Published on March 9th, 2013 | by gareth0
Should Gamers Be Given More Rights in the Wake of the SimCity and Aliens: Colonial Marines Launch Issues
With the issues surrounding the recent launches of the latest SimCity and Aliens: Colonial Marines, I have wondered if it’s time to address the issue of gamer’s rights. I’m not talking about good work folks at the Entertainment Consumers Association or ECA as they fight a constant battle with politicians and some retail outlets to ensure that our freedoms to play the games that we wish to are maintained.
Rather I’m thinking of a set of protections for gamers that would require game publishers to be more accountable for their products the way the handle the public.
Far too often a gamer that purchases a title that does not meet expectations has little recourse. Sure they can go online and complain about it to anyone who’ll listen, but far too often they find themselves out the money with only the option to wait for a fixture there problems to arise or to sell the game at a loss online.
In my opinion, when a customer purchases a game they are making an investment in that company, as such they should be entitled to some protection from products that are faulty or not as advertised. As it currently stands choosing not to purchase future titles from a company is about the only recourse consumers have which in some cases is not a practical solution especially when larger companies absorb smaller ones and bring beloved franchises under their corporate logo.
I think the simple and most fair thing to do is to get adopted approach that Sierra used to use for the company was owned by Ken and Roberta Williams. Sierra allowed gamers to return any game that they were unsatisfied with for a full and prompt refund. The only condition was that the gamers had to say why they wanted the refund and what Sierra could have done to make the product better.
To me it is a concept that just makes sense. I know that games have millions of dollars invested in them but to basically ignore your market once you have taken their money is simply deplorable. I have worked at both Sierra and Monolith when I was first starting out as a journalist, and I know firsthand about the politics and internal issues that go into the creation and release of game titles.
I was the quality assurance lead on Tribes 2 and I remember very clearly when we were told it had shipped despite quality assurance refusing to sign off on it as a stable build, I also remember the ensuing chaos of angry and frustrated gamers unwilling to get their game to work, as well as the hours of overtime and weekend shifts ever required to keep up with the gigantic influx of technical support requests. Not to mention the fact that the ill will eventually led to the closure of the Dynamix and Sierra studios.
Maybe I just operate in a world where I expect honesty and integrity from companies, but if you take a customer’s money and release a product that knowingly has issues or is not what you had advertised then you should be legally bound to offer a full refund with no questions asked.
Perhaps I’m naïve but that seems to be the way it works for most businesses. If you obtain a product that is broken, defective, or otherwise not up to your specifications you’re able to get a refund, exchange, or store credit. Companies that have strict return policies often find themselves losing business to those that offer simple and no hassle returns.
For now gamers can only voice their displeasure online, and choose to not purchase a company’s products in the future. But don’t you think that when a certain level of customer dissatisfaction is evident in the title that refund should be given promptly and without requiring negative media backlash and public opinion to do so?