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LGP To Introduce Game Copy Protection

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the pay-to-pay-to-play dept.

Linux Business 388

libredr writes "Phoronix reports that Linux Game Publishing have developed an Internet-based copy protection which will be used in their upcoming commercial game port, such as Sacred: Gold. Any user will be able to install the game, but to launch it he will need to provide a valid key and a password, which are validated against LGP's servers. The key/password combination will allow a user to install the software on different computers. However, an Internet connection will be required even for a single-player game, which might be a hassle for some users. This scheme has enraged some of the beta testers and LGP CEO, Michael Simms, responded he regrets he has to introduce a copy protection scheme, but has to do this since a lot more people download their titles instead of buying them, to the point they even received support requests for pirated version. But will every pirated copy magically transforms into a sale, or will this scheme just annoy legitimate users and be cracked anyway? One really wonders."

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Failsafe (5, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916371)

The CEO did say that, should anything happen to LGP, he and all of his dev team are authorized to distribute patches which remove the check.

Re:Failsafe (3, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916551)

That's fantastic. I wish more companies would do this.

It would be very nice to be able to install a patch via CD to Windows XP to make it not authenticate against the MS servers once support for it dries up.

Re:Failsafe (2, Informative)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916941)

That's called a VLK-enabled unattended install.

Or a pirate version.

Re:Failsafe (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916621)

Interesting that they would do this. Also, a good thing, if they actualy follow through. As a consultant, I have many clients who paid a lot of money for specialized software tools that are now useless because their publishers have gone out of business, so their license servers went off line.

Re:Failsafe (1)

snarfies (115214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916661)

They are "authorized" to. That doesn't mean they actually WILL.

Not to be a jerk, though, but the fact that this is a Linux port should, in itself, be sufficient copy-protection. I kinda doubt that a crack will appear anywhere nearly as quickly as for a Windows port.

Re:Failsafe (4, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916749)

Makes you wonder - if they are willing to remove checks in case of any problems, why bother annoying your customers in the first place?

Re:Failsafe (2, Interesting)

srlapo (1210476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917825)

"Phoronix reports that Linux Game Publishing have developed an Internet-based copy protection which will be used in their upcoming commercial game port, such as Sacred: Gold."
The really backward thing is that they removed the copy protection for the Windows version of Sacred Gold with the last patch. Why go out of the way to protect the Linux version with a "call home" system when the Windows version is free of such things?

Re:Failsafe (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916971)

This is virtually irrelevant.

Should anything 'happen to LGP' there may not be anyone left to distribute said patches. Are the patches already written, are tested? Or are they basically saying that while they are laying off employees and struggling to cover the rent as they file for bankruptcy they'll direct their efforts to writing patches for all their software?

Normally, for this sort of protection, the source / patches is put into escrow to be released when certain conditions are met. So that a 3rd party can act to release the source/patches when something 'happens' to the vendor.

Re:Failsafe (2, Insightful)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917245)

Is this written down in a legally binding document?
"Yes, if we are no more here, we will be authorised to release a patch (alhtough we won't be there to do it..."
The music, video and software industry is full of horror stories about activation servers going dark, even with the servers' owner being still around.

Hassle (5, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916405)

Assuming you need to validate online EVERY time you play- this eliminates playing : in an airplane, on a road trip, when the internet's down, in class (some class rooms have wifi blocked), and at my parents house when visiting for the weekend.

I have a better idea, if I must have this game, I'll just crack it. But then why go through all that trouble to "fix" a game I purchased and put the security of my system at risk by running an unknown program?? Might as well steal the whole thing.

Re:Hassle (2, Interesting)

netruner (588721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916625)

This is why the whole paradigm used for copy protection is broken. Currently, the attempt is to verify (and reverify and reverify) the pairing of licensed product to a user.

There has to be a better way - the best similarity I can find is what was used in broadcast TV around the 1950's (no broadcast flag there, but no recorders either). There were sponsors that paid for product placement and cheezy ads. How much would a company pay for the splash screen of a popular video game? Also, why use lame generic products in video games (I especially like the orange and green "SODA" cans in Deus Ex) when maybe Coke, Pepsi, etc. may pay something to have their product depicted.

Sure, these could be hacked out and reskinned, but with little gain to be had, the rate of occurrence will be much less than cracking the game.

Re:Hassle (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916665)

Because there is a also a huge amount of screaming about in game ads.
Personally I don't want to see adds on the splash screens of games I paid for.

Re:Hassle (3, Interesting)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917121)

Not in splash screens, okay, but in-game sounds okay to me... What about nice Coca-Cola skins on the can distributors in FPS? It's actually prettier than some of the skins game devs do use (thinking of Half-Life 1 here, yeah it's old ugly and such, but I'm so not a gamer I can't remember anything else off the top of my head)

I happen to think it would be good. More immersive than "Caco Caloc" in green on black, at least :-)

Re:Hassle (2, Insightful)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917687)

There are already enough ads on the splash screens. It seems like every game I get lately has 5 different splash screens, each advetising a different layer of the producer's structure before I get to play.

Re:Hassle (2, Insightful)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917473)

I get mixed feelings about product placement, on the one hand it can make things more realistic for there to be real brands around. I can easily see it getting too intrusive, though. And you'll end up with every soda being a coke (no pepsi anywhere).

I like what City of Heroes did. As well as making up names for businesses around town (City of Gyros), there are ads playing off real products (Red Beast energy drink, InFront Steakhouse). I suppose since they remind me of actual products they could still be effective advertisements, but I don't feel like I'm being slapped in the face by them

And of course, product placement doesn't work for all genres. It's fine to have ads plastered all over the cars in our NASCAR racing game, but would look really bad to be suiting your dwarf warrior up with Armor-All brand heavy platemail, and Mountain-Dew superior mana potions.

Re:Hassle (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916727)

Alternately, you end up with a stack of dongles plugged into your PC. (One of my clients has had to issue its software developers USB hubs to accommodate all the dongles they need.)

Re:Hassle (4, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916795)

When I walk into a store, I expect and accept a certain level of 'theft prevention' to be in place.

Perhaps they have security monitors covering the out of the way nooks of the store.

Perhaps they have someone in 'plain clothes' that wanders the store watching for people shoving things into their purse.

Perhaps they have certain items locked in a cabinet or with tags that trigger an alarm when removed from the store.

These things I accept because I realize that people steal and that one of the things a store must do to stay profitable is to cut down on amount of five finger discounts taken.

I realize that these things don't prevent theft 100%, and so does the store. In fact, the store probably also realizes that depending on the 'quality' of the store, a good percent of the shrinkage in their product could be due to their own staff.

But even though these things don't work 100%, I accept them. And do you know why? Because these things rarely ever become an inconvenience to me.

If, on the other hand, a store began requiring pat downs or strip searches every time I entered or left, I would stop patronizing them.

Is what LGP is proposing really a strip search level deal? Because honestly, when you threaten to just steal their games, that's what you are indicating to me. That you consider this an unreasonable measure for them to take that you would rather screw them over as a matter of principle.

Honestly, myself, I think this is a fairly benign manner to approach the issue.

Re:Hassle (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917103)

Sometimes they do become an inconvenience though. I went to Walmart, to pick up a second steering wheel for MarioKart Wii. The plastic steering wheel, which costs $10, and contains only plastic, no electronic parts or anything was locked in the case with the games. I had to wait around 10 minutes for the clerk to get the guy with a key. Apparently the clerk didn't have his own. Not only that, once it was removed from the case, we had to pay for it at the games counter, even though we planned on doing more shopping. Which meant I had to do 2 debit transactions instead of 1. Good thing my account comes with unlimited transactions.

Metered debit cards? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917295)

Which meant I had to do 2 debit transactions instead of 1. Good thing my account comes with unlimited transactions.
Are there banks in the United States that don't offer unmetered debit card transactions to their personal checking customers, as long as the customer keeps sufficient funds in the account?

Re:Metered debit cards? (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918265)

I, likewise, was not aware such things existed.

Re:Metered debit cards? (2, Informative)

Serzen (675979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918579)

Some banks charge for all debit (as in enter your PIN to verify) transactions, some only if you make more than a handful (most commonly in my area, 6) per month. It's another of the filthy ways our financial institutions are able to soak us for fees that they haven't earned to try and make a quick buck off the customer. If your balance is getting low, and you make a couple of debit purchases, they can slap you with the transaction fee and try to bleed you into the red, in which case they get to slap you with overdraft fees, too.

No banks--that I'm aware of--charge for the transaction if you choose to have it processed "as credit"; i.e., swipe the card and sign the receipt. In the case of most small retailers, all debit transactions are processed "as credit" because the banks/processing companies charge a higher percentage for direct debit as well as charging a higher fee for the PIN pad needed to input a PIN.

Re:Hassle (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918389)

How did that affect your willingness to purchase such items from Wal-Mart? If it happened repeatedly, would you not simply and naturally stop purchasing from them?

If LGP's authentication servers are often down, then yes, it becomes an issue and I wouldn't buy from them anymore. But at the baseline, this isn't that big of a problem.

It boils down to a matter of perspective.

Those who look at this through the fisheye lens of "Any copy protection is evil" are obviously going to hate the idea. But then in my experience few of these people are willing to provide an alternate solution other than "Trust us, even though as a group we've proven repeatedly that we can't be."

Re:Hassle (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917305)

Lets see... If I go and buy something from a store, do they follow me home? Look at what I am using it for? Try to make sure that I am not in violation of any of the warnings? No, once I have bought it, I can go home and do whatever I want with it, something that this doesn't let you do.

I also have had one of the tags go off that the cashier didn't remove for some reason, they didn't say over the loudspeaker stop thief nor did they handcuff me and call out the police. No. They admitted it was the store's fault, took off the tag and I was on my way. DRM is like whenever a tag goes off you handcuff the person and call the police until they give proof they didn't steal anything.

Re:Hassle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917657)

When I walk into a store, I expect and accept a certain level of 'theft prevention' to be in place.

Perhaps they have security monitors covering the out of the way nooks of the store.

Perhaps they have someone in 'plain clothes' that wanders the store watching for people shoving things into their purse.

After I go to a store and by something, I do not expect the store to send someone in 'plain clothes' to break into my house and install hidden video cameras there.

Re:Hassle (4, Interesting)

antic (29198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916899)

I'm wondering (in a half-baked idea kind of way) if a potential solution to this sort of copy protection is incorporating it into the game world. e.g., part of the storyline in suitable games involves going online, authenticating, and performing some sort of action. Something that is partly seemless, something that people actually want to do, not too much of a hassle, but limits involvement to paid-up users?

Re:Hassle (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917685)

this eliminates playing : ... in class
Let's just hope your teacher doesn't read Slashdot!

Re:Hassle (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917947)

As long as he doesn't come back here and see what's on my screen.. oh crap ..

uh (0)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916415)

"to the point they even received support requests for pirated version"

Yes, because the bugs reported by users who are running a pirated version of the game aren't worth listening to. A bug is a bug; it doesn't matter if the user paid for the software or not.

Re:uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916455)

The way I heard the story, LGP purposefuly put out broken versions on some p2p networks, and then got support requests about these broken games.

Re:uh (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916587)

That's sort of underhanded, but still, a good way to see how far reaching the piracy goes. Doesn't say a lot about your opinion of your actual customers if you complain about piracy after you do it.

Re:uh (2, Insightful)

Holi (250190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917709)

If they pirated your game are they really your customers?

Re:uh (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918523)

I was just considering that, in order to pirate the game, SOMEONE has to buy it in order to distribute it. If the company themselves is distributing it in illicit channels, then it makes the legitimate purchasers look worse. At least in my opinion

Re:uh (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918527)

If they pirated your game are they really your customers?

No, they're not, which is something most people on slashdot never seem to understand.

Re:uh (3, Insightful)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916623)

That seems like a stupid idea. It's very unlikely I'd steal a game, find it broken, and then go out and buy it after that.

I understand, I shouldn't steal in the first place- but I'd just assume it was horribly coded and that brings my likelyhood of purchase even lower.

*Disclaimer: I personally purchase all games I play- However, I do steal no-cd cracks so I don't have to bother, and I also steal serials some times to play a lan game of command and conquer.. I'm not purchasing two copies to play a few games against a friend in my own house. I'd say the only game that got that right was Sins of a Solar Empire (which I didn't even like), but there was no copy protection, and they even allowed multiple installs. It is a multiplayer game by design, and they accepted that. I didn't like the game too much, but am still happy I gave them my money.

Re:uh (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918213)

I find it amusing that people still perpetrate the fallacy that piracy is just a way to try the game out before a purchase is made. Sure, it sounds good, like the habit of calling pirated roms "backups," but it's transparently bullshit.

Re:uh (1)

pdusen (1146399) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918607)

Right, I guess I will go ask all of the game companies I've purchased from for my money back then, since I just pirated them before them and was only bullshitting when I paid for them afterward. I ALWAYS pirate before I purchase. On the one occasion I made an except, I got burned by poor replay-value (Bioshock).

Re:uh (1)

sinclair44 (728189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918445)

Blizzard also got it very right with Starcraft "spawn" installs (multiplayer-only installs, using the same CD-key, which could only play in games against the original CD-key). Everything needed to play in LAN or online games against a few friends, while still encouraging those friends to buy their own, fully copies to do anything more.

Re:uh (4, Insightful)

AngelofDeath-02 (550129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916575)

I think it's more of an issue that support costs a company money. This is normally fine, as it is factored into the cost of the game. If you pirate a game you really have no right to expect a paid employee to assist you in getting the game to run. You're on your own.

This sounds more like a statement of principle than anything else, but maybe I'm wrong.

Re:uh (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917495)

After they introduce copy protection, they'll have to listen to bugs from people running the cracked version.

alternate headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916423)

LGP to Use GCP on Non-GPL Linux Software

Enraged some of the beta testers? (4, Informative)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916425)

The beta mailing list for Sacred had some discussion on the new key feature but I'd hardly call it an "enraged" exchanged. No chair throwing was observed. Any protection system is a thorny issue.

Pretty much every commercial game I've bought for Linux has some sort of activation system, key lookup or similar. Most of them have some system for authenticating once online and then going offline thereafter. DropTeam even offered a way to generate an authorization on one machine and use it on a non-networked machine.

Storm in a teacup.

Toby Haynes

Why would anyone pirate a Linux port (0, Redundant)

Gigiya (1022729) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916439)

...when they already have, like, five ~*~*FREE*~*~ games that look like they were made ten years ago and probably were?

How is this bad? (2, Insightful)

Beached (52204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916475)

Really, anyone who "Downloaded" the beta will have an internet connection. You can disconnect if you still use dialup or satellite after it validates you. So a few kb of data. It lets you install to as many computers as you want too.

Look at how many people use steam. It does a lot more than validate an account and people love it. It is also better than an activation based system where you get X installs and that is it. Again, this lets you play it anywhere.

Re:How is this bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916643)

I play most of my games on the road. Anyway, I purchased one Stream game and it will be my last. I refuse to pay people to install bloated adware on my computer. WTF? I have to run an extra memory hogging application when I play a FPS which needs lots of memory. F-ck that. Remove that adware crap from Stream. There's no reason it should use huge vast amounts of memory.

Re:How is this bad? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916703)

okay... I need to ask, which part of steam is adware?

Re:How is this bad? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916991)

The part that shows an ad when you log in to the system and the part that shows an ad when you're downloading pretty much anything, for starters.

Re:How is this bad? (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917421)

AC is right to an extent, and I can see why he's upset. Most of the time when I am done playing a game and quit, an ad will pop up for a "new" game they are offering on steam. It can get quite annoying sometimes when you are in and out of different games.

All in all, I still like steam mostly because the games are very affordable, but the ads that pop into a new window are definitely annoying.

Re:How is this bad? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917513)

My startup ad was an advert telling me I can get the first 11 levels of portals free, and if I clicked next it told me I can get 10% off savage 2 till the 27th.

Looking at steam right now while re downloading defcon, I'm not seeing an ad. In fact once I close the download box, all I see is the list of games I've purchased with there ready to play markers and 2 things telling me they are updating.

I think this may come down to an opinion of what adware is. I view adware as an obnoxious annoyance that provides me nothing in return. I guess I don't view steam that way because I feel it provides me with some worthwhile services and is a small annoyance(well I'm not annoyed by it)considering the amount of bandwidth I use due to my constrained hard drive space and my nomadic computer usage.

Re:How is this bad? (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917289)

The part that advertised the Penny Arcade game when I decided to install steam and HL2 on my new ubuntu box a few days ago. I couldn't get the window to go away either (though that was moreso a windows manager or wine issue).

Re:How is this bad? (2, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916911)

I think people like steam because it keeps games up to date for them, allows them to buy games, gives them good DL speeds, allows them to install the game anywhere, and because valve has done so much to improve the reliability of the service.

Pre-orders get beta access, they tend to offer great sale prices and combo packs. When I bought the orange box, I ended up with an extra copy of HL2. I was able to gift that extra license to a friend.

The 2 issues I had with my account were fixed quickly, and I can play my games even when my connection isn't working.

Valve has also made it clear they will release patches to make games playable without steam if the company ever goes tits up.

Re:How is this bad? (1)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917349)

There is no such thing as "validate once". The goal of "online activation" is to tie a piece of software to your hardware. Each time the DRM detects your hardware as change, it will need authorization again. And the DRM can be very picky about what is a "hardware change". Moreover, you don't know the rules implemented on the activation server (there will definitely be a max number of install to detect published CD-Key, alhtough it can be quite large and resetted periodically). And those can change at any time, for the better or for the worse (see how Steam retroactively implemented region locking).

No, yes (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916477)

But will every pirated copy magically transforms into a sale,

No, it won't, but it might get them more sales by slowing down the pirates.

or will this scheme just annoy legitimate users and be cracked anyway?

Yes, there's that, too. But at least the legitimate users won't need to carry the CD as a dongle all the time. No whining about not being able to play on the plane, you willingly went through airport security!

Re:No, yes (2, Interesting)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916613)

But will every pirated copy magically transforms into a sale,

No, it won't, but it might get them more sales by slowing down the pirates.

Honestly, when has this ever -- EVER -- been the case?

Re:No, yes (3, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918497)

Does it matter? Does the fact that pirates don't intend to buy the game somehow give them the right to procure it for free?

He should have learned... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916493)

... from the community response to BioWare's Spore / Mass Effect 10-day re-activation check.

I'd post the details, but almost everybody here was part of getting it removed anyway.

Re:He should have learned... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917705)

Hell man, Bioware / EA made it even worse in my opinion.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916497)

...has to do this since a lot more people download their titles instead of buying them...

So, reducing market exposure via pirated copies is somehow magically going to translate into higher sales?

Honestly, who buys a game as a last resort when they can't find a pirated copy of it? Conversely, software piracy has introduced many people to games and game series that have directly led to sales.

It's amazing that some people still think casual piracy is detrimental to the video game market.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916747)

Honestly, who buys a game as a last resort when they can't find a pirated copy of it?

A ton, and I mean, a TON of people. Its really just anecdotal (but thats enough to prove the amount is > 0 at least, hehe), but I always hear less tech savy people how they finally caved in and bought some game/software/windows/whatever after they couldn't find a crack/got a virus from a crack/crack glitched a part of the game/wanted to play NOW and the crack wasn't available yet.

PC game piracy is so high, that if you can just delay the mainstream pirated version a day or two, that probably translates in significant sale. Of course, the better, far more effective way, is to have the purchace of the game be a key to access the online part of the game... but that sucks for single player games like Oblivion/Devil May Cry/etc, to the point that the barrier for entry of offline games on PC becomes impossibly high.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917465)

I'm posting anon for obvious reasons, but I for one am exactly like what you describe. I pirate everything I can: movies, TV shows, games, applications, music, the works. If it's digital and I want it I will try my damnedest to pirate it, because not paying for it is better than paying for it from my perspective. Since I don't pay for that stuff, I can go use my limited funds on computer hardware, food, and other tangible items that I can't realistically pirate/steal. I won't even pretend it's the right thing to do, but so what? If I can increase my standard of living at no real detriment to myself, I'm going to do it.

As for the matter at hand, given what I do I can definitely see why LGP is adding more protection. I'm exactly the kind of person they're shooting for; if the product is good enough and pirating it is too much trouble, I will go buy it. I've just recently purchased legit copies of Vista and the Penny Arcade game for this exact reason, they had enough protection that it wasn't worth the hassles of pirating those things (Vista: WGA, PA: Buggy crack). I would have still rather not paid for them, but ultimately not having anything to watch, play, or work on is boring and unproductive.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916775)

I actually bought Sacred:Gold for Windows after playing a pirated version at a LAN party. Why? Because I wanted to support the developers.

Had it required online activation I would probably just have kept the pirated version instead or stopped playing it altogether.

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

dookiesan (600840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916807)

I knew people who played games all the time but never bought anything--not a single title. Same thing with music CD's a few years ago. These folks absolutely would buy _something_ if it were impossible to pirate, because they do buy console games which require much more work.

me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916501)


the usual trap (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916513)

Copy protection that inconveniences the honest user will:

[ ] make some of your honest (and now inconvenienced) users walk away
[ ] make pirates come to you so they can pay and have a less comfortable (but legal) copy

Hint: Only one answer is correct.

Re:the usual trap (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917833)

If only one answer is correct, then why are you using checkboxes? Use radiobuttons, man.
( ) Option A
( ) Option B

Silly ASCII user interfaces aside...
This isn't to stop full-on pirating. In the end, if somebody really, really, really wants to, they'll just completely reverse-engineer the authentication and set up a local server ( for the software to contact. The local server then says everything is A-OK and the game continues. (There's more complex implementations, of course.)

But what it does stop is one gamer taking the legitimate game and burning a bunch of copies for his friends, going over to their house with a portable HDD with the game and making a copy, going to school and tossing it on every machine there, tossing it in their shared files folders for P2P programs, etc.
Actually, no, it doesn't stop them from doing -that-... but if they do, their friends will just come back to them saying they need a key or the thing won't run. Whoops.

And now that one gamer, or that friend, will have to decide "well I want to play this game with my friend, it was pretty awesome at his place, so do I...
( ) Think it's worth the $40 and buy it
( ) Think it's worth $N and I'll split the full cost with my friend who really, really, really wants to play the game with/against me.
( ) Think it's not worth any money* and warez it instead
( ) Think it's not worth any money and thus completely ignore it.

That's a bigger barrier than "uhmm, dude.. this game is supposed to be commercial.. I know it runs fine on my machine after you copied it onto the thing and all, but isn't that kinda iffy?"

Anyway... re: the third option *if it's not worth any money, then you probably don't think it's worth anything.. so why warez it? If, on the other hand, you think it's worth your time to play it, have fun with it, etc.. then it's probably worth money.. so again, why warez it?


Now... if anybody purchases the game but isn't a bit fan of the 'calling home' bit for authentication... I'd say go for it and get the cracked copy.

Playing the warez copy without purchasing the game doesn't send any "we hate DRM/authentication/etc." signal. It only sends the "I'm a cheapskate who wants to play his games for free" signal. Sending a letter stating you were going to purchase the game, then noticed in a review/news story that it called home, and went with equivalent Competitor's Product X which doesn't use the DRM/authentication.. that sends a signal; however tiny.

Do they have to ask that question? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916561)

Obviously it will be cracked like every other DRM attempt so far.

Does work (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916595)

Not a single copy protection scheme worked on a closed OS like Windows. How would this even work on an open system like Linux.

It will only annoy (legit) customers.

false dichotomy (2, Insightful)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916599)

some "piracy" (unsanctioned demos) will be converted to sales, and some legitimate users would be annoyed by the scheme.

If there is a legitimate demo I might try it, and then if I like it I will buy it. If there is no demo I won't download an unsanctioned game; I will wait until there is a review from one or three sites I trust, and or good word of mouth about it, and only then will I consider buying it.
DRM/copy prevention/anti"piracy" schemes WILL annoy me, and no amount of awesome will get me to buy such a game. It's good to hear about these things before I consider a game.

Of course, I run a mac and an ubuntu rig, so I'm not in the target market for many game companies anyway.

Re:false dichotomy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917137)

The thing is *IF* I was running a company that was publishing a game I would ask this simple question.

Does the copy protection make me money?
Lets say it costs 80k to put this thing in and maintain it. Need servers and more bandwidth now and patches (programmers, testers, release packages, support people) to it when people crack it.

If the cost of gaining people who come in (converted 'pirates') plus the cost of people who would steal the game but bought it (because they were too lazy to crack it). If that value is greater than the cost then it is worth putting in. Otherwise you are putting an extra support cost onto yourself to say 'people cant steal my game in some board meeting'. When the reality is most software can be cracked very quickly on the PC. This is the real way to get rid of this junk. Are you making more money because of this junk? Do you have the numbers to back that up or did you dummy up some?

This is why you are seeing top notch games on consoles right now. The consoles are currently 'hard' to crack due to the firmware updates being pushed.

There is a perceived value in adding 'copyright protection'. When it is a security theater. It *WILL* be cracked if the game/system is cool enough.

The one that really roasts my balls is the demos that have the copy protection in them. Then they leave the junk behind when you uninstall it. You are giving the game away for FREE anyway... The thinking here is that the code that runs the demo could be converted to 'crack' a real game. The game WILL be cracked anyway. The other one that roasts my balls is the ones that disable (break) functionality on my computer in case I might WANT to copy something. Even though I do not do this. I have legit uses to burn things on my cdrom...

To tell a computer programmer that 'something cant be done' and he will act like a 'starved lion falling upon the zebra for food'. Each love the hunt and challange of doing it.

Copy Protection = Less Sales = Less Games Ported (2, Interesting)

dleigh (994882) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916669)

This is just going to annoy potential users, and reduce sales of the game.

Eventually it will cause less games to be ported to Linux/BSD/etc as the companies will assume that Linux users aren't interested in games (instead of realizing Linux users aren't interested in games that phone home and have irritating copy protection).

Those that do get a copy the game - one way or another - will probably crack the program (or redirect validation requests to a daemon which always returns a positive verification).

This would be the right way to do it... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916671)

Instead of starforce-like apps creating instability in the system and fighting for resources, network-based authentication is really the way to go. It doesn't clog up your system, and it doesn't destabalize by hooking into low levels.

Hopefully it actually does function by turning some number of pirates into legitimate customers. Selling 30 copies of a game in a week is a really, really low number. I suspect that torrents will continue to exist (due to the simple fact of hex editing). But we'll see. Hopefully LGP will provide some before and after numbers for us to ponder.

$50 for the game, plus how much for activation? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917519)

Instead of starforce-like apps creating instability in the system and fighting for resources, network-based authentication is really the way to go.
That might become the case once always-on Internet access becomes as widespread in homes throughout English-speaking countries as plain old telephone service, but as of 2008, that hasn't quite happened.

Re:This would be the right way to do it... (1)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917707)

In my opinion, it basically uses the same tricks that CD-based protection : the goals of these "low-level hooking" is to prevent an attacker to bypass the protection. Whether it is CD-based or online based change nothing, the goal for the attacker is the same: remove the check and decrypt whatever was encrypted. So the protection tries to hide itself or prevents the use of some programs.
The only advantages of online activation is that there is no compatibility issue with drives. But it has other drawbacks.

WTF? (4, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916701)

But will every pirated copy magically transforms into a sale, or will this scheme just annoy legitimate users and be cracked anyway? One really wonders.

A thief walks into a fine winery and takes a bottle without paying for it. Just walks out the door. Two days later, the thief comes back and asks what food might go well with the wine he stole. The store, shocked and appalled at how brazen thieves are becoming, puts locks on the cabinets and asks that people contact an employee, who is nearby and ready to help at any time, to get wine out of the case.

The author of this summary would respond that the store is so inconveniencing its patrons that it ought to be closed down. That response has nothing to do with software freedom or idealism or the right way to do things or being sensitive when legitimately protecting one's assets. This is utter detachment from reality itself.

The OSS crowd steals from its own. This story and the few comments already ("If they put copy protection on it that annoys me in any way I'll just steal/crack it") makes that very clear. I'm siding with the authors on this one. Linux advocates always seem to complain when games won't work with Linux. Then, if this story is any indication, when they do work with Linux, the same people who complain that games for profit never work properly run out and immediately steal the game. Do you really expect people to develop multimillion dollar games for Linux if that's how things work?

Put your copy protection on the game, man.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916937)

excellent post. I don't even port my little indie games to linux, because its' not viable. Not that a lot of lunux gamers would be interested, but the general sense of entitlement to free games by people in that community means that the majority who wanted it would pirate it.

Its not just market share or driver support that results in less linux games, its the perception the community gives off that they will refuse to pay for software that convinces devs it's not worth porting.

I give it ten minutes before some dork makes a comment that the guy is just copying the wine and not taking it, and I bet $50k that the dork posting it has never run a software biz.

Re:WTF? (3, Interesting)

cerelib (903469) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917829)

This is a bit of a plague among linux users, but the status quo of the software biz may not hold up in the future. Many large software companies are switching to different business models (i.e. service oriented around open source products). The business landscape is changing and that should not be ignored.

Your games (democracy, kudos) look very interesting and I am sure your current business model does well, but there are other ways people make money in the small games market. For example, what if your game was flash delivered and ad-supported? You might get more people playing it and more often (i.e. at work). This may or may not be the right choice for you, but it is a model that you do have to compete with in the small games market.

Anyway, democracy looks interesting and I might try the demo, but it would have to be pretty awesome for me to shell out $20 USD. It looks like the kind of game that I might pay $5 or less for. As a matter of full disclosure, I typically only buy used video games that are $10-$15 or less and only about 3 in a year. So I am a bit of a tough sell. Any other games I play are open source (Urban Terror), abandonware (I just tried the old Neuromancer game), or one of my small collection (Fallout [2], System Shock [NOT 2, that game pales in comparison to the original], Ascendancy).

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917633)

Just a small patch to your scenario:

"A thief walks into a fine winery, replicates one of the bottles with his treckie replicator, and walks away without paying anything".
See, the bottle stays in the fine winery, no thievery actually happened. And no piracy.

Re:WTF? (5, Interesting)

kscguru (551278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918037)

Hear hear, wish I still had my mod points.

To each and every person whining on this thread about how copy protection violates the spirit of Open Source - yeah, it does. And if you don't like it, don't touch the game. Don't buy it - and don't download it either. This noise about how you have some sort of entitlement to steal/pirate/"illegally download"/crack/ "screw-the-man!"/whatever a game simply because you have a political disagreement about copy protection is pathetic.

The difference between Richard Stallman / the FSF and half the posters on this article is that RMS avoids software he disagrees with entirely and ACTIVELY contributes to software he morally supports. In other words, he has principles, votes with his actions, and his patronage of free software DIRECTLY contributes to more and better free software. Whereas the "gimme my Linux games NOW and FREE and screw copy protection!" crowd is in it for a shiny new game, but by NOT paying for (or otherwise patronizing - e.g. with word-of-mouth advertising, filing good bug reports) Linux games they are killing the future of Linux gaming for a quick fix now. This isn't the behavior of rational individuals - this is the behavioral profile of drug addicts.

With apologies to all the honest Linux gamers out there. It's a shame the rotten apples are so enthusiastic about spoiling it for the rest of us.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918069)

Your analogy is flawed.

If you had put "A thief walks into a fine winery and makes a flawless copy of a bottle without paying for it or actually stealing anything.", then you'd be on the right track.

While I don't promote piracy, it is important to note the distinction.

Of all copy protection schemes (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916731)

this is the least intrusive, and very close to Steam, the main difference being that LGP games will have a different log-in for each of their games. However, either of those two beats Starforce and its ilk with ease.

Re:Of all copy protection schemes (1)

illmunkeys (939424) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917401)

Steam requires authentication once. I can play all of my Steam games off-line. This type of copy protection scheme requires me to be online continuously. This is not always possible. Sorry, this type of DRM is not quite as bad as putting a rootkit on my computer, but it is still completely unacceptable.

Locks are to keep honest people honest (1)

alta (1263) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916743)

Really, I think this is great for them. It's about as simple a plan as they could do. It doesn't install crap on the computers, you just have to log in before playing. OH well. No one thinks this is going to keep out the crackers... those people will defeat any scheme. But this will keep someone from burning it on a CD and distributing it to every single person they know...

And even if it doesn't produce one more sale, if it keeps them from supporting stolen goods, it's worth it.

DRM is a knife in it's own back (0, Troll)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916771)

I haven't paid for very many games in my life, usually they were gifts for other people, but the only games I've ever bought for myself were games I already knew that didn't have any ludicrous and pointless copy protection schemes. The last game I actually paid for was Darwinia.

It's not some kind of strike, I just won't pay for games that have DRM. That doesn't mean I won't download it and get a crack. I'll treat GNU/Linux built games the same, they're not going to get any special treatment just because I like using Ubuntu more than Windows.

If a game has DRM and isn't cracked, then I just won't play it and I might look away from games from that publisher/developer/whatever in the future.

Re:DRM is a knife in it's own back (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916975)

do you play on-line games? or do you refuse to play them because they require an internet connection?

Re:DRM is a knife in it's own back (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917363)

I think of MMO's differently, they're not often so much a single-player experience or a story as they are a romp in the park. Anti-hack's bother me though, I don't believe any of them really work and they're everywhere, especially in the free korean games I keep getting swept up into.

To require an internet connection just to play through a story, though not as incredible of a suggestion as it might have been ten or even five years ago, is still like... you know... Crap.

This makes me wonder, books have libraries, often you'll even find movies and music legally shared by a library. No one would DARE say a damn thing about libraries stealing from the authors, even though by reading a book you have effectively 'copied' it to yourself, even though it's not verbatim (except for some extraordinary individuals). Maybe we'll someday see games shared out the same way.

Re:DRM is a knife in it's own back (1)

illmunkeys (939424) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917641)

Stupid argument. Requiring an internet connection for an on-line game is rudimentary. You can't play "on-line" without the connection. Requiring an internet connection for a single-player game is draconian. I like to play games traveling down the road, in the air, etc. Internet connection is not always viable. I'm not going to purchase a single-player game that isn't available just because my Internet provider decides to crash.

Re:DRM is a knife in it's own back (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917737)

do you play on-line games? or do you refuse to play them because they require an internet connection?
The latter, for several reasons:
  1. I spend a lot of time away from home, and I can't yet afford $1,000 per year for a cell phone plan that includes enough data transfer for online gaming.
  2. I often babysit children of ages 7 to 12. Most online games don't allow more than one player per PC, and these kids don't want to wait for the other players to finish.
  3. I often babysit children of ages 7 to 12. Most online gaming service providers don't want to go through the parental authentication required by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

Rooting for LGP to go bankrupt (0, Flamebait)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916809)

Is this serious?

The only way the fans get what they want is for the company to go bankrupt and close down.

Does he really want his fans to be hoping his company fails just so they can get the freedom to play their games offline?

Want linux games? Vote with your vallet ! (4, Interesting)

Gori (526248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917267)

Everybody always whines about the lack of linux games. We all know how much effort it takes to write a game, especially a good one. Now here is a company offering something that looks fairly decent, and includes a very minimal and polite way to ensure you actually payed for it. First thing everybody says, no I will not buy it, since it requires me to prove that I bought it ?? WTF ?? Are we really surprised there are not many commercial quality games out there ?

If you want linux games, you either make your own/help people make them, or you pay for them. It is that simple. Im buying this one when it is out of beta, just as I preferably buy hardware that has good vendor supplied OS drivers for them. Vote with your valet.

Re:Want linux games? Vote with your vallet ! (1)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917963)

"Online activation/hardware tying" is about the publisher having a kill switch to remotely prevent you playing a game you thought you have bought. At least next time you try to install it.
Unless they have a subscription based business model, I don't feel this to be a very minimal and polite way, especially in the free as in freedom world.

Just another symptom of... (1)

KingDord (1218774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917279)

...economics catching up with technology. As anyone in the world can now create and distrubute any collection of bits to anyone else, a company attempting to prevent that is just wasting their time. As with most DRM, it only aggrivates their actual customers and poses a fun game to those who like hacking executable binaries.

While I have no solution yet, more attempts should be made to try new models of business i.e. Radiohead's pay if you wish model (while DRM is a "new" business model I personally feel it is on shady moral ground). Technology has the ability to enrich our lives, but when we try to just keep doing the same things in the same way as before, technology just gets in the way.

Copy protection - between a rock and a hard place (3, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917491)

This isn't specifically a Linux gaming issue. That it should be showing up in the Linux context just shows how serious the dilemma facing the PC gaming industry has become.

Before I go any further; I am a huge fan of PC gaming. I didn't own a console until I was 22. I grew up playing PC games like the Ultima series, the X-Wing and Wing Commander games and, later, the Westwood/Blizzard RTSes. I still buy and play PC games and the games as it's clear that, until developers start making better allowances for mouse and keyboard play, some genres (particularly RTSes) will never work properly on a console.

However, PC gaming is now hurtling towards an abyss. I know people have been saying this for years. But now, for the first time, I believe them.

We have now reached the point where, when a new first or third person shooter comes out on both PC and consoles, I will always buy the console version. Why? While I don't much like console controllers for playing fpses, I can tolerate them. The resolutions on my HDTV can't compare with what my PC can put out, but they are good enough. But, more than that, I know that with a console game, I do not need to worry about falling foul of a copy protection system which either means I can't read the disk (used to happen a lot... I had to go through 3 DVD drives before I found one that could run all of my games), have to remove some of my existing software to play it (can you imagine "Hey, it seems you have Gears of War game-data on your 360's hard-disk! No Halo 3 for you then!"?) or access the net every time I want to play it.

I can't entirely blame the PC gaming industry. Piracy levels are absolutely ridiculous. Of course, anybody with half a brain knows that not every pirated copy of a game means a lost sale. But there's no denying that more than a few people who would have considered a purchase will instead be lured by the siren call of bittorrent. I know a few people who work in the industry and a lot of these developers, outside of a few big superstars, operate on the thinnest of margins. Anything they can do to prop said margin up, they will.

I don't honestly know what the solution is. Between the traditional hardware hassles and the new copy protection woes, buying a PC game is starting to feel like more trouble than it's worth. Over on the consoles, the copy-protection mechanisms are invisible to the average end-user. With Sony deciding to get rid of region protection for games, I'm actually in a position where I have no complaints whatsoever regarding the extent to which my PS3 and PSP are or are not locked down.

Of course, this isn't to say that there aren't problems on the horizon in console-land either. My big emerging gripe there regards firmware updates. All three of the systems out there insist on these on a regular basis if you want to use any online features. The 360 version isn't too painful, but the Wii version is distinctly irritating and the PS3 updates are far too frequent, take far too long to download and fail to download far too often when the servers are busy.

Re:Copy protection - between a rock and a hard pla (1)

Ascagnel (826800) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917889)

Thank you, your words echo my thoughts almost exactly.

Also, everyone seems to have missed that the game this will copy protection will be used on, Savage 2, is an online game. Yeah, it might have a botmatch mode, but the central game is online. So for those saying, "ooh, what about when I'm on the road?" it won't be a big deal.

With everything chipping away at PC gaming, DRM isn't the worst thing that could happen. If I had to choose between a protected Starcraft 2 on PC and Starcraft 2 on X360/PS3, I'd go for the DRM'd PC version.

That said, if presented with an opportunity to buy a non-DRM'd game over a DRM'd game, I'll take the non-DRM every time (i.e.: GalCiv II & Sins of a Solar Empire over Civ 4, Darwinia and DEFCON over C&C 3).

Indie games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917937)

Over on the consoles, the copy-protection mechanisms are invisible to the average end-user. With Sony deciding to get rid of region protection for games, I'm actually in a position where I have no complaints whatsoever regarding the extent to which my PS3 and PSP are or are not locked down.
Until you want to play a new independent game, only to find that it's available only for Windows and Linux because Sony rejected it, Microsoft rejected it, and Nintendo rejected it.

Re:Indie games? (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918225)


However, for an overwhelming majority of gamers (including myself), I suspect that the offerings on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and Wii-ware will be "good enough" in this respect.

The fact is that despite the gems scattered out there, most indie games are awful (while most mainstream commercial games are merely average-ish). Now that my job means I have less free time, I'd rather spend what gaming time I have playing decent games rather than sifting through trash to find them. Having somebody at MS (or Sony, or Nintendo) do part of the job for me by vetting what makes it onto their online services offends me less as an idea than it would have done a few years ago.

Mass Defect (2, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917661)

Is this guy retarded? I'm not buying Mass Effect for this *exact reason*.

Meanwhile, Sins of a Solar Empire, a DRM free game, enters it's 6th month on the top 10 selling games list.

Re:Mass Defect (1)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917793)

Stardock games do use DRM. It's is an online activation/hardware tying system, like most other. The main difference is that it is only activated after some patches : the original game has no protection, but when you patch (after a few early patch), you do have to activate with your CD key (and no, this is not a simple "register your key on our website to access the download page").

Re:Mass Defect (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918435)

I own Sins & you're pretty much wrong. I had to put a CD key in once. That isn't DRM. They aren't installing crapware on my PC nor are they "tying" my CD Key to a specific machine's hardware, nor do I have to authorize my install everytime I want to play (or every 10 days or whatever), nor do I have a limit on the number of machines I can install Sins on.

Re:Mass Defect (1)

Jthon (595383) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918603)

Actually, Sins has no copy protection.

I have the game and the only use of the CD key that came with it was to register at the game's website. By registering I have access to game patches and updates and that's about it. The updates don't even require anything special to download and could just be mirrored by anyone (I assume the license says no mirroring).

Arrogance (3, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918319)

It is becoming pretty clear from all these DRM articles lately that many Slashdotters are extremely arrogant. I say many because I have to assume that is the case when the majority of the comments that are modded up deal with people saying either: DRM is bad and will cost them more customers than if they left it open or DRM will cause the posting Slashdotter to pirate the game. I say this is arrogant because there is just some sort of assumption that what they are saying is factual without any thing to back it up. You may feel that DRM costs them more customers because you won't by it, but more likely it is the case that they ran the numbers and found that not to be true. Also, it is arrogant to think you are morally ok to pirate the game just because they do something you don't like.

I am fine with the people who buy the game than use a cracked version. But the people who just pirate and justify it are just nuts. I actually don't care if you pirate the game, just don't make up stuff saying that what you are doing is right. If people didn't pirate, there wouldn't be DRM. Yet Slashdot blames the companies for adding DRM and openly admit they will pirate the game. This just further justifies their actions. I just don't understand why some of you are so irrational about this. It is like a religious debate where facts and logic have no room to exist.
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