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Mass Effect DRM Still Causing Issues 593

Posted by kdawson
from the three-strikes-and-you're-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There was some discussion last month about the proposed DRM for Mass Effect and Spore that required the game to phone home every ten days. They backed down from that, but have left in that a user is only allowed 3 activations per license key. A license key is burned up when the O/S is reinstalled, when certain hardware is upgraded (EA refuses to disclose specifics of what), and possibly when a new user is set up in Windows. Only in its first month, some users are already locked out of their games from trying troubleshooting techniques to get the game running."
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Mass Effect DRM Still Causing Issues

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  • by cstdenis (1118589) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @03:59PM (#23830031)
    Thats what they get for buying it instead of pirating it. The cracked version(s) don't have any problems like this.

    Protection like this certainly doesn't encourage paying for the game when the free version is better.
  • Well, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:00PM (#23830059) Journal
    That's the downside from copy protection. If you make it too weak, it is easily cracked. If you make it to strong, you lock out legit users. Try to avoid 99,999% of that or you will get disgruntled customers and that's a big no-no for companies. Since Spore is a single-player game, a harsh copy protection will only tick off legit costumers. A free bit of advice, DON'T. It will cost you more than you will get from it.
  • by Reapman (740286) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:02PM (#23830097)
    So true... people still hack the software to make it work, but those trying to follow the straight and narrow get nothing but grief. How is this a good thing? Reminds me of the DRM used a few years ago (still is?) where the game was faster cracked since it wasn't constantly scanning the CD drive verifying the disc was still in there.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:04PM (#23830131)
    DRM drives a honest man to not liking DRM. Those who use software against the wishes of the content creator are rewarded with superior quality.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:05PM (#23830161)
    That is so true. In 2005 I purchased Civilization 4 from direct2drive.com. A few weeks ago I had the urge to play civilization, downloaded it from d2d and installed it. When I tried to activate it with my CDKEY it told me I was out of activations. It took about 36 hours, two emails and registering all over again with a 'support site' to get this resolved. I'll torrent my future games thank-you.
  • Screw Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neokushan (932374) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:05PM (#23830173)
    I legitimately own this game and use cracks on it anyway. I don't see why I should be inconvenienced more than the pirates.
    I do this with all my games, mainly because I don't want to have to have the disk in the drive if there's no legitimate need for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:06PM (#23830187)
    It doesn't even manage that feat. It encourages honest people to crack the DRM so that they get to use software they paid for. Ultimately they learn to just bit torrent it and have done.
  • by AioKits (1235070) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:06PM (#23830189)
    Yeah, but it also turns an honest man into whatever it takes to get his damned game working since he feels entitled to it (rightly so cause he did pay for the thing).

    I had brought a copy of Supreme Commander:FA and went to bit torrent for a copy of it since it would NEVER install all the way. Plays like a champ with the copy I got offa Pirate Bay, no insert CD or nothing.

    BTW - I do know the latest patch removes the 'copy protection' on it.
  • by LiquidAvatar (772805) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:06PM (#23830195) Journal
    I'd disagree - this DRM is making this honest man pirate. If a DRM suite cripples my legitimate use of the product, then I'm going to acquire the product without the DRM.
  • Re:Well, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FinchWorld (845331) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:06PM (#23830201) Homepage
    That's the downside from copy protection. If you make it too weak, it is easily cracked. If you make it to strong, you lock out legit users.

    And it'll still be cracked

    Since Spore is a single-player game

    and mass effect too...

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:07PM (#23830225)
    Yet another demonstration of stupid DRM problems and angry users. Just repeat after me: There is no perfect DRM, and then quit acting like there is.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:07PM (#23830239) Homepage Journal
    Not really.
    I bought FS2004. I run the cracked version of it because I don't want to have to find the disk every time I play it.
    I am honest because I am honest.
    In this case I doubt I will buy Spore. The DRM is just too big of a pain do deal with.
    DRM seems to be making honest people into criminals.
    Seems way to like prohibition to me.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:07PM (#23830243)
    That's the problem with most if not all copy "prevention" (the quotes are necessary, since it prevents jack) mechanisms: Those who play by the rules get shafted while those that don't get rewarded.

    The actual problem with DRM is that, unlike with ordinary goods where I have an additional value when I buy something rather than hoping it "falls off a truck". I get warrenty, I get a manual, I get support, I may get cheap(er) addons. It's exactly reverse with DRMed goods. You get more value out of "stealing" it.

    Yes, convenience is a value in a good. Actually, convenience has become a good in and of itself. Valet parking is nothing but a convenience, still people pay for it. The reason why Windows is still more in use than Linux with private users is the convenience of its use and the software for it. Convenience is a big selling point. And just this important key point is actually better when I copy&crack software rather than buying it?

    That's why DRM will fail with the masses. Not because of the privacy invasion or the "phoning home". People don't care about that. But they do care about the loss of convenience.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:10PM (#23830293) Journal
    I've liked some of Bioware's earlier releases, but I guess I'll just keep on waiting for Mass Effect, till they come to their senses.

    Honestly, if Bioware never 'needed' DRM (outside of a license key) for earlier games such as the Baldur's Gate Series, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, etc, and made millions upon millions of dollars of revenue, why do they suddenly need such restrictive DRM? I guess it's to keep people like me from buying the game who probably otherwise would.

    Publishers, pay attention: DRM doesn't generate more revenue, it costs you revenue. It's costly to develop and deploy, and to some extent, reduces your sales. I doubt a single person who would have pirated a non-DRM'ed version will actually pay because of the DRM, but it definitely goes the other way - some percentage, even if small, of potential customers who would have payed will be turned off by the DRM and will simply not purchase the game.

    Also, DRM like this violates the Doctrine of First Sale [wikipedia.org] - you know, that little concept that if you buy a book, recording, or copy of a computer program, you can let your friends read it, listen to it, libraries can lend it out, etc. Any DRM which prevents lawful re-use of a legally purchased copy should itself be illegal, but of course our corrupt congress which only cares about pandering to rich lobbyists don't care about flushing a century of copyright law down the toilet.
  • by digitrev (989335) <digitrev@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:13PM (#23830359) Homepage
    No, the real question is will you continue to remain an honest man because of this? If your software acquisition process looks like this:
    1. Buy software.
    2. Install software.
    3. Get frustrated.
    4. Crack software.
    you'll soon start to cut out steps 2 and 3, and then just cut out step 1.
  • by joe_n_bloe (244407) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:14PM (#23830379) Homepage
    I really think this kind of bullshit violates the first sale doctrine. By and large the courts have never sympathized with the view that shrink-wrapped software is licensed and not bought; and this has been confirmed in some recent higher court rulings.

    When you guy a game, you have bought it. The courts now *clearly* recognize this. (To wit the recent case involving auctions of Autodesk software on eBay in alleged violation of Autodesk licensing.) You definitively have the right to sell it. It seems that along with that right must come the right to use it yourself .

    I wonder why Will Wright subjects us to this shit, or at the least, why he tolerates it. Why hasn't he gone the Sid Meier way and left his lame publisher? If EA wants guaranteed income, why not charge a reasonable subscription rate for online gameplay and content?

    Meanwhile I don't see any way that EA will be made to stop this short of a boycott (not likely with Spore and Mass Effect) or legal intervention. EA already got the smackdown for its illegal employment practices; why not its illegal "licensing" practices?
  • Re:Well, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:15PM (#23830405)
    There is no distinction between weak and strong copy protection. No matter how strong, it will be broken. Whether 1% or 0.000001% of the people have the skill to break it is meaningless, it only takes one person to break it. Then it's spread millionfold through the net. Whether someone else breaks it too doesn't make a difference.

    There is a difference between copy protection that is a minor nuisance (i.e. having to have the disk in the drive to use the software) and a major nuisance (i.e. disabling the software altogether after a while). The first will be swallowed grungedly. The latter will cause people to find a way to get around it to use the software they legally bought again.

    If this has any effect, it will make more people search for ways to disable copy protection. It will show people who didn't even think about copying how to do it, how to acquire "cracks" and how to download cracked software.

    And once the initial "work" is done to get a hand on such software, the incentive to keep doing it is immense. It does take some time initially to dig up sources for cracked software, but once you have the source, getting more software without buying for it is fairly trivial.

    So the net effect of crippling DRM methods like this is to drive more people towards cracked soft. Because once you know where to get it, it's easy to get more.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:15PM (#23830407)
    Ought to be enough for anybody :-)

    I won't be buying any game with such a ridiculous limitation. 3 activations? Are they seriously suggesting that over the lifetime of the game's use by their customer it is unlikely that people would have to reinstall the game on a new machine (hardware failure, upgrade), or reinstall the OS on the same machine, more than 3 times?

    I guess I won't be buying any more EA games. A pity. I have several older ones on the shelf that I still play from time to time. It's been nice knowing you, EA.
  • Re:A solution? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mascot (120795) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:18PM (#23830487)
    And not playing is exactly what you'll be doing once they shut down the activation servers.

    What you are doing, in effect, is accepting the fact you're renting a game, but still paying full price for it.

    I for one won't accept that. Either slice the prices down to rental levels, or let me actually own the game I buy. They're doing a great job not getting my money. Not such a great job keeping me from enjoying the games. If they ever change their minds and want my money after all, they know what to do.
  • Re:Screw Piracy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkMage0707077 (1284674) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:19PM (#23830503)
    I personally prefer "Sins of a Solar Empire" creator's model of copy protection: the game will technically work fine if you pay for it or not...for version 1.0.

    If you want updates and any add-ons they come out with, though, you need to purchase a key(one-time purchase only, mind) in order to register the game.

    I love it: I downloaded two of their games and tried them for 3 days. One, I got rid of; the other, SoaSE, I liked so much that I went and bought a legitimate key to register with online.

    Granted it has its flaws: it would be very easy for someone to pirate a game with this kind of "protection". Even the key itself would be easy to spread around, I bet.

    But if you actually like the game, don't you want to see improvements and add-ons come out for it? And/or more games like it? Most people are aware that these things cost money, and without that money, no more will be made like it. So if customers like what they see and want more, they come back and pay for more.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:22PM (#23830567)
    Unless they push a patch some day that removes this lunacy, I guess I'll never know. Since I refuse to break the law for a game, and certainly don't feel like being at a company's whim whether I may or may not use what I bought, I guess the only option left to me is not buying it.

    Ya know, despite what ads tell you, there is still this option...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:24PM (#23830627)
    I have boxes full of PC games, but I won't be buying any more if this continues.

    These idiots need to stop treating their paying customers like pirates, real pirates don't have the CD. Moreover it violates "first sale" rights so it will get their asses sued real soon now (I hope). The pirates download torrents and publishers are forcing their own customers to go there. When your experience with acracked version of the game is better and less buggy that with the store purchase then the publishers are not doing their job and are screwing themselves as much as the customer. This restrictive move is abject stupidity!
  • Re:Spore... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Znork (31774) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:28PM (#23830675)
    Same here. I've bought most SimCity games (as far as they've worked under cedega), and was going to buy Spore once it got there, but this is simply a total dealbreaker. This is product is defective by design.
  • by drdaz (994457) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:34PM (#23830807)
    Fraud.
  • Behold! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pecosdave (536896) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:35PM (#23830823) Homepage Journal
    The users did purchase their games, but low, the game installer caused much discord. From its discord came much reinstalling. From the reinstalling came excess activations, and from the excess activations came denial. Among the users there was much unrest and gnashing of teeth.

    And it came to pass that the users gathered together and announced their lamentations unto the manufacturer, but the manufacturer heard their lamentations not declaring "For ours is to profit and yours is to consume, for the criminal he doth consume, but from that that the criminal consumes he also copies, and allow others to consume from the results of my minions labor. How doeth it profit us for a criminal to copy, and how doeth I as the provider of my minions labor know that you, and those gathered with you are not a criminals? Nay, not only is it safer for me to lock in the results of my minions by allowing not but three activations, it profits me even more if those activations are squander on unclean install and hardware not fit for supporting our products."

    Then the users hearing this from the manufacturer brought their lamentations unto Slashdot, for Slashdot has a voice which carriers farther than just the voices of the users alone, but the manufactures still heard their lamentations not.

    In the months that followed there was much casting of stones, but the fortress of the manufacturer had high walls and the stones cleared them not. The users then declared "We will trap them within their stone walls, and we will purchase their products not, and in time, when they hunger, they will come forth from their walls and allow us unlimited activations, for they will have empty wallets."

    In this plan there was much wisdom, but the bulk of the users had not the courage to uphold this plan, for they were already committed and could survive without their games not. Among the users was a multitude for which the plan fell upon deaf ears, and money continued to flow to the manufacturer as water flows down a river.

    And it came to pass that a band of users gathered together and gave their lamentations unto the pharacies, and they stated unto the pharacies that for the loss of their wages they were entitled a class action.

    The spies of the manufacturer were many, and the spy among the pharacies reported back to the manufacturer of the news of class action. It was then that the manufacturer relented, not of wisdom, or of kindness, but of cowardice, for the manufacturer loves his purse and the money which it contains and wanted to part with that the he has already obtained not, prefer instead to risk the reduction of that which comes in by way of bandit interception.

    The users upon hearing this declared that it was good, and their activations were good until the end of days.
  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:39PM (#23830879) Homepage Journal
    What a load of horseshit. Let us say that life is fair and the world is perfect and everyone who wanted to use some piece of software actually paid for it. Greedy Corp X will still throw DRM at it because now they want you to pay for it for every machine you want to run it on... for every user that has an account on every machine you want to run it on... every three months for eternity.

    DRM isn't REALLY about software piracy. I haven't known one person that has said "Hey! It is difficult to pirate this. I may as well just go buy it!". It is about squeezing the most money out of you that they possibly can for the least amount of product.
  • Re:Well, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:40PM (#23830891)
    The step towards FOSS takes usually longer. But more than one person has found his way to cracked soft due to software he bought refusing to work properly. And once he sees how easily you can get software "for free", and how much more convenient it is when you don't have to do what the copy protection mechanisms demand from you, he usually stays there.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:46PM (#23830955)
    Now, I call DRM the biggest problem of the software industry, and at the same time I don't steal software and actually make my living by writing it. How does this work out?

    Well, as pointed out above, not only by me, if DRM accomplished anything, it's that people who got dicked over by DRMcrippled software they bought start looking for a way around DRM, find out about cracks and then you lost a customer. And unfortunately, not only the companies using DRM to harrass their customers lose them, everyone does. Someone who has found cracked soft doesn't discriminate anymore between "good" companies that employ either no DRM or less invasive DRM, and "bad" companies who try to enforce something as ridiculous as the crap we're discussing here.

    He just sees free soft and starts grabbing.

    If DRM accomplishes anything, it drives more people towards cracked software. You can't get those that download&crack on principle to buy your stuff. For many, it's a sport to avoid buying software, and you won't get them to buy yours. DRM now drives the rest away from buying as well by pretty much sending them towards cracks to regain the convenience and ease of use they enjoy about software they bought.
  • by Mascot (120795) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @04:46PM (#23830963)
    There will always be those that choose to pirate software (it's not stealing unless you pick a box off a shelf in a store), and there will always be those that choose to buy.

    I pirated a lot when I was younger and without disposable income. This lost the game companies little to nothing since there was no money to be had from me either way. I now have buckets of disposable income, but do not buy games with this sort of DRM. If they don't want my money, they don't get it. There are plenty of games without DRM for me to give my money for.

    The fact games with no DRM whatsoever still turn a good profit (Stardock's titles are a prime example), proves beyond any doubt that tossing away DRM does not equal zero return on investment.

    Chicken or egg? Not an interesting question, in my opinion. There has been piracy since the birth of the games industry. This hasn't prevented them from becoming so large they are now on par with the movie industry.

    DRM is now an industry in itself. If not a single person on the planet pirated, the DRM industry would still somehow manage to sell their crippleware to game companies. It's not like they don't already produce fictional losses to rival that of the **AA.
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:09PM (#23831227)
    When you really look at DRM as a whole, the only ones who actually get stuck with "playing by the rules" are the ones living in constant fear of life-destroying debt and the loss of their freedom at the hands of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Unfortunately, unless you risk severe penalties to learn how to side step all the tricks and gimmicks these companies use to catch and litigate against those who "experiment with the dark side" (or those who suggest they might be "considering" it), exactly how does one safely rebel against a system where the real "bad guys" hold all the cards (money, lobbyists, politicians, lawyers, law enforcement, DMCA-like laws, etc...) in a country like the United States, where government was once supposed to protect us from such no-win situations?
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:11PM (#23831247)
    It's not really a chicken-and-egg problem... copyright is a man-made restriction that we know the origins of. The term "stealing" was applied to a certain subset of existing sharing of information. It was completely moral and natural one moment and then the next moment it was "stealing".

    So the stealing (behavior) clearly came first, the stealing terminology is pretty new-fangled :)

    I doubt that the pirates are the ones complaining about DRM - they are mostly unaffected. The people in this story are legit customers. I know that my complaints about DRM all revolve in trying to watch some Dora the Explorer episodes that I bought on iTunes on anything other than Apple hardware! Looking right now... yup... every season of Dora available in torrents for free, DRM free. A 30-second google away.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:13PM (#23831275)
    "Then again, if people actually did what they were supposed to and actually supported the things they enjoy using instead of stealing them, DRM wouldn't be needed."

    That's not really true. The restrictions aren't put in there because people will. Instead, they're put in there because people might. Reality isn't a factor in deciding to put copy restrictions into a software, so altering reality won't change the outcome. You should look at the movie industry's out-cry about the sale of vcrs many moons ago, it'll give you some insight into where I'm coming from.
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:14PM (#23831293)
    If you are going to be pedantic about definitions, using piracy as a term for copyright infringement has been around for several hundred years - the english language is interesting like that, one word can have several meanings.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:23PM (#23831385) Homepage
    So true... people still hack the software to make it work, but those trying to follow the straight and narrow get nothing but grief. How is this a good thing?

    DRM is not about getting people who were not paying for something to pay for it.

    It's about getting people who were paying for something to pay for it twice.

    For example, I downloaded a couple ring tones for my phone. Phone died. I replaced the phone with EXACTLY THE SAME MODEL, but even though I was able to back up and restore all my contacts and other information, the ring tones did not transfer because there's some weird DRM on them.

    So now if I want my ringtones back, I have to buy them AGAIN, and apparently every time I replace my phone. How stupid is that?
  • PC Gaming is dying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:27PM (#23831437) Homepage
    because the companies that provide the product refuse to treat their customers like anything but common thieves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:30PM (#23831489)
    I think the stupid part here is that you bought ringtones.
  • Re:Spore... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gnavpot (708731) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:37PM (#23831561)

    The problem is with the protest part: If enough people "protest" by not buying it, the "truth thermocline" (shamelessly stolen from a previous comment posted here today) will convert that into a "piracy" problem.

    If a game has DRM I cannot accept, I am not going to buy it OR pirate it.

    Reason 1: By ignoring the game, I do not count in any piracy statistics which can be used as an excuse for stronger Digital Restrictions Management in their next game.

    Reason 2: I believe that I will hurt the game company more by ignoring their game than by playing a pirated version. If I played the game, even in a pirated version, I might convince others to buy it. Or I might add something useful to the game's online community.
  • by soundguy (415780) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:46PM (#23831657) Homepage
    No, the stupid part is USING ringtones. No one wants to hear anyone else's crappy taste in music. Everyone needs to put their phones on vibrate and STFU!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:48PM (#23831681)
    Before the parent is modded down (potentially) they has a point. (To the GP) What are you doing buying ringtones? That is one of the biggest scam markets in the world. Why would anyone buy a 30 second shit bitrate snippet of a song you can get for 99 cents on itunes for 2.99+? And c'mon you must have known the deal with it staying on your phone. Yes they are DRMed. Now I don't know what model phone you have but with a few minutes of your time and assuming your time isn't worth $500/min like some slashdotters would have us believe, you can create your own ringtones via Mp3 and just bluetooth them or even just send them over the net. Yeah it's an inconvenience but how many times are you going to acquire ringtones a day/week/year? It's a one time deal. Bam you just saved yourself some beer money.
  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:48PM (#23831685)
    But, because I am not blinded by the sheeple mentality I do actually see that there is a benefit to DRM if used properly, implemented properly...

    Not to the purchaser, unless you want to say "without DRM, the content would not have been made available at all". Any digital file without DRM is inherently more flexible and useful than after it's applied, and to say that it's beneficial to the purchaser is twisting words around - DRM exists solely to benefit the content provider at the expense of the purchaser.

    As regards the "sheeple" comment - just because someone doesn't agree with your opinion doesn't automatically make them incapable of critical thought. I read your opinion, I understand it, but I still disagree with it from the perspective of the buying public - that doesn't make me or anyone else deserving of that kind of ad hom.
  • by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @05:53PM (#23831743) Journal
    I've used a variety of DRM'ed products over the years. One thing that concerns me is Spore, the direct download version, is using Digital River. Now I've had two VASTLY different experiences with them.

    A couple of years ago I bought Worldwide Soccer Manager from them and the game was unstable as all hell, I couldn't install etc... Had tons of issues. All of which were fixed with a no-cd crack. The game was, in it's shipping state, damn near unusable.

    Then I bought a couple of games recently through the service that merely used serial numbers and have been trouble free.

    Now I am really excited about Spore, but using Digital River has me on the fence as to whether to buy it.

    And apparently the Spore Creature Creator installs a Securom driver from what I've read. Yes, the free demo version of the editor.

    Wish they'd just use Steam. I'd pre-order this second if they were using that. Steam is awesome for the publisher due to the protection it offers, and more awesome for the customers. Rather than muck about with finding disks, CD keys etc... I just choose which games to install and let it do it's thing.
  • Ender77 price on his beliefs is exactly 1 game.

    Well done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:00PM (#23831845)
    (Mainly because I don't think Target accepts software returns...)

    They don't have to accept it. If they refuse, ask for a manager. If the manager refuses, whip out your cell phone and initiate a charge dispute. Reason: defective merchanidise and merchant failed to take return. At that point, leave the piece of shit game on the counter and walk away. If you didn't pay with CC, oh well. I've left stuff in the lobby because I didn't want to wait in line. The credit card company believes me and the merchant refunds the money.

  • by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:03PM (#23831891)
    I actually agree with CD check protection... It is a slight inconvenience for the user, but not so inconvenient that I would really mind. It also offers a reasonable protection against casual (i.e. not-so-computer-literate) piracy, which is really the best any copy protection scheme can ever hope for. Anything more extreme than CD checking/CD keys, IMHO, is overkill. You will never stop the hardcore pirates - if you've stopped little Johnny from simply burning a copy for his buddy, you've already extracted enough protection as you can expect.
  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:04PM (#23831909)
    "My dream" already does occur, inasmuch as I regularly play 20-year-old games today. Yes, it involves virtualization (or, when said games were written to a bytecode-based virtual machine, newer VMs written to the same bytecode spec). No, it's not hard.

    Need I also note that there already exist VMs capable of emulating present operating systems, and that there's going to be plenty of financial incentive for those to continue to exist in the future?

    No, I'm not concerned at all about being able to play my games in 20 years... except for the DRM.
  • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:10PM (#23831973) Homepage Journal
    because they see the drop-off of their revenue due to piracy

    Due... to... piracy? That is a pretty bold claim. Maybe because they are spewing out the same old tired garbage, that no one sees value in it anymore. The percieved value of everything changes. Even the value of your cash. When people don't want your crap, you will sell less. If people can't do something more useful in your new version, you will sell less.

    And do you think it is coincidence that even though we are talking about software, this is the exact same issue with the other big industry, music. People are tired of paying for the 13th Pearl Jam album that all sounds like filler from their first, so they sell less. They are tired of paying for a whole album just for a song or two, so they are selling less. Yet they are SURE that their revenues are slipping.... due... to... piracy.
  • by Ardaen (1099611) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:16PM (#23832041)
    It depends on the CD protection. The protection scheme they are talking about doesn't just check the CD is there when you start the game, but rather checks constantly, or at least frequently. These frequent checks can cause problems and slow down the computer.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:19PM (#23832063)
    But if it only stops casual piracy what's the point? I'll pirate software I own all the time to remove those annoying bits of DRM from the game. I paid for the game, I see no reason why I should have to change discs every time I change games.

    Most of the time my disc is in a different room, or packed away. And I usually forget to put the CD back, so I'll have to hunt around to remember where I put it. Having to place it into the drive just increases the likelihood that it'll be scratched.

    It also usually has the unpleasant side effect of making it hard or impossible to run via wine or emulator.

    Seriously, the commercial pirates are a lot better at providing a compelling install service than the studios are. It's really hard for me to believe that the "good" guys are the ones that are making it impossible to reinstall the game an unlimited number of times.

    Considering how often Windows has to be reinstalled, I can't imagine how this could ever fly.
  • by SpecBear (769433) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:25PM (#23832165)

    It's also the people who are guilty of stealing who are the loudest to laud DRM's pratfalls.


    What makes you think this? Except for those very few who actually crack the software, pirates don't give a rat's ass about DRM because it doesn't affect them. They have no idea how onerous Mass Effect's DRM is.


    I assume that the people who scream the loudest are the paying customers who can't play the game they purchased because of some boneheaded DRM scheme that does nothing to discourage piracy.


  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:48PM (#23833113)

    Without the DRM the content would not have been available at all.
    Or maybe the 'owners' would have realized that content sitting on the shelf doing nothing earns nothing and thus even just 1% of the pie is better than 0%.

    Or maybe someone who would have been motivated by the complete absence of content would have given away *their* version of the content, but the presence of locked down content was enough to discourage them from the effort.

    Or maybe someone who would have done an incredible job of incrementally updating the content with massive amounts of newer and more current information just gave up because the DRM prevented him from editing and building on the original content.

    Or maybe enough people would have pooled their money to hire someone else to produce similar content and make it available for free, but the price difference per person wasn't worth the effort.

    We know the, "without DRM, the content would not have been made available at all" argument all too well, that's why NormalVisual pre-emptively mentioned it, no need to elaborate. For each time it gets used, there are at least 4x more reasons to discount it. If anything, it is the sheeple argument because it assumes that there is only one way to skin a cat, is stuck in the box, etc.

    There are benefits to restrictions as odd as that sounds.
    Restrictions in of themselves are generally useless and often counter-productive. They need to be backed up with solid empirical evidence based on current conditions justifying those restrictions. Not someone's opinion, even if it is an opinion shared by millions of others. The conditions under which copyright was conceived, and DRM proponents still labor, are centuries old and were highly questionable even then. The world has moved on, its time the market did too.
  • by pecosdave (536896) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:54PM (#23833643) Homepage Journal
    You obviously don't have kids with kids games. It doesn't matter if you tell the kid "don't change the CD, call me and I'll do it" once kids figure out how to do it for themselves they will.

    Let me put it this way. Would you hand a bare CD you didn't want to have to buy another copy of to six year old?
  • by Bazar (778572) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:04PM (#23833735)

    But if it only stops casual piracy what's the point?
    The point is to get cheapskates to pay up. I'd argue that a reasonable amount of money is lost because people would rather pirate instead of pay.

    If they couldn't pirate, then one would assume sales would go up.
    Thats the theory behind it all.

    The theory falls short because its always remained easy to pirate the game. Download the game, then crack the exe. For some this will be out of their league, and its those people that casual DRM is most effective on.
    Taking an arms race on DRM on those that know how to crack a game will achieve nothing, because game publishers are far too outnumbered to put up a real fight.

    However in their attempt, a lot of innocent customers are getting are getting caught in the cross-fire. From having CD's fail to be read due to improper FAT tables, system instabilities from malware running in the background, and now license key lockouts.

    The sad part is, DRM on games just isn't effective, and whats worse, for all those pirates that don't/won't purchase a game, i strongly suspect they boost the legal sales of the game indirectly (viral marketing)

    I've been forced to cracking games I've legally purchased just to get around their DRM lockouts. And the more DRM they add to the games, the faster I'll resort to cracking.

    Moral of this rant was best said by vader:
    "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers"
  • by farbles (672915) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:33PM (#23833929)

    I bought Mass Effect for the PC. Fool that I am.

    I won't make the mistake again. I too got caught out by having that hacker tool from bleeding Microsoft, Process Explorer running. After a half hour wasted I figured it out and got the game going.

    Games that require the original CD to play annoy the crap out of me. I have big hard drives, I can store a damn image on one for years and install and play the game when I feel like, even if I do misplace the CD. But not with these DRM pieces of crap.

    Games that will only install 'x' number of times annoy me. What if I dual boot with Vista and with XP? Oh, there's two of my three installs gone right there. And if I swap out hardware to see what runs better? Too bad so sad.

    Games that need online activation annoy me. If I want to haul that game out for a laugh five years from now will those activation servers still be online? Pfft, right.

    So EA, enjoy the money for Mass Effect, I'm hoisting the Jolly Roger from now on with your products, and a cheery FU from me.

    The kicker is that after a couple of hours of play my impression is the game isn't much fun anyway. I find it more annoying to play than fun and I hate a third person view I can't change to a first person view. Maybe some folks like that but I don't. So the lesson is to try the pirate version before even thinking of buying the game and if you really really feel the maker deserves money after that, buy the game and stick it on a shelf and keep playing the hassle-free pirate version.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:58PM (#23834103)

    I'd respectfully disagree with that and point that it is your view that is supporting only one way, that without DRM, and mine leaves open the potential for both types of content.
    The problem with that argument is that it could be applied to ANY arbitrary restriction. The CueCat folks could have made a lot of money if there had been a law that prevented people from using cuecats for anything else. Automakers could make a profitable business selling ultra-luxury (and ultra-expensive) cars for cheap if there was a law that required car owners to temporarily lease their cars, payment going to automakers, to other people when otherwise not in use. Cities could save tax revenue if they were able to charge a royalty for every photograph of their landmarks. All kinds of cocakmamie schemes would become profitable if only they passed a law...

    The reason DRM is evil - yes evil - not neutral, but evil - is that it destroys culture. It destroys our history. Imagine if all hieroglyphics had been written on self-destructing or encrypted tablets. We would know only a miserable fraction of what we do about the culture of ancient civilizations. Our society today would suffer for it. The public domain is a right, it is in fact the default state of the universe. Similarly DRM prevents the incremental development of new culture. Locked up culture may as well not even exist for all it contributes to the progress of the useful arts and sciences.

    We've never really had freedoms.
    Sez you. You are making up a non-existent distinction - freedom whether you call it liberty or anything else has always come with consequences aka living with the results of your actions. To say that we have the 'freedom' to break the law but not the 'liberty' to do so is just hand-waving and extremely counter-productive.

    Every law is a restriction a liberty or freedom and an enabler of rights. That is what laws do.
    Again with the generic argument for restrictions. It does not follow that just because some restrictions are useful that DRM or copyrights in general are a net benefit to society.

    I believe in the rights of the users and those of the creators
    Well, then you and I will always disagree. The only right of the creator is to get paid whatever they can convince someone to pay them for the work of creation, just like everyone else on the planet. Just like your only right as an employee is to get paid for the work you do for your employer. I would love to have a law written for me that guarantees that I get paid a royalty every time someone uses a tool that I created - every new nail pounded in with *my* hammer will be 10 cents, thank you very much. But that's not the natural order of the universe - as soon as I let that hammer out of my control, I don't get paid any more for its use - the possessor is free to do with it as he wishes and it is infeasible for me to stop him- trying to contractually enforce such payments would bear a cost higher than the value received. If anything that law of nature applies 10x more to information distribution than it does to physical objects, yet the law of man is intent on contradicting that law of nature. The end result is a whole lot of effort wasted on enforcing the unenforceable, effort that would have been much more productively spent on creation in the first place.
  • by Skrapion (955066) <skorpion@firefang . c om> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @10:11PM (#23834199) Homepage
    Just to drive the point home, don't forget about EA's online store. If you buy Mass Effect through EA's digital distribution service — thereby saving EA bucketloads of cash — your total savings amount to $0. What's worse, EA charges you an extra $6 for their "extended download service", in case you ever need to redownload the game after six months.

    It's pretty clear that EA has no respect for their customers. It's a shame, because I'd really like to try Mass Effect, but between the draconian DRM, the greedy sales policy, and the refusal to release a demo (which could be excused if the game wasn't $50) it's pretty difficult to justify buying it.

    Please, Bioware, find another publisher.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:13PM (#23834689)

    It is a slight inconvenience for the user...

    If you assume that the user is on a desktop sits next to his shelf full of game discs. On the other hand, if the user has a laptop (which may not even have an optical drive) and doesn't feel like lugging all his game discs around with him all the time, it is a huge inconvenience -- so much of one, in fact, that he'd be very likely to pirate the game out of pure spite!

  • by Technician (215283) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @04:33AM (#23836247)
    I've been forced to cracking games I've legally purchased just to get around their DRM lockouts.

    And in buying the game, you voted with your wallet for copy protection. If a game or other software uses copy protection and I know about it, I vote against it. Viral marketing and word of mouth support all die with the purchase not made.

    I don't pirate it. I just don't use it. There are alternatives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:23AM (#23836467)
    I think this new wave a copy protection has another, more sinister purpose: to stop the selling of used video games. Too many games are play once and never again, so you go to sell it used. EA wants to sell the units as much as possible at full price. The selling of used games lowers the price and when a buyer buys a used copy instead of a shiny new one, EA sees that it as "losing a sale."

    For myself, after I read about BioShock's copy protection, though it looked like a good game, I decided to not buy it as long as it hands a phone home protection, and now ditto for Mass Effect and if this is the case for all PC EA games, then I will never buy a game for the PC from EA.

    At least with Steam you can install the game in whatever machine you have and there are not any issues (just the very long download part). Though, once you buy a Steam game you can never sell it used (unless you sell your Stream account, a Steam account for each Steam game? why not, eh?)

    Ironically, with console games you can freely sell/buy used games without this phoning home BS.
  • by Thiez (1281866) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:23AM (#23836469)
    I expect most windows-running people on slashdot to be able to keep their windows relatively clean, but we are not a good representation of the average user. The average user will happily run every executable they find on their msn/email/intertubes/blogs/blags/bligs/blugs/blegs, and then click away every warning message. Win32Trojan.exe? Clickclick!

    After a few weeks of this torture the system will crawl into a corner and start crying and cutting itself. Time for a reinstall! The user accepts this cycle as 'normal'.

    Call me a cynic but I believe 2 out of 3 people would sign their own death warrant because they can't be arsed to read what it says.
  • by Dan541 (1032000) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:57AM (#23836613) Homepage
    That's what programs like CloneCD are for. Alternatly you can just burn the CD and keep it in the drive while playing.
  • by harl (84412) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @08:28AM (#23837937)
    You forgot one other aspect of Steam. At any point they can render your purchases unusable by you.

    Check your EULA [steampowered.com]. What does it say about guaranteeing access to the product you "purchased"?

    Well first off they are very clear that you are not purchasing anything.
    "Steam is an online service."
    "You become a subscriber to Steam by installing the Steam client software. . ."
    "...as a Subscriber you may obtain access to certain services, software and content ("Subscriptions") available to Subscribers."
    "Your license confers no title or ownership in the Steam Software."

    Then my favorite:

    "VALVE DOES NOT GUARANTEE CONTINUOUS, ERROR-FREE, VIRUS-FREE OR SECURE OPERATION AND ACCESS TO STEAM, THE STEAM SOFTWARE, YOUR ACCOUNT AND/OR YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS(S)."

    "Either you or Valve has the right to terminate or cancel your Account or a particular Subscription at any time."

    If you don't like it then you can fuck off according to them:

    "YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR ANY DISPUTE WITH VALVE WITH REGARD TO STEAM OR THE STEAM SOFTWARE IS TO DISCONTINUE USE OF STEAM AND CANCEL YOUR ACCOUNT."

    These are not nice people.

    At least with disc in drive DRM I'm the only person who controls if I have access to my purchase. Either through backups, or not damaging the disk, or nocd crack.
  • by Anomalyst (742352) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:19PM (#23842617)
    Attribution was correct, just incomplete. Should have been "Lady Vader". See the 1st Timothy Zahn Trilogy. Zahn has done an excellent job of extending and supplementing the SW milieu.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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