No Oceans: Dishonored UK “Launch” Trailer Is Cruel

By John Walker on October 10th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

But Samuel would prefer that we keep rivers.

As RPS has long pointed out, staggered international release dates for games may well please high street stores, but they piss off just about everyone else in the world. The archaic, anachronistic notion that a game should come out on Tuesday in the US, and Friday in Europe, was pretty daft when a trip to the shops was the only way to get a game. To still do it when everything is online is aching stupidity. And it’s a real shame to see games as great as XCOM and Dishonored being sullied by this utter nonsense. You want an extra kick in the teeth? On Wednesday 10th October, a day after the game was released in the US, Bethesda have seen fit to release the “UK Launch Trailer”, two full days before it’s actually out over here.

The reason it happens, as best as we’ve ever been able to ascertain, is because of retail. Games have traditionally always been released on a Tuesday in the US, and a Friday in the UK. Before there was an internet concreting over the seas, a US postcard sent boasting about it would arrive in the UK after it had finally been released. Now, however, we see it appearing on our chums’ “now playing” info in Steam, while staring at our own purchased and completely unplayable copy.

Except it’s not unplayable, of course, because if it’s out in the US, it’s accessible to the whole world in a pirated form. Which is something you’d imagine publishers, developers, shops and online retailers would all prefer people didn’t opt for. And yet something publishers, developers, shops and online retailers are all tacitly endorsing when they don’t fight for simultaneous worldwide release dates. Which is why we absolutely despair that this is even still a thing.

It’s especially frustrating and ridiculous when it comes to games as hyped – and as deserving of the hype – as Dishonored. When the press and publisher have been getting people appropriately thrilled to play the game, and when publishing embargoes are all tied to the first – and usually US – release of the game, it becomes a farce for the rest of the world when they then can’t play it. Sure, it’s three days – it doesn’t immediately sound that much. But when the game will be finished by most people in that time, and when the internet means discussion isn’t region-locked, by the time the rest of the world is allowed in, forum threads about the ending are bursting at the seams, and spoiler videos wallpaper the internet. “Hey, we’re having this amazing party over here! We’ve got music and dancing and food and it’s going to be the best time! Your invite is for just after it’s over.”

There are other ways around this, of course. Using proxies/VPN means you can trick Steam into thinking you’re in the US, and play the game that way. However, it’s crucial to note that Valve have made it clear this violates their terms of service, and if caught you could lose your account, and access to all the games you’ve bought with it. If you’re willing to take that risk, and we of course can’t endorse it because we’d hate you to lose your games, there’s a good guide here. (Although note that it hasn’t updated the risk level since Valve changed their ToS.)

But no one should have to risk anything. And that’s why we fervently wish to see an end to this nonsense. Yes, it would require some significant changes to when physical stores receive their stock. There would be infrastructure adjustments to be made. But not impossible ones, and certainly not in a time where the ongoing collapse of gaming retail might mean people want to consider options that would help it, rather than hinder.

Right now half the world is jubilantly enjoying Dishonored and XCOM, and celebrating it in the shared common room of the internet. The other half is staring in frustration, despite likely having already handed over their money, and others presumably sorely tempted to get hold of the game by means they shouldn’t oughtta. And it’s all despite the game’s availability being only a minor adjustment on an online retail store away.

Here’s the localised “launch” trailer for a game that hasn’t actually bloody launched here yet.

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212 Comments »

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  1. Malk_Content says:

    Even better the game(s) probably won’t bloody unlock till sometime around 18:00 on Friday and for some people further East in the world not till the wee hours of Saturday morning.

    • harmlos says:

      Steam tells me my copy of XCOM will unlock in about 13 hours, so it seems that they are using local time (CET in my case).

  2. frightlever says:

    I can remember back when there were rolling releases of movies to the cinemas because there were only so many prints to go around. It might even take longer for a popular movie to filter down to the sticks because the metropolitan areas got the preference.

    These days with games it makes no sense. Hell, these days I don’t even see how cinemas make sense. Of course cinemas are just complicated means to lure dating couples indoors in order to sell them expensive sweeties and popcorn.

  3. KaelWolfcry says:

    The acknowledgement of regions–hell even the shape of continents–in a swiftly expanding digital marketplace is pretty ridiculous. Thing is, we have to speak on the terms of commerce. Publishers could give a rat’s ass about the feelings of customers, but if you throw as much utterances of “bottom line” at them, maybe you’ll get acknowlegement. I have to figure that the costs involved with packaging, shipping and localized advertising could be sliced to itty bitty pleasing amounts if there was more focus on worldwide shared digital release.

    Anyway, I had planned on playing this game much later anyway. Might as well further my personal delay as a show of solidarity to my UK friends. :)

  4. Shinan says:

    I guess I voted with my vallet. I was inches away from buying/preordering Xcom after listening to Three Moves Ahead and trying the demo.

    But now I’ll just wait for the inevitable sale instead.

  5. Innovacious says:

    I don’t even understand the having to wait til Friday thing in the UK. The store doesn’t have to wait til Friday to get the stock, they usually get it days in advance and then just have to sit on it.

    Also, from my experience with online retailers, they always ship the games days in advance to make sure you have the disk ready for release.

  6. Nirguna says:

    You think that’s bad. I pre-ordered Borderlands 2 (from the US Steam store), I got sold the ROW version anyway, so I couldn’t unlock it early with a VPN. I then moved to Japan where the release date is October 29th (iirc). My purchased game is unplayable unless I log into Steam via a VPN.

    Additionally, hate day 0 DLC? Try day -17 DLC. While Randy is blowing steam about the Mechromancer DLC being released ahead of schedule the base game still hasn’t been released here.

    Regional BS such as pricing and locking can go DIAF as far as I’m concerned.

  7. faelnor says:

    It’s out in the U.S. *and* France.

  8. JFS says:

    I VPN’ed the game after having bought it from GMG during their pre-order price drops. I had already pre-loaded it, and I just can’t stand these stupid release policies.

    I don’t believe Valve will do anything about it, and even if so, let’s see what the European Union (of which I am a resident) has to say about that.

  9. zoombapup says:

    By the way, just wanted to point out that this isnt a US/Europe thing. France had the game unlocked at the same time as the US apparently. According to Beth’s website they’re unlocking Japan/NZ next, then finally the rest of europe. I really do see no logic to any of this. Clearly it isn’t about support issues as the amount of sales will be bigger than any support would ever handle (so its all going to be online forums anyway, which scale pretty easily).

    My guess was that it was some retailer requiring an exclusive lockout, but honestly that doesn’t make any sense either, because the retailer wouldn’t have any rights to other regions anyway.

    I suspect this is a bethesda decision, rather than a retailer logistic one. Although the argument about distribution days for retail does have the ring of truth.

    • TormDK says:

      All the more reason to fuels the fans of the internet rage machine.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Doesn’t euro trade treaties mean that we can unlock games if the french get them, as they can’t limit grey imports?

      Basically anyone should now be able to unlock a french version

      And you could say that steam are a american company but they now operate out of europe as well so have to abide by euro laws cause of there new office.

  10. Vesper says:

    I would like to thank our friends across the ocean for testing the early release version and filing all those bug reports that will be patched in time for the European release. I salute you!
    ;)

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I know this is tangential to your point, but the game is almost shockingly bug free. It’s the least buggy game of this scale I’ve encountered in a long, long time.

  11. Ureshi says:

    I hate the release thing… im from Argentina dammit, i want to play Xcom NOW!! i dont want to wait for european release!!…. Argentina is now part of Europe??? lol

    The physical game (boxed) is never going to arrive here so it has nothing to do with publishers or whatever of the region, we are still waiting for Batman Arkham City and other older games so….. at least release the digital early the only LEGAL way to play games in some parts of the world…..

    Sorry for my english

  12. manveruppd says:

    Don’t be silly, John. You know it takes several days for the magnetic tape cylinders to cross the Atlantic on an airship! How could they get it over here faster? Beam it through a telegraph line?

  13. Paul says:

    Fantastic article. Although I already played thanks to spotflux, it eternally pisses me off that I even have to use it.

  14. VeliV says:

    Bethesda did manage to release Skyrim globally. Why not this one?

  15. YourMessageHere says:

    So then: why is it in the Valve ToS? Why don’t Valve save everyone some bother and alter or remove that clause(s)?

  16. DrStrangeLug says:

    I took the risk and VPN’d it, but I’ve stuck steam in offline mode till Friday just to be safe.

    By the way, the US Department of State spent buckets of money and time to convince people that Gary McKinnon committed a crime in the US whilst physically sitting in the UK.

    That’s a legal precedent – if he committed crimes within then US then by using a VPN you’ve activated your game within US and NOT bypassed any region locks.

    • Premium User Badge

      melnificent says:

      No you’ve got it wrong, only the US can decide if UK citizens have broken US laws while in the UK.
      And as Valve and Bethesda are American it’ll by DMCA rendition flights for all

  17. kwyjibo says:

    The reason the launch trailer is today, is because GAME are doing an early launch in some of their select stores with agreement from Bethesda.

    https://twitter.com/GAMENewcastle/status/255209396437659648

    Obviously, if you’re buying the PC version, you’ll still be locked out – but the console launch is today at select stores. Bethesda are propping up high street retail bullshit.

  18. Premium User Badge

    harvb says:

    What’s really, really poo is that I live near a couple of mates who are American and live over here on US air bases, and they can buy it in their shops and play it at home. Hell, I could buy mine from them and play it here, I guess, but I wanted it on Steam. Really, really silly and tedious.

  19. Premium User Badge

    HermitUK says:

    Absolutely agree with what’s being said here. However, this sort of noise really needs to be made before the release of big games. Rather than bemoaning it after the fact (it is, at this point, too late to change things for XCOM/Dishonoured), we should be voicing these complaints as soon as that three-day release gap becomes apparent. Then get with the contacting of publishers, developers, and so on. Making it an issue before launch gives them a chance to sort it out, and help set something of a precedent for future titles.

    We also ought to laud the releases that get it right. Skyrim, for instance, was a simultaneous worldwide release; it’d be interesting to know why Bethesda thought that was worthy of being a game without oceans, while Dishonoured is not.

    Also, Activision manage this worldwide-release feat every year with CoD. And when you’re being outdone by Activision, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself :p

  20. YourMessageHere says:

    Oh, by the way RPS, you’re on BoingBoing now.

  21. Joshua Northey says:

    If you don’t have enough self control to wait for 3 days you need to go back to grammar school. This “mine mine mine I must have it now and on my terms or I will steal it” mentality has gotten way way out of hand.

    The world and game companies don;’t owe you anything. They make products, you can buy them or not. Or express your displeasure with the process or not. But don’t advocate piracy, which while not as bad a form of stealing as stealing physical objects, is a form of stealing and is also unethical and illegal.

    I am sure RPS wouldn’t be cool with me copying and pasting their entire site and trying to steal their market share in the US because “too many articles don’t use American English”.

    As for your silly worries about “spoilers”. It is not hard to avoid spoilers if you want to. Just don’t look up information about the game.

    This is just an article justifying people’s basest acquisitive urges. I expect better.

    • Will762 says:

      ‘Or express your displeasure with the process or not.’

      Right? So this is that.

    • ChiefOfBeef says:

      Capitalist system: they in fact DO owe me. I purchased a game, I am owed it. The release date when I made my purchase was different to what it is now.

    • SAM-site says:

      This is less about being entitled in any fashion, more that there is no good reason why everywhere outside the US is treated as a second class citizen when it comes to game releases.

      It has nothing to do with the logistics of physically getting games from point A (manufacture) to point B (retail), it has everything to do with The Business having decided years ago that new games come out on a Friday in the UK.

      Publishers *can* request retail release the game early which is why some games do come out at the same time around the globe, but frankly one of the strengths of digital distribution is surely that we no longer have to put up with split release dates.

  22. Will762 says:

    I don’t quite agree that staggered release encourages piracy. I think the first port of call is to use VPN to simply unlock the game at the US time. Perfectly legit.

    Of course, people who weren’t planning on buying the game anyway might pirate it…but they were a lost cause anyway. Either way, I agree, staggered release is stupid.

    Edit: Hmmm, Valve updated their ToS to include VPN unlocking? I didn’t know that. The last time I checked it was only if you used VPN to purchase a game – because, obviously this is bad for tax etc. I’m sure one could reasonably argue that (for whatever reason) you use VPN for all your net access. Are you excluded from using Steam?

    • fish99 says:

      You are assuming that everyone buying it, is buying it on steam which isn’t the case. Lots of people still buy the boxed version, whether from a bricks and mortar or an online store. A VPN doesn’t help if the box doesn’t turn up until friday.

      And yes the delayed release will cause more piracy.

  23. Kdansky says:

    It’s really crazy that they tell you first that a huge buttload of sales are made on the first few days (and that’s what the DRM is for), but then turn around and deny you the ability to actually buy if for that exact time period when hype is biggest. I sometimes fall for the hype (for example, Skyrim and DXHR) and buy on release day, but I generally wait until the game is a bit cheaper, even if I find that hard when I am hyped.

    This should leave me at:
    A: Pirate it, get the crack working. Somewhat of a hassle, all the fun, cheap.
    B: Impulse buy at full price! Zero hassle, all the fun, high price.
    C: Fight the hype, and buy it later, at reduced price. Big hassle, less fun, somewhat cheap.

    I can dismiss A if I have the money, after all, it’s a lot easier to join the party with option B.

    But instead it’s:
    A: Impulse torrent
    B: Fight the hype, then buy delayed at full price.
    C: Same as before.

    Suddenly, both A and B are equally annoying, but one’s free. Pirating may be wrong, but goddamn to they make it easy to justify to yourself! Note that I’m not saying that piracy is a good thing. It’s just that I feel way more tempted than necessary.

  24. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    I’ve not bought Dishonored but I pre-ordered at full price XCOM, so I’m playing it via VPN. It really is a very silly situation to be in.

  25. Slinkyboy says:

    AMERICA!

  26. Out Reach says:

    The worst case of this I ever witnessed was Civ 5: Gods and Kings. Pre-ordered it on steam, and just had to endure the few day delay till the UK release. However this became total insanity when on the US release day a US website did a 1 day sale selling US Steam Keys for the game which could be activated and used to play the game in Europe straight away.

    The biggest kick in the teeth? The US website was selling it for CHEAPER then the steam pre-order discount.

  27. JBantha says:

    Here in Costa Rica we can play Dishonored, but no XCOM.
    I guess we are an island yet. At least you can buy any of the optional power packs that “match the style of a game you haven’t play” but I still want, or access the super awesome tarot cards. :(

  28. Johnny Lizard says:

    Bet you 50p the game won’t be “finished by most people” in 3 days. Most games journalists, maybe.

  29. Eraysor says:

    I have a copy of XCOM sitting in my Steam account that I can’t run, and yet I’m still playing the game. Riddle me that…I wish I didn’t have to do this though.

  30. eclipse mattaru says:

    All I can say is: Welcome to my world, motherfuckers! :D I live in South America, so nevermind delayed releases –every now and then I don’t get access to the games at all.

    Funnily enough, I am able to preorder everything (everything I tried to preorder until now, anyway). This leads me to a funny situation where I currently own, have played and even finished a bunch of games from whose Steam stores I’m locked out after they officially release.

    Furthermore, for people like, say, Bethesda I’m a part of America, and thus I am playing Dishonored right now; but for 2K I guess I’m a part of Europe, because X-Com is still a day and a half from being available to me.

    Nonsense, you say?

  31. tkioz says:

    It honks me off as well.. my XCOM game wont go live until tomorrow (the 12th in Australia) because of this bollocks…

  32. Chumbaba says:

    I agree with this article. The worst thing is that pirates always get the best version of a product. Just think about it – many people here actually pay money and then download a pirated version because it is in some way better. Take first-day DLCs. You get different DLCs in different stores, so the only way to get a game complete, is to download a pirated version. Paying customers can decide, which DLC they won’t get. Warez versions are published on time, have all the DLCs, have no DRM and are – generally – the best versions that exist.

    This has been the truth for years. Just take a pirated film and a legitimate blu-ray or DVD. If you buy an original, you have to sit or skip through numerous anti-piracy ads, legal disclaimers and other nonsense. Why should I watch anti-piracy ads when I already bought the blu ray? Shouldn’t pirates be made to watch them? But no – you download a pirated version and just push play.

    Making legal games/films/products user-hostile when compared to warez versions is not the way to make people buy legit products.

  33. Shooop says:

    I still don’t understand this. What purpose could staggering the release dates of a game or movie in first-world countries possibly serve?

    It can’t be for piracy because if anything, this kind of thing would logically encourage it.