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Thread: [ProjectRYG 2.0] RYG Evaluation Report: Sins of a Solar Empire

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    CEO / Owner Lisa Pham's Avatar
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    [ProjectRYG 2.0] RYG Evaluation Report: Sins of a Solar Empire

    Game Tested: Sins of a Solar Empire
    DRM Implemented: “DRM Free”
    Publisher: Stardock
    Medium: Disc Version
    Version Tested: 1.00 and 1.05
    Release Date: April 2008
    Evaluated By RYG: March 2011

    Bucking against the trend set by EA with its high profile release of Spore, Stardock went ahead and released Sins of a Solar Empire DRM Free. It was a marketing strategy that made waves and headlines – even bore a “Gamers Bill of Rights”, which has now been updated in Stardock’s latest Consumer Report.

    Like Colin McRae DiRT, World of Goo (Disc Version) and Cortex Command (TB24) RYG found that DRM Free does not necessarily mean that Consumers will have rights and ownership to the game holistically.

    Not every game will receive a “Consumer Friendly” score/rating and it was made so that every game implemented even with the worst form of DRM imaginable has equal footing against its competitors in creating a Consumer-Friendlier game.

    In other words, DRM Free or not, the burden on how RYG evaluates and rates PC Games is measured collectively between a Publisher’s contribution, a DRM Vendor’s contribution and a Digital Distributor’s contribution.

    Scores are- 77% for the DRM Vendor and 78% for the Publisher

    If Consumers didn’t register the game – if they did not update Sins of a Solar Empire, then perhaps the final score would be significantly higher than what it is now. Or, Sins of a Solar Empire would have been a truer DRM Free game in the current market.

    However, it fails in that DRM-Free definition on the basis of how patches are delivered and what Consumers must go through even if they are not well initiated with Stardock’s Impulse Client. Some may not be miffed by this, much like this player who is in support of this “DRM-Free” strategy. On the other hand, if Sins of a Solar Empire was meant to be DRM-Free, it should be exactly that: DRM Free, as responded by Caliant.
    I believe that when you buy something, it's yours to do what you want with until you tire of it. It should not be subject to the affairs of Impulse in this case. I still play some games from 5+ years ago that I very much enjoy.

    Will I play Sins in the medium to long term? It seems that first depends on the reliability and even existence of Impulse and I don't like that. Was Sins worth buying in spite of the DRM? Yes.

    Does DRM however affect my decision on what products to purchase? Yes. You may not care if you are leasing a game rather than buying but I do.

    So no, it's not a joke.
    RYG finds Sins of a Solar Empire 78% “Tolerable” by Consumer Standards


    You can also download the PDF Version of RYG's Evaluation Report on Sins of a Solar Empire. If anyone would like to discuss the testing results for Sins of a Solar Empire, you're more than quite welcome to join us on our forums.

    NOTE: RYG evaluates all PC Games on computer systems running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems and bearing both minimum and recommended system specifications. Internet Connections simulated range from 512kb/128kb ADSL to 24000kb/1000kb ADSL2+.

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    Retired Community Manager MaryH's Avatar
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    That's not too bad for a game that supposedly has 'no' DRM, but does, actually. Pretty high-but should have been far better.
    This is what I have to say about that! FM Hilton.

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    CEO / Owner Lisa Pham's Avatar
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    Yeah, I know Mary... and it's sad when the consumer has to rely on Impulse (a DRM) to get updates, etc... so much for being DRM-Free. :(

    And what's with the EULA stating you can't transfer the game if it's been registered??
    So if you want to transfer the game, you don't register, but you can't get patches/updates, if you don't register... is that right??

    How is that a true part of Stardock's/Brad Wardell's *Gamers Bill of Rights*?

    #10 = Gamers have the right to sell or transfer physical copies of their games to other people.

    It doesn't seem right to me!

  4. Top | #4
    I should have read this one before the Prince of Persia review. Anyhow. I love this game! Its another one I got just because I liked Stardock so much for not having DRM in the game and coming out with the gamers bill of rights. It looked like a bight light of hope in this bleak DRM filled world. I really like that I can download the game anywhere and even (if I remember correctly) Stardock said it was OK to "share" with your friends for a LAN party. I did that too. It resulted in my friend buying the game!

    Your correct though, the DRM is Impulse. But all it does it let you update or play online through there service, thats an OK DRM in my book. It doesn't keep me from playing in a LAN party with my friends or force them to get accounts to play. I can install the game on as many computers as I want with my legal copy, then we can all play. If they want to play online or get updates, they can buy the game. I think its a cool system.

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    Researcher and Designer Martin Pham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa Pham View Post
    Yeah, I know Mary... and it's sad when the consumer has to rely on Impulse (a DRM) to get updates, etc... so much for being DRM-Free. :(

    And what's with the EULA stating you can't transfer the game if it's been registered??
    So if you want to transfer the game, you don't register, but you can't get patches/updates, if you don't register... is that right??

    How is that a true part of Stardock's/Brad Wardell's *Gamers Bill of Rights*?

    #10 = Gamers have the right to sell or transfer physical copies of their games to other people.

    It doesn't seem right to me!
    I wouldn't mind working/collaborating w/ Brad Wardell on his Gamers Bill of Rights. Even he admits that there needs to be further revisions in his recent Consumer Report.
    We've provided our project planner in case you're interested in working with us.

    Games Completed in 2012:
    On RYG (Completed 390 Hours of 500 Hours)
    Books Completed in 2012: The Curations Series and on Goodreads.com. (50 Books in 2012)

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    Senior Member saraswati's Avatar
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    Personally, I haven't bought a game from them since the Elemental debacle, and I won't buy a game from them again. Someone highlighted for me what was the issue with that game.

    I didn't get a full refund despite the fact the game was hopelessly flawed, buggy and unplayable. The reason why is that they had a clause buried somewhere in the Stardock site that allowed them to refuse a full refund. However, I didn't find that clause until I got a direct link. What I'm saying is that the issue is that their documentation makes EA's look straightforward.

    So these days, I will only ever buy a game through a client if it's a 5 to 20 dollar game where I'm not risking much, or it's a game where I have many, many good word of mouth recommendations (like Plants versus Zombies for example) and I don't buy ANYTHING from Stardock. I have no trust in Brad Wardell.
    My personal blog, The Lotus.
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    Researcher and Designer Martin Pham's Avatar
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    Hey Kath :)

    Do you have a link RE: refund policy for StarDock? I know Brad's well known for fragmenting information about his products and services all over the net.
    We've provided our project planner in case you're interested in working with us.

    Games Completed in 2012:
    On RYG (Completed 390 Hours of 500 Hours)
    Books Completed in 2012: The Curations Series and on Goodreads.com. (50 Books in 2012)

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    Senior Member saraswati's Avatar
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    Hi Martin

    This is the link I found. https://store.stardock.com/policy.aspx

    I was stupid enough to trust them that when they said they were sorting out their issues, they meant it. It's my own stupid fault, but at least it was a good lesson NOT to trust any game company. I learned, and when I was in the same place of uncertainty with Dragon Age 2, I didn't leap this time and I'm glad I saved my money. Have I said thank you to you guys about that yet?

    Cheers

    Kathleen
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  9. Top | #9
    That is very low of them. I really thought they had a much nicer relationship with customers than that.

  10. Top | #10
    Senior Member saraswati's Avatar
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    It came to a point with that discussion that I got told I had to work with their tech support to get the game work, or I could only get a 75 percent refund. I was finding the experience of getting the game to work to be really traumatic in that case, to the point that I ended up taking the 75 percent refund.

    I do think they were wrong in that one though.. They released a game before it was ready. That was entirely THEIR fault. I think the reason why I just couldn't go at working with them through patches was that I'm not their unpaid QA, and they went through a long testing process with that game, these issues should have been picked up. Which is why I wasn't prepared to stick at it with them.

    I've learned my lesson, it's the very last game I ever bought from Stardock proper and about the last game I bought from Impulse. I stick mostly to 20 dollar games these days. With a game that cost, it bothers you less if it doesn't work out. I buy those games from Steam these days - heck, I know Valve has a spotty reputation, but at least I know where I stand with them.
    My personal blog, The Lotus.
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