Why Does Bioware Make It So F'ing Hard to Buy Downloads?

So I wake up this morning and decide that I want to purchase Pirates of the Sword Coast, I’m in the mood for some of that good Bioware gaming. I pop my NWN CD in, update the game, go to the online store to buy the download and that’s where the trouble starts. It takes me a few tries to remember my Bioware account info but I get all set up eventually. Then before they let me give them money, they want my original NWN CD key. Now I have my HOTU CD handy along with the manual which has the CD key, but I haven’t seen my original NWN manuals in a couple years. That was two apartment moves ago and I doubt I even still have em. I do have the CDs, but sadly that does me no good as they don’t have the key.

But before I got to that point, I’m already furious b/c its like WTF? I just want to BUY an add-on and they are making me put in a CD key? And the CD keys that I have for both HOTU and SOU are no good? I have to find a 2 year old game manual in order to give them money now?

What in fucking hell? I know theres some work around with gift codes etc. But I already reached the point of saying F this. Anyway, much as I love Bioware, the whole online purchase system is a fucking travesty.

I’m out. I guess I won’t be paying them any money for any of their downloads.

What really chaps me is this: they made it really hard for me a longtime paying customer to PAY THEM MONEY TO BUY THEIR PRODUCT — what sort of fucking idiot designed that system?

Grrrr.

I feel your pain. Bioware isn’t the first nor last to do this.

I’ve taken to logging all my CD keys in a text file, and saving them in a couple different locations on different hard drives. I originally did that to keep track of the different keys for the LAN party group I host, but now I rely on it to keep track of all game CD keys.

Shareholders and nontechnical management. DRM, a technical issue, is a much easier problem to sell to such people than the problem of upset customers, which is a people issue.

This is really galling me now. After ranting here and calming down I decided to work around the problem by just buying a gift code. The online store expressly said that if I didn’t have a CD Key I could buy a gift code, which I did and then sent to myself. However, what they DIDN’T tell me before I bought the code was that in order to redeem the code I would need a CD key. (They told me this AFTER purchase when I went to redeem the thing!) Jesus Christ. So now I’m out $9 and I still can’t download the product. I’m furious. I just sent a nasty e-mail to Bioware. This is complete BS.

Hell, I’m paying for the F’ing thing, let me download it.

And it’s not like I don’t have a CD key at all - I have both the SOU and HOTU CD keys handy but somehow I must have thrown out my original NWN manuals with the CD key, b/c I can’t find it anywhere. It has been well over 2 years and I don’t normally keep manuals for that long…

Gah.

This is just really bad business practice.

You know, if customers weren’t such goddamn thieves, companies wouldn’t have to make it impossible to buy from them. Sheesh!

VICTORY OVER EVIL BASTARDS! I am downloading it now. After digging through the FAQ it turns out that the game actually saves your CD Keys in the game folder in a file called nwncdkeys.ini . I was able to find my CD key in there and use it. God it shouldn’t be that hard.

I mean hell, if the CD Key is stored in a text file in the F’ing game folder, and I am accessing the online store through the game launcher shouldn’t it just use that info? I mean why I do have dig into an .ini file and cut and paste a string of code? That’s just assinine.

Feh.

If even the people who get really pissed off about such things still buy the product and bend over backwards to send them money, what incentive do they have to change?

-Jasper

The casual guys won’t put up with this. Here’s assuming Sharpe’s not exactly very casual. Hell, if you’re downloading an NWN module, you’re probably already a bit beyond the casual crowd in some ways.

Shadari, I just don’t think you’re right. People happily put up with activation codes of all kinds, and are quite used to it. The stereotypical “casual gamer” you mention probably doesn’t have a problem finding his NWN rulebook, after all by definition he doesn’t own many games.

And as you say, the “casual” gamer isn’t exactly the market for a NWN module download anyway.

You are exactly correct. I was very frustrated initially and was intending NOT to buy the product after my initial bad experience. However, I did wake up with a NWN jones and it just wouldn’t go away. I ended up getting the download to work and then enjoyed the first segment of Pirates of the Sword Coast quite a bit.

But the fact remains: I am a lousy, undisciplined consumer. I correctly identified a crappy business practice and really really poor customer service setup but then I gave them my money anyway.

There is a kicker though: Why did I do that? Because if you want a true single player RPG experience, Bioware is close to the only ticket in town these days. I woke up with a CRPG jones and there’s no other quality title out there that I haven’t played besides Pirates of the Sword Coast. CRPG selection is so limited these days you take what you can.

Its like the mirror image of EQ’s MMO success during the early days. EQ was successful b/c it was the first and only First-person, high quality graphics game in town for a while. It’s actual design is a piece of crap IMO. Nowadays a game with that design (cough EQ2 cough) gets stomped to pieces by the competition in the MMO market.

Meanwhile the reverse has occurred with CRPGs - it used to be a competitive market and now you have basically, Bioware, a small number of action-RPGs and weird Euro stuff. Bioware gets away with bad customer service because they can. If you want a high quality single player experience then you don’t have a lot of choice. (Mind you I’m dissing their CS, not the actual game design - their games remain quite good).

Market choice is good. And one of the consequences of the meta-trend of the death of B-list competition in some PC gaming genres is that the remaining A-list titles can get away with murder in terms of serving the customer (cough Steam cough).

Actually the last few paragraphs were just me rationalizing the fact that I’m an RPG whore :). I try to make a meta point but I cannot evade the reality: I am Bioware’s bitch :0.

Well, FWIW, the weird euro stuff includes the Gothic series, which is IMO one of the all time greats.

But yeah, dour times for single player RPG’s. If I wasn’t playing WoW so much I would probably feel the sting more.

Pirates is also the worst of the Premiums Modules for long load times. Dunno if it’s because of size or security or whatever. My big issue with the whole PM concept remains the need to check the validity of your game each and every time you load a save. Pirates seems pretty big on the “overwhelm and kill you stuff,” too, especially in the first section with the superpowered thieves and the crap on the island until you get a fire going. I know that I had to reload a pile of times, far more than the other modules or the original campaigns. I went in with a slightly overpowered character, too. Seems like Pirates is really geared for MP play. Which is great, but it doesn’t seem to scale down for solo play like it should.

Also, I hate RPGs that lock you into doing something incredibly stupid to advance the plot in a fixed way. After you play the module, you’ll know what I mean by this.

I guess as a consumer you don’t really care what the excuse is but BioWare has repeatedly said their DRM solution isn’t ideal - but it was the only way forward. They grafted it onto the initial CD-key system that was already in place because the whole live team thing was experimental and wouldn’t have proceeded otherwise. They have also said they are now working on better systems.

Call me crazy but wasn’t there a system option with Bioware’s accounts etc. that saved your cdkeys with them and you could just look up your cdkey online?

FWIW, there are quite a few non-premium NWN mods that are just as good as the premium ones. You might want to look into them next time you get the RPG itch. I’d recommend just about anything from the NWN Vault’s Hall of Fame or from their top-rated modules list.

If you haven’t played Stefan Gagne’s latest NWN porject (Hex Coda) do so. My wife is on her second or third play through and is finding new joy in it at every step.

Troy

Speaking of Hex Coda, I was sooo totally hyped for that module but once I got into it, I found it rather bland at first. But it really did pick up after a while, and I ended up totally digging it. I can certainly see why your wife would want to play through it several times. It sure was a big loss for Bioware not to snag that one up as a premium module.

As I understand it, it was meant to be a premium module, but either Bioware or Wizards of the Coast (I think WotC) axed it because it was too weird or wasn’t canonical or something.

The problem is that if you don’t buy it, companies won’t blame the DRM, they’ll just say the whole model is broken. This happens all the time – take a good idea, make a bad implementation, and then blame the idea.

I recently purchased one of the Premium Modules and shortly afterward, my hard drive failed.

While I did have to go through some hoops (just as the OP did) in order to purchase and play the game, it was nice being able to download the module again, sans hassle.