Mar 16, 2011

Any way you want to play

I used to be a big fan of Electronic Arts. That old square/circle/triangle logo always promised good times, and their NHL line of hockey games were long my favorite.

Over the years, my appreciation for them lessened. Yearly NHL titles became little more than roster updates, and I switched to a competing franchise. Were I more of a football guy, that wouldn't have been an option, as EA secured exclusive rights to NFL titles. I didn't think that was very sporting, but if NFL was willing to sell it, and EA willing to pay, it wasn't any business of mine.

Since then EA has, along with Ubisoft, led the publishing field in the introduction of increasingly distasteful DRM schemes, which is why you won't find many recent titles from them in my PC game collection. I'm not a big fan of those things.

They managed to annoy me on console side as well, by requiring me to create an EA account to access some features of games I had already paid money for. Somehow, none of the other publishers had found this necessary. I found it not only annoying, but a worrisome development.

Requiring an EA account to play an EA game opens up some rather disturbing possibilities, like preventing someone from playing a game they paid $50 for if EA doesn't like what they're saying on forums.

The player's account has since been activated, and EA's PR people insist locking the game was 'a glitch'.

That wasn't the only controversy surrounding Dragon Age II's launch. Along with the usual rumors of a rushed release, and somewhat less common allegations of Metacritic score fixing, it was reported that DAII secretly installed SecuRom DRM despite earlier announcement it wouldn't be used. That was apparently a false alarm, though, and the SecuRom product being installed is Release Control, which BioWare had already said would be used. DAII will still require periodic online checks to play, though, which is bad enough.

The publishers will insist schemes like these are necessary to fight piracy, but making legal product less convenient, and thus less valuable, isn't really likely to work for games any more than it did for music. And when those schemes make it possible to prevent you from playing a game you bought if they don't like you, it's time to say enough is enough. It should be us, the players, who decide the way we want to play. We shouldn't be required to jump an increasing number of hoops just to have some fun.

The only way to get the publishers' attention is to vote with the wallet. How about giving EA games a miss for a while?

1 comment:

MSandt said...

"How about giving EA games a miss for a while?"

Howabout not, as they're the only ones publishing Battlefield games. It's not as simple as switching from one NHL franchise to another.