4 December 2008

GTA 4 Clusterf*ck...

Looks like GTA 4 is a crappy, buggy mess for a lot of people. Rockstar issued a brief statement saying:

Hey guys,

We are aware that a small number of fans are having problems running GTA IV on their PC’s and we would like to assure them we are working to help solve these as quickly as possible.

We would ask anyone that is encountering difficulties to contact their local technical support helpline for advice and recommendations. These telephone numbers can be found in the game’s manual.

There is also a regularly updated technical support page available on the Rockstar Games website http://www.rockstargames.com/support/ where there are many useful faqs and information on how to resolve some common problems being encountered.



Of course, none of those support lines are free of charge....

The main problem i see here is that there are two separate issues. The first is the most stupid and that is having to rely on three separate programmes to be able to play the game:

  • Securom activation
  • Games for Windows Live!
  • Rockstar Social Club
Each and every one of these three things has to have zero conflicts to be able to play the full game. Now, i've said elsewhere on the internet that it seems likely (i.e. a high probability) that one or more of these services can fail or be taken offline or whatever.... I guess the fact that i was always bad at statistics means that i have some real-world grasp of how things are likely to happen as opposed to the multiples of failure probabilities (i'd add those three up there rather than multiply their probability factors).

The second issue is that they released the game half a year later than the console versions and it's incredibly buggy. Who's going to buy a game that came out on consoles half a year ago? The people who primarily play on PC or big Rockstar fans. So, to curb piracy and to show that it's worth waiting and playing on PC you release a super DRM-laden, bloatware-laden (and i never usually use that term but when you have to install two extra programmes it's ridiculous) and buggy game what do you expect to happen?

It's possible that multiple patches will be released.... however their track record is not good on PC. Bully received no patches (at least not that i could find), San Andreas got one patch, Vice City also got one patch and the original GTA 3 got no patches.

People of course want refunds. However, as i've pointed out before - games consumers have no voice - they have no power to vote with their wallet because of some unspoken conspiracy to be unable to return games no matter how defective or bad.

Of course, for people who bought it through Valve there is some chance of getting a refund... just not very likely:

"It's a hit or miss depending on who recieves your ticket, and how you present your case. Some people have been getting their refunds, some people haven't."

"I've been denied a refund for games that do not work on my computer two times now.

From what I understand, and have been told is "We do not give refunds for digital purchases.""

It also turns out that Valve operate on a "one-time courtesy" policy for third party products - meaning that if you do manage to get a refund for this game there's pretty much zero chance of managing to get that other crappy and buggy game refunded.

No other industry is like this.... only the service industry and even then they are fully accountable because you hold a service account with them and can switch to other, similar services if they are treating you badly.... it's a shambles and each time it happens i'm coming that much closer to shutting down my PC for good. I bet a lot of other people are too.

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