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Valve Claims New Steamworks Update "Makes DRM Obsolete" 731

Lulfas writes "Steam is implementing a new anti-piracy solution that, according to them, removes all DRM. Called Computer Executable Generation (CEG), this system creates a unique copy of the game when it is purchased through Steam, essentially using a 100% unique keygen system. It will be installable on any system, but only playable by one person at a time (hooked into the correct Steam account, of course). Will this be enough to satisfy anti-DRM players while at the same time giving the publishing companies what they require?"
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Valve Claims New Steamworks Update "Makes DRM Obsolete"

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  • by Erie Ed ( 1254426 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:40PM (#27317759)
    I don't think this will work. Hell they banned my account because they saw 4 different IP's logging in to the account (one from ohio, one from mississippi, one from germany, and one from PA)...of course they didn't take into account that I'm Active duty military...fuck steam
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:42PM (#27317813)
    In what sense is this not DRM?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:43PM (#27317841) Homepage

      The marketing sense.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by modmans2ndcoming ( 929661 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:44PM (#27317879)

      because it does not restrict what you do with your copy, just how many copies can be played on Steam.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#27318033) Homepage Journal

        because it does not restrict what you do with your copy, just how many copies can be played on Steam.

        Just in case it's not clear: restricting how many copies can be played on Steam is restricting what you can do with your copy.

        Now, I agree that it's a reasonable restriction, sure. But please don't pretend that it's not a restriction.

      • Let me make this very simple for you:

        DRM is any digital measure that attempts to stop piracy by restricting what you can do.

        Whether or not it's acceptable DRM is a different question. I have Steam, and I consider it an acceptable trade.

        But put another way, this is like claiming an iPod sold for $20 is "free", or has "no cost". Bullshit! It cost you $20! You may consider that to be more than fair price, considering what iPods usually go for, but it is in no sense free.

        Now, someone else has pointed out that i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )
      Only the title of the press release mentions the term "DRM".

      The text of the press release makes no such claim... what we have here is a press release that has been retitled by someone in marketing/PR for grabbig people's attention and for SEO.

      I bet if you discussed this with some of the actual engineers/designers at Steam, they'd agree it is DRM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spazmania ( 174582 )

      In what sense is this not DRM?

      In the sense that it does not appear to apply technological inhibitions against otherwise lawful behavior.

      DRM's meaning has become overloaded to the point where it usually refers to technological restrictions which -exceed- the legal restrictions on a copy's use.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        In the sense that it does not appear to apply technological inhibitions against otherwise lawful behavior.

        DRM is about applying technological inhibitions against unlawful behavior. By its very nature, these tend to also inhibit lawful behavior.

        DRM proponents often talk about a "perfect DRM" scheme, in which all lawful behavior is allowed. If such a system could be built, I'd be all for it, but I consider it to be impossible by definition.

        This sounds more like a desperate attempt to distance themselves from the label "DRM", because consumers have (rightly) started to associate that with something bad.

        However, if

  • by bugi ( 8479 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:45PM (#27317901)

    That may be a saner DRM, but it's still DRM.

    If you're going to sell a service, then sell a service. Don't sell software and try to control it like a service.

  • More questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:45PM (#27317907) Homepage Journal

    Can I sell it?
    If Steam goes down, can I still play?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Medgur ( 172679 )

      No, Yes.

  • Fact is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#27318015) Journal

    if you "buy" a game from Steam, they own your game and not you. You are the one who has to request access to play the game(or to play in offline mode) and a ban can screw up your "purchased" game library.

    If you want to have some games, do NOT go to Steam.

  • by forgottenusername ( 1495209 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:52PM (#27318089)

    I bought the game, I own the media. I should NOT have to connect to the internet, download a client, download whatever updates it deems are necessary. Maybe there's some cheesy exploit I like in the FPS I'm playing alone? You got my money - leave me alone!

    It was really frustrating when I was between broadband watching Steam try to download huge updates so I could play the game I bought specifically so I'd have the media and wouldn't need to download anything. Naive me, assuming you can actually play a game you own the discs to.

    PS - how is this not DRM?

    - The files are encrypted with a 'unique' key
    - Steam acts as the DRM license server
    - Any attempt to play the game without access to Steam the new DRM license server will fail
    - You access or validate the game by a user/login combo
    - If Steam ever goes away, has server/capacity issues (which they have, when new games are released) you are shit out of luck to play the game you PAID for

    The _only_ current difference I can see is that you can 'transfer' it between PCs and play it. Guess what - you could do that with DRM as well, albeit laboriously and somewhat error prone. Most services even allow you several "free" additional downloads that give you another license.

    It's so similar to DRM that this is just a lame publicity stunt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I personally hate physical media. I think physical media is a scam on an epic scale. So I'm willing to log in to avoid that hassle. Sure, Steam could go down and kill my game. But my kid could frisbee the disks across the room and kill the game.

      I'm willing to believe (at this point) that Steam is a robust enough distribution channel that it's at least slightly more disaster resistant than my house.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella ( 173770 )

        I'm willing to believe (at this point) that Steam is a robust enough distribution channel that it's at least slightly more disaster resistant than my house.

        Distribution yes. I learned after I moved and the ISP couldn't get their act together for a month and a half what Steam really is. Any game that tells me "Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that... least not until you report in to the mothership" can go screw itself. I'm back to buying boxed games and using cracks, or downloadables that have a single activation. If I was to consider doing anything differently, it'd be skipping the buying the DRM-laden ones and just donate the money to charity instead. Treat me

  • by andrewd18 ( 989408 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:53PM (#27318129)
    So... it removes the need for current DRM schemes like "CD-in-drive", "CD-key", and "X number of installs".

    But it fortifies the DRM scheme that Steam already employs, the "one game copy per server account" by allowing Valve to determine exactly which copy belongs to which account. This doesn't give anything new to the user, but makes it really easy for Valve to look at a illegal copy distributed on the internet and say "Oh, this belongs to MrX. Banned."

    So it doesn't really obsolete DRM... just other versions that users generally hate. The reason this is news is that it might be a compelling enough reason for bigger developers to use SteamWorks, since it gives them the same power they think they get in other DRM schemes.
  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:53PM (#27318145)

    But this is pure marketing BS. They are making DRM obsolete by... using DRM! Plus, this is exactly the same scheme of DRM that is already in use: Encrypt a program and then only decrypt it when provided a valid key. Then provide the key, thus completely negating the point of encrypting the program. After all, Steam has to unpack the executable to run it, and at that point all a black hatter has to do is come up with a way to snatch the decrypted version during that.

    This is SecureROM 2.0. The only difference is instead of a 'unique, unduplicateable, ID per CD' it's now a 'unique, unduplicateable, ID per account'.

    On the other hand, since I am a Steam fanboi, I hope this particular marking BS manages to convince more publishers to go this route rather than the SecureROM/CD route. Being able to redownload a game whenever I want to install it, wherever I want to install it, is far better than "opps, your machine crashed twice so now your CD is worthless because you only had two installs allowed".

  • Smart Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thorizdin ( 456032 ) <thorizdin@ l o> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:56PM (#27318221) Homepage

    As soon as the rabid "It's still DRM" crowd either
    a) Get's over their kneejerk reaction
    b) Get's ignored since they don't buy games anyway
    c) Get's distracted by the next Sony DRM debacle

    people will realize that this is exactly what the industry needs. MMO's don't have (much) of a piracy problem, but game developers that want to just sell software need help. DRM has failed not because the concept is flawed, it's not, but because the implementations have been silly. The idea that you can create a procedure and have it work without change forever is simply a waste of money. I can already think of several methods of lying to this kind of system, but Steam makes things harder just by combining a form of file check along with a log on to a remote server. To "lie" you will have to convince Steam that are a registered user, have permission to run the game you want to pirate, and your file(s) matches the CRC or other check they do. Once someone figures that out, or even _gasp_ before, they can add another check (or set of checks) to make things more difficult.

    Many imperfect walls > 1 (supposedly) perfect one

  • by patternmatch ( 951637 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:04PM (#27318425)
    Oxymoron of the day: "unique copy"
  • by Agrivane ( 150553 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:12PM (#27318605)

    I check games carefully before purchasing them now and avoid all those that require the use of the Steam service. This comes after purchasing a few games that became unusable after a few weeks (or less than a day) with errors about invalid serial numbers. Perhaps region coding incompatible with my Geographically Canadian IP, perhaps the misfortune of matching with one of the warez distributions or key-gens. But all unresolvable without me delivering images of the retail receipt and manual / number card to Steam. As there is no reason to save the receipt for software purchase as opened packages are non-returnable, this was impossible.

    Individually cryptographically signed executables is absolutely DRM. It, like every other copy-protection scheme, will only be relevant for online play, or if single player games require a handshake with some server system before use. (Which would limit their lifespan.) The best way to discourage piracy is to lower prices. You may not reduce the number of unlicensed copies around the world, but you will assuredly increase the number of customers you have.

  • NO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skylinux ( 942824 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:15PM (#27318669) Homepage

    It will be installable on any system, but only playable by one person at a time (hooked into the correct Steam account, of course). Will this be enough to satisfy anti-DRM players while at the same time giving the publishing companies what they require?"

    They might as well keep DRM, the new system is pretty much the same thing.

    I am still a slave to STEAM.
    1) If I don't have STEAM on my other computer I can not play it.
    2) If I am not connected to the Internet with my other computer I can not play it.
    3) If Valve goes belly up I can no longer play my games

    Not going to happen, keep your games and your online validation / DRM shit. I will only purchase games without it or none at all.

  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:33PM (#27319163)

    Traditional DRM meant the disk was protected, but I could still install it and play it on any computer in my house.

    I could install it on an unconnected laptop at the cottage and play...

    This is one of those totally dependant on the DRM servers, type DRM. It is even worse IMO.

    This is game rental, not purchase.

  • Sign me up! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:58PM (#27321027)

    Here's what I really like about Steam:

    - I can move computers or reinstall as I wish. I can play a game "delete" it, and later on, reinstall it - just load the main game file and go. No install and reinstall idiocy. If I need to clear up some HD space, I can delete the game main game file in a few seconds and poof - 4 or 5 gigs free.

    If I have to reinstall my OS, I don't have to play CD or DVD shuffling and look for CD keys and other idiocy. I just install the steam client, validate, and hit "stun" and let it d/l all 40-50 gigs of junk overnight. Note - you can also back up your steam apps directory and toss the compressed files back in with a reinstalled OS. It'll check and validate and you're good to go. With DVDs, you're SOL - because it has to do all sorts of tweaking and stuff with the registry. Steam does this for you. Nice.

    - None of UbiSoft's or EA or Sony's malware DRM rootkits. I'd rather have one app that checks to see if I'm who I am(perfectly reasonable, IMO). No CD crippling software, no nonsense that mangles my DirectX. In fact, I'll only buy games from those three PITA companies when it comes out on Steam.

    - Updating and patches and support is quick - often in hours or days to fix loading bugs and sound issues. Patches the game for you, as well. Always up to date if you wish.

    - As easy as Direct2Drive(another company I also like) to order and buy from. Good prices, too. Often better than the local game store, due to nearly daily promotions and specials. No boxes cluttering up my desk, either. Case in point - last night, Assassin's Creed was a paltry $10. Latest director's cut version, all the goodies. Just buy, D/L, and run an hour later.

    - Loads of older games that were impossible to run on Vista from the W2K/W98 era. Many are well worth playing, even today.

    - Movie trailers and so on are MUCH easier to manage and less spammy than the major websites and places like Apple. HD trailers are a snap as well to d/l and clearly tell you the resolution and quality up front. Having to watch a trailer online in a little box at most sites is a major hassle.

    - It sits in the background and hogs resources. Impossible to play even HL via Steam versus the original standalone boxed game cleanly unless you have a dual core processor. My old P3 could run HL1 without stuttering. My P4 couldn't. My dual-core now is fine, but really...

    - Many AV and Net monitoring/firewall apps just have a fit with it.

    - Loads new content and patches and so on sometimes in the background without me ever allowing it.

    - Worries about not being able to access my programs. But given the money Valve is making, I suspect it'll be around for at least 10-20 more years.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.