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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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  • Legitimate Customers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:07AM (#31007444)

    What they should discuss is the negative impact on legitimate customers rather than on piracy...

    For one example, I legally own *two* copies of Red Alert 2 yet I have them both no-CD cracked. Why? Because I don't want to have to go find the CD each time I want to play and worse still the game even supports playing back Audio CD while you play but yet that requires you to juggle the RA2 and Audio CD constantly just to get the damn thing to work!

    The best thing to happen to DRM has been Steam. They have a fairly healthy level of DRM or at least the Valve games do... I hear Bioshock 2 has Steam + "Games for Windows" + SecureRom? What the heck? And an activation limit on Steam?! ... Well Steam *used* to be good for consumers before they started letting publishers do whatever the hell they want.

  • Ubisoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:10AM (#31007466) Journal
    I've bought a number of Ubisoft games over the years. That won't be true if their new releases start "featuring" a constant tether to the internet. Frankly, I'll stick with the CD checks (or Steam). Steam isn't my favorite, but at least it doesn't force a constant connection to the publisher's servers to play a game!
  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:16AM (#31007502) Homepage Journal

    Sadly I think this is going to lead to games which are free to play, but contain targeted in-game advertising down the road. I don't want to see how badly that warps the game designs we see as a result.

    another option could be to follow the 'sudden attack' method of payment. sudden attack is a Korean FPS which is free to play. Weapons, costume sand power-ups are available through an in-game store. You can either earn points in-game, or pay cash, and exchange those for certain items.
    This way, people with no money and lots of time can enjoy the game, they aren't completely locked out, but players who don't have hours and hours of free time to rack up points can just pay to get the goods.
    I think this, combined with advertising is likely to be the future of gaming.

    well, since companies are mostly made up of greedy ass holes, the future of gaming will probably be pay to buy the game, then pay to play the game online, then pay for the items to use in-game, AND have levels full of ads and product placements.

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:43AM (#31007634)

    I hope English wasn't your first language.

    Now the MMO world has it much better off, since you need a subscription to actually play the game at all.

    Why do they charge for the game itself AND the subscriptions? It feels like double dipping.

    Sadly I think this is going to lead to games which are free to play, but contain targeted in-game advertising down the road.

    Have you seen what advertising has done to print media? And that's for the stuff you PAY FOR. You can be sure than they won't be placated by product placement. They'll charge too, just as the newspapers and magazines do.

  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:44AM (#31007636) Homepage

    Steam was never good for customers. It was just less bad than various other solutions. Steam just makes up for some of it's customer limitations. But in the end you are still renting games that come with a remote kill switch.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:45AM (#31007644)

    That, and SACD. Still locked down.

  • Living here in Korea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:51AM (#31007968)

    Living in Korea, I see the sort of extreme example of piracy run rampant. Korean companies scarcely consider the idea of a game that isn't online because it would be universally pirated that very day. They'd never see a dime from it.

    I teach in a private academy where I see lots of kids with Nintendo DS's; I never see real games in them. They universally use this R4 chip that has all the games loaded on it. Because of this, Nintendo barely considers them a market. Meanwhile OS bootlegging is so prevalent, that people no longer even expect a legitimate OS with a new system. Microsoft even jacked the price up on Vista when they released it here to try to bleed some of the losses out of the few remaining customers.

    I don't support DRM or prosecuting old ladies, but I also think measures to prevent piracy must be taken in some capacity lest it irreparably warp the industry like it has here in Korea.

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:11AM (#31008060)

    "The target audience (teenagers) sees themselves as poor, or actually is poor, and is thus unwilling to pay for something they can get for free"

    Since the article mentions cliffski, the problem is cliff's games are competing against all AAA games of yesteryear, why should an indie developer expect large sales when the competition is so fierce?

    Why would I want to play space battles instead of darksiders which I can rent for $5 or less and finish then send back? Game developers forget that when we were kids we rented games and bought our favorites, if you want gamers to buy your games they have to be GOOD. I still have an old collection of SNES cartridges and all the games I bought were games worth buying, and we as kids would rent the rest... are most of todays games worth buying? Many kids who grew up to be game developers did the same thing, it would be wise if they would pay attention how they themselves acted when young (pirating/renting the crap and buying the best games)

    The great irony is many developers have the least sense of the business they are in and forget their own childhood.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:16AM (#31008086)

    No, they're not. Besides their existence pre-dating the term, checking for a physical 'key' is not the same as altering your machine to limit how many times you use/copy it. There is no 'rights management' going on here.

  • If it has no effect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xant ( 99438 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @07:39AM (#31008188) Homepage

    Then stop doing it. DRM has a development and/or licensing cost associated with it. If using is the same as not using it, then don't use it, and you'll save that money. It's very simple to do a value proposition when the value is zero.

  • by Corporate Drone ( 316880 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @09:54AM (#31009038)

    Harris bemoans the fact that, regardless what effort he puts into a game, someone will crack it. But, he's attempting to learn the wrong lesson.

    It isn't that people (/ consumers) are intrinsically fair.

    It isn't that crackers are acting out of some noble desire to rid the world of DRM.

    The lesson here is simple: DRM doesn't work. There's no real ROI on it, so don't put in on games and make it difficult or unplayable for your paying customers. Period.

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:1, Interesting)

    by kz45 ( 175825 ) <kz45@blob.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:01AM (#31009826)

    "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."

    "Troll" is a convenient word used for people you don't agree with. It's a way to instantly silence your opposition.

    I seriously doubt that the majority of people pirating games go out and buy it as an act of good will.

    You act as if game developers need to follow exactly what you say or you are just going to pirate it anyway. It just doesn't work this way.

    This sounds very similar to the arguments about music piracy made when Napster first came out. I remember things such as: "$20 is just too expensive for a CD". Now that there are many more options and you can get songs for 99 cents, there is more piracy than ever. Even look at apple store apps. They are 99 cents, and the good ones are still heavily pirated.

    Most people just don't want to spend their hard-earned money on something they know they can get for free. DRM and other copy protection schemes are just a natural reaction to this. Piracy was around long before DRM.

    The only companies that can stay profitable are the ones that can prevent piracy somehow (either a copy-protection scheme or running a service).

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:51AM (#31010508) Journal
    Using Steam is renting not buying.

    If Steam is only slightly cheaper than buying a game, using Steam is a more expensive way to rent your games.
  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brkello ( 642429 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:09PM (#31010796)
    Oh, so dramatic. I have been PC gaming for years and never had any of the issues you described (or any at all really). You make it seem like legitimately buying games is going to bring down your computer. It some tiny minority of cases, things can go wrong. For the majority of people, it won't.

    I'll give you credit for one thing. At least you buy the game. If you want to get the cracked version because of the DRM boogie man, than I think you should have every right to do so. So I commend you for actually supporting the developers.

    But on the other side, you ignore something that should be obvious. All the hackers/crackers out there are not your friend. They laugh their asses off as you install the cracked game and they take control of your box. I don't know why Slashdot mods posts up that encourage people to trust installing software from unknown people...but they always do. While you are at it, why don't you open every single attachment you get from strangers.
  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:42PM (#31013092)

    > With f2p MMOs, I - not the developer - get to choose IF, WHEN, and HOW MUCH I'm willing to spend on the game. If the game is good, I'll gladly pay to get better gear, charms, etc. If the game sucks, I quit and I'm out of $0.

    Haha, if only it was that simple. The reality is: the developer gets to put arbitrarily high paywalls in front of arbitrary things. If there's any PVP, those who play free exist to be an endless supply of weaker human prey for those who pay. And, over time, the goalposts shift around to keep the payers paying - and in turn, unless the developer rolls over old pay content into free, the free players fall further and further behind.

    In other words, you neglected a third and very real case: if the game starts out good, and later turns out to suck. Since you're in the class of player that is willing to pay a finite amount, you're exactly the class of player that loses out the most from this system. Particularly in an MMO; they're designed to dangle the promise of more-fun play tomorrow, to keep you playing through the less-fun parts today. (level/PVP grind is the worst version of this, but I'd consider long chains of kinda-hard and unrewarding quests to still qualify as 'less fun').

    Basically, the idea is to get you to buy a few items, and then you're caught in an economic game theory dilemma; when the rules change again, you must either buy more to break even, or quit and lose your earlier investment.

    Turn that around, and you may see appeal of a subscription model MMO (in theory, at least, even if you still disagree with the actual prices). With constant money/time flow and no additional purchasable content, you know *exactly* what you're getting into monetarily, and you know you're *exactly* equal with the rest of the player base. Your gameplay experience relative to the other players will be purely decided by some combination of time invested and player skill, as opposed to time and skill and real world money. If you fit into neither the 'rich-and-predatory' player archetype nor the 'dirt poor' player archetype, the economic issue nicely reduces to yes/no - either the monthly fee is worth it or it isn't.

    > Compare that to Aion where you PAY $50 for the retail game, then PAY $15 a month just to SEE IF YOU'LL LIKE IT. That, my friend, IS a rip-off.

    I'd suggest you stick to the MMOs that have free trial accounts. Make sure the 10-20 days of the trial period overlaps with a vacation or something. Afterwards you'll be better able to judge for yourself whether the price would be worth it. Personally, I agree that $50 is too high for the first month too. And note that for the established games, usually the retail box or online download slides down to around $30, sometimes less. You probably want to stick to the established ones anyway, since there'll be plentiful news available about the game's stability, the quality of the later content, and how likely the company will keep running the servers. And personally, I don't even bother with an MMO unless I already know a bunch of friends who are already in it (which helps for evaluating the game too, since I can head over to a friend's house to see the game, and if it has rough edges I'll hear the complaints).

  • Re:Unavoidable (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @06:38PM (#31016072)

    All the hackers/crackers out there are not your friend. They laugh their asses off as you install the cracked game and they take control of your box.

    Because we trust them more than greedy game distributors. Besides, they give you the stuff for free.

    Honestly. If you are careful about the stuff you download, then you have absolutely no reason to worry. I positively hate it when people like spread misinformation, nay lies about pirated software. I have been using pirated software for the almost a decade now. And I have maybe gotten a virus once. I can't recall when/if it happened, but I'll say it happened anyways just to err on the safe side. I'm ashamed to admit some of this was from P2P networks, which are relatively safe to use if you are reasonably smart about things.

    This doesn't, however, apply to the noobs. You know, the kind that go "OMG, i don't know how to open all these files. Can some1 post the install exe plz? Thankzing you in regards advance, Shairdihij Marjoobah - A Salami Rektoom. " The illegal downloading 'scene' is full of fakes and virus infested software. But please don't go insinuating that the legit release groups are posting trojans in their releases and what not. That's just utter bullshit.


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