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Blizzard Should Be Held Accountable For Damaging Player’s Computers

Short and sweet, but I had to chime in on this one.

It seems that Starcraft 2 was released with a devastating bug in the menu system that’s causing some player’s video cards to overheat. Blizzard has acknowledged that the problem is related in menu systems not including any kind of FPS cap, causing some cards to launch into sustained 200+ FPS performance bumps. As you might imagine, this sustained overworking is proving too much for some systems to handle and the cards simply die.

They’re taking the approach any PC gaming company would: patching in a fix.

That’s not enough, though.

Imagine if this happened in the console world. Console gamers would be furious. It would be beyond unacceptable for a game to release that bricks the system. The company that released the game would be derided and criticized for having sub-par Q&A. Most importantly, however, people would demand compensation – and would probably get it through warranty extensions.

We live in an era where players are spending hundreds of dollars on their GPU. Since Blizzard has acknowledged that a fault in their product is causing damage to their user’s hardware, they should have to compensate every effected player. Not only is it the right thing to do personally, but it’s also a matter of business ethics. A company in their position that fails to own up to their mistake doesn’t deserve a ranking higher than “F” with the Better Business Bureau– and Blizzard is better than that.

I like Blizzard. They’re honestly one of my favorite gaming companies and it says a lot that they’ve publically admitted their wrong. We have no way of knowing how many people have been impacted – I’d guess not many – and it would be harder for them to prove a card failed because of this specific software issue. But, ask yourself, if this happened to you, wouldn’t you feel a little ripped off? Asking users to pay $50-500 to make up for failing to test your product is unreasonable. And, I’m sorry, this seems like something that should be standardized.

This, guys, is one of the reasons console gamers are leery of PC gaming. The lack of standardization means the lack of a safety net – and of some much needed accountability from game studios.

PS: A little digging shows that overheating issues have been reported for months.

Starcraft 2 will probably push your graphic card, but the game cannot directly damage your hardware, as always make sure that your using the most up-to-date drivers for your graphic card from the manufacture of your card as recent releases have been more optimal for Starcraft 2.

You could also check to see if the fans on your graphic card are running correctly using RivaTuner. – Blue Source

Well, the game DID directly damage people’s hardware. It’s time to make right, Blizzard.

13 comments

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  1. Rivs

    This is a very liable offense as well, and if they make compensation they could stem off an incoming lawsuit.

    1. Green Armadillo

      The EULA almost certainly says that Blizzard is not liable for damage to your hardware. The fact that they wrote this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true, but you’d have to litigate the EULA out of existence (with every single software company, and most legal precedents, lined up against you) before you could even file the suit.

      If you do succeed, it would quite possibly destroy the online gaming industry, as striking down the EULA could open the door to suing for damage to your “property” whenever anything is nerfed or added to the game (or not nerfed/added). But the good news is that your lawsuit could result in the class action lawyers billing the settlement fund for hundreds of dollars per hour, while affected customers walk away with a coupon for $20 off a future Blizzard title.

      1. Rivs

        Well the EULA has been fought in court before, and is not unbeatable. Look at Vernor vs Autodesk.

  2. Green Armadillo

    IIRC, there was a similar issue with a set of nVidia drivers a few months back, and I don’t recall having heard of any compensation.

    That said, where Blizzard and nVidia can afford to pay for some fried computers, I could see this becoming a problematic precedent. If you’re paying out $200+ in damages to people who bought a $50 game, your beta testers could sit on bug reports and intentionally fry their hardware after launch to upgrade on the developer’s dime. If you’re the little guy, who is least likely to have the mammoth QA budget to catch these sorts of things, you’ll have to take out an insurance policy of some sort to guard against literally being put out of business by a single bug.

    (Incidentally, pure speculation here, but I seem to recall hearing that console makers do their own internal approval process including things like QA for bricking the console on every single game that is released. This would mean that assuming responsibility for the testing and warranties is something the console makers do to earn their cut of the sale price. That’s not an arrangement that exists in PC gaming.)

  3. boatorious

    Video games don’t coddle GPU’s, nor should they. A properly functioning GPU should be kept cool, and should shut down (or slow down) if it becomes too hot. Monitoring that temperature should never be the responsibility of general-purpose software like video games.

    If your GPU is not properly cooled, and does not shut down when it is too hot, then Any Game Or Graphics Software has the potential to fry it. There is no GPU so great that it will never see sustained 100% usage from some game, sooner or later.

    1. Chris "Syeric" Coke

      True, sooner or later. I think the argument could be that the “later” could conceivably be 10 years from now when the card is under-specced for any game on the market. For a moderate card today, it’s not unreasonable to expect a low intensity game like SC2 not to fry it. This has to do with poor QA on Blizzard’s side.

      That being said, keeping your PC at a proper temperature is always the gamer’s responsibility. The only problem is, the proper temp. for running 200+ FPS and being capped at 60+ FPS is vastly different and the user shouldn’t be expected to compensate for poor coding.

      An example that comes to mind (I’m thirsty) is pop. It’s the drinker’s responsibility to keep their shirt dry, but if the can comes pre-shaken from the factory, how can they know to not open it close to their body?

      1. boatorious

        I would agree that Blizzard made a mistake and should fix their error. I’d also agree that they probably broke machines that (depending on future circumstances) may not have been broken otherwise.

        But I’d also say that the menu melters could have achieved the same result without the coding error. If you can overheat your GPU on an SC2 menu, you can probably overheat it on Crysis or the sequel at max settings, i.e. no coding error.

  4. KalibreOnline -Games, Life and Ent

    I noticed this as well. I have an NVIDIA 8800 GT like the rest of the people complaining in the forum. This sucks…

  5. scrusi

    A driver that allows top level software to fry the graphics card is an awful one. If running at 200 fps is a problem for the card, then the driver needs to prevent that in the first place. Even if something slips through, the graphics card should shut down before reaching critical temperature. (Just like all reasonable CPUs do.)

    Sure, blizzard made a mistake, but fully error proof PC Q&A is pretty much impossible. It would be the graphics card’s manufacturer’s responsibility to prevent things like this from happening and therefore it should be them compensating. Chance are they will, too, assuming you still have warranty on the card. If you don’t I’m afraid that failure is a risk you have to take on your own.

    The console comparison is an unfair one as has been mentioned above. Console Q&A is simple due to unified systems and the console manufacturers do indeed run every published game through a set of tests. This would be completely impossible for PC games.

  6. KalibreOnline -Games, Life and Ent

    I am going to try this:

    Go to “Documents\Starcaft II\Variables.txt” and then open the file. Add the lines “frameratecapglue=30” and “frameratecap=30” to the file. I just alphabetized it for some order. This should prevent the serious heating issue

  7. Tauren Warlock

    Hardware shouldn’t destroy itself just by carrying out it’s primary function. Hardware that does is defective.

    One thing to keep in mind is that NVidia and ATI don’t make finished graphics cards. They make chip sets that several other companies build into completed boards. The cooling fans (and I suspect the heat monitoring system) are made by a lot of different people. Add to that the effects of age on electronics and minor manufacturing defects and you have lot of inconsistency among graphics cards in the PC user base.

    I don’t expect Blizzard to manage users hardware at a low level, and I really can’t hold Blizzard responsible for user’s hardware defects.

  8. Aruze

    I have a Nvidia Geforce 8700M GT.
    after installing and playing SC2 my video card started flickering and marines started to look like gummy bears
    my video card has Failed due to this game’s defect, i want VENGENCE!!

  9. grace

    So many great tips!! I feel like I am doing most of these and still struggling to see my following grow! Sometimes I get discouraged, but everything good comes with time! Thanks for sharing, your work is beautiful!

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