The company behind Galactic Civilizations, Stardock, recently posted a PC-specific Gamer’s Bill Of Rights. In their words, this document is “a series of guidelines we’re trying to introduce in an effort to get our industry to be a little more standardized in how we deal with our games.”
Some people see this Gamer’s Bill of Rights as a way to re-establish trust among players, publishers, developers and retailers. Others see it as impractical, wishful thinking, or too vague to be useful. Reading through its enumerated points, it’s clear that a lot of the conversation stems from frustration about PC games sold at retail, and at a fairly high price point, that fail to function as promised.
Casual games typically don’t cost as much as high-end PC games or current-generation console games. But just because something is free or comes at a lower price point does not mean the consumer of casual games should be disrespected or ignored.
If a casual game isn’t free to play, it’ll most likely cost you $20 to purchase. Regardless of whether it’s free or paid, the gameplay will most likely imitate the game mechanics and/or art style of other games that have proven successful. And if it’s a premium game, you can bet there’s most likely a 60-minute free trial.
What does that leave you with? An endless parade of “new” games aping existing games, all sold at the exact same price point after the exact same length of trial.
That’s boring. That’s Predictable. That’s why casual gamers deserve better.
With these thoughts in mind, I offer the Casual Gamer’s Bill of Rights:
- The right to games that keep things clear without being condescending or pandering.
- The right to appropriate feedback, to understand whether or not I’m succeeding.
- The right to games whose price points equate logically to the games themselves, not the genre to which the games belong.
- The right to customer service that is both prompt and courteous.
- The right to games that innovate more than imitate, and push my boundaries without breaking my spirit.
- The right to games that help me understand the world and my place in it.
While I’d like to say that every casual game I’ve had a hand in during the past 10 years has lived up to these values, I can’t. However, I do think I’ve learned from the past and have helped push my particular casual-game niche, online game shows, to the next level. But, as always, there’s so much more to learn and do.
This six-point Casual Gamers’ Bill of Rights is by no means complete, and questions, comments and suggestions are definitely welcome. Just remember to keep it casual. You have every right to enjoy your games that way.
— Christopher Cummings
Christopher Cummings, author of DailyGame’s The Left Click column, is senior product manager for Gamesville.com, where thousands of people compete daily in free, massively multiplayer games to win real cash prizes. You can join the Gamesville group on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.