GaymerCon Surpasses Funding Goal in Less Than Five Days

August 6, 2012 -

GaymerCon the first-ever all-inclusive fan gaming event that promises a friendly and fun atmosphere for gamers and geeks to get together for two days in San Francisco (August of 2013), has managed to surpass its funding goal of $25,000 in just a few days via a Kickstarter campaign. With 25 more days to go, the GaymerCon Kickstarter has managed to generate $28,471 (as of this writing) in funding from 560 backers.

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Firefall Developer Launches 'League of Gamers' Advocacy Group

January 17, 2012 -

Firefall developer Red 5 has been so inspired by the level of support and good will towards it for its planned SOPA/PIPA protest tomorrow that it has made them think that there needs to be more advocacy for gamers and game makers. With that in mind, they have launched League for Gamers, an advocacy group that will fight against government and corporate efforts to stifle the free speech and creativity of gamers.

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Gamers' Voice launches Recruitment Drive

January 25, 2011 -

UK-based gamer lobby group Gamers' Voice announced this morning that it is looking for volunteers to help the organization grow in 2011. The group makes the following pitch to gamers in the region:

"If you have ever wanted the chance to defend video games and the people who play them from uninformed bias and undeserved ridicule, then now is your chance. The UK video games industry has two trade bodies who represent their interests. Those being; TIGA and UKIE. But consumers of video games in the UK also need a high profile advocate, which is where we come in."

Those interested need to have an understanding of the video game industry in the UK, must love gaming, must reside in the UK, and must put aside a few hours a week.

They are particularly interested in individuals with unique skills: web designers, graphic designers and writers.

C&C4's Net Connection Mandate Violates Gamer's Bill of Rights

July 16, 2009 -

The video game industry continues to find new and creative ways to stick it to PC gamers.

In the latest example, EA has announced that the much-anticipated Command & Conquer 4 will require players to constantly be connected to the Internet, even for single-player campaigns.

That requirement, however, violates one of the basic tenets of the Gamer's Bill of Rights, a document released at PAX 08 by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell and Gas Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor. EA, however, is not a signatory to the Bill of Rights. No surprise there.

Specifically, the C&C4 requirement violates this point:

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.

Ars Technica reports comments on the connection requirement made by EA Community Leader "APOC":

As of right now, you need to be online all the time to play C&C 4. This is primarily due to our 'player progression' feature so everything can be tracked. C&C 4 is not an MMO in the sense of World of Warcraft, but conceptually it has similar principles for being online all the time.

 

While some may be taken aback by this, we've been testing this feature internally with all of our world-wide markets. We wanted to make sure it wouldn't take away any significant market or territory from playing the game. We have not found or seen any results that have made us think otherwise...

GP: This smells like backdoor DRM from here. Even if it's not, what if you're on a laptop? What if you're on an airplane? What if your Internet connection is down?

As a longtime PC gamer who has owned every version of the C&C and Red Alert games, this just sucks.

There is perhaps a glimmer of hope in APOC's comments. We note that he starts off with "As of right now..." Does that mean that this gamer-unfriendly policy is subject to change? 

It's time for PC gamers to make some noise about this nonsense.

Michigan Guv Gives Stardock a Shout-out in State of State

February 4, 2009 -

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm gave PC game publisher Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire) some Guv-love in her State of the State address yesterday.

Speaking at the State Capitol in Lansing, Granholm acknowledged that Michigan has been hit hard by the economic downturn. But the Guv looked for a silver lining in the film and video game sectors:

There’s real pain in the auto world. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost... Those losses have fueled our determination to bring new industries to Michigan...

 

Since enacting the nation’s most aggressive film [and video game production] incentives in April, we have seen more than 70 film and TV projects slated for production in Michigan, bringing some $430 million in economic activity here...

 

Tonight, I’m pleased to make three major announcements... Stardock Systems, a digital gaming manufacturer, will build its production facilities in Plymouth...

 

The fact that these jobs exist in Michigan today is no accident. These jobs are here because we put a strategy in place to bring them here – often by beating out other states and other countries to get them...

As GamePolitics reported in 2008, Gov. Granholm's administration aggressively pursued a financial incentive package for film, TV and video game production.

Stardock is known as a gamer-friendly publisher which eschews DRM on its PC titles. The company and its CEO, Brad Wardell, garnered major attention at PAX 2008 with the release of the controversial Gamers' Bill of Rights.

GP: Big thanks to reader Chris Bray for the heads-up!

Stardock Building non-DRM IP Security for PC Games

October 29, 2008 -

Consumer-friendly PC publisher Stardock is working on a non-intrusive copyright protection scheme for PC games, according to Edge Online.

Citing an interview with CEO Brad Wardell, EO reports that Stardock is developing the solution for other publishers. GamePolitics readers will recall that Wardell and Gas Powered Games head Chris Taylor released the controversial Gamers Bill of Rights during PAX 2008.

It seems that major PC game publishers were unwilling to sign onto the Bill of Rights, however. While not naming names, Wardell commented on the publishers' reluctance:

While Stardock doesn't put copy protection on its retail games, the fact is that most publishers are never going to agree to do that. So the publishers are telling us, 'Put your money where your mouth is. Why don't you guys develop something that you think is suitable that would protect our IP, but would be more acceptable to users?'

We're investigating what would make users happy to protect their needs, but also provide some security for the publishers. ... We're actually developing a technology that would do that.


Wardell stopped short of terming his new project a form of DRM:

The problem with 'DRM' is that it's so loosely defined... Stardock's products use activation, and I wouldn't say that it's DRM. We're just verifying if you're real customer... We want that [game user] license to be yours, not per machine... It's not your machine buying the game. It's you...

Publishers should have the right to be stupid [about DRM] if they want. That's their right. And it's the right of the consumer to choose not to buy.

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Stardock Revises Gamer's Bill of Rights

October 16, 2008 -

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has issued an update to the Gamer's Bill of Rights that he initially released at PAX 08.

As reported by Shacknews:

The revision addresses the need for more specific wording in order "to get to a place that most users and most publishers can agree on." In addition, Wardell examined the common complaints regarding controversial DRM practices, breaking them down into legitimate, borderline, and illegitimate categories.

 

He also noted that while Stardock will continue to release titles with no DRM, owners will need to download meaningful updates directly from Stardock. The CEO further revealed that Stardock will soon add "IP protection services" to its digital distribution platform Impulse "so that publishers at least have an alternative to methods like SecureROM, Tages or Steamworks. As a practical matter, most game publishers who want to protect their IP have few options right now."

 

"There is no solution to the issue of protecting intellectual property (IP) that will satisfy all parties," explained Wardell. "There are customers who will accept nothing less than publishers acquiescing to a quasi-honor system for purchasing software. That doesn't work."

Among what Wardell sees as legit consumer gripes:

  •  They don't want the copy protection to interfere with their enjoyment or use of the software or game.
  • If a program wants to have a limited activation system, then it needs to provide a way to de-authorize other computers (ala iTunes).
  • A program should not be installing drivers or other hidden files on the system that use system resources.
  • Activation-based DRM means that if the publisher goes out of business or simply stops supporting their content that the customer can no longer use their legally purchased item.
  • Having an arbitrarily low limit on personal activations makes the program feel like it's being rented.
  • Requiring the user to always be online to play a single-player game. Though we do think publishers have the right to require this as long as they make it clear on the box.

Wardell visited GamePolitics yesterday to respond to concerns about the Gamer's Bill of Rights voiced by PC Gamer editor-in-chief Kristen Salvatore.

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PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

October 15, 2008 -

Kristen Salvatore, editor-in-chief of PC Gamer, writes in the December issue (available now) that she is suspicious of the Gamer's Bill of Rights issued at PAX 2008 by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell (Sins of a Solar Empire) and Gas-Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor (Total Annihilation).

Kristen writes:

I am 100 percent committed to the belief that, as consumers... PC gamers deserve to feel confident in their purchase... But the Gamer's Bill of Rights is riddled with ambiguities, which is why I and others are eyeing it with some suspicion.

 

What constitutes a game's "finished state," and who determines it? What makes for a "meaningful update"? And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?

 

I applaud Brad Wardell of Stardock and Chris Taylor of GPG... But if the Gamer's Bill of Rights is to transcend publicity-stunt status and become a catalyst for real change, it needs to be the starting point for a tough conversation about which rights PC gamers should really expect to enjoy - and which, as the result of enjoying the freedoms of an essentially open platform, they may need to give up.

GP: What do you think, GamePolitics readers?

41 comments

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! 

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Should 'Hatred' have been removed from Steam Greenlight?:

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PHX Corp@Adam802 We'll break out the popcorn in June12/19/2014 - 9:23pm
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante: I'm itching to start it too but I will wait till the patch goes live. >>12/19/2014 - 7:52pm
Adam802Leland Yee and Jackson get trial date: http://sfbay.ca/2014/12/18/leland-yee-keith-jackson-get-trial-date/12/19/2014 - 5:24pm
MaskedPixelanteNevermind. Turns out when they said "the patch is now live", they meant "it's still in beta".12/19/2014 - 5:07pm
MaskedPixelanteSo I bought Dark Souls PC, and it's forcing me to log into GFWL. Did I miss something?12/19/2014 - 5:00pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/12/republicans-may-have-plan-to-save-internet-providers-from-utility-rules/ this is intreasting. congress may put net nutrality in to law to avoid title 2 classification12/19/2014 - 2:45pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.polygon.com/2014/12/19/7421953/bullshit-cards-against-humanity-donated-250k-sunlight-foundation I have to admit I like the choice o organization. congrats to CAH.12/19/2014 - 1:51pm
E. Zachary KnightIf you are downloading a copy in order to bypass the DRM, then you are legally in the wrong. Ethically, if you bought the game, it doesn't matter where you download it in the future.12/19/2014 - 12:06pm
InfophileEZK: Certainly better that way, though not foolproof. Makes me think though: does it count as piracy if you download a game you already paid for, just not from the place you paid for it at? Ethically, I'd say no, but legally, probably yes.12/19/2014 - 11:20am
ZippyDSMleeAnd I still spent 200$ in the last month on steam/GOG stuff sales get me nearly every time ><12/19/2014 - 10:55am
ZippyDSMleeMaskedPixelante:And this is why I'm a one legged bandit.12/19/2014 - 10:51am
ZippyDSMleeE. Zachary Knight: I buy what I can as long as I can get cracks for it...then again it I could have gotton Lords of the Fallen for 30 with DLC I would have ><12/19/2014 - 10:50am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/12/19/marvel-vs-capcom-origins-leaving-online-storefronts-soon/ Speaking of "last chance to buy", Marvel vs. Capcom Origins is getting delisted from all major storefronts. Behold the wonders of the all digital future.12/19/2014 - 9:59am
MaskedPixelanteSeriously, the so-called "Last Chance" sale was up to 80% off, while this one time only return sale goes for a flat 85% off with a 90% off upgrade if you buy the whole catalogue.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
E. Zachary KnightInfophile, Tha is why I buy only DRM-free games.12/19/2014 - 9:37am
MaskedPixelanteNordic is back on GOG for one weekend only. And at 85% off no less, which is kind of a slap in the face to people who paid more during the "NORDIC IS LEAVING FOREVER BUY NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE" sale, but whatever...12/19/2014 - 9:28am
InfophileRe PHX's link: This is one of the reasons the digital revolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. There's also the flip side where Sony can block access to games you've bought if they ban your account for unrelated reasons. All power is theirs.12/19/2014 - 8:52am
MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
Papa MidnightAh, so it was downtime. I've been seeing post appear in my RSS feed, but I was unable to access GamePolitics today across several ISPs.12/18/2014 - 6:06pm
james_fudgeSorry for the downtime today, folks.12/18/2014 - 5:54pm
 

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