SimCity is a solid game. Now that I have your attention, put down the torches and pitchforks and hear me out. I’m working on my review, and there is a fun game to be had here, but right now it’s buried under mounds of DRM and heaps of controversy. When EA’s own support-bots started threatening people with banning of their accounts (which was then corrected by folks at EA) when refunds were requested for the currently-malfunctioning product, some folks took it to the highest court in the land – they’ve petitioned the White House. We all see stupid petitions thrown to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them. Let’s look at the meat of the complaint:
Video and computer games are growing increasingly reliant on remote servers and the implementation of Digital Rights Management (DRM) to function properly.
When these measures fail, consumers are left with an unplayable experience. In these cases, the consumer should have the right to expect a full refund, whether the game was purchased in physical or digital form.
SimCity from publisher Electronic Arts is a recent example of why such a law is crucial. Even 72 hours after its release, players are unable to log in and play, rendering their $60 purchase useless. Yet they have no recourse for a refund.
Consumer protection laws vary from state to state. Please institute a universal, industry-wide refund policy for defective entertainment both digital and physical.
Other countries such as the Netherlands already have laws on the books that prevent companies from refusing to honor returns on products that aren’t working as designed. This doesn’t just impact games like SimCity, but also speaks to MMO launches. Any game that has a required online piece could be affected. At the time of writing the petition was sitting at roughly 1600 signatures – a long way to go to reach the necessary 100,000. It may not reach that goal, but it certainly does start the conversation. The question I have is this – “If SimCity is tarnished and doesn’t sell well from this point, will EA kill the servers effectively creating a $60 coaster out of all of our games?”