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DRM Piracy Games

Valve's Gabe Newell On Piracy: It's Not a Pricing Problem 466

New submitter silentbrad writes with a followup to our discussion this morning about Ubisoft's claims of overwhelming game piracy. An article at IGN quotes a different point of view from Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve: "In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24 x 7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty." The quote was taken from an interview at The Cambridge Student Online, in which Newell speaks to a few other subjects, such as creating games for multiple platforms and e-sports.
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Valve's Gabe Newell On Piracy: It's Not a Pricing Problem

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  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @07:47PM (#38170818)

    It has the region locks only because certain publishers insist on it. Valve doesn't use it on any of their own games.

    The Euro issue I don't know about. Try emailing Gabe about it.

  • by CmdrEdem ( 2229572 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @07:54PM (#38170874) Homepage
    here prices are sky right and population's consumption power is not first world, mainly because of taxes that double the game's cost for the consumer. Prices here are not as bad as Australian's as far as I know, but it's the major player into piracy decision making, besides the growing culture of "only dumb people pay for what you can get for free".
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:03PM (#38170984)

    You can (mostly) blame the supply chain for that one. In order to preserve their business model, distributors and retailers (both online and brick-and-mortar) demand things like region-locking and region-specific pricing to make sure that digital copies or physical copies from other regions are no more appealing than the ones they are distributing. Physical distribution would likely need to be cut completely out of the content delivery model for anything to change, and the chances of that happening in the current global market could be described as "a cold day in hell" for a large variety of reasons (broadband penetration, bandwidth caps, consumers who will not buy digital copies out of preference/principle, etc.).

    Beyond that, there are also laws in several countries that might require a customized version be sold to avoid breaking laws (Germany's violence laws come to mind). There's also the issue of using reduced price points in less affluent countries in order to boost number of units sold, which circles back around to the previous argument.

  • I can attest to this (Score:5, Informative)

    by cowdung ( 702933 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:25PM (#38171160)

    I live in Latin America and have the following options for movies/music/games:

    1. Get it on DVD from a pirate (approx cost $1) [ILLEGAL]
    2. Rent a pirate copy (approx cost $2) [still technically ILLEGAL]
    3. Buy it on iTunes (cost $1-$4).. but I can only do this because I've figure out how to get around regional limitations [psuedo-LEGAL]
    4. Buying on Netflix/Amazon is not an option [N/A]
    5. Going to threater (movies only).. sometimes, when/if it arrives at a timely basis (cost: $4-$5) [LEGAL]
    6. Buy the legal DVD (cost: $30-$100) [LEGAL]

    As you can see a great option is iTunes/Netflix/Amazon but the industry has systematically cut off those options from us. Also the legal DVDs are sold at much higher prices than in the US.

    So do you wonder why there is so much piracy around the world??

    There's no viable affordable legal option.

  • Re:Too true (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:26PM (#38171180)

    You have to create an account and log in if you want to save your game. Not because it saves your game 'in the cloud', but because it refuses to let you save if you aren't logged in.

    It's yet another layer of DRM, and is the reason why I doubt I'll ever buy another Rockstar game.

    Well, that and the fact that GTA4 is boring as fsck compared to Saints Row 2.

  • Re:Too true (Score:5, Informative)

    by RsG ( 809189 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:40PM (#38171256)

    Actually no, I'm gonna chime in here as another person who owns Arkham City and does not have a live account. Your statement is incorrect.

    What happens instead is, you get prompted to log into GFWL, and can click "cancel" to just work offline. Save game still works, no features lost. You can't do online scores, but who cares, really? Dunno if it'll require a login for DLC, but I rarely bother with that anyway. And, just to be clear on this point, I'm currently a quarter way through the game, have never made a live account (I dislike Microsoft), have saved plenty of times and am playing a non-pirated, bought off of steam version of the game.

    I don't know where you got your information, but it's either out of date, was never correct in the first place, or something got misunderstood along the way.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by D'Sphitz ( 699604 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @09:33PM (#38171630) Journal
    Why don't you explain why Valve should take it upon themselves to be the video game police and demand their competitors lower their prices and change their release strategies.
  • Re:Too true (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @10:00PM (#38171836)
    It was announced just last week [] that GOG is no longer focusing exclusively on old games.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Analog Kid ( 565327 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @10:03PM (#38171852)

    It has the region locks only because certain publishers insist on it. Valve doesn't use it on any of their own games.

    You mean like Valve did with The Orange Box? []

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by complete loony ( 663508 ) <> on Friday November 25, 2011 @10:14PM (#38171910)
    The biggest issue I have with that argument, is that prices listed in AU via steam *are still listed in USD*. We're not being told to pay AUD $92 for Skyrim. We've being told to pay USD $89.95 vs the price quoted for the US of $59.95.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @10:16PM (#38171918)

    For Star* and SecuROM, they do have relatively significant notices that "this game has additional DRM". Not a huge "DO NOT BUY THIS GAME UNLESS YOU LIKE DRM", but it's there next to whether it has multiplayer and what languages it supports. They don't seem to do this for GFWL, probably because they don't consider that DRM. It's annoying, no argument there, but I've played several GFWL games without making a Live account.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @10:29PM (#38172004)
    The publishers, by far. Steam is the biggest digital distribution outlet, but it still isn't so big (compared to retail) that publishers won't simply refuse to sell there.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:13PM (#38172236) Journal

    Duh, yes, there is. As annoying as they are, ToS, EULA, purchase agreements, etc go both ways. And the way Steam's is worded, along with applicable laws, means they would have to either make the game available for download without Steam DRM, or refund you the purchase price.

    False. Whoever modded you up clearly has never read the TOS, but you're wrong. (As far as the 'applicable laws' part, such laws would be rather pro-consumer, so I can only assume they don't apply here in the 'States)

    There's nothing in the Steam TOS about refunds (other than several mentions of things being NON refundable) for one-time game purchases (as opposed to subscriptions) if they cancel you. And if they do, whether or not they give you access to a stand-alone copy is at their option. There is nothing in the TOS that requires them to.

    C. Termination by Valve.

    1. In the case of a recurring payment Subscription (e.g., a monthly subscription), in the event that Valve terminates or cancels your Account or a particular Subscription for convenience, Valve may, but is not obligated to, provide a prorated refund of any prepaid Subscription fees paid to Valve.
    2. In the case of a one-time purchase of a product license (e.g., purchase of a single game) from Valve, Valve may choose to terminate or cancel your Subscription in its entirety or may terminate or cancel only a portion of the Subscription (e.g., access to the software via Steam) and Valve may, but is not obligated to, provide access (for a limited period of time) to the download of a stand-alone version of the software and content associated with such one-time purchase.

    So no, there's nothing there says that they HAVE to do anything. And that's why, regardless of the wicked sales and the growing temptation, I've still not bought anything off of Steam, and won't do so.

  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @03:38AM (#38173296)
    Yo Gabe, you dare come up with this bullshit in the same week in which your code monkeys forced a stealth patch onto skyrim's TESV.exe, disabling the large address aware patch? Seriously? I know it is fixed by now - not by your retard outfit, but by the community, but seriously? Give me one reason why I ever again should buy from your huckster business, just one. I used to like steam, but this week you made it abundantly clear that you are nothing but a shitstain.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.