I am upset about the lack of customer service here in South Africa when it comes to replacing damaged game disks. Below is a letter I wrote to NAG Magazine (New Age Gaming), which probably the best gaming magazine in South Africa, and rates pretty highly worldwide. This should appear in the January issue:
I have a serious issue with the disk replacement policy, or lack thereof, exhibited at every South African Gaming retailer I’ve seen. The fact that I can’t return a damaged disk and receive a replacement is an outrage . I am more than willing to pay a small handling fee of R50 or so, but making me buy a new copy of a game I bought for more than R500 is ridiculous. The reason for this sad state of affairs may not be the fault of the retailer, but rather the distributor; I don’t know, but something must be done.
I purchased Project Gotham Racing 3 for XBOX 360 a few months ago, and REALLY enjoyed this game. Because I am very careful of scratches etc, I made sure I ALWAYS returned the disk to its case after use. However, this careful practise of clicking the disk into the case over and over again caused a small crack in the disk starting at the centre hub, eventually spreading into the data area of the disk, rendering it unusable. I had to purchase another copy in order to keep playing this game. I know of several people with similar stories. Sometimes, the disk is damaged due to negligence, which is why I am happy to pay a small replacement fee, to ensure people do look after their disks in a reasonable way.
Thinking about this lead me to thinking about DRM (Digital Rights Management), which basically is protection of intellectual property by using various methods of copy and usage protection? The studios (in the case of a movie) or the publishers (in the case of a game) insist that you do not own the digital information contained on a DVD or game disk you purchased, but merely have a license to use it as they see fit. That same argument surely cuts both ways, in that if I purchase a game or a movie on a fragile plastic disk, and the disk breaks or is damaged, my license to use or view the content is still valid. I didn’t pay R500 or more for a stupid little piece of plastic and a small booklet. I paid for the game or movie, or the “license” to view or play it.
I’ll be honest; I haven’t always paid for every game I’ve played in my life. Since I got my Xbox 360, (and what a great system it is!), I have become 100% legit, and will not even consider modding my console to play unoriginal games. I’m definitely not condoning piracy, but my issues mentioned above cause me (and millions like me) to rethink this decision. How does this help the gaming industry at all, if thousands of newly reformed ex-pirates decide paying twice for a game is insane, and simply go back to their old ways?
I trust somebody in the gaming industry will read these thoughts and remedy this situation. I know a friend of mine in the USA damaged one of his game disks and EB Games replaced the disk for him at no charge. I don’t know if this is something they do for all their customers or if he was just lucky, but I do know that here in South Africa, he would have gone home a very bleak boy. Surely, as long as I can give them a damaged original disk, case and booklet etc, that is proof enough that I do have a valid claim to a replacement?
Xbox Live GamerTag: DuncThePunk