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First Person Shooters (Games) Entertainment Games

Developers vs. Publishers 41

An anonymous reader writes "CNN's Chris Morris takes a look at the increased animosity of late between game developers and publishers in the latest installment of Game Over. The column examines this weekend's catfight between Valve and Vivendi, where Vivendi threatened to sue Valve for authenticating copies of Half-Life 2 that had been sold before the retail embargo date; the misery that is crunch time and the recent campaigns against Electronic Arts miserable working conditions."
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Developers vs. Publishers

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  • So they require an online activation? Whoopty-hoo.
    And please don't bitch about online activation if you're posting on slashdot (unless you mail in all your posts to the editors).
    So they want to curb the piracy. Good for them. Sure it looks like it's already been cracked and is out for download, but they did a fantastic job by not having it on torrent trackers before it ever came out.

    And no, I'm not a rabid fanboy, I just happen to like their distribution method, it works fine for me, and saved me a trip to
    • I will bitch about online activation.

      I have the internet at work, but not at home.
      How do I play? I'm a student live in rented accommodation without a phoneline.

      I could protest and just not play - but I doubt they care. So screw it - I'm going to steal it and crack it as soon as I can.
      • Nevermind the fact that its written on the box that an internet connection is REQUIRED to play. They told you up front, don't cry about it if you don't meet the minimum requirements. But hey, I guess you'll just steal it and crack it with your 'non-existant internet connection' to really show your cival disobediance. Go you, showing yet again that stupid will always prevail over logic and reason.
        • I fail to see your point.
          The requirement for an internet connection is one they put in on purpose - it's not a technical requirement, so why can't I 'cry' about it?

          My current choices are not play it, or steal it, or find a way to drag my machine into work, or sign up for a phone line just to play this game.

          Also my argument was logical. I fail to see where I was illogical or stupid (but then if I am stupid, that might explain why I can't see this). So please point out the flaws in my argument.
          • by Deluxe_247 ( 743837 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @02:20PM (#10832832)
            I Appologize, maybe 'stupid' was the wrong wording. I could understand if this was just 'another game' that nobody cares about. It'd be something if this was an EA game that was just one of the hundreds they pump out a month, at the expense of their employees health.

            Valve actually works really hard to make the community better. They are involved, they worked hard on this system to distribute the game and cut OUT the middle man (therefore in the long run, probably making it less expensive for us, the end users.) Plus, they spend an extended ammount of time developing and tweaking it, to be the *BEST* gaming experience it could be. Ive only played it 3 hours, and Im convinced they not only put their skill into making it, but their heart and soul. They took the time to give you everything you could possibly want, wrapped in a neat distribution package with a nice card labeled "STEAM" on the top, and you are hung up on 'not being able to use the internet at home, so im going to steal it instead!'

            It angers me that instead of just getting off your lazy crack, dragging your box to a friends house and using his internet to do the *ONE-TIME Authentication* to unlock the game, you are going to go through the effort of downloading, cracking, burning, just so you can not pay for these peoples hard work.

            I am sure its not by choice that 'you dont have internet' at your main residence, but there are alternatives to stealing. This is one game worth supporting the developers, and I think it's sad that something so miniscule as an authentication process (to gaurantee that the game isnt 'cracked' in the first place) would DRIVE you to doing just that.

            Maybe stupid wasn't the right word, but if you can fill in the blank for me, feel free.
            • >It angers me that instead of just getting off your lazy crack, dragging your box to a friends house and using his internet to do the *ONE-TIME Authentication* to unlock the game, you are going to go through the effort of downloading, cracking, burning, just so you can not pay for these peoples hard work.

              You misunderstood my intentions. I would go through the effort of downloading, cracking and burning just so I don't have to lug my computer to work for the one-time authentication.

              Money doesn't really
              • I also have to buy a DVD drive since

                Remember before you buy the DVD drive to test it against SecuROM and other gameplay-prevention technologies, since the publisher certainly won't, and some games that you buy at the shop refuse to work if they you are using certain DVD drives. Like my Philips one for example.

          • How ya gonna steal it without an internet connection?
      • I am in the same position as you John - I live on a universtiy campus with a restrictive firewall that won't connect to steam. I buy most of the games I play since I want to support games developer into making more of the kind of games I want to play. Blizzard had a great way of making people buy the game. No activation for single player but in order to play multiplayer online, you have to go via That way, for the casual gamer who won't buy the game anyway, they can crack the game. For me howe
    • What happens in three years time, when Valve goes bankrupt, and I can't install Half Life2 on my new pentium5?

    • So they require an online activation? Whoopty-hoo. And please don't bitch about online activation if you're posting on slashdot (unless you mail in all your posts to the editors).

      There are other problems with online activation, just as strong for real users as pirates. (a) What happens X years from now when Valve goes out of business? (b) What if I re-install it? Will the authentication bitch about the same copy being registered twice? (c) What if my firewall prevents it from working correctly? (I'

    • I have broadband. And I bitch about online activation.

      What happens 6 months from now when I don't have broadband and want to install a game I bought?

      And what happens a couple years from now when I want to reinstall an "old" game and it turns out they shut down their servers, or perhaps have just quit letting you activate their "old" games in hopes you'll buy a new game?

      The problems with online activation aren't just limited to possibly not having internet access when you first purchase the game.

  • One thing the article does not make clear is whether or how Vivendi wants Valve to deal with these premature requests for authentication. If it's purely a legalistic matter - demanding that Valve delay the authentications until the agreed-upon date, I'd say that it is probably a fair, if unpopular, request. If it's to be a punative measure - demanding that Valve blacklist any DVD key that requrested early authentication, I'd say Vivendi can go soak their heads.
  • Coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:21PM (#10831858) Homepage
    There has been a hell of of a lot of coverage about EA and their 'crunch time' work ethics. I wonder why this is such a big story all of a sudden. Is it just that it has finally starting to become known outside of the (relatively) closed community of IT development? I'm not a software guy, so I have no first hand knowledge about the issue however, I remember hearing about major crunch-time pushes from way back when Apple was a big player. Didn't Jobs demand that people stay at the office for 40-50 hours consecutively for the development of Lisa and Mac?

    It seems to me that now the industry is making so much cash that pehaps there is an expectation for some tension to be slackened. With the release of GTA:SA, Doom3, Half-Life2 and Halo2 there has been a very widespread understanding of just how big the gaming industry (and by corollary, the software industry at large) has become. An industry of such size with such resources should not be able to treat its core employees in such a fashion. All big business has hit this stumbling block at some point. Manufacturing had to deal with unionisation. The entertainment industry has suvived the creation of the Guilds (which are just unions). Anyone who is a hockey fan knows that there are unions in pro sports. So why are there no unions for programmers? Is it because they move from company to company? I don't think so, actors and directors, for example, work on different projects for different studios and have protection from exploitation.

    So what is up with this? Why is it that thousands of intelligent and motivated professionals are allowing themselves to be exploited and treated so poorly?
    • Re:Coverage (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Donoho ( 788900 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#10832110) Homepage
      So what is up with this? Why is it that thousands of intelligent and motivated professionals are allowing themselves to be exploited and treated so poorly?

      I think everything is happening (in reaction to the situation/environment) as it should. There are people who can deal with the environment and those that can't. Every company I've worked for has as a salaried employee has taken advantage of unpaid overtime, because I allowed them to (I was having fun). When I no longer enjoyed the enviromnment I left. At will employment.

      I don't think that means that employees can't or shouldn't complain, but painting EA (for example) as a villan degrades their argument to whining. By making practices public knowledge, there's a better chance that EA and companies like it will consider change, unless they have an endless stream of potential employees ready to deal with the status quo.
      • company I've worked for has as a salaried employee has taken advantage of unpaid overtime

        Mandatory 12-hour days 7 days per week is not just 'taking advantage.' At best, it's morally deplorable. IMO, it should be criminal.

        • Better look away from any orgs auditing SOX audits, that'll Really piss you off.

          Seriously, I respect your right to your opinion and if you get enough people together, it could be criminal (if it isn't already). But then people like me that take advantage of the opportunity to advance at an accelerated rate would be legally cut off. It's my opinion that that is unfair. Althoug in no way insurmountable.

          I work for myself while working for someone else. I learn and grow on someone else's dollar, whi
    • Because tech geeks are still pretty arrogant, and think that there is a wide salary gap between the elite alpha geek (which many younger people identify with) and the 'average slob'.

      As far as I can see, the only ones doing A LOT better than the average guy are either self-employed (and even this is fading), or are in a high position in a company that has a place for non-managing engineers that are esentially senior management (or are in management, but still do engineering).

      So in fact, everyone is getting
    • Well, I can only tell you from my experience but....

      The majority of the IT related friends I had were under the delusion that unions were for 'drones' and associated them more with plumbers and construction workers than with actors or teachers. Most were young, just out of college, and saw life as it was depicted to them in college. Or in other words, they believed that their starter job would be hell, that as they worked their way up in the company the job would be less and less so till they were 'tenured
      • Interesting points. But I have encountered arguments against unionisation that can be summed up as, "Non-union people will shun any union supporters". This notion must have been present when all unions were created. I am not implying that there would be some serious upheaval in the industry if there was unionisation, but is it not worth it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#10832111)
    Authentication may stop pre-release pirating, but I highly doubt it will stop HL2 from being cracked. The only reason I can see for authentication to a steam account is to stop reselling of their games. Technically, it is against the EULA to sell a Steam account, and Valve has even said on their forums not to do so or your account will be banned (would link but forums are down). Even if they didn't though, selling an account is a much bigger pain than selling a game or cd key since you can't move games from one account to another. I really think Valve should allow people an easy way to transfer games between steam accounts.
  • Delayed Again! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Deluxe_247 ( 743837 )
    This would have been the first post, but it was delayed due to pending litigation between myself and my publisher ^_^

    Really, its sad when a publisher, who really didn't do anything to produce the game, makes loyal fans (who in turn are going to buy the game and therefore pay their salaries) wait just 'because thats how they want it.' In the end, they are only hurting themselves AND the developers, because most people will get angry over something as little as this and NOT buy the game. (Ive heard many pe
  • The Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:13PM (#10834443)
    The answer to the problem of profit-hungry publishers doing everything they can to keep developers under their thumbs is direct distribution, probably via Internet. It's the same answer as for underappreciated musicians, except even more-so: marketing for computer and video games tends to be far more word-of-mouth driven, since there's no equivalent of a Top 40 radio station for games. In fact, for a game like HL2 or Halo 2, the tremendous cost of marketing could practically be eliminated without affecting profit margin too badly - not necessarily a deal-breaker, since most developers prioritize "making a fun game" over "making metric assloads of cash".

  • by hchaput ( 544841 )
    I am a programmer at EA and, without being specific in any way, I just want to say that not all of EA is like what has been posted on the blogs. I'm not saying they're not being truthful, and I have no reason to doubt them. I'm just saying that my experience is nothing like that, and that EA is not monolithic. I'd also like to say that, during my 14 years as a programmer, I've seen much much worse than what I'm reading on the blogs. (I'm surprised there isn't a class action suit on the same grounds against
  • While likes of Valve & ID can afford to fund development of a game themselves there are a lot of smaller development houses who are employed by publishing houses to develop games. I'd even hazard a guess that the major of games publishers fall into this catagory. The question [that a lot of people are asking] of how to remove the publisher from the loop extends to more than just getting the game onto the customers PC . Don't get me wrong, I liked the steam process and bought my HL2 from it. I love t

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal