Are you the sort that loves to come home, boot up a game like Fallout, Mass Effect, or STALKER and just take a break from the world? Well then, you probably won't like what EA Games label president Frank Gibeau recently saw when he peered into his crystal ball.
“I volunteer you to speak to EA’s studio heads; they’ll tell you the same thing,” he said during an interview with Develop. “They’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay – be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished.”
“Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.”
Fellow introverts of the world, join us in pouring one out for the days when millions of bunny hopping, tea-bagging loudmouths weren't constantly breathing down your neck. Well, don't literally join us. Being around other people makes our skin crawl. But you know what we mean.
We suppose if Blizzard was hoping to be precise with its forced removals, it would’ve used – we don’t know – a ban rapier or something. Anything other than a banhammer. See, we already knew that gaming’s favorite blue giant was lumbering about, shouting “Fee-fi-fo-fum” as it sniffed around for multiplayer cheaters, but players who cheat during single-player matches? That’s new ground. And perhaps – depending on who you talk to – ground that should be left undisturbed.
After Blizzard followed through on its promise to ban the living daylights of StarCraft II multiplayer cheaters last week, players who only used hacks in the single-player portion of the game found that they too were facing everything from suspensions to outright perma-bans. Which is more or less like the NFL storming into your backyard because you and your five-year-old son are tossing around a Nerf ball instead of complying with official regulations. So, why all the fuss over something that’s not actually hurting anyone else’s experience? Well, depending on your point of view, you’re either going to nod in agreement now, or fling something out a window. So shoe your cat away from your Rage Zone and then read this:
“While single player games only appear to be you and a computer at first, your achievements and gamer score also carries weight and prestige for your online play,” Blizzard replied to incensed players.
Yep. Achievements – which affect your actual performance about as much as those pills you see ads for while watching late-night TV – are the reason you can’t hack or modify your single-player experience. Surely, though, Blizzard can’t actually get away with launching this nuclear strike on your rights, right? Actually, yes it can. Turns out, you agreed to this.
“If a StarCraft II player is found to be cheating or using hacks or modifications in any form, then as outlined in our end user license agreement, that player can be permanently banned from the game. This means that the player will be permanently unable to log in to Battle.net to play StarCraft II with his or her account,” the developer explained.
We have nothing against achievements – especially when they coax us into exploring content we otherwise wouldn’t – but this might be taking things a bit too far. Sure, we’ve seen what hacks and other third-party cheats can do to games like Modern Warfare 2 (Logged-on lately? It ain’t pretty), but an iron-fisted rule where one foot out of line means six feet under can’t be the only solution, can it? Most of us are functional adults, right? We’d really like to think people who can beat us at StarCraft (read: everyone) are past the point in their lives where they need a babysitter.