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Published on August 29, 2008 By Zoomba In Sins News

Stardock announced today the Gamer’s Bill of Rights: a statement of principles that it hopes will encourage the PC game industry to adopt standards that are more supportive of PC gamers. The document contains 10 specific “rights” that video game enthusiasts can expect from Stardock as an independent developer and publisher that it hopes that other publishers will embrace. The Bill of Rights is featured on Stardock’s website (www.stardock.com) and is on prominent display in Stardock’s booth (1142) at the Penny Arcade Expo.

“As an industry, we need to begin setting some basic, common sense standards that reward PC gamers for purchasing our games,” stated Brad Wardell, president and CEO of Stardock Corporation. “The console market effectively already has something like this in that its games have to go through the platform maker such as Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony. But on the PC, publishers can release games that are scarcely completed, poorly supported, and full of intrusive copy protection and then be stuck on it.”

Chris Taylor, CEO and founder of Gas Powered Games stated, “This is an awesome framework for the industry to aspire to, and ultimately so that we can provide our customers with the gaming experience that they have wanted for years, and really deserve.”

As an example of The Gamer’s Bill of Rights in action, Stardock instituted a policy of allowing users to return copies of The Political Machine purchased at retail to Stardock for a full refund if they found that their PC wasn’t sufficient to run the game adequately.

“The PC market loses out on a lot of sales because a significant percentage of our market has PCs that may or may not be adequate to run our games. Without the ability to return games to the publisher for a refund, many potential buyers simply pass on games they might otherwise have bought due to the risk of not being certain a game will work on their PC. The average consumer doesn’t know what ‘pixel shader 2.0 support’ means, for instance,” said Wardell.

According to Stardock, the objective of the Gamer’s Bill of Rights is to increase the confidence of consumers of the quality of PC games which in turn will lead to more sales and a better gaming experience.

The Gamer’s Bill of Rights:

  1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
  2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
  3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
  4. Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
  5. Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will play adequately on that computer.
  6. Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their consent.
  7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
  8. Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
  9. Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
  10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

Comments (Page 1)
on Aug 29, 2008

This is almost too nice

on Aug 29, 2008

Yeah, being able to download it any time you want is going a little far.

 

The rest of it is a fucking shame though, most of it should have been expected the entire time.  It's a real pity the big guns in the publishing industry can't get a few of them through their heads.  I'd buy games left and right if I weren't so bloody paranoid about them running like complete crap.

on Aug 29, 2008

Yeah, being able to download it any time you want is going a little far.

But it is current Stardock policy . And it is a drawback: no support for second hand game.

on Aug 29, 2008

This bill of rights looks great, it would be really good to see standards emerge in the PC gameing industries. But there are two rights there which are a little vague.

2. Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
3. Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.

Those two should be more specfic, as define what is a "finished state".   For some genres, like MMORPGs, it is impossible to release a "finished" product.

As for updates, what does it mean? Patches? Expansions?. And meaningful? How do we define "meaningful"?

As for the rest of them.... I love you Stardock!! 

on Aug 29, 2008

Peace Phoenix

But it is current Stardock policy . And it is a drawback: no support for second hand game.

 

You do not buy the game, you buy a licence to the game. This licence is nontransferable. Second hand games may as well be prirated copies.

on Aug 29, 2008

I greatly respect Stardock, but I think this Bill of Rights is perhaps indicative of a bit of hubris. Considering, however, Stardock's success and what appears to be its moral integrity, perhaps they are somewhat justified it putting this up.

It's just too generalized and rhetorical, though:

 2. Who defines a finished state?

3. Who defines meaningful?

8. Who defines what a potential criminal is? If this refers to DRM protection, then isn't this point redundant to 9 and 10?

1 also appears impractical, since some proof (which perhaps could be faked) would be required. Also, do frequent minidumps (I'm glad to say I don't suffer from them) count as "not working with the computer"? Also, when a game doesn't work with a computer, does it matter whether the problem lies with the game or the computer?

5. Who defines adequate?

4 is interesting. I support Impulse (I know it doesn't force itself to load to play the game), but here's a question: If playing the game involves MP, then clearly the game needs to be on its latest update to play, generally. But if the updates are only found on a platform such as Impulse, then isn't Impulse indirectly forcing itself to be loaded in order to play the game? Or do you mean that it shouldn't be forced to load, and kept running while the game is played? Or am I just confused?

I do support 6, 7, and 10 though I just don't get the others - they seem either unreasonable, impractical, or generalized. I am aware of a law lecturer at uni who is strongly against a bill of rights in general, because, in a common law system, it only needs one vote from uber-judges (who aren't elected by the people) to interpret a bill of rights statement in a way that the people aren't happy with for a precedent to be set, and thus losing some democracy in the process. I'm not a law student, and I don't really have an opinion on this, but I can see where he's coming from. At least in this case, the statements tend to be too general to be useful, and are as such open to interpretation. EA will claim that they don't treat their customers as potential criminals, but Stardock will claim that they (EA) actually do anyway. It's just too uncertain.

Perhaps I need to chill out about this, but to be entirely honest, this doesn't appear to achieve much. I'm sure some people may come up with many counter-arguments even to the points that I personally agree with, and so on. I just don't see what it achieves - a successful company promotes a bill of rights that happens to accord with its own strategy (as I see it). Am I being unreasonable?

on Aug 30, 2008

Whoa man, easy on the translation. It's a statement of good industry, not a constitution.

on Aug 30, 2008

It's a statement of good industry, not a constitution.

lol I suppose you're right. I guess I shouldn't take everything so seriously...

on Aug 30, 2008

4 is interesting. I support Impulse (I know it doesn't force itself to load to play the game), but here's a question: If playing the game involves MP, then clearly the game needs to be on its latest update to play, generally. But if the updates are only found on a platform such as Impulse, then isn't Impulse indirectly forcing itself to be loaded in order to play the game? Or do you mean that it shouldn't be forced to load, and kept running while the game is played? Or am I just confused?

I guess it means that you can play the game (especially in a single player mode) without starting the download/update manager. It also means that you can play it (after having installed it) on an offline computer, like a laptop during travel

on Aug 30, 2008

thiss is why stardock is the best company ever! i hope they make loads of money and publish more great games!

wooohoooo!!!!!!!!!

on Aug 30, 2008

I remember in school when they would serve breadsticks on this parchment paper at lunch, and we would write new constitutions on them to pass the time...

My favorite was "Official Declarations may only be written on Official Parchment Paper, and only after the breadstick is finished"

those were the days...

 

on Aug 30, 2008

So this upgrade won't be sold in stores, can someone tell me more about this.

on Aug 30, 2008

Congrats on the intiative. It's very refreshing to finally see this sort of approach emerging in any part of the software development industry. Full stars.

Doctors, Lawyers, Mechasics, Electronics manufacturers - many industries have standards that are enforced by law that ensure that a customer has certain minimal rights and can expect certain things. Yet the software industry, while it is very vocal about its own rights in terms of properiatry, makes little effort to uphold similar standards.

Thumbs up.

on Aug 30, 2008

These are good but I think the number 4 is not followed through on. Sure you can deactivate Impulse but it still forces itself to be run in another way. I love Sins was really looking forward the 1.1 patch and now the expansions. But since all of these will be available on impulse only it is forcing those who want new content to use that.

Now this is my complaint. I have dial-up internet and can access nothing else. Any higher speed internet is simply unavailable. When I downloaded updates I went to the library, signed in to this web site, and then downloaded to my USB. Even if I wanted to try to download from dial-up, it won't work. Impulse says it cannot connect to the server.

I bought the retail version of this game and do not play online. I expect that extra content would be made available to those without a good internet connection too. Why can't you guys continue to offer updates the same way as well as via Impulse. I also bought the Political Machine 2008 and am having similar issues with it. I had hoped that Sins would not follow the same path.

If anyone from Stardock could maybe answer my concerns, I would very much appreciate it. I own Galactic Civs 2 and the others I mentioned. I believe you are one of the better publishers, so please keep it that way.

Thanks for any reply to this message.

on Aug 30, 2008

Amen.

I started buying original games about 3 years ago cause I was afraid of (I dare to say) all of these whould happened. Now I only buy these games that meet at least say 7 of these rules. I agree with San Tsu that it is time for us to claim our rights and not be sheeps for game industry.

Thanks Stardock for, at least try to protect us.

Shipmaster
Sure you can deactivate Impulse but it still forces itself to be run in another way.

What do you mean? I downloaded the game and also I bought the retail version. I do not need to install Impulse in order to play it!!!

Shipmaster
I bought the retail version of this game and do not play online.

In stardock central it says about min reqs

Windows XP SP2/Vista
1.8 GHz Processor
512 MB RAM (1 GB for Vista)
128 MB DirectX 9 3D Video Card
1.6 GB hard disk space
DirectX 9.0c or higher
Broadband Connection for Internet Multiplayer

So why expect playing on dial-up ??

Shipmaster
Why can't you guys continue to offer updates the same way as well as via Impulse.

I am a confused. You want or you do not want platforms? You said you can't connect to Impulse.

 

YEAHME
So this upgrade won't be sold in stores, can someone tell me more about this.

I am almost sure it will.