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Game Distribution and the 'Idiocy' of DRM 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the completely-neutral-titles dept.
In light of the increased focus on the DRM controversy in recent days, Ars Technica did an interview with execs from CD Projekt's Good Old Games about where the problems are with current DRM implementation. "For me, the idiocy of those protection solutions shows how far from reality and from customers a lot of executives at big companies can be. You don't have to be a genius to check the internet and see all the pros and cons of those actions." Penny Arcade is also running a three-part series on DRM from game journalists Brian Crecente and Chris Remo. Crecente talks about how some companies are making progress in developing acceptable DRM, and some aren't. Remo recommends against a trend of overreaction to minor gripes.
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Game Distribution and the 'Idiocy' of DRM

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  • by krunk7 (748055) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:05PM (#25185465)
    Is crack it.
    • by NitroWolf (72977) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:12PM (#25185517)

      I usually do as well, unless it doesn't require any interaction on my part after it's installed. I especially hate when the CD/DVD has to be in the drive... it's www.gamecopyworld.com immediately after install if that's the case.

      The only games I currently play that I haven't cracked are Steam games... their DRM is barely acceptable, so I haven't felt the need to do away with it.

      I've been playing Spore recently, I would love to go out and buy it, but I refuse due to the DRM involved. It's a pretty good game and I'm happy to pay for it, but I won't pay for DRM.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dutch Gun (899105)

        If I understand correctly, you're playing a version of Spore you didn't pay for then?

        I guess the problem with that is you lose all moral authority when you actually decide the game is worth playing but don't wish to pay. In other words, if you had told us "I'd love to buy Spore, but the DRM made that impossible for me, so I'll just play and support games from companies like StarDock", it would then be a principled decision.

        A boycott only means something when the consumer is willing to *go without*. No one

        • by dinther (738910) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:16PM (#25186757) Homepage

          Where did the guy say he owns it?

          "I've been playing Spore recently"

          doesn't say he has a copy. Maybe this guy has friends who own it and let him have a go.

          But don't let that get in the way of you making your moral speech mate.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You can't "pay" for Spore. You pay for a license to play Spore. So technically they aren't selling Spore, just a license to play it. So technically not paying for it is boycotting it, since it was never for sale to begin with. Either way they're not getting your money. People are going to pirate the game regardless of whether or not you "boycott". And the people who are willing to pay $50+ for a 3-shot license outnumber those who actually "boycott" anyway, so it's all futile anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Idiot.
        If you like spore, buy it! You already have a cracked version running, so the hassles of its DRM are no excuse. Just buy it, put it on your shelf still sealed and continue playing your cracked version.

    • by Spatial (1235392) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:28PM (#25185633)
      Relatedly: if there's no crack available for a game, I won't buy it.

      I bought Far Cry, I had to crack it to play it. I bought Doom 3, I had to crack it to play it. I've also had problems with overzealous measures such as the one used in Operation Flashpoint activating and making the game unplayable. Guess who didn't have any problems? That's right, the people who pirated them! Great job retards.

      Nowadays I don't even bother trying to run a game without cracking it first. There's no point - the cracked version is almost always superior.
      • by Fweeky (41046)

        I've also had problems with overzealous measures such as the one used in Operation Flashpoint activating and making the game unplayable. Guess who didn't have any problems? That's right, the people who pirated them!

        Actually, Operation Flashpoint's copy protection caused a lot of problems for pirates too (and, indeed, anyone who bought it and cracked it); it uses a system called "FADE", whereby the game will run if it detects it's been cracked, but will degrade gameplay over time, so it's hard for a cracker to tell if they succeeded or not.

        Of course, by not being an obvious "duh, cracked, won't run", much of this was indistinguishable from the game being buggy or ridicuously unbalanced, so I always thought it was prett

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          I figured the point was to induce users into making false bug reports so you could flame them but usually the plans backfire as false positives lead to alienated customers (I refer to it as an iron pigs debacle since that was an effect in one prominent game using it, the iron smelter in Settlers 3 produced pigs instead of iron).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firehed (942385)

        On the other hand, I've simply stopped buying anything at release in favor of letting someone ELSE determine whether I'll need a crack to run it successfully. If that's the case, I won't buy it. I'm sick of dealing with companies at any level that feel the need to go crazy with copy protection, whether it's genuinely a flawed attempt at anti-piracy, an attempt to kill second-hand sales, or they're just a bunch of douche bags.

        Games are supposed to be fun. Cracking stuff, to me, isn't fun, nor is fighting

    • by electrictroy (912290) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:31PM (#25185649)

      >>>Remo recommends against a trend of overreaction - "-look how many people buy music through iTunes, whose DRM mechanics are hardly lenient."

      Over-react? I still play games that are nearly 25 years old (Pirates, Silent Service, and Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising). Any system that effectively makes the game unusable after just 5 years is not acceptable in any way, shape, or form.

      Itunes? How about Google or Walmart? When they deactivate their services, and make my rather-expensive music suddenly stop working, I think I have a right to act peeved about it.

      • by MagdJTK (1275470) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @02:06PM (#25185867)

        look how many people buy music through iTunes, whose DRM mechanics are hardly lenient

        Remo saying "iTunes is popular, so maybe you should get over DRM" is a bizarre argument. I would bet that most people who buy 128kbps tracks from iTunes wouldn't even know what filetype they were receiving and, if pushed, would probably guess mp3 because they don't know better.

        I'm not having a go at non-geeks, but if iTunes had a massive warning on every page about how you'll have difficulty playing your music on anything but iTunes and an iPod, I'm sure sales would plummet.

        • Sometime in the future, when iPods are no longer fashionable (as happened to Sony Walkmans), the average Joe or Jill on the sreet will be incensed to discover their Itunes songs no longer work on their 2015-era device.

          But for now they remain blissfully unaware of this hidden timebomb.

          • by NiceGeek (126629)

            Of course more and more iTunes songs are unprotected, and are the only ones I purchase. So as long as there are devices that can play AAC files, I can play my purchased music. If you're going to make a comment like that, you should post the whole truth.

        • 99% of music listeners want to listen to the song on their PC or iPod.

          99% of game purchasers care that it will function on their PC for the next 6 months at a maximum.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by myz24 (256948)

        Everyone is all spouting off about how iTunes music will suddenly stop working if Apple decides to pull the plug when in actuality your iTunes install is authorized once, cached and is never reauthed again. I can then backup that authorization file, deauth iTunes and replace the the file and play my music for as long as I like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Stormwatch (703920)

        Itunes? How about Google or Walmart? When they deactivate their services, and make my rather-expensive music suddenly stop working, I think I have a right to act peeved about it.

        Funny that you mention that... Wal*Mart is going to deactivate their DRM servers. [boingboing.net] People who bought music from them have about a month now to jump through some hoops, or lose it all.

    • Funny, first thing I do when I buy a game is try to have fun. You know, by playing it.

  • well yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thermian (1267986) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:08PM (#25185481)

    There are now two games I *really* wanted that I can't get because I don't want their DRM infesting my machine. Nor do I want to use pirated games (being a programmer myself I don't like to download illegally, I really would prefer to pay), so I don't get to play at all.

    I've been a computer gamer since 1983, and this not being able to buy things because of stuff put there to stop piracy is a new experience for me.

    I hope its short lived, or the number of new games I buy is going to plummet.

    • by syousef (465911)

      I've been a computer gamer since 1983, and this not being able to buy things because of stuff put there to stop piracy is a new experience for me

      I'm also a developer. Unlike many I didn't jump on a badwagon of Vista haters - I was one of the original Vista haters. I was really looking forward to Micrsoft Flight Sim X being a huge fan of 2004. Only they screwed the pooch on that one and not just with DRM (though that is why I didn't buy it) - the way they kept breaking backward compatibility on every minor r

  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:09PM (#25185497)
    I saw a good quote from a games company's enlightened Chief Executive recently [forbes.com] -

    "DRM can encourage the best customers to behave slightly better. It will never address the masses of non-customers downloading your product."

    Why the others haven't understood this I don't know. And note the 'DRM can encourage...'. I'd say I'm a good customer (I spend a bunch anyway), but I'm increasingly drawn to warez, because they - and I can't believe I'm writing this - are less likely to screw my gaming PC. What is the world coming to?
    • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @02:21PM (#25185979)

      "DRM can encourage the best customers to behave slightly better. It will never address the masses of non-customers downloading your product."

      Seriously, WTH is that supposed to mean? By better it means, not loaning it to your brother, it means not being able to sell it. All perfectly reasonable things.

      DRM definitely does encourage customers to visit the pirate sites to get proper usability back by downloading cracks (AKA no cd cracks). Eventually you are going to lose a number of customers who get fed up and cut out the middle man (the producer) and start with the cracked version. After all you trained them for years this is where you get the full value product.

      • What are your basis for saying that loaning the game to your brother or selling it are perfectly reasonable things to do? Not that I necessarily disagree, but I'd like to know how you justify it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by guidryp (702488)

          "What are your basis for saying that loaning the game to your brother or selling it are perfectly reasonable things to do? Not that I necessarily disagree, but I'd like to know how you justify it."

          Much like I can loan/sell Books/CDs/Movies. I think first someone has to justify why games are some special type of copyright material that can't be loaned/sold.

          Just because publishers would like it to be so, doesn't make it so. They are attempting to end first sale doctrine exception of copyright by build walls t

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by William Baric (256345)

            Do you think movie theaters are abusing when they don't allow you to resell your ticket or share it with your bother once you saw the movie?

            Personally I think the solution would be to do exactly like movies. The first six months, games should be "sold" like movie theater tickets. As a "one play only" policy is not enforceable, I guess the best model would be, let's say a three month renting through digital distribution. After that, they should be sold like movie DVD. As for the price, what about $15 for ren

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You own a physical copy of a game. You can do what you want with that copy so long as it falls within the bounds of what copyright allows. Copyright only covers, well, copying. Selling the game or loaning it to somebody isn't covered by the law, and is therefore allowed.

          There's a popular misconception that you do not own media, but merely license it. This simply isn't true. When you buy a game in a box you own that box and its contents. The only thing you don't own is the right to make a copy of the content

          • What about digital distribution? I bought Portal on Steam so I don't own a physical copy. Should I still have the right to sell what I bought to someone else or is it just for physical media?

            • You do have the right to sell it, in the theoretical sense. However this clashes with the fact that Steam's copy protection prevents you from doing so, and it's illegal to crack that protection. But in a nitpicky hair-splitting way, you have the right to sell it, just not the right to do what you need to do to make the sold copy work.

        • The first-sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] is a limitation on copyright that was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1908 and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. Â 109. The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. That means that a copyright holder's rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy end once that copy is sold, as long as no additional copies are made. This doctrine is also referred to as the "first sale rule" or "exhaustion rule".

          Is my justification.

          • As the wikipedia article says, the first sale doctrine is only valid as long as you buy a good and not a license to use. Right now publishers still use the term "buy a game", but if they simply used "buy a license to play the game", then the first sale doctrine won't be applicable.

            • Right now publishers still use the term "buy a game", but if they simply used "buy a license to play the game", then the first sale doctrine won't be applicable.

              Except that the publishers already make that claim, and the courts continue to (for the most part) discount it and rule that software is sold, not licensed. The paragraph in the Wikipedia article titled "Computer Software" elucidates this situation, but it's too long to quote effectively.

        • by j0nb0y (107699)

          First sale doctrine. It's a basic consumer right. A book publisher can't tell you what you can do with a book after you have purchased it. Similarly, a video game publisher shouldn't be able to tell you what you can do with your video game after you have purchased it.

          Sadly, as far as digital copyrighted works are concerned, the first sale doctrine went out the window with the digital millennium copyright act. Now content sellers can place "technological protection measures" on their products, and it is

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Except it's not a good quote at all.

      DRM shows the paying customer that even if you buy the product, pirates get better quality and support. This month I had some time off work so I used it to play games and catch up all on the stuff I have missed. I bought Assassins Creed, Crysis, Spore, Mass Effect and Sins of a solar empire.

      All three of the EA games (crysis, spore, mass effect) required me to download the whole game off the internet to get the versions I had working. Assassins Creed worked fine and Sins o

  • by NotInfinitumLabs (1150639) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:11PM (#25185507)
    DRM takes control of the product away from the consumer and put it in the hands of the media owner. When you buy any DRM-encumbered media, you don't control that media. The way you use that media is determined by the content owner. Don't have an HDCP-compatible monitor? Well, I guess you can't view these discs in HD the way they were intended. Don't have a fairplay-compatible MP3 player? Tough, you can't listen to the music you bought and paid for. The hilarious thing is that every single DRM scheme ever invented has been circumvented by pirates, and only legitimate, law-abiding consumers have to put up with this. Why buy media which is just going to impede your efforts to use it, when you can download it and play it any damn way you want to?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Much as I don't necessarily like all this DRM crap, it isn't taking control away from you -- it's just never granting that control. You didn't have the power to play media in HD on any monitor before, and now, you have the power to play it on an HDCP-compliant monitor. They refuse, however, to sell you the power to play it in HD on a non-HDCP-compliant monitor, although there is no technical barrier to them doing so.

      There's also the fact that piracy is a pain in the ass with these schemes in place. It's

  • Peeny Arcade (Score:4, Informative)

    by skam240 (789197) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:13PM (#25185529)

    "Penny Arcade is also running a two-part series on DRM from game journalists Brian Crecente and Chris Remo."

    It's a three part series, only two parts are up. The third will be up on Monday.

  • You can't protect software by disabling it. Corporations underestimate the community's ability to understand, and work around, any software problem they come across.
    • by G0rAk (809217)

      You can't protect software by disabling it. Corporations underestimate the community's ability to understand, and work around, any software problem they come across.

      The technical problem and limitation of DRM is more subtle than that - you cant encrypt something and send the encryption key along with it and expect it to remain secure - most ably demonstrated by the BlueRay and HDDVD cracks. What they are attempting to do, manage digital files after they have been released into the wild, is actually impossible. All they can succeed in doing is annoying their genuine customers and driving people, including legitimate customers, away from content with DRM stamped on it.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Indeed and the better the quality of the DRM the more bragging rights come from cracking it. All of these protections will eventually be cracked, and that's largely what the companies don't get.

        While it is illegal to create and distribute the circumvention techniques, it's often times not illegal to use them. Which is really a pretty serious problem for those hoping to prevent the cracks. The cracks can be made with impunity in many other parts of the world and you can't count on trying the people using the

    • by Renraku (518261)

      They could turn to disabling your OS and protecting themselves with EULAs.

      After all, you shouldn't have stolen their product. We both know that software would never mess up and think that its stolen when it isn't, therefore creating a massive headache to the end user, who has to sit on the phone with an Indian call center for three hours in order to figure out that rebooting and calling back doesn't unlock his machine, despite what they say.

      "Acceptance of this EULA grants The Corporation access to your PC

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:21PM (#25185589) Homepage

    Remember that approach to DRM?

    Even that can be screwed up. Knowledge Revolution, makers of Working Model, a kind of CAD system with a physics engine, once shipped me a program with that kind of DRM. Unfortunately, the manual was just slightly out of sync with the program; if the program wanted a page number more than halfway through the manual, it wouldn't work. It often took a few tries to get the program to run, retrying until the page number that came up was in the first half of the manual.

    Actually, I'm surprised that Microsoft doesn't support some standard Windows DRM system based on their Trusted Computing Platform technology.

    For game developers, the realistic solution is to either develop for consoles, or develop multiplayer versions that require a server account.

    • by tepples (727027)

      For game developers, the realistic solution is to either develop for consoles, or develop multiplayer versions that require a server account.

      How does a smaller developer qualify to develop for consoles?

    • by Spatial (1235392)

      For game developers, the realistic solution is to either develop for consoles, or develop multiplayer versions that require a server account.

      Why? Do you think DRM is necessary for a game to sell?

  • DRM: the precious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DECS (891519) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:29PM (#25185641) Homepage Journal

    "Remo recommends against a trend of overreaction to minor gripes"

    That, in a nutshell, is why the industry isn't taking all the bleating about DRM seriously. DRM is a business decision. It's not there because they hate your freedom, it's there because they think it will help stop or at least slow piracy. If the world wasn't full of thieves, there would be no DRM.

    Acting like DRM will go away if you cry about it is childish. It will only go away by becoming invisible. Nobody seems to know that iPhone apps are protected with DRM, nor that it helps bring prices down (although it certainly doesn't have to; PSP DRM hasn't had any effect on software prices).

    The real issue is that DRM doesn't work well in the hands of software producers (audio/video/apps), because their monetary conflict of interest pushes them to wield the power of DRM to extort hight prices.

    The only successful DRM comes from hardware makers (read: Apple) who balance the power to govern sales without extortion prices and without runaway piracy, because their interests are aligned with both consumers and intellectual property content producers.

    That's why Microsoft's DRM didn't work; the company only cared about producers because it wasn't selling its DRM products directly to consumers, and subsequently stacked the deck against end users.

    Apple carries DRM like the Ring.

    The Japanese iPhone Failure Myth [roughlydrafted.com]

    • by DanWS6 (1248650) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:52PM (#25185783)
      To quote someone...

      "Modern DRM isn't about stopping piracy. It's about stopping the game from being resold at used games stores so EA doesn't have to compete against their own games with the average customer."
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lazlo (15906)

        It's also not just about resale at used game stores... Gamers do have a limited monetary budget, and secondhand games at a game store *do* have a lower price, but the other important factor is the time budget that gamers have. Our salaries and expenses may ebb and flow, but when it comes to time, we receive a fixed income of 24 hours each day, never more, and our only choice lays in how we spend those hours. If Spore is so incredibly awesome that I'm still spending all my free time playing it next year w

    • re: your link about the myth:

      Is that correct? An unsubsidized iPhone is going for almost $800?

      An unsubsidized iPod touch goes for $300. Is the "cell phone" part really worth almost twice as much as the whole rest of the phone? Something is very wrong here.

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      Most people seem to both cry and take matters into their own hands by taking the drm away themselves, often without paying first.

      DRM is a joke and will just become more of a joke as more people learn how to use bittorrent.

    • "it's there because they think it will help stop or at least slow piracy. If the world wasn't full of thieves, there would be no DRM."

      Nonsense. It is well known by now. That this does nothing to slow piracy. See evidence in the last 30 years of computer gaming. DRM exists now to stop you from lending the game to your brother and to stop you from selling it.

      "Acting like DRM will go away if you cry about it is childish."

      Derogatory nonsense this time. Change happens from protest all the time. When DRM protest

    • by init100 (915886)

      Acting like DRM will go away if you cry about it is childish.

      I don't think that anyone believes that it will go away completely, but declaring your opposition against Spore-like DRM schemes with limited number of installs and activation is simply a way to tell the publishers that you won't buy a game "protected" by such a scheme.

      I had planned on buying Spore, I had planned to buy Red Alert 3, but now I'm not going to buy any one of them because of their draconian DRM schemes. This is not whining, it is just stating a plain fact. If the publishers don't want my money,

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      That, in a nutshell, is why the industry isn't taking all the bleating about DRM seriously. DRM is a business decision. It's not there because they hate your freedom, it's there because they think it will help stop or at least slow piracy. If the world wasn't full of thieves, there would be no DRM.

      Acting like DRM will go away if you cry about it is childish. It will only go away by becoming invisible. Nobody seems to know that iPhone apps are protected with DRM, nor that it helps bring prices down (although it certainly doesn't have to; PSP DRM hasn't had any effect on software prices).

      Well - thanks for stating the obvious: it's about perception and money. Of course it is. That doesn't mean their strategy is acceptable. The world may be full of thieves but it is also full of customers. DRM is an attempt to shift the numbers between those two camps but it may not end up in the direction intended. That's the issue.

      Complaining about this situation is being childish? Obviously everyone should stand back and let decreased sales be interpreted as increased piracy. Or simply make believe

    • by syousef (465911)

      Acting like DRM will go away if you cry about it is childish. It will only go away by becoming invisible. Nobody seems to know that iPhone apps are protected with DRM

      Well I guess I must be no one because I won't touch an iphone with a barge pole and I won't even look at it closely while I know it's got DRM.

      By the way do you realize the irony in complaining that gamers are childish???

      Apple carries DRM like the Ring.

      Do you know which ring Apple can shove it's DRM in?

      DRM is ALWAYS about someone other than the

  • I stopped buying games after being bitten too many times. First, I didn't understand. Then I thought "oh, well. I'll just crack the game".

    The thing is, I have a few old games, such as the original worms (none of the others are as good in my old, grumpy opinion) and C&C: Red Alert. I have the CDs (though scratched badly in some cases), but that ancient hard disk with all those lovely cracks on has long since been lost.

    The end result is that I can't play the games, at least not in a practical manner. So w

  • by telchine (719345) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:36PM (#25185681)

    There is no such thing as "acceptable DRM". By it's very existence, a non-DRM'd game will always be more acceptable than one which has added bloatware in the form of DRM attached to it.

    I've always bought my games. I often download pirated games to try out, but if I like them, I almost always buy them. There are a few exceptions where I've never gotten around to buying a copy, but they are far outweighed by the number of games that I've paid for and never played, still sitting on my shelf in their shrinkwrapping.

    However, a few years ago, I was so furious with the music industry selling me a useless CD that I couldn't play that I vowed never to buy another music item again. I have a whole basement full of CDs, but none of them are dated after 2005!

    With the bad experience I had with Bioshock, I'm very tempted to do the same thing with games. I certainly won't buy Spore even though I'm a fan of Will Wright's games, solely because of the awful DRM. I've tolerated having to use No-CD crack up until now but if things keep getting worse, I'll stop buying games altogether and I'd encourage others to do the same.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:41PM (#25185717) Journal
    The idea that DRM can be moderate seems fairly sensible on the surface(some DRM schemes are more restrictive than others, therefore the less restrictive ones must be moderate, and everybody knows that moderation is good!); but in a more important way, it is nonsense.

    A DRM system consists of a locked box and a key. In order to be effective, the system must simultaneously know the key, while preventing the user from knowing it. This means that the DRM system must deny the user access to some or all of his own system. There is absolutely nothing "moderate" about being locked out of parts of your own memory space. In this sense, all effective DRM systems are absolute. If DRM is working, it isn't your computer, period. Some DRM systems are more indulgent than others about what and how they restrict; but that isn't the same thing as moderation.


    Note: there are some DRM systems that don't control the user in this way, and might be said to be genuinely moderate; but none of them are effective. Further note: my opposition to DRM is no more an endorsement of piracy than my opposition to mass surveillance is an endorsement of murder.
  • Crossed a line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ender77 (551980) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:52PM (#25185777)
    We all have accepted DRM to a POINT. Having to have a DVD in a DVD drive to play a game was a annoying, BUT it was something I was willing to put up with because it still felt like I owned the game. However, this new DRM which REQUIRES online activation AND limits instillation's on how many PC's I can play on has crossed a threshold which many of US will not accept. The game stops feeling like property we own and feels like a rental/lease.

    I unfortunately bought one game with this crap DRM on it(spore) and regret it. I cannot shake the feeling that they will shut down the activation servers like walmart is going to do and the game(s) that people have bought with this DRM will be screwed over. Some people have said that they(EA) will release a patch that will fix the DRM if they did that. I say, why would they? If they are bought out, go out of business, or just decide to shut them off, what incentive will they have to release a patch for this? None, that's how much.

    This has nothing to do with stopping pirates, this is about stopping resales(which is illegal). They are starting with PC users because they are a smaller test group, but their goal is to get similar DRM set up in consoles so you cannot resale your console games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maz2331 (1104901)

      All of the DRM approaches that I've seen appear to be very much designed without regard to the collateral damage that they do to the end-user. What's needed is a way to ensure that the purchaser or successors in interest are protected.

      First off, the notion of "licensed not sold" is what appears to be at the heart of the problem. There is a fundamentally evil component to the model itself that is based on a "screw the customer" attitude. It really seems to be a concerted effort to ignore the parts of copy

  • Hate to say it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by srjh (1316705)

    As much as I hate to say it, Spore is still hitting record sales figures.

    The DRM has obviously enraged a lot of us here, and I have no doubt that has cost them some sales. But I don't think "we" (meaning those who understand how much DRM can cripple a game) are the demographic that is going to make or break the game. This is a mass market game, and practically all the reviews I've seen (even here on slashdot!) ignore the DRM issue. Practically all the people I've talked to about the game have no idea what I

  • by istartedi (132515) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @01:57PM (#25185823) Journal

    ...the social contract that says "it's really not nice to do that". Some people use the "would you say you did that if the programmer/artist was in the room with you?" test. This test can fail. It can fail if the programmer/artist isn't really the person taking home the pay. Back in the day, it often was; but now many of them are just employees, so they might not care if you pirated the game and if they got paid barely living wages and worked 70 hour weeks, they might even applaud you. Same deal with music. This will depend somewhat on how the artists feel about their relationship with the recording industry. Any number of one-song phenoms, and even current artists with bad deals won't care, because they don't get the money anyway. Some artists who've already got their mansions won't care, and may even regard giving it away as philanthropy. Others still want their beans and aren't ready to set up "The Foundation", so they'd be pissed off.

    Oh, and there is one other effective DRM and sensible, but it's only valid if the product relies on the network. Sell a userid, and prohibit multiple-logons. At that point, your enforcement mechanism is similar to an ISP abuse department. Legitimate buyers will call to find out why the service turned off, and get reminded to keep their password secure. Everybody else will shut up, or they might try but then the operator will say "you're not the registered user, piss off". Too many games are fun without network access for this technique to really impact the market.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @02:38PM (#25186093)

    Lets face. DRM has been a total and utter failure. It doesn't even slow down piracy, much less eliminate.

    It has trained a generation of PC gamers to download cracks to get around annoyance, it has trained a generation of cracker to provide that service. Annoy people long enough and they will eventually skip over the buying phase and go straight to the trusted download scene. After all the publishers have forced to go here for fully functional copies of their own software for years.

    Consumers don't need producers, they need us. Withhold our dollars from those who push "Defective by Design" products will eventually have an impact.

    In the meantime buy games that are fully usable out of the box and don't require a visit to bit Torrent to correct the deficiencies.

    Stardock Boxed products and www.gog.com downloads are fully consumer friendly. Anything else?

    • The Dilemma (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Voyager529 (1363959)
      The reason why I think that the Spore backlash is working is because we have now told EA games *WHY* their sales aren't as high as they could be. From the author's perspective, if I don't buy a game, there are five basic reasons why. It may be because I never heard of it (solution: increase marketing spending), I don't have a system capable of running it (solution: make games easier on hardware), I dislike the game itself (solution: write games I like), the game is too expensive (solution: reduce cost), or
  • DRM has no right to exist. I've said it before and I'll say it again. People should weork to destroy any and all DRM by any means possible. DRM is to dangerous to be allowed to survive. All DRM must be terminated for there to be a future in fair use for computing. If some content producer business must perish, then so be it.

  • Since 10 weeks now I've been programming for a game company that gives it's games away for free. Browser and 3D Client MMORPG games mostly. The money is made with ads, Premium accounts and ingame benefits. Zero fuss with DRM. It simply doesn't fly. DRM will have a different, undesired effect:
    Gaming is the last bastion that OSS has to take. Because it's the most risky, still under constant advancement, the least productive and among the most complex, OSS gaming is behind regular productivity software in clos

  • ... on your house or car? If you wouldn't for these products, why should you for your software? DRM like anything will be abused by the powers that be, I don't want to go down the road of trusted computing where your hardware is never your own.

    "If you can't open it, you don't own it!" as far as I'm concerned. If modern software is not owned at all, then why "buy" it? Since it's not really yours. Unfortunately, I disagree with the current software model where the user never really owns his software, no

  • DRM vs. Piracy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @11:30PM (#25190187) Homepage

    The problem is DRM and other protection mechanisms are unpopular, but in many areas it is clear that piracy is allowed to run rampant that there will be no sales. This is especially true for "popular" software.

    There are some people that claim not to pirate - but it is certain they have some software they didn't pay for. Maybe someone just gave it to them or maybe their morality is a little more flexible when it comes to certain things. The problem is that for the last 20 years or so piracy has become pretty mainstream. Why would anyone pay for something when the same thing (sometimes better) is available for free? I'm not talking about free open-source here, I am talking about pirated software. Literally everything you could ever ask for is available for free by anonymously downloading it. So why would anyone pay? It is just a little too easy today and really there is no putting the genii back in the bottle. Piracy is here to stay.

    The goal of a lot of pirate web sites and such is to make it impossible to obtain revenue from music, movies, books, software and anything else that can be put in digital form. While I believe these evangelists are few in number, the Internet provides them with a strong presence. Often, the pirate sites will come up first in Google before the publisher's web site. What does that say about popular software? There are some people that will pay - shareware has run at about 5% of users paying for over 20 years. But that is as far as it goes. Name one business that can exist with 5% of the revenue they had last year.

    Face it, in the near future every piece of software will be available for free. The only question will be if anyone finds it profitable to publish software. Offhand, I would say the number of players will be very limited. Most software will be a web service where the user never gets to hold anything on their computer. Open source will have a role, but probably not much larger than it is today.

  • MOST People... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday September 29, 2008 @02:11PM (#25196019)
    ...don't know what DRM is and they don't care. MOST people don't know how to get a cracked copy of a game or even how to install a no cd patch. MOST people pay $49 for a new game at a big box store, bring it home, install it on their computers, then play the game. All this uproar about DRM really isn't warranted for MOST people. So while it's fun and all to sit and preach from our tech-savvy high-horses, we aren't MOST people. Interestingly enough, the DRM employed by these companies keeps MOST people from making easy and illegal copies and giving them to their friends.

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