Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 23, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 23, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Gamer's Bill Of Rights Revised, Stardock Elaborates DRM Stance
Gamer's Bill Of Rights Revised, Stardock Elaborates DRM Stance
October 16, 2008 | By Chris Remo

October 16, 2008 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

Publisher and developer Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire, Galactic Civilizations II) has released an update to its Gamer's Bill of Rights, a ten-point list of PC gaming consumer principles it first announced in August.

The interim update, contained in a comprehensive internal customer report [PDF] released to the public, rewords each of its ten original declarations to include less ambiguity. The new bill is as follows:

1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that are incompatible or do not function at a reasonable level of performance for a full refund within a reasonable amount of time.
2. Gamers shall have the right that games they purchase shall function as designed without defects that would materially affect the player experience.
3. Gamers shall have the right that games will receive updates that address minor defects as well as improves gameplay based on player feedback within reason.
4. Gamers shall have the right to have their games not require a third-party download manager installed in order for the game to function.
5. Gamers shall have the right to have their games perform adequately if their hardware meets the posted recommended requirements.
6. Gamers shall have the right not to have any of their games install hidden drivers.
7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest version of the games they purchase.
8. Gamers whose computers meet the posted minimum requirements shall have the right to use their games without being materially inconvenienced due to copy protection or digital rights management.
9. Gamers shall have the right to play single player games without having to have an Internet connection.
10. Gamers shall have the right to sell or transfer the ownership of a physical copy of a game they own to another person.

Stardock claims the document "is still being discussed with various publishers" with the intention "to provide more precision in what is and isn't acceptable." Still, the company says it has received "an amazing level of support from the publisher and developer community."

Also included in the report is a two-page explanation of the company's stance on digital rights management. Though CEO Brad Wardell is famously opposed to restrictive DRM, the pages attempt to clearly delineate the distinction between unreasonable gamer expectations and reasonable grievances.

For example, Stardock claims an "illegitimate complaint" is decrying DRM that "keeps people from installing the program on as many PCs as they own." After all, it goes on to say, "I own an office full of PCs. I don’t think Microsoft would be happy if I installed Office on all of them."

On the other hand, a "legitimate complaint" would be "having an arbitrarily low limit on personal activations," which "makes the program feel like it’s being rented."

Similarly legitimate in Stardock's eyes is the notion that "a program should not be installing drivers or other hidden files on the system that use system resources."

For more details on Stardock's business and development plans, peruse its full 2008 customer report [PDF].

Related Jobs

Nexon America, Inc.
Nexon America, Inc. — El Segundo, California, United States

Localization Coordinator
Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

University of Texas at Dallas
University of Texas at Dallas — Richardson, Texas, United States

Assistant/Associate Prof of Game Studies — Hunt Valley, Maryland, United States

Lead UI Engineer


Maurício Gomes
profile image
Whoohooo! Each time I love more those guys o/

profile image
Brad is backpedalling a bit there, but it's still way better than EA's and Ubi's BS.

Andy Ross
profile image
Hmm, I generally agree but the overuse of terms such as "reasonable" seems to offer a lot of wiggle room for unscruplous types.

How do you define whether or not a game performs "adequately" for a given gamer on a given system? Surely it comes down to personal judgement or expectation?

profile image
@Ross: I think that's the point though - that, overall, a game should provide a pleasant experience. I don't think anyone would really try to say that every system should run a Crysis-like game on high everything. Rather, I believe they're trying to say that someone should expect that a high end system should run a game fair well; a game should be clear and obvious why it may or may not need X gHz or Y graphics card. If someone has a computer that runs Crysis at 75 FPS and yet another game mysteriously runs at 15 FPS, they're going to be upset.

Andy Ross
profile image
@Anon: That's true, but what happens if you have a Crysis-style game and an absolutely awesome PC that should be able to walk all over it and the game runs at 30fps on medium settings? I wouldn't exactly call that "adequate" because I expect my high-end PC to chew it up, yet somebody else may call that adequate simply because it is playable at that frame rate and detail.

Also, what happens if 30fps on the lowest graphics settings (which may be so bad as to be nigh-on unworkable) is deemed "adequate" by the publisher for the given spec?

My point is simply that "adequate", for all it's necessary vagueness, isn't going to work.

Bart Stewart
profile image
I didn't care much for Sins of a Solar Empire. As an RTS game it's not "strategic," and even if it were the real-time aspect would kill any hope for any strategic thinking.

That said, I bought a copy of Sins (and played it), and I'll buy pretty much anything Stardock publishes. Because I so strongly support their positions on being PC-focused, on DRM, on performing as advertised, on being able to play a single-player game without an Internet leash, and on not restricting secondary sales, I'm ready to do my small bit to support not just their individual games but Stardock as a company.

Having those rules doesn't guarantee that every game developed or published by Stardock will be a winner. It just improves the odds.

In these days, that's worth supporting.

(I would still like to know what's happening with Society, though.)

Sean Parton
profile image
@Andy Ross: And like any agreement that establishes expected conduct between two parties, there will be proper legalese documentation spanning about a dozen pages that will better define these terms. It'll likely be similar to what the IGDA has done for crediting in games (15 pages and it's still "Beta"):

@Bart Stewart: Keep in mind that a good portion of their sales is all digital, meaning you have no right to resale. Despite it not being DRM, digital sales still removes that right from you (which is one of the major complaints of DRM), and some people still complain about it. As far as I'm concerned, nuts to the naysayers because I still believe in what Stardock is doing, but just FYI.

Corey Navage
profile image
This is what #8 used to be: 8) Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.

Now its: 8. Gamers whose computers meet the posted minimum requirements shall have the right to use their games without being materially inconvenienced due to copy protection or digital rights management.

It looks like Stardoc's lawyers got involved and now we won't be getting all the 'rights' we thought we were getting.

I absolutely SHOULD be allowed to install any purchased game onto as many PCs as I wish. If I buy a movie, I can watch it on any TV I own. If I buy a book, I can read it in any chair I own. If I buy a gallon of gas I can put it in my car, lawnmower, weed wacker or any other engine I own. Software should be no different!

Thanks for trying Stardoc, but you let industry pressure pull you back into the norm. :(

I look forward to the day when we gamers will finally be able to enjoy our hobby without having to (repeatedly) prove we aren't criminals.

Michael Gehri
profile image
Corey Navage, you're kinda right, but your analogy has many flaws. As a developer I don't mind users installing a game on there own computers, such as there home PC, Laptop, or even a work computer... As long as the user is playing the game on one computer at a time, and not sharing it out to other people having multiple games running at the same time...

I wish publishers would do network installs much like the early Need For Speed games. If you have a game that you can play over a home network, you could install a network only version on other computers. So if you install the game on your main PC, the other computers on your LAN could join you not needing the disk. The network installs were basically setup to only be a game lobby and no single player or host ability. They could only join a game hosted by someone with a full install.