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Valve Claims New Steamworks Update "Makes DRM Obsolete" 731

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-it's-cracked dept.
Lulfas writes "Steam is implementing a new anti-piracy solution that, according to them, removes all DRM. Called Computer Executable Generation (CEG), this system creates a unique copy of the game when it is purchased through Steam, essentially using a 100% unique keygen system. It will be installable on any system, but only playable by one person at a time (hooked into the correct Steam account, of course). Will this be enough to satisfy anti-DRM players while at the same time giving the publishing companies what they require?"
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Valve Claims New Steamworks Update "Makes DRM Obsolete"

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  • Steam (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:40PM (#27317747)

    You don't buy games, you rent them. No more servers = game won't start.

    I'm not buying ANYTHING from them, not to mention the fact that it's for Windows only.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:42PM (#27317813)
    In what sense is this not DRM?
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:43PM (#27317841) Homepage

    The marketing sense.

  • Re:Maybe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:43PM (#27317845)
    And if when Steam goes out of business you can still play the game.
  • by bugi (8479) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:45PM (#27317901)

    That may be a saner DRM, but it's still DRM.

    If you're going to sell a service, then sell a service. Don't sell software and try to control it like a service.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:48PM (#27317991)

    Who has said this? Steam?

    Next up: "When CD sales go back up, we promise to quit suing people, RIAA"

  • Fact is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#27318015) Journal

    if you "buy" a game from Steam, they own your game and not you. You are the one who has to request access to play the game(or to play in offline mode) and a ban can screw up your "purchased" game library.

    If you want to have some games, do NOT go to Steam.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DdJ (10790) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#27318033) Homepage Journal

    because it does not restrict what you do with your copy, just how many copies can be played on Steam.

    Just in case it's not clear: restricting how many copies can be played on Steam is restricting what you can do with your copy.

    Now, I agree that it's a reasonable restriction, sure. But please don't pretend that it's not a restriction.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kamots (321174) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:51PM (#27318075)

    And when Steam places an access-control removal patch under 3rd party escrow to be released upon loss of the servers due to whatever reason, or to be released upon a significant change in terms of access (such as going to a pay-per-month for Steam access scheme), then I would believe them.

    Until then?

    It's simply feel-good words with nothing to back them.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:52PM (#27318081) Journal
    Only the title of the press release mentions the term "DRM".

    The text of the press release makes no such claim... what we have here is a press release that has been retitled by someone in marketing/PR for grabbig people's attention and for SEO.

    I bet if you discussed this with some of the actual engineers/designers at Steam, they'd agree it is DRM.
  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:53PM (#27318129)
    So... it removes the need for current DRM schemes like "CD-in-drive", "CD-key", and "X number of installs".

    But it fortifies the DRM scheme that Steam already employs, the "one game copy per server account" by allowing Valve to determine exactly which copy belongs to which account. This doesn't give anything new to the user, but makes it really easy for Valve to look at a illegal copy distributed on the internet and say "Oh, this belongs to MrX. Banned."

    So it doesn't really obsolete DRM... just other versions that users generally hate. The reason this is news is that it might be a compelling enough reason for bigger developers to use SteamWorks, since it gives them the same power they think they get in other DRM schemes.
  • Smart Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thorizdin (456032) <thorizdin@@@lotd...org> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:56PM (#27318221) Homepage

    As soon as the rabid "It's still DRM" crowd either
    a) Get's over their kneejerk reaction
    b) Get's ignored since they don't buy games anyway
    c) Get's distracted by the next Sony DRM debacle

    people will realize that this is exactly what the industry needs. MMO's don't have (much) of a piracy problem, but game developers that want to just sell software need help. DRM has failed not because the concept is flawed, it's not, but because the implementations have been silly. The idea that you can create a procedure and have it work without change forever is simply a waste of money. I can already think of several methods of lying to this kind of system, but Steam makes things harder just by combining a form of file check along with a log on to a remote server. To "lie" you will have to convince Steam that are a registered user, have permission to run the game you want to pirate, and your file(s) matches the CRC or other check they do. Once someone figures that out, or even _gasp_ before, they can add another check (or set of checks) to make things more difficult.

    Many imperfect walls > 1 (supposedly) perfect one

  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:56PM (#27318227)

    This sounds more like a way of tracking, similar (But probably much more secure) to how iTunes embeds your account info into songs you purchase. Basically, if they need to, they can track it down, or tell other servers to not let you play online, but that is a bit different than something that first assumes you are guilty, until you prove your not. A completely different way of looking at the problem, akin to saying "maybe we should capture and jail the burglers, rather than force everyone to hire an armed guard for their house"

  • by qoncept (599709) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:59PM (#27318307) Homepage
    "This won't work because, by definition, it fixes the problem they had before." ???
  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:00PM (#27318321) Homepage

    In what sense is this not DRM?

    In the sense that it does not appear to apply technological inhibitions against otherwise lawful behavior.

    DRM's meaning has become overloaded to the point where it usually refers to technological restrictions which -exceed- the legal restrictions on a copy's use.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:02PM (#27318371)

    On that particular topic, your opinion is just as valid as the opinion of those of us who choose to take them at their word. You have no evidence other than your gut feeling that they would renege, we have no evidence other than our gut feeling that the'll honor the promise.

    But, on the other hand, there are a number of people who act as if we are required to take their opinion as if it were the Gospel Truth. Please don't make the mistake that just because it seems so clear to you, it seems anything less than insulting pessimisim to us.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrsmiggs (1013037) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:02PM (#27318399)
    Unless this is stated in a license or terms of service of some sort then you can't really rely on the claim. Valve might not last forever; they might get bought by some negligent company, become negligent, or one day just turn off all the servers without notice because they went bust. How do you get you the install files for your old game? If I've got the boxed copy, it's still mine and I can still play it, sell it or whatever I want.

    Valve's solution here is still DRM and it's still unacceptable.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by corky842 (728932) <corky842@noSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:03PM (#27318401)
    You can only play, say, Left 4 Dead with your three friends if they each have a copy of the game (unless you are a cheapskate thief).
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:03PM (#27318403) Journal

    I personally hate physical media. I think physical media is a scam on an epic scale. So I'm willing to log in to avoid that hassle. Sure, Steam could go down and kill my game. But my kid could frisbee the disks across the room and kill the game.

    I'm willing to believe (at this point) that Steam is a robust enough distribution channel that it's at least slightly more disaster resistant than my house.

  • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:03PM (#27318417)

    Second, Gabe himself said that if steam were ever to go down, he would remove any and all restrictions from playing your game, without the steam servers.

    Pardon me if I don't believe the promises of a man who isn't fully in control of what may happen in the future. He may intend to do that, but that doesn't mean it will, in fact, be done.

  • by patternmatch (951637) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:04PM (#27318425)
    Oxymoron of the day: "unique copy"
  • Re:Steam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:05PM (#27318449) Journal

    No, not the same reputation, but it doesn't mean they're not asshats.

    The first thing that springs to mind is the artificial price control - they're happy to sell their games in Russia or Thailand at a heavily discounted rate but they use Steam to block the use of those games in any other market. They're using technical measures to take advantage of the global market with none of the potential costs, at the expense of the consumer. They have also effectively destroyed the second-hand market for their games. You want a copy, you're going to have to pay exactly what they ask, basically taking market forces out of the equation.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjellander (163404) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:06PM (#27318471)

    It's only a restriction if you're a cheapskate thief. In other words, it's not actually a restriction by any sensible definition. You're surrounded by "restrictions" everywhere, but I don't hear you whining about how you're not allowed to kill people and run over schoolchildren and blah blah blah. Just shut up.

    Have you ever tried playing one steam game you own on one computer and at the same time play another steam game you own on another computer. You would think that would be possible since you bought both games legally but no, that won't work at all.

    So yes, it does restrict you in ways buying non DRMed games in a brick-and-mortar store does.

  • Re:Why would it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:07PM (#27318489) Homepage Journal

    In any case, I just plug in the ethernet cable, log in, log back out, unplug the cable, and start the game.

    Which is useless when you're several kilometres/miles away from an ethernet cable that you have the right to use.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:08PM (#27318511)

    Wait, it's not DRM... because it's Steam... but without Steam... it won't run. Or without your specific keycode, login, etc PLUS a Steam installation, it won't run.

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. DRM by any other name is still just a big STEAMing turd.

  • Re:Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:09PM (#27318535) Homepage

    I would like proof that value has secured permission to remove copy protection from all games from all companies they sell games for in the event they are forced to shut down steam. (Or choose to shut down steam).

    It's not just values games on steam you know.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:11PM (#27318571)

    In the sense that there is less restrictive than before (still DRM).

    From the wording in the summary it sounds like each game is limited to one person at a time rather than each account being limited to one person at a time.

    So my dad could be playing Doom 2 while I play CS:S from the same account.

    Yes it is DRM, but it is the least restrictive and most reasonable we'll get from the majority of publishers.

    Your point is valid and as one other pointed out it is just marketing, however it is an improvement.

  • by Agrivane (150553) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:12PM (#27318605)

    I check games carefully before purchasing them now and avoid all those that require the use of the Steam service. This comes after purchasing a few games that became unusable after a few weeks (or less than a day) with errors about invalid serial numbers. Perhaps region coding incompatible with my Geographically Canadian IP, perhaps the misfortune of matching with one of the warez distributions or key-gens. But all unresolvable without me delivering images of the retail receipt and manual / number card to Steam. As there is no reason to save the receipt for software purchase as opened packages are non-returnable, this was impossible.

    Individually cryptographically signed executables is absolutely DRM. It, like every other copy-protection scheme, will only be relevant for online play, or if single player games require a handshake with some server system before use. (Which would limit their lifespan.) The best way to discourage piracy is to lower prices. You may not reduce the number of unlicensed copies around the world, but you will assuredly increase the number of customers you have.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Binty (1411197) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:16PM (#27318705)
    That doesn't take market forces out of the equation. Supply is being controlled by the producer (as it always is), and demand is controlled by the consumer. If the price is too high, don't buy. If people don't buy, they go out of business. Market forces!
  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gizzmonic (412910) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:19PM (#27318765) Homepage Journal

    If Valve goes out of business, their property will be turned over to creditors, and they might not even be able to make the choice themselves. The cheapest option for the creditors would always be to simply shut off the servers rather than wasting time and bandwidth creating and distributing a mythical "no phone home" patch. That's a realistic view of what happens when a company goes out of business. Even if you believe Valve is totally honest, it will probably not be up to them if it ever comes to that.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:20PM (#27318789) Journal

    They're using technical measures to take advantage of the global market with none of the potential costs

    Implemtation costs of those tecnhical measures ARE the costs of taking advantage of the global market. What other costs of global markets would you have them assume?

    They have also effectively destroyed the second-hand market for their games.

    Are you still considering their product to be a good? It's not -- it's a service. Reconsider your opinions in that light, and it will come clear to you.

    You want a copy, you're going to have to pay exactly what they ask, basically taking market forces out of the equation.

    Hruh? What market forces are they taking out of the equation? This is how economic transactions work -- if you deem the value of what they are selling to be equal or higher to the price they offer, you buy.

    If Steam sales suck, then game producers will use a different distribution channel. If Steam sales are good, then obviously the value they provide for the price they are charging is not a problem.

    People just need to factor in everything when they make a purchase decision. I prefer not to buy games via Steam, first because I don't play enough to warrant their prices... But also because when I do buy games, it's more important to me that they are unencumbered by an activation protocol. The pain of dealing with an activation protocol (and the risk it involves) decreases the value (to me) of games sold via Steam. So if a game was $10 cheaper on Steam, I'd still rather buy it elsewhere... and if the game isn't offered elsewhere, I'll buy a different game.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kamots (321174) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:21PM (#27318831)

    You're backing up the reason for my post... :)

    What you're saying that you're willing to take them at thier word and believe that you are thus purchasing a product (albiet one where doctrine of first-sale does not apply...)

    You're also saying that my position is equally as valid. That you can choose to distrust the fulfillment of thier promise, and not purchase based upon that distrust.

    What the poster that I was replying to was saying is that I and the OP should be willing to buy the product because of an unsubstantiated promise, and that our position is one without merit.

    You're saying something quite different :)

    And to elaborate on my position, I feel that the people who made the promise have every intention of keeping it. However, what if the company is sold? What if it goes to bankruptcy and the creditors (and judge) rule that developing and/or releasing such a patch is a misuse of funds and not allowable? There's a lot of situations where such a patch is never released regardless of intentions. I'd like a guarantee. (such as a patch that's maintained in escrow)

  • Re:Steam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kamots (321174) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:23PM (#27318873)

    And when you get a new computer next year and Valve is no longer around?

    mmm... good luck with that.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:28PM (#27319033)

    You can only play, say, Left 4 Dead with your three friends if they each have a copy of the game (unless you are a cheapskate thief).

    Ok. But if I buy left 4 dead and Team Fortress Classic on my steam account, why exactly can't I play Left 4 dead while my son plays Team Fortress?

    How does thinking that is complete bullshit make me a cheapskate theif? I have two games. Why should I put up with being prevented from using them both at the same time?

    Can you imagine if the moment you picked up a book off your bookshelf, no one else would be allowed to read any of your OTHER books? Its absurd.

    Yes I know I have the option of registering each steam game into a new separate steam account. However they actively discourage this, it creates other hassles as well.

    And yes I know about offline mode. How does that help online games?

  • Re:Steam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:29PM (#27319053)

    Implemtation costs of those tecnhical measures ARE the costs of taking advantage of the global market. What other costs of global markets would you have them assume?

    Well, for one thing, it doesn't make any sense. If I sell the same game in say, Europe for twice as much as in the USA for the same game, that is taking advantage of it without any other costs. Technical measures are simply there so someone in Europe doesn't figure out about this price gouging and change their region to the USA. Now, if you are going to release a game in China, you have to translate it into Chinese, this would raise prices and it would be justified, but similarly, you don't need technical measures because unless someone knows Chinese, they aren't going to want to buy it, even if it is somehow cheaper. Similarly, the ordinary person who speaks Chinese isn't going to get the English version even if it is cheaper.

    Region locking when it is the exact same code is equivalent to price gouging. Now, when there are some things that need to be changed (language, technical format of PAL vs NTSC, etc) it isn't, but when the exact same code is electronically delivered to Europe for twice as much and the same code costs less when electronically delivered to North America, it is nothing more than glorified price gouging.

  • Re:Steam (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:30PM (#27319089) Journal

    And you believed it! How cute...

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quantam (870027) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:32PM (#27319141) Homepage
    Actually, he has the legal system to support his claim. Your entire position is based on the assumption that Valve CAN remove the DRM if they need to shut off their servers. This is incorrect. Many of the games on Steam are not owned by Valve, thus they would not have the legal power to remove DRM from third-party games without the publishers' consent (the very same publishers that fought tooth and nail to use DRM to begin with). Of course, this is assuming they can afford to remove the DRM before something like going bankrupt, to begin with (and good luck downloading games after their servers go down).

    So yes, from the objective facts we have available, probability is strongly on the side of Valve NOT being able to meet your hopes. But this is a free country (assuming you live in the US); you're free to put your faith anywhere you like.
  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:32PM (#27319147) Journal

    Are you still considering their product to be a good? It's not -- it's a service. Reconsider your opinions in that light, and it will come clear to you.

    That is exactly the problem. I buy games. I don't rent them.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:33PM (#27319163)

    Traditional DRM meant the disk was protected, but I could still install it and play it on any computer in my house.

    I could install it on an unconnected laptop at the cottage and play...

    This is one of those totally dependant on the DRM servers, type DRM. It is even worse IMO.

    This is game rental, not purchase.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:34PM (#27319183) Homepage

    I'm willing to believe (at this point) that Steam is a robust enough distribution channel that it's at least slightly more disaster resistant than my house.

    Distribution yes. I learned after I moved and the ISP couldn't get their act together for a month and a half what Steam really is. Any game that tells me "Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that... least not until you report in to the mothership" can go screw itself. I'm back to buying boxed games and using cracks, or downloadables that have a single activation. If I was to consider doing anything differently, it'd be skipping the buying the DRM-laden ones and just donate the money to charity instead. Treat me as a thief long enough, I might sooner or later get the message.

  • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nicholas Evans (731773) <OwlManAtt@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:38PM (#27319285) Homepage

    So how does the game know nobody else is playing with that globally unique identifier?

    This doesn't sound new or exciting to me...all it sounds like is Valve will handle license key generation/online authentication for third parties selling on Steam.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:45PM (#27319475) Journal

    "When CD sales go back up, we promise to quit suing people, RIAA"

    "When the terrorists are defeated, we promise to give you your civil liberties back" - governments everywhere.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSambassador (1134253) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:46PM (#27319499)
    And that's exactly when I'll crack my games. Until then, Steam works great.
  • by taucross (1330311) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:49PM (#27319573)
    If such a way to remove restrictions existed, I am surprised it has not been activated by an (ahem) third party.
  • Re:More questions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:50PM (#27319599)

    Technically you're not suppose to resell most software, period.

    That's what the software companies would like you to think, but most software -- even most games -- are not an online game like WoW is. (Or at least they have a substantial offline aspect which someone could reasonably want to get just for that aspect.)

    Of course reselling WoW doesn't make much sense, or even L4D. But programs like that are still a minority.

    When you buy software you're buying a license to use it,

    That usually lets you resell it, I'll point out, even if you do in fact need their permission.

    Yes, Steam supports offline play.

    Largely. You still need to activate it before you play it and again periodically; you can't stay offline indefinitely.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:52PM (#27319651)

    If Valve goes into receivership, then one of the things that would happen would be their assets would come under the control of a trust established to do it's best to get the most value out of the assets. While the cheapest option in the short term might be turn it all off, it would not be the likely option taken as that would immediately destroy the intrinsic value of the Steam network Valve has built. In addition, unless something drastically changed between now and this mythical doomsday (and part of the reason why some of us aren't as worried as you is that we don't accept the premise that this day will ever come, just like some of us aren't stocking up for 2012), the ability to sell this network to another company would have enough weight with the trustee that any attempt to turn off the network would be met with some fairly stiff resistance.

    The other option, Valve being sold without going bankrupt, still has the issue that a number of people have in fact purchased games on Steam. Whomever purchased the company might think they could swing simply turning off the servers (if they were idiots, given Steam is currently one of the largest assets Valve has) but an attempt to do so would likely be met with a class action lawsuit meant to determine once and for all if the games were just 'rented' or actually purchased.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:54PM (#27319701) Journal

    Let me make this very simple for you:

    DRM is any digital measure that attempts to stop piracy by restricting what you can do.

    Whether or not it's acceptable DRM is a different question. I have Steam, and I consider it an acceptable trade.

    But put another way, this is like claiming an iPod sold for $20 is "free", or has "no cost". Bullshit! It cost you $20! You may consider that to be more than fair price, considering what iPods usually go for, but it is in no sense free.

    Now, someone else has pointed out that it may instead be a watermark system. Here, we could have a lively debate -- I consider a watermark to not be DRM, because it actually doesn't restrict you from doing anything. Others consider a watermark to be DRM, because it is a potential privacy hazard, and possible to abuse -- for instance, depending on the watermark scheme used, someone may be able to replace their details with someone else's, thus framing someone else for the piracy.

    However, nothing in the press release suggests that this is a watermark instead of Steam's built-in DRM. Instead, it says quite clearly:

    Headlining the new feature set is the Custom Executable Generation (CEG) technology that compliments the already existing anti-piracy solution offered in Steamworks.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:03PM (#27319879) Journal

    In the sense that it does not appear to apply technological inhibitions against otherwise lawful behavior.

    DRM is about applying technological inhibitions against unlawful behavior. By its very nature, these tend to also inhibit lawful behavior.

    DRM proponents often talk about a "perfect DRM" scheme, in which all lawful behavior is allowed. If such a system could be built, I'd be all for it, but I consider it to be impossible by definition.

    This sounds more like a desperate attempt to distance themselves from the label "DRM", because consumers have (rightly) started to associate that with something bad.

    However, if you read the press release, it says quite clearly that this scheme compliments the existing DRM. So even supposing it's merely a watermark scheme (which is what it looks like), it's no improvement to the consumer until I can play my Steam games offline, indefinitely, forever, and ideally get patches without requiring a steam account (or verifying that I have a unique game). That would be a Steam without DRM.

    As it is, I honestly don't care. Steam, as-is, is an acceptable amount of DRM, so long as games don't add anything. I am required to be online and never share my account, and in return, I can download the games as many times as I want, on as many computers as I want, burn them to DVDs and restore them, plus the community (and achievements), plus the ability to have Valve host my settings and savegames.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:03PM (#27319893) Journal

    No...it is quite accurate to say "Steam does not require an internet connection in order to play a game". It should be added that "however, Steam does require an internet connection to install/activate the game". You can still play the game without the internet after you've activated it.

    1) Steam requires an internet connection to activate a game.
    2) Steam requires activation in order to play a game.

    Therfore:

    3) Steam requires an internet connection to play a game.

    QED

  • Re:Smart Move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenoitRen (998927) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:05PM (#27319929)

    Get's

    Quit abusing the apostrophe.

  • Re:Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nick Ives (317) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:06PM (#27319947)

    their assets would come under the control of a trust established to do it's best to get the most value out of the assets

    A.K.A a liquidation auction or firesale. Microsoft would buy it - at any cost - and link it into GFWL.

    The only reason that I buy games on Steam is because I reckon Valve will stick around for at least the next ten years. Chances are any games I buy physically I'll have either lost or destroyed by then anyway so at the very least it's not worse than buying discs.

    If they don't lose their heads and carry on as they are then they should be able to carry on indefinitely, making this a moot point. I don't think that should stop us from being honest about the fact that we don't control our games on Steam though; there is a loss of freedom compared to physical disks.

    Still, it's not like cracking games from Steam is harder than cracking SecuROM games so in the even of a Steam doomsday, I feel pretty secure.

  • Re:Steam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:07PM (#27319959)

    In my reply to another commenter, I've described what I would see happening if it were ever come to bankruptcy or Valve out and out being sold.

    But at the end of it all, we both seem to agree with the basic premise that the people who've made the promise intend to keep it. Where we disagree is their ability to do so.

    At that point, I concede that they may some day be in a position that they wouldn't be able to. On the other hand, as a rebuttal to that, I would say that I don't see that day coming at any point in time where this discussion would still be relevant.

    By the time Steam becomes defunct, if it were to, I would posit we'd be to the point where these games would require a VM to run anyway. The majority of them will be defunct purely by the virtue that they are solely multiplayer and have no servers/players left and the rest will be playable indefinitely via the currently available offline mode.

    And in reality, Valve isn't a startup anymore. Half-Life was released a decade ago. The whole "will they or won't they" question concerning Valve's viability as a corporation seems fairly well decided in the "will they" category. If they were to fall, it would likely be a fairly well foreshadowed fall, with plenty of time for all involved to make their own arrangements.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:08PM (#27319995)

    In which case, Steam gets mad sales like these [vgchartz.com], both Steam and consumer walk away happy. I've been using Steam to purchase games for quite a while now and am a very happy customer. Most of the time I wait until a game hits the 'bargain bin'. For the price I pay, I can't understand what there is to gripe about...

  • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:12PM (#27320071) Homepage

    Exactly. Saying that this isn't DRM is disingenuous.

    What they're really getting at is that this makes things like SecuRom obsolete. Requiring that a person log in to play their offline game is about as good as you can get in the DRM world. You no longer have to deal with bugs related to copy protection that tries to disable functional software on the computer. No more registration limit nightmares. All you do is sell the game and tell the user to log in to the service.

    It's convenient for users, too, but it's still DRM, no matter how you look at it.

  • by Shihar (153932) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:21PM (#27320245)

    If your only remaining fear of Steam is bricking, I would probably just get over it and come to the dark side. I have been playing video games since Zork. Do you know how many video games I have lost or destroyed along that path? I sure as hell don't have my original Doom CD sitting around somewhere. I weep over my loss of my Master of Orion 2 CD. I don't even have my original Half Life CD.

    The difference of course is that I can still play Half Life because it is on Steam... I can't play Master of Orion 2.

    Sure, Steam might one day die. Valve promised to unlock the games if they should ever die. Is that an ironclad agreement? Nah, but in truth, even if they brick my Steam account when they die and no one buys it up to continue offering the service, I'll still have called it a fair trade. Solid media is too easy to lose or break, and cracking DRM to making multiple backups is frankly a waste of time.

    I personally call Steam a fare deal. If one day it dies, those games might possibly be bricked. What I get in return is painless instillation of games when I move computers, an easy way to get new games, and none of the hassle of physical media in terms of storage space or breakage. I personally like a world with Steam much better than loading my computer up with crippleware from physical media.

  • Re:Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:28PM (#27320387)

    Um, yeah, kinda... they've been known to disable accounts and access to games that people paid for arbitrarily.

  • Re:Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SCPRedMage (838040) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:28PM (#27320391)
    Bullshit. Steamworks doesn't do this kind of "hardware" lock.

    If any game sold on Steam exhibits this kind of behavior, it is because the game uses an additional form of DRM. Use of additional DRM is a decision made by the publishers of the game, not Valve, and Valve doesn't use any additional DRM on ANY of the games in their own catalog.

    In fact, the ENTIRE point of the article was Valve trying to convince other companies that they don't NEED additional DRM on Steam.

    By "personalizing" each copy of the game for each gamer, it allows Valve to potentially make their games work COMPLETELY free of Steam. Copy the game folder onto a system without Steam, and the game will run fine, without the need for cracks. If a copy gets leaked, then they can determine who original purchased that copy.
  • Re:Steam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kamots (321174) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:35PM (#27320577)

    If the 3rd party escrow goes under, then Valve gets another. It's not a single point of failure; currently Valve is.

    As for simultaniously playing one game on two machines... I have no sympathy with you being upset about not being able to do so. If you want to play with your kids, buy them thier own copy.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lordrashmi (167121) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:42PM (#27320721)

    And that's just as illegal as pirating them in the first place...

    and I won't feel bad about it at all... Unlike if I had never paid for it in the first place.

  • Re:Steam (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:46PM (#27320799)
    Comparing VALVe to the RIAA is one of the most ridiculous things I've seen on Slashdot.

    On one hand you have an organization that is hellbent on doing whatever they can to stop piracy, and would probably kill puppies if it helped.

    On the other hand, you have a company that cares a lot about its fans, and is trying to reduce the hassle needed to play their games without eliminating their profit entirely.

    It's obvious you know nothing about VALVe if you have that reaction, but no, they not fucking assholes who want you to stop playing TF2. They're gamers like you and me, and if they somehow go down, access controls will be removed.
  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 (606117) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:48PM (#27320833) Journal

    It responds to the parent, who responds to the grandparent.

    It is drawing an analogy to highlight the flaw in the reasoning that a person can be trusted to return power which is given to them.

    It might be a little over dramatic to compare it to the terrorism situation, but the point is that it is utterly naive to assume that when you hand your rights over to someone else for "safekeeping" on their say-so that they will return them to you in due course.

  • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:02PM (#27321099)
    Theft has to be prevented somehow. It's about finding an acceptable solution.
  • by Gerad (86818) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:03PM (#27321117)

    1) A car requires dozens of people to assemble.
    2) A car must be assembled before it can be used.

    Therefore:

    3) A car requires dozens of people to use.

    QED?

    It's pretty clear here that people are referring to whether or not you need an internet connection at the time the game is being played, not over the entire life of the game.

  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:49PM (#27322025)
    That is a matter of option. The day i got quake3 we could all play together in the lab on LAN with one copy. Starcraft lets you spawn "LAN copies" and TA had a similar feature. I didn't need a internet connection to play single player either.
  • Re:More questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zak3056 (69287) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:05PM (#27322255) Journal

    Technically you're not suppose to resell most software, period.

    Try reading this [wikipedia.org] as a primer as to why the above should be scored, "-1, poster successfully brainwashed."

  • Re:Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onefriedrice (1171917) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:06PM (#27322269)
    Cool, let me try.

    When the economy is fixed, we promise to stop strapping our grandchildren with debt they will have no hope of paying off.

    This is fun.
  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:38PM (#27322713)

    It's called the "law".

  • Re:YES! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:10PM (#27323129)

    1) If I don't have STEAM on my other computer I can not play it.

    You don't need two computers to play a game on steam so your requirement of having steam on your other computer doesn't make sense.

    2) If I am not connected to the Internet with my other computer I can not play it.

    Based on your comment history I seriously doubt that'll be a problem for you.

    3) If Valve goes belly up I can no longer play my games

    Yes you will because people play pirated steam games today, right now.

  • Re:Steam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Riven.exe (1230284) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:32PM (#27323371)
    Market forces don't apply to monopolies. And copyright is a government granted monopoly.
  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Splab (574204) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:05AM (#27325513)

    That's probably because you are paying in dollars.

    I stopped shopping games in steam when they forced us to use Euros - but did the conversion 1:1.

  • Re:Steam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shrike82 (1471633) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:02AM (#27326747)

    Gabe Newell tells us he hates DRM so that people bow down whilst he's simultaneously enforcing some of the most limiting DRM in the software world on people?

    Some would argue that it's actually one of the least limiting forms of DRM in the software world. You can play your games anywhere, on any PC and download them as many times as you want. Configs and savegames (separate from DRM I know) are portable and stored remotely so it's even less hassle for you.

    But don't let me stop you ranting...

  • Re:Steam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:14AM (#27326817)

    Well I suppose you could consider it the least limiting if you ignore all the limitations but that doesn't make a lot of sense now does it?

    Valve DRM:
    - Limits when you can activate the game, if Valve ever goes bust and hence doesn't release a patch you'll never be able to activate your game again. Any problem with their activation servers will too prevent you from activating and hence playing a game you've purchased.

    - Need to activate to play online, in the above scenario you could crack it to allow activation but will likely be unable to play online still

    - Can't sell your games on second hand

    - Prevents you playing games offline

    - Forces you to have Steam on your system to be able to play a game that doesn't use Steam's features even if you bought it outside of Steam's distribution channel

    - Forces you to accept updates to be able to play (What if you come home, want to play a game you've bought but find you have to download a 100mb+ update and you have to pay for your bandwidth because it's capped like many people in the UK do?)

    Effectively whilst most classic DRM can be used to prevent people copying game disks, it does at very least allow continued ownership of the product, the ability to install it at will even after the company has gone bust and still allows you to sell the product on second hand, Steam removes the product from your control entirely even if you have purchased the actual physical media in a shop. Valve also can prevent activation of a product you didn't even buy from them as happened with me with DoW2, I purchased it from GAME but Valve initially prevented me from activating even though according to the box my only transaction with Valve should have been to register (not activate) with them.

    Ignoring the limitations imposed by Steam's DRM does not mean that they are not there.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @08:33AM (#27327905) Homepage Journal

    Valve is the rare company that actually subscribes to the notion that the best way to make a profit is to put together an exceptional product

    If you install a steam backup, you cannot play it until steam has been blessed - oh, I'm sorry, "updated" - which is irrelevant for offline play. Steam exists to deprive you of your First Sale and Fair Use rights by forcing you to call home. It is invasive and unnecessary and buying Steam Powered games (let alone buying games from Steam where you don't even have a physical copy to wave around in court) is voting for more invasive and unnecessary DRM.

    You're starry-eyed because some developers wanted the maximum possible audience to be deprived of their rights, and so worked on updating their game engine in response to your bug reports. But in reality, you were helping them maintain their stranglehold on your pocketbook. See how that works? Meanwhile, Valve has made empty promises to release patches to remove this limitation from games if they should go under, proving that they know these "features" are undesirable to customers, and only serve Valve. However, if you believe this promise, you are a fool. Releasing those patches while a sale is pending would probably be legally actionable, so no one will ever do that. Valve will NOT simply cease to exist; if nothing else their IP will eventually be sold to cover their debts, probably to EA if history is any indication. And in this economy, to assume that Valve won't fail is the potential folly here.

    Valve doesn't give a fuck about you, they just want your money. They are willing to be even less scrupulous about it than others. I had to stop Steam from starting at my computer's boot time because Valve thinks they own the whole fucking thing, my time to a usable desktop was cut about in half. Everything about them is lame. There is only one good single-player mod for HL2 and now I feel like an idiot for even buying the game at all. It was pretty entertaining but it didn't last that long, the replay value is not that high (the game is completely on rails, after all) and if you don't play online, then it turned out that you got very little for your money while helping along Steam. Steam would have failed entirely without a major game launch to prop it up.

    Further, I feel like the masses of gamers including myself got carried away by the HL2 release and failed to ponder the ramifications of our spending decisions, and have now fucked it up for everyone else. Only time will tell...

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