout 3!). Bethesda really sucked with TES:4, though: all the typical console port problems (interface, textures, simplified gameplay), plus sucky gameplay and paid crappy little additions which were probably in early builds of the game anyway (horse armour!). Compare and contrast with TES:3, Morrowind.

  78. Michelle
    Coat

    @TeeCee

    Apparently, you've never tried to play the Russian release of STALKER: Clear Sky. GSC Game Works might currently be in a world of legal hurt over that one. They pretty much released the game ahead of schedule as "Retail", but it turned out they were using the Russian customers as nothing more than a large scale Beta test. Due to all the problems that they've been having, the have pushed back the Worldwide retail release twice that I know of (Three if you include the publishers foul-up of not printing CD Keys in the manual, which ended up as a recall, and another delay).

    Mine's the one with the geiger counter and a pocket full of bolts.... Yeah, the AKS-74U is mine too.

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