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?