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The State of Piracy and DRM In PC Gaming

Soulskill posted about 6 years ago | from the some-of-the-people-some-of-the-time dept.

Games 387

VideoGamer sat down with Randy Stude, president of the PC Gaming Alliance, to talk about the state of piracy and DRM in today's gaming industry. He suggests that many game studios have themselves to blame for leaks and pre-launch piracy by not integrating their protection measures earlier in the development process. He mentions that some companies, such as Blizzard and Valve, have worked out anti-piracy schemes that generate much less of a backlash than occurred for Spore . Stude also has harsh words for companies who decline to create PC versions of their games, LucasArts in particular, saying, "LucasArts hasn't made a good PC game in a long time. That's my opinion. ... It's ridiculous to say that there's not enough audience for that game ... and that it falls into this enthusiast extreme category when ported over to the PC. That's an uneducated response." Finally, Stude discusses what the PCGA would like to see out of Vista and the next version of Windows.

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Mac Users (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449667)

enjoy receiving half-wiped dirty buttsex.

Second post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449683)

You bastard. I just found out about the How is babby formed [somethingawful.com] meme, was about to use it as the basis of an excellent first-post troll, but you beat me to it.

Curse you, sir!

Re:Second post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449913)

Yeah well I was going to post the most Informative essay ever to be seen on slashdot, of course how there's no point since it won't be first. Then again on second thought, most Informative on slashdot isn't all that Informative.

MOD PARENT DOWN (then vote McCain!) (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450175)

Vote McCain!

Yeah well I was going to post the most Informative essay ever to be seen on slashdot,

See above, I just posted the most informative essay Slashdot has ever seen.

Easy - make the Games free and charge for online (5, Interesting)

The_Fire_Horse (552422) | about 6 years ago | (#25449675)

If a game is good, charge a nominal fee which includes patches, etc and ability to play online. Those who dont want to pay can play the local version (and may get hooked and end up paying)

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (5, Insightful)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | about 6 years ago | (#25449733)

I don't know why the parent was modded -1. Creative business models around video games like this have succeeded. If I remember correctly, Guild Wars charged for the game and subsequent upgrades but online play was free, which often negated the cost of the game as many would attest to after months and years of playing other games such as WoW (look up the guy that plays 36 characters and spends ~$5700 yearly on subscriptions). Forcing game companies to become more competitive and creative is a good thing.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (5, Insightful)

Skrapion (955066) | about 6 years ago | (#25449805)

The problem is that it's encouraging "creativity" in the wrong places. If the industry abandoned traditional business models, we'd never have Portal or Ico. These games would not have been improved with online-play.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449867)

The problem is that it's encouraging "creativity" in the wrong places. If the industry abandoned traditional business models, we'd never have Portal or Ico. These games would not have been improved with online-play.

I realize your mother was a bra-burning "I don't need a man!" feminist so perhaps you have become used to hyphenation, but "online play" is not a hyphenated word. Shit, at least your error was novel. Usually people capitalize words that are not proper nouns when they want to display shitty attention to detail and command of their native language. You were kind enough to fuck up in a novel way.

That's an easy question (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449809)

I don't know why the parent was modded -1.

Because there are a LOT of douchebag moderators who either:

are complete fucking morons who don't read the comments they moderate or don't grasp the concept of context or don't understand what they read and decide to moderate it anyway, or

are deliberately being assholes.

Re:That's an easy question (-1, Offtopic)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | about 6 years ago | (#25450257)

It works out being good. Those who get mod points who mod insightful or intelligent comments down without understanding of their context don't deserve to be mods, simply because if we can't trust them to distinguish between a good post and something worthy of being modded down, we probably can't trust them to recognize something that deserves to be modded up.

Man that was a long sentence.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449829)

Indeed. I'm a habitual software pirate. I know it's wrong, but I simply don't want to pay more for less.

Games with significant online content (MP mostly) I buy or skip entirely. I have bought, and not even at a discount, the entire Guild Wars series, as well as a great number of the optional addon content (extra character slots, skill unlock packs). I have spent more on GW than any one other game series in PC history. Why? It's good, it's fairly priced, has effectively no copy protection, and I can freely download the client. I have several times set it down for months and then picked up again. A subscription MMO would have lapsed, and I would likely have lost my characters or their gear.

This is why I don't play WoW. GW is better in all the ways I care about. Steam is also a leader in the Right Way to do things. I have probably bought more titles on Steam than via physical purchase over the last 4 or 5 years. Physical media is dying.

Liar! (0, Flamebait)

SL Baur (19540) | about 6 years ago | (#25449907)

A subscription MMO would have lapsed, and I would likely have lost my characters or their gear.

This is why I don't play WoW.

There are better and real reasons not to play WoW. Lapsed accounts do not lose characters, nor their stuff. That is a lie or you do not have the command of the English language that you think you have.

Re:Liar! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450001)

Wow, asshole. He OBVIOUSLY isn't interested in playing WoW. Why should he know that lapsed accounts don't lose their characters/gear? I didn't, nor do I want to know, because I don't fucking care. You stupid shit stained cunt.

Re:Liar! (1, Insightful)

SL Baur (19540) | about 6 years ago | (#25450415)

He OBVIOUSLY isn't interested in playing WoW.

I have no problem with that, but that is not what he wrote.

A subscription MMO would have lapsed, and I would likely have lost my characters or their gear.

Having the "likely" in there does not make it any less an idiotic, untrue and almost slanderous statement. He qualified it with "This is why I don't play WoW." and that does make it slander, or at least undeserved flame bait. It's not true.

Oh and I *have* had direct experience with the enforcement of Blizzard rules. I bought my wife a subscription (while she's pregnant, she's staying in a country outside of the "officially" supported WoW zone) and she happened to play on a pirate server (I do not know all the details, except that I got angry with her and told her she should not have done that) and eventually when I was able to fix her account, that character got deleted with a stern email message from Blizzard. The account was not deleted nor was mine, which was on the same CC number. Only the offensive character was deleted.

I have found Blizzard to be extremely fair in enforcing fair play rules. *Extremely fair*.

I wish they supported a native Linux client, and I will push them every way I know how to enable that, but in the meantime, I appreciate their support for MacOS X, Unix is Unix, and I love their games and so does my wife. And unlike gaming companies like EA, Blizzard *cares* about its customers and lets us know constantly how much it cares about us.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (5, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 years ago | (#25449929)

Even games that don't charge still can make money this way. For example, Neverwinter Nights 1 patched out its CD copy protection, but piracy remained low on the game because a big part of the game was automatic updates (which requires unique serial numbers), online persistent worlds, and the sheer numbers of player made modules available which equaled or surpassed the single player campaign of the game.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (3, Informative)

Greyor (714722) | about 6 years ago | (#25450045)

If we're going to talk about MMORPGs, PlaneShift [planeshift.it] is often overlooked IMHO, and it's very much free-to-play, as well as in beer and (mostly) libre (although note the proprietary licence for art and game rules, more about protecting the quality and consistency of the game than anything else).

It's not as popular as WoW by any means, but it's certainly a lot of fun, even given the fact that it's pre-1.0 in terms of status.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (3, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | about 6 years ago | (#25450039)

I'd hardly call free but a fee to play online a creative business model. We usually call that a scam.

The difference is that Guild Wars gives people something, and there is never a fee you'll ever have to pay again to play the same thing, even if you lose the CD's. That is not the case with Wow, or Warhammer or any other mmo. The difference is those games (wow,warhammer, any pay or subscription mmo) are subsidizing their users to pay for the privilege to play an inevitable grind at the cost of the company's bandwidth. It's comparable to taxing people for air usage.

A real creative business model would be something you can embrace that doesn't have infinite fuckups (drm, subscription fees), and uses common sense. Such as, I don't know, paying for a game and not having subscription fees, drm, or cd keys or any forced "linkage" of any sort? Go back to requiring a cd in virtual CD or physical form, and we'll all be happy. Will it sell more copies in reality? You bet you it will. Is it cheaper to not have to pay a company to DRM your software (or engineers to do it)? Absolutely.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (0, Troll)

shmlco (594907) | about 6 years ago | (#25450231)

"The difference is those games (wow,warhammer, any pay or subscription mmo) are subsidizing their users to pay for the privilege to play an inevitable grind at the cost of the company's bandwidth."

Bandwidth? Yeah, you're paying for bandwidth. I mean, it's not like they created the client software, the server software, the game, the characters, the entire world, or like they pay for servers, hosting, and the BANDWIDTH.

Sheesh.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 6 years ago | (#25450307)

That is not the case with Wow, or Warhammer or any other mmo. The difference is those games (wow,warhammer, any pay or subscription mmo) are subsidizing their users to pay for the privilege to play an inevitable grind at the cost of the company's bandwidth. It's comparable to taxing people for air usage.

Just because you don't enjoy playing MMO's doesn't mean other people don't either, you know. Anything in particular happen to make you feel this way, or were you just unable to hook up with folks ingame?

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (3, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | about 6 years ago | (#25449933)

You're not really explaining why you're entitled to other people's work. Video games don't just write themselves. If I spend hours and hours writing a game, why should I just give you a copy for free?

That's cool if people want to volunteer their time and do that, but I really don't see why you think you're entitled to it.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 6 years ago | (#25450051)

On the flip side, why are you magically entitled to anyone's money just because you spent effort on anything (let alone programming a game)? Trade for something, sure. Reality of the currency barter is that setting a specific price is not respective of people's perception of value. What you think is worth 500$ and maybe is to one or two people, might be worth 0$ to the rest of the world. This is why letting people pick their own prices works. However, the simple answer is that you're not entitled to other people's money.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (3, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | about 6 years ago | (#25450191)

This is why letting people pick their own prices works.

But it's not your decision to make. If I build a car and decide to sell it for $5000, your only options are to buy it for $5000 or not buy it for $5000. You can't just steal it from me and give me $1000 because that's all you think it's worth. That's just not how trading works. If it were, I could kick you out of your house, toss you a $5 bill and claim I bought it from you.

However, the simple answer is that you're not entitled to other people's money.

And where did I say that I was?

Easy - Give away the money and charge for...? (0)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 6 years ago | (#25450197)

Ok, so we have one side saying "you're not entitled to my work" and we have the other saying "you're not entitled to my money" and yet we have sites like this [piratebay.com] . So where's the site the creator can go to to download "free money"?

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (5, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | about 6 years ago | (#25450269)

"However, the simple answer is that you're not entitled to other people's money."

And you're not entitled to the game. See how easy that was? But the simple answer is that he's not entitled to your money, and you're not entitled to his work.

He created a product and set a price for it. You get to determine if that product has sufficient value to you and, if so, to pay the price. Quid pro quo. If, however, you DON'T think it has value, then you're free not to pay, and he is not "magically entitled" to anything. He invested his time and money, rolled the dice, and lost.

"...setting a specific price is not respective of people's perception of value."

Actually it is. As said, you're free to make the judgement call on your own.

"What you think is worth 500$ and maybe is to one or two people, might be worth 0$ to the rest of the world."

Again, don't pay. If enough people fail to do so, maybe he'll adjust his price accordingly. Or maybe he's happy with one or two $500 sales. His creation, his choice.

The problem with letting you decide what, if anything, you're willing to pay is that it always devolves into people not paying their share, or what game theorists call the "free rider" problem.

Me, I just call 'em parasites.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450313)

I never understood what "boggle" meant in "the mind boggles", until I tried to figure out how you could possibly think anybody's talking about being entitled to somebody else's money.

It's really fucking simple: trade or don't. That way nobody is acting entitled.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (3, Interesting)

William Baric (256345) | about 6 years ago | (#25450057)

I play almost exclusively single player games. I have no interest for on-line gaming. The only exception was with a game called Trackmania and some PBeM I played in the 80s and early 90s. I never played an RTS on-line (although I did play Warcraft 2 on a local network), I never played an FPS on-line (again, only on a local network) and I never played any on-line RPG. I just don't see what's fun with on-line gaming.

I'm not saying your idea is not good for a few games, but the truth is a lot of people never play on-line. Most people I know play video games, but very few play on-line. For the game Trackmania, the only one I played on-line, it was only a small percentage of people owning the game who ended up trying the on-line mode. I really don't think it would be a good idea for most game to use this business model.

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450169)

I just finished COD4 over the weekend curtsy of our friends at TPB. I bought it today after work for the MP. This is quite a common trend for me. I might be a dirty pirate, but I also see value in these alternate business models. (Even if it wasnâ(TM)t exactly intentional in my case)

Re:Easy - make the Games free and charge for onlin (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#25450439)

If a game is good, charge a nominal fee which includes patches, etc and ability to play online.

Those who dont want to pay can play the local version (and may get hooked and end up paying)

That's a solution for those few games that are a balance between single player and multiplayer. WOW would be what without the online? Wouldn't be a draw at all to run around an empty world. Conversely, how many people would pay for online of half life?

The State of Piracy and DRM In PC Gaming (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449691)

is the FIRST thing you should POST about.

FAIL FAIL FAIL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449713)

You fucking fail it!

Insert New Business Model Here (5, Insightful)

crowtc (633533) | about 6 years ago | (#25449707)

If the publishers would spend more time pushing out innovative games (not the most recent installment of the flavor of the month) and provide a reason to purchase a genuine copy, then maybe they wouldn't need to be in the business of criminalizing their own customers.

Spore is at least innovative and provides some value to the original owner of the game, in spite of the stupid DRM. IMO, it would be nice if they could transfer those rights to the secondary market though.

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (4, Insightful)

daver00 (1336845) | about 6 years ago | (#25449821)

The way I see it there is one genuine and absolute way to give a reason to purchase a game: Online play. Xbox live and err PS3 online something are basically the ONLY reason why people seem to have stopped mod chipping and pirating. Time was PS2 and Xbox games were pirated so fiercely that the PC pirate industry would blush, thats just not the case anymore.

Hell I'll fess up: I've started buying PC games again (or just started). I'm fairly old for a gamer at 26 and I'll be honest, the last thing I bought before this year was the Warcraft 2 expansion pack. Yes thats right (to be honest I didn't buy WC2 either, I used my mates disk to install it then the expansion pack disk was a cheap alternative to legitimate play). The only reason things have changed is that I want online play. Now the thing is that this feature has built in online verification and it doesn't get in your way!

All this limiting installs business, Securom rootkits, internet requirements and so on blows my mind it is so morally corrupt. The whole notion fundamentally defies market principles, any other industry would belaughed out of the room if they suggested to government they needed this kind of regulation. And most of all it DOESNT WORK. Hear this game developers, none of your methods, none of them, ever have ever worked and never will. Not even on consoles! Barring one: Online play.

Its criminal how utterly STUPID these people are that they do not realise this and do something about it, something other than swimming against the tide.

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449981)

I'm fairly old for a gamer at 26

No, you're fairly young for a gamer at 26, unless you're British. The average American gamer is 7 years older than you.

http://www.theaveragegamer.com/averagegamers/ [theaveragegamer.com]

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (5, Insightful)

GFree678 (1363845) | about 6 years ago | (#25449875)

Innovation is overrated. I prefer playing games that are fun. It is possible to create a game that's innovative and yet not that much fun, Spore being a good example. It is also possible to make a game that's innovative AND fun, Portal being a good example.

Innovation is a nice concept, but all in all, I'd prefer a game that's just plain fun, innovative or not. Believe it or not, some formulas aren't "tired" and can be done again and again with a few changes between iterations. The GTA and Civilization games come to mind.

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (2, Interesting)

jonaskoelker (922170) | about 6 years ago | (#25450373)

some formulas aren't "tired" and can be done again and again with a few changes between iterations. The GTA and Civilization games come to mind.

Some additions to that list:

The Zelda series [I've played OoT a little some years ago, and completed TP, now and in april/may]. I don't know the franchise that well, but I hear most of the time you know you're going to be riding around in Hyrule solving puzzles in dungeons to collect items that'll help you save the princess from Ganondorf's clutches. Tried and true; my knowledge of what was going to happen based on OoT didn't do a damn thing to detract from the value of TP, it was great fun.

The Guitar Hero series. It's still the same idea: hit the colorful gems with the correct timing. What changes is the details of the gem placement and the background music. [again, confession/background: I've played like three tracks of GH2 and a handful or two of GH: Aerosmith; I own GH3, have gold-starred the setlist on easy and most bonus tracks, gold-starred tier 1-7 plus dover on medium with one third of the bonus tracks, 5* half of hard, 3* all except Reign in Blood and One, 3+* tier 1-6 on expert; IOW, I'm short of completing it by the other 90%]. Based on my experience with the earlier titles, GH3 is exactly what was expected, and still damn fun.

Starcraft seems to be a good example, too: most people want SC2 to be something pretty much like SC1 with better graphics and a few changes for flavor and balance (I, for one, welcome our mind-controlling overlords; Mind Control definitely has a zergish flavor).

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (1)

msormune (808119) | about 6 years ago | (#25449919)

If the publishers would spend more time pushing out innovative games (not the most recent installment of the flavor of the month) and provide a reason to purchase a genuine copy, then maybe they wouldn't need to be in the business of criminalizing their own customers.

That's a great theory, but it didn't work even in the early 90's when there was no internetz. Innovative games got pirated and great game companies like Origin and Looking Glass went under, or got bought by bigger companies.

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#25450251)

If the publishers would spend more time pushing out innovative games (not the most recent installment of the flavor of the month) and provide a reason to purchase a genuine copy, then maybe they wouldn't need to be in the business of criminalizing their own customers.

To be cynical, games companies don't want to reduce piracy too much. It's the best excuse they have for when the investors ask why the revenue isn't coming in as promised. Choosing a mediocre DRM system that hackers can circumvent lets them shift the blame to the providers of the DRM system and the Evil customers. Again and again and again. The investors who let them do it aren't the smartest, methinks.

What irks me the most, though, is, as TFA hints at, that most "PC games" these days are just console ports. They don't take good advantage of the input methods of a PC, nor the "unlimited" storage capabilities, nor he sharper resolution. Why, exactly, would I want to fork out $50 to play a blurry joypad game on my 20" monitor when I can play the same game on a 40" TV? And, mind, the console game will continue to work if I change or repair my console. I can even sell it to someone else if I don't like it.

And where are the good RPGs replacing those of the last decade? Are there really no customers anymore for games like Baldur's Gate or Ultima IV?
And why are most RTS games of today all about T and not about S? Reaction time is all that matters. With the original Warcraft, you had time to think and create strategies. With games like C&C Generals and LotR, it's all a clickfest.
And what happened to the god games, like Settlers and Populous? Did the truly awful Black&White 1&2 kill the genre off for good?

Re:Insert New Business Model Here (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#25450477)

If the publishers would spend more time pushing out innovative games (not the most recent installment of the flavor of the month) and provide a reason to purchase a genuine copy, then maybe they wouldn't need to be in the business of criminalizing their own customers.

Ideal world, yeah. But of course, publishing only novel games is very risky, while a lot of companies make tons of money without it. EA traditionally hasn't done much innovation, instead doing the exact milking of franchises that you described. But they're not going to file for bankrupcy any time soon. That's where you make your money.

On the other hand, there are plenty of good unique games that were failures, psychonauts being the textbook example.

It would be nice if we could kill two birds with one stone: getting rid of DRM and stale games, but I think getting game companies to give up their cash cows will only result in no DRM if they all go out of buisness.

Why developers don't like making games for PC (5, Insightful)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | about 6 years ago | (#25449727)

Not because there isn't an audience, but because the audience is too diverse. From the $4000 liquid cooled (or even oil cooled [slashdot.org] ) systems to the Pentium IVs, it's hard to find settings that work across the board, or scale well.

Console games all play on machines with roughly the same processing power. That makes things a lot easier.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (4, Interesting)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | about 6 years ago | (#25449797)

Do you have any basis for making this claim, or is this just a good sounding excuse that you heard once and are now repeating?

It could be that what you claim is what developers are thinking, but we'd have to find some game company executive in charge of that sort of decision and ask them if we wanted to find out. It's not obvious enough that we can come to a conclusion by guessing - if you declare a PC platform like "Windows XP, Direct X 9 Dedicated Graphics" that's a relatively large install base. People with older PCs are no more relevant than PS2s are if you're considering developing a PS3 game.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (4, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 6 years ago | (#25449945)

Okay, to back up the original post, I used to contract for Epicgames on the Unreal series. When developing for the main PC market, we were constantly rolling our specs and expectations forward and backwards, gain some here, lose some there, roll up with this new tech etc. When porting to consoles everything was set in lovely stone. This is the amount of memory you have, this is how much transfer you have. It is amazingly much easier to do development work when you have limits like "Your textures for this level/environment cannot be more than xxx megs total" or "your level has to be under xxx megs in file size to load properly". This is black and white. You know the performance you will get, you won't see a shift here or there. On the other hand, working with the PC development, it's not black and white, it's all a shifting gradient.

Let me use a slashdot friendly car analogy.

Working with a console is like buying a little hatchback and keeping it factory standard. You know how fast it goes, you know how much you can pop into the back before it gets too much. Working with PC's is like going to a custom car show. Each one is different, you don't know how fast they go and you don't even know if there is space beside the subs in the back to fit any luggage.

Which one can potentially be better is a no brainer, but which one is easier to plan around is just as plain.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 6 years ago | (#25450071)

Or there's that "minimum specs" idea, or using common sense to program for the lowest common denominator in a similar fashion to a console, no?

Isn't that how blizzard, warhammer, all sorts of games do well? By programming for the lowest common denominator as a console does?

Sounds like sales has their hands steering way too much of the developer pot, in general.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 6 years ago | (#25450125)

Yes, minimum specs is what you go for, but minimum specs is not how the majority of people play, and it's that problem of finding out how things scale past that point that is the difficulty.

Example: "Some Game" has min specs at a P4 with 1gig ram and a 128meg graphics card with hardware T&L. That makes it play at an acceptable 25 frames at 800x600 res on low detail textures (256x256) and with low shadows and no AA.

The hard thing is to work out how well it will play on PC's when you bump it up to say:

1) 1920x1600 resolution.
2) Drop in high detail volumetric shadows.
3) Use 1024x1024 (or bigger) textures and shaders.
4) Dump in a whole load of particle effects.
5) Add in anti aliasing.
6) Use cards that support physics engines.
7) Profit (Sorry, couldn't help it)... but you get the idea.

Having a console where you know the exact everything about everything is awesome because people won't touch things like the examples above. You might not be able to get it running in super high resolution with all those little fancy things going, but you know how EVERY gamer will see it. For a developer, you can't ask for much more.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (5, Insightful)

n dot l (1099033) | about 6 years ago | (#25450393)

Or there's that "minimum specs" idea, or using common sense to program for the lowest common denominator in a similar fashion to a console, no?

No. Programming for the lowest common denominator means making a game that looks five years old. Publishers will publish those games, but they will not market and sell them along with all the other big name titles. Blizzard gets away with low (though ever rising) min-specs on WoW because the game's art is cartoonish - it doesn't look like it should be ultra-realistic or anything. Most games, however, won't have art direction that allows similarly low min specs without giving the impression that the game belongs in the $10 bin. The only way to support a low min spec while pleasing publishers is to make content that scales, and that opens a whole new set of problems (unless you're huge and can throw your weight around like Blizzard). Now the physics engine needs to work in "low end" and "high end" mode (tons of testing and hunting for subtle bugs - who remembers the little bugs in Quake3's movement code that only show up when the server runs at certain multiples of some frequency?), and the graphics code ends up with separate code paths for "Intel Integrated", "old NVIDIA", "not-so-old NVIDIA", "recent NVIDIA", "bleeding-edge NVIDIA", "old ATI", the list goes on - all which the artists and designers then have to work around. The fact that all you see is a neat little "Graphics Quality" slider is a testament to some graphics programmer's hard work and his company's amazing QA team.

And it's never as simple as typing if( uber_shadows_supported ) here and there, as most of the "this game doesn't do much, it should run on my machine, this developer sucks for not supporting my machine!" crowd likes to scream. The available set of GL extensions and D3D capability flags varies hugely and in unpredictable ways across hardware, and even driver revisions, leading to many subtle bugs where features are half-implemented (*cough* ATI *cough*) or missing for no good reason (*cough* Apple) or implemented three times in three ways because the vendors couldn't agree on what to call a function (most any recent GL extension), and all sorts of crap like that. The amount of testing and bug-fixing even a single "enable shadows" option adds is massive. Also, once you have a moving target you lose the ability to fine-tune the art for the system. Suddenly you have to add things like low/medium/high-detail texture support (because you don't know what the target resolution is so you have no idea of knowing what resolution the game will ultimately run at), which means the artists have to do tons of extra work, which must be tested and reviewed, etc. Oh yes, resolution and aspect ratio. Because those can now be anything and the HUD has to do something intelligent about it instead of just throwing up the perfectly hand-tweaked 4:3 or the lovingly crafted 16:9 version, as you can do with a console.

And then, on top of that, every now and then the hardware companies will ship a driver that has a bug in it, or some malware will eat a critical file, or some other small catastrophe will befall one of your customers, and you'll have to hire a support department to tell people "upgrade your drivers", or "downgrade your drivers", and the all-time favorite, "You can get the latest drivers from your video card manufacturer's web site. What do you mean, 'What's a video card?'".

Gah. It's late and I'm ranting. I'll stop.

With a console, on the other hand, you know you have X CPU cycles, a GPU that can push Y triangles and shade Z pixels, and a memory buss that will transfer W bytes each frame. You decide what effects you want to see, you tell the artists "you have X triangles and Y MB of texture space - textures should have such and such dimensions per game unit", you tell the designers "X square meters of destructible wall, Y throwable objects, no more than Z players at a time", and then spend the time you used to spend dealing with odd driver configurations polishing your physics or your gameplay or whatever to perfection. Graphics are tuned for one - maybe two (if you don't like the way the built-in output chip up/down-scales) - resolutions. Simply running the game and adding MAX_PHYSICS_OBJECTS items to a level tells you exactly how fast physics will run, and you tune for that. You compile the console OS right into your executable, so there are no driver updates to come along and pull the rug out from under you. And in the end, if it runs and passes QA you are done. If it doesn't work, it must be the console itself, and that's the console vendor's problem, not yours.

Don't get me wrong, it's not hopeless or anything. good PC games obviously exist. But it pisses me off when people that obviously don't have a clue go off about how simple PC development should be, and how game developers are just lazy and ignorant for not making $GAME_I_LOVE run at 75fps on $MY_OLD_MACHINE. You can talk about common sense all you want, but it gets you nowhere when you're up against the ridiculous array of hardware capabilities spewed out by AMD/NV/Intel, their oft-broken drivers, an unknown amount of RAM shared with an unknown number of background programs (often malware), Windows itself, and a host of other issues you didn't even know existed until the game ships and a bunch of people start screaming embarrassing things on your forums.

On the other hand, consoles give you no room (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 6 years ago | (#25450505)

It is not unknown for PC-gamers to update their hardware for a game. Can't update a console. You are stuck with what it was designed to be years ago. Why do you think SWG and EQ from SONY never made it to the console? Because they can't. Games that were once state of the art (and don't forget that even WoW pushed some machines at launch) find themselves with better and better hardware in their lifetime.

As a console developer, you are always stuck with the current generation of hardware. You can never push beyond it, never just say "fuck it, we need 4 gigs and that is the market we are going after". Any decent developer knows how to deal with multiple settings. Just lower the texture detail often helps a lot with performance but it means you can have amazing screenshots and low specs at the same time.

Sorry, but if your company was unable to come up with a PC spec to aim at, they can't have been very good. All it requires is to look at what PC's dell sells to consumers. Similar to having to research just what the spread is between console versions (HD space) and accesories.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (1)

cjb658 (1235986) | about 6 years ago | (#25449803)

Could it be that there are more console gamers because nobody makes PC games?

I mean Microsoft was actively involved in trying to move people from PCs to consoles. (Why?)

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (2, Interesting)

santiagodraco (1254708) | about 6 years ago | (#25449863)

I hate playing on a console. It's a pain in the ass. I'd much rather play on a PC, be able to switch to a browser when I want, use a keyboard and mouse (it's so much easier to play a game with a kb and mouse imo).

Certainly consoles have provided a less expensive way to get quality graphics and gameplay. It has nothing to do with "finding the right level of PC but rather the fact that ANY PC that can play games of console caliber will cost more than the console itself. That's a fact.

Consoles are a necessary evil but if they'd produce quality PC games they'll sell well.

I wonder, anyone have the sales figures for Oblivion? That's a good example of a PC/Console game that utilizes the hardware to it's full potential.

Xbox Fiasco Main Culprit (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449865)

Microsoft has so far wasted some 7-8 billion dollars on the Xbox fiasco. Around 4-5 billion on the first Xbox and another 3 billion or so on the 360 including the insane 1.1 billion just for the RRoD defect costs.

And they are letting the PC game market just wither and die.

Just think if they had not thrown all that money at the Xbox mess and instead invested even half of those wasted billions on supporting PC game developers. The PC section at the local major electronics chain keeps getting smaller and smaller with boxes scattered on the shelves. And it has been moved into an area that is with a bunch of other crap that you never see people browsing through.

The console section has large advertising banners overhead, stocked shelves, end caps with promotions going on, TVs seteup with games to be played, and constant traffic.

All that stuff costs money and effort by publishers and console makers to arrange and setup. Microsoft is doing nothing. Absolutely nothing for the PC gaming sections of stores.

No wonder more and more major PC developers are making the move from console ports of their PC games to dual releases to even worse console first PC port later games and perhaps eventually just dropping the PC entirely.

Someone at Microsoft needs to wake the fuck up and dump this Xbox garbage and save PC gaming before it is beyond repair. PC gaming was one of the major reasons DOS/Windows became so popular because all the IT guys in companies wanted to work on the same systems at work that they had at home.

Re:Xbox Fiasco Main Culprit (1)

SL Baur (19540) | about 6 years ago | (#25449947)

Just think if they had not thrown all that money at the Xbox mess and instead invested even half of those wasted billions on supporting PC game developers.

Just think about what would be different if they put that kind of money into QA in their OS division ... At the rate the large company I am working is moving, they'll be transitioned to Microsoft Vista at least a year or two after Microsoft Windows 7 is released (unless guys like me who are supporting transition to Linux win in the meantime).

Re:Xbox Fiasco Main Culprit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449979)

Vista is the best OS Microsoft has ever put out.

Rock solid stability. Completely virus and spyware free despite my massive amount of torrent downloading. Game performance is equal to XP.

The 360, however, needs to be taken out back behind the Redmond campus and put out of its misery. Easily the biggest piece of shit product Microsoft has ever made.

 

Re:Xbox Fiasco Main Culprit (1)

SL Baur (19540) | about 6 years ago | (#25450221)

Vista is the best OS Microsoft has ever put out.

Rock solid stability.

That's what you guys say every time. My rough estimate (I do not do Microsoft Windows) is that you are currently up to the level of mid 1980s Unix System V/R2 in stability (months of uptime at a time if you know what not to do). Some day you will catch up.

You have a lot of work to do on your filesystems^H though. Required periodic defragmentation is like so obsolete ...

Re:Xbox Fiasco Main Culprit (3, Interesting)

bernywork (57298) | about 6 years ago | (#25450005)

I hate to add to what I think is flamebait, but....

Microsoft saw the PS2, and was concerned that Sony was going to get the "Gateway to the lounge room" or whatever it was that they were thinking at the time. They were concerned that they were going to lose out to Sony in regards to a market they didn't know about. They started looking and realised that they could make money from it. Gaming in the lounge room has always been a large industry, and with the addition of the Wii it has become larger as they now have casual gamers added in there too.

So, it was just another business venture, and MS knowing that they were behind decided to buy their way in. It wasn't that they wanted to kill off the PC gaming area, if that's really what they wanted to do they wouldn't have come up with DX10 or maintained DirectX full stop, they would just drop it and let it wither and die. The only problem with that would have been the competition from OpenGL that would have eventually caught up to the position DirectX was in (In regards to graphics) and that would be a threat they don't want. Simply it would just be easier to keep supporting the DirectX platform and have fingers in both pies.

Besides, they want to keep their monopoly on the OS business (Remember what everyone calls the MS tax?) if they let games die off, they would lose market share to Linux as there are a number of people who would keep Windows around to play games.

Absolutely nothing for the PC gaming sections of stores. Absolutely correct, they aren't doing anything, it's a simple business decision, they aren't making any money from it. Why burn money on a platform that you aren't getting anything from?

PC gaming was one of the major reasons DOS/Windows became so popular because all the IT guys in companies wanted to work on the same systems at work that they had at home Actually the PC platform was for business first, and the IT guys had to learn it for work. After that then the games came about. That turned a little bit cyclic as one of the reasons I got into IT was because of gaming, and learning the platform because of games.

Re:Xbox Fiasco Main Culprit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450103)

Sigh...

Another teenage idiot regurgitating a bunch of crap he 'read on the Net' trying to sound like he has a fucking clue.

Xbox will be killed off, don't worry (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450167)

Microsoft has been letting go or closing large numbers of Xbox first party or exclusive developers over the past year or two. The now only have Rare, Lionhead, Turn 10, and maybe one more working on Xbox titles.

Microsoft has also been moving Xbox services over to Vista and been starting to work on Vista exclusive titles and marketing.

Everything indicates Microsoft is preparing to let the Xbox quietly fade out in the market as they turn their attention back to Windows gaming. It would be a gigantic humiliation for the company if they outright killed off the Xbox mess after so many years and so many billions of dollars wasted on it.

With the recent 40 billion dollar stock buyback program and renewed talk about restarting the Yahoo take over efforts again, the willingness to continue to throw billions down the Xbox rathole look to be at an end. The Xbox 360 was supposed to be the one that the Xbox team finally did right after the first console's marketplace flop. They are lucky they even got a second chance with the 360.

Consoles are based on two fundamental pillars 1) Exclusive content and 2) Manufacturing technology. Microsoft already had the smallest by far exclusive content/developers at the start of this generation and it has continually gotten smaller as they have closed down or let go studio after studio. And the lack of manufacturing capabilities as turned out to be a complete fiasco with the hardware failures.

I think Microsoft knows they need to dump the Xbox mess and return their attention in full to Windows gaming. They have made a start over the past year and I expect we will see more over the next year as the 360 dies off in the market.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (1)

toiletsalmon (309546) | about 6 years ago | (#25450047)

"Console games all play on machines with roughly the same processing power. That makes things a lot easier."

I used to believe that too, until I had to get my Xbox 360 replaced two times within a year. I've move my slider back to a 70/30 split now between PC and Console. If there's a PC version, 9 times out of 10, that's what I'm going with. Otherwise, I'll keep the console around to play the occasional console exclusive. So for me that means, in the last 6 months and ahead in the next 6:

Things I actively chose NOT to buy for the console in the past:
-UT3
-Lost Planet
-Bioshock
-Half-Life 2
-Portal
-Team Fortress 2
-Prey
-Age of Conan (Granted, it's not out yet, but I would have made the same decision if it had released on time anyway)

Games I have decided NOT TO BUY on my CONSOLE in the near future (I WILL buy them for the PC instead):
-Dead Space
-Fallout 3
-FarCry 2
-Call of Duty 4
-Saints Row 2
-Left 4 Dead

So yeah, they need to quit it with this "nobody plays games on the PC" nonsense, or I might just start reading a book here or there. I pretty much bought all those games on the PC because I had MORE faith in the PC giving me a smoother experience than my Xbox 360.

Re:Why developers don't like making games for PC (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | about 6 years ago | (#25450115)

Fuzzy math? 70/30 = 90% of the time?

Spore (1)

Korbeau (913903) | about 6 years ago | (#25449749)

Just displays the evolution of the PC gaming industry..:)

'State of Piracy/DRM' - FTFA (2, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | about 6 years ago | (#25449755)

RS: "Piracy is an issue for some publishers, but if you sat down and you talk to Blizzard or Funcom or the guys at EA about Warhammer, about all the noise that was made about Spore and the reaction to the DRM, but they're still selling games and they're selling them well."

Despite the cryptic grammar, the key words 'selling' and 'games' are clear... When/if that process is put at risk, then there'll be an issue over piracy. As it stands now, piracy is most likely helping to simply sell more games.

Gee. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449763)

I went out and bought Sins of a Solar Empire recently.

First game purchase in years. I'll be honest, it's mostly because the market has degenerated into crap of late. But it's at least partially because - get this - I can play Sins without needing the disc. Without shitware being installed on my system. Without a company that knows better treating me like a goddamned thief.

There's no excuse for DRM, unless you put out crap games.

Re:Gee. (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 6 years ago | (#25449973)

yea, companies like Ironclad Games and valve are some the very few that don't see their customers are pirates until proven other wise. With that ideal valve will survive long past most.

Re:Gee. (2, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 years ago | (#25449997)

I think that is the exact problem with the gaming industry. Games seem to be for the most part stagnant, and companies are relying on either sequels or expansions to generate new sales.

The one game company I miss is Origin. Their games were buggy at times, but they almost always had an interesting story to tell and were unique and engaging, from the Ultima fantasy world to unique games like Privateer.

Those new games seem to be gone. I'd rather see a new game with a unique plot as opposed to the same old FPS except with perhaps more arm hair on the aliens visible.

Origin also handled "DRM" pretty well in the early to mid 90s. It was part of the game where to progress past a certain point, one needed to consult the manual (and it was random where.) Yes, people could copy the manual, but it stopped casual piracy cold because people were forced to make a deliberate effort.

Maybe its time for someone to return back to the roots of gaming and crank out something new, perhaps a remake of a classic game, if copyright permissions could be granted. I can think of a lot of old games that would be excellent remakes. The early Wizardry series for one (although combat and graphics would be obviously redone of course.) The Ultima series also comes to mind if one could license the IP from EA. Ultima 1 would be perfect for a remake especially.

As for copy protection, the best is none, of course, but a CD key system which what NWN 1 uses seems to be the least intrusive. Especially if there is content online to obtain. With no Draconian DRM, there will be a lot of peer pressure against people pirating a game as well.

Re:Gee. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450059)

and crank out something new, perhaps a remake of a classic game ...

what

The Buddy Effect (1)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | about 6 years ago | (#25450173)

I heard good things about SoaSE on Penny Arcade and went out and bought a copy. I had a lot of fun with it and took it to a friends house. I had noticed that it didn't even ask for the cd key during install so we installed it on his system and played on the lan for a couple days. Then we wanted to play online and he bought two more copies, one for him and his wife. Of course this is only anecdotal evidence but I suspect that it may be a fairly common scenario leading to higher sales on the game.

Re:Gee. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450317)

I went out and bought Sins of a Solar Empire recently.

First game purchase in years. I'll be honest, it's mostly because the market has degenerated into crap of late. But it's at least partially because - get this - I can play Sins without needing the disc. Without shitware being installed on my system.

Really? When I tried it, it required Quicktime and also installed Impulse, which definitely can be called shitware.

Re:Gee. (1)

KlausBreuer (105581) | about 6 years ago | (#25450399)

Same here - I bought Galactic Civilization I and II from these guys.

Reasons, in order of importance for me:

* Very good, personal and friendly support, both email and forums.
* Not too high prices for a very good game.
* Needs to be registered to be updated - and they update quite a lot, making a buy definitively worth it.
* Complete lack of any DRM nonsense.
* Great game.

Compare this to the 'normal' games you see on the shelf... would explain why I haven't bought a shelf game in years, and I used to buy a LOT.

Re:Gee. (3, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 6 years ago | (#25450423)

Sadly, the model that has worked for Stardock won't work for mainstream games. Sins is a success, and Stardock's lack of DRM is working because they appeal to a hardcore gamer niche market that is keenly aware of the issues around piracy; mostly, anyways.

Move this model out into the mainstream market, where little kids with Pokemon, boozed up frat boys with Halo, or just immature idiots with too much bandwidth, and that whole thing falls apart.

If your market is small, has a traditionally tight-knit community that has existing rapport with the major developers in that field (Stardock is one), keeping people honest is a lot easier than if you're dealing with a market with a much lower moral standard. Expecting the average Joe to go by the honor system is a little much.

DRM? No sir, not around these parts (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | about 6 years ago | (#25449773)

You could always try sending a message to the gaming industry by playing Game! - The Witty Online RPG [wittyrpg.com] . It's DRM free and you don't need to pirate it.

Re:DRM? No sir, not around these parts (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 years ago | (#25449849)

You could always try sending a message to the gaming industry by playing Game! - The Witty Online RPG. It's DRM free and you don't need to pirate it.

Or you could play Slashdot! It has very limited character development and most of the NPCs have an AI worthy of Nethack, but the end game is awesome.

Re:DRM? No sir, not around these parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450425)

Nethack killed my mother and raped my sister you insensitive clod!

Then SlashEM fucked my mom's dead body, then raped me too.

Piracy issue overstated (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 6 years ago | (#25449839)

For the most part games are HARDER to pirate on a console almost always requiring hardware mods, so if piracy were such a primary motivator, people would never buy consoles. They don't put draconian anti-piracy measures into most console games (yet) so by doing so on the PC they're pushing people further away. Consoles are fine for shoot them ups - platformers, FPS and the like, and they're even good for some interesting additions with peripherals like eyetoy, guitar sims, golf sims, fishing sims etc. but for certain games they're awful.

Any serious flight simulation for instance is best done on a PC, with a keyboard and multiple screens. I'm not talking about flight games, I'm talking about realistic simulation. Flight simulation isn't a potential mass market so any peripheral made for it tends to be pricy...and people do go to extremes. Flight sims also tend to need more power than consoles provide.

So what we're missing by going to the consoles is the flexibility. The other thing we're missing is the ability for a hobbiest to dive in and write their own software, although the games are complex enough now that there are only a handful of open games without a proprietary heritage. That's what the push is about - shutting out any remaining competition and innovation by hobby projects. The less competition and the harder it is for people to pirate, the more they can charge for 3rd rate games.

Console issue overstated (4, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 6 years ago | (#25450117)

"Consoles are fine for shoot them ups - platformers, FPS and the like, and they're even good for some interesting additions with peripherals like eyetoy, guitar sims, golf sims, fishing sims etc. but for certain games they're awful."

So basically the difference between one kind of computer vs another is external devices.

"The other thing we're missing is the ability for a hobbiest to dive in and write their own software, although the games are complex enough now that there are only a handful of open games without a proprietary heritage. "

XNA,Xbox live.

Re:Console issue overstated (1)

dunezone (899268) | about 6 years ago | (#25450335)

I understand what you're getting to and the parent post but he has a point.

XNA is fairly new so we haven't seen the full results behind it. And the peripheral market was there but is just really starting to grow now with the introduction of two games, dance dance revolution and guitar hero.

We haven't seen the long term results of these two markets. Personally, I got four guitars, a drum set, a microphone, and a dance pad that are just sitting around and I don't feel like getting burned buying another set for an updated game in the future.

Re:Piracy issue overstated (1)

shmlco (594907) | about 6 years ago | (#25450301)

When you put it that way, I'd say what MS needs to do is KEEP the HD DVD player in the XBOX, and only publish games in that format. That way they'd have a locked-in format that essentially couldn't be copied.

Me and gaming (1)

iamwhoiamtoday (1177507) | about 6 years ago | (#25449841)

I have multiple high end computers, ranging from an 8-core Mac Pro with an 8800GT, to a Quad Core SLI system running Vista with 8GB of ram. I have never owned a console. I previously never wanted a console. However, since games are now "console only" (like "The Force Unleashed") I am seriously considering buying a 360 or a PS3. I much prefer the Keyboard+Mouse controls, but when there are minimal good games come out.... they don't do much good. (Crysis + Crysis Warhead looked good, but the gameplay was really sub-par... especially in Warhead) The only thing that I use my high end gaming computer for anymore is World of Warcraft... (at least, the only thing it's used for out of video games) just my two cents

Backlash is right (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 years ago | (#25449845)

I don't know about anyone else, but I will NEVER be buying a call-home-during-install game again. I can't play Half-Life 2 because I can't make the updates over a modem, and I can't just play the damned game (even from my Steam backups!) Valve, pay attention - I will NOT be paying for Half-Life 3 if you keep this shit up, and I know you will. I have all but given up on PC gaming (At this point I play only Free/OpenSource games and classic games on the PC, and occasionally buy a console game title) because, frankly, it is hell. I am just tired of fucking with graphics drivers, sound drivers, directx releases... I want games to just work. If that means I play less games, then so be it. I have other things to do anyway. I believe the majority of the recent growth in the games industry has mostly been in console and handheld gaming anyway, why put more effort into a sinking ship?

The sad truth is that Microsoft probably killed the PC games industry with Direct3D. DirectX was a great idea but Direct3D was a brain-damaged one. Microsoft already had support for OpenGL, and OpenGL can already evolve as quickly as DirectX via Vendor-specific extensions (as it did with 3DFX's treatment of the SGIS_MULTITEXTURE extension.) Direct3D hampered cross-platform games development and now the situation looks especially bleak what with games requiring Vista, which nobody wants. I am simply not going to "upgrade" (haha) to Vista to play games.

Valve doesn't want you (5, Insightful)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | about 6 years ago | (#25449959)

I don't know about anyone else, but I will NEVER be buying a call-home-during-install game again. I can't play Half-Life 2 because I can't make the updates over a modem, and I can't just play the damned game (even from my Steam backups!) Valve, pay attention - I will NOT be paying for Half-Life 3 if you keep this shit up, and I know you will.

Sadly, your threats don't carry any weight -- Valve doesn't want you as a customer. They would ideally like to get out of retail and move entirely to digital distribution. They cut out the middlemen and have far greater margins that way.

As dialup user, you don't fit with their plans.

Re:Valve doesn't want you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450123)

I played the pirated versions of both Half Life 2 and Portal without hassles on my 56k (didn't like the games at all, glad I didn't pay for it). Steam is a bitch, piracy and/or consoles are really the only way to go.

Re:Valve doesn't want you (2, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 6 years ago | (#25450407)

That's like complaining about the grocery store being too far, and not catering to the minority who don't have cars. Seriously, staying on dialup is a personal choice, and you have to accept the consequences of it - i.e. not being able to participate in the increasingly media-heavy internet.

Digital distribution is a great development in the industry, and is a step forward in giving more margin to the developers who actually bring you the games, instead of the traditional publisher-takes-all model. Valve has come up with a system that strikes a pretty good balance between the needs of the consumer and the needs of the producer. Kudos to them for that.

If you go to a movie theater and didn't like the movie, are you entitled to a refund? Does that entitle you to sneak into the theater, because the movie probably would've sucked anyway? Your argument is weak and juvenile. If you wanted to play the game, you pay for it, or buy used, or go through the many legitimate channels to play it. If you don't like the rules they've imposed on you - DON'T PLAY THE GAME. I don't. There are lots of games I would like to check out, but I feel aren't worth the price of entry... and you know what? I simply don't play them, and I haven't lost any sleep over it.

LOL! Mod Points For A Retard With A Modem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450013)

Like anyone gives a fuck what some clown stuck in the 1990s has to say about modern gaming.

Re:LOL! Mod Points For A Retard With A Modem (4, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | about 6 years ago | (#25450067)

Give him a break. He wrote that message 8 years ago, it just took a while to transmit. He's probably changed his mind by now, and we'll find out about that in 2016.

Re:Backlash is right (1)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | about 6 years ago | (#25450143)

If dialup is really your only option then I feel sorry for you. However complaining that you can't play a game on an online distribution system because of your slow internet connection is like complaining that you can't play Crysis on a Voodoo Banshee.

Advocating More DRM? (4, Insightful)

cyberpear (1291384) | about 6 years ago | (#25449853)

It sounds like this Randy Stude guy is strongly advocating more and better DRM on games to me. It will always end up broken, and will only truly inconvenience those who have obtained the game legally.

Re:Advocating More DRM? (1)

panda cakes (1333537) | about 6 years ago | (#25450133)

DRM getting broken at the end is not an issue. The weakness of the modern DRM products is the speed at which they are getting cracked. A DRM system able to withstand for a couple of weeks would be as good as a perfectly uncrackable one in the game business. Few fanatics would still wait for the pirate releases but you would not get sales from them anyways the rest of people who pirate today would not be waiting for their peers to finish the game before they got their hands on the "free" version weeks later and bought it instead.

PC/console line blurring (2, Insightful)

PaleCommander (1358747) | about 6 years ago | (#25449895)

With Internet multiplay, multiple models in a product line, and installs for many games, the line between the PC and consoles as a game platform is becoming less distinct with each generation. As a member of the occasionally rabid fandoms created by good LucasArts games, it's hard (and disappointing) to see a game like Force Unleashed justify a release that doesn't include the PC. One of the main holdouts of the PC as a platform is a modding culture (and its evil goateed brother, piracy and cracks). Playing with games, instead of merely playing them, is a selling point for many PC diehards. Some games enjoy tremendous success by catering to this facet of the platform (see Counterstrike, which has gained a life outside the game on which it was originally based), while it's simultaneously a contentious and intimidating element for developers.

Astute observations of a (mostly) sober reader (5, Insightful)

darkvizier (703808) | about 6 years ago | (#25449897)

With such stunning insights as:

...don't leave anything to chance and keep it protected all the way through the production pipeline.

I can't see why those idiots in the video game industry aren't listening to Randy Stude. Obviously we're dealing with someone who's seen the issues and thought out detailed solutions to them. And when confronted with this biting criticism from the interviewer:

VideoGamer.com: It doesn't sound like rocket science to me. I don't understand why publishers don't shore up the production line.

Randy fires back a steadfast conclusion:

Yeah. And that doesn't even mean that at the end of the day someone's not going to hack the game and put it up on a torrent network ... We in the PCGA believe than an industry group such as ours and others out there should be the ones that tackle it from a standards perspective, provide guidance ... We don't have the answer yet today but we would invite anyone who believes piracy is a problem to join our organisation ...

Amazing! This nearly tops the genius and wisdom of a self referential slashdot post. Hats off to you, Randy! I'm going to join the PC Gaming Alliance right now!

Re:Astute observations of a (mostly) sober reader (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450207)

I read TFA, And I gotta say, it looks like nothing more than a self aggrandizing attempt to justify the use of DRM and the adding of more of it.

It'd doesn't look like news, it looks like a press release.

In an interview about DRM with the PCGA they didn't ask ask the cost of DRM (in both development, real money, and alienated customers) vs its actual effectiveness at its goal (next to nothing.)

They didn't bring up the effectiveness of studios like stardock to still sell million plus copies of games, with NO DRM, they didn't mention alternate models of operation like subscription services (ala WoW and Eve online), or free content upgrade for people who can prove they own the game (simple reg codes).

Finally they have to realise that there are people who are not cracking their games for money or anything like that, its a challenge, something fun a test, it doesn't matter how strong the DRM these guys try to crack it because its there.

DRM will never be the answer because there's two massively divergent viewpoints on it. Publishers think DRM is the solution to piracy, the rest of us (their customers) think that piracy is the solution to DRM. We see it as something to be avoided when possible, and bypassed when we can't. We don't respect it, we don't respect the people who employ it, and we don't respect laws passed to try and protect it.

Our computers are too much a part our private lives to be policed they way corporations want them too.

Hey, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449915)

Easier solution:

pay developers more, make better games.

Just use Steam... (2, Informative)

Zurpanik (1390029) | about 6 years ago | (#25449927)

I think the obvious answer to this problem is to distribute all games from here on out through Steam.

(not really)

But honestly, Steam's a great platform for game distribution. You have your own account and once your purchased game is installed you can re-install it as you like through said account.

Psh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25449949)

DRM won't get rid of piracy, nothing will. The mice will evolve as fast or faster than the mouse traps, companies will always have someone willing to "stick it to the man", and leak code if necessary. Honestly though, its the price. I'm not forking out $50 for a game I don't KNOW is good. I've bought games that were bugged, games that were supposed to play on my system, games that SHOULD work out of the box. I shouldn't have to give you money, then spend hours of my own time making your games work right. WOW has proven their are gamers out there, and if you're willing to build a game worth buying, people will buy it. What's 5million customers times $10/game compared to 100,000 at $50/game? Gee, I just compounded the net intake by a factor of TEN! Don't you're programmers do math? Even minimum wage gamers can buy a game for $10, and at that price, why waste your bandwidth downloading illegal and possibly virus infected versions? But rather than lower price, you'd rather jack up costs by adding DRM or other crap, and pissing off your customers....

First they get us all excited... (3, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 years ago | (#25449961)

... about getting more companies to make games for our computers, as opposed to dedicated game consoles. THEN they say the system they want to see it on is Vista.

Aaaaaaaaarrrrrggghh!!!

Next, we'll read that we want to see all cars get hybrid-like mileage...

and that the system we want to see it on is the Edsel.

3rd Party DRM on top of Steam (4, Interesting)

RichPowers (998637) | about 6 years ago | (#25450155)

The latest trend in annoying DRM: publishers using SecuROM and install limits on games sold through Steam. Crysis Warhead, Far Cry 2, and X3 have a 5 install limit, crippling one of Steam's greatest features: unlimited installs on any PC. The former two games also use SecuROM. Why on earth would you add third-party DRM on top of Steam? Maybe because these publishers are run by dicks? Who knows. What I do know is that my PC game purchases have gone down solely because of DRM. I'd love to play Red Alert 3 or Far Cry 2, but I won't until EA gives up on installation limits and SecuROM. Shame, too, since I don't own any consoles.

(I know that Steam is a form of DRM with its own share of problems, but I rather enjoy the service. Unlike SecuROM or similar schemes, Steam at least provides some side benefits to gamers.)

Re:3rd Party DRM on top of Steam (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450323)

...and now the optical drives come with SecuROM built right into them! Saw this at my local BB one day and decided right then to not buy any drive so labeled. Ever.

I may have to stockpile though: I'm sure some senator somewhere is making that firmware mandatory on all new drives in an effort to 'stop piracy' and to 'let the market control itself'. Oh yeah.

Re:3rd Party DRM on top of Steam (1)

Sibko (1036168) | about 6 years ago | (#25450329)

one of Steam's greatest features: unlimited installs on any PC.

Since when was this a feature? I mean, It's almost like saying "One of Steam's greatest features: Getting the game when you buy it."

Personally, I won't buy a game that limits the number of installs I can make.

Re:3rd Party DRM on top of Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450369)

It's an obvious feature. I can go home and login to my Steam account, download Team Fortress 2 and play it. I could go to my relative's house login, download it and play it. I didn't think any Steam games were limited. If Crysis Warhead does have an install limit, than that's just retarded.

Re:3rd Party DRM on top of Steam (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 6 years ago | (#25450371)

Okay, you're right. Unlimited installs are not a "feature" of Steam, since all other models inherently have that feature already.
You have fun digging around for and swapping out install discs while I go play any game I want on this newly built PC.

Where are all the great FOSS Games?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450185)

People keep telling me FOSS is the wave of the future. Yet when it comes to non-enterprise type software like games, there just don't seem to be that many compelling titles.

Re:Where are all the great FOSS Games?? (5, Informative)

p0tat03 (985078) | about 6 years ago | (#25450379)

The democratic nature of FOSS is its main weakness, and in the context of games, makes FOSS nearly impossible to pull off.

Unlike most FOSS projects I've seen, which is basically a core developed by a handful of developers, consistently added on and improved by additions and fixes from the community at large. This works great for enterprise software and web apps, where iterative development on top of ever-changing demands demands this sort of development - whatever features are most needed tend to make it into the next release, etc etc.

Games don't work like this. Games do not have evolving feature sets. They have a spec'ed scope, and the development team executes it, end of story. They also require vision and centralized leadership - something FOSS projects find very difficult, since the voluntary nature of the whole thing makes it such that "unsexy" features never get worked on. In a game, unsexy features that don't get coded = game that never ships.

Oh, and games require extensive amounts of art. I would argue that for most games, more artists are needed than coders, by at least a 2:1 margin. I don't see that many capable artists in the FOSS scene, do you?

Re:Where are all the great FOSS Games?? (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 6 years ago | (#25450445)

TUXRACER is an awesome game you insensitive clod!

State of piracy & DRM = same as last week (1, Insightful)

atraintocry (1183485) | about 6 years ago | (#25450363)

I'm beginning to think that if I "sat down with" myself to talk about "DRM and the state of the game industry"* it'd be a featured article on here, and probably get duped to boot. I know the flamebait articles get all the traffic, but I just keep hoping people are going to get sick of trotting out the same arguments when there aren't any new developments.

*Readers will note that the only game I've ever made was one of those origami diamonds you slip over your thumbs. It didn't have DRM. It was a financial failure by most accounts.

Goo (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25450503)

I was charmed by the way 2D Boy handled copy protection with their "World of Goo" [2dboy.com] .

The purchase email came with the following claim:

"We are trying an experiment: World of Goo has absolutely no copy protection or DRM at all, since we want to give you (and everyone) the best experience we can. Thanks for not distributing this, and helping us make this possible!"

Besides: buying the the Windows version also entitles you to download the Linux and Mac version (once they're finished...).

Apparently there's a Steam version of the game as well, but it's not clear from the website if a Steam purchase entitles you to the Linux version as well.

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