We all know what its like to be a gamer these days trying to enjoy titles by different companies made for different platforms. It means needing to have multiple gaming accounts, and after the first dozen or so, the Skirmisher is raising the white flag.
Over the course of my Skirmisher column, I have frequently opined about the simpler times of gaming in yesteryear. In fact, looking back at the archives, I’m pretty sure “Gaming used to be simpler” might almost be a better name for this column. While this article will go over that sentiment a little bit, I also want to bring up another concern of mine. This article first came to me when I opened Star Wars: Squadrons for Christmas, popped it in the PS4 and…I was prompted to create an EA account.
I was confused when it would not let me skip that phase.
I remembered when Ubisoft would pester you nonstop about how all the cool kids were on Uplay. I’d tell them no three times, like it was some sort of arcane AAA ritual, then we never spoke of it again. Squadrons, on the other hand, FORCED me to create an EA account to play my game.
Now the list of required services I need to subscribe to is getting even bigger. So I need a Uplay account for Far Cry and Rocksmith and then a 2K account to play NBA 2K21. I’m required to have an Epic Store account if I want to play games like Werewolf: The Apocalypse Earthblood because of some rather maddening exclusivity agreements, though I suppose I could always wait a year till it comes to Steam. It’s not like I don’t have other games to play.
Oh yea, so that brings up my Steam account, and of course I also need to have a PlayStation Plus and an Xbox Live account to take advantage of multiplayer games on those consoles. Then a Nintendo account for games over there. I also have several online accounts related to specific games I play too which help to round out and beef up the list.
Personally, I think this is a disservice to gamers and a trend that needs to become as dead as Arthur’s horse at the end of Red Dead Redemption 2, God rest his digital equine soul. First, I want to start by saying an online account should NOT be mandatory to boot your game. I understand the need if you are going to do multiplayer or dive into an MMO. I still don’t like it, but I understand.
But having an account for a single player game makes no sense. These shenanigans should not come at the booting of the disk because if a player does not have internet or doesn’t feel comfortable giving their information to a corporation, then their money was wasted on an unplayable product. No one should have to pay $60 for a game that possibly won’t start.
That brings me to the major issues of security and privacy. Most of these accounts want you to register your credit or debit card with your account, and all require at least some personal information. I feel like I should call Hardcore Todd back here to rail on about how his information has been stolen many times when companies got hacked. The law of probabilities would state that the more places your personal information is sitting, the more likely it is to get stolen.
Overall, I look at this and it makes me feel like I am back with one of my ex-girlfriends who needed to know where I was at all the time. I don’t like having six different companies monitoring my games nonstop or pestering me to play online. I understand the need to pitch your online service, but forcing it on customers to play their game seems a little dicey in terms of ethics.
That begs the question, could there be times when it’s okay to require gamers to subscribe to an online service? I would say yes, but the notice about that requirement would have to be a large notice on the front of the box, or even a popup window if buying online, stating clearly that an account is required to play. That way, a reasonable person can understand ahead of time what is required of them, and make their own decision as to whether or not they want yet one more online service added to their growing list.
Personally, based on the potentially exclusionary nature, requiring you to have your information sold to marketing firms and forcing you to risk your bank information, I believe this practice needs to end within the game industry, and with extreme prejudice. Kind of like Arthur and his poor horse, but not as lovingly.
Hey, before I go, the GiN YouTube channel is getting repacked with lots of new content, and Twitch streaming shows are now up and running! We also have relaunched The GiN Lounge podcast! Come check out those links for some extra gaming goodness in awesome new formats!