Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Registration Rage

GTA IV is one of the biggest culprits. My copy is activated through Steam and Games For Windows Live. Rockstar Social Club is thrown in for good measure.
When Steam came into my life, sometime in 2004 it was as welcome as a sequel to Daikatana. It came with Half-Life 2, and the only reason I was willing to put up with it was because it came with Half-Life 2. I would have provably have accepted a root canal if it came with Half-Life 2. But in an age where DVD where not yet common and the average PC game started using four Compact Discs and making a mess of your filing system, Steam began to be a bit more welcome. Especially because publishers thought it would be an excellent idea to force paying customers to play with a disk in their drive. Pirates and savvy gamers just used a cracked exe file, while everyone else had to juggle CD's on their fingers.
But it wasn't until the Orange Box that I actually started using Steam for more then just launching Valve games. While playing Portal and Team Fortress 2, I started noticing the sales Steam offered. And some of them were so much cheaper then buying from a store that I managed to overcome my crippling fear of changes and new things, and actually buy games digitally. Later that year I bought a new computer and was delighted to discover how easy it was to reinstall all those steam games again, even without the original disks. As my Steam library grew, I started to like Steam more and more. I met some friends through it and kept contact with old ones through it. Today, it is always open on my computer and a reliable friend in my life as a gamer.
Other services try to emulate Steam. I had three games on Impulse, most notably Galactic Civilizations 2. But I had no friends there and the games on sale were usually not my cup of tea. Then came the horrible "Games For Windows Live", a service I already complained about in my Bioshock 2 post. It had certainly not improved since and since I tend to encounter it in games already on Steam, it remains unnecessary and useless. "Rockstar Social Club" is another failed attempt to capture my attention, but thankfully it has the decency to include an option to "Play Offline", which is the reason I don't need to know about its functionality. If I registered I would be able to play L.A. Noire and GTA 4 online, I barely played GTA 4 by myself and Noire needs an online play as much as a Aquaman would need a submarine. Blizzard still tries to lift up BattleNet beyond its humble and unobtrusive roots with mixed success. But at least it's only relevant to the 5 games Blizzard intends to release this decade.
And now comes Origin. From a company too big to like and too devious to trust. EA provably plans to lure players with popular games like Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect 3, the same way Steam wormed into our hearts with Half-Life 2. One obvious problem is that Steam had no competitors at the time of it's launch as a digital distribution platform, and it has taken it about four years to become relevant. EA thinks it can pull the same trick a decade after the fact and facing a dominant service that managed to endear itself to players. Another problem is that EA has a horrible public persona. Justified or not, they are viewed with suspicion and scrutiny. And a few questionable lines in the EULA do not encourage me to trust them more.  Vavle felt that the big publishers exploited Half-Life's success and didn't always paid the designers their due. Steam was their attempt to shake of the yolk of publishers like EA. It was also introduced shortly after a crippling security breach which leaked Half-Life 2 and postponed its development.
EA has had no such troubles, they are a big company wanting to become even bigger. And their record of mishandling developers, properties and players isn't something to be proud of. Even the name "Origin", reminds of that brilliant developer of the same name. A developer house that brought us Wing Commander and Ultima, and then was lost in EA's ever expanding maw.
I will give EA the opportunity to surprise me. And I hope that if it fail, it wont go the "Games For Windows Live" route of continuing to shove Origin fruitlessly where it is unwanted.

No comments:

Post a Comment