EA Patches SimCity and Throws Free Games at Disgruntled Customers

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dukki7

I both pay for games and download shared copies. I am the person that you're trying to convince to pay for the game instead of dl it. I'm your pirate problem. Those who never pay for games shouldn't matter to you because they're not a lost sale, I however, am.

I'd like to give you an honest look at my motivations, because the changes I suggest will benefit us both.

First, I don't want any DRM software running on my system. Simply for the reasons that these are additional processes, slurping additional cycles off my processor and if an internet connection is required, that then requires I install a browser, AV Anti-Spyware, all sucking power from my game. So, my motivation in this instance is, I wish to play this game, without these processes, so therefore, I'll download a cracked copy from sharing. When Rockstar released GTA4 with the above listed requirements, I counted over 70,000 seeds/peers sharing 1 file that was already cracked just 3 days later. The DRM did nothing but drive people like me to download. RS released a patch that removed the Rockstar Social Club DRM requirements and I purchased a copy from Best Buy so I could enjoy the patches and improvements RS had released. This is key.

Why worry about patches? If you release a game in v 1.0, someone will isolate, crack and upload v 1.0 of your game to file sharing. If you choose to release v 1.1, the 'someone' will have to re-crack the game with the v 1.1 installed. Because, if a user tries to patch the hacked dl version, the hacked install will stop working. The reason why this is key? I WILL pay for a game who's patches repair serious problems or add fantastic new gameplay. I don't want to have to crack a new version 7 times, I'd rather pay. Look at Fallout 3. Versions 1.0-1.4 at least had problems with random crashes. That's 4 different cracks and uploads. I bought the game to avoid downloading it over and over, it runs great, offline, just like I wanted.

So, here's your to do list:

-Your #1 job is connecting your paying customer to his or her game as unobtrusively as possible, THAT is your #1 job EA. Your security on Sims demonstrates that the pirates are your #1 priority. You need to say "our paying customer experience is #1 and all other decisions use this priority as their basis". Rockstar realized this and GTA4 was still a huge commercial success after they pulled the online reqs.

-Abandon internet connection required play for single player games. You can spend all the $$ you want, other games tried and they all failed at the 'always-online' DRM model. Security is always reactive, someone has probably already cracked your new stupid, crappy Sims game.

-Focus on patches. As I discussed above, if you offer significant incentive to patch your games, people are more likely to buy them. However, a strong, obtrusive DRM scheme will destroy this advantage.

-You probably don't believe that sales can be driven by announcing that your patching your game to remove DRM. But I sure do buy games that do, not just because of the removal of processes, but I agree with the decision to give ownership of the game to the customer that paid for it.

Hope you listen, I love your games.

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h e x e n

DRM killed this game.

I was going to purchase SimCity until I found out about the DRM. No sale.

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praack

sorry they lost me on Always on DRM for Single Player

i am playing by myself- don't need anyone else involved thanks, don't need the internet involved, thanks, don't need internet cloud save, thanks, don't need......

so when EA decides the game is not worthy of keeping around because they want you to buy the new SimCity and cut servers by 80% - i don't need an error code telling me i cannot connect

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schmag

I remember when I was in college a roommate had purchased a game called motor city online. this was a good game, being the wannabe gearheads we were we really enjoyed this game. anyway... once EA was done with this child it promptly put it to bed and offered their subscribers a free game in replacement. (the sims anyone) now who thought a person upgrading tweaking and racing a classic car wanted to tell some sim to go to the bathroom.....
I was REALLY looking forward to another sim city, I really wanted this game. but I won't buy it. I bought bf3, another good game, but severely expensive headache as well. for the months/full year, I have owned it I don't know if I have been able to play an evening trouble free. (I am sure there are some).
sim city 4 it is I suppose.

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silverblack

Well all this talk of Simcity has given me a major itch for city building. So broke out my old copy of Simcity 2000, googled a fix and got it to play in 64-bit Windows 7.

I guess I could always pick up Simcity 4 on Steam at some point. Though that would still mean giving EA money.

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John Pombrio

One thing that was not mentioned here is that the game play has been rated quite poorly by reviewers playing the final code. The cities are locked into a very small city space without any way to expand the borders. I mean like REALLY small. The power, water, and sewer "agents" can be wonky by skipping a piece of the town arbitrarily for quite a long time. There are huge constraints in improving the road system once built (just try to make the roads wider, just try) or to get them to connect properly. Finally, zooming in to street level and following a sim around is fun for all of a minute or so and should NOT be any sort of reason to buy the game.
There are a lot of youtube videos of folks playing the final game and really bitching how Simcity takes some huge leaps backwards in gameplay.
Oh yeah, there is also the DRM issue.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

You have to wonder how much better the game would have been if time and money spent on the DRM had been instead devoted to actual game design and QA.

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basketcase87

40x the server performance? From my understanding their server performance is currently approaching zero. I wonder if any geniuses over there have done the math on 40 x 0...

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Pyrophorics05

Between DRM, game prices, cash shop for all games (future), the companies arrogance and my large library of unplayed games ... I am done with EA.

Sure, I will miss out on a number of great games, however I will also miss out on even more frustration. Maybe I will pickup some of their games after they make it where they belong, the sub $25 bin.

As far as refunds, I lack the patience or interest to go for one. However, their POS TOS or whatever it's called does not absolve our rights nor does it wave EA's responsibilities. The ONLY reason any company should feel secure with their agreement's is due to their intimidating army of lawyers, not the law.

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Master__shake

once again a company is punishing people who bought their game and doing nothing to inhibit pirating.

lets face it eventually everything gets pirated.

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FireGarden

I agree. It irritates me so much!

I was a member of Audible for a while - but their DRM was so limiting and annoying for a genuine customer. I had to use software to 'illegally' remove the DRM because I use a Sony MP3 player (not supported by Audible) - which was a nuisance because it practically did it in real time. A thirty hour audio book would take thirty hours to remove the DRM!! I quit my membership telling them why, and now I do occasionally download audio-book torrents illegally. These companies are so stupid. Treating genuine customers like criminals is a sure fire way to make them look for a more convenient solution.

I don't actually download movies and TV shows, but I sometimes will download .avi files of programs or movies I already own - just because it is easier (and sometimes quicker) than messing about trying to decrypt a DVD and then convert it to an AVI. Another case of DRM being a pain in the ASS!!

I feel a bit better now! I just wish companies weren't so freakin' stupid. I'm more than happy to pay for things I use (like most people) - I just don't want it restricted once I own it.

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roy2115

So if I were to run out now and get the game and register before the 18 Mar deadline, I'd be entitled to a free game? I see one of two possibilities here.

1) EA didn't think about the fact that they would be offering a free game to people who buy the game after the initial backlash.

2) This is another ploy to get more people to buy the game and get it quick.

What's stopping me from buying the game knowing that it will be fixed eventually? It retails for $60. There is no reason that PC games should cost this much. Console games cost $60, and their reasoning is that publishers have to pay a fee to Microsoft, Sony, etc... So why are we now seeing some PC games reaching these prices? Sorry, I'll wait till the price comes down a bit.

I remember buying Command and Conquer Generals and BF2 the first week that they came out, and I got them for $40. That was the way things worked back then, drop the price $10 the first week before the price goes up to the normal MSRP. Well those days are long gone.

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dgrmouse

They don't say which game they're giving away. It might be something awful, it might vary from one user to the next, etc.

The comparison to prices of old is even more skewed when you factor in packaging and distribution costs. It cost a huge amount of money to make those big, fancy, eye-grabbing boxes of old, and it took a lot of resources to move them to stores and so forth. There was also more risk involved in regards to inventory management. Really, digital copies should be much cheaper than pressed discs.

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someuid

After botching something like this so horribly, a free game is all they can come up with?

How about the public firing of the yokel who decided this game design mechanic was a good idea.

How about a change in the company's game design methodology.

How about refunds for a clearly defective product.

I tell you, the list of good games in strinking fast. Either the game is total crap or the company behind it is so f'ing evil and cruel I feel disgusting when I give them my cash.

At this rate, the only games I'll still be playing in a few years are Minecraft and EVE Online.

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lostcause64

Makes me so glad I stopped playing EA games back when BF2 was the big thing...

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LGA1156

Its like carnival cruise lines offering a voucher for another free cruise after having to poop in a bucket for 4 days in the heat. lol

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PCWolf

As a owner of Diablo 3, I can attest to how annoying & disgusting Online DRM is. Every Tuesday when Blizzard shuts down their servers, my Game no longer works because it cant call home. I feel like I don't own the game, just Renting it. & the day when Blizzard shuts down the servers for good, my game will die with it. Online DRM should be outlawed! Or at least, a Company who is going to shut down a games DRM server must, BY LAW, patch the game so it can be played offline.

People face this threat even with Movies as Servers are required to update encryption keys for Blu-Ray disks. All thanks to our sold out Government who cares more about the rights of their corporate mistresses than the people they are supposed to be serving.

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West996

Until Blizzard does shut down the servers to Diablo III and DOES NOT patch it so it can be played solo you really have nothing to complain about.

I have a feeling if this were to happen, which is just a big paranoid driven 'what if' at this point, by the time it did happen you will have long ago uninstalled Diablo III from your computer.

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dgrmouse

West said, "Until Blizzard does shut down the servers to Diablo III and DOES NOT patch it so it can be played solo you really have nothing to complain about."

You're ever so wrong here. It is my understanding that Diablo 3 is loaded with micro-transactions via the auction house mechanic, and that they use a huge amount of computing power tweaking your drop rates such that they're going to maximize their extraction of money from you. As someone who played a lot of Diablo 2, always offline, the notion that I would always get poor quality loot in D3 because the game felt I'd spring for goods in the auction house is absolutely repugnant.

Gamers, as a rule, don't want social networking and other online features built into their single-player games, and I think the original poster does in fact have plenty to complain about.

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West996

Lol and out come the tin foil hats.

Two things I picked up in your post that tell me all I need to know is "It is my understanding", "as somone who played a lot of Diablo 2".

That tells me you've never played Diablo III. The drop rates are just fine.

What you are not taking into account, and this isn't surprising since you don't play the game, is that Blizzard does not sell any of the loot themselves on the Real Money Auction House. It is all player sold.

Blizzard makes its money by charaging a flat fee + a percentage on your successful auction. So blizzard's revenue is directly perportionate to the amount of loot being found and put up on the Auction House for others to buy.

My brother has been playing Diablo III off and on since its release and he has made over $1000 from selling items in the Auction House. So there is just as much potential for playesr to make money which in tern makes Blizzard money.

So you may not be speaking for all players when you say they don't want these things built into their games.

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West996

I think that the game is going to be fine and once they get the servers under control everyone will be happy with it.

That being said, what I am surprised about is that everyone is surprised. Now I am not saying this is the customer's fault, but if you want to avoid the frustration, do you research and act accordingly.

I too have been excited for this game. I didn't buy it yet though. Why?

Because I bought Battle Field via digital download and that release was terrible too. After that I said I would never buy another game from EA or Origin.. until I saw Sim City coming out.. I knew I would have to buy it, but I had no illusions of being able to play it when it was released.

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Vano

By no means I'm trying to defend EA, but simply trying put common sense into these who think "EA will eventually pull the plug on the servers and leave us without the game access":

If they ever do that, there will be a patch that removes this DRM. DOH!
We've seen this before - Ubisoft.

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dgrmouse

Vano said, "If they ever do that, there will be a patch that removes this DRM. DOH!"

No, because all the simulation code is server-side. Doh! I'm not sure why you're' willing to give EA the benefit of the doubt here, because they have historically been the most aggressive at pruning online support for their games (especially with sports titles, to encourage folks to make yearly purchases of their stagnant franchise releases).

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Vano

In that case you can't call it a DRM then, now can you?

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nutnub

I Avoid them until I can find them somewhere more sketchily on the internet... and to be crystal clear, I do not condone nor condemn certain activities that the DRM and PIPA target to punish or dissuade.

Also, boycotting worked in history, we just need to be diligent until companies learn there is no money to be made with unhappy customers

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buttersoft

sadly boycotting is at odds with the want-everything-now attitude programmed into the young by our culture of advertising.

I'm a bit guilty myself. BF3 is a steaming pile of garbage, but i play it, because... well, what else is there after you realise there's no strategy in CoD

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Dxcv

That and boycotting can backfire. It puts gamers between a rock and hard place. The DRM sucks, but if you protest and do not support the game, the developer may not get the correct message and the publisher scraps the series.

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TheMissingPiece

I think I'm going to have to agree with the editors of PCG on this one: I'd much rather have an explanation than a free game. It's interesting that Maxis apologized for this though.

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dgrmouse

TheMissingPiece said, "I'd much rather have an explanation than a free game."

Huh? What is there that you need to have explained to you? The situation seems perfectly clear to me: EA took a single-player offline game and turned it into a problematic online-only game in a huge cash grab.

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azuza001

Is this enough? No. Simply put they should be giving refunds to anyone who requests it, but at the same time to get a refund you really must return the game. If your a digital person that shouldn't be hard, you have to have Origin to play this right? So to do a refund you have to have the game removed from the Origin account and the key that was linking that game to your origin account becomes blacklisted. But they are not in the business of being able to offer refunds on digital goods, its not something that is typically done and so it won't happen.

I guess what I'm saying is that they need to add the ability to request a refund and return of a digital game purchased through Origin in. I'm not saying every game should be returned every time someone asks but in situations like this, where the product just is not useable when it was purchased because of no fault of the purchaser, it needs to be not only a viable option it needs to be an easy option.

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big_montana

Does not matter as every unhappy purchaser should contact their stats consumer protection division and lodge a complaint. In Michigan where I live a refund would have to be granted or EA would be in violation of state law. The Michigan Attorney General's office and Consumer Protection Division does require refunds under certain conditions, even digital downloads - "If a retailer has a no-return policy, the law does not require the store to accept returns of items unless the items are not as represented or are defective". Sounds to me like Simcity meets these criteria, defective or misrepresented and a refund should be granted, at least for Michigan residents.

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immersive

This is another game I wanted so bad that it has been very hard not to buy it. Seems I did make the right decision on this one.

But guess what, the first game I bought on Origin was BF3 and while I did like the game I didn't see it being worth the money. I played through about 1/4 of the single player section and spent about 2 hours online.

I was disappointed with Origin and the game for how much it cost. But the nail in the coffin was when Origin starting throwing popups at me after I exited the game and there was no way to turn the popups off like there is in Steam.

So I requested a refund after talking online with one of their help people. Luckily I got my money back but continued to play the single player game for the next two weeks and the game was never removed from my account.

Doesn't matter that they gave me BF3 for free, after the single player game was beat I uninstalled Origin and never installed it again. And after this Sim City crap I never will.

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Baer

EA is famous for screwing up classic franchises. Look what they did to the Ultima franchise? This always on DRM? I guess they can reduce piracy but on the other hand they also greatly reduce sales. EA is one of the few companies that gamers will avoid even if they come out with a good game.

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Renegade Knight

I Avoid them until their games become cheap enough to where I don't care about the DRM or that I can't ever sell them.

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Renegade Knight

I Avoid them until their games hit the bargain bin. (<--- That hit the spam filter but posted anyway The one above didn't. Go figure.)

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Glycerin

I didn't buy this game so I didn't have to deal with this but I'd say the damage has been done. You can't key someones car and then tell them you're sorry and offer to take them out to lunch. They're still gonna want to kick your ass, EA.

Requiring the internet for gameplay is a jackass move! And if you're gonna actually do it, make sure your servers will be able to handle the data flow. Dumbasses.

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lindethier

Just too bad :(

I really want to give the game a go, but just the fact that at some point down the line EA will decide to kill the servers and keep me from being able to play. I guess I could always go the cracked route to get around it?

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Gezzer

Well a free game is a nice gesture, it's worth is more dubious then anything else. Will it be one game they choose, or will we have a choice of games? What if there's no games a person would want?

It's been suggested on the Maxis forums by many, myself included, that they give us either the first DLC on the house, or one down the line. It would make it less of a hollow gesture if they did. What will come of it will wait to be seen.

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dgrmouse

Gezzer said, "It's been suggested on the Maxis forums by many, myself included, that they give us either the first DLC on the house, or one down the line."

This would be a dangerous precedent. There are already wayyyyy too many games that withhold basic features for inclusion in paid DLC. If a game company delivers an unplayable product, a promise to get another slice of the same in the future isn't a really great benefit for consumers, either.

It is also very peculiar that the majority of professional game reviews for the game either don't mention the issues or have been withheld until the furor has passed. When a game like WarZ struggles to deliver at launch, it gets absolutely demonized in the media. When a title from a major publisher and advertiser fails to deliver at launch, it still gets a 70+ on MetaCritic in the first week.

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kiaghi7

This is nothing more than "Operation Desperation" in response to the absolute "Charlie Foxtrot" launch of the new SimCity...

Electronic Arts, the embodiment of everything that a publisher/developer should NOT become, has sought to bastardize yet another in a long line of franchises they've proceeded to destroy with mindbogglingly asinine decisions, that everyone from their development houses, quality assurance, testers, and even their own legal departments have told them they -SHOULD NOT DO-, and yet the utterly incompetent executives at EA march ahead with absolute disregard for the game and especially for their customers.

Just like Diablo 3 before it, who's activity is plummeting weekly, the idiotic "always on DRM" is NOT palatable to the masses for a single player game. It's really just that simple...

Not just because of the intrusiveness of its design, but because of the fact that it makes a single player experience have to be diluted down to a MMO type experience, but lacks any of the merits of either genre while retaining all of the failings!

This debacle sadly will barely be a "blip" on the overall picture of EA, and hardly more than a foot-note in the long history of dubious dealings done due to the digital dumbassery of dastardly denizens! (You know you like the "D")

The only way to make this tragedy matter in the long run is to:

1) Go out and buy Sim City 4, or better yet Sim City 3000 (the last GREAT Sim City). Remind EA what -GOOD- Sim City games were like, the current one isn't worthy to fetch its predecessors a cup of coffee!

2) Remind other developers (now and in the future) of the fowl-up here, and that any talk of "always on DRM" idiocy in a SINGLE PLAYER game is simply not acceptable.

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Slurpy

Reboot? The SimCity mythology has been reset?

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Justin.Kerr

SimCity 4 was released in 2003. I would classify any game franchise with 10+ years since a sequel to be a reboot :)

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Slurpy

So. . . Diablo III and StarCraft II are reboots.

Actually, that explains the quality.

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kerndaddy

with the economy on the verge of collapse, always online is too much of a gamble any more. who knows if or when our jobs are going to china. i'm not spending money on a game that i won't be able to play if i can no longer afford comcast broadband.

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HVDynamo

I specifically avoid any game that requires always online DRM now. I have made the mistake in the past, and they don't get any more of my money. I don't spend much time gaming anymore anyhow, so if this trend continues I will just find another hobby and stick to the games I already have purchased, or free to play games.

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boidsonly

You want them to remove the draconian DRM and always online requirement? QUIT playing their game. They will listen-BUT you have to quit. And you won't-you'll complain the whole time you are playing...

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HVDynamo

This is the problem, people complain, but they still buy it. The only way to get them to change is to not buy it.

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marcoshid

I wanted the game but EA has only gotten worse through the years when it came to DRM so I avoid everything of theirs now.

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silverblack

This is potentially disastrous for the game financially. Assuming they are using the right term with 40X, and don't actually mean 40%, that's going to be a large increase in server costs. According to the Sim City Twitter, your saved file is locked to the server you start your city on. (And apparently no easy to find your city's server if you forget.) For a number of reasons: Abandon city's still impacting regions, major school breaks coming up, the need to turn features back on; they'll be stuck with this increased infrastructure for a while.

Add to that the costs of the free games to give away, Amazon pulling the game for almost a day, and all the one-star reviews everywhere. Even if they still get a lot more people to buy the game, that's only going to extend server costs. All that because they wanted Always Online to combat sales lost to piracy.

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wumpus

Could easily be 40x. Use "llama mode" to slow the thing down by 40x and *poof*, server speed can suddenly handle 40 times as much. Combine that with all the gamers who bought from Amazon and already uninstalled, they could easily be getting 40x speed with only a 5x throttling of gamespeed (until those who downloaded directly and can't get their money back for a defective product decide to play, then they are back to being DDOSed).

It is easy when the base load (what gamers paid for) and the "new improved load" (a crippled game that need only serve the masochistic holdouts) are completely different things.

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