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Controversial StarForce Copy Protection Creators Quizzed

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the force-not-with-you? dept.

952

Thanks to FiringSquad for its interview with the creators of the StarForce copy protection scheme for PC videogames. The author explains: "In recent months there's been an increasing awareness and alarm over StarForce copy protection. It's actually a driver that installs itself with the [Windows] games that come shipped with it, and originally it didn't uninstall when the game was uninstalled." StarForce's Abbie Sommer argues the advantages of "driver-level copy protection", explaining: "The drivers are what prevents the use of kernel debugger utilities such as SoftICE, Cool Debugger, Soft Snoop etc. Also the drivers prevent emulators from spoofing a drive, and thwart burning tools such as Alcohol 120%." The author concludes by injecting a little personal opinion into the mix, arguing: "PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

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FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010200)

Firstage postage

Throw the Jew Down The Well (-1, Troll)

Enlarge Your Penis (781779) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010206)

In my country there is problem,
And that problem is transport.
It take very very long,
Because Kazakhstan is big.

Throw transport down the well
So my country can be free
We must make travel easy
Then well have a big party

In my country there is problem
And that problem is the Jew
They take everybody money
And they never give it back

Throw the jew down the well
So my country can be free
You must grab him by his horns
Then we have a big party

If you see the Jew coming
You must be carefull of his teeth
You must grab him by his money
And I tell you what to do

In my country there is problem
And that problem is the Jew
They take everybody money
And they never give it back

In my country there is problem
And that problem is the Jew
They take everybody money
And they never give it back

And punish legitimate users? (5, Insightful)

Devar (312672) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010209)

Thanks for nothing! If I want to use these tools then I shouldn't have to put up with this kind of crap from software companies. It's almost like them installing a virus. They wouldn't like it if I installed software on their machines that denied access to certain things, would they.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (5, Interesting)

Stripe7 (571267) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010263)

That is really a pain. I image all my game CD's and use daemon tools to mount them. I play upto 4 different games a night. Currently playing Fallout Tactics, Rise of Nations, NWN and Shattered Galaxy. I hate having to switch CD's. This driver will make it so even games that are not protected by it cannot no longer be mounted virtually. If I have to reformat my HD to get rid of it if I install a game that has it, I am going to have a serious talk to the game company using it if it costs me 3-8 hours to wipe my HD and reinstall all my games and utilites from scratch. I used to bill my time at US$200/hour. I should send a bill to the gaming company for putting a virus on my system that just cost me a day's work.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (4, Insightful)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010316)

I used to bill my time at US$200/hour. I should send a bill to the gaming company for putting a virus on my system that just cost me a day's work.

Yeah! Cos we all know how well that worked for stopping junk faxes/email/whatever!!

Re:And punish legitimate users? (1)

SmasKenS (104811) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010267)

Or installed software on other peoples computers (alongside some program/game/whatever) that denied access to their game. (For whatever reason.)

Re:And punish legitimate users? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010301)

They are virus when you spread the program around freely using a P2P program.

SHaaaa...roight. I wonder when Norton will add games to the their next definition updates?

Re:And punish legitimate users? (0, Flamebait)

Jacer (574383) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010311)

Such bullshit. If you don't agree with what they're doing simply don't buy their product. They own it, and can do whatever they wish. I'm sick of all you people preaching that if you buy it, it's yours and you should get to do what you want. The same holds true for the creators, it's theirs, and they can do whatever the want. End of story.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010328)

I agree. In fact, if you buy new wheels at Discount Tire, they have the right to use keyed lugnuts on them. That way, only THEY can remove the wheels thus forcing you to use their service.

ok...so it's a shitty analogy. But I'm trying to convey the same level of frustration of someone making changes or modifications to your shit long after you purchase a product. I bought a game, I didn't buy an "unknown" and "undocumented" program that would fuck with my other applications!!!

Re:And punish legitimate users? (2, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010383)

Oh, geez... You guys are just throwing analogies around, and that's about as productive as debating by producing contradicting scriptural quotes.

The grandparent poster was correct: copyright law in the US (which brings contract law to bear) permits the copyright owner a hell of a lot of leeway in making demands on the user--there are limits, but they're waaaay out there. If Bill Gates wanted, he could include a clause in the Windows XP EULA that requires all users to twirl in a circle three times on the request of any MS employee. That's because it's a license agreement: as your end of a contract, you agree to accept MS's conditions, while they fulfill their end of the contract by allowing you to use their software.

The lug net analogy is attractive, but it doesn't fly too far because you're talking about buying the car/tires/lug nets, not licensing them. They could, conceivably, license the car to you (instead of selling it) with a condition of the license being that you don't use any mechanics besides the dealer's.

Holy shit... that actually happens! It's called a "lease", and millions of people in the US agree to them every year! We gotta warn those poor bastards!

Re:And punish legitimate users? (1)

-Maurice66- (728513) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010438)

Holy shit... that actually happens! It's called a "lease", and millions of people in the US agree to them every year! We gotta warn those poor bastards!

eh... please do not. Those leasing nuts enable the carindustry to innovate (not!)

and: at the end of the lease the car goes back to the company... which sells it!

Re:And punish legitimate users? MOD UP!!! (0, Troll)

hashts (583541) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010330)

Seriously all I hear is bitchin and moaning. If you don't like the product then STFU already.

The game companies are in a tough situation, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (5, Insightful)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010346)

Do all copy-protected games have a warning on the box so you can easily avoid them? No? Then how can I "simply [not] buy their product"?I'll gladly not buy their product, if I can avoid it.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (4, Insightful)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010347)

If you don't agree with what they're doing simply don't buy their product.

And then watch the game publishers claim their sales go down due to piracy, bringing about even more safeguards and laws to prevent it. If this rat race keeps up, pretty soon the costs for producing music, movies and games will be a tax that everyone has to pay because everyone has to keep consuming new stuff to make the system work...

The "voting with your wallet" method is being circumvented by lobbying.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (1)

Jacer (574383) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010360)

You raise a good point. Do you intend on voting in November, or at any other elections? Given statistics, I'd wager you don't plan to, or plan to and don't make it. It's a safer bet than the alternative.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010427)

I have voted in all elections I have been eligible for, except one in my youth. This includes the latest election for the European parliament, but sadly, I wasn't eligible to vote in Dade County a few years ago. I think that's the only time and place where my vote actually would have counted (had it been counted). :-/

But statistically, your bet is right on the money.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010386)

I only speak for myself. But a buddy at work burned me the three CD set of Doom3 with the crack. He downloaded it from a torrent. With greed, I took the CDs. But...after I had some personal time to myself on break, I decided not to keep them.

Yes folks, I have morals and ethics..

So anyways, I gave him back the CDs. After knowning all the heart and soul (not to mention blood sweat and tears from nonstop coding)Carmack and gang put into project, I had no other choice. After work, I bought a copy simply because Carmack has EARNED himself the sale of another copy.

I vote with my wallet. And ID Soft gets my vote yet again.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (5, Insightful)

halowolf (692775) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010379)

The only problem that I have with copy protection schemes at the moment is that I have to put CD's into my DVD/CD drive to play the games that I purchase. I find it very annoying. Having 2 drives, one burner and one DVD/CD drive aleviates this problem somewhat, but still its annoying.

I look after my disks so I don't need to make backups of them. Some of the people complaining about how this software disables their burning applications and such, should probably read the end of the article where it states that those types of applications are only disabled when the game is being played [firingsquad.com] .

Personally I buy all my games, whether I have the ability to copy them or not, because I want to reward those publishes that make good games. The reason because "we" the consumers are being treated as criminals, is because some of the "we" are acting like criminals, so the fact that I have to put up with these ridiculous methods is because of those that are pirating this software. As ineffective as it is, I cant find fault with PC games publishers wanting to do something to protect their investments.

However publishers and consumers alike should both get off of their soap boxes and do something constructive about the problem instead of both sides making ridiculous arguments and counterclaims.

Re:And punish legitimate users? (1)

Renegrade (698801) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010409)

> I look after my disks so I don't need to make backups of them

There's been evidence that CD-ROMs, including pressed-at-the-factory variety, can become unglued over time, causing data loss, regardless of how well looked-after they are. You may want to back up your more expensive titles you own.

Useless... (2, Insightful)

Blue Eagle 26 (683113) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010218)

I wont buy anygame with this crap. And besides, the crack is already out there somewhere by now.

Good (4, Insightful)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010227)

I hope the big publishers all get run off of the computer game industry, and all the people who like "gaming" instead of computer games go with them.

Then those of us who prefer good games to good graphics will have computer games to ourselves again.

Bring back the games on floppies in little plastic bags!

Keep treating me like a criminal .. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010229)

and you can be sure that I'll start to behave like one.

Re:Keep treating me like a criminal .. (1)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010278)

Every industry treats people like criminals unless your well to known to them - retail, business. Its nothing new

Re:Keep treating me like a criminal .. (1, Insightful)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010339)

People so easily turned into criminals *should* be watched carefully.

We're all sheep (2, Insightful)

Dayze!Confused (717774) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010238)

It's interesting that with all the crap that keeps happening with how our rights are taken away and companies like this are installing things onto our computers to prevent us from using tools that we should be able to use that so many people just take it. Too many people are not passionate enough about things like this that it allows these companies to continue to do these things.

missed something (5, Insightful)

prockcore (543967) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010239)

The guy is missing something. They're trying so hard to beat softice.. but they forget that pros don't need to use breakpoints, thus they don't need to actually run the app to disassemble it.

http://hte.sf.net would work just peachy.

Re:missed something (4, Informative)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010351)

They missed nothing.

Read the StarForce webpage. Their goal isn't to stop determined experts, since that's impossible to do when the code runs on the adversary's computer. Their goals are to stop "industrial software piracy" (read: businesses buying one CD for all the computers in the office) and "casual copying" (read: Joe Teenager giving a copy to his friend Fred Teenager).

If these people are thwarted then their mission is accomplished.

Re:missed something (2, Insightful)

eofpi (743493) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010422)

Their goal breaks down when someone with the skills of the pros posts an .iso somewhere.

Re:missed something (2, Insightful)

Marimus (5470) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010426)

Haha, like Joe Teenager and friends know how to use softice, let alone your average business user.

No matter what their goal, the end result is that legit customers are inconvenienced and the product is still available in your favourite binaries group for download.

Pointless (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010240)

1)Physical access to a machine, means the person has "root" access or will have it very shortly. Defeating a driver installed with a game shouldn't take too much effort.

2)If a game is truely worth playing, then it is worth paying for. Like today's music, most of today's games aren't worth paying for.

Re:Pointless (1)

j-kjaer (322300) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010288)

3 words:
You are right! ;-)

Re:Pointless (1)

ExKoopaTroopa (671002) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010443)

point 2 : I totaly agree, a good game that can give you endless hours of amusement is worth the money (eg compared to the price of a DVD which only gives you 2 hours)

Right. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010241)

"if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

Yeah, I've been hearing that since my Amiga gaming days, back when I had to travel to the capital city just to find a place that sold legitimate game copies, back when piracy was as just a blank floppy away. Look how much the number and quality has shrunk in the gaming market since then...

Re:Right. (4, Insightful)

Oddly_Drac (625066) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010365)

"I've been hearing that since my Amiga gaming days,"

I've been hearing it since my ZX Spectrum days, so that means ooohhhh twenty-four years?

I wonder whether they pass this on in a gilt envelope marked with 'the piracy excuse'.

One thing that I have noticed is that the PC Games Market is shrinking with relation to the console market. Do you think anyone's realised that you have a finite number of games that can be sold, and people rarely buy for more then one platform?

It SHRUNK the Amiga right out of Existance !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010388)

It SHRUNK the Amiga right out of Existance !! I had an Amiga store in town, and it was a cow town back then. Oh, how I long for those cows. Moooo!

Piracy, right.... (4, Insightful)

NarrMaster (760073) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010244)

.... cause we all know how much damage piracy does to the music [com.com] industry. Ba-zing!

thank god i have linux :) (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010245)

under linux i'm pretty sure the protection doesn't work and i can do pretty much whatever i want with this cd, right ?

anyway, i have a question, isn't that somehow breaking my civil rights that at the moment when i put your cd into a windows machine, it automatically installs some software in there, without my permission ? this seems like a privacy threat, i hope someone sues these dudes for good.

at least user's permission should be asked for before installing anything.

why don't people admit already that there is NO WAY to protect cd-s from being copied ? ps. does this installer also fail if i have set the auto execution of cd-s to false or am holding the shift key down ? , what a great protection :)

Re:thank god i have linux :) (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010258)

and even if i would be insane enough to buy the game.
wouldn't i have the right to make a backup of the game
cd incase it gets lost ? what do you people think ?

Re:thank god i have linux :) (1)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010264)

at least user's permission should be asked for before installing anything.

Your permission is asked. Did you ever read one of those long, boring, confusing EULAs? The ones you agree to before most software will install?

Re:thank god i have linux :) (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010323)

EULAs are not legal documents, you can not agree with them and still install the software.

Re:thank god i have linux :) (1)

Quobobo (709437) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010308)

Thank god you have Linux, you're safe from this copy protection. You're also safe from such things as, I don't know, playing the game.

(yeah, yeah, someone's going to jump on me because it might be playable with Wine. That's not the point here).

Actually ... (5, Interesting)

TheFr00n (643304) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010318)

... this is a pretty interesting point. Cedega (formerly WineX) does not have support for most of the new copy protection mechanisms around, and mentions as much in their documentation [transgaming.com] . This means that you can install and run pirated games in Linux that you wouldn't be able to in Windows.

I mention this not to promote piracy, but because it raises an interesting legal point - Transgaming are technically selling a product that allows you to circumvent copy protection - granted, in a very broad sense. But I wonder how long they'll be allowed to proceed before getting smacked down under the new US laws designed to prevent this sort of thing.

Re:Actually ... (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010411)

Very good point. (Unfortunately I blew my last mod points yesterday.)

I think portability is on of the most important argument against anti-circumvection legislation.

The game market won't decrase because of piracy... (2, Insightful)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010251)

PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.

I see the piracy of games being the lesser threat to the game industry. Sure, it's an issue, but they should be more afraid of people waking up and realizing that they're getting crapped on by game companies.

People won't be so computer-illiterate in about ten years when computers will be as common as any other appliance, and people know how to maintain their common appliances. (IE: Don't shove a fork in a toaster, proper oven cleaning protocol, etc), and they won't really like bullshit drivers installing themselves without much notice (People don't read EULAs.).

Another though: What if the anti-virus companies decide that this is bullshit and we find that Norton Anti-Virus starts complaining about this crap. The game companies will sure as hell think twice before they restict people's computer useage without telling them.

Deeply scary (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010254)

First of all, because I don't trust device manufacturers to write drivers, let alone game coders. How to destabilize your system lesson 1: install this shite.

Secondly, a VMWare instance will cure all this.

And what is StarForce anyway? The publicity from this is going to make its sales tank no matter how good its copy protection is. Hopefully this will teach the lesson better than a few lawsuits over data loss.

It will be cracked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010256)

and then the legitimate users are at a disadvantage compared to those who got the cracked version. The publishers need to realize that this is a situation that simply must not occur if you don't want to erode the moral highground from under your customers. It is really tough to stay legit when your product experience is ruined by the same people who just got your money.

Same actions, same punishment ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010265)

So, one of us interfering a companies computer-system (by simply being where you should not be, even without you knowing it) is good enough for a jail-sentence of a few years, but software that intentionally interferes with the working of other software on my machine is legal ?

Yep, the age of of the company-ruled world is allready upon us ...

Is this possible? WHQL certified? (5, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010270)

I thought everytime a new device was installed or driver, windows would ask you if you want to have it installed regardless of the fact it is WHQL signed. Please, is there a group policy I can change to not alow ANY drivers be it real or virtual to be installed without my explicit permission?

Re:Is this possible? WHQL certified? (5, Interesting)

baadfood (690464) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010403)

Unfortunately yes. Drivers dont HAVE to be installed using the official driver INF parser. Idiots can bypass that process and simply inject the necessary entries in the registry. All you have to do on 2K/XP is fuck around with HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Servic es And then tell the user they need to reboot as, bypassing the official APIs that would do the WHQL checking means you dont get Plug and Play driver installation. All the more reason to look with great suspicion on ANY windows app that needs a restart after installation. If the proper APIs are used the only time a Windows box really *needs* to be restarted is after youve downloaded a kernel security update.

Re:Is this possible? WHQL certified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010423)

... is there a group policy I can change to not alow ANY drivers be it real or virtual to be installed without my explicit permission?

To the best of my knowledge, all you can do is have Windows to warn or block the installation of "unsigned" drivers. An unsigned driver is a driver without a digital signature, something that Microsoft gives out after appropriate validation.

The options for this can be found in the Driver Signing section of the System properties; there doesn't appear to be any other group policy options to control driver installation.

Re:Is this possible? WHQL certified? (1)

eofpi (743493) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010429)

For some reason, I doubt StarForce would have problems getting their 'driver' signed by the single most profitable member of the BSA.

I don't think this will be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010273)

I'm posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

I'm a teaching associate at Harvard, where I teach a course on writing a game engine. We start off with a 3d tetris clone, and work our way up to a racing car game based on a pengiun. Most of our students do reasonably well, although the average student who takes this course is not a good game player.

The article mentions that emulators and debuggers are most likely to be affected by this driver. I suggest that only a handful of users will be affected. Based on my experience with students in my course, I suggest the reasons for this are as follows:

  1. Gamers have short attention spans: the intellectual capacity required to investigate why a piece of code is failing is more than the intellectual capacity required to move around a map in doom.
  2. Gamers do not use emulators: they have little reason to emulate an alternative operating system, as all games except for tux racer are played in windows. Why would they use an emulator to run Linux?
I know that a device driver that cripples the PC is unlikely to be positive these parts, but I think the impact on people who play games will be negligible.

Re:I don't think this will be a problem (2, Funny)

cot (87677) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010341)

"I'm posting anonymously for obvious reasons."

When someone starts off with this, I'm expecting something appropriately juicy. Your post was kind of a let down.

Re:I don't think this will be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010384)

Link to juicy material requested. Thx

Re:I don't think this will be a problem (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010367)

You can play Tux Racer in Windows: http://download.sourceforge.net/tuxracer/tuxracer- win32-0.61a.zip I am a gamer but I am also a programmer and like Linux a lot. You are missing the point here it is not an alternative operating system emulator that is effected but a CD/DVD drive emulator on which you can mount ISOs. I have a folder with DVD ISO's in it and I can watch these DVDs by simply right clicking the Daemon Tool icon and mounting the ISO on the drive I want. This is probarbly illegal due to stupid laws put in place but it's my DVD and I want to store it on my Hard Drive for fast access. This software doesn't allow me to play my games beacuse I have a CD/DVD Drive Emulator installed on my computer. If I wanted to pirate the game i'd most likely end up downloading an ISO thats pre-cracked to avoid this driver entirely. There is no solution to CD Piracy.

Brad Wardell's thoughts (5, Interesting)

Balorn (236398) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010274)

Brad Wardell (Galactic Civilizations, etc) has some thoughts on piracy and the problems with PC games:

google groups link here [google.com]

Re:Brad Wardell's thoughts (5, Informative)

Balorn (236398) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010377)

And for the lazy (or those behind an abusive proxy server):

What concerns me about the PC game market is that I'm seeing publishers blaming everything but the real causes for PC game sales decline. It's not piracy. And it's not that everyone just prefers to play games in front of a TV. It's the games. It's the way people who buy PC games get treated.

It's not like piracy on consoles doesn't exist either. Yet their sales are doing great.

For a PC game I'm expected to keep track of a serial number -forever-, keep the CD in the drive despite it using gigs of hard drive space, AND I'm expected to have to download patches all too often just to make the game work correctly. That's assuming your computer works with the CD ROM protection in the first place.

If your competitor (console games in this case) doesn't put you through that hassle, then some people are going to choose that. And others will simply not purchase games.

People WILL buy stuff if you give them a reason. If you make it more rewarding to purchase it rather than pirating it then you'll get the sale.

I'm sure, for example, that Object Desktop gets pirated. The whole thing is probably only 50 megs in size as a file. But it doesn't get pirated that much and we sell millions of dollars worth -one copy at a time- over the Internet. Each year. For years. Why? Because we give users a reason to purchase it. We keep updating it on a regular basis which adds value to it. We provide a way to seamlessly get those updates for verified customers which gives an convenience incentive to be a customer.

As some of you know, we expanded the Drengin.net gaming network to TotalGaming.net. Basically, we moved the gaming network beyond being just Stardock games and into putting third party games on there. You can imagine the effort convincing some of the publishers of putting games on here that don't have any digital rights management, no time outs, no "renting", etc.

It's not, however, that we want to do that because we're "nice guys". It's business. Just business. People just want to get the product/service and not be hassled about it. I buy WizBang IV and I expect to be able to install it to my regular machine and if necessary, put it on my laptop. And you know what? If I have it on my laptop I want that drive bay used for an extra battery, not used for a battery sucking CD drive that's in there just because the game checks to see if I have the CD in.

At the end of the day, I'm just wondering why the industry is so afraid of some 15 year old kid downloading PC games off of Bit Torrent or whatever instead of looking at the demographics of PC gamers (which are older and tend to have more money) and start catering more to them -- people who have money and don't have time to be jerked around with nonsense.

When I see "piracy" being blamed for sales decline (and I really think that other factors such as lack of mega releases this year and the migration to MMORPGs need to be considered heavily) it worries me. It worries me that publishers aren't really taking these other issues seriously and as a result are making development plans based on faulty data. After all, one can only imagine the justification for the PC port of Spider-Man II (as one example).

The age-old rule (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010275)

The stronger you make the copy protection, the more you inconvenience your legitimate users, and the more attractive the "cracked" product becomes. Making the w4rz3d version a more useful product than your original is a bad marketing ploy.

Re:The age-old rule (1)

LardBrattish (703549) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010395)

Yep, back in the early 2000s Bluebyte introduced a copy protection scheme that stopped Settlers 3(?) running on my DVD Drive. The game went back; I got a refund & I haven't bought a Bluebyte game since because I've emigrated & I'm not so confident the shops will accept returns over here. Up until that point I had bought EVERY game pretty much that they had released. I'm not into Warez so I just never played Settlers 3 but it still irks me.

Well here's another opinion... (4, Interesting)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010279)

The author concludes by injecting a little personal opinion into the mix, arguing: "PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."
This author concludes that the market will shrink even faster if nutty game developers insist on using obnoxious copy protection schemes just to (a) prove they're smarter than the crackers (b) show that if the choice comes down to their customer's aggravation and their own profits, then profits win every time.

Gee, do you think this attitude might force a lot of people to conclude that PC games are such a pain they might as well buy a console and play there?

Re:Well here's another opinion... (1)

eofpi (743493) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010376)

Typically, it's not the developers that are responsible for this (and rarely have much say over it), but the publishers. The developers have confidence in their product and tend to think it will stand on its own; the publishers are just out to maximize profits, because, in their minds, piracy is the source of all lost sales, not the insult to their legitimate customers that antipiracy measures such as this particular driver represents.

Noone likes being treated like a criminal, especially those that aren't. If they keep treating their customers this way, I'll go back to only gaming on consoles. Starforce, you can have my NES (and the rest of my consoles) when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Such things should be banned (4, Insightful)

r6144 (544027) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010281)

Regardless of the usefulness of copy protection, such behaviors of installing things without users' knowledge just cannot be allowed, especially if it is a driver that runs with much privilege. Just imagine if one disgruntled developer in the company put some time-bomb in the code... When ordinary user-level code is used, or when kernel-level stuff is used in something like anti-virus programs, at least a moderately clueful user can know what they are installing, so they can be more careful before installing such things and not blame Microsoft if things go wrong; but in this case, people are not expected to be as careful when installing a video game as when installing some anti-virus software, at least until such practice become even more widespread than it is now.

In my opinion, such things should be categorized as malware, and should only be allowed if adequate warning is given to the user before installation.

Anyway, even when installed as a driver, it can't be fully crack-proof --- the driver can be removed, and the game code can be changed to skip the accesses to the driver. If the game is popular enough, a crack will soon be produced (probably unusable for Internet games though), and even legit users may use them so that they can get rid of the driver that is possibly destabilizing the system.

Straw Man Argument (1)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010358)

This argument is a straw man at best. That disgruntled developer can trash your Windows system just as easily without kernel level code. Most Windows users are using it as an admin, unless they are at work where they are unlikely to be playing games. Even if you are that 1 in a million users who doesn't run with admin privilege then it can still trash all your files anyway. You almost always need to be admin to install these games, and I'm guessing there are few people who will log out, log in as admin, install, log out again, log in again as yourself.

copy protection protects a farcical business model (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010285)

Those who produce appropriate content do not need copy protection. They know how to inject value add into their presence, making the money invested worthwile.

Copy protection is for the benefit of manufacturers of shrink wrap products. I submit that none of us really want a shrink wrap product. That implies no updates. No moving to new platforms. No Linux version. The use of the word 'franchise'. Very rarely is a sequel even as good as the original. Why would we want companies focused on bringing out tired old versions of the same old shit?

In sum, someone will always produce PC games. The market is huge. Whether it's the current idiots who do is another question.

Somehow it's not quite piracy.. (5, Insightful)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010286)

PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.
Not being able to play a game because my CD drive isn't on the "approved" list, and then being thwarted when I try to mount an ISO of the game... that drives me away from buying computer games. More and more people are turning to piracy because copy-protection schemes turn them off to buying a legitimate copy of the game.

For gamers with CD-ROMs that are incompatible with SecuROM (and other copy protection measures), it is currently more convenient to download and crack pirated versions, than to buy a legitimate copy.

This is a dangerous discrepancy, and is running the game industry into the ground.

Terrible piece... (5, Interesting)

dmayle (200765) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010291)

This is such an apologist piece. From author's viewpoint, this is a done deal, copy protection is a necessity, and he doesn't address the issue of fair use at all. When I buy my videogames, I rarely install them, instead preferring to find a cracked version first, so I don't have to deal with all of the crap, like unwanted driver installations, that I don't know if I'm getting. The guys at Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] have said the same as well.

I don't play games without purchasing them (though I did as a student, because I was poor then. If I hadn't then, I probably wouldn't have the gaming drive now that causes me to purchase all of the games I do.), and I'm starting to buy less and less PC games because of the crap I have to deal with. Do you hear that, developers? That is the sound of lost sales.

I bought XIII, which had some protection that caused the graphics and performance to slowly degrade if the CD is not in the drive. Normally, I would have kept that game to play again in the future, but instead I found someone who was looking to buy it, and gave it to them instead. One more lost sale.

Could you imagine if a PS2 game you bought installed updated CD/DVD drivers on the memory card, and it caused problems with reading other discs? How about if you couldn't play games on your PS2 just becaused you owned an Action Replay disc? They can be used to play copied games too, you know. This sort of crap is unacceptable, and developers who realize that are in a unique position to capture extra market share. Sure, writing a crappy game won't get you sales, but with two equally good games, there are definitely people who will choose the one that doesn't treat them like a criminal if they know there is a difference.

Her personal opinion... (1)

laserbeak (794029) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010302)

Dosn't seem to make a difference as the Quality of games DECREASES anyway because company's find reselling a product with a few differences makes them money.

IE. Battlefield vietnam and all the other ww2 generics out there that ppl buy like condoms at a playboy mansion.

but of course there are other reasons, such as the market is so strong it dosn't matter what the hell they put on the shelves because gamers will buy it anyway.

just a response for them... (1)

Hellasboy (120979) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010307)

"PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

That's interesting because I've quit buying computer games because of the tactics that "StarForce" type add-ons inflict. So I guess that the number and quality of games will certainly decrease because people won't want to deal with all these burdens you force on people.

It's gotten to the point that I don't play many games on my PC anymore because of these companies. I really have no future need for an x86 system because all I use my computer anymore is for schoolwork, aim, running a few websites, and email. Their's only 1 program stopping me from moving to Linux but it's available for OS X.

Oh, and as for the market shrinking due to increased piracy... that's why I guess the PS and PS2 haven't had much success... oh wait...
(I'm not saying that piracy was the reason of their success, but that it didn't lead to their downfall of being the most popular console).

Okay then. (1)

General Sherman (614373) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010312)

What's stopping someone from booting into safe mode and deleting the driver, or possibly even using Knoppix? If nothing, then this is worthless.

Yay, let's piss off consumers for no purpose. (4, Interesting)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010319)

Ok, so we've now got a driver being installed(hope they get the Microsoft Hardware Lab to certify this thing or else Windows XP is going to bitch about this and it won't go smoothly), that'll solve the piracy problem, no one can get around a driver.

I seem to recall some software a few years back which came with a dongle, I also seem to recall that someone managed to fake that dongle so you can pirate the software anyway. Take a lesson here people, if you can't stop piracy with hardware you sure as hell can't do it will software, in all reality Paladium(assuming it ever shows up) probably won't stop piracy. This is for a simple reason, for every guy out there trying to come up with ways to prevent piracy there are at least 100 attempting to circumvent it, and these guys are really really good. There's a lesson here, a lesson we should all have learned a long, long, long time ago, because it's been true since the first copy protection ever implemented. ALL COPY PROTECTION DOES IS INCONVENIENCE THE LEGITIMATE USER. Sorry to have shouted that, but I wouldn't want someone to miss that one. No method of copy protection every created has stopped people from pirating software and the only way I can see that changing any time in the forseeable future.

When warez copies outnumber "legit" copies... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010407)

When warez copies outnumber "legit" copies, it all makes sense. Hey, you think I like having to drive 55? It's because of aholes that I have to. That's the price to pay. Don't like it? Don't drive !!

What? (5, Insightful)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010320)

First off, you most can certainly debug driver modules. SoftICE runs Ring 0. Even if their driver runs Ring 0, you can still see it. It's also on your hard disk. Even if it somehow disables the machine if SoftICE is detected, you have the data. It will be disassembled and it will be cracked.

And this brings up a point about copy protection. It really only fucks with the people who actually buy the CD. I bought The Sims after, admittedly, not paying for it for a while. But I did go out and buy it after about a month, and lo and behold my CD Key was already registered. Ah well, an email took care of that. But, next I buy Neverwinter Nights. Damn CD Protection goes so far as to not work in my DVD drive. This happens with a TON of protected games. Flight Simulator 2002 would continuously corrupt on install, SimCity 4, Baldurs Gates both 1 AND 2... Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the SecuROM/SafeDisc methods do *not* produce valid Redbook CDROM standard CD's. Doesn't happen on non-secured discs like Streets and Trips, Windows XP, etc... Either way, I paid for these games and they don't work. Yet I can steal them and they work, no hassle. Hmm, not too hard of a debate. I actually sometimes will buy the game then download the crack because I'm tired of dealing with shitty copy protection. /rant

Safedisk (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010405)

Yeah - I'll correct that.

Safedisk is a PAIN to implement.
It works by changing the geometry of the disc - the tracks are actally spread out more (it makes it look a bit like the gaps between songs on old vinyl disks)

Then it measures the TIME it takes the drive to seek across these areas compared to the time it takes to seek across normal areas.

Their driver is very flaky, due to the large numbers of strange drives it has to cope with. This in turn makes it very difficult to build a drive which co-operates with it reliably.

Most disks produced with safedisk are within the spec - the spec just says that the track density must lie within such and such limits (I'd have to look them up) - they are expected to vary due to quality of disk and so forth. They AREN'T expected to vary on a single disk (much) - but nothing says that they can't. So they are in the CD/DVD spec.

The audio protections usually used fall into two camps. The polite camp simply has an audio session and a data session, and relies upon windows preferring to show the user the data session. These are within the redbook spec, and easy to break.

The slightly dodgier protection issues the same track number to tracks in both sessions, and relies upon data drives mounting the last session first and audio drives mounting the first session first. This DOES break the redbook spec. Quite horribly.

The guy who wrote this is a retard (1, Informative)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010321)

>"I wouldn't buy it anyway" - doesn't matter, fact is you didn't pay for it but benefited from the labor of the publisher and developer - that's theft.

so... linux is theft!?

>"Games are crap so often I don't want to get ripped off" - try reading reviews and playing demos. Besides, good luck getting a car dealership to refund you your money after you so much as signed the contract, never mind drove the car. Not all that many goods can be used and returned for your money back.

good luck getting a demo for many modern games. good luck getting a review that hasn't been bought, if not with money then "exclusive access" deals. in the UK at least, almost ALL non-perishable goods can be returned. exceptions are things like pierced earings due to hygiene. the rest comes under STATUTORY RIGHTS. a nice but unknown one is anything you buy on the internet can be returned within 30 days ("cooling off period") for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER.

(I'm not saying reasons for piracy are valid/invalid, just that the author is factually wrong)

note: most Doom 3 piracy was fans in non-US wanting ir right away instead of delayed release, just like all the films I've downloaded are ones I've seen in the cinema but the DVD isn't out yet.

Re:The guy who wrote this is a retard (1)

Oddly_Drac (625066) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010434)

"UK at least, almost ALL non-perishable goods can be returned"

If the goods are unfit for the purpose for which they were bought, you can return them for a full refund within fourteen days ('cooling off'), which also applies to most contracts signed for goods. There is a statutory warranty period of twelve months (from date of purchase) that covers faulty or low quality merchandise and is not gotten around by disclaimers. Which is fun.

"nice but unknown one is anything you buy on the internet can be returned within 30 days ("cooling off period") for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER."

Fourteen days. It's one of the reasons there was hooha over the fact that the cooling off period is sometimes shorter than the delivery time, but it's taken from the time you take posession of the goods. Trouble is that getting the OFT to take action is difficult because the guys are snowed under with all kinds of claims.

"good luck getting a review that hasn't been bought, if not with money then "exclusive access" deals."

True enough, and nobody has pointed to the falling magazine revenue figures as a measure of piracy when it's down to that most sociological of reasons in that they're fairly direct and often inaccurate advertising rags.

They said this 10 years ago (3, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010327)

"PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

Almost a perfect quote from computer mags 10 years ago, yet World of Warcraft, Neverwinter Nights 2, Half-Life 2, etc are under development. How can that be? Games constantly rise in technical quality and complexity, and it's not uncommon these days to have games in development for 4 years or more. It's BIG business.

In contrast, if predictions like that were true, we'd probably play something like Alien Invaders 2000 by now. :-P

Personally, I think -- yes, piracy is bad if you don't buy the games you actually like. In other cases, I find it to be very useful. That games have demo versions isn't a given, especially not demo versions you can try out before a game hits the store to decide if you should get it. A perfect way to boycott junk game publishers very conveniently without having to go back to stores and returning games.

Such an old argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010329)

Having been using computer games since 1982 and continually hearing about how the end of the world is nigh due to software piracy.

It seems to have done alright over the last 24 years.....

All this does is annoy people who`ve spent money on the game and give a challenge to the hackers

Good (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010333)

""PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.">

And then indie developers who don't care about profit will release games with good, innovative gameplay and gamers will still be happy. Remember, some of the best, most addictive games, are the ones that are small, simple to play but hard to master, and free.

I just got turned on to Soldat thanks to a recent /. article, and have been a huge Subspace player ever since it was owned by VIE. And frankly, I often times find myself getting bored with BF:1942 and its mods and going back to these simple free games.

Remember, this guy has a vested interest in making sure the game companies stick around. They pay his bills. So don't expect him to say anything that might deviate from "the big developers are the only important people in this and we need to protect them at all costs".

malware or essential tools (4, Insightful)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010334)

Nobody wants DRM or Malware type software destroying their freedom to use PC's.

No software company wants to invest 30 million into a (small?) project where sales are predicted by a declining history and diminishing market, or perhaps could disappear given the alarming ability to download gigs of data in a day.

In a perfect world, they would produce X, you want X, you buy X.

In a semi-perfect world. People Copy X, like it, Buy X

In todays world, a bit more perfect: People who copy and don't buy X, wouldn't have bought it anyway. (so does this mean copying impacts software?)

What does happen. People want games, if copying didnt exist, they would buy them, prices would drop. However, peope who say they wouldn't have bought the game anyway, shouldn't have needed to copy it.

OK, that bit over: If you purchase games, do you put up with measures that, in the end, are there for your benefit, as a games consumer (i.e., if they did stop copying)

Perhaps the issue is not so clear cut as music (which has always been way overpriced and overcontrolled)

Computer games used to be 1.99 casettes, 4.99 etc... not they are 49.99 at tops. Considering lower costs of marketting, vast market size, limitless and cheap distribution (electronically) and cheaper CD/DVD case distribution, the companies hsould be able to create games which sell for less, and meets a price that brings more consumers.

Sometimes it is easier to copy a game than physically walk out and buy it. This is the mentality they are dealing with.

At the end of the day - don't steal from people, no matter how rich they are.

Insert obligatory... (0, Flamebait)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010337)

troll about copyright laws... There is nothing illegal about having warez. There is nothing illegal about using warez. There is nothing illegal about downloading keygens. There is nothing illegal about distributing keygens. There is nothing illegal about using keygens. There is nothing illegal about distributing valid keys.

The *ONLY* illegal step in the entire process is creating (downloading and/or burning) the copy.

Geth the fuck out of my machine! (1)

desmogod (792414) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010344)

This is on a par with the government wanting to install a GPS in my car, so I can't speed. It's my machine, get the fuck out of the guts of it... If I want to debug my kernel, I sure as shit don't wan't some third party piece of crap stopping me. Fair enough if I had pirated software, it's there even though I own a legal copy. Wankers. That is all.

do-not-buy list (1)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010349)

which games use this?

Games List ? (1)

Bugmaster (227959) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010354)

Holy crap ! This thing actually installs itself as a device driver ? That can't be uninstalled ?!! Er, that's great. Is there a list of games that have been (or are going to be) released with this copy-protection system ? I want to make sure that I never, ever buy them. Dancing monkeys are bad enough, I don't need malware device drivers on top of everything else.

Yeah i believe you..... (0)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010355)

Yeah I believe you when you say that your little program that runs ALL of the timedeosn't spy on me......NOT! That's the problem with these driver copy protection schemes. In order to work, they have to run at all times....even when your not running the game. That shoul dnot happen. Also, and this may sound out of the orderinary or weird, but if you price your gane reasonably, the pirates won't waste their time. I mean $50??? For a GAME? The same could be saide about playstation games but at least I understand the reson they charge what they do (because they make zip off of the hardware sale..easily solved....charge a reasonable price for the hardware..).

Interesting Question Raised By Article. (3, Interesting)

Myuu (529245) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010356)

"PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease."

I can see the the logic of this, but couldn't a capitalist argue that Piracy creates a new market force vaguely resembling competition. One could argue if that statement is true, that Piracy actually forces the Games makers not to put out wasteful crap like they all to often do (come on more than 50% are crap with no audience) and force them to make stuff live up to competition. IE, if the game sucks I'd probably pirate it, if its good then I'll drive to Software Etc and pick it up.

Of course one can urge that now the companies have to waste time and money on anti piracy software in the process and that there are games that would appear to have no audience but they create one. (Pokemon, Conker, etc, etc)

I hope the above is coherent, too late in the night to post, I just wanted to see what my thoughts would crop up.

Abbie lies.. (1)

kyhwana (18093) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010359)

I like how the guy being interviewed bullshits and says that (many?) all of the games that use starforce havn't been cracked.
Soldiers: Heros of ww2 uses starforce, and looking on various sites, you find iso/cloneCD images of it avaliable to download...

and now, for some infamous quotes (5, Insightful)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010363)

"copy protection is a necessary part of the publishing process"

Yah, and remember the dark ages, when only the church could copy? Well if corporations get their way, it'll be dark again soon. Thanks Abbie!

"We have to live with it, and I don't think it is going away."

No Abbie, I don't have to live with it because I never buy copy protected software. Period. Sorry, but it's a religious thing with me.

"but let's face it, publishers aren't stupid"

Yes, yes they are, and evil and greedy too. First off, they corrupt copyright so that it no longer does what the founding fathers intended. Then they use it to abuse the market in order to force consumers to pay excessive prices for poor quality games.

In my humble opinion, piracy is a direct and inevitable outcome strictly due to the lack of fairness in the intellectual property issue.

Corporations have perverted the process and most people are simply taking the most economical route to get what they want

From where I sit, all of this is because companies will not produce products as inexpensively as possible. Indeed, these companies would earn more if they simply lowered the price to a point were far more people could easily afford to buy their products. As it is, most software is simply not affordable unless you are fairly affluent. So yes, they, the software publishers, are stupid, and what's worse, they're incompetent and abusive.

Larger market == better quality? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010368)

PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.

Hmmm, I think a drop in quality came with the expansion of the market. I also doubt that piracy is very high on the list of things that result in lower quality games.

Fun and FREE until then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010373)

but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.
But it will have been fun and FREE until then !! Yay! Warez Jockies and Camel Jockies alike !!

Brought to you by the "well, duh!" Gang.

Doom 4, Far Cry 2 , Half-Life 3, whatever 5 (3, Insightful)

S3D (745318) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010375)

if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy ... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease. Without a big market there can be no big budgets. No Doom 4, no Far Cry 2 and no Half-Life 3.


Ironically, auther was not able to come up with even one example wich is not sequel. Indsutry really have problem with creativity, piracy notwithstanding.

Re:Doom 4, Far Cry 2 , Half-Life 3, whatever 5 (1)

JamesKPolk (13313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010430)

Yup, the big-budget "gaming" publishers do not reward originality. That's why I'd rather see them go away.

list of applicable games (1)

oskillator (670034) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010380)

SecuROM was bad enough. Is anyone keeping a list of games that employ this crap, so I know what not to buy?

(Or perhaps so I can determine whether it's realistic for me not to buy any of them?)

"Copy protection" never works. (2, Insightful)

bo0ork (698470) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010394)

The fastest way to get hold of a new game is always to download the cracked copy. It'll usually be a week or more before the game can actually be bought in the shop. This should clue developers in that wasting money, goodwill and time on those commercial anti-piracy packages is good for nothing. If a game is good, it'll sell. If it's not, it won't.

Either way, it'll be cracked and available for immediate download faster than they can get it to stores. The only protection worth having is online key checking for online play.

I still think... (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010402)

... software companies should take piracy as unavoidable cost of doing buisness. Forget copy protection schemes; at long as it's digital, it can be copied and cracked, sooner or later. Then all it takes it's one copy hitting Kazaa.

I'm symphatetic of the headaches piratery gives to games publishers, but pissing on your customers like that is no answer. Like i said earlier in another thread, today is MUCH less of a hassle to play a downloaded game than the same game off the box. Something's seriously fucked there.

PS: StarForce is particularly evil. I can deal with CD keys, and i can even understand (not agree, understand) if you want me to keep a CD on the tray to play a game. But a friggin driver?!?! No thanks.

Irrelavent (1)

Conspire (102879) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010404)

Pretty boring post because:

1. Net games are the future. Expect subscription models to take over within a decade.

2. DRM and copy protection is not just coming to games, it is coming to your living room, your wallet, your car, your life. The guys in DC have sold your soul, DRM was what you got in exchange.

3. Are'nt we talking about MS operating system here? DRM and copy protection is Redmond's key to future monopolies and revenues. If you use MS OS's you should know better than complain about copy protection, closed source, forced upgrades, proprietary file formats for starters. Do you know how much MS has spent and is spending on "Janus", "WMV", "Trustworthy Computing". You get what you pay for!

game quality (1)

seasunset (469481) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010410)

PC games will never go away, but if the market keeps shrinking due to the increasing ease of piracy... then the number and quality of games will almost certainly decrease.

Curiously I see the vast majority of games in the market today as being mainly better graphical versions of old games. There is nothing new (or almost nothing). I stopped playing because of this (and I was a buyer, not a pirate).

If his notion of quality means more graphics and no creativity at all, then I really hope they all go bust.

Hopefully some indie games producer or a whole new comercial games industry based on creativity would surface.

Ok, let me dream.

WTF? (4, Funny)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010424)

Man at Computer: Hey...what the hell? [star-force.com]
Dork Behind Him: What is the matter with you?
Chick: Looks like he ran afoul of Star Force's copyright protection!
Dork: Ha ha!
Chick: *snicker*
Man: Shut the hell up you two!
Dork: OMG YOUR MEGAHURTZ HAS BEEN STOL3D!!
Chick: All your CD-ROM belong to Star Force.

I won't quote the same quote everyone's quoting... (1)

huchida (764848) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010432)

... But, while the number of games may decrease, the quality certainly won't. The best games (or music, or movies) will always find a paying audience. The mediocre, well...

Anyway, Blizzard (and others, of course, but they're the ones who got me) have one good answer to the piracy problem: require a registered serial number (not used by anyone else, of course) to play online. I got hooked on an, ahem, "found" copy of Starcraft and after I went through all the solo missions, I went out and bought the game so I could get on Battle.net. And I did the same a few years later with Warcraft 3. Yes, my values are a bit questionable, but here's a case where the, uh, "borrowed" copies netted them two sales.

Battle.net & Valve Half-Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010433)

You know, back in the Starcraft days and with other Blizzard Games, I found Battle.net to be a good copy protection method. Allows you to play single player or LAN, doesn't screw up your system, but to play online you need a legit key that has to be validated by their servers. Same thing as Half-Life. It worked well (as far as I know), and it prompted me to buy the game after I found out how much i liked it. I don't think any real working SC or HL online cracks or keygens actually came out. They will never stop people from duplicating or distributed cracked versions of games, but it's not that hard to keep them from getting full functionality out of it.

Consoles are as bad as PCs (2, Insightful)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010436)

I've seen some guys here complain about how they hate having to swap the copy protected CDs in and out for each game and that maybe they will go play on the console instead. Hasn't anyone noticed that consoles *always* require you to put the CD in the drive to play the game? How is this any better than the PC games?

Games need copy protection so developers can get paid to write them. I'm no fan of copy protection, but I am a fan of developers earning enough to feed their family while working on the next big release. I hate disc protection as much as the next guy, but if it's really such hard work to put a disc in your CD drive then maybe you need to lose some weight and take some exercise because you are clearly a lazy bastard.

As for a copy protection scheme I would be happy to use...I propose they lock the game to your PGP key and that to play you either require a PGP or GPG key. These are free to obtain and provide excellent security. An independant organisation tracks the keys and your licences. You are entitled to move the game from PC to PC as desired, but it needs your private key to play. A local keysafe utility can remember the key, so you punch it in once at the start of a night, like you do for your email and stuff. The keys can be revoked if they are obviously being shared so lamers can't just buy one copy and hand the key to everyone. This could be made no more onerous than iTunes.

This model would enable online downloading of games too, possibly saving the distribution costs and lowering the cost of the game. Best of all, no more 20 character serial numbers to punch in as you install the game - you simply auhorise it over the internet. Non internet users could authorise via phone/letter if needed.

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