The Marianas Trench


This evening on the Geek Infusion, Matthew talks about the widening gap that seems to be appearing between player and game in the current market.

More after the break.

I was sitting in my living room today, watching my favourite TV show, The West Wing, when I got a text from a friend of mine. His name is Mike, and you can find him at his film review blog over here.

We talk about a lot of things, as he’s my best mate, and I brought the conversation around to video games, as I do. I had been going through my Twitter feed, you see, and stumbled across a tweet by Jim Sterling. He is a rather well known game reviewer for both the Escapist and Destructoid.

I love Jim. I love his wit. I love his charm. I love that he doesn’t care what you think of him, he’s going to tell you the truth, as he sees it, even if it makes you cry. Thank God for Jim.

As he usually does, he made a point about Ubisoft. Now, Jim has a particular history of not caring for Ubisoft’s business practices, and who can blame him. They make my favourite game series (Assassin’s Creed), but one could generally call their approach to their player base as just that. Base.

And now we are going one step further. As mentioned by the estimable Mr. Sterling, Ubisoft is pulling itself out of Steam on the PC, instead forcing us to use the dreadful Uplay as our method for downloading their games to our PCs.

I mentioned this to Mike, who plays PC exclusively, and he derided the choice, saying “Why not? Uplay works so well.” This was sarcasm of course, and I knew it.

Uplay is one of those programs. You know, those ones that imitate Steam, all the while being way less user friendly, and so constricting in their usage so as to border on obsessive.

When I sit down at a PC, which is not often for gaming, I want to be able to click on icon and be launched into the game. This sort of thing, Uplay, Origins etc. is adding another layer of opposition between myself, my gaming library and my enjoyment thereof. It’s one of the primary reasons I continue to game on a console.

The question is “why”?

Why are game companies forcing us to do this?

I suppose on argument is that they don’t like the idea of having to pay Valve, a direct competitor, for what amounts to shelf-space in the valve store, but if that’s the case then you may as well cut out brick-and-mortar shops like EBGames, Walmart, and Best Buy.

No, what it comes down to is a shoddy form of control. You want to play our games? You’re going to do it using our software and under our constraints.

EA pulls this kind of crap all the time. Look at the new Sim City. A single-player experience, but unless you install Origins, even if you’ve purchased a physical copy of the game, you’re screwed. It won’t work. End of discussion. The same can be said of nearly all Bioware games. And it’s directly responsible for my purchasing Mass Effect for console instead of playing it on PC.

And this is on top of the Always Online requirement that Sim CIty has. But let’s be honest, Blizzard has been pulling this kind of crap too. Diablo is a single player game, but God forbid your internet connection goes out.

I find this whole situation to be intrusive. It’s like having Big Brother in my computer. Which, frankly, already happens due to my UK Visa. But enough is enough.

I don’t want to use your shoddy, knock-off distribution and DRM software. I have Steam already. It does a good job, it has all my games in one spot, it has the Forge, allowing me to download add-ons from the community to further enrich my game-play experience.

Add this to the ludicrous point system that both Origins and UPlay are guilty of using.

Granted, Achievement Points don’t normally do anything, and at least Uplay lets you trade them in for DLC. (This is a plus, one which I’m glad to still have access to on my PS3 and Xbox One.)

But, sadly, if you’re a PC gamer and you’re wanting to play Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, Unity or Farcry 4, you’re going to be using Uplay exclusively. Granted, it boots up when you run any Ubisoft game from Steam regardless.

All this to say, I suppose, is that I’m annoyed. I simply want to be able to play. And, in this regard, consoles are always going to be superior to PC, and that’s just sad. It should be just as simple with a PC, but developers are petrified of the pirate, and they seem to think this is the only way to combat the problem.

I can think of several other ways, the first of which springs to mind is to break the game. If the game detects that it’s priated, have it be unplayable. There are several games that do this already. They prevent the player from finishing the game. It’s not right to punish a whole community for the actions of a few.

The last thing gamers need is a gulf between them, and their hobby.

Thank you very much, and have a good evening.


The Marianas Trench

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