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When Developers You Love Work With Publishers You Hate: Part 1 Bioware And EA

There are several video game developers who have unbroken strings of great games.  Anything game put out by Blizzard, Irrational Games, or Bungie can be counted on to please their fans, and get spectacular ratings.  Unfortunately these developers are only part of the team that brings a game to market.  They have to work with a Publisher.  Where the Developer is the group of artists and programmers who make a game, the Publisher is the company that promotes, distributes and funds the development of that game. 

Publishers have to make a lot of the hard choices about a game; they generally set the budget, the release date, and have to decide how to deal with anti-piracy.  Limiting the budget or development period can turn a potentially great game into a mediocre one.  Even worse, choosing the wrong kind of anti-piracy software can turn the joy of starting a new game into a frustrating experience that makes players ready to vomit with rage.

Those of you who follow Player Affinity’s “Weekly Sales” updates might remember that I recently recommended the Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition, which was developed by Bioware, and published by Electronic Arts.  I’m a huge Bioware fan, though I buy products published by EA reluctantly.  Dragon Age is a great game, and the Ultimate Edition contains all of the Expansions and DLC.  The only problem is the anti-piracy meddling that comes with it. 

When you install any recent game made by Bioware, you need to register it through your Electronic Arts account, which is a minor hassle, but forgivable.  The real trouble comes from the fact that all of your DLC has to be “Authorized” for that account as well.  This would also be a minor annoyance, if the authorization software actually worked. 
A quick glance at Bioware’s forums reveals that there is a widespread problem in that people who buy and install the Dragon Age DLC find that they aren’t “Authorized” to play it.  There are pages and pages on the forums with various ways to fix the many causes of this problem.

My own experience with it required me to uninstall one program with the control panel, then open my command prompt to manually delete a hidden file, and finally download a new file.  Sadly, my troubles are not unique, or even rare. The forums at Bioware are flooded with posts by exasperated gamers in the same situation.

We should all be glad that EA has put Bioware in a position where they can keep bringing us games, but players should never have to bring up their command console to get a game running.  Unfortunately, fans have to put up with this sort of thing if they want to play games published by Electronic Arts, and casual consumers probably don’t even know what they’re in for before buying the game.

Publishers, of course, have the right to demand that players deal with DRM, or register our games with online accounts, and if players don’t like that, they can just not buy the game.  The only real protest is to refuse to buy a game you’d love, just to bite the hand feeding your favorite developer.

How about you, have you refused to buy a game just to avoid the publisher’s shenanigans?  Tell us in the comments section below.


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