Digital Distribution Dos And Don'ts

Craig Simms Craig Simms' Bitstream section of CNet Australia has just released a digital distribution code of conduct for publishers, which sets out a list of Dos and Don'ts, in which Ubisoft comes out as the "most consumer hostile publisher online".

The post is a plea to publishers to think realistically about how their various downloading/patching methods, DRM, and bundling effects consumers. Acclaim is given where it's due, and other publishers are shamed.

Among many things, Simms calls out the practice of using multiple forms of DRM, region locking, forcing players to be constantly connected to validation servers, requiring customers to spend more money than is necessary for one purchase, and pricing games higher in other regions for no reason:

So after all is said and done, who comes out as the loser?

For its ridiculous requirement for players to be permanently online to play its games, for marking up the prices of its games in different regions, for enforcing activation limits on some titles and for selling old titles that are broken on modern hardware and operating systems, Ubisoft is currently the most consumer hostile publisher online.

You really are killing off your PC gaming division, and we think you're doing it intentionally.

A walk around this year's E3 show floor would have done enough to convince even the biggest sceptic that PC gaming is an afterthought to some publishers. It had an aura of nuisance about it. Dare I say even niche. But would a publisher set up additional barriers of entry hoping customers migrate across platforms, rather than just pick another game?

Although not here, we often see people rail against DRM while praising Steam in the same breath, forgetting they're the same thing. It's a reminder that DRM, when done properly, can work. Certainly those without constant (or any at all) internet connections will have a harder time forgiving & forgetting the harsher methods, so it's important to remember your most powerful say in these matters is with your wallet.

We'd like to see Stardock CEO Brad Wardell given some credit for his Gamer's Bill of Rights, which when adhered to, has proven more effective than the PC Gaming Alliance. Galactic Civilisations 2 and Sins of a Solar Empire both sailed to the top of retail charts, despite using no form of copy protection and a large number of sales taking place online.

What changes would you make to Simms' Code of Conduct?

[Bitstream]


Comments

    Region locking should be illegal, nuff said.

      That along with regional price fixing.

        Both true, but it's not something a single country could rule. It would need to be an international body, and I think that's a little small time for the UN, unfortunately.

    Yeah a DRM and digital distribution discussion with no mention of Stardock or Impulse? Weird and disappointing from such a lengthy article.

    They should all just copy the GOG model of letting you buy DRM free games, have the ability to download them whenever you want and have a good single price worldwide.

      GoG sells DRM free stuff because its not the new fangled stuff no ones really caring too much if they make profit or not there

      on a side not
      Multiple DRM is the thing that irritates me the most tho

      Chief Example is DoWII i purchased one from a brick and mortar shop get home it installs into steam ok sweet im fine with that, but then it says hey steam has all these features but where going to use GFWL for them instead just so we can have some cross platform achievements going

      thats where it gets wrong

      if id bought it on steam and then it said oh hey i wanna use GFWL i wouldnt be so annoyed because it that case steam is just distribution and steams is only associated due to that was the purchase location

    Regional pricing, I don't care if retailers die it will be their own fault for charging higher prices, that's how the dam free market is supposed to work isn't it?

    I've grown to love Steam and it isn't intrusive at all. You can go offline which is great when you're having internet probs. However they're regional pricing is insane. I understand taxes are different but not by that much surely. Steam is great for older titles but new release prices... I might as well go out and get a retail copy.

      That's the point. From what I heardSteam's managers were apparently getting numerous complaints from retailers that Steam was squeezing them out of the market by releasing games far more cheaply than they were, so Steam was forced to artificially inflate the prices so they don't price the retailers out of the market. Or something; my friend explained it to me and I forgot a lot of the details, but that's pretty much it.

      Which completely misses the point that retailers gouge the living FUCK out of us just because there's no reason why they shouldn't. We pay at least 33% more for a new release game than people in the US or the UK do, JUST BECAUSE. The retailers can get fucked.

      But yes, I do love Steam. It simplifies PC gaming for me in so many ways- makes it so easy to find games I want, play them, track my progress and when I'm done with them, remove them while still having the option to reinstall them later, all with a couple of mouse clicks.

        I can say with authority that the retailers are not gouging you as much as you think. they dont' make much on new games, hence the mega push towards second hand games, which is always 100% profit baby.

        secondly knowing that retailers that do the second hand thing will be the ones complaining, i see no benefit in steam being buddy buddy to them, since the retailers are only harming the market anyway.

        ubisoft and the likes should leave the price the same as the us. it's still profit for them and seeing as they can't be resold, it means more profits.

    Love Steam. Easy enough to download them when I want and the sales prices are pretty awesome...

    I dislike the fact that some of the publishers using steam insist on adding their own "Download managers" to games I use through steam.

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