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DRM Shuts Down PC Version of Gears of War

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-know-what-really-grinds-my-gears dept.

Games 598

carlmenezes writes "It seems that the DRM on the PC version of Gears of War came with a built-in shut-off date; the digital certificate for the game was only good until January 28, 2009. Now, the game fails to work unless you adjust your system's clock. What is Epic's response? 'We're working on it.'"

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598 comments

Frist Post! ...expires (5, Funny)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663191)

This Frist Post is only available through Jan 29, at which point the certificate expires and the Frist Prost will no longer appear first in the comments.

Re:Frist Post! ...expires (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663253)

Yeah, this is an epic fail...

Re:Frist Post! ...expires (3, Funny)

Mooga (789849) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663567)

More proof that DRM is EXCELLENT and NEVER HURTS THE CONSUMER! I'm waiting for EA to release a game which is only playable for 3 days after release. After all, after 3 days we can buy ANOTHER crippled DRM game!

People Aren't Missing Much, Game Is Garbage (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663615)

The single player has all the feel of being designed and written by a ten year old.

The online is buggy and laggy as hell and dull.

And graphically it is a joke compared to the big shooters on the PC like Crysis. Epic use to be cutting edge but they seem to be floundering now with their crappy Unreal Engine. Slapping bumpy/shiny normal maps on every surface is so 5 years ago.

HAHAHAHAHA (5, Insightful)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663193)

See, the catch22 with DRM is, it's fine until it interferes with your gaming - and then it's gone too far.

Most DRM seems "fine" until the day you realize it has crossed the line. :P

And lately it seems just about all DRM is like that.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (5, Insightful)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663465)

I'll get flamebaited for this but I had the exact same experience with Steam. It seemed like a great idea, but then I lost internet for a week, and Steam started up, told me it couldn't find an internet connection and click this button to start in Offline mode, at which point it told me that it couldn't start Offline mode because it couldn't connect to the server.

I've since started purchasing disc copies of the games I've already had the misfortune of getting from Steam when I can find them cheap and I don't bother with seeing anything else that is available.

It always amazes me that Steam is heralded as the future of PC gaming at the same time as everyone bitching about DRM, which Steam is just the same as the rest, it's just that Steam is blatant about it's constant need to authenticate, except of course when you put it in Offline mode and you get a period of unobtrusive gaming. Until next time it decides you're a pirate and needs to authenticate everything.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (2, Informative)

Anzya (464805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663535)

One workaround for the event that your internet drops is to hook up your mobilephone to the computer and run it as a modem for just as long that you need to go offline in steam.
It's still annoying to be forced to do it but at least you can play

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (4, Insightful)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663721)

Assuming you have a phone that can be tethered to your computer so you can connect. It kinda breaks the "no internet access" thing. Or should it be expected that people will spend $40/month for a wireless internet plan, or $30/month on top of their current cell phone plan for provider-approved tethering. (Yes I know there are unlocked phones and jailbroken iPhones that you can tether without the approval of your phone company, but not everyone has that either.)

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (2, Informative)

Anzya (464805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663797)

My phone has a standard GSM plan using GPRS, hooked up to the computer using a usb-cable. Not sure what phones and cell phone plans you have in USA but I would guess more or less every mobile phone in Sweden is able to do the same without any extra cell phone plans.
It would never cross my mind sign up for anything extra just to be ready in case the internet should drop...

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664037)

One workaround for the event that your internet drops is to hook up your mobilephone to the computer and run it as a modem for just as long that you need to go offline in steam.

Or just play on the phone. It kind of breaks the principle of "Offline Mode" if it requires an internet connection.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663571)

I've since started purchasing disc copies of the games I've already had the misfortune of getting from Steam when I can find them cheap and I don't bother with seeing anything else that is available.

So, you've rewarded companies for including DRM. If they didn't put DRM in, they would have only sold one copy to you. Why didn't you just contact Steam technical support?

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663709)

Why wouldn't he just pirate the games?

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (3, Informative)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663805)

Why didn't you just contact Steam technical support?

Yeah, I'm basically paying twice for my mistake, and because of DRM, but hey, this is why DRM sucks. It's not that much different from Far Cry 2 hitting 5 unique installs and telling you that you can't install it anymore, except there is no workaround when I have no internet connection.

What are Steam tech support going to do for me over the phone when I don't have an internet connection? Provide me with a way to force Steam into Offline mode when it doesn't want to, i.e. a way of avoiding the DRM? Unlikely.

To be honest, the entire experience was a wake up call, and as I said, I'm in the process of reverting my mistaken Steam purchases into disc copies, at which point I'll probably remove Steam altogether and be done with it. If it ever becomes so big that a game can only be purchased on Steam, then I suppose I'll have to give in. But when that happens, the DRM has won, and it will be too late anyway.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (5, Interesting)

iNaya (1049686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663933)

Seeing as you already paid for the games, wouldn't it be within your rights to pay a friend to download a pirated version of the games you already own for you?

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664099)

At the risk of being modified flamebait, the DRM has already won.

You've bought the product once on Steam, found it doesn't work and rather than contacting the publisher to say "Either it works or I don't buy any more", you've gone out to buy it on DVD instead.

The free market theory doesn't work very well when the customer's reaction to being screwed over is to go back and ask for more.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (2, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664159)

If it ever becomes so big that a game can only be purchased on Steam, then I suppose I'll have to give in. But when that happens, the DRM has won, and it will be too late anyway.

Since a few years, Valve games always require a Steam account and "authenticate" online even if you buy them on DVD. So it can still happen to you that your game suddenly refuses to work.

My consequence is to be very reluctant buying their stuff:
I got Day Of Defeat:Source because my friends also play it, but so far this is my only Steam game. Even if some other games on Steam got great reviews. So Valve is probably losing money due to DRM in my case.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (2, Interesting)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663639)

Give it up. At this point, complaining about Steam is difficult because even if you have valid points, you're in the minority. Everyone is so wrapped up over the platform that dissenting opinions are met with aggressive response.

It's provided a lot of good things to the PC gaming industry, but it has its flaws. It's not perfect, and people should think hard about how much control they want it to have over the games they purchase (or rent, depending on your view).

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (2, Interesting)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663703)

I totally agree with you.
Remember when Steam deactivated game licences [consumerist.com] that were previously working fine: people have legitimately bought games from Asia and one day, the great Steam overlord decided that the price was not high enough for "rich" countries. So, instead of negociating with the "faulty" retailers like any civilized corporation, they retroactively started to enforce region-locking to punish their consumers...
You cannot trust an online activation system. Period. Offline mode is not an answer: once a mysterious bit has changed on your computer, you are force to activate again.
Oh yeah, and Stardock are more or less in the same bag (except it's only some patches that are protected, not the base game).

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663769)

Try Impulse - that's more of a real future.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663987)

That's exactly what amazes me. Everybody is complaining about DRM left and right. Yet, the same people furiously defend Steam as the saviour.

My guess is, they are already locked into the platform and have to defend their mistake, no matter what. That's often the case with fervent advocates of a system/company.

As for other online-activation DRM systems, how are they any better? How is Impulse better? You still have to activate your game when you install it (their FAQ says so), so you are still dependent on their reliability and goodwill to let you play your game again in a few months. On some of the less restrictive systems (Gamersgate, maybe Impulse, too) you can make backups manually that will work offline but that's a workaraound which may only work on a game to game basis.

The only real alternative I've seen so far, is Good old Games (gog.com). They may not have new titles but they have zero DRM.

Re:HAHAHAHAHA (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664179)

Yet, the same people furiously defend Steam as the saviour.

What Steam does different is that it not only restricts your rights, but it also provides a very useful service. Patching PC games was and still is a huge annoyance, installing and patching Armed Assault took me a solid hour and with Stalker its the same thing, finding and installing half a dozen patches is just not fun. Steam doesn't have those problems, since it all runs automatically and thats what people love it for. That it is also a DRM platform is bad, but its something that people hardly notice in normal use, its just when DRM breaks that people notice it and get annoyed and most of the time thats only when they already spend tons of money on DRMed software.

Nothing new, move along (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663217)

Don't buy DRM games. That's it. Or, buy it, and crack it, so it works. Every gamer knows this, and is doing it (not all of them buys the game though). Fuck DRM.

Re:Nothing new, move along (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663493)

Every hardcore gamer knows that, but there are a lot of people who just play games from time to time, or maybe they picked it up spontaneously, and/or are just plain ignorant to the consequences of DRM.

Obviously you can't put a tutorial on game cracking on the back of the box, maybe there should be [(a requirement/law)(bigger/more obvious)] warnings on them like the ESRB ratings. I think it has to be in the EULA, but thats after you have already bought it.

http://www.danlockton.co.uk/research/images/cd_label.jpg [danlockton.co.uk]
http://www.23hq.com/Mind_Booster_Noori/photo/1193901/large [23hq.com]
etc... those are joke labels, but thats the idea.

Idiotic Design (3, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663229)

A proper DRM system would obtain date and time information from a known valid source.

Re:Idiotic Design (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663273)

A proper DRM system...

I stopped reading at this point, my oxymoron detector kicked in pretty quickly.

Re:Idiotic Design (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663319)

A proper DRM system would obtain date and time information from a known valid source.

And fail when the known valid source is unreachable?

Or maybe by "known valid source" you meant "the Sun and the stars"; in which case I'd buy the game just to see the implementation.

Re:Idiotic Design (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663415)

And fail when the known valid source is unreachable?

Considering all the other cases in which the system fails that wouldn't be out of place...

Re:Idiotic Design (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663929)

Considering all the other cases in which the system fails that wouldn't be out of place...

Indeed; right after sending I thought "Well, after all, if it only failed when the time server was unreachable, it would probably be a substantial improvement from the current model of "simply failing".

Re:Idiotic Design (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663433)

But then how will I play this game in Centaurus?

Or is this Region Coding in action?

Re:Idiotic Design (5, Funny)

Pysslingen (544910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663631)

Now featuring our new, and secure, observatory dongle! For unlimited an unobtrusive access to your games, simply connect the dongle to your USB port and put it outside your window. (Clouds and volcanic ash may interfere with your experience, for which we are not responsible.)

Re:Idiotic Design (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663853)

Now featuring our new, and secure, observatory dongle!

With it's models: "Copernico", "Kepler" and the new "Einstein". The faster your game runs, the longer it will take to finish it.

Re:Idiotic Design (0, Flamebait)

DJ_Maiko (1044980) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663425)

Valid source as in some Windows server (after all, GoW is an xbox-only game) or something on XBox Live? That is a fail-fail proposition.

If only they could blame that on the red ring of death, as well. ;)

Re:Idiotic Design (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664021)

Just in case anyone actually cares, I doubt they do, this just sounds like a regular SSL cert expiration to me. The DRM system likely has some sensible internal clock that can't turn backwards, but the SSL layer is just your regular SSL layer. Try it yourself, go to a web page with an expired SSL cert, watch Firefox warn you, turn your clock back a year and go back to the site, Firefox will be happy. Should Firefox use a "trusted clock"? No.. cause Firefox assumes you turned your clock back for a reason. It doesn't try to actively work against the user. This DRM system does, obviously, but it likely has other components that do that and just layers them on top of the SSL layer.

What needs to happen... (5, Interesting)

GrpA (691294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663233)

What needs to happen is for everyone with a copy of this to take the disk back as faulty. Most consumer laws support this action.

My son's version of Oblivion (I think it was Oblivion) failed to install after he upgraded his PC five times and they refused to give him another code...

So we took it back to EB and demanded a refund (faulty product) which we were entitled to do. If you can't play a game, it's not of merchantable quality.

Looks like we'll be visiting them once more with a copy of GOW for a full refund :(

Perhaps if everyone did this, we'd see DRM take on a more practical appearance like a USB dongle - or even the entire game on a USB dongle - and without time limits or requiring web authentication.

GrpA

Re:What needs to happen... (4, Insightful)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663257)

We could call it a "cartridge", and we could call the device it plugs into a "game console".

What a novel idea.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663921)

Or better yet, put it on a disc, so I can, you know, put it in my disc drive?

The media type is really a moot point these days.

Ease of reproduction is all that really matters, and for the most part, as soon as someone comes up with a "secure" media, some other company provides us with technology to reproduce that media.

When the hell will these corporations stop blaming us, the consumer, for this shit, and start blaming the right people? The other corporations?

Re:What needs to happen... (5, Insightful)

jsse (254124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663347)

Perhaps if everyone did this, we'd see DRM take on a more practical appearance like a USB dongle - or even the entire game on a USB dongle - and without time limits or requiring web authentication.

This approach is too customer-friendly for them to consider. The mission of DRM is more than destroying piracy, it means to destroying second-hand game market and cross-boundary water-goods trade as well.

The era of customer-oriented marketing strategy has long gone. Nowaday, all customers are treated as criminals and pirates. Face it man. ARRRR!

Re:What needs to happen... (2, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663387)

How the hell is a USB dongle for a game "customer-friendly"? Actually, how is a USB dongle for any piece of software customer-friendly?

Re:What needs to happen... (2, Funny)

GrpA (691294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663431)

When it comes with the game/software install files on it :)

GrpA

Re:What needs to happen... (3, Insightful)

jsse (254124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663471)

How the hell is a USB dongle for a game "customer-friendly"? Actually, how is a USB dongle for any piece of software customer-friendly?

With a plug-n-play dongle: you don't need to install; you don't need to web-register prior to playing; you can ebay it when you get bored with it...(the list could go on but I think I shouldn't do all the thinking myself. :)

If you don't find those anti-piracy measures in recent games annoying, you probably haven't been using a paid copy of game for the past few years. ^^

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663591)

With a plug-n-play dongle: you don't need to install;

You want to run a game from a slow, cheap-ass flash drive? I don't think so.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663843)

Then allow hard drive installs of the USB install media.

And then we're back at where we are now with CD's and DVD's.

Re:What needs to happen... (2, Funny)

banffbug (1323109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663879)

You want to run a game from a slow, cheap ass-flash drive? I don't think so.

fixed.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

RedK (112790) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664049)

We could push this one step further, and make it so this USB dongle only works on certified hardware, so that there's less issue with different hardware configuration/drivers. Like let's say Sony could make a box, you put in your USB dongle, and it plays the game! Heck, Microsoft could also make one, and they could compete on game titles... Game consoles already exist.

Re:What needs to happen... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663543)

My organisation is working on a USB-based DRM system that propels a glass dart containing a lethal dose of sodium cyanide into the user's spine if the number of attempted activations exceeds the limit specified by the copyright holder.

We believe this form of software-activated euthanasia (or 'Digital User Management') qualifies as customer friendly as it eliminates years of frustration which would have otherwise been inflicted on the user, as well as preserving the content-holder's copyright.

We believe our solution is win-win for all parties concerned.

Re:What needs to happen... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663365)

Hmm. Ok. Did that work? I ask because I have a (bought) copy of Far Cry 2 which is no longer playable because it's been installed too many times. Ubisoft's answer is that that shouldn't happen because the install is "revoked" when you uninstall it. But I can't f'ing uninstall because it's not damn installed (I reinstalled windows without removing programs...who does?)!

Re:What needs to happen... (4, Interesting)

GrpA (691294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663421)

Laws vary from place to place in the world, but...

Here in Australia, there's quite a few consumer laws that cover it... "Merchantable Quality" is the main one and a game that has a time-bomb like this in it isn't of merchantable quality...

So yeah, this will be the third time I've done this.

To the local EB store's credit, they have always met their obligation to refund when I've demanded it. Saves me making a full complaint to the consumer watchdog.

GrpA

Re:What needs to happen... (2, Informative)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663427)

They have provided a revoke tool, as most of these idiots that use this sort of online authentication are forced to do as it's obviously a highly flawed setup. It's pathetic that we are forced to this and I honestly wish I hadn't supported the game with my money when they pull this sort of bullshit. Next time I think I'll simply wait until games like this drop in price or become budget releases so I don't contribute to undeserved high initial sales when they pull shit like this. Unsurprisingly the developers of Sacred 2 were forced to provide the same thing for a similarly idiotic authetication system.

There is a link down the bottom of this [ubi.com] page to get the tool to remove an installation. I haven't had to use it so I hope it works for you.

Please don't sully the good name of Oblivion (4, Informative)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663391)

Oblivion has no such retarded online authentication. By all means we should dump on the games that treat paying customers as pirates but be careful to make sure you criticize the correctly guilty parties.

Re:Please don't sully the good name of Oblivion (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663519)

Oblivion has no such retarded online authentication.

The game itself doesn't. The DLC, on the other hand, does -- and it's such a broken system that it only works on XP.

Bought the DLC as an XP user, "upgraded" to Vista, and want to play again? Too bad, you can't. Unless you buy it all again on CD. Or do what I did, which is to download the torrents. (Illegal, but hardly immoral; I wasn't downloading anything I hadn't already bought and paid for.)

Re:Please don't sully the good name of Oblivion (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663779)

Ah, is that if you purchase the DLC online instead of getting it in disc format? Because I have the Knights of the Nine disc and The Shivering Isles and I'm not aware of any authentication.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663451)

From wiki, under implied warranty of merchantability [wikipedia.org] .

In the United States, the obligation is in Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). This warranty will apply to a merchant (that is, a person who makes an occupation of selling things) who regularly deals in the type of merchandise sold.

Under US law, goods are 'merchantable' if they meet the following conditions:

      1. The goods must conform to the standards of the trade as applicable to the contract for sale.
      2. They must fit for the purposes such goods are ordinarily used, even if the buyer ordered them for use otherwise.
      3. They must be uniform as to quality and quantity, within tolerances of the contract for sale.
      4. They must be packed and labeled per the contract for sale.
      5. They must meet the specifications on the package labels, even if not so specified by the contract for sale.

If the merchandise is sold with an express "guarantee", the terms of the implied warranty of merchantability will fill the gaps left by that guarantee. If the terms of the express guarantee are not specified, they will be considered to be the terms of the implied warranty of merchantability. The UCC allows sellers to disclaim the implied warranty of merchantability, provided the disclaimer is made conspicuously and the disclaimer explicitly uses the term "merchantability" in the disclaimer.[1] Some states, however, have implemented the UCC such that this can not be disclaimed.

So it depends on your state, as this is usually disclaimed in the EULA. Go get 'em tiger.

--
Toro

Re:What needs to happen... (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663541)

They can disclaim all they like, doesn't do anything. For one, there are things you can't just disclaim away. I can't go and sell a product that blows up and kills people randomly and say "Hey, I had a disclaimer saying that it might randomly kill you, it's their own fault." No, the fact that I was selling something clearly unsafe makes it my fault.

Also EULAs are ex post facto and have no exchange, which isn't allowed in contracts. What that means is after you've already bought it they are saying "Here's additional terms you have agreed to." No, sorry, can't do that. Contracts have to happen BEFORE the fact and have to involve an exchange. You can't just tack shit on later.

So while they can try to just write it off after the fact, it isn't going to work.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663507)

Oblivion? Are you sure? The only protection is on-disc, and I've reinstalled every time there was an OS install/upgrade. Maybe you're thinking of BioShock?

No Bethesda games have been annoying in the DRM sense. Fallout 3 doesn't even need the disc. It just crashes randomly :)

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

GrpA (691294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663527)

It might have been Two Worlds...

With fairness to Oblivion, I should say my memory of which game it was is a little hazy, although I'm sure I remember my son having DRM issues with Oblivion at time, but it was some time ago.

GrpA

Re:What needs to happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663621)

News to me that Fallout 3 doesn't need the disk.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663823)

It's only the launcher that runs a disc check; the actual game itself just runs if you start from the game executable or change the desktop icon to point to that instead. This may only be because I've connected it to my Games For Windows account, so your mileage may vary.

Re:What needs to happen... (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663627)

Fallout 3 doesn't even need the disc. It just crashes randomly :)

My copy does, perhaps they removed it in a patch, perhaps the one that refused to install on my system. But then again I'm pissed enough that I can't download the new content without coughing up money, installing and registering Live, rereading the /. article on how to actually install it, then copy it to a different directory, so I can actually play it offline.

Online components REALLY need to die. Not everyone is online all the time, nor does everyone WANT to be online all the time. Some people don't trust ANY corporations continues existence just to be able to play a game they paid money for (and thus OWN, at least by common wisdom). I don't understand how Steam gets a pass even. Stardock I can see, but Steam is pretty nasty in my book. Worse than the old "you must have the book/wheel" schemes in the 80's, and far far worse than Stardock's system. 10 years from now steam might be long dead, but I still will own the manual to Wasteland, and the wheel from Hillsbrad.

Actually, DRM should die, period. I would switch to console, but they aren't worth the value. And even then they're moving towards online DRM schemes. Hell, even the overpriced shit they want me to replace my perfectly good DVD player with wants me to be online all the time.

I see it as they don't want my money. I shouldn't have to suffer to give people profit. They WANT their stuff to be free.

I don't know that you want that (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663687)

Such a thing does exist in the pro audio world. The most popular is called the iLok from PACE Antipiracy. It is a little USB dongle that you hook to your computer. It then stores licenses for your audio software, over 100, from multiple vendors. When you buy software it either comes with a code, or a SIM chip that is the license, and you transfer that over to their key.

Ok great right? Well not really. The first thing is that it isn't cheap, to either the people implementing it or to you. It has a fairly high per unit cost, which of course the vendors pass on to you. However for you there's a direct cost too. You have to buy the dongle. They are $50 each. It works in the pro world, since $50 isn't a big deal if you are already spending $1000 on a virtual instrument, but you'd find it rather a turn off for gamers. Yes you only need one to hold many licenses, but $50 is still a lot when you are talking games.

Then there's just the implementation problems. You go and do some searches online, you'll find lots of people have lots of problems with the iLok. It is trying to do tricky shit, and that causes problems. For some it works great, however for many it is a ton of headaches.

The question also becomes what happens if you lose the iLok? Some companies are good about it, and will authorize PACE to send new licenses to your new iLok. However many are paranoid since you could always "lose" your iLok to a friend and get a new one and then get more licenses for free. So some companies refuse to give you new licenses, you have to buy them all over. Well, that means a single dongle can have a whole lot of money worth of licenses stored on it. You get in a situation in games where someone nicks your dongle at a LAN party and you are out $1000 in games.

Used sales are also a problem. Companies don't like for you to sell their games used. They'd much rather everyone has to buy a copy. With a dongle, they can enforce this easier. While they certainly could make a mechanism for you to transfer licenses, they wouldn't have to. If they didn't, well you are SOL. You'd either have to sell ALL you games at the same time, along with the dongle, or buy a dongle per game, which would be expensive and inconvenient.

Now after all that, the question is ok, but is it useful? Answer? Not really. iLok protected apps are cracked all the time. So you can go through all this trouble and people can STILL crack your shit and release it on the Internet. The fact that you use physical hardware doesn't help. The dongle only really can do two things:

1) Provides authorization. Here the program checks with the dongle to see if it is allowed to run. It's a handshake sort of thing, and often uses good crypto... But what happens if you simply remove the jump to the code that checks? The program never goes and looks for a license and just runs, thus the dongle is bypassed.

2) Has a decryption key for the program. The program itself is encrypted, and a loader goes, checks the dongle, gets the key, and decrypts it to run. Ok great, except then all you do is go and dump the decrypted program from memory and use that, or intercept the key and use it on an emulated dongle.

Regardless, the dongle can't do anything that can stop this kind of thing. The crackers simply strip out all the calls to it and then they've got an app that runs without it. Or they make a virtual dongle that sends all the proper responses. Or they hack the dongle's drivers. Whatever is easier.

The real answer, I think, is for companies to realize people will copy their software, but it just isn't a big deal. It happens, get over it. Don't hurt your legit customers because of it. There are some pro audio companies who have dumped iLok and they report they've seen no decrease in sales. Personally, I'm not surprised. The people who download their apps aren't likely to pay for them in the first place.

Re:I don't know that you want that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663963)

You missed possibility 3: implement some parts of the application's code on the dongle. If I remember rightly, Autocad did just that. Pirate versions popped up, but missed that critical code, with the consequence that the pirated versions of Autocad would quietly, and subtly, corrupt models - until you reached the point where the model was blatantly wrong, and you had to re-do all of that work with a good copy of Autocad.

I don't think they do that any more; not entirely sure why.

Re:I don't know that you want that (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664201)

I suppose you could do that but again, it is just a matter of nabbing the good code when it gets loaded in to memory. The ultimate problem you have with any of this shit is that at some point the code has to be in system memory, in an unencrypted format for the CPU to execute. If it is there, someone can get it. You can try all the tricky shit you like, they can debug at the kernel level (or inside a VM) and get at your code.

Reason they stopped the corruption thing you are talking about is because it pissed off legit customers as well. Like anything else, dongles can have problems. Well if your dongle has a problem and your app just says "The license isn't available," then you go oh, ok, and start looking at what is wrong with the dongle. If the dongle has problems and your app just fucks up your work, you call the company screaming with rage.

Part of the problem of extremely tricky DRM schemes is that you can end up badly screwing over your legit users. While you might get the crackers temporarily, they'll figure out your trick and just patch around it. However legit users don't know there is a trick. They paid for your software, they want it to work. If it messes up, they are mad at you. If it messes up their work and/or system because of it they are REALLY mad at you and you can be liable for damages.

It is becoming an increasing problem these days as companies try to make unbreakable DRM. They can't, it isn't possible, but they try. The side effect is more and more legit users get screwed. You even see this with simple DRM like CD protection. Time was, protected CDs almost never had a problem. They were standards compliant CDs. All they did was write some data to not normally used areas like the subchannels or something. Drives had no problems. Ok well that wasn't hard to defeat, of course. So now they've massively upped the ante. The protection system analyzes the ATIP, checks for virtual drives, etc, etc. Problem is, that there are legit systems that it doesn't work on.

I had that problem with Civ 4 Beyond the Sword. Went and bought it at Target when it came out, since I'm a huge Civ addict. Got home, installed, and it wouldn't run. Said I needed to insert the disc. Well the disc was in the drive, of course, Id' just installed. I took it back in case I'd gotten a bad disc. Well I hadn't, it was just the protection (Safedisc if you are curious) had problems with my drive. I debated what to do and settled on just downloading a crack.

Re:What needs to happen... (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664141)

Very true, but many companies are starting to take a rather different approach.

The store manager is someone relatively young who's probably either fresh out of college or worked there for a couple of years since leaving school. Their power is very limited - they have it drilled into their head that THIS is company policy, and deviation from it is a sackable offence.

Needless to say, "company policy" conveniently forgets to mention anything about consumer retail law. Unless the consumer is prepared for an absolute battle royale, they won't get a refund and they'll be lucky to get a replacement.

I've heard of this happening in at least two large chains in the UK, and witnessed it first hand once. Until the regulators start to impose swingeing fines on companies doing this, I can't see it changing.

DRM really only hurts the honest consumer (again) (5, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663235)

This is more evidence that DRM hurts the honest consumer.

As we all know, the pirates wait for the DRM-free... "collectors edition" release on The Pirate Bay.

Why do people continue doing it? Did they start when the economy was in a healthy growth period and then think "more DRM, more economic growth for us, it must obviously be causal".

(now there's a good application of "correlation is not causation" for you)

Re:DRM really only hurts the honest consumer (agai (4, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663325)

There was a time I would never have even considered running a pirated version - my main experience with pirated software has been cleaning off Trojans installed by NoCD cracks or the like.

Now... I can see the claims that DRM is (sometimes, at least) truly more of a hassle for honest consumers than for software pirates. That is a truly sad thing.

Re:DRM really only hurts the honest consumer (agai (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663857)

Because it just needs to delay the "collectors edition" release long enough for people to buy the game instead of pirating it in the first few weeks. The first few weeks of the release are when the most money is made.

How Many More "Oops"... (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663247)

How many more of these mistakes will people tolerate before they turn in disgust from buying a $20+ POS that stops working randomly? I know that if I bought this game (and was foolish enough to install it, DRM and all) and the DRM kicked in like this, my first stop would be to The Pirate Bay.

Re:How Many More "Oops"... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663353)

How many more of these mistakes will people tolerate before they turn in disgust from buying a $20+ POS that stops working randomly?

The answer to your question is zero.

Now the interesting question is: How many of those mistakes ago, did people start refusing to buy anything with DRM?

Re:How Many More "Oops"... (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663397)

how the consumer would know in advance the presence of a unknown drm bug? safedisc was easy to detect, but this was unexpected, for the consumers and for the publisher

Re:How Many More "Oops"... (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663873)

how the consumer would know in advance the presence of a unknown drm bug?

I'll answer your question with a known riddle:

How do you know when is a politician lying?

When he's moving his lips.

Re:How Many More "Oops"... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663645)

Now the interesting question is: How many of those mistakes ago, did people start refusing to buy anything with DRM?

Errrrr, what? People are still buying DRMed material in droves.

Re:How Many More "Oops"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663937)

That was his point, retard.

Re:How Many More "Oops"... (2, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663373)

My first stop would be back to the store I purchased it from. Software, is a license. Therefore, when that license is revoked for whatever reason, the software no longer works..either by legal system or it actually stops working as in this case. Everyone that wants their money back should get it back.

Mistakes happen. Even retarded and far-reaching mistakes.

Lets see if Epic can put its money where its mouth is when it preaches about DRM. I know if I got an instant no-questions-asked refund after this, that would be enough to appease me.

Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663263)

This never happened to me. I just played a half hour ago. Oh wait, I got it of The Pirate Bay.

EPIC FAIL! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663281)

n/t

Don't comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663343)

There really isn't going to be a single informative comment under this story. Everyone that reads slashdot knows that DRM doesn't work and shouldn't exist in it's current form. To summarize every comment will be either
a) This is why we don't need DRM
b) I play the cracked version and it's better without DRM and not broken
c) Screw Epic and their DRM games
d) You molest kittens dip wad

Well there is always some idiot posting garbage on the fourms.

Re:Don't comment (1)

BigD215 (1464031) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663371)

What did happen to the classic shareware format? Release a third or forth of a game for free. Let people play it. They judge it and decide to buy it or not.

Re:Don't comment (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663467)

People use demos these days, pretty much the same thing except you no longer see people selling disks full of demos in stores.

Re:Don't comment (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663565)

People use demos these days

Except that, increasingly, they don't.

Where's the Mass Effect demo? Where's the Fallout 3 demo? Where, indeed, is the Gears of War demo?

Some publishers still get it. Crysis had a decent demo. Ditto Bioshock. But too often nowadays we're expected to shell out in faith, and stores won't take returns if we don't like the game.

Re:Don't comment (1)

Apotekaren (904220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663663)

I haven't seen a game demo from a big name game developer in AGES. Why? They are fully aware of people "trying" the games in other ways, and save money by:
a) not making the demo
b)not paying for bandwidth for uploading the demo to thousands of gamers.
I also suspect they're afraid people might realize how crappy their game is without tricking money from them, and that kind of breaks the business model.
Mind you, demos DO exist on the console side, but that is a slightly different issue.

Re:Don't comment (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664187)

So the console demos don't count? Aren't those subject to people finding out that the game sucks, too?

Re:Don't comment (1)

RedK (112790) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663477)

How would this have solved the DRM issue at hand here ? People who played the shareware and decided to buy the full game would still have no game to play right now. You think because it's shareware, that there would be no DRM on the full game ?

The fix is what?? (5, Interesting)

teslar (706653) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663369)

Now, the game fails to work unless you adjust your system's clock

Now not only is the game broken due to a broken DRM implementation, but even the logic behind the DRM is broken since it at least this part can be circumvented by adjusting the system clock (!!). What was the point of even bothering with this then?

Although, actually, wouldn't this now make changing your system time an offence under the DCMA?

I never thought I'd post those two words together in one sentence, but yeah.... epic fail.

Re:The fix is what?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663505)

This is not about DRM or its implementation at all... Please use your head, don't just follow the Slashdot drones.

Re:The fix is what?? (1)

CobaltBlueDW (899284) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663649)

This is not coincidence. This is an application of a classic 4 step business model.

Step 1: Produce a top selling game.
Step 2: Use game to force inaccurate clock settings.
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit.

Once they figure out step 3 we are all doomed!

Epic's in a bit of hot-water (5, Interesting)

boogerme0 (1151469) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663395)

DRM does it again. Does this mean consumers who've been affected by this can sue? After all, Epic did technically violate an inherent contract in the buying and selling of video games: consumers give money to a company in order to play the video game (permanently). Since the consumers essentially do not have their game anymore, they paid for nothing more than a rental. It's akin to selling your car, then taking it back a few weeks later and pocketing the money you stole, er, made. At least they should be giving a full refund to the affected consumers.

Re:Epic's in a bit of hot-water (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663501)

Why was this moderated Troll?

Re:Epic's in a bit of hot-water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664149)

It was marked troll because we have a Microsoft fanboy in the house.

I live in Kirkland, WA about five miles from Microsoft, so I had the bad experience of having to listen to several Microsoft employees defend Microsoft's disabling of this game. I pointed out that it is still on the shelves being sold, and not a one of them had a problem with taking money for a game that they never allowed to be played. That company is dishonest from top to bottom.

Re:Epic's in a bit of hot-water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664133)

From a business perspective, would it be wiser to:

A] annoy a few people and work on a fix that costs you maybe a few thousand dollars

B] give all the people back their money, have them stay annoyed that it ever happened, and be out millions of dollars.

Let's say B. Sure they fucked up, but a refund is not practical and not worth it.

You think this is bad? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663403)

Gears of war 2 is only available for 10 days, but you can get past it with a game genie.

hmph... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663521)

and I had trouble even installing the darned game.

I have not started playing it yet and now this?

*shakes head*

Obligatory (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663845)

Epic fail?

Problem with all "Games for Windows" games ? (1)

ck_808 (1302625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664061)

Does anybody know if this is going to be a problem with all of games using Windows Live ?

I've heard from forums the GTA4 certificate expires in sept this year.

Can anybody confirm this ?

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