I sold over a thousand dollars worth of unwanted videogames this spring and one of the games I sold was the MMO, Guild Wars. It's the only major MMO to not require a monthly subscription in order to play it, and for sure, I did enjoy it for about 15 or so hours. In other words, I played about .01% of the game and then grew tired of it. But that .01% was pretty awesome and I touted the game's virtues everywhere I went.
I got an email back from the buyer of the game last week saying that he couldn't play the game because the serial number was linked to my account info and he would need my password and username to get it working. I didn't have the info, nor would just hand it over to anyone, so I told him I would call NCsoft, the publisher of the game, to deactivate my account. The day I called I was met with a message that said that nobody could take my call because they were attending a "company function". I immediately thought they were at a summer picnic or perhaps some sort of team-building event. They weren't.
Based on news that circulated around the copy-and-paste videogame journo sites the next day, NCsoft layed off 70 of its 300 employees the afternoon that I happened to be calling. I hate to hear of anybody losing their job and especially in the videogame industry (although I wouldn't mind personally firing -- or at least maiming -- a few of the people my wife has to work with), and I certainly hated to hear that the company that dared not to charge a monthly subscription would be suffering.
So finally, today, after giving some time for the dust to settle I called back and got a live person on the phone. She was polite, but refused to help me as what I was asking her to do -- deactivate my account -- was prohibited. They won't unlink my user information (including billing and credit info) from the account as a measure used to ensure that I'm "the only person who can ever play the game". The lady assured me that she "would like to help me but then she’d be violating her company’s own User Agreement and couldn’t do so”.
Even though I don't have the discs anymore. Even though I never intend to play it again and simply want to delete all records of my information from the game and essentially make the game pre-purchased again, she can't do it. The company doesn't allow it. You buy it, it's yours. Forever.
A company whose product I went out of my way to promote on message boards and on blogs and to fellow gamers I met in my daily travels, was now pissing all over me with a ridiculous rule. A rule that is masked in the guise of being an anti-piracy measure, but is really just a way to combat the sales of used games. Welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen, because don't think for a second this is going to be limited to PC games. As soon as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo find a way to stop used game sales, they will jump at the chance, just as Bill Harris has been saying for quite some time. But for you PC gamers, and especially the MMO players of the bunch, the future is here.
I told the lady that she should please her tell supervisors that Guild Wars was the last NCsoft product I ever buy and that, in the words of Peter Gibbons from the movie Office Space, "Good luck with your layoffs, all right? I hope your firings go really, really well."
Okay, I didn't actually say the Office Space bit to her. But I wanted to!