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Dear Steam team and folks at Valve Software generally,
Firstly, thanks for all the nifty sales over the holiday season. That was really quite nifty, even though there were obviously some problems arising from the large number of units sold.
There’s one special present that you could give us all, however, even though it seems like a very, very, very minor thing.
Something I rummage through periodically are the search results that people use to get to this site. A lot of people come here through the site appearing in amongst this or that search result. Some of them are obvious, some of them are weird.
A few are lurid, and then there’s one commonly recurring set that is particularly lame.
After what seems like a significant fraction of forever 2007 video game, Mass Effect has finally got an update which allows it to run on nvidia/geforce systems without requiring an increasingly archaic and unsupported version of the video drivers to prevent the game from crashing (or from crashing your whole system).
I’m crouching in the dark. I have a flashlight, but I dare not turn it on. I’m trying to keep quiet, and huddle close to my inadequate cover. I can hear the creature growl softly as it gets closer. Will it see me? I don’t dare look, because I know I’ll panic and it will be on me in an instant. I steal quick glances at it, then huddle behind the crate to calm down, like a kid hiding under a blanket from the monster under the bed.
Is it a dog? It’s might be some kind of a dog. I dare not face it. Maybe it was a dog … once. I don’t know what it is now.
I don’t dare move. The sound of its feet stops. It sniffs the air and growls softly, a bit like a dog, but something is very… wrong about the sound. It snuffles and I think I hear it move away. I steal a terrified glance. It’s moving away from me now. I creep as fast as I dare into a cross tunnel, and head for where I think the store-rooms are. Anywhere is better than here, right?
That’s Sid Meier’s Civilization® IV, Sid Meier’s Civilization® III Complete, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, Shattered Union, Prey, CivCity: Rome, Civilization IV®: Warlords, Sid Meier’s Railroads!, Railroad Tycoon 3, Railroad Tycoon II Platinum, X-COM: Terror From the Deep, X-COM: Apocalypse, BioShock™, X-COM: Interceptor, X-COM: UFO Defense, X-COM: Enforcer, Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, Freedom Force, Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich, and Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization.
Odds are you don’t have a ton of cash to throw around. I know that I don’t. So, let’s talk about stretching your Windows gaming dollar a bit further.
There’s actually quite a number of ways, but let’s look at a simple set of tips for cheaper digital downloads.
Digital downloads are certainly a big thing at the moment. There’s Valve’s Steam, there’s Stardock’s Impulse, there’s Gametap (“Yours if you can ever get it to work” – Judge Dredd), there’s gog.com and more.
These are generally good things, however I’m going to pick on Steam for a few minutes. Actually, not quite on Steam itself, but on a couple publishers using it, who need a bit of a spanking.
Back in 2002, Valve had a bit of a dustup with Sierra over royalties. The original lawsuit went to arbitration, and after reviewing the case the arbitrator decided that Sierra should pay Valve US$2,391,932. It was less than Valve wanted to get, and more than Sierra wanted to pay, but everyone signed off on it anyway.
Fast-forward. Sierra was a part of Vivendi, and as a part of the merger last year, that debt is now a part of Activision-Blizzard.
So, Activision cuts the cheque to Valve, but for only US$1,967,796, basically because they felt that they’d overpaid Valve US$424,136 in previous years. Valve, for their part is filing a suit because Activision is not paying the agreed-on amount.
Now, that’s a classic piece of stupid on Activision’s part. The smart way to go, if they have indeed overpaid Valve previously, is to pay the originally agreed-on amount (US$2,391,932). That immediately closes their obligation with respect to the 2002 decision. Then they can file a lawsuit, or seek arbitration, or get Valve to agree to pay up, or to take a lesser sum of future payments. Whatever. They’re in the clear, and their legal position is solid.
But, no. That would be too easy.
Instead they short-pay, essentially failing to meet their legal obligations, which opens them up to a lawsuit — and potentially to the forfeiture of the US$424K (and perhaps more).
It makes me wonder if Activision’s suddenly so desperate for cash that the US$424K is just out of their reach — or if Big Bird is making the calls here. Actually, no – getting this right just isn’t that complicated. It’s at the Sesame Street level of responsibility and obligation. Big Bird could probably have handled this one just fine and still managed to sing an uplifting song about it.
Sorry, Portal. For nearly a half hour, you asked for wit and ingenuity. Then right near the end you started asking for reflexes. Sorry, I don’t actually have any of those.
Guess I won’t be able to finish the story. A shame.