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Spore, Mass Effect DRM Phone Home For Single-Player Gaming 900

Tridus writes "The PC version of Mass Effect is going to require Internet access to play (despite being a single-player game), as its DRM system requires that it phone home every 10 days. Sadly, Spore will use the same system. This will do nothing to stop piracy of course, but it will do a heck of a good job of stopping EA's new arch-enemy: people playing their single player games offline." Is this better or worse than requiring a CD in the drive to play? Update: 05/07 17:17 GMT by T : According to a message from Technical Producer Derek French (may require a scroll-down) on the Bioware forums, there is indeed an internet connection required, but only for activation, not for all future play. Update: 05/08 04:10 GMT by T : Mea culpa. As reader David Houk points out, the 10-day window is in fact correct as initially described, so don't count on playing this on any machine without at least some Internet connectivity.
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Spore, Mass Effect DRM Phone Home For Single-Player Gaming

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  • My worry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:34AM (#23324356)
    I worry that this portends a day when consoles (and even blu-ray movie players) will REQUIRE an internet connection and do something similar to verify their games/movies. While piracy isn't as big an issue with console games/DVD's/Blu-ray's, it could set the precenent for a world where every piece of media we play would have the equivalent of a "Windows Genuine Advantage" check to function.

    And, of course, this isn't unprecented (on the DVD side, at least). Something very similar was done with the evil DIVX format [] in the late 90's

    • Re:My worry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:43AM (#23324504)

      I worry that this portends a day when consoles (and even blu-ray movie players) will REQUIRE an internet connection and do something similar to verify their games/movies
      I worry about the same thing, but there's a counter-movement right now from many media companies where they're trying to add convenience and features rather than regulate them through DRM. These companies realize that DRM just means they're product is inferior to what pirates can put out with a minimum of effort and are trying to combat that.

      DRM is always going to be around because companies are always going to try to protect themselves from unauthorized copying. When the measures they take get to onerous, they tend to be scaled back or changed so that people can use the products again. We're at or nearing a peak in DRM technologies, and pretty soon more companies will be giving up DRM than are taking it up. In three years time I expect us to be reading headlines about one of the last companies giving up strenuous DRM in favor of more lax restrictions or no restrictions at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        DRM is always going to be around because companies are always going to try to protect themselves from unauthorized copying.

        And counterquote

        "...they're playing a losing game, and that trying to make digital files uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet." - B. Schneier
    • Re:My worry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tambo ( 310170 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:29PM (#23325368)
      I worry that this portends a day when consoles (and even blu-ray movie players) will REQUIRE an internet connection and do something similar to verify their games/movies.

      Some software apps do that. They store some of the data on a remote server, and the app has to go get it from the server in order to work properly - which, of course, involves an authentication step.

      The pirate groups simply - shock horror! - capture the downloaded content and hack the app to fetch the data locally.

      More and more apps are coming with increasingly exotic DRM: physical media locks that require both the media and a drive to play it in (and often don't work with certain kinds of drives); per-machine activation that resist application relocation; limited-time licenses; active internet connections.

      By contrast, the hacked, no-CD versions don't have all of the checks and restrictions and foibles of the authentic software. It's an image that you can move anywhere and use however you want. Sometimes, they even rip out the key check, so you don't even have to type in a serial key!

      The sad result is that, increasingly, a hacked version turns out to be better than the genuine deal. They just work, anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. More than once, I've found myself downloading a hacked executable to run software that I bought and legitimately own, even in ways that wholly comply with the original license - e.g., because the activation server for some defunct app had been taken offline.

      Yet we're still dealing with this, twenty years after similar schemes proved inane on the Commodore 64. I fully grok that developers don't give a damn if they're making users' lives harder for no reason. But it puzzles me that they don't understand that it's worse for them, too: it wastes development resources on snake-oil protection schemes, and it diminishes consumers' view of the company name. But they just don't seem to learn.

      - David Stein
      • Re:My worry (Score:5, Informative)

        by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @03:24PM (#23328328)
        I just cancelled my pre-order for mass effect PC in the UK. I went through the new securom nightmare with Bioshock, and ended up returning my game for a refund. I'm not going through this again.

        Here's the problems:
        Bioshock didn't ship with a complete game on disc, leading to hours waiting for overloaded servers to connect and deliver up the missing parts on launch day. EA servers are well known for struggling when there's heavy load so I expect there to be similar problems.

        Bioshock securom shipped with two lifetime activations. Reinstall windows? New activation. Replace motherboard? New activation. New user account? New activation. Every time after that, ring up tech support, spend a while on hold, then proving you own a legitimate copy by sending a digital photo of disc plus serial number to tech support in the US, while from the UK. Expensive, slow and very very frustrating, especially since the techs initially wouldn't even help for the first few days. It tooks months in the end for the 'release an activation' tool to come out, and that's a nightmare in itself.

        3 activations? Given the amount I upgrade my gaming PC and reinstall windows, I'll be out of those in months if not weeks. I'm *not* jumping through hoops on the phone every time to reinstall my legitimate owned game because I've upgraded hardware and reinstalled windows more than 3 times in the lifetime of owning the game. And before you ask, my legit copy of windows is VLK licenced, and doesn't require activation.

        Now the new and worse activation nightmare. Activation every 10 days? So I decide to install on a gaming laptop. If that laptop doesn't have an internet connection at the time I want to play, I won't be able to, because it's been sat unpowered in the bag for a fortnight, and I don't have an internet connection. Heaven forbid I want to play mass effect on the train, or on holiday.

        Putting 'internet required' on the box does not excuse this rediculous scheme. They're going to massively inconvenience thousands of legitimate gamers wanting to play their own property when they choose, and they simply won't be able to. I won't buy a single player game that's deliberately crippled to stop me playing it unless I check in with the licence servers before I play. I've better ways to spend my money.

        Pirates, on the other hand, will be playing a completely unencumbered game without any problems. It took less than 9 days for the bioshock DRM to be patched out and the cracked version to hit the internet. Legitimate paying customers are still massively inconvenienced by the DRM and stupid hoop-jumping, while pirates get a simple and easy experience.

        I can't think of a better way to kill sales of the game and drive people to piracy than this new even worse version of securom than Bioshock.

        And spore? I was really looking forward to that game, even more than mass effect. But I'm not going through the frustration I had with securom on bioshock again. No damn way.
  • FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShedPlant ( 1041034 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:34AM (#23324360) Homepage
    For goodness' sake, you must be joking! I've pre-ordered the game but now I'm considering leaving it on the shelf and playing a pirated version. Sounds way easier!
    • Re:FFS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Z-Knight ( 862716 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:43AM (#23324496)
      There goes at least one sale of Spore that has been officially lost. I'm never going to buy any game that require me to connect to the home office unless it is a network game and that's what I'm using it for. The stupidity in this requirement for a single player off-line game is unbelievable...I guess I'm not really as shocked as I pretend, but I'm horribly disappointed. Screw Spore.
      • Re:FFS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Clovis42 ( 1229086 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:09PM (#23324946)
        While I pretty much agree, it is worth noting that Spore is essentially a network game. You're not really supposed to play it offline. A major point of the game is getting a totally new selection of user created content everytime you play. Playing Spore offline would take a lot away from the game as it's been described. Still, this plan doesn't sound too great.
      • Re:FFS (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MooUK ( 905450 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:35PM (#23325526)
        Count me in there as well. I was going to buy Spore as soon as it was released, as long as it didn't have idiotic DRM - which, apparently it does. Highly unlikely to make much difference to those pirating it (which of course I would never consider doing), but I'm not going to be buying it now.

        Email to EA it is then. Their loss, and they might as well know about it.
      • Re:FFS (Score:4, Informative)

        by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:36PM (#23325560) Homepage
        And here's another two sales [] lost on the DM of the Rings guy. (Plus a hilarious comic.) Is there some public list we could all sign stating our refusal to buy these games?
    • Re:FFS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:56AM (#23324738) Homepage
      And they've just ensured that I will NOT be purchasing a copy. Not buying and then playing a pirated copy (which I tend to do with a lot of my existing games for a similar reason), but a transfer of $0 from myself to them in exchange for a copy of the game.

      You hear that, EA? You just ensured that I will not be purchasing Spore, which up until this news was at the top of my buy list.

      I'll keep the money set aside for when you change your mind. In the meantime, I'll be playing a Swedish [] version.
  • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:34AM (#23324364)
    It will just make the people who would normally not look for cracks go and find them. These people will then see that they didn't have to buy the game in the first place and EA will turn their paying customers into non-paying ones. Great job!
  • Worse. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carik ( 205890 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:36AM (#23324384)
    It's worse than requiring a CD. I can easily carry a CD with me. I can't easily carry my network connection with me. And since I had been thinking about getting rid of my home network connection, it may mean I won't buy the game, or can only play it at work. What's the point in that?

    Yet another brain-dead attempt to prevent piracy...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jacksonj04 ( 800021 )
      I think it's worse, but should be considered as an alternative to CDs.

      How about EITHER the game checks every 10 days, OR demands a CD be inserted at least every 10 days? I can't see checks going away any time soon (Arguments about them being a waste of space aside), and in the absence of requiring neither I'd prefer to be able to do an online check so I don't need to drag CDs around, but still be able to do a CD-based authentication if I have no network.
  • Annoying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Danse ( 1026 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:36AM (#23324390)
    Mostly because it won't do a thing to prevent piracy. I really don't understand how they can keep coming back to this idea of requiring a CD in the drive or an active internet connection for single-player games. It makes no sense and only inconveniences their customers. The pirates just replace the executable with a cracked version and have no trouble at all.
    • Re:Annoying (Score:5, Funny)

      by m.ducharme ( 1082683 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:56AM (#23324744)
      Never mind, if my past experience with SecuRom is any indication, replacing the executable with the cracked version is going to be SecuRom's solution to any bugs in their DRM scheme. I know when I had problems with SecuROM not authorizing my copy of NWN, and wrote to them about it, they shipped me a little reporting tool (my box was almost exclusively used for NWN at this time), analysed the data, and sent me a link to a patched .exe and told me to replace my nwn.exe with that. What a waste, I could have downloaded the crack (which was probably SecuROM's own patched .exe) and ran that.

      I've never seen a more useless company than SecuROM.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Snowmit ( 704081 )
        And then not too long after (basically, as soon as Atari let them) Bioware released a patch that disabled the SecuROM check.

        And then we went through the same fucking cycle every time they released a new expansion pack for NWN.
      • Because he's telling the truth. NWN was particularly problematic and indeed if they determined you were having legit problems, they'd send you a version with no SecureROM. They kept tweaking it with various patches, and eventually gave up and just patched it out.

        I've had similar problems, Civilization 4 Beyond the Sword said my disc wasn't valid. I took it back to Target in case there was a problem with that particular disc (media errors do happen) but no, it just didn't like my DVD drive. Ya well, a patch
    • Re:Annoying (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:16PM (#23325062)

      Mostly because it won't do a thing to prevent piracy. I really don't understand how they can keep coming back to this idea of requiring a CD in the drive or an active internet connection for single-player games. It makes no sense and only inconveniences their customers. The pirates just replace the executable with a cracked version and have no trouble at all.
      Exactly. All this copy protection/DRM crap is absolute garbage. It never hurts the pirates, it only hurts the legitimate customers. As you said, pirates are breaking the copy protection anyway. They'll never have to deal with this crap.

      The person this is going to hurt is some guy who goes out and buys the game but doesn't have an Internet connection. He won't be able to play, but there'll be a dozen downloads on BitTorrent and hundreds of pirates will be playing just fine.

      • Re:Annoying (Score:4, Insightful)

        by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:25PM (#23326514)

        No, that's not correct. It does "hurt the pirates" and for the good schemes it can be statistically proven to be true. The developers of, I think Heros, published some very interesting statistics on their experience with StarForce if you want to find the figures I'm thinking of, but I've seen similar stories repeated by other game devs.

        Look. Very few high-budget games are released without DRM. I know this is an emotional issue for a lot of Slashdotters, but the number of people here assuming they're smarter than, well, almost every game publisher in the world is pretty sad to see. Do you really think they pay for expensive DRM systems over and over again if it loses them money? Even if you assume some of them are completely dysfunctional, we're not talking about a few publishers. We're talking about the vast majority.

        DRM does work. It does not last forever, but it was never intended to anyway. The success of a PC video game DRM system is the time-to-crack. For good schemes this can be measured in months. For bad schemes it can be measured in days, or even be negative.

        The majority of a copies of a game are sold within the months following its release. After a year, sales of a typical game are minimal and if you lose them, well, no big deal. So if your DRM scheme holds up 6 months, that's 6 months with no piracy. It's well understood in the industry that the DRM cracking problem comes from people who just don't want to pay for the game. Very few are pure hearted people who conscientiously want to make backups of their disks. Some of those people will never pay for the game, ever, and some of them will pay for the game when it becomes clear that a crack isn't coming out anytime soon (because they want to play the latest thing, with their friends, etc).

        So, holding on for a few months can increase sales quite significantly. It's a simple economic equation - how much do you pay for the DRM vs how many extra sales do you get as various wannabe-pirates "time out" and decide to buy the game anyway?

        Of course it's not 100% business, there's an emotional aspect to it as well. Consider a developer at Infinity Ward and his perspective []:

        On another PC related note, we pulled some disturbing numbers this past week about the amount of PC players currently playing Multiplayer (which was fantastic). What wasn't fantastic was the percentage of those numbers who were playing on stolen copies of the game on stolen / cracked CD keys of pirated copies (and that was only people playing online).

        Not sure if I can share the exact numbers or percentage of PC players with you, but I'll check and see; if I can I'll update with them. As the amount of people who pirate PC games is astounding. It blows me away at the amount of people willing to steal games (or anything) simply because it's not physical or it's on the safety of the internet to do.

        If you want to see what a good DRM system can achieve compare the piracy rates of console games vs PC games. Obviously due to its nature the PC versions will not get close to such low rates anytime soon, but the contrast is remarkable (I've read a game developer blog where they searched for torrents of their game for XBox 360 vs PC and the difference in number of torrents/downloaders was huge).

  • Worse. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:37AM (#23324400)

    Is this better or worse than requiring a CD in the drive to play?

    Worse. The state of my CD/DVD drive is my business and basically under my control, while my Internet connection is dependent upon staying in the good graces of a ISP company that may or may not have their shit together on any given day.

  • I wouldn't mind (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AsmordeanX ( 615669 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:37AM (#23324416)
    Given my horrible luck with CD/DVD based protection systems I wouldn't mind that much if it phoned home from time to time assuming normal privacy concerns are met.

    As a person with cable based internet there isn't a time when I'm not at home.

    I think PC gaming is heading toward the persistent online authenticity check system. People look at games like Crysis which has been pirated to an extreme then WoW which was virtually immune to piracy for nearly two years and even now it requires a fair amount of fiddling and you can't play on the real servers.

    I'm surprised at the 10 days though. That seems kind of long to me. Sounds like something a cracker could exploit. If there is a timer there is a way to stop it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Danse ( 1026 )

      I'm surprised at the 10 days though. That seems kind of long to me. Sounds like something a cracker could exploit. If there is a timer there is a way to stop it.

      Even if there wasn't a timer, unless the server somewhere is providing some critical component of the game itself that can't be replaced, then the game will be cracked. It's that simple. Once people figured out how to create their own WoW servers, then it was possible to play a cracked version because they no longer needed the service provided by the real servers.

      These are just the facts of life, and the game publishers are simply pissing people off with these stupid attempts to prevent something that th

  • by eison ( 56778 ) <pkteison@hotma i l . c om> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:38AM (#23324424) Homepage
    I hate how publishers have finally used technological measures to achieve what the courts won't grant them. This should be flat out explicitly illegal. []
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xero314 ( 722674 )
      Though others have pointed this out repeatedly, you really ought to understand the difference between purchasing and licensing. Software is not purchased, and hasn't been for many many years, but rather it is licensed for use.

      The is no first-license doctrine. Software is more akin to a service or a lease. In most cases you do not have the right to sublet rental property or to transfer licenses without explicit permission, as it is never your property.

      I am not saying you have to like it, just saying
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tambo ( 310170 )
      I hate how publishers have finally used technological measures to achieve what the courts won't grant them.

      It's not just technological measures - it's legal measures, too. They've successfully developed the legal fiction that, even though you bought a CD with some software on it, you didn't really buy a CD with some software on it. No, you bought a license to use the software subject to certain restrictions... that thing in your hands is just a tool to help you exercise the rights that you bought.

      The upshot
  • Bastards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:38AM (#23324428)
    The more this kind of crap happens, the more I hate the software industry. It's MY computer damn it. If I buy software, I should be able to use it the way I want.

    This is bogus. The problem with gamers is that they don't care about standing up for important principles and only care about shiny new games.

    Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo should all be forced, by lack of customers, to open up their platform and allow people who bought these devices to actually control their property. Software vendors who do this crap should have every game that requires internet access returned to the store for a full refund. (More damaging than *not* buying it.)

    • Re:Bastards (Score:4, Insightful)

      by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:49AM (#23324622) Homepage
      "Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo should all be forced, by lack of customers, to open up their platform and allow people who bought these devices to actually control their property."

      If they did that, they'd be forced, by lack of licensing revenue, to stop making consoles all together. You're talking about a completely unrelated issue, anyway. Ever read up on the video game market crash?

      Honestly, this is not going to affect Spore at all. 99% of people have an internet connection, 95% won't care that they have to use it to verify their legal software is in fact legal. The people that don't have legal copies will either get one, hassle with it, or give up because it's too annoying. Copy protection measures like this are annoying to me because I don't plan on buying the software, but at least it isn't as annoying as having to dig through all your cds to make sure the right one is in the drive. Take a step back here. This is a method of copy protection that is less annoying to 99% of legitimate users than the current system of making sure you have the disc in the drive. EVERYONE here is in that 99%. What's the problem?
      • Re:Bastards (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:25PM (#23325292) Homepage
        5% here and there adds up. My father in law recently bought a 360 after being a PC gamer for years.


        DRM. He had all kinds of problems with games refusing to recognize his CD drive, or stuff like Starforce crashing his machine, or all the other issues that these systems cause. He wasn't a pirate. He just wanted the games to work, and this stuff caused PC games to not work for him.

        Now he avoids the hassle and just plays console games.

        On any one game, its only a few people here and there. But think of how many games he would have bought over the next 10 years that he now won't. Think of all the other people every time it happens. Those numbers pile up into real money very quickly, and THAT is what is really killing PC gaming.
  • Great. Just great. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:39AM (#23324442) Homepage
    Well, that ensures I will most certainly d/l a cracked version. I've got legit copies of a half-dozen PC games from over the past years that I've felt were worthy of spending money on. Spore was one of the games I was actually itching to buy. Screw this internet requirement crap -- they just lost a customer before they even left the gate. What if I want to play on the road? I won't even offer them the same respect I've given a few other mis-guided publishers, of buying the game and then getting the no-cd crack. I'm tired of this shit by game publishers.

    Now that I think about it, I won't even bother with even getting an illegit copy. Why even patronize the product at all anymore?

  • by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:42AM (#23324486)
    I always buy my games (who needs to download multiple Gb files anyway, it's boring), but I hate these stupid copy protection schemes.

    Most of the time I find someone posts a crack or workaround to gamecopyworld though, and they tend to work.

    Not for freetards though, not one of them comes with a serial, you still have to buy the games.

    I'll try Spore just as soon as the drm is bypassed, not before. I refuse to believe that I, as a legally purchasing game player, need to be watched by the content owner.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      I'll try Spore just as soon as the drm is bypassed

      Please don't. In fact, please don't buy Spore at all. If they're stupid enough to pull this kind of anti-customner crap, how can they possibly be smart enough to make a decent game?

      DRM is a sign that the product sucks so much that its creators don't think it's good enough to pay for.

      Don't buy a product so bad its creators think nobody would pay for it.
  • Naturally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rwven ( 663186 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:55AM (#23324716)
    Another moronic publisher killing their market. People talk about the death of PC gaming. Well, this is it, and the companies killing it are too stupid to see it.
  • by Satanboy ( 253169 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:03PM (#23324860)
    The pirated exe will skyrocket in downloads because nobody wants the DRM, and they will blame piracy as to why their game doesn't sell . . .
  • by NitroWolf ( 72977 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:03PM (#23324866)
    I don't buy or play a lot of games... I choose carefully the ones I do want to spend time playing. Spore was definitely one of them, and Mass Effect had a good chance.

    Unlike the old days, I do actually purchase the games I play a lot. Of all the security methods, I've always found a crack for my legitimately purchased software so I don't have to have the CD/DVD in the drive. Steam is about my limit for DRM techniques. If I absolutely *MUST* have an internet connection to play Spore or Mass Effect, then I absolutely WILL have a crack to play it. The fact that this is required really leads me to think it might just be less hassle to download a pirated copy and forgo buying it at all.

    Are they losing a sale because I am pirating the copy? No. I won't buy it because of it's DRM. I will play the game and I will enjoy it - however, there's no sale lost because, if there were no other alternative than buying the DRM laden game, I wouldn't buy it.

    Like many other people, I am happy to fork over my money for a game I can copy freely or use how I wish. I am not happy, and will not fork over money for a game that is hostile towards me in terms of my freedoms. A perfect example of how DRM generates a pirate and costs a sale, whereas no DRM gains a sale. How many sales are gained due to DRM? I'd imagine very few compared to how many are lost due to DRM.

  • Much, much worse (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pudge ( 3605 ) * Works for Slashdot <slashdot AT pudge DOT net> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:07PM (#23324916) Homepage Journal

    Is this better or worse than requiring a CD in the drive to play?
    If we CANNOT play offline, it is much, much worse. However, if you're going to be offline, just run it and have it check, and you're good for 10 days. Not terrible. This is much better than a CD.
  • Plays for Sure! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RocketScientist ( 15198 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:15PM (#23325058)
    I have other things I can spend money on, so this'll take a back seat. It disappoints me that I won't be able to play with Spore, but not so much that I'm willing to let them know how much I play it, when, what time of day, what my shopping habits are, and how best to advertise to me.

    And what happens in 5 years when I want to pull it out and play it again? I'm sure it will play right? Just like all those people who bought music from Microsoft thought "Plays for Sure" meant it played for sure.
  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:17PM (#23325094) Homepage
    Stardock has this stuff figured out. Here's how life works if you buy Sins of a Solar Empire:

    - You can install it from the original media, a copy of the original media, downloaded from Stardock, or whatever. The game works without a disk, and without a key. It doesn't phone home. It treats you like a customer, not a criminal.

    - Registering with Stardock (putting your key in once) gets you access to updates on the website. Oh, if your CD gets lost, you can also download the entire game again for free from Stardock.

    - You need the CD key once to create an online multiplayer account. Unless you want to play LAN, in fact two players are allowed to play LAN games with only one copy of the game between them. (You can probably do more then that without technical hurdles, the license just explictly allows it for two people.)

    Take a good game and put all that on top of it, and as a paying customer I feel good about buying it. I like buying games, it means more games get made.

    In the case of Mass Effect, buying the game means I can't use it while I'm moving, when I'll have no Internet. Of course the whole point of buying it is to play a single player game while I'm moving, since I won't have World of Warcraft due to having no Internet.

    But the pirated version will work just fine for me. So as a paying customer, I get treated WORSE then someone who pirates the game. I'm failing to see how this does anything but encourage me to pirate the game.
  • by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:41PM (#23325648) Homepage Journal
    Having coffee with someone face-to-face
    Remote control car races
    Play a musical instrument

    ALL the above are DRM-free sources of entertainment. Seriously people I swear some of you don't realized there are other forms of entertainment besides sitting in front of a computer... Let them add as much DRM as they want, once they are all out-of-business from a lack of customers then DRM goes with them. Life is not digital, there is ebb and flow in the security vs. freedom. We had that useless "4th word on page 8" protection nonsense since the old gold-box D&D games. DRM has always been around in one form or another. I swear kids these days think they invented everything... It will get worse, then better, then worse again.

    Anyways, the very fact that the term Freetard is growing shows a backlash building to a degree, not so much towards pro-drm people, but the useless crap nerds complain about.

    The veneer of trendy is starting to wear off the geeks as people once again realize that life is not a scene out of Tron, we do not live in our computers. Pay cash, write a letter with cursive, and remember that not every source of entertainment must come from a computer.

    The pirates today are losing their edge, no longer rebels against over-priced software, but viewed increasingly as parasites that are damaging small game developers and empowering large EA type shops pumping out the same crap year after year.

    This is why gaming is moving to a service-like structure rather then a product. WoW, EQ, etc are all services really rather then a game-in-a-box. Soon all single-player games will requirer a monthly subscription to play (small as that fee may be) with central hosted servers to provide content. It's the old razor sales angle used for consoles, printers, etc... Give the game away and charge a use fee instead for content.

    I would like to thank all the warez teams in the 80 for bringing about "Software as a Service", as suggested by Bill Gates back in the 90s, a reality.

  • by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:50PM (#23325854) Homepage Journal

    DATE (DATE-10)
    DATE (DATE+10)

  • by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @01:17PM (#23326354)
    Dear Game Industry,

    If you are going to require that my copy of your game must phone home to be activated AND phone home every N days, even though that excludes extended periods of offline play, please let me suggest a way to ensure that my legitimate key will not be used by someone else either inadvertently or through piracy.

    I propose hashing my key with a password of *my* choosing, and you storing it upon activation. When someone else tries to play with my legitimate key, you'll know it's not me, and thus you won't simply ban that key. If legitimate key/password hashes started phoning in simultaneously from around the world, then at least you'd have a better case for banning that key from further play.

    Do not, under any circumstances, have the game software locally store my password. (And don't store it in the clear on *your* servers.) I don't want some unknown (but plausible) trojan/hacker stealing it from the disk (I prefer them to have to work for it). When time comes for reauthentication, just have the software ask again for my password.

    Perhaps with this new authentication scheme, you'll find that you won't need my copy to reauthenticate so often, if at all past the initial contact. No one's going to be able to reuse my key (gotten from a keygen or other means) online unless I give out my password. Obviously, this won't cut down on cracked copies that don't phone home, but it will cut down on the resources you need for authentication and the frustration level for your paying customers.


"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger