SimCity‘s disastrous launch is the latest in a long line of problems with games that have “always online” anti-piracy measures, and it’s time for gamers to say “enough is enough.” I wish I could say I’m surprised with the problems plaguing SimCity‘s launch, but I’m not. Truly, hardly anyone should be. I mean, just look at the launch of Assassin’s Creed II, where “always-on” DRM actually left legitimate owners of the game unable to play, while pirates could play on as if nothing happened. Then there was the launch of Diablo III, where – stop me if you’ve heard this before – “always-on” DRM kept legitimate owners of the game from being able to play. And now we get to SimCity, where, yup, “always-on” DRM blah blah blah, you see my point.
This is something that hasn’t gotten better with time, yet it’s also something I’m seeing an increasing number of gamers becoming apathetic about. “Yeah, well, that’s why I don’t buy at launch anymore,” one online commenter told me, “because you have to give them a week or so to have things sorted out.”
No, you don’t. Do you know why? Because it is the responsibility of the publisher – in this case, Electronic Arts – and the developer – Maxis – to ensure that paying customers are able to actually use the product they paid for. If you were to buy a book, and found no words actually printed on the pages, would you accept the “wait until the reprint” answer or just demand your money back? How about if you bought a movie, but once you put the disc into the player of your choice, you got a message that said you’d have to wait a few days before your movie was actually watchable?
So why do we put up with it for games? We’re paying more for an entertainment product that, to make sure we’re not dirty thieves, is constantly checking the validity of our own purchase. When those servers go down, so too does our game, the product we paid money for.
And some people wonder why piracy is such a problem on PC.
My suggestion to developers/publishers: if you want to make sure I’m not ripping you off, fine. I have no problem with anti-piracy measures. Just please make sure they actually work before you ship your broken, useless product as a $50 to $60 public beta.