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PC Games (Games) Businesses The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Free Games As a Solution To Game Piracy 806

Posted by timothy
from the please-suggest-concise-replacments dept.
christ, jesus H writes "PC gaming may not be dying, but it is in a state of flux. We're seeing developers and publishers blaming piracy for all the ills of PC gaming, but attempts to rein in pirates with the help of DRM only annoys and mobilizes the legitimate customers of your games. The solution? According to David Perry of Shiny Games, PC games are going to be free." (And if anyone has a favorite replacement term for "piracy," in the context of electronic copyright violation, please suggest it below.)
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Free Games As a Solution To Game Piracy

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  • Call it what it is (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr.Ned (79679) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:09PM (#24137941)

    "And if anyone has a favorite replacement term for "piracy," in the context of electronic copyright violation, please suggest it below."

    Umm, a copyright violation? Copyright infringement? Why not just call it what it is instead of bringing in some new word that's going to have a specific connotation?

  • Re:Problems... (Score:5, Informative)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:12PM (#24137995)
    Holy crap can we stop with the "PC gaming is dead / dying" mantra? It's simply not true.
    - US PC Gaming Revenues 2007 - $2.76 billion +12%
    - US PC Gaming Revenues 2008 - $3.1 billion +14% (forecast)
    - Worldwide PC Gaming 2007 - $8.3 billion +14%
    - Worldwide PC Gaming 2008 - $9.6 billion +16% (forecast)

    Those numbers are from the May MaximumPC. PC gaming is *not* dead, it's growing. Stop spreading the FUD.
  • Re:Problems... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:17PM (#24138123)
    The worst thing about that was that it was nothing but a cynical move to get people to use Vista, not any technical limitation. I've completed the game in XP for god's sake.
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:30PM (#24138449) Journal

    Not according to US law (yet). You can argue all you want about the way things should be, but the way things ARE, copyright violation is not stealing.

  • by Hyppy (74366) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:41PM (#24138665)
    Trying a demo doesn't do much when your video card tends to lock up on the stage after the demo, or other such unforeseeable events.
  • Call a spade a spade (Score:5, Informative)

    by eepok (545733) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @01:48PM (#24138805) Homepage

    It's not stolen, it's not pirated... it's an "Unlicensed Copy". Nothing more, nothing less.

  • This is a new idea? (Score:2, Informative)

    by phyphor (450142) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:11PM (#24139381)

    Wow, the new idea is Free Games that make money through adverts, micropayments, donations or paid-for upgrades?

    Man, I should totally recommend that idea to the people behind KoL [kingdomofloathing.com] (started in 2003, and funded entirely by donations), Kongregate [kongregate.com] (entered beta last year and gets revenue from adverts), etc..

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:13PM (#24139413)
    Blizzard is entirely unlike most game companies. Blizzard values its customers and wants them to have as good a time as possible. They don't just abandon products, they release no-CD patches. They allow their customers to enter their CD key on the website and download the entire game (useful if you bought the PC version and now want to play on a Mac), even if said game was released eleven years ago. Heck, they still have tech support subsites for Lost Vikings and Rock N' Roll Racing - titles they released back when the company was still called Silicon & Synapse.

    Blizzard puts the customer first and only delivers polished products, release dated be damned. And that's why everyone loves them. Now compare that to, oh, just about everyone. It's a shame Looking Glass died, but the retail version of System Shock 2 was unbeatable for most people because a crucial window wasn't breakable. Piranha Bytes' The Gothic 3 gold master was so unready for production that they had to release the first patch on launch day. BioShock is a prime example of DRM gone bad^H^H^Hworse as many players are locked out of the game for too many reinstalls before they even played the game once - reinstalls which they accumulated trying to get the game to work.

    To put it like Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee might: The video game industry is a sea of vomit and that's the qualitative standard against which new games are measured. The better ones are usually very nice and pretty examples of vomit but they're still vomit. The few gems people like Blizzard release can't change the fact that we're waist-deep in gastric acid.
  • by nharmon (97591) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:19PM (#24139541) Homepage

    If you violate the law, you are a criminal.

    Not true. Some laws specify civil torts while others specify crimes. You become a criminal by violating the laws that specify crimes. This isn't philosophical bullshit.

    Copyright infringement (my favorite replacement term) can either be a civil tort or criminal depending on the purpose and circumstances. In most cases, especially involving P2P sharing, the infringement is a civil tort.

    However, theft is always criminal. Sure, it might have to exceed a certain threshold to be a felony, but stealing even a fraction of a penny is a crime.

    Theft is always a crime. Copyright infringement is only a crime in certain instances. Again, this is not philosophical bullshit.

    Arguing that theft and copyright infringement are the same thing demonstrates a lack of understanding the difference between civil and criminal law not to mention the purpose and nature of copyright law.

  • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Informative)

    by RandoX (828285) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @02:54PM (#24140241)
    I'm not sure you read your own link. From the first definition you linked to:

    to take exclusive possession of

    That DOES imply that the original owner is deprived of their property. You aren't taking exclusive possession when you copy.
  • by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:09PM (#24140541)

    Quick question (and not meant to be rude): are you old enough to have been in peak game-playing years during the NES and Genesis/SNES era? You must not be if you are attempting to distinguish those systems from the current ones based on "crap games."

    Lousy movie tie-ins? Those have always existed. Hell, the legendary ET game for Atari (so bad that it is often partially blamed for the collapse of an industry) is a movie tie-in. In the NES and SNES/Genesis era, LJN, Flying Edge, Acclaim (or, as many jokingly called it, ACK! LAME!) and plenty of other publisher/developers were responsible for literally hundreds of shovelware titles between the three systems. We are shielded from those titles by the virtue of 10 to 20 years of passed time that have gradually allowed the gaming community to repress those awful, awful memories. If you're curious, go look at the wiki pages for LJN or Flying Edge; 9/10s of the games on there were garbage and a good number are all movie tie-ins. Better yet, go check out the wiki page with the list of NES games. If you grew up during that era, you'll pick out a few great games, a bunch of stuff you barely remember as being mediocre or never worth your time, and some true stinkers.

    We also have the virtue of being able to group the "hardware-pushing" games all into a particular era, rather than recognizing that months and years passed between what we now just blanket-label as NES-era games. For every developer that figured out how to bootleg up some parallax-like scrolling on the NES, there were a TON of devs pimping out simple side-scrolling platformers or shooters that look basically indistinguishable from Mario 2 (for example, ANY NES movie tie-in game that was a side scroller or shooter).

    I assure you, not much has changed. There are still some worthwhile gems sprinkled in among garbage. If anything, the lowered cost of physical CD/DVD production has allowed more quality, niche games (tactical combat games, for example) to be ported from the Japanese market than the cartridge medium allowed.

  • by menace3society (768451) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:12PM (#24140623)

    I prefer 'piracy'. The group ethics of freebooters during the golden age of sail is identical with the ethics of digital encryption-circumventors and copyright-ignorers.

    To understand, you have to realize that sailing in the 17th century was a miserable occupation, especially with the Royal Navy. The hours were wicked, the breaks short, and the work back-breaking. Officers (who were paid about 10 times what you were) were rewarded for treating you harshly. Rations were insignificant and insufficient (the practice of giving lime juice to sailors didn't start until the 19th century, so scurvy likely). You could even be forcibly press-ganged into serving on a ship, if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    As a pirate, however, there were many more men on a ship, meaning less work and more free time for all. Food and fresh water were easier to come by, since you didn't have to make long trans-oceanic voyages, so nutrition was better and servings more filling.

    The captain still earned more booty that the rest of the crew, but only by a factor of three or four, as shares of treasure were distributed proportionately. And speaking of captains, they were elected by acclaim, rather than imposed by remote authorities from the Admiralty.

    The characterization of pirates as bloodthirsty is mostly a historical relic inserted by the authorities to frighten children and to discourage sailors from becoming buccaneers. A few were psychopathic, it's true, but the punishment they meted out as victors was no worse than what they would have faced themselves at home. All the talk of bargains with the Devil or Death was a metaphor for the pirates exchange: they earned freedom and sovereignty, but had to pay for it with a price on their heads.

    In many cases the pirates proved better men than their opponents. Jean LaFitte fought alongside the Americans in the War of 1812, Capts. Morgan and Kidd plundered vessels in the name of the Crown, and Great Peter fought at sea to protect Friesland from its belligerent neighbors.

    The parallels to modern-day software/content piracy should be obvious. They believe in freedom, rather than monopolistic autocracy; they risk severe punishment; they advocate sharing the fruits of their labor; they are generally nicer people than most of their adversaries (game designers tend to be the best of the lot, but when it comes to music, movies, books, etc. the contrast is much more clear).

  • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:23PM (#24140845) Homepage
    That's garbage, if you have a hard drive the game will cache to it. The only thing that no always having a hard drive does is make it so that they have to program the game to work without caching available.

    I've got an acquaintance who was an engine developer for Neversoft (he works for EA now) He explained it to me like this: If(hard drive attached) { cache } else { don't cache }

    Though you don't need a devleoper to explain these concepts.. just time how long it takes for a game to load with the hard drive attached, then time it again with the hard drive removed... I'm sure you'll find that the load screens are usually 3 to 4 times longer without the hard drive.
  • by Inner_Child (946194) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @03:56PM (#24141597)
    I don't think you're quite getting it. The "stage after the demo" would be the first stage in the full game that is not in the demo. Playing the demo, these problems will not show up.
  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @04:24PM (#24142165)
    Try making an account on http://www.blizzard.com/account [blizzard.com] and giving them your CD keys. It should have StarCraft and Brood War.

    On a related notice, I'm really pissed I can't find my copies of SC and BW anymore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 10, 2008 @04:57PM (#24142931)

    Are you referring to games in general, or Mass Effect in particular? The GP was referring to Mass Effect in particular, which was widely criticized because it does NOT do caching, even on consoles that do have a hard drive attached.

    Believe me, I know. I have a nice big hard drive, and I've experienced the load times.

  • by Surt (22457) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @05:20PM (#24143395) Homepage Journal

    Having worked for blizzard, I can assure you we shipped at least diablo, diablo II, starcraft, broodwar, lord of destruction, warcraft III, frozen throne, and wow with lots of software bugs.

    Not many fatal bugs, but plenty of bugs. I personally fixed about 300 non play balance bugs that went into various patches.

    Bugs are unavoidable in large software projects. Avoiding serious bugs that will make your customers unhappy is mostly about devoting sufficient testing resources to finding that class of bugs before shipping, and planning for extended work hours right after release to quickly fix the most serious bugs that escaped your testing.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday July 10, 2008 @05:39PM (#24143725)
    Apparently, MS doesn't allow caching or optional HDD installs (or actively resists it). The games have to play the same whether the console has a hard drive or not. Otherwise games like Oblivion and Mass Effect would almost certainly have cached (and you wouldn't get all those damn elevator rides in Mass Effect and graphics pop-in in both). And they also supposedly killed Rockstar's attempt to allow for an optional hard drive install of GTA IV on the 360, similar to the PS3 (early on Rockstar said they would have it, then suddenly they didn't and were mum on why).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2008 @07:52AM (#24150563)

    Depends on whether you're making movie tie-in shovelware or not, but Valve's game stats make for interesting reading.

    Apparently 48.86% of the people who bought the game made it to the last level. That's pretty damn good.

    http://steampowered.com/status/ep2/ep2_stats.php

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