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PC Games (Games)

Valve Takes on Piracy With Free, Pre-Packaged Game Publishing Tools 190

Heartless Gamer writes "Valve is rocking the boat in a big way, especially for PC gaming piracy. They have just announced the release of a complete collection of publisher tools, called Steamworks. They're making it available to developers and publishers completely free. Valve notes that beyond simply making the product available to consumers some of the tools can integrate copy protection, social networking services, or even server browsing features into a developing game."
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Valve Takes on Piracy With Free, Pre-Packaged Game Publishing Tools

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  • by MvD_Moscow ( 738107 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:10PM (#22240320)
    Yeah, I have to agree with you on that one. Using steam is actually better than buying a DVD. You can access your whole game library just by logging onto steam. No need to to care a HD with all the image/patch/no-CD data. Automatic updates, near instant access as soon as you pay for the game.

    Though some parts of steam still need some work. The 'Favorite Servers' options in CS:S is kind of buggy and it doesn't always remember your favorites. The steam game store can also at times feel slightly slow, they need to make use of more AJAX with less reloading and new windows and stuff. They also need to improve their screenshots section. More screenshots and higher resolution.
  • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:15PM (#22240358)

    Oh, also they're the only game publisher that actually charges a reasonable price for games...
    Uh, not really. Valve charges about the same price any other publisher would charge. Half-Life 2 was $50 when it was released, and the price has come down since then due to age... just like would happen at any publisher. Not to mention that Valve has some shining examples of unreasonably high pricing, like charging $20 for Portal, which is all of a 2- or 3-hour game.
  • by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:15PM (#22240362) Journal
    I've been using Steam for over two years now and have NEVER had a game fail to start. The only problem I had was with Trackmania, and that was entirely down to the games own servers, not Steam.

    Steam's benefits far outweigh it's problems IMO. I can buy a game and be playing it within an hour. Within minutes if it's a small game. ("Gish" for example.) No disks to lose, no serial numbers to lose. If I have to reinstall I can just download all my games again rather than having to find disks, installers, license keys etc...

    Curious to see how many developers take Valve up on this.
  • by p0tat03 ( 985078 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:22PM (#22240468)

    I find Valve's pricing to be very reasonable. I bought the Deus Ex collection for $30, a better deal than I would've gotten at any other store, and the ability to find old titles certainly beats rummaging around the bargain bin at EB.

    $20 for Portal is iffy, I agree, but consider that you get TF2, Portal, HL2, Ep1, and Ep2 for $50, it's a fricking steal. Even if you've already played all the singleplayer Half-Life games, TF2 + Portal combined is IMHO easily worth $50, particularly TF2.

  • by ThinkingInBinary ( 899485 ) <thinkinginbinary.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:25PM (#22240516) Homepage

    Do you still think Portal's price is unfair when it's part of Orange Box?

    Hell, I thought Portal's price was fair when packaged alone! I normally expect to pay something like $50 for a really big game, so $20 for Portal, which is shorter than most games but quite excellent, was a good deal.

  • by enderjsv ( 1128541 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:41PM (#22240704)
    I agree. When some other companies are charging 50 bucks or more for utter crap games that make better coasters than pasttimes, I'm more than willing to pay 20 dollars for something of quality. LENGTH != QUALITY.
  • by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @07:58PM (#22240878)
    How can I sell my DRM'd Steam games though? I might not actually get around to selling any of my old games, but I feel I should have the right to.

    You mention that the music industry should be doing similar, but this is the equivalent of being unable to buy or sell second-hand audio CDs.
  • by ahoehn ( 301327 ) <andrew AT hoe DOT hn> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:16PM (#22241032) Homepage
    Exactly. With Valve games on Steam, you can:

    1. Play your games on as many computers as you like, downloading them as many times as you want.
    2. Install them on a friend's computer, and just like lending a book, your friend can use it any time that you're not.
    3. Receive automatic content updates
    4. Often chose to buy games individually or as a package.
    5. Back up your downloaded copies of games
    6. With HL2 Engine based games, even play them in Linux with Wine.

    While I suppose you don't "own" physical copies of Steam games, I have enough rights that I never notice the downside.

    The music and movie industries could learn a thing or six from Valve. I've never even thought of pirating a Valve game because they're so convenient and affordable to purchase.
  • Re:Am I strange? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:27PM (#22241152)
    I'm a luddite because I'd rather spend 20 minutes driving to the store, buying a cd, going home installing and playing it instead of waiting 20 hours for multiple GB of data to download because the only "high" speed connection I get is about 2 times faster than 56k or Valves servers get hammered and the connection gets disconnected, etc.

    Distribution via CD has worked for years with very little problems. I realize it makes you feel like a unique snowflake to download games of the internet, I mean you'd never have to leave your mother basement except to run down to the unemployment office to get your check, or wait, they can mail those to you! You've got it made.
  • by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @08:28PM (#22241154)
    So your telling me that the developers of CoD4 didn't think to validate the client keys agianst a database of valid keys, and flagging accounts that have multiple logins from different IPs? I refuse to believe that.

    I don't know what do suggest the mods rate you... hmm. Not troll, (There really should be a -1 wrong), maybe overrated...
  • by Spikeles ( 972972 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:06PM (#22241500)
    Ah, you forgot they give you the right NOT to transfer your account to someone else, they give you the right NOT to re-sell your game, they give you the right NOT to complain if a publisher charges too much (eg, Call of Duty 4 for Aussies ), they give you the right NOT to loan your game, they give you the right NOT to complain when they delete your thread from the forums... Yes.. seems they give you lots of RIGHTS..
  • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:28PM (#22241640) Homepage Journal
    7. Forget to perform some witchery when closing steam before disconnecting from the internet for a while, and find yourself unable to play any steam games until you can get back on the internet days or weeks later.
  • by LurkerXXX ( 667952 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:44PM (#22241772)
    Probably because too many more people would start doing it. Then when their friend/ex-roomate, etc doesn't 'give-it-back' when they are supposed to and keeps playing it and locking out the guy who paid for it, he's gonna go complaining to Valve and it's going to increase support costs for them for no real good reason.

    So can folks do it already now if they really want to? Yes. Does Valve want encourage it and have to take on extra support for no extra income? I kinda doubt it.
  • by Grant_Watson ( 312705 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:46PM (#22241792)

    Leave it to a slashdot poster to find something to complain about with a free development kit. It's free, man. You get what you pay for.

    And I as an end-user get what the developer pays for. I've avoided Steam and any game that requires it so far; I just wish there were more like me.

  • by urbanriot ( 924981 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:14AM (#22242720)
    I spend more than $20 for a round of drinks when I'm out at night... $20 for the wonderful enjoyment that Portal gave me, a game I'll never forget, was well worth it. $20 is f-all.

    $20 for Portal is iffy, I agree, but consider that you get TF2, Portal, HL2, Ep1, and Ep2 for $50, it's a fricking steal. Even if you've already played all the singleplayer Half-Life games, TF2 + Portal combined is IMHO easily worth $50, particularly TF2.
  • by Morkano ( 786068 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @12:41AM (#22242918)

    I found $20 to be quite reasonable for Portal.

    In fact I found the $50 to be quite reasonable. Getting HL2 and episodes one and two along with TF2 for free was a nice bonus. But portal was worth the price of admission alone.

    A game doesn't have to be long to be fun. It was tight with no wasted moments. A lot of games could be a lot better if they just cut out a lot of the crap that's just designed to make it take longer to finish.
  • by brandonY ( 575282 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:21AM (#22243500)
    Wait...you judge a game based on how long your initial play-through of the single-player game takes?

    The initial playthrough of Nethack takes roughly 10 seconds. By your system, it's one of the worst games ever.

    But wait, perhaps you mean you judge a game based on how long it takes to reach a successful ending. In Nethack, you can walk up the staircase to freedom. Successful end. By your system, Nethack's one of the worst games ever.

    But wait, maybe Nethack IS one of the worst games ever and your system is fine. Let's look at a different game. How about Monkey Island? Involved plot, adventure game, several hours of play. But wait, pressing CTRL+W wins the game. Whoops. One of the worst games ever.

    So maybe we'll redefine "initial play-through" to mean 'beating' the game without any workarounds, seeing a large percentage of the contents of the game, and reaching some sort of conclusion. By that logic, "Heroin Hero" is an infinitely good game.

    But wait, why am I ever arguing about this? Surely a 500-hour boring game isn't nearly as good as a 100-hour awesome game, is it?
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:15AM (#22243882)
    ... have that right? Aside from, "Well, it used to be that I got my media on a physical artifact, and we have always been able to sell physical artifacts."

    From an econ view, if you're buying your game on a physical artifact, you're buying both the utility of the product with an implied option to sell. The option to sell costs you money -- this is precisely why a game you can finish in 8 hours on the XBox360/PS3/whatever (provide your favorite example, I don't own either system) costs $70 and a Portal, which is similarly disposable entertainment, costs $20. The imputed value of the option is what allows the publishers/retailers to continue bumping up the prices while allowing the games to provide less and less entertainment value -- resale rights are sort of artificial permanence for good which is being created for quick consumption.

    I realize that many games sell the online and physical version at the same price. This is a factor of both a bit of a market failure (retailers use their lock on the sales channel to demand that no game is sold anywhere for less price, on penalty of being excluded from the channel that moves the most sales, for this and all your other games) and that there are a few not-quite-apples comparisons going on in the package value of each. (For me, downloadable versions are clearly superior in every way -- no trip to store, no CD to mislay, no difficulty porting "collection" just to pass CD checks, and no box to have to throw out.)
  • by FlyveHest ( 105693 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @07:52AM (#22244822)

    hey give you the right NOT to complain if a publisher charges too much (eg, Call of Duty 4 for Aussies )

    Why in the world would you complain to Valve about this? The price in EU is also priced about 18$ above store-price, but this is in not part Valves fault (or, problem for that matter)

    If Activision decides that the price point should be this and that, then Valve, as a distributor, really can't (and shouldn't, imho) begin to, its wholly up to the publisher to decide.

    If you want, send an e-mail to Activisions offices in your country (I did), and let them know what a boneheaded move it is, but please, don't blame Valve for Activions less-than-sane decision.
  • by wild_quinine ( 998562 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @10:08AM (#22245732) Homepage

    Steam is really the first digital RIGHTS management system instead of digital restrictions management.
    I really don't see how it's any better to call it that. They manage your right to resell the games you've paid for, by not letting you. They manage your rights to play the games you've paid for if you break any of their terms and conditions of service, by cutting you off. They think you've tried to cheat in Counterstrike? Bang. Goodbye to every other online steam game you've bought and paid for. Refund? Don't make me laugh. That right is extremely managed. If they're rights I honestly don't see why they need to be managed.
  • by eastlight_jim ( 1070084 ) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @10:32AM (#22246024)
    The main problem I have with Offline mode with Steam is it is impossible to start in offline mode (for whatever reason you choose) if you have an active internet connection. You have to disable the ethernet link or pull the cable out before starting steam. Surely you should be able to choose offline mode whenever you want? The case in point would be if you want to play a game now but not wait to download an update that you don't want or need.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:55PM (#22249850)
    This is 100% the main reason Steam sucks and should never be trusted. I know Valve is the Apple of the computer gaming world and can do no wrong, but Valve is sugar coated evil. You may be happy with Portal and all the other crap (and I don't deny they make good games, that's not why I refer to them as crap), but all in all, that game is never yours. You can never backup that game. You must have an active internet connection to install and play it, and lastly, Steam says if you can play it, arbitrarily in some cases, based even on geographic location. I know the trip from one Slashdotter's basement to the next Slashdotter's basement isn't normally that far, but if you switch countries or regions Valve has proven they don't mind disabling your games. According to the TOS, they can likely change their mind about when to disable your games at will.

    And finally in 10 years, when you want to show your kid how wonderful Portal is, enjoy not being able to, because those servers probably won't exist, and the promised universal unlock won't have been released (I can promise this, beyond any shadow of a doubt, there is not any scenario of a catastrophic failure of Valve to continue in business that would allow the release of this unlock).