Comment of the Week: Speak Up Against Bad Industry Practices

Jim Sterling recently wrote a RANT Bites piece explaining why gamers are allowed to complain that server issues prevented them from having access to Diablo 3 when it launched. It’s an issue that has garnered a great deal of heated emotion, but the community is divided — some believe that consumers have no right to complain, that it bespeaks a sense of entitlement.

Game Front commenter Allan felt that the issue wasn’t worth writing about:

People complaining about d3 launch are people you see all over the internet just complaining …
I also bought d3, i also had problems at launch, did i get worked up into a frenzy and write stinging articles about it? No. I GOT SOMETHING ELSE TO DO!

Maybe you should try it :)

Now dont get me wrong, you pay for it you expect to play it, i said exactly the same things launch night, But is it really worth this much angst? Im pretty sure there is worse things in the world, just grow up a bit

This is where we arrive at our comment of the week, written by Game Front reader Pulse, who was quick to offer a retort to Allan:

Of course these people complaining about the D3 launch are doing so on the internet. Do you expect them to complain to family and friends and leave it at that? Articles like these exist to inform readers about the problems of the games industry and to speak up against the games industry about these bad practices. While the games industry will not care for one angry customer, having a huge angry group will get their attention. Diablo 3 is a great example of a game with problematic DRM, with purchasers unable to play the game because of these MMO problems which simply shouldn’t be on it to begin with. There are worse things in the world, but that’s just an excuse to this problem.

Pulse is absolutely correct. The moment we grow complacent as gamers, as consumers, and as journalists, the moment we stop bringing attention to the issues that plague the industry, is the moment that any measure of standards will be thrown out the window, because developers will know that we will buy whatever quality of product they put out without complaint.

Alan is right as well, of course — we could do something else. We could just stick our heads in the sand and ignore these problems. But then who will fight for our rights as consumers?

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15 Comments on Comment of the Week: Speak Up Against Bad Industry Practices

angryhell

On May 19, 2012 at 3:04 am

A game should be like a car, put the user in the center and build everything around him!
When a game company puts ITSELF in the center, it’s time to count it’s days!!

Tristan

On May 19, 2012 at 3:46 am

I wrote this somewhere else on the site, so forgive me if I quote myself;

Game Front you are the proverbial sensible man’s champion. In an age where people have been brow beaten by fanboyism and mass marketing, it’s good to see that some “common” sense still exists and someone out there is willing to rub the powers that be the wrong way for the good off the common folk.

Cheers to you, I tip my hat. – (Me, 2012)

Furthermore, if you don’t give yourself a voice no one is going to hear you.

max

On May 19, 2012 at 7:54 am

lol ppl compare video games to a car, sorry but they dont do patches for cars. i bought the game on 1st day, of course i wasent 100% happy with the game lauch, but i managed to play right after installing it, then 2-3 hours later they shut it down, but i had played it 2 hours and my day was done, i loved the game badly, and i wasent gonna ask for a damn refund for an amazing game with some lil day 1-2 probs.

vonWulf

On May 19, 2012 at 8:01 am

@max Technically they do patches for cars in the form of recalls to fix issues as they come up. Just sayin.

Underlaw

On May 19, 2012 at 9:49 am

3 Words
Beta
Suxs
journalism is dead.

Russell

On May 19, 2012 at 11:57 am

@max

You know when car companies issue a factory recall and you can bring your car to the dealership to get it fixed? That is a patch….

thegecko

On May 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

The problems go much deeper than simply releasing a game that needs to be patched because of server issues.

Addressing just the server issues… this should have been avoidable. Blizzard already runs the largest MMO on the planet, WoW. They also launched StarCraft II which required to be connected to play Single Player and started with multiplayer from day one. That launch did not turn into the catastrophe Diablo III’s did.

Blizzard’s games have been intertwined with servers since the original Diablo and the launch of Battle.net. They’re pretty much experts in this department by now.

Then there’s the stress test and the pre-sales data. Either Blizzard rushed the launch of an already delayed game without the proper infrastructure in place, or the company made a bottom line call to just ignore the numbers. Either way, they totally dropped the ball. They apologized, but did so in a less than sincere way, with some jokes, and stating they thought they overshot the server stress-load estimate.

Now, the DRM. What makes this different than a car? I get to test-drive a car. And not just a piece of the car, the whole car. I can take it on the freeway, try out the AC, play with the gadgets, everything. Then, I can decide whether or not to buy it. If I do buy it and decide within so many days I don’t like it, I usually can return it or exchange it, especially if it’s brand new.

Diablo III on the other hand… I cannot really test play the game before launch. Even if I play the first couple of hours, I will be disappointed. I’ll barely be able to touch the tip of crafting available, the battles will seem very mundane and repetitive, the story not all that compelling, the crypt and graveyard graphics a bit dull.

So, I buy the game. If I don’t like it, I cannot return it. I cannot exchange it. $60 down the drain. I cannot even sell the game to someone else.

You combine these factors:

1. Inability to really test a product before purchase.
2. Inability to return or exchange a product or sell it to someone else.
3. Servers making it unable to play the game at launch.
4. Servers causing lag so bad during a game that one cannot play the game well.

And now you, as a gamer and a consumer, start to really feel cheated.

But wait, the wound festers more.

You’re not just some gamer, some prospective buyer. You’ve been buying Blizzard games for well over a decade. You bought the original Diablo and Diablo II. You stuck by Blizzard even when they let the core developers of those games go because of creative disputes. You stood by them even after they butchered WoW with patches and expansions that catered to kids.

Your reward as a loyal fan and customer? To be backed into a corner. To be tricked into buying a game with inherent server problems which you cannot do anything about. You feel robbed. Not just because Blizzard stole your trust, but they also stole your money, and they do not seem to care.
Then you look at their grand plan, the Auction House. How long did they hunt down players for selling their “digital property,” for selling intangible gear and characters you created and slaved to get. Now, they finally figured on a way to profit from it. They decided to become the eBay of Diablo gear and make millions off of players earning and finding digital loot. Blizzard’s imaginary loot. A scheme that runs on borderline gambling facilitation.

You look back at that $60 you paid. You look back at how Blizzard threw your trust out the window. Diablo III should have been free. Blizzard will be making residual income from the game for years, possibly on par with WoW. And this time they didn’t have to promise anything in return in the way of new content or expanding the game.

And this game… this game they plan to profit so highly from that they cannot even launch it properly.

Many positive player reviews dismiss the negative ratings as simply disgruntled players who could not jump right into the game on midnight on launch day. But if you actually read those reviews, you’ll find them littered with other complaints…

1. Poor and linear story.
2. Dated and series breaking graphics.
3. Dated top down view of game-play with no camera control.
4. Lack of character model customization.
5. Too simplified character ability and progression system.
6. The beginning of the game is too easy.
7. And in the end… more of the same. A similar problem plaguing SC2.

So yes, there are many other flaws surrounding Diablo III that long time Blizzard fans are very disappointed about. That gamers in general are disappointed about.

Some of the items on the list may seem dismissive because the original Diablo games did not feature them.

We never had control of the camera.
Diablo never had that great of a story.
Diablo’s graphics were never revolutionary.

All true. But after this many years, after all the hype, after games like Dragon Age, Skyrim, etc, and considering the largest gaming company on the planet put this game out… they could have done much more than create Diablo 2.5. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the game, so why such the big deal? Why not just create another expansion for Diablo II?

It just feels like to many gamers that Blizzard did the bare minimum in creating the next Diablo game, and did as much as it could to build a hack-proof DRM. Yes, this is Diablo, but it is in many ways the Diablo you remember. And that’s the biggest problem.

We stopped playing Diablo II, just like we stopped playing StarCraft. When Blizzard brings us back to these worlds, we expect something vastly new and intriguing to revitalize our thirst and addiction. But when it’s more of the same, it just leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.

Pile on all the 9.0 ratings from critics, who at this point appear insane to many Blizzard gamers (especially because some of them point out the same flaws, but still give the game an A rating because, well, it’s Blizzard and it’s Diablo), and factor back in the terrible launch and $60 gone forever…

What a bitter taste. What a bitter taste indeed.

Gamers have every right to complain about Diablo III as long as we live in a country that grants freedom of speech and glorifies our capitalist system of supply and demand. This is the masses speaking out, this is the consumers demanding.

At this point, Blizzard has much to answer for. Unfortunately, along with the critics and a few other gamers, the company appears to be completely oblivious to it all, or just doesn’t care.

Alexis de Tocqueville once equated democracy with mediocrity, rule by the masses as a force depriving people of greatness. Too many gamers feel Blizzard has lowered its standards and that the company feels that mediocrity and simplicity are what gamers want. And now Blizzard might go the way of Square, a once great game developer that no longer caters to it’s long time fan base and now just creates average games.

former gamer

On May 20, 2012 at 2:44 am

Because money is involved, it’s a scam. You ever heard of the term ‘demand and supply’, for example?
If you have an infinitive amount of something, it’s worth nothing.

And naturally, all the scamsters involved lack brainpower in their perverted CNS.
That’s why they cannot exceed a nineties game, even if they have 2000 percent of hardware processing power.

And naturally, the minors advertising their trash are even more bonkers.

Daniel

On May 20, 2012 at 2:54 am

Let alone the two firmware patches I got, since I bought my car. This is not only technically, this is LITERALLY a patch!! ;-)

former gamer

On May 20, 2012 at 3:13 am

Got something to hide, crackheads?

TheOneS2K

On May 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

Don’t get me wrong I love Diablo 3 but I thought that the online option was there to stop the
gold bots from spamming and ruining the experience. 4 days later there are already bots in
general chat spamming their damned websites.

wat

On May 20, 2012 at 9:56 am

Why are gamers getting more and more needy?

Why do gamers feel like they are so entitled to so much?

Luther

On May 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm

The game is expensive, we expect to own what we buy but in this day and age its being taken away form us with always online drm, Blizzard makes good products and that’s why we fight with them so much, the only entitlement we really want at this point is to own the game not barrow it for 60 dollars.

noble1988

On May 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

If you pay for a shirt you expect to be able to wear it, if you buy food it should be the way you order it, if you buy a watch it should keep time, why then as a consumer should we expect less from a game?

We shouldn’t nitpick every flaw but we should be able to have the experience we paid for. How many other products can you return if it does not work? Countless. Video games seem to be the exception to every rule that governs consumer behavior.

I for one, feel like those who at others for complaining don’t earn the money they spend on games. If they did they would value its worth and know that $60 is a large investment. And when money and time are wasted people have the RIGHT to complain.

Ron Whitaker

On May 21, 2012 at 5:08 am

@wat – It’s not a case of gamers being needy. It’s a case of consumers wanting what they paid for. Lets’ use the car analogy that’s permeating this thread.

For many gamers, Diablo 3 was like buying a car, paying your money, then getting in to drive it, and it doesn’t start. When you tell the car dealer that something is wrong, he says, “Oh, that’s normal with new cars. It should start right up in a day or two.” Are you really going to keep that car? I think not.

Sure, every game gets patched, and every game has some issues. However, most games are not completely unplayable at launch. Yes, it wasn’t because the game was irretrievably broken – it was because the really onerous DRM Blizzard chose to use didn’t work properly.

It’s blatantly obvious that Blizzard skimped on the number of servers they put up. Sure, launch day is a busy time, and no one wants to spend money on too many servers, but that’s no excuse to simply write off half your purchasers. As a company, you know how many pre-orders you have, and you know how many copies you shipped. Right now, companies make the most cost effective decisions they can, and that’s their prerogative. However, it’s our prerogative as consumers to call them on it when their bottom-line based decision making impacts our experience with a product we paid them good money for.

If you’re chastising gamers with the misplaced use of words like ‘entitled,’ you’re part of the problem. We’d welcome you over onto the side that’s trying to solve that problem whenever you can make it.