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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 dont 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 its 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].

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