Compare & contrast:
Stardock is releasing their game free of any copy protection whatsoever. No CD keys. No copy prevention, no DRM. No serial numbers. No hassles. I’m telling you, I would buy this game even if all they were selling was a blank CD, just on principal. Games that don’t punish, harrass, and annoy those who buy them are few and far between. However, it looks like the game itself is going to turn out pretty good. The news suggests that Stardock has their act together in a profound way. This game looks to be the best in its particular (and very narrow) niche in almost a decade.
GalCiv 2 looks very, very promising. They have been letting people play the beta and (contrary to standard industry practice) talk about it in public. These guys have confidence in their software. They believe they have made something special. They’ve convinced me to the point where I’m willing to slap down $45 to see if they’re right.
But let’s get back to the compare & contrast I started with. There is no chance CalCiv 2 is going to have the impact that Half-Life 2 did. HL is in a league of its own. In terms of sales, profits, total people playing the game, industry buzz, major media attention, spinoff products, and consumer demand, there is no comparison. Half-Life 2 is at least an order of magnitude ahead. So, on one hand you have an industry smash hit, which is an excellent product and a joy to experience, and my hatred for it is difficult to articulate without employing profane language. Not only will I not buy the Half-Life 2 expansion, but I won’t go near anything else that uses Steam or anything put out by Valve Software. On the other hand, you have a fine but obscure game in a niche market, and I can’t wait to give them my money.
I suggest that publishers are seriously underestimating how much damage invasive (yet inneffective!) copy protection is doing to the industry. Those long, un-skippable FBI warnings at the start of DVD’s are peanuts compared to the hassle gamers are given.
Wal-Mart could eliminate almost all theft if they just started frisking everyone as they left the store. Yet they take the loss instead. They take the loss because people won’t stand for being frisked, no matter how much value you offer them in return. The copy-protection zealots need to think about that before they go ruining any more games with their idiocy.
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