Shame On You, Stardock

February 12, 2010 at 4:36 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The title of a message board post at Stardock’s website caught my eye earlier. Apparently, Stardock is selling Assassin’s Creed II through their Impulse distribution system. That is extremely disappointing.

Assassin’s Creed II is from Ubisoft, a company infamous for being managed by very obnoxious and ignorant people. The company uses highly invasive and draconian Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) software on this and many other game titles. AC II, for instance, requires a constant internet connection just to play a game. If the connection goes down while you are playing, it will actually halt the game while it attempts to reconnect. It also requires a connection just to save a player’s progress in the game. Assassin’s Creed II is the poster child for all that has gone wrong with the PC gaming industry.

Ubisoft’s management are enormously disrespectful to a customer base that they hold in utter contempt. The behavior and attitude of this company is contributing to the slow, painful death of PC gaming. Many gamers, myself included, have vowed to never buy any product from this obnoxious company. The people who work there do not deserve the support of gamers.

While Ubisoft will fully deserve their inevitable bankruptcy, Stardock is one of those companies that had seemed to get it. Their CEO, Brad Wardell, is famous for ranting against the evils of DRM. It was one of these rants that first led me to buy one of their games (Galactic Civilizations II).

DRM does not prevent or delay the availability of unauthorized “pirated” copies of video games (or music, or movies, or anything else). The copy-protection systems do nothing to prevent copying and so-called “pirates” are not hindered by them.

The only people who are ever affected by DRM are people who buy the game. Purchasers end up struggling to jump through numerous, unnecessary hoops just to use the product they have purchased. In many situations, people are forced to make a telephone call to beg some faceless corporate customer support person to give them an unlocking code for a game they spent $50 to buy. People who simply download free, unauthorized copies do not have to deal with such nonsense.

For Stardock to promote such an intrusive and disrespectful DRM scheme through their distribution channel betrays everything their CEO has said in the past on the subject.

Not only that, but they are actively participating in the destruction of their own market: PC games. The behavior of companies like Ubisoft is driving people away from PC games and towards consoles like the Xbox and Playstation. Eventually, if the trend of creating ever more absurd and invasive DRM schemes does not stop, the market for PC games will disappear entirely.

I am extremely disappointed with Stardock. I understand they are a business, not a humanitarian group. Nevertheless, it is tragic to see the company’s management put profits ahead of ethics and principles. This is a very sad day indeed.

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