Stardock is one of the few game publishers out there that seem to understand their market. Their games generally don’t have any DRM systems mucking up your system or other forms of copyright protection and yet they tend to sell pretty well despite the fact that they’re pirated just as much as any other title. They’ve also been at the forefront of arguing against the use of such systems for quite awhile now.
Now at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) they’ve put out what they consider to be a 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 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.
Chris Taylor, CEO and founder of Gas Powered Games, expressed support for the Bill of Rights, which Stardock enumerates as:
- Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
- Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
- Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their consent.
- Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
- Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
- 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.
- 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.
It would be wonderful if more publishers were to take this seriously, but I doubt it’ll happen. With any luck most of the independent developers will jump on it as a means of drawing attention to their products. I currently own Sins of a Solar Empire by Stardock and I have to say it’s damned refreshing to be able to start it up without having to find the damned CD or worry about if my Net connection is down. The game is pretty damn good too.