Gamers' Rights Are Already Gone

As much as we might rail against the idea of the Next Xbox blocking used games from being played, the fight for consumer rights in the game industry is already over. And we didn't win.

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There's no reason why an Xbox that can't play used games is not acceptable, but a PC that can't play used games due to CD keys is. There's no reason why on-the-disc DLC is not acceptable, but the same content when actually downloaded is. There's no reason why offering extra quests to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning preorders is not acceptable, but offering in-game items as preorder incentives is. There's no reason why DRM is not acceptable, but Steam is.

While we may muster outrage for all of these things when we feel they go too far, the fact that we've permitted them in any form is evidence of a fight for consumer rights that has already been lost.

This Kingdoms of Amalur screenshot nicely reflects the lopsided realities of gamers' fight to keep their rights.

At this point, the reaction these schemes get is simply a function of how skillfully the publishers present their plans to the public. If they can just find the right combination of words in the right order, people will accept them without protest. But if they botch the marketing message and gamers get the sense that they're entitled to something the publisher is taking away, they wind up with a furious fan base promising to cancel preorders or buy the competition's product to make a statement.

No doubt, some of those angry gamers follow through on their promises. But if you look at the bigger picture, that outrage isn't widespread or deeply felt enough to make these sorts of schemes unprofitable. And because of that, publishers will keep resorting to them whenever possible.

It's not that publishers are evil and have a master plan to take away consumer rights. It's that taking away consumer rights is a side effect of their actual goal here, which is to have control over their product. It's a tug of war, and there's no way for the publishers to gain ground without taking it away from their own customers. They can't use always-on DRM without limiting our ability to play a game without an online connection. They can't curb used sales without impacting our ability to resell our own games. They can't stop piracy without stopping our ability to install a game on any computer we feel like.

Unfortunately, the digital era is giving publishers more ways to control their products than ever before. Between DRM, end-user license agreements, online pass schemes, and virtual goods, we own less of our games than ever before. And as much as we might lash out and complain about the constraints imposed upon content, we're basically arguing about semantics at this point.

So we can rail against these tactics all we want, writing angry petitions, message board posts, and editorials about the subject, but the bulk of us have already accepted them in some form. Now it's just a matter of time before publishers figure out the least offensive way to communicate their restrictions to the masses and enough people get on board. Whatever consumer rights previously existed in gaming, they have been significantly and permanently curtailed, and it has happened with our own tacit approval.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't be angry, or we shouldn't continue to vote with our dollars. We absolutely should. There is value even in a futile gesture, and perhaps we can exert enough influence to keep publishers from implementing the most onerous terms of use possible. But gamers' absolute rights as consumers are gone, the control to which we're entitled long since replaced by the control we're permitted to keep. And we've only ourselves to blame.

Discussion

266 comments
F-14-D_TOMCAT
F-14-D_TOMCAT

Hit em where it hurts hardest...boycott their products and show them that we the consumers are their bosses and they are zero without us.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

the difficult thing about it is the informed gamers are a relative minority compared to the uninformed.

Vodoo
Vodoo

DrunkMonkeyFist..... While I think your comments are correct, and I feel the same way as you, the majority of others just don't follow through. It seems that people buying the games these days (I'm reluctant to even call them gamers, because GAMERS should give a dam) just don't have any principles or value. As long as they get to play their game, they don't care that they just proved the greedy publishers right.... that people have no spine and their need to play the game at any cost will take precedence over the loss of consumer rights. If you're looking at a piece of dlc and it bothers you in some way to purchase it, or you don't agree with the DRM restrictions placed on a game, or you know the game isn't good enough to warrant the full $60 retail price... DON'T BUY IT!!! Educate your casual friends why they shouldn't spend $15 on CoD's highly overpriced map packs, or why they shouldn't splurge on day-one dlc unless it's really necessary. And most of all people... GROW A PAIR!!! Don't let these money hungry companies dictate how the game is played. WE have the power to change it, but most of these chumps are just to soft to do anything about it.

James00715
James00715

@DrunkMonkeyFist Individuals can definitely decide not to buy goods whose companies are anti-consumer, but the vast majority still do. The only way to change things would be if all consumers rose up to protest and boycott these bad practices, but it will never happen. The average player doesn't seem bothered by it. The other thing is that the big companies in the industry are very careful to make these changes slowly over the years. One little thing here and there won't cause an uproar. Extreme changes can cause people to go up in arms, but big companies never let that happen. They slowly pull more and more away. Players are too divided on these smaller issues to unit against them.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

@Jimagik Whether someone chooses to declare the selling of a item has nothing to do with our right to sell it, secondly, as far as I am aware, in the US, if you make a loss on the item (sell it for less than you paid) it is generally considered to be unnecessary to declare the sale, furthermore you may want to consider that this is a international website and different country's have different tax laws.

Jimagik
Jimagik

@Tim_Lince_Kun Man, all transactions without taxation are illegal. That means even reselling a used game. I did not say if it is ethical or unethical, or if i havent done it as well, but it's illegal. If you sell something through online stores for example, you get charged taxes etc etc etc

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

@GarGx1 No, CD keys have nothing to do with reselling your Games unless they are online activated single use codes. Most old PC Games don't need online activation but do come with a CD key (To limit piracy) and even modern Games (that sometimes require online activation) can be reinstalled several times and can be purchased second hand (Check Amazon). A friend gave me his old copy of Red Faction Guerrilla. I installed it, entered the code and now it works just fine. It's services like Steam and Origin that stop you from selling your games, because they tie the game to your account and you can reinstall it without the disc.

DrunkMonkeyFist
DrunkMonkeyFist

"No doubt, some of those angry gamers follow through on their promises. But if you look at the bigger picture, that outrage isn't widespread or deeply felt enough to make these sorts of schemes unprofitable. And because of that, publishers will keep resorting to them whenever possible. " First of all, that paragraph does nothing but perpetuate what the writer wants the readers to believe , although it be far from the truth. In all reality it is the consumer who has the key to controlling the situation. Can't play used games on your console , no problem , I won't buy your console. You think I'm going to pay(new) full price on a product(game) over a year old? Good luck with that. While I'm at it , just out of pure angst I'll be sure to boycott your next product as well, and through social networking put in a few bad words about you. You want to shoot yourself in the foot , be my guest :)

Corelis
Corelis

I pay 60$ + Tax for a new game, Then, A few days/weeks later, The publisher has some premium DLC that they want additional $5 to $30 Friggin dollars for. I don't feel angry. I FEEL BENT OVER!!!

max_1111
max_1111

"It's not that publishers are evil and have a master plan to take away consumer rights. It's that taking away consumer rights[...]" No... I'm pretty sure that's actually the case. HAHAH

thedemon44
thedemon44

Whatever. There isn't any new information in this article. These are the times we live in. Thanks for wasting my time with a well written whine.

GarGx1
GarGx1

@Yulaw2000 Cd keys do stop PC games from being resold, infact it's almost the sole reason they can't be taken back to a retail store, as once the seal is open they regard the key as used and will not take it back. Have ever had a faulty retail game and tried to return it? It's a fight from the start even though they are breaking consumer rights, at the very most they will give you another copy of the disc, no refunds or exchanges. I am of course refering to PC games

anthonycg
anthonycg

Legal issues aside, the quality of games for the last two years isn't even worth such a crappy idea.

asmodeus_z
asmodeus_z

I will bypass Xbox 720 should they disabled playing of used games and hop on to PS4. If PS4 follows likewise, I still have my iOS/Android free games to turn to; not forgetting the free games on Facebook ... I will not compromises ...

squidshoggoth
squidshoggoth

well it's time people start talking with their wallets, it's entirely possible to reverse this downward spiral, just quit complaining and start doing something about it.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

The argument falls flat in the first paragraph. CD Keys did not eliminate used games or swapping product; that all came about a few years ago by means of DRM. Further, On-Disc DLC is stuff that could have just as easily been put into the game because it was developed ALONGSIDE it and was part of the original development budget. DLC released after a game was not created alongside it nor part of the initial investment. And the pre-order scheme is is the pre-order scheme, but it's nowhere near as rediculous as the first four points, which were actually completely different situations. As far as DRM vs. Steam goes, both are bull because both are DRM, but at least it's guaranteed that Steam will let you reinstall it ad-inifitum, so it's a little more equitable. I actually quit reading the article after the first two paragraphs, because like the debate about marketing skill, that's exactly what this is a demonstration of. This is pathetic. Gamespot's articles are either hypocritical, ignorant or revisionist. You guys really need to change your tune.

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

even at worst case scenario that people buy it anyway, people with tighter budgets will buy less games for it making them more likely to spend on used games for the other consoles. And in another case for people with tighter budgets, whether or not it can play used games may be a deal breaker for them. so really, they still lose money. Now heres the reason why this annoys me, sometimes i don't want to buy the game till its been out a LONG time for whatever reason. Do you know how i found Suikoden 2? used at game exchange, Suikoden 3 and onward i bought new copies of it cause i knew it existed. face it, the only way around that is producing FAR more copies of the game so it never becomes scarce, especially the JRPGs, which print very few to begin with.

mgs16925
mgs16925

There are three separate comments on just the first comment page saying they are going to turn to Steam in protest of consoles restraining used games and dictating use. Seriously, people?

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

Why am I reminded of Senator Jon Kyl, who responds to some arguments that maybe we just don't understand what's best for us but will after Obamacare is implemented by saying, "Exactly. The government wants us to get used to things so we accept them as they gradually take everything over instead of letting liberty determine what happens"? Seriously people, not only is this article incredibly negative, but it has no interest in considering WHY these companies want to do this. By and large, we the gamers have NOT gotten screwed this generation considering how crappy the economy is and how expensive games are. There's a TON of stuff to play if you're willing to keep and open mind and look for it, and all that "DLC on the disc" crap is mostly stuff so miniscule and unnecessary to the overall experience that complaining about it is like complaining about not getting a cherry on top of your milkshake. If this stuff actually becomes a problem, the businesses will start to suffer as we take our money elsewhere, so spend your dough on something else. That's capitalism. None of us need gaming to survive, and if by some strange miracle you DO need them, that's something you see a psychologist for, not a corporation.

Asseen0nTV
Asseen0nTV

Completely unrelated to the topic, I find it rather amusing when people use the word "sheep" while describing behavioral patterns of humans. Especially if they use it twice in the same thought and even more so when the majority of their audience already believed in their rhetoric before it was reiterated by them. It's like a sheep with the cognitive abilities of a parrot calling a sheep a sheep.

OuroborosChoked
OuroborosChoked

Your wallet is your power. I'm not going to buy an Xbox if it won't let me play used games. Not that hard, is it? Oh, but what if Sony and Nintendo follow suit? I guess I'll focus on older-gen games and forgo whatever the current gen would be. There's also Steam, GOG, Gamer's Gate, etc. If the major companies want to dictate policy, cut off their incomes. Choke 'em until they give. Consumers hold the power. Fight back!

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

@XAF1 Yes, I agree that the article has a very defeatist tone (If they felt this stuff was bad I wish Gamespot had made hard hitting articles when all this started) But like I said in an earlier comment, we have reason to be positive. "http://uk.gamespot.com/news/syndicate-wont-include-online-pass-report-6349558" The mere fact that EA would choose to not include a Pass in Syndicate shows that they negatively affect sales.

XAF1
XAF1

All I can say is that this articles worries me and not because I agree or disagree with it completely but because it has such a defeatist tone. I hope every gamer out there doesn't feel like he or she has no say so or the gaming industry will become an even bigger clump of crap that can run over them and they have no say so.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

@GarGx1 CD keys don't stop Games from being resold, services like Steam and Origin however do.

ProMethUse
ProMethUse

first SOPA now THIS???... sad part is most of us keep our complaints to ourselves and just begrudgingly accept their (the publisher's) terms.

ProMethUse
ProMethUse

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ProMethUse
ProMethUse

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

GarGx1
GarGx1

As a long time PC gamer, I do feel a bit responsible for the consequences we're getting now, after all we accepted the CD keys which ment that games could not be resold, on the other hand I also view my games collection as exactly that, a collection, not something I want to discard after finishing the game. We have also accepted Steam (even come to love it) which is really nothing more than a DRM with bells on. I suppose Valve has got it right though, you can still play the game offline but only after you've finished the install of files downloaded from Steam, even with a retail version. I do not, however, feel responsible for the DLC plague that one is solely on this generations console gamers and it's cost us more than most non PC gamers will ever realise. An example for this is a game I've been playing for many years, Day of Defeat, a WWII first person, online only, shooter. It has thousands of maps all available for free. Where as the DLC has given us the $15 map pack and single player content for more money than an expansion pack and a fraction of the content. Gona stop now because I can feel myself slipping into a rant. Take care and have fun

NervoZa
NervoZa

I like the article...I like it because its filled with truth...but truth is...that this is not happening only in the video game industry...its happening in almost every single aspect of life.Consumer rights...human rights...are being crushed...neglected...and untill we decide to do something about it all...the system is going to continue with its dark deeds.We need to realise that WE have the power...we the people...not the governments...no the publishers...not the developers(which I think have the least fault in this,they just want to make good games...well most of them)! If you dont agree with something...do something!

paulsifer42
paulsifer42

@azizex6666 In a way it is though. I'm not saying 38 studios is made up of angels, or that they aren't in it for the money, but they could have taken 150 of those hours and made them 1 GB $15 DLC snippets, but they didn't. In my book, that makes the somewhat heavy handed "free DLC" that comes with a new purchase easier to swallow. It makes me think that it's a game worth my sixty bucks, which makes me much more okay with buying it new.

azizex6666
azizex6666

all I wanna say is even though its not related to this Kingdoms of Amalur game play time = over 200 hours

majema007
majema007

This doesn't bother me at all simply because I find no reason to own the new Xbox. Gaming once was a nerdy hobby with diversity, fun factor, challenge, more bang for your buck, etc. Now its just shooter after shooter, overpriced DLC, a mainstream trend, and a hand holding (easy) experience. Even games like Skyrim don't impress me as much as PS2 games. I find it even more disgusting that despite the money Microsoft earns from the market, they want to make used games useless because of pure greed.

sonicare
sonicare

Good points about how we have already accepted a lot of this without fully realizing it. People are going bonkers over the next xbox supposedly having limits on used gaming, but where was the outrage over the CD keys? I guess you are right that how the concept is presented plays a big impact into how it is accepted.

Falzonn
Falzonn

Taking away used sales doesn't automatically mean consumers will suddenly pay $60 for EVERY game they want. We're not all made of money. Sure, some may be able to afford every full priced game they want, but I'd wager most of us don't, therefore forcing us to pick and choose which games we REALLY want to play. Price points would have to drop first, and for most titles, we know that won't happen. Publishers are only shooting themselves in the foot. My desire for gaming has taken a nose-dive these last 5 years. For starters, there are less games I even want to play, and even less I'd ever want to pay full price for. I don't even want to pay $25 for a used game these days. Most aren't even worth that, so I simply don't play them. And, since I never played the previous game, I am usually less inclined to buy the next sequal/successor to said game either, thus denying a sale again. Case and point, I ignore Demon's Souls when it came out, but bought it much later used as a 'maybe it'll surprise me' impulse buy. I bought Dark Souls new because I was impressed enough. Would I have bought Dark Souls new if I hadn't played Demon's Souls? Not likely. Then again, maybe people, with no other option, WILL spend full price on every console game they want, regardless of whether its worth it. It wouldn't surprise me.

oldschoolvandal
oldschoolvandal

I have a very practical point of view and yes, I know that most of this tatics are already in use BUT...so far the new XBOX has done nothing to make believe I need (or even want) one....seriously, what else can they offer? Shinier Graphics? Thanks but no thanks.....just my opinion. Apart from that...If at launch day it really comes packed with such feature I think more gamers will let the purchasing oportunity pass. Again, just my opinion, but don't we all still enjoy that game evening with some pals to beat/shoot/smash the crap out of each other in good and old face to face versus? And how do we do that? As far as I remember, some guys bring the games, others bring the beer and snacks. Would you really buy a console that would take it away? I know I wouldn't. I own both PS3 and 360 and particularly enjoy this gaming evenings which I do with the games I pay full price and would like a lot to keep doing whatever the hell I want with it.

snowmuncher
snowmuncher

In regards to the article; if you think that publishers do not have a master plan to take away gamers rights than you are naive. I used to work for one, I sat in on the meetings, the future plans they have in regards to content control are scary.

Polybren
Polybren

@firehawk998 @fnman14 @Unfallen_Satan Thanks!

mamajoe
mamajoe

We have rights. We have the right not to open our wallets and buy these types of consoles. We have the right not to buy DRM crippled games, games that have permanent saves, etc. Withholding our money is our right and it scares the s--t out of these companies. Cancellations and no pre-orders sends them a huge message. Email them; let them know you won't be buying their products.

Mr__Maniacal
Mr__Maniacal

OH NOOOWWWW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ALL THIS CRAP. Well your right. it's you idiots who are to blame. especially the game magazines, those of us who have seen this coming since 2006 have been calling on deaf ears. well we all know the way to destroy their little games they play with our stuff... DON'T BUY THEIR GAMES OR CONSOLES. SUPPORT PUBLISHERS WHO TREAT US RIGHT. IMPOSE A BOYCOTT ON ALL FORMS OF DLC. DLG, EVERYTHING. THE ONLY WAY TO HURT THEM IS TO HIT THEM IN THE POCKETS. TAKE THEIR MONEY AWAY FROM THEM. BUT THE SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS IS THAT YOU LAZY PHUCKS WON'T DO A GOD DAMN THING

Mr__Maniacal
Mr__Maniacal

OH NOOOWWWW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ALL THIS CRAP. Well your right. it's you idiots who are to blame. especially the game magazines, those of us who have seen this coming since 2006 have been calling on deaf ears. well we all know the way to destroy their little games they play with our stuff... DON'T BUY THEIR GAMES OR CONSOLES. SUPPORT PUBLISHERS WHO TREAT US RIGHT. IMPOSE A BOYCOTT ON ALL FORMS OF DLC. DLG, EVERYTHING. THE ONLY WAY TO HURT THEM IS TO HIT THEM IN THE POCKETS. TAKE THEIR MONEY AWAY FROM THEM. BUT THE SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS IS THAT YOU LAZY PHUCKS WON'T DO A GOD DAMN THING

Mr__Maniacal
Mr__Maniacal

OH NOOOWWWW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ALL THIS CRAP. Well your right. it's you idiots who are to blame. especially the game magazines, those of us who have seen this coming since 2006 have been calling on deaf ears. well we all know the way to destroy their little games they play with our stuff... DON'T BUY THEIR GAMES OR CONSOLES. SUPPORT PUBLISHERS WHO TREAT US RIGHT. IMPOSE A BOYCOTT ON ALL FORMS OF DLC. DLG, EVERYTHING. THE ONLY WAY TO HURT THEM IS TO HIT THEM IN THE POCKETS. TAKE THEIR MONEY AWAY FROM THEM. BUT THE SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS IS THAT YOU LAZY PHUCKS WON'T DO A GOD DAMN THING

koorkoor
koorkoor

LOL at the screenshot caption

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

The good thing in gaming is that we have a lot of choices. We can find emulators for almost any previous consoles. If you disagree with the present industry, just play the classics! Anyway, they can't make games like before. When they were made by and for gamers. For fun, not only for money. Don't forget that you don't need games to stay alive!

guitardude1243
guitardude1243

You'd be amazed what people are capable of when you hit the right nerve. Game developers obviously haven't hit the biggest, brightest, glowing orange spot yet.

Marsh87
Marsh87

Solution: Open source game development tools....make your own games for free

MaP_Hagmen
MaP_Hagmen

I really not sure what to think I buy first hand not second so it will not effect me, and in the long run it will not affect 90% of gamers as how many would buy a title like Mass Effect, skyrim, Batman etc second hand not a lot, it seem like only a small amount would be effected by it and so will the pirate community. But I do see the the point that it is unfair if you don't buy first hand

endorbr
endorbr

@Blitzman - Exactly. If the game developers were simply providing greater value for our money then none of these other concerns would matter to most people.

endorbr
endorbr

@xevilmickx2 - "Gamestop will likely file a lawsuit..." really? On what grounds? Companies like Sony and Microsoft don't exist to support retailers. They don't care about the retailers bottom line or how they go about making a profit nor are they required to do so. Retailers are only a medium to move their product. If they wanted to they could sell direct and remove retailers all together. They just don't because their current business model is easier and more cost effective for them right now. It's not up to the retailer (outside of any contractual obligations) as to how the game development company handles their business.

Blitzman
Blitzman

I am certain I am going to be railed for this comment. However, I think I would be OK with being unable to play used games as long as the price point went down on the original game purchase. If you think about it, its a win-win for everyone (except used game retailers). Publishers are assured to get full price per game sold, and gamers would get a lower price point on launch day. Drop the price from $59.99 to something like $34.99 and I am certain there is still positive cash flow for all involved.