Doctor Who Blog

Adventures in time and space (just not outside the UK)


Well, those fans in North America hoping to try out the whizzy new videogame, City of the Daleks, which was just released yesterday are going to be disappointed… it ain’t available to North Americans.

Ok. I’ve had enough of this crap.

I get that the BBC and its website are designed to solely service the license payer. I don’t agree—I think the Internet should be bigger than such parochial concerns, but I’m a futurist at heart. Fine.

But here’s the thing… Doctor Who has been and always will be a global phenomenon—one that’s bigger than just Britain. And it bewilders me after 25 years of being a Doctor Who fan that the BBC and its subsidiaries and minions just do not get that. I’m old enough to remember how, in spite of the fact that—depending on who you talked to—a third to a half of the novels published during the Wilderness Years were bought in North America, BBC Books were next to useless in ensuring proper North American distribution during the period 1997-2003… but never saw this as a factor in the range’s steady decline in sales. Because North America…they’re Americans. Who cares about them?

The same blindspot applies here. The BBC Doctor Who website now becoming virtually unviewable outside of Britain due to the high amount of geofenced video content, the Adventure Game launch… it’s the same parochial nonsense.

This problem could be fixed. It would take work, sure. But it could be fixed. The BBC would simply need to partner with BBC Worldwide on the website and any products it puts out. A mirror of the BBC Doctor Who site would exist outside Britain, under BBC Worldwide’s auspices. It would have the content but ad-generating material as well to pay for non-UK access. They do this already on the BBC’s news site (that’s why, if you’re Canadian, you get Telus ads before looking at video content on the BBC news website). Worldwide could similarly run a site for the Adventure Game on a similar, ad revenue generating principle rather than waiting for a commercial release that will get fewer users.

This was identified to me as the solution by the BBC’s own staff when I wrote them about geofencing the video material two years ago. So why hasn’t this been done? Corporate lethargy? The usual tunnel vision at higher levels?

The BBC have seemed to have had no trouble in restrategizing and rebranding Doctor Who over the past year. Except this. Why not do the job properly? Please?


Agreed - well said.

Posted by JJ  on  06/03  at  02:02 PM

Agreed! I hate not being able to get DW content here in the states.

Posted by Reba Baskett  on  06/03  at  02:53 PM

It’s frustrating.  My assumption is that it has to do with the legal labyrinth that is international copyright law, which is notoriously behind the times when it comes to the global nature of the Internet.  It’s the same thing that causes me not to be able to view The Daily Show from Facebook - the licensing in Canada is through Comedy Central, which doesn’t help me the user when I’m trying to view content on Facebook.  Could they do a 301 re-direct based on my IP?  Probably.  Are they going to put effort into it across multiple platforms? Apparently not.  I assume British Daily Show fans have to face a similar thing.

It is annoying. Copyright law and licensing agreements are, to this non-law talkin’ guy, antiquated. And what it really comes down to is how the content is valued - as the property of the holder, or for the audience that the material was intended for in the first place.

Posted by Rob J  on  06/03  at  03:24 PM

It’s not quite copyright related like that (though it is in part)... it’s more to do with the fact that they deem content for the BBC website covered by British citizens’ license payment for the BBC. International users don’t pay the license fee… so they don’t get it.

Which is, as I say, fair enough, but the BBC News site shows how you can easily circumvent that by actually paying for that content through the BBC’s commercial wing, BBC Worldwide.

Posted by Graeme  on  06/03  at  03:34 PM

James Moran says on his Twitter that it will be available for purchase outside the UK next month, so it isn’t that bad.

Posted by Jack  on  06/03  at  05:28 PM

Yes, but it depends on how much it is to buy. I do not mind buying it—just depends on how much since it is a “free” game.

Posted by Reba  on  06/03  at  05:30 PM

Graeme - THANK YOU. I have been waiting for someone on a blog to come out and state it the way it is. The whole licence fee excuse is nonsense - the fact we’re able to access audio without any difficulty is proof of that. This is incredibly short-sighted of the BBC to do this. Adding insult to injury is the statement that they “hope to” (read: may) release the game for sale sometime next month. Frankly, I’m so put off by this I’ve decided to ignore this release completely. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 for $40 (and frankly it could fall anywhere in between). What makes me mad is it was PROMOTED everywhere—including on—as being a free release worldwide. I never saw ANY reference in any of the publicity for this game that it would be geofenced. I am in full agreement with Graeme. I’ve had enough of this crap. I already consider the BBC’s website for Doctor Who to be a failed site because most useful content is blocked off from 99% of its users (yeah, I know, most of it you can get from YouTube, etc. but that’s naughty and with Harper playing around with copyright laws, you might get the men in black pounding on your door before long).

Posted by Alex  on  06/03  at  10:02 PM

Just to add to my comment, if anyone would be so kind as to deliver a sound kick in the backside to everyone who looks down their nose with the “well we pay the licence fee, don’t complain” excuse. That seems to be the default “I have no valid argument, really” excuse that is appearing against everyone - myself included - who is complaining about this on any UK-based Who fan site, it appears.

Posted by Alex  on  06/03  at  10:12 PM

Great article.  Years ago I actually contacted the folks that managed the site with feedback and they got back to me saying they were not looking to bring the content outside of the UK (even if you had to pay a fee to get to the content).  Plus, at the time, they noted that their technology could not handle the type of traffic that would ensure with going outside of the UK.  That is shortsighted and I no longer go their DW website (hated the last two revamped of the site anyway).  It is frustrating when most of the shows I enjoy are from the UK and cannot get to much of the content for them due to the restrictions.

Posted by Barb Gorczyca  on  06/04  at  02:02 PM

Great article Graeme!  Pretty much hit the nail on the head there.  The producers talk as if these games are episodes themselves.  If that’s true, that would be the only way I’d pay for these games.  That is if the games/episodes came with the DVD box set.  They’re called versatile discs for a reason.

Still can hope.

Posted by Gajo  on  06/04  at  07:55 PM

Well, the second game gets launched next week in the UK, so we can pretty much ignore it now. They’re saying the other 2 episodes will be released during the summer, so that suggests the “purchase” version for us is going to be just that first game—MAYBE the first two if we’re lucky and someone there actually has a brain. But I’m not holding my breath. We were supposed to get Destiny of the Daleks in North America, too, but it never happened. And I will not pay $10, $20, $30 for a mini-game, no matter how much I like Doctor Who.

Posted by Alex  on  06/19  at  04:52 PM

The people behind the BBC games have finally explained a few things: 1. The delay is due to the fact the games apparently reflect events in the series, so due to BBC America and Space running a month behind, they had to push the games back a bit. 2. The games will be available “for a small fee” via “third-party” gaming sites on a monthly basis. We still wait to find what they consider to be a “small fee”. Both fair enough except the BBC would have prevented a fair amount of bad blood if they’d explained some of this back when the games were first announced, or at least when City of the Daleks came out!

Posted by Alex  on  06/26  at  02:34 PM

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