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TheZorch

The Fall of Cities Skylines

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Posted · Original PosterOP

A few days ago, January 22, Cities Skylines received an update which sparked a major fan revolt. It goes beyond just gamers being angry, the publisher may have violated the EU's GDPR and based on evidence I've seen they are also violating Steam's TOS by manipulating the game's review score.

 

Let me give you some background so you'll understand what the hubbub is all about. As you know, Cities Skylines took the mantle of premier city builder in the wake of the Sim City debacle. The issues with Sim City is that it had to be always online, you had to sign in to play the game. EA would later fix this, sort of, but the damage had already been done. Cities Skylines was announced at Gamescom 2014 and rest was history, until now. Many people who play Cities Skylines today and who maintain the game's many and often essential mods were all Sim City refugees, so what's happened with the game recently now feels like a major betrayal of trust. How the publisher has responded to the fan backlash makes the situation much worse.

 

On the 22nd, Cities Skylines received an update which added a Paradox Interactive launcher. When you launch the game there is no indication that the EULA for the game has changed and there are no warning dialog boxes. Due to how the game works, Cities Skylines can sometimes take 10 minutes to launch even on an M.2 NVMe SSD if several DLC and mods are installed. The launcher adds up to an additional 10 minutes to the launch time. The launcher requires a sign in to play the game. Many players have experienced a drop in CPU performance with the launcher running and others have reported the it is also eating up system memory. Other more technically minded players have found that the launcher is dialing home and send telemetry data some remote server which may include personal information (this requires deeper investigation). The launcher has rendered the native Mac and Linux versions of the game unplayable, and it was installed outside of the Steam game directory under the USER DATA area instead. All of this without any warning or fanfare other than a post in the Steam community forums that says "We're doing this, don't riot". Some antivirus programs detect the Paradox launcher as malware.

 

Where do things stand now? Paradox has only recently responded to the controversy and they haven't taken it very well. To add insult to injury, the game and all of its DLC was put on a steep sale. It doesn't end there, one employee called fans "SJWs who hate change" on the Steam forums. The post has since been deleted, but the Streisand Effect is alive and well. Hundreds of fans of the game have been uninstalling Cities Skylines and changed their reviews on Steam to "not recommended". This influx of negative reviews changed the game's review score from "Mostly Positive" to "Mixed". There has now been an influx of reviews with thumbs up recommendations made by Steam users with simple throwaway account names and the texts are between one to three words each. There is even one review that is just the letter "h" and that's it. All of these positive reviews came in the same day and the users have barely any playtime accumulated. So many of these strange reviews have come in that it has shifted the game's review score back to "Mostly Positive". This is clearly review tampering and a major breach of Steam's TOS which is punishable with exile from the platform. These suspect reviews have been reported to Steam in mass.

 

That is where things stand. The fans are waving their torches and pitchforks and Paradox is acting like a thin-skinned asset flipper. They may have done some things that violate both the GDPR and (potentially) COPPA, and may have certainly committed a bannable offense on Steam.

 

Does anyone have any marshmallows I can roast over this dumpster fire?


--Michael "TheZorch" Haney
Content Creator for Zorch Central and Gamers Bay
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rip city skylines. I haven't played in a long time but i put so many hours into it

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3 minutes ago, TheZorch said:

The launcher requires a sign in to play the game

Unless there's a different Paradox launcher for City Skylines it definitely dosen't

 

11 minutes ago, TheZorch said:

Some antivirus programs detect the Paradox launcher as malware.

Lot's of antiviruses even detect steam as a virus

 

Like I like reading shitstorms like this but can I get a source?


My life

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Posted · Original PosterOP
7 minutes ago, Himommies said:

Unless there's a different Paradox launcher for City Skylines it definitely dosen't

 

Lot's of antiviruses even detect steam as a virus

 

Like I like reading shitstorms like this but can I get a source?

This one apparently does, and the source is reply posts in the Steam forums. That thread has exceeded a thousand posts so what you want is in there...so get crackin!

 

I've got no skin in this game. I don't play Cities Skylines but my co-host does and he's been melting down over all of this and I've looked over the Steam forums to see what other people are saying. Nuclear Dumpster Fire is an apt description. I haven't seen anything this bad since Fallout 76. That nobody else is talking about is shocking, actually.


--Michael "TheZorch" Haney
Content Creator for Zorch Central and Gamers Bay
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While I don't agree with what Paradox has done here, I can't say it surprises me. I think it's entirely possible that we will see more of this as the "launcher wars" expand. Everyone wants a piece of the pie, and like streaming services, it's going to be to the detriment of the concept as a whole.

It is worth noting, however, burden of proof needs to be substantiated that it's paradox initiating the positive ratings/reviews for it to actually be an act against the TOS.

Whatever data is being transmitted, based upon what you've given here (I don't have the time to sift through thousands of posts to do my own research) has not substantiated anything that clearly violates either GDPR or COPPA. Further investigation may reveal this to be true or false, it remains to be seen. Currently however these are sensationalist at best, akin to clickbait or "fake news", rumors that spread and eventually become "fact" (regardless of their factual objectiveness) because the narrative changes somewhere along the way.


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5 hours ago, TheZorch said:

This one apparently does, and the source is reply posts in the Steam forums. That thread has exceeded a thousand posts so what you want is in there...so get crackin!

 

You are suppose to link to source(s). Otherwise we could disregard this as only ranting.

 

E: Short search doesn't give any news articles about this. Paradox Launcher has been a thing for months too in other of their games. I am still interested if there were to be sources or articles about this.

Edited by LogicalDrm

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While #1 is a tad overdramatic, he does have a point. The new launcher is an issue.

 

We did buy CS quite some years ago, together with several DLCs and we did enjoy it even with hardware that barely could handle it. Years passed, mods came and went with incompatibilities every now and then but all in all CS is more than o.k and it was worth every penny, so far.

And yes, we're still fully on Linux.

 

With the new launcher we did face a new EULA which states we do have to read it in full and we need to agree. There's no option but 'continue', the only option when disagreeing is - according to this very EULA - to go ask for a refund, leaving a game once bought and enjoyed behind. But we already did agree to the previous EULA, so we do not agree with the new one but we are still keeping the game (cunning...).

 

After testing possible differences I have to say that we did not need to log in to Paradox in order to play the game, saves do load as long as the mods used are available and loading times are still reasonable.

It took me 1 minute from pressing start up to the loaded save-game, so I didn't face these minutelong 'penalties' #1 did write about.

But yes, the new launcher is annoying; We do not want to be advertised at start, we don't like to be sniffed upon. So we'll do everything possible to keep the launcher at bay even (or especially...) if it is said to be part of the new user-agreement. In our views the terms of the new EULA aren't valid to us.

But this move of forcing users to agree to new terms and conditions, in addition with unwanted advertising and telemetrics is despicable and it should send waves through the community anytime a supplier/provider/studio and so on is trying it.

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 1/29/2020 at 2:15 AM, LogicalDrm said:

You are suppose to link to source(s). Otherwise we could disregard this as only ranting.

 

E: Short search doesn't give any news articles about this. Paradox Launcher has been a thing for months too in other of their games. I am still interested if there were to be sources or articles about this.

I'm too used to dealing with people who go out of their way to hurt you because they don't like what you say. tl:dr - Trolls have made me jaded.

 

That being said, I'm rather upset nobody else is talking about this because of the comparisons to the EA Sim City Debacle. Paradox has been scrubbing their forums of any posts protesting the launcher, but on Steam there are a few roaring dumpster fires.

 

The Links...

The Initial Developer Post

The short nonchalant announcement post about the launcher that caused a Chernobyl-level meltdown of the CSL community. (Be warned, some of the posts in this thread are very NSFW). Based on the wording of this post they knew in advance what the community's reaction was going to be but they continued with the launcher anyway.

 

Update Post on the Launcher

A post was supposed to calm the community down but it only threw rocket fuel on the fire. Based on replies there are a lot of people who either can't play the game because of the launcher or it is eating up so many system resources that it tanks the game's performance. This thread is pretty heated too.

 

Angry Response from a Community Member

An angry but sensible response to Paradox's comments about the launcher. This one has sparked a discussion that's still ongoing. Bring asbestos boots.

 

Paradox's Cities Skylines Forum

No specific thread here, it is just a link to their forum. Paradox has been locking or deleting threads critical of the launcher, however.


--Michael "TheZorch" Haney
Content Creator for Zorch Central and Gamers Bay
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9 hours ago, TheZorch said:

I'm too used to dealing with people who go out of their way to hurt you because they don't like what you say. tl:dr - Trolls have made me jaded.

 

That being said, I'm rather upset nobody else is talking about this because of the comparisons to the EA Sim City Debacle. Paradox has been scrubbing their forums of any posts protesting the launcher, but on Steam there are a few roaring dumpster fires.

Thank you for posting this. I really do appreciate it. There are few questions still, mainly about claim that implementing launcher would somehow be against Steam's ToS. Valve has some things in place, mainly to prevent devs moving their gathered data to their own platform. But if there's something said against updating game with launcher, then why it hasn't been brought up with Rockstar, Epic, Ubisoft etc. before this?

 

Another thing is that we have no idea what kind of agreement CO and Paradox have about Cities franchise. CO isn't owned by Paradox. So if the agreement is only set for original game, then they could be pledged to release sequal with someone more consumer oriented. Like GOG.com for example (or their parent, CD Projekt). Doesn't help with the original game, which is sad, but shit happens. Ubi has already messed so many times with Anno series. Like 2070 not having login servers online anymore and you need to login to play it.


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Apparently there was a small uprising (wouldn't call that an outrage).

Here's a review history:

Skylines_reviews.png.0704d87e6b55075c182a799ef0056663.png

 

And it lines up with the note about the launcher - both from 22nd of January (sorry for Steam being stupid and not translating date along with the rest of the UI - inherit OS date much or smth).

As for now the negative reviews are stabilized. Not saying there was no tinkering with review score, simply don't have any desire to dig that much.

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