Gamer's Bill of Rights

Edge Magazine's Brad Wardell has a great, provocative 10-point Gamer's Bill of Rights that runs the gamut from DRM to quality assurance:
1 Gamers shall have the right to return games that don't work with their computers for a full refund.
2 Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
3 Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game's release.
4 Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
5 Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will adequately play on that computer.
The Gamer's Bill of Rights (via /.)


  1. Aren’t items 2 and 3 in contradiction with each other? Finished games don’t need to be updated. We shouldn’t expect supplemental updates, however appreciated they may be.

  2. This list bugs me for two reasons. One, most of that stuff can be translated into good retail rules for many other types of purchases.

    Two, it’s badly written. I already have the right to “demand that games be released in a finished state.” The right “to demand” is pretty much a given. What they mean is that I have the right “to games released in a finished state.” Same for the rules with “expect” in them.

    11. Gamers have the right to game text that has been passed through editors talented enough to make sure that errors in the copy don’t completely break the fourth wall.

  3. @#1

    They seem contradictory, but in the case where the updates include what are “bonus” items… I dunno, skins, maps, that kind of thing, I can see an argument that the game is complete. Just don’t send me, oh, I dunno, Wolfenstein without Hitler being finished for the ending yet, ok?

  4. The “right to demand” got to me too. We have the right to demand a lot of things that aren’t carried out with games.

    I was disappointed not to see something along the lines of:

    – Gamers have the right to gift or resell games to others when they no longer want them.

    This slightly overlaps with number 9. There are a lot of games lately that require online accounts or activation that prevent you from doing anything with the game when you don’t want it anymore.

  5. @goosetheforce:

    I agree that games shouldn’t require continual updates because they were released unfinished, but I can think of a few situations developers have reasonably not forseen, but be expected to handle.

    ie, supporting NEW (apt, popular) technologies (drivers, operating systems, hardware), guarding against emerging security issues and (with online games) social exploits that ruin everyone’s fun, but only appear well after release.

    (also, I believe this list was specific to PC gaming, if that has any bearing)

  6. The fact that this was released by Stardock Games(Brad works for them), which actually does try to follow these rules, is pretty cool. They famously refuse to put copy protection in their games, saying it treats costumers like criminals and causes compatibility problems, and they’re pretty good about constant content patches as well.

    Its a video game publisher/developer who is on the side of gamers, and they make some pretty good games as well.

  7. This is a solid list, contradictions are not. Even finished games DO require some updates after they have been released.

    Just because a game is finished doesn’t mean there aren’t bugs, its almost impossible to get them all.

    #2 about being released unfinished is not the same as have some bugs or glitches.

    Games have been released in the past that were not even close to being finished (I’m looking at you: Myth Drannor)

    Also consider valve.

    Team Fortress 2 has gotten a grand total of 11+ new maps, 9 new weapons, almost a hundred new achievements, 2 new game modes, plus balance fixes and gameplay fixes, all for free (except on Xbox360, but talk to microsoft about that)

    I like this list, although i agree it could be better written.

  8. As noted above:
    2, 3, and 4 overlap or contradict. If it’s finished, I shouldn’t need to expect meaningful updates. As Chris Rock says, “You go into a restaurant: you’re eating. You leave: you’re not eating anymore. THY DN’T W Y STK.” If I expect meaningful updates, then I can’t be a crybaby if the game self-patches or auto-updates every time I run it.

    1 and 5 should be an either/or. If I buy a game that doesn’t run on my PC, AND my PC meets the minimum reqs, then I should call customer support and try to get it to work, not just stamp my feet and cry. If my computer meets the min reqs and the company can’t get it to work, they should refund my money.

    6, 8, 9, and 10 should be combined. Gamers should not be treated like criminals nor their machines like petri dishes – no rootkits, no hidden software, no checking the internet every time I launch, no demanding I keep the CD in my CD-ROM drive to play (unless they’re going to ship, at cost not MSRP, a new, unscratched disk whenever mine gets damaged? no? didn’t think so)

    So that leaves … 4. If you want your Constituion-imitating 10 “rights,” all I have to say is:


  9. Articles 2 and 3 of the bill of gamers rights are mutually consistent if and only if:

    A. The game contains extra content such as levels, weapons, enemy opponents, etc. pre-written and loaded on the DVD.

    B. That extra content is locked away from most players via a DRM mechanism.

    C. The gamers who want to pay for “meaningful upgrades” purchase a license to access the encrypted content they already rent from the games manufacturer.

    *wonders if he’ll have to license access to his vowels!*

  10. Gee, good luck with that. I can just imagine how publishers will react to being informed of these “rights”, the champagne will squirt right out their noses as they laugh and laugh…

  11. “3 Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.”

    Chess and Go are screwed.

  12. 10. Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

    This is one of the main reasons I stopped buying games, since software costing far more such as photo shop and office do not resort to such measures I fail to see why a £30 game should.

    …of course the other reason being that I became bored of the derivative nonsense coupled with a complete lack of innovation.


    P.S I nearly forgot to mention the graphical rehashes of games I already own, though often far less playable as in the latest incarnation of Soulcalibur. Ignoring the fact my favourite character in game seems to have had two beach balls stuffed up her blouse the AI is really pathetic, every single fight can be won by using the same jumping and throwing attack.

    Even if you choose not to use this method a half hearted button mash will usually have pretty much the same devastating effect.

    25 minutes and having completed the game twice on the top setting I left HMV happy that I had not bought this game on impulse.

  13. “THY DN’T W Y STK”


    Why is this disemvoweled? I had to look it up, and beside the fact that it is in the context of a very poignant piece of humor about divorce, I don’t see anything offensive about writing: “T h e y d o n ‘ t o w e y o u a s t e a k”

    Did someone disemvowel this on their own? Is there any reason?

    As for the whiners writing this drivel about “gamers rights”, omg. It makes me sad to think I’m voting democrat along with the sort of wieners that would right such a thing. You guys are turning me into a conservative with this crap.

    I want the people who wrote this drivel to at least write one video game before they run their mouths. And I agree with the rest of the posters who point out how idiotic it is to have the words “demand”, etc. in the list.

    Bug free software. HAH!

  14. “I want the people who wrote this drivel to at least write one video game”

    Perhaps you missed the part where it was put out by a successful game publisher.

  15. hah, “I want the people who wrote this drivel to at least write one video game before they run their mouths.” Indeed.

    How about: Dungeons Seige I & II, Supreme Commander, Galactic Civilization I & II, Sins of a Solar Empire, The Political Machine.

    Those would be the games Gas Powered and Stardock are best known for, is that good enough for you? They aren’t all stellar hits, but each of those games got great reviews and were a lot of fun to play, and weren’t bogged down by DRM and Spyware. Use Boll even made a movie about one of them (eek)!

    I’m somewhat confused on the comments ripping this list apart, yea its not the best written, but it was written with the best of intention and it was written by gamer developers that actually care about their customers, unlike EA and their ilk that are interested in milking you as best they can and treat every potential customer as a potential criminal.

  16. Heh, I overextended a bit there, yes, and didn’t RTFA. I’ll answer myself a bit more clearly:

    – I think the only way to go about things like this is to simply stop buying crappy games. I play Civ 4 CDless because I got the crack. I’ve bought every version of Civ. They’ve all been buggy and they’ve all required numerous updates.

    – Software developers who made things in 1990 using 16-bit graphics do not impress me. They still have some valid points

    – I’m glad Chris Rock’s thing was disemvoweled because it made me search and read his cool joke.

    – I’m not going to RTFA.

  17. Hahah. Man, I’m so stoned.

    “Galactic Civilization” != “Civ”

    I’m going to go sling some shitty code now.

  18. Agh, I can’t stop. I just can’t.

    One thing about those games you listed: I never played them and barely heard about them.

    Also, my career has been spent writing software, much of it bug free, some of it not.

    I did RTFA, which was very thin, and still feel the same way: This is a cheapening of the notion of a Bill of Rights. Just don’t buy games you don’t agree with and stop buying from EA if you expect the game to be GTA 4, which itself is awesome but has many bugs on the 360.

    I’m sorry that in trying to express my gut feeling about this I’ve been making these mistakes, but hey, it’s the internet and I don’t mind seeming stupid here.

  19. If I didn’t mind I wouldn’t be continuing my posts. I mind, but only in the sense that I want you, dear reader, to walk away with some sense of satisfaction. Perhaps outrage.

    My posts since my first BBS entry have always contained some degree of trollish-ness, as does much of my day to day conversation. I’m an individual of too many words or so many words you are able to see a bigger picture, or both.

    I love contradictions and I love video games. I play 4-8 hours a day on such buggy, minimum-system suckage games as: Civ 4, Lord of the Rings Online, WoW, Halo 2 and 3, GTA 4 (mostly online GTA race – look for Neural Quanta), this goofy but addictive web game called Ikariam, etc.

    I’ve had my share of frustrations at poorly released games, but I understand the issue: THEY ARE TRYING REALLY HARD TO PUSH THE EDGE OF WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH SOFTWARE WHILE ALSO MAKING MONEY.

    I really don’t give a shit if some -game- causes you trouble. If this software were responsible for the micro-machine cutting away at your brain, yeah, I’d care a lot more.

    A Patient’s Bill of Rights is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than some goofy Gamer’s Bill of Rights.

    I think DRM is a joke. Our company uses two types of licenses, both of which are just accounting when it comes right down to it, and do not make it hard for any serious hacker to steal our dozens of thousands of dollars per license software. But it does make our government customers happy when they can easily point to their license as proof they have paid for the software, likewise many of our commercial integration partners.

    I still think it is silly and agree with any and all points related to DRM in consumer games.

    I just think calling something a “Gamers Bill of Rights” is t3h ghe3y.

  20. #19 – “Software developers who made things in 1990 using 16-bit graphics do not impress me. They still have some valid points”

    ?? I don’t even understand that – yea Galactic Civ 1 came out in the early 90s, but that’s it from that list.

    Dungeon Siege games were first released in 2002. Supreme Commander early 2007 (for PC, a couple months ago on 360) – though its still used as a graphics card benchmark. Sins of a Solar Empire and the most recent Political Machine were released within the last year, Sins was very successful, was #2 selling PC game when it came out – and it was released the same time as Call of Duty 4, it stayed in the top 10 for a long time.

  21. The last game I played that required the CD in the drive was Diablo II – and considering that it was primarily to control the number of characters on the *free* internet server, I don’t really blame them for that. As long as you gave someone the code with the CD, you were still free to sell it or whatever.

    Similarly, I expect updates – and therefore, an updater which I need to run – from games which are played online. They are there to correct balance issues and exploits which arise or are discovered after release. I appreciate patches when bugs are discovered for offline games – but that entails a patcher/internet check too, inherently. I don’t expect free content updates or patches on a console game, so why should it be different on PC?

    So basically, DRM bad, disc-in-drive-must-match-code is not entirely unreasonable for online-access-free stuff, but ought to be restricted to install for offline/paid-online-access stuff, and *offline* games with patchers should probably give you the option to turn the patcher off. And yeah, a game ought to be “complete” when released, but can anyone actually cite an example where this wasn’t done? The rest of this is self-contradictory.

  22. “The last game I played that required the CD in the drive was Diablo II”

    The last one I played was Bioshock, and there’s no online content to that whatsoever. It may seem like there aren’t any recent games that require a CD, but they’re out there.

    “And yeah, a game ought to be “complete” when released, but can anyone actually cite an example where this wasn’t done?”

    How do you mean complete? Do you mean storywise? KOTOR 2 had holes you could drive a truck through; a child could see that they cut the story down drastically. Do you mean playability? DE:IW was patched so that it wasn’t a direct port of the console’s (horrible) interface. Do you mean in terms of actually being a working piece of software? There’s a bunch of games on the 360 and PS3 recently that were unplayable without a hastily released patch. Bully comes to mind. And there’s PC games that are released that are basically impossible to run at any reasonable setting without spending several thousand dollars on a brand new machine (I’m looking at you, Crysis).

    “1 Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.”
    I think this should be amended to say “that don’t work with their computers for a reason other than not fulfilling resource requirements.”

    If the game chokes and dies because of some esoteric incompatibility that affects .1% of computers, fine, refund it. But if it’s because the frame rate sucks, well, the specs are right there on the box.

  23. I was disappointed not to see something along the lines of:

    – Gamers have the right to gift or resell games to others when they no longer want them.

    Given the author, that’s no great surprise. Stardock is somewhat morally ambiguous – on the one hand, they have come out against “DRM”. On the other hand, they’re heavily in favour of internet-based activation systems as a mechanism for preventing an after-market in games, and use a system like this in all their products.

    I’m not really sure what they define as “DRM”. It clearly isn’t the same as what I mean when I use the term.

  24. DRM = digital rights management. So, it’s a way to manage digital rights. It can mean anything that follows along those lines.

  25. #1 is why hubby no longer shops at Worst Buy. Game packaging was erroneously labeled as “Compatible with Windows XP” but turned out to be uninstallable. That was the last $19.95 they ever got from us.

  26. Two more:
    * Gamers shall have the right to return games that looked interesting on the box, but turned out to be complete garbage.
    * Gamers shall have the right to access accurate reviews – ones that aren’t tainted by the reviewer’s need to stay on the good side of the game manufacturers in order to keep getting advance copies of further games to review.

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