Lessons Not Learned
Apparently the games industry STILL isn't learning the lessons of its media brethren, because EA is about to fuck over consumers, it seems, but in new and interesting ways. I do believe I've covered this issue already, so I'll write a brief note on a related issue, rather than retreading old ground.
PC gaming companies blame piracy for poor sales, and it's starting to get on my nerves, especially when they're using that line to justify draconian copy protection. Thing is, I assume that what holds true for the music industry is the same for games: the kind of people who pirate games are also the people who buy lots of games, too (or they should be). Furthermore, copy protection doesn't seem to do all that much to prevent games from being hacked. All it does is screw with the consumer, and that is unfair to someone who has legitimately purchased your product. Finally, it helps to make a game that is worth more money. For example. Unreal Tournament 3 being effectively a prettier version of its predecessor makes it worth less to someone who already owns UT 2004. Crysis being basically a prettier Far Cry with aliens doesn't make me – a Far Cry owner – want to spend $50. Sins of a Solar empire I bought at launch prices because it was a new twist on space strategy. STALKER I bought for about $30-40 because I'd heard it was rather good. Gothic 3 I bought for $7, and it was particularly unbalanced, and not all that much fun (due to frequent death). Point is, a game ends up being worth a certain amount, or not really worth having at all, which is around the point when spending decisions are made.
Other alternatives to horrid copy protection include implementing useful features into the copy protection software, and – of course – being Valve and making games that are worth their purchase price. Also possible, but evidently unthinkable in the present business: make new and interesting games that are not re-hashing material the buyer already owns, nor using the player as a beta tester. You'd think that something as simple as “make products that are worth the money you pay for them” would have sunken into the developers/publishers, but I guess you can never underestimate EA enough.