Some Problems

I'm not very happy with game retailers and companies right now. It's unfortunate that being a gamer often comes with its share of technical problems, and poor customer service or support.

I was vaguely considering purchasing Assassin's Creed 2 once the price drops. I found the first game was almost very good... the open world felt very different and had a lot of potential. I liked being able to run freely across rooftops, and once I stopped wishing for a new-generation version of Thief, and just accepted it wasn't really about being stealthy, I had some fun with it. But, like many people, the repetitive missions spoilt the experience for me. I gather the second game at least made some effort to listen to the criticisms, though, so I have some hopes for it.

Although I wasn't looking at the PC version of Assassin's Creed 2, I don't feel right about the purchase while they are still utilising such problematic DRM, so I probably won't be playing this game. To me, that's a lack of respect for legitimate customers for no real benefit.

Mind you, I'm not sure other companies are doing much right, either.

I approve of companies providing incentives to buy their games legitimately, rather than including restrictive DRM. When I signed up to get my bonus DLC for Dragon Age: Origins (PC) I successfully navigated the poorly set out webpages, and eventually worked out how to install my bonus content. In the process I apparently gave them permission to start collecting data on me while I play, even when I have the usual online profile option turned off. So I get annoying errors in game whenever my net connection gets fussy, and whatever it is doing is rather good at making my router grumpy.

A bit of transparency would have been appreciated, EA.

Things have been even worse when it comes to Mass Effect 2. My "Cerberus network" DLC activation code was missing from the game box, though I've since been able to get a replacement code from the retailer. Unfortunately, my Mass Effect 2 registration has completely disappeared from my EA online account, and it won't recognise any codes from me. I'm still waiting on a response from customer support.

Somehow I'm doubting this extra content will be worth the trouble, if I do ever get to see it.

***

I have a confession to make... I went to an EB Games store yesterday. I don't shop there as a general rule, but in this case they were the only place to have the game I was looking for, and my impatience got the better of me. It was a slightly scary experience, actually. They had voice-overs advertising their wonderful deals... such as trading in a working white Wii console plus $200 to get a new black Wii console. I have to admire them in a freaked out sort of way.

At the counter I was told about their 7-day return policy, and that I could pay an extra $3 for a 12-month warranty. Now, I understand the logic of extended warranties on more expensive purchases, but the idea of one on a game is new to me. Again, I sort of have to admire their scary marketing strategies. It might actually work on some clueless parents buying games for their kids.

I wonder what that $3 actually gets you... Does it just cover faults, or can you replace discs scratched from general wear and tear? I wish I'd been listening more carefully and willing to ask questions. If it were a 12-month no-questions-asked return policy it might be very exploitable, but I doubt that's the case.

I looked on the EB website and couldn't find any information. Just some info on extended warranties for consoles, and their rather limited warranty on all games:

All games come with a 30 day in store warranty. This warranty however doesn't cover any wear and tear or damage to the discs. If the disc isn't working and still in perfect condition bring it back to your nearest EB Games store and we will swap it over for you.

I guess it's up to someone who is a better detective than me to actually work out whether this particular scam is true evil or just run-of-the-mill evil.

Also, the guy behind the counter laughed at my World of Warcraft t-shirt. I think being mocked by someone who works at EB games has to be a new kind of low :(

Edit: EA support finally sorted out my issues. It took a couple of days, but at least some such stories have happy endings.