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Valve's Gabe Newell On DRM 241

Ars Technica is running a story about recent comments by Valve's Gabe Newell in which he bluntly stated, "As far as DRM goes, most DRM strategies are just dumb. The goal should be to create greater value for customers through service value (make it easy for me to play my games whenever and wherever I want to), not by decreasing the value of a product (maybe I'll be able to play my game and maybe I won't)." Ars then points out a response by Microsoft's Games for Windows Community Manager Ryan Miller suggesting Rockstar Games' recent decision not to have install limits for the PC version of GTA IV made the use of SecuROM acceptable. GameSetWatch has a related piece discussing the difficulty in measuring piracy and enforcing infringement laws.
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Valve's Gabe Newell On DRM

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  • Re:I like Steam (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:54AM (#25986361)

    My account was deactivated and they simply refused to tell me why, just that it was shut down due to suspicious activity (I had steam installed on about 6 computers that I own). They actually suggested I could create a new account and purchase the games again if i wanted to play. If you think you own the software you purchase through Steam, you are dead wrong. Valve can flip a switch and turn it off whenever they want. I'll never buy another game from steam or another Valve product ever again. I'll just download any new half life games from isohunt. the way I see it, they owe me about 350 dollars so I'll simply download anything I want to cover that

  • Re:I like Steam (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @05:11AM (#25986455)

    Actually, my fear with steam is not the account being disabled- that did happen once, they then fixed it after a week. But VAC bans, as in, someone steals your password, cheats on the account, gets it VAC'd, then you lose the value of every multiplayer game in your Steam account. They'll undo disables- they will NOT undo VAC bans.

  • by Balinares ( 316703 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @05:41AM (#25986609)

    Just yesterday evening, I was browsing PC games at the local store, having reinstalled a Windows partition recently, and spotted the box version of Portal. Awesome, I told myself, been wanting to play that one ever since I heard of it, let's purchase this shit. (Mind you, everything about the plot and even the ending are utterly spoiled by now, but who cares, the gameplay seems terrific.)

    But for safety, I checked out the small print at the back of the box.

    Which said something along the lines of, the game you are shelling out money for will just plain not run outright, you'll have to allow it to go online and then maybe our servers will allow it to run if you accept an EULA that you'll know nothing about until then.

    End result: no go, sorry. If I give money for a product, I want it to run when I feel like running it. One less sale for you, dude. (Not that you give a damn about one sale, I'm sure.)

  • by JorDan Clock ( 664877 ) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:17AM (#25986823)
    I didn't have any problem installing The Orange Box on a PC when the wireless network was down. When I finally got it back online, Steam updated the game and that was it. I can continue playing in "offline mode" which is exactly the same as "online mode" except I don't get friends list updates and snazzy things like that.
  • Re:I like Steam (Score:2, Informative)

    by Patrik_AKA_RedX ( 624423 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @06:42AM (#25986947) Journal
    Yesterday I wanted to play Halflife during my lunch break on my laptop. Mind that this is my private laptop and therefore I've no internet connection at work. Ofcourse Steam decided that I can't play until I've reconnected to internet first.
    Makes me wonder why I bought it instead of pirating it. I've had done the latter I would have been able to play.
    Steam is a nice way to distribute games, but honestly the requirement to connect every so often is a pain in the ass for those of us who rarely find the time to play.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @07:41AM (#25987199)

    Now take Steam on the other hand. Sure, all of this would also be possible withOUT DRM, but it wouldn't be much of a business model if everyone could just download everything to any computer and just leave it there for someone else to play.

    How very wrong. Just look at totalgaming.net (or now: Impulsedriven). StarDock is offering something like Steam but completely without DRM. And it works! Sins of a Solar Empire, a game released without any form of copy protection both retail and over their online download service, sold great.
    They offer a DRM-free game for you to enjoy and patches are only available through their Steam-like plattform. But unlike Steam it doesn't force you do download patches nor does it have to run in the background while playing.

    Their business model works great. They add values to paying customers in providing really good (content-adding) patches for customers only.

  • Re:I like Steam (Score:3, Informative)

    by MR.Mic ( 937158 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @08:44AM (#25987523)
    Uncheck "Don't save account credentials on this computer" in steam settings.
    Then you only have to log in once, and the computer will allow you to go into offline mode any time after that.

    It works for my laptop when I can't get wifi when traveling.
  • Re:I like Steam (Score:2, Informative)

    by ch1lly ( 1154779 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:33AM (#25988493)

    Translation: "It doesn't work all the time with Linux and it doesn't give me a physical copy to have as a backup. I love it!"

    You can have discs if you want them. Steam includes a tool to backup your games. Plus you can buy the games in retail which comes with the discs of course if you prefer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @12:24PM (#25989983)

    Spore was 0-day'd, it really is just about pissing off legitimate users.

  • Re:I like Steam (Score:4, Informative)

    by SScorpio ( 595836 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @12:41PM (#25990295)

    Steam doesn't let you gift games out of an account. It's true that you can purchase games and then gift them to someone, but once a attached to an account it can't get sent to someone else. This prevents people from being able to trade games with one another which is one of my main issues with digital downloads and the new installation limits in newer games.

  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Thursday December 04, 2008 @12:59PM (#25990613) Homepage

    "but consoles are completely locked!"

    They are, but your console doesn't get hosed by a bad implementation of DRM, and better, you can sell your console games when you're done. You can also loan them to your friends if they want to play.

  • Re:I like Steam (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @01:00PM (#25990643) Homepage

    Given the number of people who defend Steam on /. I think he's probably right about people not caring about the DRM.

    Most people don't care about DRM as long as they don't notice it, and that includes /.ers. Some care based solely on principle, some care because they don't trust any DRM to be unnoticeable. Most just want to play a game they paid for, and if DRM doesn't stop them from doing that then no, they don't care. There are no articles about xbox DRM because you never see it, you stick a game into your console and it plays.

    Steam's DRM is mostly harmless, most of the time. Thus it falls beneath most people's thresholds of caring. When it actually breaks, like the AC post above describes, then damned right people will care even if they didn't even know what DRM was before. They may even become distrustful of DRM in general. That won't necessarily affect the opinions of people for whom it is working.

    So I think he is right, to the extent that DRM is done "right" and is unobtrusive and doesn't break your games. As time goes on, as DRM becomes more common, and more people get bit by it, then there will be more people who will consider the potential for DRM to break their games, and more people will care.

  • by Optic7 ( 688717 ) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @04:17PM (#25993689)
    Don't forget about gog.com where you can buy games that are completely DRM-free, and cheap. Show the industry that this is what we want.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman