Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

August 29, 2008 -

Gamer-friendly PC publisher Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire) has released what it is terming the "Gamer’s Bill of Rights" at PAX.

The company calls the document:

...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.

Of the Bill of Rights, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell commented:

As an industry, we need to begin setting some basic, common sense standards that reward PC gamers for purchasing our games. The console market effectively already has something like this in that its games have to go through the platform maker such as Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony. But on the PC, publishers can release games that are scarcely completed, poorly supported, and full of intrusive copy protection and then be stuck on it.

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.

GP: While this would more properly be termed the PC Gamer's Bill of Rights, we have to say, Bravo, Stardock! 


Comments

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

ARGH!  Previewing doesn't help sometimes.  The above was supposed to read "And their updates are not primarily bugfixes."

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

  • 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.

The problem with this is that people have many different versions of "adequately".  I personally think that if I can not get a game to run over 90fps at all given times, its not adequete.  Although I have seen people call 10fps "running good".  PC gaming does need a very specific set of rules on adequecy that everyone can reference.

 

Seriously? 90FPS? I mean, really... I hate to break it to you, but anything over like 60 FPS has hugely dimishing returns.. Im just going off of memory here, but IIRC, the human Eye can only see at about 60FPS.  Honestly, if 90FPS is your "Adequate" range, you must really be upset at all of these "Inadequate" titles that push even 1 gig Vid-Ram Video Card Systems.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Movies run at 60-70 fps precisely because thats the speed at which the eye and visual part of the brain process. I personally think anything much higher (120fps, who really needs that?) is a waste of processing and electrical power.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Movies run at 24FPS. Don't make up facts. It makes you look like a jackass.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

You know that games do have "low graphic" settings right?  I do mention "If i can not GET a game to run..."  meaning I usually turn the eye candy off.

Oh and just an FYI, the normal competitive gamer can tell the difference between 60 and say 90/125fps.  It might not be too revealing visually but looking around in an FPS, you can EASILY tell the difference.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

by looking around, I mean movement of the mouse.  60fps just can not compare to the smoothness of movement while at 90/125fps.

FPS doesn't matter to me in single-player so I usually turn it up so I can at least enjoy the experience visually.  However, for multiplayer, I try to turn everything off to achieve 125fps or more (shadows, specular, AA, everything you can think of that would have a heavy impact on video card memory).

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

And THIS is why I love Stardock. <3

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

At last we hear reason. Kudos to Stardock. Wait, what comes after Kudos? I agree with , a cake is in order.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

It won't be a lie, right?

I just might have to make my famous monkey bread for them. People love my monkey bread.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Looks nice, but it gums its food right now 'cuz it has no real teeth.

Nightwng2000

NW2K Software

Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Well right now it is really Stardock's policy. They will be trying to get other companies to adopt it.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Applause!

Makes me wonder though if they intend to nail (glue I suppose) this to doors of EA.  Seems to be aimed in that direction. 

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Stardock has had my heart since GalCiv2... I use LOTS of their programs across my network, and would rather buy a game through Central/Impulse then Steam anyday!

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Thats you, StarDock still doesnt make their own AAA titles like Valve and Steam is still a much better platform.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

As far as I know Galactic Civilizations (1 & 2) are Stardock developed games (Sins of a Solar Empire however is not) and certainly qualifies as a AAA title in its particular genre, that it does not have mass appeal like for instance the Half-life series is a different matter, but it's an incredible game non-the-less. Also, SD has a wide range of customisation software and utilities that you can quite safely call AAA, those are however not games.

Steam is a fully integrated application that also would not be allowed under this bill of rights
(since it forces itself to run and needs to be connected to the internet every time you start a game purchased with it)
It is however a pretty good online platform, there's no denying that. It is also highly succesful.
(perhaps because all Half-life titles require it)

However I do applaud SDs initiative, and since they already have a good deal of my money I will simply continue supporting them.

I'm also quite surprised to see Chris Taylor mentioned (since he was one of those developers complaining about piracy when Supreme Commander didn't sell as well as they had hoped.) This is however the kind of turn-around I like, it is ofcourse partialy because his latest game (Demigod) will be launched from Impulse rather than retail but it is still a positive development.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Sins of a Solar Empire was developed by a Canadian company (which, seeing as im canadian makes it so much more awesome than it already is) called Ironclad Games, who even made their own engine, which in incredibly flexible in that I ran it smoothly on a computer that was below the min. requirements (i did take a graphics hit obviously but the game itself was still awesome and is absolutly bueatiful with a powerful machine)

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

you know there is an off-line modfe for Steam...

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

It does require one online logon and all of the games completely patched before you can play the game in offline mode.  If your computer loses the dealie that has the offline logon details you have to reconnect.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

If it does, then I retract my critisism of Steam (although it does launch automatically and connects every time I launch HL2 or AudioSurf, just haven't checked for the offline mode yet.)
But as I said, it is a very succesful platform, so people do like it.
It was mainly a statement in support of this Bill of Rights.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

"Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund."

Only problem I see with this one is people abusing it, just to get a free game. I have a friend who has done this multiple times with WoW, he buys the game installs it and then returns it claiming his computer could not run it. The only ones who have not taken the game back have been our local gamestops. With MMORPGs and what not this insures that people are not just buying them game to get the CD Key(Which they then sell) and then return the game for a refund. The others on the list seem to be pretty straight forward.

"Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state."

Do they mean "Finished State" as in the game is able to be played to completion or do they mean the game will run with zero errors and have no bugs? If they expect no errors or bugs then every MMORPG out there would be violating this rule 24/7.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

First, people wanting a free game have a much better option regardless.  It's called Piracy.  Why would someone pirating a game decide the better option is to provide the $50 up front that they intend to steal?  Also, most store policies are "once it's open, it's yours."  I've bought several games that didn't work and I was essentially forced to take a $20-$30 loss by selling on Ebay.  In one particularly annoying case, the publisher got Ebay to deny the sale, claiming the license was good for only one user and selling the software that had been used (but couldn't run on a computer twice the recommended specs) was a violation of the EUA.  So essentially I paid $50 for a game that wouldn't work and had no way of recovering that.  All because their antipiracy method was dependant on detecting how many hard drives you have and I always run a spare to copy to every week.

Second, Battlecruiser 3000.  There are other titles to be certain but that's the most famous one.  Lots of companies have released incomplete games or nonfunctional games with the intent of "patching later."  I bought one game recently that had no way to run on anything BUT an ATi card.  Patch adding GeForce 7000x series was added about a week later.  It was a month in a half before it used my 8000 series card.  Granted, it was a budget release title $20, but this is still inexcusable.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

 "Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state."

Do they mean "Finished State" as in the game is able to be played to completion or do they mean the game will run with zero errors and have no bugs? If they expect no errors or bugs then every MMORPG out there would be violating this rule 24/7.

 

What they mean is to not have games that are so buggy that they are virtually unplayable, or have bugs that severely hamper the experience, e.g. Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Damn, you beat me to it! That's exactly what I thought of when I saw that, they can't possibly think they can get away with releasing that 20% finished alpha code a finished and working 'game'...

-- "Jack and listen are two words that don't go together...just like Jack and sanity, Jack and truth, Jack and proof, Jack and win..." -- sortableturnip | http://www.orangeloungeradio.com/

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Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

How about we bake stardock a cake. Seriously.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Incredible. I damn near shed a tear at the end of their Bill Of Rights. This absolutely must be instituted across the board.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

I am glad to see a great company promote these positive pro gamer policies. I hope that more publishers will be willing to not treat their customers as criminals and follow these other ideals as well.

Number one is one of the reasons I have a hard time getting into buying new release games. I wait several months to buy the newest games to make sure they are not crap.

I also think that number two should be a valid reason for a full refund. Would you be willing to flush the cash on a new TV that did not work. Would you accept that you could not get a refund for it? Why would anyone buy a TV just to have it repaired on the first day?

The rest are pretty straight forward and I agree whole heartedly.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

I've loved them ever since they used the number one sales position of Sins to say that clearly piracy is not the biggest issue, or that at the least over the top copy protection is not the solution.  With this however I have to say that they are now my favourite company and like others have said, Bravo Stardock.

 

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

I will be the first to cheer if major software companies decide to adopt this.  However, being the cynic that I am, I don't see it happening anytime soon. 

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

If you want the software industry and specifically the video gaming industry to adopt Stardock's Bill of Rights then BUY THEIR STUFF!!!

This is a gamer's chance to vote with their dollars.  IF Stardock sees massive growth and a serious gamer following that starts to shadow EA and it's ilk you will see change.  The only way to prove that Stardock is right is to partake of their wares.  By and by they have some very nice games (Sins of a Solar Empire addict).

-Loudspeaker
"Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

"Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

If the money they make gets even close to EA's level EA will just buy them up, force them to churn out games wih crippling DRM and then shut them down when their sales inevitabl plummet

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

I agree.  I want to believe gamers are only pirating because the copyright protection makes it more convinient, but I still know too many people who make staling games their policy.  They say why pay for what I can get for free.  There needs to be a designers bill of rights as well.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

stardock are ace!

Always been fantastic with copy protection , and a massive slap in the face to all those companies who say they NEED intrusive DRM, and that its fair to burden users who have never pirated in their life with it.

Also bravo on the releasing games in a finished state rule. Im SICK of pc games that are just absolutely half finished and then i cant take it back to the store.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

And consequently I legally purchased all the stardock games I play. This can not be said of every other game I play. If I have to crack your game to get it to work anyway, why not go all the way?

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

I agree. As a consequence of their exceptional attitude towards their customers, I'm going to be buying some of their games next payday.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Next payday?  Sounds like the only reason you hack games is because you can't manage your finances.  How about instead of wasting your money... GO SAVE IT.  Loser.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Isn't it wonderful abusing another person over the net with the premise of annonymity?  The fact the you go through these comments merely to attack another person is pathetic.  You seem to have some issues - take them elsewhere and keep them to yourself.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Now now behave, was that necessary? (Or even logical?)

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

As I've said before, DRM disincentivises ownership. If I've got to hack my games to be able to play them, I might as well not pay for them while I'm at it. It's easier to just download the hacked version than to buy the legit version and have to go through the trouble of hacking it myself.

 

And if I don't hack it, odds are I won't be able to play for long. All it takes is for the CD to get overly scratched or lost, or for me to lose the cd-key (I own every single battlefield game, but my girlfriend's kids lost the key data before I got a chance to install them, so now I own some very expensive very useless costers), and suddenly I've paid for nothing.

 

My message to publishers: You are making it more convenient to steal your games than to buy them. I WILL steal them if you don't smarten up. I have no moral qualms about it, becuase you've 'taken back' so many games I've legitimately paid for but don't have the DRM ready to take care of.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

People who lose CD-Keys don't get an opinion.  And yes.. you are responsible for losing them regardless of the reason.  Go suck at life some more.

Re: Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

Bravo to Stardock and cheers to Mr. Chris Taylor, who totally rocks.  (Total Annihilation is still a favorite of mine.)

 

 
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