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Don't Trust Stoic

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Developer Stoic has gotten a lot of attention for The Banner Saga, a turn-based strategy game that was meant to mix challenging tactical combat with a unique art style. Putting aside the game's (many) story and gameplay deficiencies that keep it from living up to its potential, however, there's a narrative that's been buried since release—the absence of a DRM-free release day-one. Rather than releasing both a DRM-free version and a Steam version at the same time, Stoic released the Steam version and chose to kick the DRM-free version down the road.

This is especially strange given the phrasing on Stoic's Kickstarter page, where high up on the page are the words "DRM-Free, and available on PC and Mac" in bold. If you look for a mention of Steam, on the other hand, you'll only find it on the bottom of the page in the FAQ, where it briefly mentions that they're looking into getting the game up there, too. There's also this little nugget just a few questions later, and the phrasing makes it sound like the DRM-free version has precedence.

Instead, the game's release (January 14th, 2014) was exclusive to Steam, with a DRM-free release failing to materialize within the same month. Even if it does eventually appear, however, the obvious question is why it took so long. After all, The Banner Saga was cracked and being shared online on January 14th, the very day it was released. This means that not only is there absolutely no excuse for this behavior from a "fighting piracy" angle, but the ability to so quickly and so easily pirate the game means that there's also no technical justification. If pirates can have the game up on the same day as release, why can't the developers who made the game have a similar version up within the month?

At best, they're outwardly deceptive. At worst, they're wildly incompetent. Either way, you can't trust Stoic.


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