Responsibility of game user and game makers.

DracheHexe 101 Jun 04, 2009 at 11:50

Pardon me if I stumble over my words here. It’s been a very long time since I posted in this forum.

While I am no expert on the subject nor do I claim any specific insight I have to wonder about the responsibility that game developers should take upon themselves to deliver quality games to us gamers.

Just about every game we install requires us to agree to the license agreement, a listing of rules that we as gamers must agree to or abide by before we can play the game. I, as well as many of you, probably no longer read them as they all basically say the same thing stating several issues, but the two most important is that we don’t illegally distribute the game and that if it fries our computers they can’t be held responsible even if they knew it would fry our computer.

Yeah, so, the developer is covered with all these protections. As game buyers though there seems to be little, if anything at all, to offer us protection from poor quality games. I am not sure if there is any way legal protection could be offered let alone enforced but an industry “code of conduct” could certainly boost the level of quality in a game. By quality I don’t specifically mean if the game is good or bad, but more so quality on a technical level: no bugs, decent compatability, etc.

I starting thinking on this issue for a few days now that was mainly brought up by a few key points noted below. These points we as (PC) gamers pretty much have to accept no matter what:

*Once you open the game it instantly becomes non-refundable.

*The game is not guaranteed to work on your machine even if you meet the recommended system requirements.

*Developers are under no obligation to fix bugs.

*Developers are under no obligation to release demos for evaluation. (I even remember one instance where a developer released a demo and removed all the buggy stuff from the demo but left the bug in the shipped game.)

Less serious issues include:

*Bad ports. (No mouse support for RE4? WTF were they thinking?)

*Weak or no configuration options (lots of games have no gama/brightness adjustments for instance)

*And of course just a really really bad game.

Now I do know that a perfect game can’t be made. And I do know that there are good companies that go out of their way to fix bugs or enhance gameplay after the game is shipped.

I see much of this though wasn’t something these companies initially did out of the goodness of their hearts but rather through the hardship of learning that poor support equal poor sale and good support = much better sales.

I see several of the issues I mentioned above appear in just about every issue of computer magazine reviews I read or game forum I visit. I read about gamers across the globe crying the game refuses to work on their machine or 50 magazine reviewers saying the game the was buggy out of the box and even buggier after the patch or that that the straight port showed lack of the developers care for the platform.

And these issues have been ranted and raved about for years. Yet they are still happen and I want to know why we as gamers and reviewers continue to let it happen? Isn’t there something we can do to assure us that we will at least get our fair share of what we paid for? Or that if the game doesn’t work for me despite the fact that my $5,000 machine says I blow the system requirements away that I am entitled to some sort of compensation if not a full refund?

I realize these are iffy and difficult issues to quantify in a way to where a solution can easily be defined, but there also doesn’t seem to be anyone even trying. (And yes I tried Googling it with little success because I am not exactly sure what to search for.)

And yes, I know most of you here are developers or potential developers so maybe you feel insulted by this long winded and boring complaint. If so then good, maybe you’ll avoid some of the issues I mentioned.

Okay, well I bored you enough now by overstating my point, lol.

8 Replies

Please log in or register to post a reply.

alphadog 101 Jun 04, 2009 at 14:01

Actually, the EU is discussing passing a game refund law. Don’t know where it is now…

I do think that there is no group championing the consumer on this topic, so the scales are heavily tilted and no compromise is being reached. It’s a big fight though. The problem would be that any laws would probably have to be extended to all software, and that will be a big fight with the BSA.

Lots of your above issues (esp. the “less serious” ones) should be left to market forces. I mean, how do you legislate a subjective thing like a “really, really bad game”? Try the demo, look for reviews and opinions, and that should solve those issues. There’s no demo? Don’t buy. The consumer isn’t totally powerless.

However, there is too much leeway for consumers to end up beta testers on shipped-as-faulty games. What’s their recourse?

fireside 141 Jun 04, 2009 at 14:35

I think that’s one reason things are going away from the pc onto consoles. There are just too many different types of hardware on a pc to guarantee anything at all. Games are also becoming seriously bloated pieces of software that have more and more chances of having bugs. We pay hundreds or more for business type software that keeps coming out in new re-fabbed editions each year, but is basically the same thing repackaged and debugged. Games are a one time only thing. I, personally, think market is the best way to take care of it. If you buy a game without looking at the demo and you play on a pc, you are taking a risk and most people are aware of that. Game companies really aren’t getting overly wealthy. It’s not a Microsoft that is gouging the public because they got there first. I remember paying 45 dollars for Rebel Assault in about 1990. Prices have changed very little and software has gotten many times more complex in every imaginable way.

DracheHexe 101 Jun 04, 2009 at 14:57

I just find it unfortunate it’s a “buyer beware” market and has been for quite sometime. Demos are very helpful, but not definitive in their own right and like I said not all games have demos. Reviews are helpful as well but aren’t fool proof as you can often find bad reviews for great games and good reviews for terrible games.

And the PC really isn’t losing out to developers. Compatibility issues are being weeded out little by little every year (to the point where I don’t think I have suffered any in a very long time), and while I can’t find where i read the article (Gamasutra, GameDev, something like that had the link to it) it stated that in the last either quarter or year that the money spent on PC games and game related equipment (gamepads, graphic cards, and so on) was significanly more than on consoles ( though admittedly I don’t know if it was one particular console or all together).

The PC gaming market is changing, but I think it’s still growing even if only at a snails pace. I just see so many people getting screwed by poorly developed and supported games that makes me wish something could really could protect them from losing money.

One step in the right direction would be something similar to Gametap. Gametap’s only limitation right now is it’s library it mostly limited to older games that have surpassed their shelf life. If it became a Gamefly for the PC then that would be significantly huge.

And thanks for the link to the EU, I appreciate it.

alphadog 101 Jun 04, 2009 at 14:58

In response to fireside, I think there are defects that can be categorized as subject to refund irrespective of game “size” or the state of the marketplace. And, if you want to play in a given market, you better deliver what is deemed agreeable to both parties.

A starting point is if a game is unplayable because of a reproducible problem in logic code and irrespective of hardware. Think of, for example, a situation where some specific game data that will reliably cause a crash in a given game. There are likely a handful of objective, non-edge rules that could be set, where really the fault lies wholly in the hands of the publisher and/or developer.

The analogy is that you can’t test a car for everyone’s driving habits, environmental factors, or test drive every location, but if a reproducible seal fail occurs at about 10K miles no matter what, then it’s a lemon, the auto maker has to recall/fix and laws apply to protect consumer rights. The “size” or “growing complexity” of the car doesn’t matter.

However, DracheHexe, you seem like you want to buy games as soon as they come out, and then have overly-generous laws that CYA in case you don’t like them. That’s swinging the pendulum too far the other way. If you wait just two weeks past release on any game, you will find more than enough people who will have evaluated the game for you on a professional basis, much less the cutting-edge gamers.

Inherently, any law will cause the price of games to go up. The returns, and the processing thereof, will have to be carried through to the consumer. I wouldn’t want the industry to be pushed too far towards legislative ways.

DracheHexe 101 Jun 04, 2009 at 16:11

Well, I cannot afford to buy games when they immediately come out, I wait for sales on Steam or buy the releases from 3 months ago that dropped in price. But you reminded me of a couple of things I think is worth mentioning.

There are quite a few companies that base the initial success, and therefore future support, of their game on the number of pre-orders. Recently the developers of Red Faction: Guerilla (I believe that was the game…so hard to keep all game related info I read organized) were all but dismayed at the dismal pre-order sales and had considered cutting the budget of further development (support and DLC specifically). I don’t know if that situation has changed but it does at the very least illustrates my point.

Also many games, once they have surpassed peak sales, tend to lose that top notch level of support meaning that any remaining issues that haven’t been fixed in the latest patch are likely to remain unfixed. And while slim that those remaining bugs will affect the guy (or girl) who buys the game after three months there could be a situation where they will be left with an over priced coaster.

Anyway, I am not really pushing for there to be hard coded laws about the issue. I don’t want game prices to go up either, and I don’t want to have to go through 3 courts of appeal to get a refund on a $40 game.

But is too much to ask that somewhere, either in that opening license agreement we all must agree to or perhaps something printed with the box or manual or receipt that the developer give us an “in good faith” clause that they will do their best to make a “reasonable effort” to address any and every significant issue that contributes to the inability to play the game?

I know there are several developers out there that do their best, some above and beyond the basic expectations (such as not only fixing bugs that make a game not playable but addressing more minor ones like missing textures or misspelled dialogue) to our benefit. But I’d bet for every one well supported game there are more than a handful that aren’t.

fireside 141 Jun 04, 2009 at 18:11

In response to fireside, I think there are defects that can be categorized as subject to refund irrespective of game “size” or the state of the marketplace. And, if you want to play in a given market, you better deliver what is deemed agreeable to both parties.

My experience with the market has been quite good, but I don’t buy a game that just came out ever. I can’t keep my equipment that current. I find there are almost always patches and updates for the games I buy. The seller wants to reach as many customers as possible and keep it’s reputation, which I think counts for a lot. I pay attention to it. Government intervention generally causes a lot of problems and is best kept for safety or out and out theft as far as I’m concerned. Neither one of those apply in this case. I’d be more interested in legislation that prevents installing malware on my computer any day. I’ve never had a game do anything to my computer aside from crash it so it had to be rebooted. I have bought a game once in a really great while that I couldn’t get to work, but it’s really not worth any kind of legislation or government interference as far as I’m concerned.

_oisyn 101 Jun 04, 2009 at 21:08

Some small remarks:

*Once you open the game it instantly becomes non-refundable.

Well, depends on your locale, really. For example, the EULA is only presented *after* you have taken it out of the packaging and are running the setup. There really isn’t a way to disagree with it before making the purchase. For this exact reason you are entitled for a refund in at least The Netherlands and I think the whole EU. But especially the Dutch law is really focused on the consumers.

And yes, I know most of you here are developers or potential developers so maybe you feel insulted by this long winded and boring complaint. If so then good, maybe you’ll avoid some of the issues I mentioned.

While I agree with you, it mostly isn’t a choice the actual developers can take. The people on the workfloor I mean. Of course, they can work harder to get the bugs out before the release, but they can’t really delay the release (without repercussions that is :lol:), nor can they choose to work on fixing bugs after the release if upper management decides that new project is much more important.

Forgotnglory 101 Jun 28, 2009 at 02:46

Hmmmm i see what your saying but at the same time some stores like game stop offer refunds within a certain time limit. I believe with gamestop it’s seven days?

The whole problem with glitches is that they are very difficult to fix without damaging whats not broken. Furthermore, they can be almost impossible to find untill the product has shipped. Fixing them may require companys to use resources that they just cant afford thus some glitches never get fixed.

Its kinda like if you went shopping and along the way you got your favourite candy bar. Then as your purchasing your food you find out that candy bar now cost’s 10,000 dollars. For some that might not be a problem but for others it may take months or years to earn that kind of money.

Anyway thats my 2cents