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DRM Piracy The Internet Games

GOG: How an Indie Game Store Took On the Pirates and Won 397

An anonymous reader writes "As if we needed further proof that DRM really is more trouble for publishers and consumers than it's worth, Good Old Games, the DRM-free download store that specializes in retro games, has yet more damning evidence. In an interview this week, the store's managing director says that its first venture into day one releases earlier this year with Witcher 2 was a storming success — and the version that hit the torrent sites was a cracked DRM version bought from a shop. The very definition of irony."
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GOG: How an Indie Game Store Took On the Pirates and Won

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:22PM (#42108731)

    Releasing the source code under a free GPLv3 license would however be much more preferred.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:28PM (#42108805)
    Source code != assets.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:29PM (#42108827)

    Agreed! Why does someone think they have the right to own something just because they spent millions of dollars making it? Information wants to be free, man!

  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:29PM (#42108829)
    I disagree. While I am an open source advocate (and use it extensively). I do not see why everything "has" to be open source. Open source is a philosophy, DRM is pure idiocy disguised as philosophy!
  • Re:Simple Qs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alannon ( 54117 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:41PM (#42108975)

    Someone clarify for me - if a game doesn't have DRM, does that mean you can copy the folder to another HD, and the game will still work?

    Yes, or at least the installer can be copied and used without restrictions.

    Is password protection a weak form of DRM, or not DRM at all?

    Passwords are not DRM.

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:41PM (#42108981)

    DRM is not intended to stop piracy. It's intended to stop legal resales and gifting of products.

  • by slimak ( 593319 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:43PM (#42109003)

    I've seen this a few times lately and am curious why this belief is held. Maybe (probably) I'm missing something but I would think that source code would be an asset and potentially valuable in a few cases:

    1) A complex system that took significant time to develop. Something like MS Word. While it may not be your favorite it certainly is an assest and has a value. A word processor is easy to think of, but Word is difficult/time consuming to implement (I'm guessing).

    2) Software the implements a trade secret. Something like an auto stock trading system or the Google search results ranking algorithm. Again, you may hate these and they are of no value to you, but if your livelihood was on the line would you want to release the source?

    I completely agree that the source code to a generic sorting algorithm of your favorite memory copy routine has no value, but even and AC must see there are exceptions. Of course, I could just be stupid.

  • Re:Love GoG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dissy ( 172727 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:53PM (#42109119)

    As did I, and have quite a few older favorite titles from my younger years sitting in my GoG shelf.

    Another thing I love is how they repackage older games to support newer OS/hardware setups.
    I have a 10k text file of directions I wrote up to remind myself all the convoluted steps to install Planescape Torment from the original CDs to my Windows XP/7 systems, all the settings to change just to get it to run, not to mention bypassing the disc changing handlers.

    I recently repurchased the game from GoG, which consists of clicking download, double-clicking the setup, hitting next twice, and that is is. A start menu entry ready to run without having to mutz about with ini files or messing with the games directory structure.

    The extras are a nice touch too, as it's packaged with the hint guide and walkthrough. All for ten bucks. Well worth the money to me, despite already owning the original release of the game.

    I also purchased Fallout 1 and 2 after the original release, and at some point lost my original media.
    GoG was running a special at the time selling both games together for $6, which I also picked up.
    I could have easily torrented the games and felt little guilt, as I've already bought them both, but would have had to deal with the same installation issues and problems. Buying them this way was a no brainer.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:54PM (#42109123)

    DRM is not intended to stop piracy. It's intended to stop legal resales and gifting of products.

    Its also a FUD product for sellers of DRM software and licensors of DRM tech (patents etc).

    "If you don't pay us $250K for magicdrm(tm) then pirates will steal your stuff, so pay up, dweeb"

    The correct response is:

    "They'll steal it anyway, and we'll be out a quarter mil, and our legit customers will be angry"
    "grrr.... well on to the sales meeting with the next batch of suckers"

    The wrong/popular response is:

    "OK here's the money and I'll check this off on my performance review"
    "Thanks and heres some baseball season tickets"

  • by JMonty42 ( 1961510 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:58PM (#42109161)
    The article gives the example of Witcher 2. It says it's ironic that the most leaked version of the game was the DRM version. But is that really ironic? Witcher 2 sold 1.1 M copies for the PC in its first 7 months []. It only sold 40 k DRM-free copies through GOG, which would the crackers most likely find to crack?

    Besides, if there were no DRM for a big title like that, it stands to reason that there would be just as many if not more leaked copies available on torrent sites. What they really need to do to prove their case is get a publisher to release their AAA title on nothing but GOG, then they would be able to see the true effects of DRM-free games on piracy.
  • by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:58PM (#42109175)

    Assets in a game would be all the audio, textures, models, sprites, map/level data, possibly game engine scripts, etc.. All you're left with without assets is a game engine.

  • Re:Love GoG (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HaZardman27 ( 1521119 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @04:59PM (#42109179)
    When Blizzard and Activision die and somebody else buys the rights to the games? Blizzard loves their DRM and would never release their games on a platform that doesn't allow DRM.
  • Re:Ok so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zephyn ( 415698 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @05:00PM (#42109189)

    I see your point, but I would suggest it's not so much a 'took on the pirates and won' situation so much as it is a 'remove some of the incentive for piracy and discovered it worked' situation.

    DRM does provide some incentive for piracy when it reduces the usability for their legitimate customers. When a publisher is releasing software that installs a rootkit or has limited installations that counts down every time you perform a hardware change, finding a copy of the same software without all that crap on it becomes much more attractive.

  • by HaZardman27 ( 1521119 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @05:05PM (#42109245)

    the 15-25 year old crowd is a lost decade of potential customers

    Thanks for the blanket statement, but I'm 24 and pay for all of my media (games, music, books, movies, etc.), at least that which is not freely distributed by the creators. With only maybe one or two exceptions, all of my friends and associates do the same. Crappy people are crappy people; age makes no difference except that in previous generations, one had to be technically inclined to even know how to pirate media, whereas now it's common knowledge.

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @05:21PM (#42109429)
    That is besides the point. There are two points here:

    1) The DRM version was widely pirated despite the DRM, and, therefore DRM served nothing but to irritate the people who really bought the game and make some DRM company richier.

    2) The non-DRM version sold by GOG sold very well even without any DRM and being a year old game.

    The lesson here is: If you do something people judge worthy they will pay for it, at least enough of them to make the endeavor profitable. And no, it doesn't really matter how much you could make if the whole humankind decided to pay you for it, and you are not entitled to become a billionary just because you created something.
  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @05:22PM (#42109441)

    And the perfect example of what happens when you open source your code. Doom gets opened source, enthusiasts modify it for things they want out of it: higher resolution, hardware rendering, better input controls, native ports, etc.

    New people are attracted to these new features who never played the original and, would you look at that? They're buying a decades old game for the asset files to run against new code. Long-tail sales at $20 a pop at the id Store. Minus merchant fees and some minor distribution costs, the rest is pure profit by now.

  • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @05:37PM (#42109655)
    Tangentially, this explains why sites like GOG succeed, and why I'm happy to patronize them. They treat customers fairly and charge fair prices. Would I pirate a game that GOG sells? Not a chance. I'll buy it from them without thinking twice.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @05:44PM (#42109761) Journal

    It a mostly wrong headed attempt to solve a serious problem, which is that a huge number of users aren't paying for your product, and could be setting themselves up for a lifetime of going to thepiratebay rather than the local retail shop.

    The real problem is that this mischaracterisation is so ingrained that you can be modded up for saying it even on Slashdot where people should know better.

    Users not paying for your product is not the problem. Or, rather, the fact that they are using it is not the problem. The goal is to maximise profit, which means making sure as many people who might pay for your product actually do. A person who pirates it but would never have bought it is not a problem. A person who might have bought it but doesn't is, whether they pirate it or not. A person who doesn't buy your game because you've priced it too high or because they don't like the distribution system is a problem, but one that's relatively easy to fix.

    The problem is an industry that is devoting its attention to eliminating piracy, not to maximising sales. They'd rather have 100 sales and 100 pirates than 10,000 sales and 100,000 pirates. Yes, pirates suck, but it's a stupid business model to chase them at the expense of your customers.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @07:24PM (#42110831) Homepage Journal

    Well then, don't get upset when the other end doesn't think your price is worth the value and finds other ways to get it.

    Hmm, there's a word for people like that...

    Oh yea - it's thief. Filthy, worthless, scum-of-the earth thief.

    Word of advice, thief - if you think it has enough value to be worth stealing, it has enough value for you to fucking pay for it.

  • by ghostdoc ( 1235612 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @08:45PM (#42111609)

    hmmm, I think you're jumping to conclusions here. The AC didn't say 'steal', they said 'find other ways to get it'.

    Let's say you produce an action game. It's based on the principles of lots of other action games. You decide that ten years of your life is worth $1000 per copy, so sell it at that.
    A lot of people really like your game, but $1000 per game is too expensive for them to buy it. So a few of them get together and make a copy of your game. It's got the same gameplay elements that they liked in your game, but uses different art and a new engine. They sell this version of the game for $10.
    People will probably buy their version rather than your version. The price for the product you spent all that time building is now $10, not $1000.

    My point is that markets set prices, not producers. And markets need competition in order to function. If you're in a monopolistic position by being the only producer of something, then the market will find a way to introduce competition. Piracy is the way the games market is introducing competition.
    Eliminating piracy is a matter of providing multiple methods of obtaining your product at multiple price points, not attempting to break the market by creating a monopoly through DRM.

    So while a pirate may be a thief, that may be the more moral position than being a monopolist.

  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @09:36PM (#42112129)
    Since copying digital media is trivial, it's significantly different than copying, say, designs for a building. You know what else civilization requires? An economic model. There's a reason communism doesn't work - it has a crappy economic model. Copyright is the working model for digital media that allows creators to get paid for their work. Your philosophy ignores the fact that people must work to create digital products, and large amounts of work typically don't get done unless there's an economic incentive to do so. (Even your open-source Linux is done mostly by for-profit companies who see it as selfishly useful to modify the source. That model doesn't work for games since companies have zero incentive to spend a bunch of money modifying/creating games.) Basically, you've got a hippy mentality about how the world works and you could use a big lesson on economics.
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday November 27, 2012 @11:17PM (#42112959)
    I don't lose anything if you print USD to burn in your furnace. But when you buy something with them, you are committing fraud. That fraud (giving someone worthelss paper in exchange for something else) is the crime, and the laws against counterfeiting assume that to be the reason you are printing (much like the laws against drug dealing assume some amount triggers different rules).

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker