A Useless Action?

With the RealID fiasco, generally anti-consumer behavior, draconian DRM, and treating employees poorly, there are a lot of reasons for a gamer like myself to say no to a particular publisher.

EA's PC DRM tends to suck, but it's not so bad that I'm ready to boycott them. Plus now they're publishing BioWare titles, so I'm stuck there. I won't give up my BioWare.

UbiSoft is a no-go, 100%. But that's easy for me to do, the only UbiSoft title I'm even remotely interested in considering is the next iteration of Assassin's Creed. I'm hoping they'll have their sh*t together by then.

Activision is easy to hate because they kill properties and ditch dev houses that won't play ball with money grubbing.

But here's where the real problem comes in. I have a kind of trinity of excellent game developers I pretty much won't pass on. That trinity consists of BioWare, Blizzard, and Valve. Despite offering an extensive DRM system, it's also the easiest to swallow, so Valve is practically unimpeachable IMHO at this point. I've already touched on BioWare. Blizzard is the real problem. UbiSoft and Activision are the worst in the business right now. They may despise pirates, but they also actively hate their paying customers. Any denial of that relationship between them and their customers falls flat when examining their treatment of them. UbiSoft's DRM is anti-consumer action at it's purest. Activision's raping of properties for money is a clear indication that they're not interested in delivering a quality product beyond getting their customers hooked.

So here comes Blizzard with RealID. Aside from the "real name" aspect of it, the system sounds rather compelling. In fact, it sounds a lot like Steam Community.

I was ready to take a stand. I was ready to say "no" to a Blizzard game, ready to reject one of the trinity.

But I want the game. I want Starcraft 2. And really, I suck so horribly at multiplayer strategy games that I'm not interested in messing with it. Especially with Starcraft - it always becomes so cutthroat so fast that I get left behind very quickly. I prefer the single player side, so I doubt I would even run afoul of RealID.

I still fear it, though. I want Blizzard to add a check box labeled, "Never share my real name with anyone. This will disable RealID and all associated features." I would click that check box so hard and open my wallet so fast...

I suppose the question I pose to this community is this: Is it useless for me to avoid Starcraft 2 for these reasons? I already have a Battle.Net account, they forced that on me while I was still playing WoW. Blizzard has my name and is apparently going to do whatever they want with it. I don't think it will make one iota of difference to Blizzard if I stay away from their product. Plus, I want to play the campaign. It has been literally months since a game held my full attention long enough for me to finish it. I want something good. Whether or not that is what Starcraft 2 will be remains to be determined, but I still want it. I know, of all upcoming games, this is the most likely to be one that I will play through entirely.

So, do I buy, despite my principles and fears, knowing full well a lack of purchase is likely to be like 'the buzzing of flies to them,' to quote Janosz Poha? Or do I stick to my guns and win a tiny victory in my head? God that sounds pathetic. I might just buy because of that.

I don't know man, this is Starcraft. :p

Honestly, I see where you are coming from. I was hesitant myself, but I realised that the agony, and I'm only being slightly hyperbolic here, of not playing the game would drown out the satisfied feeling of sticking to my principles.

I'm still concerned about the offline mode and not knowing what 'features' you lose by playing offline, but it's a risk I will take, I'm hoping it's like the Bioware stuff, useless social network garbage.

I still won't budge on Ubi, f*ck those dudes.

No LAN play-no Starcraft. I played the beta, it was like the 90's all over again! Well except no LAN play. I'm not crying, I'm just not buying.

Hey that rhymes!

I would say stick to your guns, but then Starcraft 2 holds no interest for me whatsoever, and I don't know what the fuss is all about. Blizzard really hasn't done anything in a long time that I have had a whole lot of interest in.
I guess I've lucked out mostly and the games I have wanted to play "sooooooo much" have been pretty light/non-existent DRM systems.
If you want to take a stand and try to make a difference in future DRM solutions, don't buy. There will be plenty of other games to distract you anyways. If you absolutely must play this game right f*ing now, go play it. But be prepared for invasive DRM.

If your principles can be compromised, they aren't principles. It's easy to boycott something you wouldn't buy anyway, especially if you make exceptions for those things you actually want.

I think you can turn off Real ID and its associated features by putting parental controls on your battle net account. If you tell Blizzard you're a juvenile, they can't share your name with anyone (by law, maybe?).

I took a look at the feature on my (unused) battle net account and it appears to work. I haven't had the opportunity to test it though.

nihilo wrote:

I think you can turn off Real ID and its associated features by putting parental controls on your battle net account. If you tell Blizzard you're a juvenile, they can't share your name with anyone - by law, I think.

Or just not friend anyone with the Real ID, link it to facebook, or anything like that. You don't use it, it's not exposed.

NSMike wrote:

I still fear it, though. I want Blizzard to add a check box labeled, "Never share my real name with anyone. This will disable RealID and all associated features." I would click that check box so hard and open my wallet so fast...

From the RealID FAQ:

What information about me will other players see in-game if I do not use Real ID?

If you are not using Real ID, only the in-game character name and online/offline status of the character you are playing will be visible to other players, and only within that game.

Switchbreak wrote:
NSMike wrote:

I still fear it, though. I want Blizzard to add a check box labeled, "Never share my real name with anyone. This will disable RealID and all associated features." I would click that check box so hard and open my wallet so fast...

From the RealID FAQ:

What information about me will other players see in-game if I do not use Real ID?

If you are not using Real ID, only the in-game character name and online/offline status of the character you are playing will be visible to other players, and only within that game.

Oh, I know, I read it. Doesn't mean that Blizzard won't change it. I want the ability, a hard switch, a solid confirmation, that I am turning it off. No matter what happens.

"Is it useless?" is kind of a weird question. There are upsides and downsides to buying the game, you have to decide what ones matter to you the most and have more weight to you.

NSMike wrote:

Oh, I know, I read it. Doesn't mean that Blizzard won't change it. I want the ability, a hard switch, a solid confirmation, that I am turning it off. No matter what happens.

It sounds like an opt-in thing, where you won't even have a Real ID account to disable unless you sign up for one.

If you need absolute proof that they won't sign you up for one without asking using your credit card details or something, you run the same risk with any company you have bought from with a credit card. They all have your name.

Scratched wrote:

"Is it useless?" is kind of a weird question. There are upsides and downsides to buying the game, you have to decide what ones matter to you the most and have more weight to you.

I guess what I was looking for in this thread is either a bunch of people standing in solidarity against Blizzard, or the classic Enabler Spirit of Goodjer.

Thus far, folks seem inclined to give Blizz the finger. I guess that's where I am.

I know that seems rather follower-ish, but I suppose I'm still working out how strong of a stand I want to take on this kind of stuff. The question of "is it useless," is really asking, is this going to change anything for gamers? The answer is probably "no," and that makes me upset because, even if I stand for my principles, who really cares? A group of other gamers equally as angry, that's who. You know what Blizzard says to that? "Thanks, but we've got these other millions of dollars. Enjoy whatever your principles will allow you to buy."

At that point, I kinda feel like giving up.

Don't do it!

That's how they "get you".

My plan: Already paid for SC2. Picking it up tonight. Not going to use "Real ID" friends, because of the way it's implemented. If I ever see a sign that Activision is throwing my info around (and yes, I *will* be able to tell), I'll lock it down with the "I am a minor" setting.

One pleasant thing about the Blizzard + Activision combo is this: Activision knows they would be fools to alienate Blizzard's fanbase, and Blizzard's fanbase is big enough that it doesn't take very much outrage for something to grow into a giant sh*tstorm--see what happened to the "forum posts will all be by RealID" fiasco.

Perfect? No. Sufficient control that I'm satisfied I can lock it down until they respond to massive public outcry if Activision tries anything sh*tty? Yes, for now. I will not act on suspicion of future asshattery (which is also why "Valve could get bought and sh*tcan Steam at some point in the future!!111!!11!" arguments fail to move me.) The level of asshattery present in the Real ID scheme is not yet dire, in my opinion.

I am not sure if it is some moral indignation, but having been bit by Sony CD based DRM in the past I am extremely gun shy about most, which ruled out most any non-steam games for a long time for me. What some may see as suffering, I see as mitigating the bullsh*t I put up with in my life. But were it not for that fiasco, and dead hard drive, I would never have discovered the wonderful world of podcasts (My iPod has been music free for 5 years now).

I know of some people who lost their Xboxes to failure and swore off downloads for the hassle of getting back those games after replacing or repairing the unit.

Is it some sense of righteousness that made me avoid Guitar Hero in favor of Rock Band? Or was it that utter BS with those Midi tracks on a 140 dollar game that soured me to the franchise?

NSMike wrote:

Thus far, folks seem inclined to give Blizz the finger. I guess that's where I am.

That's where I am too - and as I've mentioned before, I've been a stalwart Blizzard customer since Warcraft.

All the discussion about not enabling RealID, or disabling it via parental controls, is entirely missing the point. Blizzard/Activision is doing something that is deliberately and intentionally anti-customer, solely for short-term gain.

I know that seems rather follower-ish, but I suppose I'm still working out how strong of a stand I want to take on this kind of stuff. The question of "is it useless," is really asking, is this going to change anything for gamers? The answer is probably "no," and that makes me upset because, even if I stand for my principles, who really cares? A group of other gamers equally as angry, that's who. You know what Blizzard says to that? "Thanks, but we've got these other millions of dollars. Enjoy whatever your principles will allow you to buy."

At that point, I kinda feel like giving up.

Again, as Lobster pointed out, either they are principles or they are not. Who really cares? You do. It's pretty clear from this that you are torn between standing up for what you think is right, and playing Starcraft. The only person who matters here is you - are you willing to be treated this way in exchange for playing Starcraft? If the answer is yes, go have fun. If the answer is no ... you know what the right thing to do is.

You don't have power to make Blizzard do what you want. But you do have power to refuse to subsidize and approve their actions, which is what you do when you buy their games anyway.

Blizzard hasn't released anything that I was genuinely excited about since Warcraft III in 2002. Even though I've been tempted by SC2, I think I'm going to resist the urge to get it, at least until it hits the bargain bin.

When Diablo III finally releases, that will be a harder situation for me, as I'm a much bigger fan of Diablo than StarCraft. I'm hoping that the free-to-play Torchlight MMO and/or Guild Wars 2 will be ready to play around that time. That would certainly make it easier to avoid D3.

To answer the question posed by the thread title, if refering to making an impact on the sales of the game, yes, it would be quite useless. In terms of usefulness to yourself on a personal level, perhaps it is not a useless action.

NSMike wrote:

Thus far, folks seem inclined to give Blizz the finger. I guess that's where I am.

Most people who are saying 'Give Blizz the finger' are people who aren't interested in the game anyway. As Lobster says, it's easy to be principled against something that doesn't affect you.

At the end of the day it's your principles, you need to decide if they have enough value to you to lose out on something you really want.

Hell, I say buy it, but if you can resist I will have nothing but respect for your fortitude.

I would say that it is useless to try to change a game company's behavior with any sort of boycott. History is pretty solidly behind me on this.

But it doesn't mean that there aren't things you aren't comfortable with and which need to be taken into account. For me, I make game buying decisions based on how it will affect me. In the case of Spore and R.U.S.E., they were both games I was ready to buy until I learned about their DRM schemes, and I did not buy either. I'm ok with DRM in general, but in both cases I was concerned that their particular schemes might leave me unable to play whenever I wanted to, and I would be very frustrated to have paid that much for such an experience.

To me, this is just something to include when weighing the pros and cons of buying the game. Draconian DRM (or some privacy-harming policy) moves the dial some distance towards not buying. Now, I'm not angry at Ubisoft or EA -- they don't owe me these games, and they are making what they must think are good decisions. My not buying the games is not a boycott, so I don't need to worry about whether it is a useless gesture. I got comfortable not buying the games.

In your case, I would say you might want to let go of the emotion (seriously, you don't know these people, and they don't know you, this is a business transaction). If you think you'll be happy parting with $X and getting a game with these RealID requirements, then just go ahead and buy it. If you think that you won't be happy with the overall bargain when RealID is factored in, then get comfortable that you are doing yourself a favor by not buying, and don't worry about sticking it to Blizzard (they won't know and won't care that you didn't buy).

If *you* don't buy someones stuff, that isn't a boycott. A boycott is an organized large group of people together choosing to not purchase a product, an individual has absolutely no effect.

Besides by blanket avoiding a companys products you are sending the wrong message. For example, Starcraft II is a fine game and should be rewarded with the sales to reflect that. If it bombed due to some boycott then they'd just stop making games like that.

Reward quality, avoid crap, the logo on the box really doesn't matter.

I prefer a combination of subversion and apathy. My battle.net account doesn't have my real name, and no gaming account gets my real name in the account registration. I won't be using Real ID for anything myself. Steam is the only service that has a chance of matching my account to the real me, and that is only when I put in my billing info.

But with the RealID and the deliberate withholding of LAN play, it IS crap. Ergo, I won't buy it.

If it had had LAN play, and RealID was optional, I'd have probably been a midnight buyer on that one. I was never that good at the original in multiplayer, but I really enjoyed the singleplayer campaign, and LAN games were fun.

Most people who are saying 'Give Blizz the finger' are people who aren't interested in the game anyway.

This is wrong, top to bottom. People who post and complain and gripe about this stuff are, almost by definition, very interested in the product. I've seen this argument tactic used before, when sh*tty companies do sh*tty stuff, and I think it's a way that people justify being treated like sh*t. Instead of actually dealing with the argument, you marginalize the person making it.... like somehow if only a few people are mad enough to actually give up a game they want because of principles, it's okay for you to be weak, too.

Again, I'd have been a Day -1 buyer of this game if I felt I was being treated right. I won't be buying Diablo 3 either, and I bought four copies each of D1 and D2. Back then, that was one hell of a lot of money to sink into a game on my limited income. I wouldn't have bought four D3s this time, because I don't have a local gaming group to outfit anymore, but I'd have bought one for sure.

Malor wrote:
Most people who are saying 'Give Blizz the finger' are people who aren't interested in the game anyway.

This is wrong, top to bottom. People who post and complain and gripe about this stuff are, almost by definition, very interested in the product. I've seen this argument tactic used before, when sh*tty companies do sh*tty stuff, and I think it's a way that people justify being treated like sh*t. Instead of actually dealing with the argument, you marginalize the person making it.... like somehow if only a few people are mad enough to actually give up a game they want because of principles, it's okay for you to be weak, too.

I was referring quite specifically to comments like

I would say stick to your guns, but then Starcraft 2 holds no interest for me whatsoever, and I don't know what the fuss is all about. Blizzard really hasn't done anything in a long time that I have had a whole lot of interest in.

People who are interested, yet won't buy because they are uncomfortable with RealID and no LAN play or whatever else I can totally get behind, as I mentioned in the very next line after the one you quoted.

Malor wrote:

If it had had LAN play, and RealID was optional, I'd have probably been a midnight buyer on that one.

Real ID is optional.

So I guess it's as simple as what I value.

Do I value:

- The entertainment I will get out of Starcraft 2 more?
- The quality of the product Blizzard produces more?
- Not endorsing the DRM and privacy policies of the company more?

I bought Spore (big mistake for reasons other than the DRM, but anyway...). I've bought probably five or six other games that use DRM similar to Spore's. RealID made me a little more gun-shy of Blizzard than I think I realized, but as I said above, Blizzard has my name already. My Battle.Net account contains registered keys of all of my Blizzard purchases. Even if I never log on to another Blizzard product again, they can do whatever with my private info, within legal limits.

And what does that even mean anyway? It's not like they're going to deliberately do something illegal with it. There's a certain amount of understood risk these days when you share your personal information with any company. Even with the extremely poorly-thought-out decision about their forums, I would have to post on there for it to really matter to me. I don't. I'm very much against any kind of corporate shenanigans that get in the way of my rights, which is why I was against it (which is not to say that I, alone affected any change, and in fact, probably had less to do with their reversal than most, since I didn't post on their boards or anything), but really, what has Starcraft 2 done that is against my principles?

I guess the only thing that it could do is require a constant internet connection for single-player play. That's the same as the Ubi DRM. If that's the case, I have no trouble avoiding it. That's an unworkable restraint. But otherwise? As has been pointed out, I'm not required to use RealID. I don't go to LAN parties, so that's not an issue.

Or are these all thinly-veiled excuses to purchase something just because I want it? Up until the RealID fiasco a few weeks ago, there was no doubt I'd be firing up the game tonight. Make no mistake, I do want the game. I'm finding it hard to find reasons to avoid it. I'm trying to think of what I'd say to a friend about why I didn't buy the game.

"So how's Starcraft 2 going for you?"

"Oh, uh, I didn't buy it."

"Oh? Why not? Sold out or something?"

"Uh, no, I'm... Taking a stand against Blizzard's bad policies with regards to privacy."

"What?"

"Yeah. You see, they had this thing a couple weeks ago, you might not have heard about it, where they were going to make people post on their forums using their real names. It was part of this RealID system they're using now, but people were so pissed off about it that they decided not to do it."

"So... They changed their minds?"

"Yeah."

"So... Why didn't you buy it?"

"Well, because they made a stupid decision and now I'm not sure I trust them."

"Oh. Well, good luck with that. The campaign is amazing."

IMAGE(http://imgur.com/zLXLP.jpg)

Mike, I feel for you. This is obviously a huge conflict for you, but it really boils down to this:

Do I value:

- The entertainment I will get out of Starcraft 2 more?
- The quality of the product Blizzard produces more?
- Not endorsing the DRM and privacy policies of the company more?

And I don't think that anyone else can help.

Honestly, it seems very likely that you are going to crack. I realised a couple of days ago that I was going to, so I said, 'F*ck it, I'll just get it.' Rather than put myself through anymore dissonance I just bought it. I still have my concerns, but I decided not to torture myself any more.

Sinatar wrote:

If *you* don't buy someones stuff, that isn't a boycott. A boycott is an organized large group of people together choosing to not purchase a product, an individual has absolutely no effect.

A boycott is when someone or some people say "Hey, all, I'm not buying this and here's why you shouldn't either" and then some other people listen and do the same. A boycott is simply made up of individuals who make the same decision.

While gaming history is full of "boycotts" by people who cave the instant the game comes out, there are people who actually do stand by their principles. Let's face it, there are a lot of games available to us and skipping one isn't going to leave you deprived. So if you pass on SC2, NSMike, you won't be alone. Would it be useless? Depends on how you define useless in this instance, I suppose.

Sinatar wrote:

Besides by blanket avoiding a companys products you are sending the wrong message. For example, Starcraft II is a fine game and should be rewarded with the sales to reflect that. If it bombed due to some boycott then they'd just stop making games like that.

Reward quality, avoid crap, the logo on the box really doesn't matter.

Only if they're completely oblivious. Their response to the RealID indicates that they are oblivious only up to a point (after all, they tried to implement it in the first place). Avoiding companies with sh*tty business practices is an honored tradition in this country and its one that should continue. The thing is, of course, that not everyone shares the same opinion of what "sh*tty business practices" means.

NSMike wrote:

So I guess it's as simple as what I value.

Do I value:

- The entertainment I will get out of Starcraft 2 more?
- The quality of the product Blizzard produces more?
- Not endorsing the DRM and privacy policies of the company more?

I think you got the third question wrong. You should not be worrying about endorsing or not endorsing this. Are the DRM and privacy concerns enough to make you not like the game? Because if you can get $60 of enjoyment out of the product despite the DRM and privacy concerns, you buy. If the DRM and privacy concerns are enough to make you not enjoy the game enough to warrant $60, then you don't buy.

I went through my boycott stage for a few year in regards to EA games. They killed the NFL 2K games, and it made me bitter. But the fact is, just seeing that EA logo made me hate a game. I wouldn't enjoy playing it. I eventually got over it, and EA eventually started making great sports games. While I'm still disappointed that EA killed of NFL 2K, I no longer see red when the EA logo pops up. So now I enjoy the good games EA produces, and avoid the bad ones.

In the end, these are just videogames. A successful boycott is not going to make the world a better place.

Jayhawker wrote:

So now I enjoy the good games EA produces, and avoid the bad ones.

In the end, these are just videogames.

That's kind of where I stand, if it's a good game and I think it's worth the price, I'll probably buy it.

Jayhawker wrote:

A successful boycott is not going to make the world a better place.

It should if you do it right.