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Games Your Rights Online

Game Industry Vets On DRM 372

An anonymous reader points out an article at SavyGamer in which several game industry veterans were polled for their opinions on DRM. Cliff Harris of Positech Games said he didn't think his decision to stop using DRM significantly affected piracy of his games, accepting it as an unavoidable fact. "Maybe a few of the more honest people now buy the game rather than pirate it, but this sort of thing is impossible to measure. You can see how many people are cracking and uploading your game, but tracking downloads is harder. It seems any game, even if it's $0.99 has a five hour demo and is DRM-free and done by a nobel-peace prize winning game design legend, will be cracked and distributed on day one by some self righteous teenager anyway. People who crack and upload games don't give a damn what you've done to placate gamers, they crack it anyway." Nihal de Silva of Direct2Drive UK said his company hasn't noticed any sales patterns indicating customers are avoiding games with DRM. Richard Wilson of TIGA feels that customers should be adequately warned before buying a game that uses DRM, but makes no bones about the opinion that the resale of used games is not something publishers should worry about.
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Game Industry Vets On DRM

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  • by JorDan Clock ( 664877 ) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:43AM (#31007630)
    CD checks may still need to be cracked, although depending on the CD check method and the image provided, even that might not be necessary.
  • by mykos ( 1627575 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:45AM (#31007938)

    Don't allow users to even see the screen without making receiving a certified letter from the publisher with a secret code. Don't let the user even play the full game. Force them to download large chunks of it from your server after releasing only half of it on disc.

    Store integral parts of every level on a master server that can only be accessed by pausing the game and entering the secret code.

    It will sell trillions of copies!

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:19AM (#31008108) Journal
    Depends on the game. Kingdom of Loathing (which, admittedly, has incredibly low operating costs), is free to play and you can play it to the end (and though subsequent reincarnations) without paying anything. There are special premium items that cost $15. These give you some stat bonuses, but nothing particularly important. They're basically a way of rewarding players who donate to supporting the game. If you look at the people who have the most of these items, they are generally people who have been playing a long time and didn't need the stat bonuses that the items gave.
  • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:38AM (#31008184)
    It's a brave person who buys a game that requires some online authentication second-hand and relies on the good nature of whoever sold the game not to have kept a copy installed (with a no-cd crack) and what should now be their authentication key. It's the reason most PC games are non-returnable these days, once you have the key they have zero resale value.
  • by Rennt ( 582550 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:50AM (#31008246)
    If you want to look it up, the LSPA (UK) puts the average age between 25-34. The ESA (US) puts it at 33. These numbers have been reasonably consistent since the mid 90's so no surprises there.
  • by holiggan ( 522846 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @08:14AM (#31008352)

    Well, since we are talking about DRM, I should mention Good Old Games [gog.com].

    Basically, they sell "old games", without any DRM whatsoever, and that are 7/Vista/XP compatible.

    And although they have some fairly "recent" titles (Painkiller, for example), I don't recall seeing any of their games on the P2P networks. Or any cracks. Oh, right, they don't have anything to crack to begin with :)

    Oh and the games are dirty cheap as well. And legal.

    I think that the person that mention that this should be about beneficts for the legitimate client is right.

    In the GOG case, I can install the game wherever I want, when I want, no activation or "phone-home" or whatsoever. And they really provide a "value added" service: some games aren't available anywere else (even P2P networks), and they have gone the extra step of making them playable on the modern versions of Windows.

    So the publisher cashes in their older titles, instead of clinging on them and not doing anything with them (like actually selling the games) and/or chasing whoever dares to mess with it, i.e. fan-made remakes, reverse engineering and things like that, GOG cashes in with the nostalgia of the clients, and the quality of the majority of the offerings, and the clients cash in as well, being able to play quality games for low-low prices, and not having to worry about if SecureRom will break their Windows.

    Just a quick mention of Steam. I like the concept, and they are doing some things right. But I hope they don't let the publishers run wild with the platform (the Bioshock 2 "protection" seems insane! DRM on top of Steam and validations?!).

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @09:23AM (#31008748) Journal

    If you bothered to read, he *buys* the games and then plays the pirated version because it doesn't have the limitation. It is pig arses like YOU that clog up slashdot with useless fucking trolls after not even reading the post you are replying to. Many of us *buy* the game but play a pirated version for convenience. The main bitch isn't paying $50, it is paying $50 for something you can't play the way you want to, or at all.

  • Re:Ubisoft (Score:4, Informative)

    by hibiki_r ( 649814 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:46AM (#31009624)

    This happens if you have the steam's friend system turned on by default. Turn it off, and it stops complaining.

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:2, Informative)

    by Captain Spam ( 66120 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:52AM (#31009710) Homepage

    $10, actually, and given the structure of Loathing, it's entirely possible to get those items via in-game currency anyway. Not in the "save up for ages to intentionally screw you over" sense, but in the "plausible, though still hard work" sense.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:55AM (#31009756)

    The thing that worries me about Steam and many of these other schemes is what I prefer to call the "Circuit City factor." That is to say, I am very reluctant to purchase a game that will disappear from my library the second the publisher either goes out of business or shuts down their servers. That's why I've gotten more into console games in recent years. At least most of those are still "Pop in and play," whereas it seems more and more PC games have moved to the "Verify that it's okay with some distant server, THEN you can play" model. I want a library that I actually own, not one that I'm just renting until the company decides it doesn't feel like running their authentication server anymore.

    And BTW, my Circuit City analogy actually predates them going out of business as a company. It goes back to their ill-fated (thank god) Divx scheme [wikipedia.org]. All these people bought those Divx discs thinking they would be able to watch them anytime (some even made their discs "silver," so they "owned" them)--only to find out later than Circuit City had shut the service down and turned every single Divx disc into a coaster.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:42AM (#31010374)

    Maybe if the solution is already written ...

    Every DRM story has a steam thread. Every steam thread has an unlock post. Every unlock post has your response here. Yes. The unlock is already written.

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:48AM (#31010464)
    I view Steam as more of a service. It is not pure DRM, they give you something of value to you in return. You can download and play your games on any machine you like, all you have to do is remember your username and password. So you let them manage all your games and they make it convenient. It is a decent trade, where as regular DRM treats you like a criminal, makes it really inconvenient, and gives you nothing of value to you for your trouble. No wonder regular DRM is stripped from games.
  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:3, Informative)

    by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:12PM (#31010840)

    Steam doesn't require you to be online. You can play all your games when in offline mode.

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:4, Informative)

    by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:17PM (#31010952) Journal

    i recall a big name pc gaming mag suggesting people get a crack for elder scrolls: oblivion, as it would improve the performance of the game by as much as 30%.

    i think that was something of a watershed moment for DRM in games...

  • by Skweetis ( 46377 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:58PM (#31011626) Homepage

    Yes, you get a downloaded installer. It doesn't phone home or need anything from the site to do the install, so you can reinstall the game as many times as you want, even if GOG goes out of business. Their license even allows multiple installs.

    I don't have net access at home, as I live too far out of the way for municipal services. I used to purchase my games in the store, then after getting burned a few times by single-player games that required a net connection to validate the CD key on install, and not being able to return them, I stopped buying. Later, I discovered GOG, and now my gaming dollar goes there (and it goes a long way, too). I go to the library, buy a game or three, download them to my flash drive, and they just work. The latest patch is already installed, no stepping through the executable with a debugger and fixing it with a hex editor so it doesn't have to check the CD when it starts up, just install and play. Their new offering, Arcanum, is downloading as I type this.

  • It's pricing, stupid (Score:3, Informative)

    by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:19PM (#31011936)

    The proverbial "99c game" will be cracked because crackers crack. If it's 99c, it'll sell like mad, even if the game is horrible.
    When the game prices are good, whether on gogamer or a steam sale, I buy the game. No game is worth $60 to me. Torchlight is the perfect example, great game, right price. I bought it when the price was higher and wasn't even mad when it went down to $5 on sale. On the contrary, I told friends to go pick it up!
    Even games I've already purchased, I'll buy again if they're on steam and cheap. UT, Q4, CoH, etc. Just for the ease of installation factor.

!07/11 PDP a ni deppart m'I !pleH