One of the first video games I remember being completely addicted to was Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set on the Apple II. Released in 1983, PCS was one of the first games that relied on user-generated content.
Budge does not enjoy playing video games, and described having to play pinball for months while developing Pinball Construction Set as “sheer torture.” He more enjoyed writing fast graphics libraries for game programmers. Budge said “I wasn’t that interested in playing or designing games. My real love was in writing fast graphics code. It occurred to me that creating tools for others to make games was a way for me to indulge my interest in programming without having to make games.”
I stopped playing Warhammer Online a few months after launch, and that is apparently a good thing as Mythic mistakenly charged some accounts hundreds and hundreds of dollars for their April billing cycle. In an official announcement of the screwup,
As you may be aware, recently some customer accounts were billed multiple times unintentionally. We regret any difficulty this event may have caused you, and we remain dedicated to resolving the issue with our vendors and customers.
As of now we have received confirmation that the charges have been reversed. Depending on your financial institution and when they deposit the refunded charges back to your account it may take up to 3 business days for this refund to be reflected in your statement. To ensure a fast resolution we recommend you contact your financial institution first. For additional information on what you can do and how to seek additional assistance see this post.
Of course reversing charges is nice, but reversing the charges won’t reverse overdraft fees for people who used debit cards for their account. A sample from a forum thread from users who got this lovely surprise,
My account I pay my sub from was billed today for over 500 dollars in 16 dollar increments. the account was overdrawn and with fees and overbilling it was 562.73 total.
And this rather sad post,
22 times on one account, i know you guys will debit the money back into my checking account eventually. I am only a little worried that you will not do this. I do have the same question though, how is it that the money was taken out when we shouldn’t have been billed yet.
also what do i tell my daughter since it is her bday? I had x amount of dollars aside for her party but due to your billing my account after i paid my monthly bills and had 500 paid for taxes yesterday there is nothing left in
what do i tell her?
The grinch stole your birthday sweetheart, it will be ok we still have each other
Another user posted a screenshot of his checking account getting slammed by Mythic (click on graphic to see it at full resolution),
That is some serious fail there. I can’t imagine there won’t be some serious lawsuits over that.
Staci Kramer wrote an interesting take on the fact that Spore was apparently the most heavily pirated game in history — there were an estimated 500,000 downloads of cracked versions of the game from BitTorrent sites. At $50 apiece, Kramer’s take is that Electronic Arts left $25 million on the table in its efforts to make the DRM as draconian as possible.
Normally I’d take something like Kramer’s analysis with a grain of salt. I suspect a very large percentage of folks who downloaded the game from BitTorrent would have done so regardless of the DRM scheme that EA had in place. Moreover, aren’t anti-DRM folks always making the case that illegal downloads can drive real world sales, so EA may in fact pick up customers who download the game, try it out, and decide its worth $50.
That said, it was nice to see how quickly EA backpedaled. First they caved on the ridiculous three install limit. Then they had to switch gears on their one account per registration key nonsense. If they’re smart (and this is EA we’re talking about so who knows) they’ll wait until December and announce a Christmas present patch that removes the Securom DRM which obviously caused so much trouble to all those folks who uploaded crack versions to BitTorrent.
Given the bad publicity, EA would be smart to rethink its approach to DRM in time for the Sims 3 release (currently scheduled for February 29, 2009). That and maybe get WIll Wright to actually finish Spore so its actually a playable game rather than a half-assed tech demo for an amazing set of content creation tools.