Blizzard (Activision, technically) is conspicuously missing from my list. I’ve noticed that being critical of Battle.Net2 is a flame-inciting topic. There’s this whole subset of the StarCraft fanbase that employs the following reasoning:
1) I never played single-player or LAN, therefore nobody did.
2) I have ubiquitous always-on internet, therefore everyone does.
Anytime the topic of Starcraft 2 LAN or single-player is introduced, and whenever someone complains about having to connect to Battle.Net to do these things, these fans show up and try to convince everyone else that their differing priorities and preferences make them stupid. “That’s the way it is now so stop bitching about it.” The time will come when we will have to attempt the fruitless task of explaining the civilized world to these people, and how sometimes people like different things and that’s okay. But we should probably wait until the game is out.
We don’t know exactly how the new Battle.Net will work. (Unless you ask a Blizzard employee, in which case it will give you free candy and cure cancer.) But the upcoming launch is going to answer a lot of questions about what this service offers in return for its price. We’ll finally get to see if it’s more like Steam (a set of golden handcuffs) or like UbiSoft’s current system, which is an attempt to make single-player games work like an MMO.
For further thought, it might be useful to compare the community reactions to the UbiSoft announcement. Check out the comment threads of the following posts, all covering the same news story on UbiSoft’s new DRM:
The first two articles are followed by comment threads that are white-hot with fury and indignation. The latter contains a lot of people defending the new system, or blaming the harshness of the new system on the pirates. They’re basically people who haven’t been a part of the DRM discussion during the last five years, and haven’t grasped the crucial principles that drive the debate. As long as the game runs for them when they insert the disc on launch day, they’re happy.
I read those two comment threads before I wrote the article, and left feeling invigorated. I was so happy that other gamers were coming around. Then I read the third article and I remembered:
|Graph courtesy of Alexa.|
When we say “gaming community”, we mean the other people on this site or The Escapist or wherever else our friends are. When UbiSoft says “customers”, they mean those people at Gamespot. PC is a tiny slice of the market, and those of us informed and concerned about DRM are a subset of that. In the article I predicted UbiSoft would cave or comprimise, but it looks like I was proven wrong before the article even went live. Earlier today they issued a clarification of their policy. Their statement demonstrates that the people in charge actually have no idea in the world what we’re upset about. The two sides are so far apart that discussion isn’t even possible. Gamers are going to shout at the wall and UbiSoft will plow forward, heedless of the damage they’re doing to their own name and the mess they’re making of the hobby.
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