Aside from the aspects of making good choices about individual games, there are also many things to know about the industry and how their decisions affect gaming in general. Developers can be passionate about their games given it's the type of work that allows for personal creativity and direct contact with their fans, and this can lead to some misconceptions and certainly more tolerance from customers about the state of the end product. It's a bit of a phenomenon, but games are not held to the same consumer expectations as other more practical products and gamers therefore readily lay out good money for product that might not be up to par. Paradoxically, even though they will loudly complain about it, they will continue to indulge in the same buying behaviors that encourage bad industry practices. That's because gaming is basically an emotional experience, but in reality, this is at odds with the cold, hard fact that video gaming is a multi-billion dollar business driven by profits.
This often translates into developers themselves having to bow to their publisher's demands and although they can be enthusiastic about their creations, they still have to toe the line on practicalities. At the end of the day, the creators want to be paid and publishers and developers are on deadlines that can often result in releasing unpolished and buggy games. They also want to protect their work and unfortunately, laws governing consumer rights concerning software are grey areas that remain to be challenged. Software companies craft policies and licenses that give them all the advantage and often consumers can be left high and dry if they find the game is not exactly as advertised or it won't run on their system. This can leave you stuck and out of pocket with little recourse, although consumer protection policies are slowly gaining some ground depending on the law of the land.
Often, determining the cause of any given problem is particularly more difficult for PC gaming as individual systems and user errors may or may not be the problem if a game doesn't work. The only avenue you may have is the goodwill of the seller if they are not legally obligated to refund your money. Even if many people are experiencing the same issues, companies have written into their agreements that you cannot bring a class action lawsuit against them. The only real protection for consumers is to avoid making mistakes in the first place by being knowledgeable about the subject.
Although video gaming is supposed to be and is fun, it can also be very frustrating when things go wrong. And with PC gaming in particular, things "are" more likely to go wrong. PCs are like people - each is an individual and developers can't possibly anticipate every single variable. It's popular to discuss system optimization or to complain about the lack of game optimization, but like it or not, what developers and publishers do or don't do isn't the only variable. We also share some responsibility for the health of PC gaming in general and how we respond to industry practices can have an impact. Firstly though, we need to optimize our own practices and learn to avoid basic user errors and misconceptions. The following is a general overview of what to keep in mind in order to minimize as many disappointments, annoyances and costly mistakes as we can.
DRM is a broad term for a piece of encrypted code inserted into software which is supposed to ensure that only those who have purchased the product are able to use it. However, these DRM schemes often seem to hurt the legitimate buyers more than the pirates and can be just as prone to being glitchy as the game. There are different forms of DRM and some are more intrusive than others and may remain on your computer after the game is uninstalled. It's a highly controversial subject and some people won't buy games with any kind of DRM attached to them. However, in this day and age, avoiding some form of DRM is becoming more difficult. At the very least, you can expect online authentication of a key. You should keep in mind the following broad types of DRM and how they may or may not affect your decisions. These are very basic explanations and all have their unique problems. If you want to know more about a specific issue, click on the link or do a search.
The other type of DRM commonly referred to is the requirement to register with a second and even third party client such as Steam, Origin or Uplay in order to register and/or play your game. See GameClients for more detail.
This is a specific DRM used for CD/DVD copyright protection and aims to prevent duplication of the software. By requiring the disc to be in the drive to play the game, it enables it to distinguish between a legal copy and a burnt copy. Securom can also control digital distribution, the number of installations of a game and the number of installations on a specific machine, although it does offer a revoke activation tool for some games. As you can well imagine, this has caused an uproar in the gaming community and some high profile games have suffered over this with people refusing to buy. Bioshock, Mass Effect and Spore are some past examples, although SecuRom has since been downgraded or removed on many of these older games. It has also been controversial as it can remain on your computer even after the game has been uninstalled. Recently, Microsoft issued a security update for Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10 that no longer supports and breaks games that use SecuRom or SafeDisc. Apparently, it is only the disc-based versions of games that are affected and there is a work-around.
This is another form of software copy protection and the game requires Tagès for activation. The Tagès device drivers are installed on the first launch of any Tagès-protected application. There are some compatibility problems with Windows that can cause problems on your computer and the Tagès drivers may need to be updated from their site. Once again, some games have since had this removed.
If a game uses Steamworks and you are not already registered with Steam you will have to install this application when you install the game. This requires an initial online registration, but then you can install the game on as many systems as you want. After this, a physical disc becomes redundant as the game will be available through the Steam client indefinitely. You should read Steam's SSE (Steam Subscriber Agreement) before deciding if it's for you. There are very strict rules about sharing your account, although they have recently introduced family sharing. If you can live with the agreement, you will likely be happy with the many sales, but as with everything, there are Steam lovers and Steam haters and Steamworks is still a form of DRM. However, if you can say nothing else about Steam, at least they are dedicated to PC gaming and have contributed greatly to it's health. (If you're interested in joining Steam, a community member put together a list of games that still include a form of DRM as well as those in which the DRM has been removed in the Steam versions. Over time, this project has evolved into a comprehensive gaming wiki. Kudos to him. See PC Gaming Wiki)
This is an online gaming service for Windows branded PC titles, which enables Windows to connect to this live service. This requires you to have an Xbox live account for online registration. However, if you want to play single-player only, you can register and then choose the option to play off-line. If you do not register, the game will not allow any saves. It was widely rumored that Microsoft would drop GFWL in July of 2014, but that has come and gone and there has been no official announcement by Microsoft. Some former games using this have converted to Steamworks and there is much speculation about what will happen to many other games. It remains to be seen whether developers will keep supporting their games by removing this DRM or whether these games will become defunct. Keep your eye on this one folks if you have or intend to buy GFWL games. GFWL games are also known to cause problems during launch. This is likely caused by outdated versions and may be solved by updating the GFWL client before running your game.
The developer of Denuvo has not revealed how its anti-tampering technology works. They insist this system differs from DRM in that it "prevents the debugging, reverse engineering and changing of executable files," whatever that means. Although cracking groups have seen some success, they admit it has taken much longer and are finding this frustrating. There is also a lot of speculation amongst users concerning whether it shortens the life span of SSD drives, which the company denies. Although Denuvo admits that the technology won't stop the pirates forever, their main concern is protecting games during their first few months after release.
Some games require a constant connection to the server through the Internet. Of course, if you lose connection to the server, you won't be able to play your game, even in single-player mode. In the past, companies such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft were so heavily criticised about this that they had to withdraw it, but now it is cropping up again. The justification given for this is a constantly evolving game world. Although, many users are very resistant to this, some developers are still ploughing forward with this model with the idea that their games will have a longer shelf life and become bigger cash cows.
As of October 2015, always-online games with single player modes that have had dead servers for six months or longer are now exempt from DMCA prohibitions on circumventing copyright protection. Quote "Video games in the form of computer programs embodied in physical or downloaded formats that have been lawfully acquired as complete games, when the copyright owner or its authorized representative has ceased to provide access to an external computer server necessary to facilitate an authentication process to enable local gameplay" This basically means that in the US, at least, it is legal to circumvent any DRM for online games where the server has been shut down.
As well as hardware based DRM that ties your game activation to a certain machine, there could additionally be client based DRM. This means that you must register your CD key with a specific provider in order to launch, play and save your game. Some of these clients include EA/Origin, Steam, Uplay and Xbox Live. For digital copies, some sellers may offer just a simple downloader application, but may also still require one of these clients to actually play it. As an example, if a game uses Steamworks, no matter where you buy it, you will need a Steam account. After registration, these clients may or may not offer an offline mode for single-player games. It is not uncommon to have more than one form of Drm on a single game and it is often difficult to track down just exactly what games have what DRM as publishers and developers are not very forthcoming about it.Basics 3 - Industry Trends covers the current industry trends and the many ways publishers and developers can raid your wallet.
GET EVEN: June 2017
GENRE: Action Horror
STEAM RATING: Very Positive
PREY: May 2017
GENRE: First-person Shooter
STEAM RATING: Very Positive
LITTLE NIGHTMARES: Apr 2017
GENRE: Puzzle Platformer
STEAM RATING: Very Positive
MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA: Mar 2017
GENRE: Action RPG
MODES: Single-player, Multiplayer
METACRITIC RATING: 72