Reportedly the title of this piece is what Darius the Great tasked a servant with whispering in his ear three times a day. You see, he swore revenge on the Athenians for their part in the burning of Sardis. He apparently took his oath seriously and didn’t want to forget. I would even venture a guess that he didn’t want to forget how angry he felt either. But, more about this in a bit.
In case you haven’t been following gaming news this week, the latest incarnation of SimCity was released by Electronic Arts. To say that the launch hasn’t gone well would be like saying, “The Titanic had a little accident.” I don’t really want to go into the reason (always online DRM) too much given the fact you can Google it or look for the trend on Twitter (#simcity). I want to talk about how we got here. Again.
The easy answer would be to say that the mean old corporate gaming giant did it to us. Again. I’m the first to agree that the mean old corporate gaming giant is incredibly, spectacularly culpable in this. However, there is another entity at work here – something so dark, so persuasive that, at times, most times even, we can’t go against it. It’s us. You and me, him and her, they and them. It’s all of us. Ourselves. We don’t do it on purpose mind you. We’re just wired that way – most of us anyway.
Generally speaking, most of us tend toward Fading Affect Bias, which means that we tend to forget negative emotions more quickly than we forget positive ones. This probably explains why I got talked into getting SimCity after going through the Blizzard/Activision Diablo 3 launch. And I got talked into Simcity knowing that it had an always online DRM.
Big game publisher’s like EA and Activision, I believe, count on us forgetting how angry we were when we couldn’t play our new game for the first couple of days or a week. That’s why EA does it over and over and why I’m betting Blizzard/Activision will do it again. They think because they are selling a game they can get away with doing this to their customers. And they can. As long as we keep allowing them to do so.
Think about it. A video game is a product. A dish washer, a car, your phone service are all products. If any of those last three products didn’t work or worked intermittently for the first 2 – 7 days, would you be okay with that? Don’t you think there would be repercussions for that product failure? There would be! And the manufacturers and providers would work to make amends or see that it didn’t happen again.
Typically a video game costs about $60 for a new AAA release these days. That is no small amount of money where I’m from. And we keep paying companies like EA to give us games that don’t work as intended out of the box. We keep enabling this broken machine to work. Partly because we want the next big gaming experience and partly because we forget how angry those mean big game publishers made us with their last release.
Well, I’m going to try and help us remember and stay angry from now on. Somewhere in my articles for this site from here on I will write, “Remember the Athenians.” You can take that to mean, “Remember the always online DRM game launch debacles by EA and Activision.” Maybe this will keep a few more of us from buying into their shoddy business model and tactics.