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First Person Shooters (Games) Piracy Games

Garry's Mod Catches Pirates the Fun Way 365

UgLyPuNk writes "A few hours ago, Garry Newman – the creator of Garry's Mod – asked, quite innocently, whether anyone was unable to shade polygon normals. He received a few comments, mostly jokes, but a quick look at Google suggests that there are indeed a few people who are experiencing problems with their game. You can hear Newman's chuckling from here — not the normal response to a wide-spread bug report, but this is no normal bug. It seems that the developer has deliberately enabled an error in GMod, which will only affect people who have pirated the game."
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Garry's Mod Catches Pirates the Fun Way

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  • by AAWood ( 918613 ) <aawood&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:04AM (#35804722)
    If a pirate saw a "stop being a douche" message, their first reaction wouldn't be to go and buy the game, it would be to find an updated pirate version that got around that anti-piracy system. By using something that masquerades as an error, their first stop is much more likely to be to go to the forums to try and fix the "error"... thus outing themselves publically.
  • Re:Dummies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:11AM (#35804754)

    Without condoning or condemning piracy in any general or specific terms, cost is relative. $10 isn't a lot to most people, but if you don't have it it may as well be a million. Maybe you're only just making enough to pay the rent and get food on the table, maybe you're putting every spare penny into saving for something important or to clear debts, or maybe (and I suspect this probably accounts for the majority of piracy) you're too young to get your own income.

    Of course, the customary reply here is "if you can't get that much money, your time would be better spent making more". I dare say there are circumstantial counter-responses to that too.

  • by yeshuawatso ( 1774190 ) * on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:15AM (#35804772) Journal

    Well, I stand corrected. +1 informative

  • by ericvids ( 227598 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:06AM (#35804968)


    "Making the situation even sweeter, the number which appears in brackets after the error statement is in fact the gamer’s 64-bit steamid.

    Y’see, Steam keeps a list of which accounts have actually forked over the $9.99 for a legit copy of GMod – so it’s a simple matter of checking ids and turfing out the pirates."

    1. There's no way a legitimate customer will get banned. They don't ban you outright for reporting the error message, only when they have proven that you indeed did NOT buy it.

    2. There's probably a (very unlikely) chance for a legitimate customer to be affected with the error message due to an actual bug in the copy protection code, but in that case how is that different from the Michael Jackson game? At least with the error message, Valve can help you fix it (e.g., if their records show that you didn't pirate the game, Valve tech support can ask you to reinstall the game, etc.) No such reprieve for the MJ game -- if the copy protection triggered on a legitimate copy, well, it's definitely no fun anymore is it?

    The only hole now is that the steam ID is probably unencrypted, so malicious users can probably troll others by posting the error message on Steam tech support with their victim's steam ID. But since Valve has the balls to release this info, they probably already have some mechanism in place to prevent these trollers from doing so.

  • Re:Dummies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sparrow1492 ( 1962256 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:46AM (#35805148)
    4. "I think I should not have to pay for anything"

    I would argue that number 4 is still at the top of the stack for why people pirate.

  • by robthebloke ( 1308483 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @05:59AM (#35805424)
    But some people won't try to fix the error - and that's actually a much bigger problem.

    We tried something similar in one of our software products. If the software detected modifications to the binary, it would run, but some features would perform 'erratically', and periodically we'd slow the execution down to a crawl. We thought we were being clever until we started seeing a few reviews appearing that panned the software as slow / buggy / unreliable. If you add a scheme of this sorts, you're potentially sacrificing the reputation of your product, and of your company / development team. For every person stupid enough to seek support for a product they don't own, there are another 5 or 6 who aren't that dumb (and will forever remember your company as the one who makes buggy software)
  • Re:Dummies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @06:39AM (#35805576)

    I can understand pirating a $50 game because you want to stick it to the publisher or you want to try it out before shelling out, pirating something that costs $10 strikes me as a remarkably pointless gesture.

    What on earth makes you think it's a "gesture"? Come to that, what makes you think that pirating the $50 game is a "gesture" either? Stop assigning higher motives to things that are far more easily attributed to "getting stuff for free".

  • by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @07:45AM (#35805920)

    Because prospective legitimate customers will still read their comments and decide not to buy your software.

  • Re:Dummies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by emkyooess ( 1551693 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @08:00AM (#35806026)

    3: Right, friendly to the gamers? You mean Valve, the company whose DRM-DigitalStore is creating a monoculture in the industry that's already rearing its ugly head and limiting consumer choices? Look at all of those games out there (and not just the Valve 1st party ones) that are ONLY available by Steam/Steamworks.

    Any system where they can and do (even if it's only one person, that's one person too many) ban people (stealing their entire libraries from them) for a forum post is unacceptable.

    It's quite harmful to have all of that "power" concentrated at Valve.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @08:23AM (#35806210) Journal

    Everyone loves to jump to the conclusion that DRM in games is always going to break. I have only ever experienced this once.

    And now scale your experiences up. A DRM scheme that undergoes even basic testing will always work in the most common cases, but there will always be some set of people for whom it doesn't work correctly. These people now have the software that they've paid for exhibiting bugs because of the DRM.

    I have a sneaky suspicion that the biggest complaints about DRM come from people who know that the perfect DRM system with no bugs would also affect them in some way

    If, by some miracle, you find someone who can write a completely bug-free DRM system, don't waste their talents on writing DRM - they're well into the top 0.001% of all developers, so get them to work writing bug-free code in your real product. Any DRM scheme adds complexity, and those of us who write software know that anything that adds complexity is going to add bugs. Some of the bugs may be minor, some may affect only a single user, but a single legitimate customer having a negative experience caused by code that has no benefit to any legitimate customers is something that I find unacceptable. This is why I don't allow DRM to be included with anything that I create.

  • There were plenty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @08:27AM (#35806248) Journal

    There were plenty of games which tried to do something sneakily wrong to gameplay if they think you're a pirate.

    The problem is that, basically, invariably there's the assumption that such a piece of code is 100% proven and bug-free itself. You know, unlike the rest of the program and unlike other shitty pieces of DRM.

    A prime example of what I'm talking about was IIRC Gangsters by Eidos in the '90s. Among other things it would take as a clue that it must be a pirated copy running in an emulator -- until a later patch fixed it -- was if your CD is any other drive letter than D:. Because God knows that no honest customer ever would have more than one HDD or partition or have a RAM-disk or two CD drives or anything, you know?

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen