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.

ECA's Hal Halpin Reflects on PAX 2008

September 10, 2008 -

In a guest column for Edge Online, Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, offers his impressions of the recent PAX 2008:

This year [PAX] reminded me of the first few E3s. It was something to behold. Where else can you see a room full of 15,000 people in line… with ear-to-ear grins on their faces?!

 

The importance of this all... is an emergence; one that can and will effect change... As I explained to the reporters who we did interviews with, Generations X and Y have been negatively stereotyped as apathetic, lazy and uninvolved. And yet, by doing things such as attending these types of conferences, engaging in weighty panel discussions and becoming advocates for their passion, they disprove that label...

 

More important than the success of PAX as a business, or the comparisons with parallel events, is the underlying cultural significance of the attendees, individually and collectively, and how they choose to harness that power. Perhaps we’re not that far away from the mass media beginning to take gaming seriously. Maybe this is only the beginning.
 

GP: The Entertainment Consumers Association had a large presence at PAX this year. The ECA booth, for one thing, was more than double the size of that at PAX 2007 and included a members-only lounge where ECA members could take a break from the crowded show floor.

The ECA also ran two panel discussions as well as Hal's one-on-one conversation with Geoff Keighley of Spike TV. In the pic at left, Hal is being interviewed by Sean Curran of GamerVision who, I found out at the show, lives a block and a half from GP HQ. Small world... Anyway, here's a link to the GamerVision interview, one of a couple of dozen that Hal did at the show.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics

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PAX Video: Hal Halpin of ECA & Geoff Keighley of Spike TV Share a Casual Chat

September 3, 2008 -

On Saturday at PAX, Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin and Spike TV's Geoff Keighley veered from the typical panel format by offering a "casual conversation."

For the better part of an hour Hal and Geoff discussed a variety of topics of importance to gamers. Hal also took a number of questions from attendees.

We've got the video, and it's worth checking out...

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

12 comments

PAX Crowd Tallied at 58K

September 2, 2008 -

I knew that Pax was crowded but numbers released today indicate that an astounding 58,500 gamers streamed through the three-day game love-fest in Seattle.

Prior to the show, most predictions foresaw the PAX crowd in the 45,000-50,000 range.

37,000 attended in 2007. Big Download reports on comments by PAX's Robert Khoo:

Regarding the overcrowding, it was definitely a symptom of the popularity of the show, but not one that can't be overcome. At 2 or 3 of the main theatre events 3-4% of the line wasn't able to make it, but we hear those 3-4% loud and clear. We have a few ideas to manage that problem for 2009 including wristbands for popular events or just a straight-up hard count of people in line. The worst thing is if people line up for something and end up not getting in.

13 comments

PAX Impressions Trickle In

September 2, 2008 -

As PAX attendees return to the real world, their impressions of the show are beginning to drift in...

At his Reality Panic blog, Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, writes:

Despite my earlier lamenting on not having the time to play all the awesome games (digital or otherwise) on show at the Penny-Arcade Expo, I cannot help but walk away super enthused and energized.

 

The level of energy and enthusiasm among the (rumored) 50k+ participants was palpable - and a joy to see vs. the often frenetic pace of more industry/business oriented events.

Dan Rosenthal of GamesLaw writes:

PAX 2008 was an amazing success, from the exhibit hall to the freeplay rooms.

 

Our panel on “Legal Issues in Contemporary Gaming” was a smash hit, the room was packed, and our panelists were a riot. The always entertaining Tom Buscaglia, wearing his Quake II team jersey, regaled the audience with stories about Jack Thompson, Microsoft, and Digipen. Ross Dannenberg, a.k.a. “A parasite of the industry”, told the story of how John Carmack gave him that nickname, talked to the crowd about Second Life and the Bragg v. Linden case and bantered with Tom.

The ECA's Hal Halpin did interviews seemingly nonstop at PAX. Skewed & Reviewed has posted theirs. Here's a sample:

GVK: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the ECA?

 

HH: Broad Stroke 1st Amendment issues, anti-gaming factions, net neutrality, Universal Broad Band and Fair Use doctrines. That and the negative image many gamers get especially Generations X and Y as they are portrayed as being lazy slackers... Keep the faith, as we feel your pain. Many [overseas] politicians are banning games based on false research and information that is being passed around by people like Jack Thompson who have a clear agenda against gaming. The best way to fight this is to partner up with overseas groups who defend the rights of gamers and consumers.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

13 comments

Ex-Nintendo Exec Perrin Kaplan: Bad Parents Should be Banned from Having Sex

September 1, 2008 -

We've missed Perrin Kaplan ever since she left Nintendo last year.

But she's back, apparently, and made a bit of a splash at the just-completed PAX by remarking that:

Parents who use video games as a babysitter shouldn't have sex to begin with.

Perrin's comments came during a panel session on sex and violence in games. Her new company, Zebra Partners will ramp up later this year when her non-compete agreement expires with Nintendo.

Via: Spong

165 comments

PAX Adding a Boston Show

August 30, 2008 -

Couldn't make it to Seattle for PAX?

Maybe Boston will work better for you.

As reported by GameSpot, the Penny Arcade crew has officially announced that they will be adding an East Coast PAX, beginning in 2010. The new show will be based in Boston.

GP: There's no truth to the rumor that game-legislating Mayor Thomas Menino will deliver the PAX 2010 keynote...

20 comments

Do Gamer Advocates Need to Be Gamers?

August 30, 2008 -

Toward the end of a Games, Politics & Policy panel I was moderating at PAX yesterday, a guy in the audience asked a question that was really more of a challenge. He wanted (demanded?) to know whether each of the four panel members and myself as moderator played games.

As it turned out, we did. Everyone explained their own gaming habits. I mentioned that I've reviewed games for more than a decade for the Philadelphia Inquirer and that if it's out there, I've probably played it. The questioner seemed satisfied.

But that particular question stuck with me after the session. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became.

The panel, you see, was packed with experts who work hard to make the gaming scene better. At least two attorneys were seated at the table. Jennifer Mercurio works on policy and legislative issues for the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA). Bo Andersen heads the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), which represents video game retailers. Both spoke passionately about the First Amendment rights of game creators, game sellers and game consumers.

Also on board were Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and Alex Quinn, head of Games For Change. Jason workes tirelessly on behalf of the people who make the games we love. Alex spearheads a movement to exploit the power of games in positive ways.

As it turns out, they all game to some degree, but - so what? Do you need to have a level 70 WoW character to be a good advocate for games? If I blow my knee out playing softball, do I care if the orthopedic surgeon has a catcher's mitt at home? No. I just want her to use her professional skills to patch me up.

And so it is with our panelists. I retrospect I feel that the question was insulting, although probably not intentionally so. What I wish I had said to the guy was: Sure, it's good to play games in order to understand their context, but professional expertise on issues like the First Amendment, Fair Use and Net Neutrality transcends the game space. And, as a gamer, it's comforting to know that skilled people are fighting on my behalf. Whether they are also fighting the Horde on WoW is not so important to me.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/3bxduw/why_was_riama_along_with_a_number_of_other_large/ here is a more complete acount of whats going on.07/03/2015 - 1:32am
Matthew Wilsonredit is on fire right now. most subreddits have been set to private.07/03/2015 - 1:24am
MattsworknameYou know andrew, those are actualy rock solid ideas, I woudl like those features a bunch ,especially with games that a cut scene heavly. looking at you kojima!07/03/2015 - 1:18am
Andrew EisenActually, "things I'd like to see become standard in video games" ain't a bad idea for one of my future YouTube videos.07/03/2015 - 1:05am
Andrew EisenYou know what I'd really like to see become standard? The ability to pause cutscenes. Rewind and skip (with "Are you sure?") would be nice too. Oh, and maybe display the duration of the cutscene when it's paused.07/03/2015 - 1:03am
Mattsworknameonly reason to do region locking now is to be dicks your consumer base. Granted, we see that ALOT these days07/03/2015 - 12:48am
MattsworknameI understand the concerns about the region locking thing, I just thing that if you buy a game legitimately, no matter where it's from or what langauge it's in, you should be allowed to play it. the argument about piracy was proven false years ago, the07/03/2015 - 12:47am
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.theverge.com/culture/2015/7/2/8888243/reddit-subreddits-private-after-ama-victoria-taylor-fired bad optics by Reddit.07/03/2015 - 12:33am
Goth_SkunkI'm in full agreement on the subtitles issue. I also believe that every game should come with a single-player component, and be playable without an internet connection. Except MMOs.07/02/2015 - 10:51pm
TechnogeekRegion locking bans seem like something that'll be very difficult to pass into law. I'm fully on board with the subtitle requirement, though.07/02/2015 - 10:00pm
MattsworknameFor example, all games with any for form of spoken dialoge should be i subtitled, and region locking in any form should be illegal07/02/2015 - 9:03pm
MattsworknameDoes anyone feel that there should be a set standard for all games in terms of certain basic features. Ie subtitles, region lock, etc07/02/2015 - 9:01pm
MattsworknameSo, now that the Article stuff is over, I want to bring up another subject07/02/2015 - 9:01pm
PHX Corphttps://trustygem.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/windows-10-insider-preview-phase-3/ My Thoughts on Windows 10 Insider Preview07/02/2015 - 6:17pm
Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?t=18&v=CbGmrySQLIg looks like Inafune is giving capcom the middle finger.07/02/2015 - 5:05pm
TechnogeekUnfortunately, the shoutbox moves fast enough that I can't find why I got that impression, so if was indeed erroneous I do apologize.07/02/2015 - 4:34pm
TechnogeekBut yeah, as far as my earlier comment re: you and the article, I did get the impression at some point that you felt there should have been some sort of reprecussions for the article's existence.07/02/2015 - 4:34pm
TechnogeekI got expletive-censored for posting something a few weeks back wherein I expressed my shock that I agreed with you about something, Skunk; so you're not the only one being hit with that stick.07/02/2015 - 4:31pm
Andrew EisenI know you don't. And you haven't recently so all's well.07/02/2015 - 4:25pm
Goth_SkunkI don't think I misrepresented anything.07/02/2015 - 4:24pm
 

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