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I just like to complain - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
void where prohibited, except by law
I just like to complain
So much so that I have a job as a professional complainer.

However, I rarely use my skills in that field to my own benefit. Today, I thought I'd treat Bethesda Software to a piece of hand-crafted artisan unamusedness. I'm very curious to see what results if any it produces.


I felt that I ought to write to you to say what a disappointing experience I've had in regards to the downloadable content for Fallout 3. I've enjoyed the game greatly, although I haven't had that much time to play it I've generally been glued to the screen for hours at a time when the opportunity arose, and when I saw a review of the Operation: Anchorage package on Ars Technica, I thought I'd pick it up to add something to the fun.

Unfortunately I couldn't find Games for Windows Live on my system. First I tried navigating around the Live interface in game. For some reason my mouse cursor is always about 50 pixels below where it thinks it is while in GfW within Fallout, so this does not make for easy navigation in the first place. I persevered, but I couldn't find how to get at the downloadable content from within the game, despite having to go to all the trouble of registering my Live ID - I'm not much of an online gamer - I've seen no other reason to go on to Live.

So, I then tried from outside Fallout, but couldn't find a way to access Games for Windows. I attempted to download the Live app from Microsoft to see if this would fix things. It installed fine, but still no icon. Eventually, I found it using the Search bar. I still have no idea where it's actually installed on my system - certainly not in the Games folder where I might expect it to be.

Anyway, I fired up the application to see if I could order the downloadable content. It took me a couple of goes to find the right page, as before I bought it, I wanted to be sure that if I installed Fallout on my other PC, I'd be able to play the content on that - information that wasn't readily available on any of the webpages I looked at. To make matters worse, Games for Windows Live insisted in starting up web pages in Internet Explorer, which I found intensely irritating, as I use Firefox exclusively and have no desire to learn how to use IE.

Eventually I managed to get it to the point where it told me that I needed to buy 800 points to get the Fallout expansion. I admit to being a little flummoxed by this, since I had no clear idea what 800 points are or how much they're worth to me.

I then went to enter in my credit card details so I could buy some points. Despite being an international site, Games for Windows gave no option for me to use my Maestro card to pay for these points. I have a Visa card, so it's not a huge problem, but I prefer not to use it unless I have to, as the delay in paying makes budgeting difficult. Oh well, I thought. If it has to be Visa, then so be it.

Once I have laboriously entered all my details by hand (which Firefox will happily fill in for me, but I don't have that feature set up in Internet Explorer, because I don't normally use IE), I am then told that I can buy GfW points in multiples of 500. I'm afraid that for me this was the final straw. I have no desire to loan Microsoft my money on an indefinite basis, even as small an amount as a pound or two. I'm afraid I just want to pay the asking price for something and that be the end of the transaction.

In summary, your chosen downloadable content deliverer is confusing, poorly implemented, inconvenient, and tries to charge me more than the cost of your game, the balance to be refunded at some future date, should I choose to shop in their store again, which I'd have to say at this stage looks vanishingly unlikely.

I'm afraid that under the circumstances, there's absolutely no way I'm willing to purchase from them, so I'm afraid it looks as though you won't be getting my custom this time. This is a shame, as you make a good product, which I'm happy to pay for and use should you make it convenient for me to do so.

Lest you think I'm some sort of techno-luddite, completely incapable of dealing with the complexities of the modern Internet, I should probably point out that I've spent several years working professionally as a systems administrator, and thus if I experience problems with an interface, you can probably put money on the problem being with the interface rather than me. Also, I've bought about 10 games off Steam without issue, and have been very happy with the ease and convenience of Valve's service.

I'd be grateful if you would pass details of my experience on to your customer relations manager, so that she or he is aware of the frustrating nature of my experience, and so that you may be able to work on improving your customer experience in future. An apology would also be welcome, but really it's more important to me that things get fixed in future.

Thanks for your time,

3 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: February 3rd, 2009 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Microsoft Points sort of work on an Xbox, and when you are buying enough to exhaust them from time to time. They're also fixed to your local currency, so they cost different amounts depending where you are registered - and points bought outside your territory don't count.

Games for Windows Live has largely failed in the market place and is in the process of rebranding.

suzerain From: suzerain Date: February 3rd, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
sounds absolutely typical.

poor implementation, and no care in design.

I still say the best product that Bethdesa ever produced was the pewter Elder Scrolls keyring that I got in a box set for Morrowind. it's served me perfectly for oh, 7 years now.
never needed patching, either...
zandev From: zandev Date: February 3rd, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a different annoyance with live in fallout.

I got fallout from steam. On launching it, live told me I needed a patch and game me a button to click to download it. I did, and this hung fallout.

On trying again, it turned out that the buit in downloader automatically downloads a patch which isn't the right patch fo the steam version.

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