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EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM

A few days ago the developers at Maxis subjected themselves to a reddit AMAA session to discuss SimCity, the next installment in EA's urban planning series. In this case, the offer to ask then anything provoked a number of questions about the controversial decision to make being online a requirement to play the game, and Techdirt points to a separate thread compiling comments from the session on this proposed DRM. Thanks Shok.

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52. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 19:39 Dades
 
EverythingISayIsRight wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 18:23:
Remember when MW2 came out and people 'boycotted' it? This will be no different.

http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/kotaku/2009/11/1258035395841.jpg

That's a really stupid jpeg of a single page of the most popular franchise in the world and indicative of nothing, troll harder moron.

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51. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 19:29 ViRGE
 
Prez wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 18:35:
People who consider online "features" in a game like this aren't necessarily wrong, but neither are those who dismiss it outright as draconian DRM. The difference is in the perception of what's actually "featured" and how it is delivered. In a vacuum, it would be easier to make the case that Diablo 3's and Simcity 4's online "features" are just that - features. Even then, given the arbitrary and limiting nature of the "features" in question, I'd argue that it would still be a tough sell for a lot us (certainly myself).
Exactly. At this point SimCity V being a server-side game isn't merely DRM, but rather it's a fundamental design decision for how they want to build and deliver the game. It's clearly the wrong decision, but there's a lot more going on here than having a multiplayer component for DRM purposes.
 
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50. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 19:21 ASeven
 
Verno wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 14:00:
Man reading more about this game is a huge bummer. No fucking subways? Terraforming ok whatever I think that's dumb as hell too but to not include subways is just inexcusable. Might as well call this SimVille and stop pretending.

I'm sure it'll have subways



as a $10 paid DLC promotion.
 
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49. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 19:16 NewMaxx
 
"Socialization" is nothing more than a continuing trend within the Information Age. The basic idea is that a person trades privacy for convenience. This is how Google is monetized, how Facebook is monetized, and increasingly how all forms of entertainment are becoming monetized. It's not something dark or sinister but simple physics: the more information you have, the better you can predict. Information is privacy, prediction is convenience.

So then you would look at the DRM-like conventions found in the socialization a game like this requires, and you start scratching your head. If what I said above was true, but yet we know DRM is not convenient, then how does such a move make sense? That's exactly the point - it doesn't. You're getting taxed twice over and paying for the privilege. It's essentially a cash-grab scam that makes Kickstarter look downright promising in comparison.

The problem is, of course, that it works. We can tout the advantages of freedom all we want but the fact is people are morons. People smoke, drink, do drugs, and everything else to excess when they are able, and government regulation has its own set of problems. Bottom-line: these game companies are becoming more and more like R.J. Reynolds and government than the Ataris and Nintendos of old.

Sure, the move online has its good points, and sure it would cost them more to allow offline/online dual mods, but defending this action as legitimate is like saying cigarette companies didn't target kids while knowing their product caused cancer. That's nonsense: the Nazis knew it did in the 40's. Likewise, the EA Execs are very much aware that this move is solely in their best interest, but they'll spin it any way they can.
 
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48. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 18:35 Prez
 
People who consider online "features" in a game like this aren't necessarily wrong, but neither are those who dismiss it outright as draconian DRM. The difference is in the perception of what's actually "featured" and how it is delivered. In a vacuum, it would be easier to make the case that Diablo 3's and Simcity 4's online "features" are just that - features. Even then, given the arbitrary and limiting nature of the "features" in question, I'd argue that it would still be a tough sell for a lot us (certainly myself).

However, whether or not you agree it's DRM, there's something I think you should consider - namely that names matter. What's in a name? Consider how both The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 both sold millions - everyone is well aware of that. What people tend to forget is that sandwiched between 2 massively successful games was the execrable Sims Online. Why didn't EA just call it The Sims 3? The answer is simple - it wasn't a "The Sims" game. It was something else. The original and its sequel set the defacto standard of what a Sims game is. Had the third come out as a singleplayer with multiplayer functions, no one would have made a fuss - some people would have played it; others would have ignored it - but that would have been the end of it. Had they tried to pass off the terrible MMO as the Sims 3 then the backlash would have been swift and mighty I think, just like it is with "Simcity 4". It's not "Simcity 4" - it's Simcity Online. You can make the argument that it's their property and they can call it what they want and of course be correct in the legal sense, but ultimately its consumer desire and expectation (pro-tip: expectation =/= entitlement) that sets the boundaries for what is acceptable. That is the price you pay for being in a business that makes its money selling products to consumers. It makes the difference between zero complaints with "Guild Wars 2" and the massive outcry with Diablo 3, which was clearly Diablo Online.

It remains to be seen if Simcity 4 will still see the runaway success that Diablo 3 did despite its inclusion of what many considered an arbitrary and unnecessary online mandate that inarguably at least doubles nicely as DRM (though my Magic 8-Ball says "Not Fucking Likely"), but that speaks less to the issue of whether or not it's DRM and more to the fact that people have elevated levels of tolerance for games in their beloved series I think. Like I said - names matter.

EDIT: D'oh! Simcity 4 already shipped. I meant Simcity 5 wherever I used Simcity 4.

This comment was edited on Dec 18, 2012, 19:50.
 
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47. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 18:23 EverythingISayIsRight
 
Remember when MW2 came out and people 'boycotted' it? This will be no different.

http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/kotaku/2009/11/1258035395841.jpg
 
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46. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 18:04 theyarecomingforyou
 
The big publishers just don't understand how much this sort of bullshit pisses people off. Just look at Star Citizen - it's a crowdfunded game and while they're look to do a lot with the online functionality they're also allowing offline play and private servers. That's pretty much exactly how games should be handled. SimCity is a singleplayer game and I have serious doubts about how beneficial it is to require an always-on connection - it seems more like something that should be optional.  
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45. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 17:41 Prez
 
Creston wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 17:26:
NKD wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 17:12:
I think if a developer has spent time and effort developing the online component as a FEATURE and not as thinly-veiled DRM, it becomes ignorant and insulting to refer to it as DRM.

Just about as insulting as taking a single player franchise and turning it into multiplayer with pathetically bolted-on features, when that was something that nobody was asking for?

I hope they get insulted by me calling it DRM. Because that's exactly what it is, if only for no other purpose than that two years from now, this game will be unplayable due to EA having shut the servers down.

Creston

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44. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 17:32 Beamer
 
Ozmodan wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 17:08:
EA just got delisted from the NY Stock exchange, you would think that would be a wakeup call.

No they didn't. This is the problem with people
a) only reading headlines
b) repeating them as if they were true
c) butchering them further


It's like a game of telephone. EA was not delisted from the NYSE. In fact, they were never on the NYSE. They were removed from the NASDAQ 100, but are still publicly traded on NASDAQ and still very far from any danger of being delisted. Given the amount of stock they have, they'd have to fall to a $300 million dollar company to be delisted. They're currently a $4.5 billion dollar company.
 
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43. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 17:26 Creston
 
NKD wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 17:12:
I think if a developer has spent time and effort developing the online component as a FEATURE and not as thinly-veiled DRM, it becomes ignorant and insulting to refer to it as DRM.

Just about as insulting as taking a single player franchise and turning it into multiplayer with pathetically bolted-on features, when that was something that nobody was asking for?

I hope they get insulted by me calling it DRM. Because that's exactly what it is, if only for no other purpose than that two years from now, this game will be unplayable due to EA having shut the servers down.

Creston
 
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42. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 17:12 NKD
 
When a game requires you to be online, where do you draw the line between DRM and not-DRM? It used to be pretty simple, if it was a pointless phone-home, it was obviously DRM. But what about when it's an online service core to the gameplay?

Even if you don't like it, or don't want to participate in it, I think if a developer has spent time and effort developing the online component as a FEATURE and not as thinly-veiled DRM, it becomes ignorant and insulting to refer to it as DRM.

We'll see when the game is released which side of the spectrum it is closer to, but simply being mandatory doesn't automatically make it more DRM than feature.
 
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41. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 17:08 Ozmodan
 
If EA is not the most clueless publisher out there....You have to wonder how their stock is not worthless. EA just got delisted from the NY Stock exchange, you would think that would be a wakeup call.

If they have not figured it out by now, just look at how Blizzard destroyed their cash cow Diablo III with no single player.

This comment was edited on Dec 18, 2012, 17:18.
 
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40. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 16:27 Topevoli
 
Bhruic wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 14:32:
It's not about DRM, it's about socialization. EA realized that social gaming is free advertisement, so they mandated that all games they ship have social components. It's even mentioned during the AMA, that whatever the guy's name is said that he wouldn't greenlight any game that was only single player.

How's the Cool Aid taste?
 
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39. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 16:18 Prez
 
It's kind of amusing (yet also sad) how companies like EA and Blizzard act coy and innocent in the face of this kind of massive backlash. "DRM? Whatever are you talking about? We aren't using DRM - we have online features. Gamers just say the darndest things don't they?"

It's BS. But as in the case of Diablo 3, enough gamers will take up the chant and EA -like Blizzard before them - will get away with telling us what smells, walks, and quacks like a duck somehow isn't a duck.
 
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38. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 15:51 Kitkoan
 
Bhruic wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 14:32:
It's not about DRM, it's about socialization. EA realized that social gaming is free advertisement, so they mandated that all games they ship have social components. It's even mentioned during the AMA, that whatever the guy's name is said that he wouldn't greenlight any game that was only single player.

I'm pretty sure it's about DRM and being able to maximize money from each title with EA here. With it needing to be always online they can kill the game for everyone nice and easily when the newer version comes out. Everyone playing the old version and not buying the new version to play is viewed as a lost sale because the old copy isn't generating more money this year, it's already made it's cash.

And yes, it works because EA already does this. They keep killing the multiplayer functions on their games quickly (sometimes a year later) claiming that they aren't being used much anymore. But without them showing real numbers it's a guessing game. http://www.gamespot.com/news/ea-shutting-down-over-a-dozen-game-servers-6366856
 
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37. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 15:04 Dades
 
It's not about what EA wants, I don't give a shit if they want every game to be social or not. If they want to sell me a game then it's about what I want. I don't need to spend my money on EA games, I can happily spend it somewhere else. No sale.

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36. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 14:58 jdreyer
 
Fion wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 14:21:
Haven't these people realized that always-on DRM doesn't even work? Look at Ubi's always on DRM, that was cracked in days. How long will they force paying customers to jump through hoops while torrenters play the game with a few simple steps.


I'd like to point out that Diablo III's always online DRM has not been cracked, so there are ways of doing it. Not that I agree that a single player game should always have AO DRM.
 
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35. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 14:33 Dev
 
Fion wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 14:21:
On SimCityV, it does look significantly simplified. But I'm not entirely sure we've seen all there is to know. What we've seen in demo vids so far has been pretty simplistic. It seems to me that you could finish a modern city in days and when then is left? So I'm reserving judgement on the game. What I see I like, though I wish they'd add more classic SimCity features.
Its unlikely. They said they were a small dev team and betting everything on the social interaction (aka always online DRM). They probably don't have the resources to do much extra beyond what you see. Probably because EA figures that its not sims, so it won't be worth investing much into it, since they aren't expecting many sales. Which also means that people can complain or boycott all they want, EA isn't going to care. In fact, probably the ONLY reason EA funded the project was because of the social interaction features. EA figures they want to cash in on some of the casual game category (hence popcap acquisition), so they are doing a test run to see how well a simplified game from an established franchise with social features will work. If it does, they will do lots more stripped down games.

So yeah, think simcity lite, simcityville.

Edit: Yeah see the response below me, I'm sure thats how it all went down.
 
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34. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 14:32 Bhruic
 
Fion wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 14:21:
Haven't these people realized that always-on DRM doesn't even work? Look at Ubi's always on DRM, that was cracked in days. How long will they force paying customers to jump through hoops while torrenters play the game with a few simple steps.

It's not about DRM, it's about socialization. EA realized that social gaming is free advertisement, so they mandated that all games they ship have social components. It's even mentioned during the AMA, that whatever the guy's name is said that he wouldn't greenlight any game that was only single player.
 
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33. Re: EA Can't Say It Wasn't Warned About SimCity DRM Dec 18, 2012, 14:23 DeadlyAccurate
 
SpectralMeat wrote on Dec 18, 2012, 12:50:
I guess the last C&C game wasn't enough for them to be convinced the always online DRM isn't working

6 million+ Diablo III sales says otherwise.

Unfortunately, I suspect those of us who refuse to buy always-on DRM single player games are a vocal minority and the game will sell just fine.
 
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