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Games Your Rights Online

Tensions Rise Between Gamers and Game Companies Over DRM 447

Tootech recommends an article at the Technology Review about the intensifying struggle between gamers and publishers over intrusive DRM methods, a topic brought once more to the forefront by Ubisoft's decision not to use their controversial always-connected DRM for upcoming RTS RUSE, opting instead for Steamworks. Quoting: "Ultimately, Schober says, companies are moving toward a model where hackers wouldn't just have to break through protections on a game, they'd also have to crack company servers. The unfortunate consequence, he says, is that it's getting more difficult for legitimate gamers to use and keep the products they buy. But there are alternatives to DRM in the works as well. The IEEE Standards Association, which develops industry standards for a variety of technologies, is working to define 'digital personal property.' The goal, says Paul Sweazey, who heads the organization's working group, is to restore some of the qualities of physical property — making it possible to lend or resell digital property. Sweazey stresses that the group just started meeting, but he explains that the idea is to sell games and other pieces of software in two parts — an encrypted file and a 'play key' that allows it to be used. The play key could be stored in an online bank run by any organization, and could be accessed through a URL. To share the product, the player would simply share the URL."
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Tensions Rise Between Gamers and Game Companies Over DRM

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  • by KahabutDieDrake ( 1515139 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:52PM (#33336706)
    They have talked about this new DRM system before. Basically they think they can sell it to the game publishers on the basis that "only one person can play it at a time". Similar to the way steam works. IE: I can give my steam account to anyone, but only one of us can use it at any given time. I think that most of the publishers will stick with more traditional DRM, and continue moving away from PC games as a whole (since the console market is somewhat more secure). In any case, to answer your question. Yes.
  • by Superdarion ( 1286310 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @10:59PM (#33336736)

    I bought a copy of Neverwinter Nights when it came out and... well, they actually did with the game the very same thing the article is suggesting.

    You have your CDs with your serial, which you use to install as many times as you want, and Bioware actually allows you to store that Serial in their servers, protected by a password.

    Do you feel like sharing youre game? Just lend your CD key to someone, which could just mean to lend them the password for your account with bioware. Also, if you lose the damn booklet in which it came printed, or if you're just not at home, you can always retrieve your serial from their servers, provided you remember the password.

    Now THAT's what I call value.

    On an unrelated topic, they also ported their game to linux after a while. You didn't even have to buy it again! Just download the installation package for linux (yes, download, for free, from their servers), use your windows serial and you're all set. Suffice it to say it worked like a charm.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:19PM (#33336860)

    Uhmm no offense but they only 'ported it to linux' due to the fact that they'd lied about linux support right up until 2 weeks before release, promised it would be out by the end of the month, then kowtowed for 6 months while really putting it out while all those people who bought it release day on the promise of linux support VERY SOON started to discuss class action lawsuits against them for false marketing.

    But that could just be me. And you'll also note Bioware has not had a single game *SINCE* that supported linux, even though a number of other games used derivatives of the engine.

    - A Former Bioware fan.

  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:37PM (#33336952)

    It's not a replacement for a brick and mortar store. At the store I can get a refund or at least credit towards a different game; steam? Tough shit because you're obviously a pirate or cheap stake that has already finished the game if you're asking such a thing.

    When I asked for a refund because the game I bought that day was crashing on startup they re-directed me to this [].

    I bought a game with my credit card through Steam and either don't like it or don't want it anymore. Can I get a refund?

    The fuck? Don't want it anymore... don't like it? It's a defective product and steam has a ton of third party developers that release poorly programmed games.

    Steam is setup as a win win situation for publishers. Once they've got your money you're screwed because there is no incentive for a publisher to release a game that works. The only thing they care about is spending enough money on advertising to THINK you're getting a good game.

  • Re:No DRM for me (Score:5, Informative)

    by Drgnkght ( 449916 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:44PM (#33336978)
    Here is a brief snippet from the [] site regarding downloads:

    3. Can I backup games downloaded from Yes you can, and as a matter of fact we strongly recommend you do so - backing up your stuff is a very good habit, you know? Because our games are DRM-free, as soon as you download the setup file, you can back it up on a DVD or your external hard drive without hassle. Plus, as our installers are wrapped in nice exe files, you can save them in one folder and create a nice local backup of your games library! And if you forgot to backup your purchased games, fear not. You can always re-download them from our website for free - see below for more info. Sure, downloading will take a little bit longer than launching an installer from your backup disc, but that's no big deal.

    4. Can I re-download my purchased games? Is there a limit to the number of re-downloads? You can always re-download games bought at via the "My account" page. Also, there is no limit to the number of re-downloads, but please remember that you're not allowed to share your account with other users as only you are entitled to download games from your account.

    Also if you have more than one computer they don't have a problem with that either:

    9. Can I install one game both on my laptop and desktop PC at home? Yes. We are not limiting the number of installations or re-installations as long as you are installing your purchased game on PCs in your household. So yeah, if you've got a render-farm in the basement, you might actually break the world record for the number of legal Fallout installations in one household. However, if you think about installing your game on a friend's PC or sharing it with others then please don't do it, okay?

  • by genner ( 694963 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:47PM (#33336992)

    It's not a replacement for a brick and mortar store. At the store I can get a refund or at least credit towards a different game; steam? .

    Which store is this? I'm not aware of any store that will give refunds or store credit for a PC game unless it's still shrink wrapped.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @11:49PM (#33337004) Journal

    Already, the big names treat the PC platform like crap. Might as well just show them the door, let them have the uber locked down console market, and let Blizzard, ID, and indies with something original to write take over.

    Blizzard? I'm not sure they really deserve that anymore. Yes, they create good games still but think of some of the recent annoyances.

    no LAN play for SC2... SC2 is linked to one and only one account ever (effectively getting rid of resale and eliminating multiple people being able to play online via one copy of the game)... bnetd. etc

  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:41AM (#33337256)

    And as I've said before, I don't think PC gaming will ever have a chance to die. The line between consoles + TVs and PCs + monitors is very fuzzy even today (the XBOX and XBOX360 are already basically x86 PCs running Windows 2000), and in five or ten years it will disappear completely.

    Well, other than the fact the XBox 360 is PowerPC and not x86, I agree with you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:59AM (#33337644)

    It still requires internet access. That little fact makes this new DRM scheme equally draconian. I swear, these new "product managers" who have never touched a game in their lives are ruining PC gaming.

    They need to give the whole product to the buyer just like they did during the 90s and early 2000s.

    It's pretty easy in my case. I know I will never purchase something with online DRM. If I see a game I like, I always check for DRM:

    Online DRM = pirate
    No online DRM (i.e. DRM-free, or a simple DVD check) = buy

    If all publishers decide to go with online DRM, I'll pirate everything. If they come to their senses and decide to release DRM-free games or use DVD-based copy protection, I'll buy everything just like I used to before this whole DRM shitfest began.

  • by x_IamSpartacus_x ( 1232932 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:44AM (#33337834)
    Wow... thanks for posting that. I had no idea that region locking existed in SC2 before you posted that. I live in Mozambique, Africa as a missionary and wanted to buy it and play with my 3 brothers who live in the States. Looks like I won't be wasting my money on THAT.
  • by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:46AM (#33337848) Journal

    What's worse is that they're not even providing all languages in all regions. Living in South Korea, yet not being fluent in Korea means I can choose a low-ping version I don't really understand, or a high ping version I understand. Multiple e-mails to blizzard resulted in a round around and a suggestion I just buy a copy so that I can contribute to some suggestion thread to recommend they smarten the hell up. No. Fuck you Blizzard.
    You have completely and utterly gone to shit and should be embarrassed of what you've become.

  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:02AM (#33337924)

    Great idea brain genius, then you lose your entire account. It's in the ToS READ IT.

  • by EvilMonkeySlayer ( 826044 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:03AM (#33337930) Journal

    The big names have treated the single player PC gamer rather well of late: Bioshock, Dragon Age, Fallout, Mass Effect, etc

    Bioshock, console port. Fallout 3, console port. Dragon Age, console port. (Dragon Age is probably the only one that is on an equal footing, all the others are after thoughts) Mass Effect, console port, etc.

  • Re:No DRM for me (Score:4, Informative)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:50AM (#33338098) Homepage Journal

    Direct2Drive takes forever to get games patched with the rest of the community.

    STALKER comes to mind. For over a year I was stuck with 1.0005 thanks to D2D refusing to get off their asses and demand a patch for digital distribution customers so they could be patched with the rest of the world at 1.0006 (which was OFFICIAL and yet D2D said it wasn't an official patch at all.) Steam had 1.0006. D2D didn't.

    I got my $15 refunded and bought the physical disc for $9.99. Patched to 1.0006 and haven't looked at D2D since.

  • Re:One opinion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:12AM (#33338188)

    Believe it or not there are people in this world that still use physical mediums to transfer data. It's possible to actually buy a disc that has a game (or games) on it, install them from the disc, and them play them all without permission from an outside source.

  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @04:41AM (#33338316)

    In countries where there are real consumer protection laws (pretty much all developed countries but the US), if you buy a game in a store and it doesn't work in your machine, you can easilly go back and get a refund (in the UK the magic words are "Not fit for purpose" and "Trading standards").

    However, it's almost impossible to have your consumer rights respected by an online trader, especially one not based in the same country as you are.

    This is why I don't buy games online anymore (unless we're talking about stupendously cheap stuff like those from GoG).

    Steam is even worse in this respect since in effect your ability to play the games you buy is tied to their good will (if they "loose" your account with all your games in it, what can you do?)

    If what happened to GP had happened to me, I would have gone back to the store and gotten a refund, only loosing a bit of time but not being $40 out of pocket.

  • Re:One opinion (Score:3, Informative)

    by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:16AM (#33338476)

    They don't guarantee it in the legal sense, but Gabe Newell did state in a forum post that they can patch steam to disable the authentication requirement, which would allow everyone to copy and play their purchased games.

    Honestly though, it's going to be a cold day in hell when Steam dies an unexpected death. In the digital delivery world, compared to the rest of the computing industry, Steam is so damn big they'd name their testicles Microsoft and Google.

  • by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @05:30AM (#33338532)

    Yeah and I seriously disagree with Dragon Age being a console port. I've played both PC and PS3 versions, and the PC version is head and shoulders the better platform. The console versions lack some features (the "tactical camera", "move here" orders, and orders to multiple party members in a single pause), and the PC version has nothing holding it back. The console ports are still playable, they're just more frustrating because of the imperfect interface.

    OTOH, Fallout 3 might not be a port, but a couple small things sort of give it the feel of having mild consolitis. Still a fun game though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @06:04AM (#33338652)
    No I didn't, sorry. I don't have SC2. Anyway, not all routers do NAT loopback (some routers call it NAT redirection). However, after I wrote that post, I discovered that SC2's mode has mandatory proxy servers forwarding all traffic between players (to eliminate NAT issues). I can't believe how idiotic this is -- it actually DOES preclude non-emulated LAN play -- and I would be super angry if I was a SC fan. I'm sorry for the bad info I spread earlier. Blizzard officially sucks.
  • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:03AM (#33338886) Homepage

    Advocates look at Steam, and see the Digital Distribution, community features, automatic updates, and synchronized saves.

    Don't forget, detractors also look at the automatic updates bit. Valve has seriously broken their games plenty of times -- in the old days, people would've reverted the patch and got on with things. Now they're forced to wait days or weeks for a fix.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:52AM (#33339120)

    Same can be said about Mass Effect the origanl is much better on pc, and the second was develpoed for both at the same time to reduce differances/problems. The dual devlopment was also applied to Dragon Age.

    I would also like to note both of them were made by Bioware who was a PC devloper who then started making their games for consoles after their rise in popularity.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:02AM (#33339188) Homepage Journal

    You're forgetting the worst thing Blizzard is currently doing. Region locking. Someone with a US copy of SC2 simply cannot play with a friend in Europe as each copy is region locked to one online server. It's destroying the international pro-gaming scene which is what Starcraft is meant to be all about.

    The reason they do this region locking isn't to prevent piracy either. It's so they can charge a different price in different regions. Maximising short term profits at the expense of pro-players support.

    Unfortunately, it's nothing new, and nothing unique to Blizzard. Back in '99, I moved from one continent to another, and brought with me my copy of Baldur's Gate. When I bought the "Tales of the Sword Coast", it would not work on my copy, because it was region locked. I had to go to napster to find an illegal copy of it. Bioware support refused to replace either of my copies -- they wanted me to re-buy the software because I had moved.
    That's the true face of region locking.

  • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:25AM (#33339358) Journal

    Consoles are different story of course. They last much much longer relatively speaking before they are cracked.

    The console or the games?
    Games for Xbox360 are cracked same day they are released (some times before, depending on retailers)

Loose bits sink chips.