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DRM Games

New SimCity To Require Constant Internet Connection 418

Posted by Soulskill
from the unnatural-disasters-turned-on dept.
eldavojohn writes "According to Lead designer Stone Librande, it has been confirmed that the next installment of SimCity will require a constant internet connection. Perhaps as a form of DRM, the 2013 edition looks like it will be the first to include online play but will also require you to constantly be connected to Origin to play — even if that wasn't your point of purchase. Add SimCity to the growing list." Update: 03/29 02:09 GMT by S : An online connection will be needed to start the game, but you won't be kicked out if your connection dies.
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New SimCity To Require Constant Internet Connection

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  • Limited use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guspasho (941623) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:14PM (#39500307)

    Can I get my money back when the service is inevitably cancelled?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:15PM (#39500325)

    They're killing the new market for PC games too.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:16PM (#39500337) Homepage

    The other day I re-installed the original C&C Red Alert and had a fun time playing it.

    Somehow, I doubt we'll be able to do the same with the new Sim City -- and many other new games -- seventeen years after their release. It's a sad future for old games.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:19PM (#39500371)

    If you are that angry about it, don't buy the game.

    What...going without video games will make you go crazy? You can't play a board game with your friends instead? Or read a book? Or just buy from indie publishers who don't do this?

    The technology to require this level of tracking exists, and the only disincentive publishers have against using it is market tolerance. If most of their market is ok with this deal, they are going to move forward and leave whiners like you behind.

  • by Xugumad (39311) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:21PM (#39500399)

    I've had over a week's Internet downtime in the last year, and absolutely no power outage. You can understand if perhaps I'm more concerned about one than the other, then?

  • by mhajicek (1582795) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:23PM (#39500421)
    Agreed. I will not buy games which require connection like this. No Starcraft 2, no Diablo 3, no SimCity 2013. The only way to keep this stuff from continuing is to show the game companies that they won't make money with it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:26PM (#39500455)

    Concern is that the mass public aren't even aware of this and won't be UNTIL they go to try it in few years and realise they cannot play.

    Then, eventually there will just by simply acceptance that this is normal.

    Boils my p1$$.

  • by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:29PM (#39500521)

    Right, because every pirated game is a lost sale. Know what I remember? When games had demos. Demos that were playable. Demos that got you invested in the game.

    Know what I hate? When I buy a game like BF3 then realize the DRM makes it unplayable on my computer. Sorry, no returns when buying through Origin.

  • by DJ Jones (997846) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:31PM (#39500549) Homepage
    Sim City destroyed their brand with Sim City 3000. Like many simulation games, they focused too much on graphics and 3D imagery and compromised usability and basic game play. Sim City 2000 is still their best version and it was built in 1993. IMO they should return to a basic tile-based game engine and start over.
  • Re:Limited use (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:31PM (#39500557)

    Or people could use the patch that eliminates the online requirement which will be released five minutes after the game. :)

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:36PM (#39500651) Homepage

    I also want to add: I'm more likely to buy a game if I don't have to deal with the DRM. I can install it anywhere, just like I can read a book anywhere. Software has enough limitations as it is, I don't need the added restrictions of DRM to restrict my use of the game after a certain poorly defined point.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:37PM (#39500665) Journal
    The war is over. either accept or go without. constant on DRM is here to stay. Jsut look at the shit Sony pulled yesterday with removing PSP games from PSN because they could be used to sploit the PS Vita. This means that people that bought and own the game can't redownload it. Its jsut gone.
  • by Shompol (1690084) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:37PM (#39500669)

    If you are that angry about it, don't buy the game.

    Unfortunately, even if all slashdotters stopped buying, the effect on video-game market would be almost zero. On the other hand, if we raise stink about it and manage to educate a significant portion of buyers managements will think twice before crippling their offerings. And that is exactly what we are doing here.

    If most of their market is ok with this deal

    Most of their market does not realize/give it a thought that their acquisition will kick the bucket as soon as it is not profitable to maintain those DRM servers, which could happen after a few years or as soon as tomorrow. And at that point they will need to go to the grey market looking for hacked version and punch themselves for shelling money for it in the first place. If the DRM locks the game to hardware, they are out of luck with the next hardware upgrade as well. Meanwhile those who have a hacked version can enjoy a DRM-free experience for years to come. This is called "defective by design". Look it up.

  • by Barbara, not Barbie (721478) <(barbara.hudson) (at) (> on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:40PM (#39500715) Journal
    Considering that I bought Simcity 2000, Simcity 3000 Unlimited (for both the PC and the Nintendo Wii), and Simcity 4 + Rush Hour pack, they've just lost a loyal customer.
  • Works For Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rie Beam (632299) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:40PM (#39500721) Journal

    Fine by me -- interacting with other people's cities has been something I've been looking forward to in the series for a long time. I imagine a world where one country's low industrial taxes suck away all of the factory jobs from your online neighbors, but everyone lives in another region and takes that neighbor's super-fast rail to world, while yet another neighbor develops a coastal resort for this population of transit workers to relax at on their days off, all the while a struggling farm community sits on its hands with a "World's Largest Llama" display...

    Count me baited. DRM or not, I'm on board, assuming this enhancement is at least somewhat more than a simple statistical one.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:40PM (#39500725)

    I am not a zealot, I'll meet publishers half way on DRM. I'm ok so long as it doesn't mess with my gameplay experience. Steam is fine, activation on install is fine. I prefer no DRM but I'm not going to be an absolutist dick.

    However I will not accept always connected DRM for single player games. Part of the reason I have single player games is for when I don't have net access like when I'm on a plane, or when my Internet dies (and please let's not pretend like that never happens) and so on. That means they'd better work without it.

    As such I've not bought Settlers 7, Assassin's Creed 2, or Heroes of Might and Magic 6. All games I wanted, all which I was willing to pay for, none that I have because of the always on DRM.

    Thing is, it really isn't a big deal. There are SO MANY good games these days. Not just big studio titles, but indy as well, and digital distribution lets me get them easy. I have a backlog of games that I've bought, and haven't even installed. Time is my limiting factor, not games to play.

    As such I can give some titles a miss, and will. I encourage others to do the same. Don't pirate, just don't buy. If they want always on DRM, just give it a miss and get something else. There's tons and tons out there. You can't be a zealot about it and demand NO DRM EVAR! If you do that you'll find your selection fairly limited, however if you meet them half way and say "Only DRM that doesn't mess with my ability to play," you find a whole lot of games.

  • Re:Limited use (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nemesisghost (1720424) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:40PM (#39500727)

    A lot of DRM would be much more acceptable if the publisher guaranteed to put out a patch X months (or even years) after release to allow off-line play. In a game's life-cycle, the first few months of release are the most profitable. Trying to prevent copy-right infringement at that point is the most productive. If a company, say after 6-9 months would release a patch that removed the DRM, it wouldn't bother me enough to prevent me from buying the game.

    No it wouldn't. The problem here is that you assume that if you purchase a copy after the DRM removal patch is out that your "new" copy won't have the DRM. Most likely, the DRM will still be apart of the retail copy and years down the road after they've stopped supporting the game you won't be able to find the patch that removes the DRM. A patch you need every time you need/decide to reinstall something you own.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:49PM (#39500851)

    This is what "the cloud" is all about. Why let people pay you once to own something when they can pay you forever to rent it?

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:50PM (#39500875)

    If you are that angry about it, don't buy the game.

    Or, you could do something effectual, and not buy the game AND tell them why... just like 'whining' on a forum like Slashdot is accomplishing.

    Millions of people don't buy games, just a little over a thousand got EA to change its DRM policy. Look up Spore.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:53PM (#39500913)
    Not really, the pirated versions of all these games work just fine without an internet connection. The only people suffering are the paying customers, and who really cares about them?
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:14PM (#39501207)

    And unsurprisingly a lot of people are fine with that. They don't have a fundamentalist attitude of "all DRM is evil". As long as it doesn't actually inconveniance them they're fine with it.

    It's just a theshold there's no encouragement for even more outrageous limitations. My threshold is somewhere before "can't play when offline", yours might be "has any DRM at all", other people's might be "doesn't come with source code", some people might use "doesn't come with copylefted source code". Your line is magically the universal truth.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:38PM (#39501459)

    True, there are different thresholds. It's not really a fundamentalist opposition to DRM per se, just a fundamentalist opposition to voluntarily giving up my rights granted to me by law. The threshold for me is in not being able to give a game away for free by handing over the box to someone else (Steam disallows) and in the game becoming absolutely useless if Steam goes out of business or being bought out. Give up some rights and you've opened the door to losing more rights.

    I can replay Arena today, or Morrowind, or Oblivion. If I buy Skyrim what guarantee do I have that I can play it in ten years or more from today? My threshold now is that a steam game must be under $10 before I buy it, which is what I'm willing to RENT a game instead of owning it.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:42PM (#39501513) Homepage Journal

    Just don't buy, or pirate, shit that has it, stick to the many, many other titles and there you go.

    I sort of disagree. I say pirate it like crazy, and be sure they know that they are losing sales because of it.

  • by Kelbear (870538) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:24PM (#39502023)

    What's even worse is that this DRM only affects paying customers.

    Pirates don't care about DRM, it's already been bypassed so it has no effect on them. Years from now when they take down their online authentication servers, the paying customers can't play anymore, only the pirates can.

    Also, when they split out on-disc DLC and try to wring more money from the customer after release day, the pirates still get all of that on release day. The pirates even get early access to a lot of games before the official street dates.

    To cut down on piracy they should take initiatives to reward those that pay instead. Give them all of the advantages listed above that pirates get to enjoy to start with. Then focus energies on finding ways they can reward customers over what pirates enjoy. Like multiplayer rewards for ongoing customers, added online privileges, sharing loot between friends. Small perks with little value individually, but they can add up to form an advantage for paying. The "stick" clearly isn't working, so try some "carrot". These aren't even good ideas, I'm sure they could come up with much better possibilities if they focus their creative energies in this direction instead.

  • by SuperTechnoNerd (964528) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:43PM (#39502265)
    Or their servers get hacked and forced off line for days or weeks.. :)
  • by Lotana (842533) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:57PM (#39502429)

    When they finally get the message that all the DRM in the world won't stop the pirates, the pirates will just view it as a chance to show off their skills, they may stop investing in DRM solutions.

    I don't think you understand their view of the DRM solution.

    Every single deployer of DRM systems is 100% aware that it will be cracked. If you see any presentations of them talking about it, they say it upfront: DRM's purpose is not to stop the pirates, it is there to delay them.

    Looking at the profit projections, majority of sales happen at the game release before rapidly dropping off into the long tail. If for this first two weeks there is no easily accessible pirated version available, buyers will get the official version. After that the company doesn't give a shit if there are thousands of unlocked copies out there: They made the most they can out of the product already.

    Imagine that they release the game without any protection: the very first purchaser will make an image and post it on Pirate Bay. Thus all the others that want a copy of the game will have a free alternative to get it within minutes of the game release. Why would they pay money (There is VERY little appreciatioin or loyalty to the game developers/publishers in the real world) when they can get the perfect copy for free? Thus DRM is there just to make the initial amazing-cracker buyer spend this precious intitial release time cracking the system rather than making the game available.

    And the crackers are amazing. The protection schemes are broken within days. The battle is to make the DRM last as long as possible before the inevitable crack. Thus it becomes more and more invasive, bothersome and draconian. Legitimate loyal customers are discarded as collateral damage, since the very profits are on the line.

    Game development costs a LOT of money with huge risks. There is a real possibility that the game won't be liked even if there is zero piracy (Look at the commercial lack of success of Planescape Torment, Freespace 2, Phychonauts, Arcanum, Arx Fatalis. Awesome games, but completely failed to sell). On top of that it is software, thus easily copied and distributed without the developers seeing a dime for all their work, with the pirates doing this with pride and not giving a single thought to the people that made the product possible. Even Humble Bundle got pirated straight away even though you could pay only a single penny to get the package! With such a cutthroat environment it is hard not to see the method behind their madness.

    I hate the situation, but honestly do not know the solution to the industry's plight. One thing is to lower the cost of the product (New games in Australia cost 89 dollars with our exchange rate higher than american dollar). Sadly, seeng the piracy of Humble Bundle I am cynical. Apperently people pirate out of some spite rather than cost. It would be good to hear some opinions on how to ensure that developers/publishers see the full profits of their labours as well as respecting the customer.

  • by another_twilight (585366) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:01PM (#39503113)
    People who pirate your game are not your customers. The number of people who, in the absence of an easily available pirated copy will instead purchase the game is vanishingly small.

    A number of games have been released with no DRM. They have been pirated, heavily. Some have even been available for free. Piracy is not tied to the existence of DRM or even the ease/availability of the original. Piracy exists as a social phenomenon independently (or perhaps, intertwined with) the material being copied.

    Finally, many games that have been released DRM free and/or at significant discounts to their launch price have shown an increase in sales - massive increases in some cases. From this, it seems to me that the key to piracy, the cost of development, DRM and customers is to recognise that chasing/preventing piracy is a cost with almost no return; that if you want to increase revenue by increasing customer base, then the largest group of potential customers are those who are currently not purchasing based on price.

    Will this save a non-selling but technically or artistically excellent game? Maybe. But increasing DRM on the same game most certainly will not.
  • by Sowelu (713889) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:33PM (#39503949)
    The answer is almost always "because the payment system is too onerous". Go put your game on Steam or something and people will be climbing over each other to buy it. Seriously, the difference between selling something yourself and putting it on Steam is like the difference between selling your book on Amazon and selling your book from your front porch twenty miles from nowhere.
  • by geminidomino (614729) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @11:56PM (#39504909) Journal

    If I buy Skyrim what guarantee do I have that I can play it in ten years or more from today?

    SKIDROW's got you covered, of course.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @06:12AM (#39506853)

    Steam would be an example. I do have to be online to get the game, of course, since it is a download. However I can run it offline just fine. So my net goes down, no problem I can play my game.

    Utter bullshit.

    I'm not having a go at you; It's a statement of fact. Simulate a connection loss while Steam is online i.e. pull out your network cable (real world scenario here; consumer grade connections drop all the time) and reboot your PC. That's a common fix for connection loss, right? Now try and play your Steam games.

    Oh look! You try and launch Steam in Offline Mode, but you get an error and Steam exits! What's that? Your games are inaccessible now? This is exactly what would happen if Steam folded tomorrow, or the servers were DDoS'd, or your connection went down for real?

    Offline Mode is for when you plan to be offline, e.g. You take your laptop on holiday. You set Offline Mode, you reboot Steam, you can use it as normal. Unexpected loss of connectivity, though, results in total lockout. It's utterly, utterly abhorrent, and I have no further part in it. Current Steam games I play, but I won't buy any more of them. I encourage you to do the same, and let Valve know about it.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle