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Game Industry Vets On DRM 372

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-perspectives dept.
An anonymous reader points out an article at SavyGamer in which several game industry veterans were polled for their opinions on DRM. Cliff Harris of Positech Games said he didn't think his decision to stop using DRM significantly affected piracy of his games, accepting it as an unavoidable fact. "Maybe a few of the more honest people now buy the game rather than pirate it, but this sort of thing is impossible to measure. You can see how many people are cracking and uploading your game, but tracking downloads is harder. It seems any game, even if it's $0.99 has a five hour demo and is DRM-free and done by a nobel-peace prize winning game design legend, will be cracked and distributed on day one by some self righteous teenager anyway. People who crack and upload games don't give a damn what you've done to placate gamers, they crack it anyway." Nihal de Silva of Direct2Drive UK said his company hasn't noticed any sales patterns indicating customers are avoiding games with DRM. Richard Wilson of TIGA feels that customers should be adequately warned before buying a game that uses DRM, but makes no bones about the opinion that the resale of used games is not something publishers should worry about.
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Game Industry Vets On DRM

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  • Unavoidable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:44AM (#31007340) Homepage

    I think piracy is unavoidable in a non-subscription based model like most standalone games. The target audience (teenagers) sees themselves as poor, or actually is poor, and is thus unwilling to pay for something they can get for free. Others undoubtedly resent the fact they are being asked to actually pay for a game, and so are willing to crack them.
    I would like to see the demographics on who *does* pay for games and see if I am write, or if people of all ages are cheap bastards :P

    Now the MMO world has it much better off, since you need a subscription to actually play the game at all. Of course that undoubtedly leads to a lot of problems with stolen CC numbers and the like, so perhaps you are no further ahead. By requiring a CC number to even register, they of course limit their potential sales massively as well.

    Sadly I think this is going to lead to games which are free to play, but contain targeted in-game advertising down the road. I don't want to see how badly that warps the game designs we see as a result.

    • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Interesting)

      by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:16AM (#31007502) Homepage Journal

      Sadly I think this is going to lead to games which are free to play, but contain targeted in-game advertising down the road. I don't want to see how badly that warps the game designs we see as a result.

      another option could be to follow the 'sudden attack' method of payment. sudden attack is a Korean FPS which is free to play. Weapons, costume sand power-ups are available through an in-game store. You can either earn points in-game, or pay cash, and exchange those for certain items.
      This way, people with no money and lots of time can enjoy the game, they aren't completely locked out, but players who don't have hours and hours of free time to rack up points can just pay to get the goods.
      I think this, combined with advertising is likely to be the future of gaming.

      well, since companies are mostly made up of greedy ass holes, the future of gaming will probably be pay to buy the game, then pay to play the game online, then pay for the items to use in-game, AND have levels full of ads and product placements.

      • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JackDW (904211) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:14AM (#31007774) Homepage

        I hate games that do this. "Free to play" has become a warning. It means: "Danger! This game doesn't have a monthly subscription or upfront cost, but the "real money transactions" will turn out to be more expensive than a monthly subscription".

        In all games of this sort, the game designers can alter the game design to maximise the amount of money they take from you. They figure out what you want to do and charge you for it. And if what you want to do changes, they nerf the game once more, again maximising profit at your expense.

        It makes them more money than a monthly subscription, clearly, otherwise they wouldn't do it! The "free" parts of the game are arbitrarily crippled, and you have to pay and pay and pay to undo this. See for example the Facebook game "Farmville" (can't select an area of farmland by clicking and dragging unless you rent this facility) or the MMO "Runes of Magic" (the default bag is tiny and you must rent a bigger one to progress through the game).

        The "free to play" model is a rip-off's charter. It is not a good thing. Do not support it. Pay up front, pay a fixed subscription, or play games that are genuinely free.

        • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:19AM (#31008108) Journal
          Depends on the game. Kingdom of Loathing (which, admittedly, has incredibly low operating costs), is free to play and you can play it to the end (and though subsequent reincarnations) without paying anything. There are special premium items that cost $15. These give you some stat bonuses, but nothing particularly important. They're basically a way of rewarding players who donate to supporting the game. If you look at the people who have the most of these items, they are generally people who have been playing a long time and didn't need the stat bonuses that the items gave.
        • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @08:35AM (#31008444)
          Disagree on almost every level.

          With f2p MMOs, I - not the developer - get to choose IF, WHEN, and HOW MUCH I'm willing to spend on the game. If the game is good, I'll gladly pay to get better gear, charms, etc. If the game sucks, I quit and I'm out of $0.

          Compare that to Aion where you PAY $50 for the retail game, then PAY $15 a month just to SEE IF YOU'LL LIKE IT. That, my friend, IS a rip-off.

          Obviously, the "race to the top" becomes a big spender's minigame, and you'll end up maxing out a few credit cards to get there, but that's only a minority of the player base.

          F2P games were born in Asia, where most players are poor and play mostly from lan houses. So it doesn't make any sense to pay monthly fees.
        • Re:Unavoidable (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @09:13AM (#31008672)

          I agree with this. The problem with this model is that it always trends towards having to sink some ungodly amount of cash into the game to remain competitive. There will always be somebody outthere who really, really gets into the game and is willing to dump a few hundred $$$ per month into it. With WoW, about the most that can get them is a dual box setup with multiple accounts. Nothing Blizzard sells for real world money has any tactical advantage in the game.

          However in "free to play" games that use micro-transactions for USEFUL gear, that guy who spends all that money is going to wipe the floor with you unless you pay similar amounts to keep up. I refuse to do this.

      • since companies are mostly made up of greedy ass holes

        So out of curiosity, what's the alternative to specialized labor performed by groups of trained people (aka companies) if you wish to create anything more complex than a plow? If profit isn't a motive how do you get widespread rampant cooperation so people will create complex items?

        Companies (or more accurately the people running them) do sometimes act in a greedy and unethical way, just like individuals at all levels of society often act in a selfish and unethical way. It's not the fact that they're

      • well, since companies are mostly made up of greedy ass holes, the future of gaming will probably be pay to buy the game, then pay to play the game online, then pay for the items to use in-game, AND have levels full of ads and product placements.

        You work at NCSoft, don't you?

    • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:31AM (#31007578) Journal

      Or they could just, you know, be like me and this guy [metacafe.com] (warning: language NSFW but can you blame him?) and downloading cracked versions of games we already bought because the shitty DRM doesn't work!

      Being in PC repair I can attest that the latest DRM can be worse than most viruses. If you get Starforce or SecuROM mixed together, or either of those with any other like SafeDisc, well lets just say I hope you look back on the days of unstable Win9x fondly, because you will be getting a taste of those times. I can't even count the number of DVD drives of customers I had to throw away because Starforce or SecuROM decided they were "dirty evil filthy pirates" for actually having a burner and threw it into PIO mode and burned their drive smooth up.

      And be sure to place close attention to the background in that video. Notice the huge mounds of game boxes? Here he is a major customer and what does he get for doing the right thing and buying? Well he gets spit upon, that's what? Does the DRM do jack shit to stop piracy? Hell no! In fact the nastier DRM like Spore gets cracked even quicker than the others! It has gotten so bad with shitty DRM that I refuse to buy at release day anymore, simply because I don't have the cracked version yet. Once I have a working crack then and ONLY then will I buy, because I am frankly tired of shelling out $50+ for a paperweight I can even return when it is defective by design!

      Meanwhile the pirates are laughing their asses off, because their version just works straight out of the box, no hassles and no bullshit, meanwhile the ones that DO work expect me to hop up and change discs every. single. time. I want to play a game. WTF? Why did I spend all this money on fat hard drives when you ass clowns are gonna treat me like I'm using an x360?

      You want to cut down on piracy, game publishers? Instead of ass raping us with ever higher prices, "multiplatform" games that are nothing but really shitty x360 games, less and less game thanks to the lack of dedicated servers and the scourge that is DLC, how about giving us real value for our money, hmmm? How about that? EA got me to shell out for MOH:10th anniversary even though I heard Airborne wasn't great by offering me MORE value for my money! For $25 I got Airborne, Allied Assault with the two expansions, Pacific Assault the Director's Cut, and a making of, a WW2 Pacific War interactive timeline, and a music of MOH CD. All of the big game houses have older games, why not throw us a couple of older titles in? Why not a music CD or making of?

      But there isn't any surprise as to why there is so much piracy now. I have been gaming since the days of Win3.x, and never before have we gamers been treated so badly, charged so much for substandard fare, and generally spit upon for daring to pay good money. Is it any wonder so many say fuck it and get the actually working pirate version? And sorry about the length, but I am so damned sick of how shitty we gamers are being treated by these gaming corps. If we buy they spit in our faces and screw us over every chance they get, if we boycott they just scream "piracy!" and bribe our politicians to get nastier laws and put even worse DRM in. either way we are royally screwed.

      • Once I have a working crack then and ONLY then will I buy, because I am frankly tired of shelling out $50+ for a paperweight I can even return when it is defective by design!

        I regret buying Universe at War: Earth Assault for $5.

        UAWEA Launcher Error
        Abnormal game exit detected.

        Support wasn't very helpful...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fulldecent (598482)

        >> Being in PC repair I can attest that the latest DRM can be worse than most viruses. If you get Starforce or SecuROM mixed together, or either of those with any other like SafeDisc, well lets just say I hope you look back on the days of unstable Win9x fondly, because you will be getting a taste of those times. I can't even count the number of DVD drives of customers I had to throw away because Starforce or SecuROM decided they were "dirty evil filthy pirates" for actually having a burner and threw i

      • by schon (31600) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:12AM (#31009220)

        downloading cracked versions of games we already bought because the shitty DRM doesn't work!

        Umm - if you need to download cracked versions, then it would seem that the DRM is working perfectly fine.

        The entire point of DRM is to prevent people from playing the game. Since it's preventing you from playing, then it's obviously working.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by brkello (642429)
        Oh, so dramatic. I have been PC gaming for years and never had any of the issues you described (or any at all really). You make it seem like legitimately buying games is going to bring down your computer. It some tiny minority of cases, things can go wrong. For the majority of people, it won't.

        I'll give you credit for one thing. At least you buy the game. If you want to get the cracked version because of the DRM boogie man, than I think you should have every right to do so. So I commend you for actu
      • Re:Unavoidable (Score:4, Informative)

        by hitmark (640295) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:17PM (#31010952) Journal

        i recall a big name pc gaming mag suggesting people get a crack for elder scrolls: oblivion, as it would improve the performance of the game by as much as 30%.

        i think that was something of a watershed moment for DRM in games...

    • That's an overly simplistic analysis of why someone might pirate a game. I have several reasons that I pirate games: 1. Extended demo - some games don't release a demo or they release a demo where it's impossible to tell if the game's worth buying or not. Rather than risk my money, I'll pirate it and buy it if it's worth playing. If it's not worth buying than I stop playing it. I have yet to play a pirated game all the way through without buying it first. I've bought A LOT of games because of this and this
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blahplusplus (757119)

      "The target audience (teenagers) sees themselves as poor, or actually is poor, and is thus unwilling to pay for something they can get for free"

      Since the article mentions cliffski, the problem is cliff's games are competing against all AAA games of yesteryear, why should an indie developer expect large sales when the competition is so fierce?

      Why would I want to play space battles instead of darksiders which I can rent for $5 or less and finish then send back? Game developers forget that when we were kids w

    • by westlake (615356)

      The target audience (teenagers) sees themselves as poor, or actually is poor, and is thus unwilling to pay for something they can get for free.

      The pirate can't be poor.

      Unless you assume he is pirating his game hardware and internet service as well.

      That sense of entitlement is really more typical of someone who has less at risk. Someone whose high tech toys aren't going to attract the attention of social services.

      I rather doubt he is he is a teenager as well.

    • by mqduck (232646)

      I have yet to come across one single game I had any trouble playing an unbought copy of because of DRM (granted, figuring out how to get around it maybe have taken *someone* a lot of work, but not me). Anyway, to reiterate: not once have I been stopped by DRM from pirating a game. On the other hand, if I do purchase a game, you can bet I'm one of those people who won't get one that makes me jump through hoops just to play a game I actually paid for.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:47AM (#31007360)

    even if it's $0.99 has a five hour demo and is DRM-free and done by a nobel-peace prize winning game design legend, will be cracked and distributed on day one by some self righteous teenager anyway.

    Huh? What's to crack if there is no DRM?

    Pirate the whole game, I can see that happening, but that's cracker-lackin!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JorDan Clock (664877)
      CD checks may still need to be cracked, although depending on the CD check method and the image provided, even that might not be necessary.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        CD checks are DRM.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Tukz (664339)

          A very very light, and mostly acceptable one imo.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          No, they're not. Besides their existence pre-dating the term, checking for a physical 'key' is not the same as altering your machine to limit how many times you use/copy it. There is no 'rights management' going on here.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)
            But, the game presumably doesn't run if you don't have the disc in the drive, right? That's DRM, you can't run the copy on your laptop if you forgot the disc at home.
    • Might have a serial number or something similar you need to enter, with a checksum to verify it's valid. Lots of shareware titles do this. The demo is actually the full game, with just a simple check to see whether or not you're allowed to access all content, or play for longer than 30 minutes at a time, or level up your character past level 10, etc. Not every form of copy-protection is DRM, but if you don't have a legitimate copy you'd still need to bypass it in order to play the full game.

      Even bypassing s

  • by Tjebbe (36955) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:58AM (#31007408) Homepage

    Then just see it as a 'service' for the people that do buy your game to not use digital restrictions. Those are your customers, not the ones downloading it. They probably wouldn't have bought it even if it was impossible to download anyway.

    • by JosKarith (757063) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:10AM (#31007464)
      DRM is fundimentally flawed in that it only affects your paying customers. 2 days after your game has come out a stripped version will pop up on the torrent sites, meaning that anyone who wants to play the game for free can. Psi-ops was a classic point - I bought the game, only to find that the DRM system objected to me having a dvd burner in my system. So it got returned, and I downloaded a copy.
      Net result of DRM in this case - 1 lost sale.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by the_humeister (922869)

        Wait a minute. You're not even supporting the game creators by just keeping your store bought copy. Instead you return it and then download a copy so you can play for free? Where's the "-1, ungrateful leech" option?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Per Wigren (5315)
          Ungrateful leech? Why should he care about someone treating him like shit?

          If I bought a game it would be because I wanted to play the game, not because I feel a need to support a company. If the company makes it a PITA (or even refusing me) to even reach the point where I can start playing, I too would say "fuck this shit!", return the game and get a much better gaming experience by pirating it.

          BTW, I have a proud collection of 50+ legally bought original games in my bookcase.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BikeHelmet (1437881)

            Oh, so if anyone treats you like shit they forfeit their rights to their stuff?

            Methinks the law isn't on your side. And neither are ethics.

            BTW, I have a collection of 150+ legally bought original games in my k'nex game holding tower.

            Also, five paperweights from EA and Sega. Mostly EA.

            And unfortunately, I have to use pirate copies of about a dozen games.

            • by Per Wigren (5315)

              Oh, so if anyone treats you like shit they forfeit their rights to their stuff? Methinks the law isn't on your side. And neither are ethics.

              No, but I really, truly don't care.

              I could just refrain from playing the game or I could pirate it. Whichever of those two choices I as an individual make it doesn't make even a tiny difference for them.

              As long as I don't cause anyone any damage I don't have any regrets.

              Legal? Hardly. Moral? Depends. But I care about them about as much as they care about me.

            • by NNKK (218503)

              You're absolutely right. He should have returned the game and then sued them for false advertising and violation of the implied warranty of merchantability instead of downloading it. That way, not only would they have lost the sale, but they would have lost at a minimum a few thousand dollars in legal fees in the process, pretty much regardless of how the case turns out.

            • by delinear (991444) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:19AM (#31008104)
              Um, they got their "stuff" back if he returned the game, or are you really accusing him of stealing some bytes? Letting them keep the money for a product that he couldn't even use would just endorse their practice of using DRM. Personally I just wouldn't have played the game, but I can understand his view if he wanted to legitimately play the game and the company was basically telling him he couldn't, and worse, treating him like a criminal after he paid for their product! In this case if the company lost out it was due to its own blinkered greed and stupidity.
      • Everyone here is going to agree that, put simply, "bad DRM is bad." As in, game-breaking/OS-breaking DRM is bad.

        This discussion is more about "Is well-executed DRM bad (and for whom)"?

        As far as I can tell, publishers can't really prove or disprove that well-executed DRM either increases or decreases their sales. After all this discussion and heartbreak, it really does seem that the theoretical increased sales from preventing some piracy pretty much washes out with the lost sales from the zealots/pragmatis

        • by delinear (991444) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:24AM (#31008128)
          Exactly, the telling quote was that the inclusion of DRM didn't put customers off. We can extrapolate that to the non-inclusion of DRM not really losing customers to piracy (i.e. they would have similar sales figures and always lose similar customer numbers to piracy regardless of DRM). That being the case, the inclusion of any DRM seems incredibly pointless. Why neuter the customer's experience while simultaneously increasing your costs to produce (by developing around and testing the DRM), support (by having increased numbers of customers unable to play their legitimate copy contacting you to complain) and sell (when those self-same customers return their non-working copy) the game?
        • by Nursie (632944)

          Well executed DRM is DRM your customers never see, hear or even become conscious of.
          All DRM is removed by pirates pretty sharply.

          Given DRM costs money, why bother?

          I'm not a pirate, I buy games. DRM pisses me off and makes me less likely to buy games. I'm sure that I'm in a tiny demographic, but saving money on not having DRM and gaining a few more sales would seem to be a good thing, no?

      • You were allowed to return a PC game for a refund?

        Ah, it was released 6 years ago.
  • Legitimate Customers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Manip (656104) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:07AM (#31007444)

    What they should discuss is the negative impact on legitimate customers rather than on piracy...

    For one example, I legally own *two* copies of Red Alert 2 yet I have them both no-CD cracked. Why? Because I don't want to have to go find the CD each time I want to play and worse still the game even supports playing back Audio CD while you play but yet that requires you to juggle the RA2 and Audio CD constantly just to get the damn thing to work!

    The best thing to happen to DRM has been Steam. They have a fairly healthy level of DRM or at least the Valve games do... I hear Bioshock 2 has Steam + "Games for Windows" + SecureRom? What the heck? And an activation limit on Steam?! ... Well Steam *used* to be good for consumers before they started letting publishers do whatever the hell they want.

    • by c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:22AM (#31007530)
      Yeah I've followed a weird arc. When I was younger I downloaded any game I could find just to try them out. I didn't have any money for games so I certainly wasn't a lost sale. Then after I got more settled and hit my mid 20s I started buying all my games. I had the money to spend at that point and I figured it only made sense to support developers who made the kind of stuff I like so there would be more to come. But now I'm swinging back the other way. I bought a retail copy of Bioshock even though I'd heard about the DRM problems with it. Bioshock 2 I was going to buy on Steam as that's how I purchase most games these days but after seeing the install limits and securom stuff I've just decided to pirate it. If I'm going to be treated like a criminal I may as well act like one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KiloByte (825081)

      There is only one "healthy level of DRM". Hint: Steam exceeds it.

    • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <.elmuerte. .at. .drunksnipers.com.> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:44AM (#31007636) Homepage

      Steam was never good for customers. It was just less bad than various other solutions. Steam just makes up for some of it's customer limitations. But in the end you are still renting games that come with a remote kill switch.

      • ... along with a widely publicised promise to unlock all content should Steam be discontinued / Valve go under.

        The best way to convert me from a paying customer back into a pirate is to cripple the stuff I bought in good faith. I hope all game publishers realise that.
        • by delinear (991444) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:34AM (#31008170)

          ... along with a widely publicised promise to unlock all content should Steam be discontinued / Valve go under.

          When companies go under, there is a priority order to who gets what, and guess what... customers are at the end of a very long list. That being the case, do you really believe that they'll be allowed to continue developing for long enough to do right by the customers when that is going to directly translate into further losses for the creditors? That's just not the way these things work, it's not even like the management there would be in charge if they were in liquidation, even if their promise is genuine. Maybe if the solution is already written and they literally just have to flick a switch to deploy it it'll happen, otherwise it's just a marketing tool to assure us everything will be okay (disclaimer: I really like Valve's games and have a few on Steam, I don't object to the service but I'm under no illusion of what will likely happen if they fail - people who still want to play games they bought will have to go find a cracked version somewhere).

          • Cracked version is fine, if required. I bought the game legally (along with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of others), so if Steam fails the cracks will come.

            And everyone who bought into the new distribution model will all of a sudden stop buying. Lose-lose.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by harl (84412)

          As I've done dozens of times with never a single result:

          This claim is not in the legally binding contract you agree to when you purchase a Steam game.

          Please provide some documentation of this claim.

      • But in the end you are still renting games that come with a remote kill switch.

        That's nonsense. If the servers go down, I can still play whatever is currently installed that is non-multiplayer. Reinstalling stuff will be a tad difficult, but that's the nature of any medium. DVD damaged -> no reinstall. Steam servers down -> no reinstall. There's a higher likelyhood that your DVDs will get damaged than the Steam servers going down - probably by 50x or more. But if they do go down, it hits ALL your games, so it is a gamble.

        I use steam because it's the only store where I can get aw

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Waccoon (1186667)

        Steam has also gotten "less bad" over time, and as a result the nostalgia effect has kicked in. It's a shame I remember how terrible it was when it came out, and few other people do. I still boycott it, simply because of the horrible way it was established in the first place.

        I buy (and play) so few modern games these days. Mandatory online activation of any sort is the day I stop gaming. The old ones I have are numerous and plenty good enough.

      • "Steam was never good for customers"

        I'd have to disagree, steam has been driving the price of games steadily downward. They have frequent sales, many digitial distribution sites and gaming news sites have had special deals on games. I got demigod for $8 and bought SF4 for roughly the same amount on sale off of steam.

        The free market at work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by harl (84412)

      Steam is the worst possible DRM.

      You have to ask permission to play.
      You have to agree to a legally binding contract that gives Steam the right to revoke your "purchase" at any time.

      Would you buy a car if the dealer had an option to come into your garage and take it back at their whim. Even if you'd paid for it in cash up front?

      Fairplay, Impulse, disc in drive, CSS are all examples of good DRM.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by elrous0 (869638) *

      The thing that worries me about Steam and many of these other schemes is what I prefer to call the "Circuit City factor." That is to say, I am very reluctant to purchase a game that will disappear from my library the second the publisher either goes out of business or shuts down their servers. That's why I've gotten more into console games in recent years. At least most of those are still "Pop in and play," whereas it seems more and more PC games have moved to the "Verify that it's okay with some distant se

  • Ubisoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khellendros1984 (792761) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:10AM (#31007466) Journal
    I've bought a number of Ubisoft games over the years. That won't be true if their new releases start "featuring" a constant tether to the internet. Frankly, I'll stick with the CD checks (or Steam). Steam isn't my favorite, but at least it doesn't force a constant connection to the publisher's servers to play a game!
    • Re:Ubisoft (Score:4, Insightful)

      by powerspike (729889) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:11AM (#31007756)
      well my internet was down yesturday, tryed to launch one of my games on steam (the game didn't even have multiplayer), guess what, it didn't let me load steam because i wasn't connected to the internet, net result, couldn't play any of my games off steam...
      • Generally it works if you keep the same account logged in, and jump through various other hoops. I'm not saying that it always works, or that I'd rather get something via Steam rather than a box-purchase, just that it's one of the less onerous DRM schemes that I've seen.
      • Re:Ubisoft (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:11AM (#31008058) Journal

        It didn't offer to start in offline mode?

        What game was it? If I have it I'll test that particular one.

        • that's the thing, it did say can't connect to internet, then it asked to start in offline mode, clicked on yes/ok, and it'd complain about no internet access again, and quit. very annoying indeed. i prefer to buy most of my stuff off steam now as well. it's usally 20-40$ cheaper then the shops, and the specials are even better (infact i only buy the specials now - sick of paying something, then finding it 50-75% off several weeks later)
    • Give it a week, and some enterprising fellow more intelligent than me will have a local emulator for the authentication server and an entry to add to your HOSTS file.

      Or, just strip the offending code out of the executable.
  • by initialE (758110) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:10AM (#31007468)

    "The security measures used to restrict the unauthorized use of this software may cause your computer to experience partial or total loss of functionality, and may conflict with other software or hardware you may have installed on this machine"

    It's true enough, and worse is that they are not going to be responsible for restoring your system if it does in fact get hosed.

    • That's fine. The security measures used to restrict the unauthorised abuse of my machine may cause me to not give game publishers my money. This may conflict with their shareholders expectations of "return on investment" and their dividends / bonuses.
    • by jimicus (737525)

      "The security measures used to restrict the unauthorized use of this software may cause your computer to experience partial or total loss of functionality, and may conflict with other software or hardware you may have installed on this machine"

      In many countries, such a disclaimer would not absolve them of responsibility if they did hose your box. With the added bonus that the disclaimer would basically amount to written confirmation that this could happen.

  • by LogicalError (1002490) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:12AM (#31007482)
    DRM, nowadays at least, isn't so much about piracy but more about killing the used games market. Of course they'll tell you it's about piracy, but it really isn't
    • What's your rationale for that assertion? I don't exactly or agree disagree, but you don't exactly make a compelling argument.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by delinear (991444)
        It's a brave person who buys a game that requires some online authentication second-hand and relies on the good nature of whoever sold the game not to have kept a copy installed (with a no-cd crack) and what should now be their authentication key. It's the reason most PC games are non-returnable these days, once you have the key they have zero resale value.
    • You're right. Activation limits and all that crap do work against used games.

  • It seems any game, even if it's $0.99 has a five hour demo and is DRM-free and done by a nobel-peace prize winning game design legend, will be cracked and distributed on day one by some self righteous teenager anyway.

    A DRM-free game doesn't need a crack.

    Just pointing that out...

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:12AM (#31007764)

    The trend is that the average age of gamers is now in the 30s.

    What this has to do with DRM is the fact that, at our age (yes, I am in my 30s) what we have the least is time - at the point in your life where you do have a decent income, money is much less of an issue than when you're a teen - if all I have is 1 or 2 hours a day for gaming I don't want to have to jump through extra hoops to play a game and I sure don't want to see my gaming time wasted because my Internet connection is down or the gaming servers are down and the games requires remote authentication (something that adds no value for me).

    The second point is that, when you actually work for a living you can relate the true value of money to the time it takes you to earn it. The cost of a game is then more than a mathematical figure, it's measure in how long do you have to work to pay for it.

    The third point is the increased awareness of the value of things that comes with age. To put it simply, a game fulfils one's need for entertainment and escapism and bad games cost twice as much as good movies and 3 times as much as good books and yet have less entertainment value.

    That said I still pirate games, and in the end it boils down to 1 reason:
    - There is no more try-before-you-buy for most games anymore - the age of Game Demos is gone. I don't want to waste my hard earned money (and I do know how hard it was to earn that money) in a game just to take it home and discover that it sucks, it has too many bugs or it refuses to run in my system due to DRM. I've had plenty of situations where I would buy a game and it would either not work properly, turn out to be little fun or exceptionally short even though gaming sites had been hyping it to no end. At this point (after 20! years of gaming) the gaming industry and the gaming press have shown me again and again that they are not to be trusted ...

    So what I do nowadays is I download the game, try it and if it works ok and I like it, I buy it. Just recently I got X3:TC and bought it as soon as I found out that the game maker had removed DRM in the latest patch (in fact I even got the Gold edition since I trully believe they deserve the money).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mqduck (232646)

      The trend is that the average age of gamers is now in the 30s.

      I get the sneaking suspicion that you pulled that out of your ass (or whoever you're getting that from is full of shit). Gaming has been growing more and more mainstream, even ubiquitous, over successive generations. It may have reached its peak (can't get more popular than "everybody plays video games") by now, but it didn't with kids growing up in the 80s. I know it wasn't completely true in the 90s, when I was growing up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rennt (582550)
        If you want to look it up, the LSPA (UK) puts the average age between 25-34. The ESA (US) puts it at 33. These numbers have been reasonably consistent since the mid 90's so no surprises there.
    • by delinear (991444)

      That said I still pirate games, and in the end it boils down to 1 reason: - There is no more try-before-you-buy for most games anymore - the age of Game Demos is gone.

      So true. I remember getting the demo for Quake (I got it from a Magazine cover CD as my dial-up would have taken a month to download it) and they gave away something like 25% of the entire game, I just kept playing and expecting it to end after every level and it just kept going, I was first in the queue to buy the full product when it came out. That was great customer service and a great example of the way try-before-you-buy should always be done. I even remember naively thinking that everyone would want t

  • by Terrasque (796014) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:44AM (#31007934) Homepage Journal

    From summary:

    Cliff Harris of Positech Games said he didn't think his decision to stop using DRM significantly affected piracy of his games, accepting it as an unavoidable fact.

    That was an argument FOR using DRM?

    "I have a rock that keeps away shoplifters, it only cost me $ton_of_money annually, and I use it to knock customers on their head every time they buy something. Now, the rate of shoplifting is the same both with and without the rock, so I see no reason to stop using it."

  • by mykos (1627575) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:45AM (#31007938)

    Don't allow users to even see the screen without making receiving a certified letter from the publisher with a secret code. Don't let the user even play the full game. Force them to download large chunks of it from your server after releasing only half of it on disc.

    Store integral parts of every level on a master server that can only be accessed by pausing the game and entering the secret code.

    It will sell trillions of copies!

  • Living here in Korea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:51AM (#31007968)

    Living in Korea, I see the sort of extreme example of piracy run rampant. Korean companies scarcely consider the idea of a game that isn't online because it would be universally pirated that very day. They'd never see a dime from it.

    I teach in a private academy where I see lots of kids with Nintendo DS's; I never see real games in them. They universally use this R4 chip that has all the games loaded on it. Because of this, Nintendo barely considers them a market. Meanwhile OS bootlegging is so prevalent, that people no longer even expect a legitimate OS with a new system. Microsoft even jacked the price up on Vista when they released it here to try to bleed some of the losses out of the few remaining customers.

    I don't support DRM or prosecuting old ladies, but I also think measures to prevent piracy must be taken in some capacity lest it irreparably warp the industry like it has here in Korea.

    • by Endymion (12816)

      I do the same the with the R4+NDS (well, Acekard 2i, but whatever). Most of the games, though, I have purchased. The thing about the DS flashcards is that they are INCREDIBLY convenient. I used to carry around two large cases full of DS games, swapping them out all the time. Now, that's all in the closet and I only have to carry around the DS itself. The convenience factor here is important here, because it's a portable system, and needs to fit in a pocket.

    • by delinear (991444)

      Microsoft even jacked the price up on Vista when they released it here to try to bleed some of the losses out of the few remaining customers.

      If this is true then it's very telling - even in a society where piracy is the de facto norm and DRM is no use whatsoever, it's the legitimate customers who still get screwed, instead of trying to encourage people to do the right thing by offering benefit to those customers. If companies want DRM to protect their products that's their choice, but if it impedes my enjoyment of said product in any way, or increases the amount of hassle I have to go through to use that product, or significantly increases the c

  • Well no shit. Last time i check the population is growing, not at a standstill or decline. So us older folks who grew up in a non DRM gaming environment to what we have now are the ones that avoid that shit with a plague unlike our younger counter parts who most of which probably have no clue what DRM is. If they do, they don't give a shit, they're having fun playing their game one way or another. It wasn't their money if they bought it and they become a "rebel" once they hack it and have bragging right

  • If it has no effect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xant (99438) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:39AM (#31008188) Homepage

    Then stop doing it. DRM has a development and/or licensing cost associated with it. If using is the same as not using it, then don't use it, and you'll save that money. It's very simple to do a value proposition when the value is zero.

  • That is why I do not own a gaming PC anymore, just a normal console. For the view times a month when I have time to play.

  • DRM, that is Digital Right Management, is actually three evils in one.
    First of all, many publishers view DRM as a way to manage (read increase) their rights while reducing the rights of the consumers, i.e. restrict the resale, activation limits, remote killswitches etc.
    Secondly, many legitimate consumers find DRM annoying - they purchased a product but cannot use it as they see fit - be it that cannot transfer their music CD to their MP3 player, or play that game without contacting the publisher's master
    • I think anyone who believes DRM is just about restricting piracy is a fool to themselves - all piracy does is gives the games publishers the excuse they need to foist DRM on everyone.

      Whilst online gaming and MMORPGs hold no interest for me (a bit of Quake 3 or UT2004 over the Internet is enough), the success of World of Warcraft and other games of that ilk has demonstrated clearly to games companies that players are prepared to pay monthly subscriptions for games.

      And since no media/entertainment company act

  • by holiggan (522846) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @08:14AM (#31008352)

    Well, since we are talking about DRM, I should mention Good Old Games [gog.com].

    Basically, they sell "old games", without any DRM whatsoever, and that are 7/Vista/XP compatible.

    And although they have some fairly "recent" titles (Painkiller, for example), I don't recall seeing any of their games on the P2P networks. Or any cracks. Oh, right, they don't have anything to crack to begin with :)

    Oh and the games are dirty cheap as well. And legal.

    I think that the person that mention that this should be about beneficts for the legitimate client is right.

    In the GOG case, I can install the game wherever I want, when I want, no activation or "phone-home" or whatsoever. And they really provide a "value added" service: some games aren't available anywere else (even P2P networks), and they have gone the extra step of making them playable on the modern versions of Windows.

    So the publisher cashes in their older titles, instead of clinging on them and not doing anything with them (like actually selling the games) and/or chasing whoever dares to mess with it, i.e. fan-made remakes, reverse engineering and things like that, GOG cashes in with the nostalgia of the clients, and the quality of the majority of the offerings, and the clients cash in as well, being able to play quality games for low-low prices, and not having to worry about if SecureRom will break their Windows.

    Just a quick mention of Steam. I like the concept, and they are doing some things right. But I hope they don't let the publishers run wild with the platform (the Bioshock 2 "protection" seems insane! DRM on top of Steam and validations?!).

    • I second credit going to Good Old Games - a great idea well executed.

      As for Steam, it's not full-blown in-your-face DRM control but I still think it's too restrictive. Sometimes I want to be able to LAN play with a few friends and offline mode on Steam seems flaky at best.

  • I actually stopped buying many games because of the very poor quality information on the back of game boxes - specifically to do with what's required for local LAN gaming.

    If you go back to the days of Red Alert 2, for example, it was possible to buy one copy of a game but install it on multiple PCs on a local LAN so that you could invite a friend over and enjoy a LAN gaming session. However, whereas whether you could do this or not used to be on the back of the game box, these days there is no mention of it

    • Apologies for messing up on the embedded link, that's what comes from having a bit of keyboard delay whilst an application is compiling in the background of my Gentoo Linux PC...

      The link is Good Old Games [gog.com], though I suspect many on here already know the site.

  • by Corporate Drone (316880) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @09:54AM (#31009038)

    Harris bemoans the fact that, regardless what effort he puts into a game, someone will crack it. But, he's attempting to learn the wrong lesson.

    It isn't that people (/ consumers) are intrinsically fair.

    It isn't that crackers are acting out of some noble desire to rid the world of DRM.

    The lesson here is simple: DRM doesn't work. There's no real ROI on it, so don't put in on games and make it difficult or unplayable for your paying customers. Period.

  • It's pricing, stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by soupforare (542403) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:19PM (#31011936)

    The proverbial "99c game" will be cracked because crackers crack. If it's 99c, it'll sell like mad, even if the game is horrible.
    When the game prices are good, whether on gogamer or a steam sale, I buy the game. No game is worth $60 to me. Torchlight is the perfect example, great game, right price. I bought it when the price was higher and wasn't even mad when it went down to $5 on sale. On the contrary, I told friends to go pick it up!
    Even games I've already purchased, I'll buy again if they're on steam and cheap. UT, Q4, CoH, etc. Just for the ease of installation factor.

  • TFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:27PM (#31015050)

    It seems any game, even if it's $0.99 has a five hour demo and is DRM-free and done by a nobel-peace prize winning game design legend, will be cracked and distributed on day one

    If it's being cracked then it wasn't DRM-free now was it?

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