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Why Bother With DRM?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-way-to-make-internet-people-hate-you dept.

Games 376

Brad Wardell of Stardock and Ron Carmel of 2D Boy recently spoke with Gamasutra about their efforts to move the games industry away from restrictive DRM. Despite the fact that both have had their own troubles with piracy, they contend that overall piracy rates aren't significantly affected by DRM — and that most companies know it. Instead, the two suggest that most DRM solutions are still around to hamper a few more specific situations. Quoting: "'Publishers aren't stupid. They know that DRM doesn't work against piracy,' Carmel explains. 'What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets. If DRM permits only a few installs, that minimizes the number of times a game can be resold.' ... 'I believe their argument is that while DRM doesn't work perfectly,' says Wardell, 'it does make it more difficult for someone to get the game for free in the first five or six days of its release. That's when a lot of the sales take place and that's when the royalties from the retailers are determined. Publishers would be very happy for a first week without "warez" copies circulating on the Web.'"

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Hmmm (2, Interesting)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27939895)

Sounds like Game Stop should sue.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940065)

How does this even make sense? GameStop doesn't sell used -PC- games, which is what this "limited install" DRM is made for. Hard to resell a game with a serial code.

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940281)

Hard to resell a game with a serial code.

Yes, yes it is. Especially if the game has an online multi-player component. But what about for single-player games? That's where limited-install makes sense for the developers and why Gamestop has a hard time with used PC software.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940395)

I've been into gamestop before and opened their 'empty' cases to find serial numbers inside. Once I've something like that there is almost nothing keeping me from going to say 'battlenet' and registering that copy of warcraft as my own. They even let me download the game from their site as well. I never buy PC games from gamestop simply because you can't be sure someone hasn't already nipped the serial number from it.

Re:Hmmm (3, Informative)

iksbob (947407) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940387)

GameStop doesn't sell used PC games because they have install restrictions. PC game producers admit to using said restrictions to limit or eliminate the resale value that businesses such as GameStop capitalize on. If these restrictions weren't in place, used PC games would have resale value, so GameStop would (in theory anyway) be interested in selling them.
I agree that a case filed by GameStop doesn't make much sense... PC game producers aren't legally obligated to follow GameStop's business model. On the other hand, a class action case on the behalf of PC game consumers may be in order if these restrictions and corresponding elimination of resale value weren't fully disclosed prior to sale.

Re:Hmmm (3, Interesting)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940459)

First Sale Doctrine much?

Re:Hmmm (2, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940527)

No, the game companies ought to give the games away for free, and charge people to connect to their servers.

UsernameID should be enough to satisfy DRM, since it is tied directly to a user. People buying a RETAIL copy of a game should get a certain number of USER registrations (suggested value = 5) for people in a house.

If they did this, then they would have their cake, and eat it too. Single people could share their Install Code 4 times and spread the popularity and such.

The solution is EASY if one can just wake up to it.

Re:Hmmm (4, Interesting)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940967)

I can't speak for everyone, but I don't want to connect to a server if I don't have to. Most of my favorite games are primarily single player (ie. Civilization). A lot of them have a multiplayer component, but there are tons of people that never touch that.

For games that are primarily multiplayer, I agree that a small fee for the initial install along with a monthly fee is reasonable, but not for single player games. I think this is dangerous territory too. It could lead to separate single/multiplayer editions where they get to charge you extra for small additions to a game.

Re:Hmmm (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27941005)

Right... except for single-player games that don't want or need a network connection.

Require it anyway? Of course, you then have the asshats who will remove or disable the code requiring the login and post that to the torrents. Or the other asshats who'll put a proxy in place to mimic the server, or...

The solution is only EASY to those who're half asleep.

Saw It in Music! Coming Soon in Games, E-Books (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27939907)

Brad Wardell of Stardock and Ron Carmel of 2D Boy

I don't know who that is but a few days ago I submitted a story on an interview with Sony's CEO [slashdot.org] :

In an interview with Nikkei Electronics Asia this month [nikkeibp.co.jp] , Sony CEO and chairman Howard Stringer revealed an interesting point about open technologies: 'Customers will refuse to accept it unless the technology is open. Youth in particular really dislikes closed technologies, closed systems and the like. I think the failure of AOL LLC of the US is good evidence of this. When the Internet was just beginning to spread, AOL boosted its subscriber base by providing special services only to its customers. After a while, though, customers began rebelling, complaining that they weren't children. Because AOL wanted to keep them locked up in a narrow portion of the immense Internet cosmos, open technology was created. Sony hasn't taken open technology very seriously in the past. Its CONNECT music download service was a failure. It was based on OpenMG, a proprietary digital rights management (DRM) technology. At the time, we thought we would make more money that way than with open technology, because we could manage the customers and their downloads. This approach, however, created a problem: customers couldn't download music from any Websites except those that contracted with Sony. If we had gone with open technology from the start, I think we probably would have beaten Apple Inc of the US.' He then mentions that Sony has a chance to provide something that Apple can't. Sounds like somebody should inform him of DRM-free iTunes [slashdot.org] . However when asked about customer confusion over too many open technologies, he claims that the customer will always like choice so the more the better.

Didn't get published so I thought I'd post it here as evidence that even the music distribution companies are saying, "Why bother with DRM?" Not surprising now that Amazon and iTunes are doing it though. I predict everyone will eventually pull their heads out of their asses, it just will take some longer than others.

Sophistry To Kill First Sale Doctrine (5, Insightful)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940209)

Really, if we distill the arguments for DRM down far enough, it becomes clear that the idea is to try to work around the First Sale Doctrine and kill the second-hand market.

Re:Sophistry To Kill First Sale Doctrine (-1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940655)

Really, if we distill the arguments against DRM down far enough, it becomes clear that the ideas is to try to get shit for free.

Re:Sophistry To Kill First Sale Doctrine (1)

Chlorine Trifluoride (1517149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940807)

Really, if we distill the arguments for copyright down far enough, it becomes clear that the idea is to perpetuate an obsolete business model.

Re:Sophistry To Kill First Sale Doctrine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940863)

How does wanting to be able to buy secondhand games or to not have to go through DRM schemes on things I buy mean I want to get something for free?

Re:Sophistry To Kill First Sale Doctrine (5, Insightful)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940999)

Really, if we distill the arguments for DRM down far enough, it becomes clear that the idea is to try to work around the First Sale Doctrine and kill the second-hand market.

Really, if we distill the arguments against DRM down far enough, it becomes clear that the ideas is to try to get shit for free.

Both of you are right. There's a group of people fighting for each of those extremes. The rest of us are getting drowned out in the chaos of the battle.

Re:Saw It in Music! Coming Soon in Games, E-Books (5, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940409)

Brad Wardell of Stardock and Ron Carmel of 2D Boy

I don't know who that is but a few days ago I...

Stardock develops non-DRM'd games like Sins of a Solar Empire and now Demigod. They always make a big todo about how there's no DRM and then SecuROM (the DRM guys) get upset that they didn't use their DRM and say they'll download their torrents. Stardock has a Steam-like product called Impulse that many have said is akin to a light form of DRM, but still DRM.

2D-Boy are the developers of World of Goo, a popular indie game that was once reported to have something like a 90% piracy rate, which was argued by many to be unbelievable, etc. World of Goo has no DRM.

Everyone is looking for security against GNU `cp' (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940441)

...and to distinguish, tailor or make unique each original software package against its owner while depriving the owner to said security interest controlling the scope of its use. Anti-terrorism so-called "law" works in the same effect, by "military force" dictating what would be Civil while in effect is nothing more than a legal mode of maintenance rearing its ugly head. Is this property for sale you might ask? Obviously the right to use it is being mis-represented, and therefore the owner is not satisfied. If the company fails, the duty of maintenance would fall upon the owner if said reservation is not monetized into another company's profile, yet here we see a pattern of execution not to the disclosure of the owner. Non-disclosure is the same as a piece of tape advertising, not suggesting, implicit agreement to an alleged "End User License Agreement" through unreliable explicit means of free speech without any officers present to Secure those rights.

It's just one de-facto power against not the people but one single owner. Which is why Richard Stallman knows a steamroller when he sees one. Data is proprietary to the owner, the code to one's personam. What are we buying, code or data, and what impediments to this Grant of right do we have? Anyone can copy, as that is a privilege allowed by the bridge on a logical Bus and keyboard, yet at an administrative pervue there is nothing to distinguish each instance but a timestamp if any. There is your proof of right, no different the beloved chancellor of a Post: timestamp is certification to the passage of verification to the agency of master.

Re:Saw It in Music! Coming Soon in Games, E-Books (1)

samuraiTX (1553067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940607)

I suspect that the argument over DRM will be moot once everything is a direct download and has defacto DRM. Isn't that sort of where things are going? You can't trade your games on Steam or XBLA. Shouldn't this effectively kill off the 2nd hand market unless you sell someone your entire machine or account? But even then what about the IP address? Maybe there is some sweet spot where everything works off a subscription model. This seems to be coming down the pike if services like OnLive actually work. I wouldn't want to pay $60 to play that new Wolverine beat'em up game or even $50 for the PC. But I might pay $40 for 6 hours of diversion and never play it again. There are lots of games that I would never want to own and maybe there will be a time where rental services like Gamefly switch to a digital distribution model that works off subscription.

first weeks is exclusively "warez" (2, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27939967)

unfortuantely, they often have -1 weeks of sales when there arent illegal copies circulating. I do sometimes pirate games, but i try to restrain from doing it when the game is young, e.g when a sequal has come out, i consider the original fair game. I know it doesnt really make a difference if i pirate it now or a year down the line, but it sits a bit better with me...

Re:first weeks is exclusively "warez" (2, Interesting)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940119)

Pirating the game later has the same effect as buying the game second hand as far as the publisher is concerned, but by pirating it you don't support the second hand market, which benefits the publisher. I might see such practices justified for games that break the second hand market, but if they have no/reasonable DRM, I can't say I entirely agree with you.

Re:first weeks is exclusively "warez" (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940279)

Actually, software that has resale value has a greater initial value (you can sell it for more). Just like with your college books, if you know you are guaranteed a 50% buy back for the new version you won't be so quick to buy the used version for only a small discount. While not as obvious with software, its more obvious with consoles which retain a decent resale value.

Re:first weeks is exclusively "warez" (5, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940453)

Pirating the game later has the same effect as buying the game second hand as far as the publisher is concerned, but by pirating it you don't support the second hand market, which benefits the publisher. I might see such practices justified for games that break the second hand market, but if they have no/reasonable DRM, I can't say I entirely agree with you.

I think you've got that backwards. By buying used games (instead of pirating), you give money to people who bought the new game, reducing the effective cost for them, and making it possible for them to buy more new games. Say I have $50 to spend, and used games sell for $25. So I can buy one game for $50, you pirate the same game, that's it. Or I buy a game for $50, three months later you buy it used for $25, I buy another game for $50, three months later you buy it used for $25, so it cost me the same $50, but the manufacturer got $100. So buying used games _does_ support the manufacturer by making new games less costly.

Re:first weeks is exclusively "warez" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27941035)

You're missing the part about how buying a used game gives $0 to the manufacturer.
It gives a _little_ to the person who originally bought the game and a lot the the reseller.

Most games you'll see for $25 - $30 used .. got the original purchaser who resold it $5 - $10. The rest is profit by Gamestop minus some cost of the space the games take.

Re:first weeks is exclusively "warez" (4, Insightful)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940545)

"same effect as buying the game second hand as far as the publisher is concerned"

The publishers need to focus on games that have replay value (so more people will want to keep them) and being competitive (adaptive pricing). The reason used video game stores exist is that many people aren't willing to pay $50 to $60 for a new game.

Now if PC game companies were more aggressive with their pricing then they could compete with the used market. Just look at console games "Greatest Hits", "Players Choice", and "Platinum" titles. If a game has a 2nd hand market, many publishers will re-release the game at $20 to $30, taking the wind out of the 2nd hand market (why pay $17.49 for a used copy of game X when you can get it new for $20!).

Just an thought. (0)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27939999)

IANAL, Thank $DEIETY!
But I believe most places if you can be shown to be not defending your copyright, that you can loose it. Putting DRM would seem to me to be showing that you are trying to defend your Copyright.

Re:Just an thought. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940079)

I'm no lawyer either, but I believe that only applies to trademarks, not copyrights.

Re:Just an thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940115)

I think you have Copyright confused with Trademarks. It used to be that you would lose Copyright by failing to register or renew but that is no longer the case.

Re:Just an thought. (4, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940137)

You're thinking of trademarks. You have to defend trademarks or you lose it. Copyright is yours to enforce at any time unless you give it away.

They're defending thier IP in the eyes of the shareholders. Every public company has an obligation to its shareholders, if the current command structure lets pirated copies leak out from every hole, the shareholders might get new company leaders.

Re:Just an thought. (2, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940243)

It's not copyright-- you are granted a copyright automatically under US law. I believe you are thinking of trademarks, which have nothing to do with DRM.

As someone who is involved with having to decide whether DRM goes into our products or not (I work for a book publisher), I can tell you that we are most certainly aware that DRM does not 'work'. We are under no illusions that it is tamperproof. However, we are also aware that DRM can make something 'hard enough' to copy that only really motivated people will bother-- the rest will just say, "heck, I'll just pay for this thing." Our financial people claim that they can show this is indeed the case. We are, of course, looking into alternatives, like the Books24x7-type solution which is DRM-free, but which is also a total PITA to copy.

I strongly advocate copyleft, so my role is occasionally difficult. But in the end, my company signs the paychecks, so my responsibility is to them. At the very least, it forces me to see the issue from both sides. A _lot_ of money goes into developing and printing books, so you really don't want to see that go down the drain.

Not at all. (3, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940273)

If you don't defend a trademark, you can lose it. I'm not sure how this applies to copyright.

That's why RMS doesn't like the term "Intellectual Property", by the way. It's a vague concept that combines three very different bodies of law: Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights.

For that matter, think about just about every copyleft-style license -- GPL, Creative Commons, etc -- do those become invalid just because people are copying them? No.

If such a law exists at all (for copyright, instead of trademarks), I would think it would have to do with actually legally defending your copyright -- as in, when you're aware of the vendor down the block selling burned pirate copies, you should sue him. It absolutely has nothing to do with taking the law into your own hands with DRM.

Re:Just an thought. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940369)

"But I believe most places if you can be shown to be not defending your copyright, that you can lose it. "

There...fixed that for ya.

DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940011)

Stardock can claim all they want against DRM. Their own "online" registration of game architecture, remove the first sale law for every American.

You can't sell a Stardock game because it is tie to your account, and tie to your PC.

Want to install the game on your girl friend PC? On your children PC? Yep... install it, but you will not get update of your game. So,... they simply release buggy version that need update and user tie with their new DRM network solution.

BRAD, STOP claiming you are on the good guy side, when you simply remove the restrictions from DRM on the DVD and put the same restrictions, over your network.

Re:DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940193)

Uh, no it's not. Your account, yes. Your PC, no. You can only play online with the same copy from one place at any one time, but it's by no means locked to your PC.

Also, insert generic Slashdot joke re: girlfriends/children #46 here.

Re:DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940391)

Not only that, but me and my friends have observed that they really don't care how many people are playing simultaneously. One of my friends purchased Demigod, we all installed it from his account, and we've all been playing it on LAN/online with no problems.

Re:DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940949)

This must be intentional. We purchased a single copy of Sins of a Solar Empire, and I believe the manual states you can install, legally, on a few computers. With no valid single player mode- it's the only way to play.

I'm more inclined to purchase more titles when the creator is honest like that. Unfortunately, sins games take for F'n EVER, and as fun as it is- we only fire up a game one in a while- when we have a solid afternoon + evening to invest.

Re:DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (4, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940325)

I've got Stardock games on multiple computers right now, all at the current version, quite easily. I'm not really sure what you're talking about. Hell, the EULA explicitly says you can have it on more then one computer at once (two in Demigod's case).

Re:DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (3, Informative)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940471)

In addition to the above comments noting that it is just tied to your account, not your PC, note that the GOO system allows you to deactivate a game on your account and transfer it to another. 1 minute spent googling "transfer stardock games" would have found this out for you. Try doing a little research next time your tempted to make assumptions about how something works that you have no knowledge of.

Re:DRM for DVD is bad... DRM from network is evil. (1)

lagfest (959022) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940623)

Want to install the game on your girl friend PC? On your children PC? Yep... install it, but you will not get update of your game. So,... they simply release buggy version that need update and user tie with their new DRM network solution.

While each install counts as an activation, you can do this without any problems.

One time network registrations are a lot better than rootkits, dvds that only work in 50% of drives and swapping discs every time you need to play a game.

Encourage piracy? (5, Insightful)

Leviance (1001065) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940061)

So, the purpose is not to prevent piracy, but to prevent multiple legal resales of games ... which would only result in further illegal piracy. Sounds like a winning argument to me...

Re:Encourage piracy? (2, Interesting)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940259)

Sort of, if I download a game via bittorrent, the publisher gets nothing. If I buy a used game via gamestop, the publisher gets the exact same amount, only gamestop gets more money to operate and sell used console games.

Used console games are where the real heartache is. I'm not aware of a way to play pirated xbox360 games or ps3 games in a way that doesn't void the warranty (very important with the RROD floating around) or online play. That being said, if I have the choice between paying 35 for a new copy, or 20 for a used copy (with cd-inspection, or course), guess which I'm going to pick? Or even better, if I have the choice between the inflated $60 or a discounted (with membership card) 45 for a 3 day old game that someone bought and then sold back after beating, which do you think I'll pic?

Granted I haven't bought a game form eb or gamestop in over a year, but for average joe halo, the choice is just as clear.

Re:Encourage piracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940463)

The guy who bought the game for $60, then sold it back after three days for $15, was able to put that money towards his next game. If the secondary market wasn't available, he wouldn't be able to buy as many new games, and the publishers wouldn't get as much of his money.

Re:Encourage piracy? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940585)

The guy who bought the game for $60, then sold it back after three days for $15, was able to put that money towards his next game. If the secondary market wasn't available, he wouldn't be able to buy as many new games, and the publishers wouldn't get as much of his money.

true, but from a publisher's standpoint, if I do not have the option to buy a used game, my new purchase + his new purchase = $120 in sales. With me buying his used copy, his purchase + the $15 towards the next game = $60 with an optional $15 that may or may not go towards the next game put out by that publisher. So the result of that secondary game market is only netting a potential $75. That's a $45 dollar loss in their eyes due to gamestop. Whats to say he doesn't lose his job and have to cut back on spending? That $15 goes towards food or rent or gas, not their next game.

Re:Encourage piracy? (1)

sirambrose (919153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940439)

If I understood correctly, drm is to prevent everyone from copying the game and then immediately selling it back to the game store. If everyone did this then each store would only buy a handfull of copies of the game from the publisher and repeatedly resell the few copies they bought. For example, a store might buy 20 copies from the distributer and then buy them back and resell each copy 10 times each in the first week. While this is legitimate if the game is unplayable, it isn't legitimate if all 200 customers kept a copy and are still playing it. The publishers hope that drm prevents customers from copying the game and selling it back to the store until after initial rush of sales ends and they have hopefully made a profit on the game.

Ya well (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940573)

I think 2D Boy gives publishers more credit then they are due. I think publishers ARE stupid over all. I think they really do think they can win this war. They think "Well if we just keep getting better DRM, we'll find something they can't crack." I think they also believe that DRM does give good ROI, which is to say that the increase in profits is greater than the cost of the DRM. I really believe that most publishers are stupid about this, just like the music publishers.

The problem is they see these big numbers of copies out there and get dollar signs in their eyes. They think "Man, if we had been paid for each of those copies we'd be RICH!" They are right too. Games are heavily copied. If every person who ever downloaded a copy instead paid for the game, they'd probably make 5-10x the money. What they don't consider, of course, is that not everyone would. There's a lot that people will take for free that they won't take at any price, much less a $50 price. You offer it for free, they say "Yes I'd like that." You want any money for it, they'll pass.

However, greed is able to short-circuit logic for many people I don't think the people at publishers are any different. They see the money they could be theoretically making and stop thinking logically about it.

Also the DRM companies push their products heavily, of course. They reassure the publishers "Oh ya, our DRM is really effective it'll get you a bunch more sales but if you DON'T use it, we'll you'll go to the poor house because nobody will buy your game!"

Personally, I think the numbers on the Bittorrent sites tell the real story. Demigod sure as hell got downloaded a lot, because people were very interested in it. However, Spore got downloaded even more, because even more people were interested in it. The difference DRM had on downloading in that case? Zero. People downloaded if they wanted to.

Used PC games at gamestop? (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940067)

I don't think I have ever seen used PC games at a Gamestop; they have only sold new versions since I have been shopping there anyway (since around 2000 or so).

Re:Used PC games at gamestop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940263)

used sales doesn't make great sense either since their is the possibility somebody kept the cd-key making online play for the used copy useless (at least for stores like gamestop).

person to person sales are a bit of a different story where i see people selling the cd-key themselves. drm depending on the type would definitely interfere with this.

Here's why: (1)

Bellegante (1519683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940105)

They don't want to just make a modest profit, they want to be gaming superstars.

Piracy is better the smaller a company you are, to a point. It is advertising, and it can get you more publicity. But to go from the game that sells 10,000 copies to the one that sells ten million, and continues selling for years after being produced, companies feel they need a way to force people to buy. One in every (gamer) household!

Just like the founding fathers wanted!

Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (5, Funny)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940139)

DRM doesn't bother me nearly as much as stuff like Steam and the death of the second hand market. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to bring a game to your friends' house to play?

"Hey, Ron, it's Steve. Since we're going to hang out tomorrow, I suggest you start downloading Butt Zappers 2 now. It should take up about 20 GB of your hard drive space."

"OK, what's your Live username and password?"

"It's XXXXXX and XXXXX. My credit card's on that account, don't use it to download a bunch of games like you did last time, okay bro?"

"Sure dude, but what if this puts me up over my bandwidth cap, you'll pay me back, right?"

"I guess."

"Wait a minute, I don't have any room on my hard drive left."

"So, just delete some of your old stuff. You can always download it later."

"Are you gonna pay for me to download all that stuff too?"

"Dude, I knew we should have gotten Playstation, Sony made a deal with Comcast and PSN downloads don't count against the cap."

"Yeah, and maybe we'd actually be able to download it. Looks like the Butt Zappers server is slammed right now."

Honestly, if they try to foist that stuff on us, I'll just stick with the old, disc-based systems.

(Tangentially...) (4, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940327)

(...I'd like to know more about this Butt Zappers game.)

Re:Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940375)

I know with Impulse (and it wouldn't surprise me if Steam does it too, haven't tried though), you can archive a game. You could then put said archive on a DVD or a USB key, and you have a physical thing you can carry around to install from. So your steps would be:
1. Archive game.
2. Go to Friend's house.
3. Unarchive game.
4. Play game.

But yes, if you want physical media, buying that is better then buying an online copy. That seems to be common sense.

Re:Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940685)

Steam only allows the creation of "backups". These are NOT BACKUPS. When you reinstall one you must connect to Steam to have both Steam and your backup "blessed" before you can use them. This is not a problem in your chosen example, but when Steam goes away (nothing lasts forever) then all those steam backups will be worthless. Valve has pledged to release patches to make them not worthless, but odds are that when Valve goes out of business they won't have the ability to make such a decision.

Re:Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (2, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940435)

At least with Steam you can download it as much as you want, so there's that.

I get your point, though, and now that you just about have to have multiple copies of a game to fire it up at a LAN party I imagine we'll just stick with UT2K4 and earlier, plus L4D (a special case, and something that we'd all been dreaming of for years, so of course we all bought it). Certainly, the bar for buying a multiplayer game has risen since it became impossible or complicated to install one copy on several machines for a quick LAN session, at least among the people I game with. If we don't all want to buy it, there's no reason for anyone to buy it, and only with very rare exceptions (L4D) do any of us do much multiplayer FPS gaming outside our rare LAN parties.

It's kind of like board gaming, which we also do a lot of. If we all had to have a copy of each game to play, I doubt we'd do it as much, and we'd buy way fewer board games.

It's a pity none of us can stand console FPS games. The last one we had fun playing (rather than just frustration) was Perfect Dark, which we still break out from time to time. Oh well, there's still SSB.

Re:Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (3, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940603)

If you're talking about a LAN party, not all games really require you to buy a copy for everybody. Demigod (most recent example I have) lets you use one copy for everybody on the LAN. It even says you're allowed to do that in the game's manual.

It seems like it's next to impossible to find out what the policy is before actually buying the game, but some games are friendly towards LAN players. :)

Re:Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940591)

DRM doesn't bother me nearly as much as stuff like Steam and the death of the second hand market. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to bring a game to your friends' house to play?

Friends? What are those?

But seriously, when I play with my friends online I don't bother going over to their house but rather meet them online (unless alcohol is involved). Seems more efficient that way.

Otherwise it really doesn't bother me about the second hand factor of steam.

I realized I have boxes of games that I'm too lazy to eBay and most of them won't work on Windows XP so I don't know what the point of keeping them around is for. Being able to re-download them after I lost the box or CD key is a plus as well.

I've actually bought a game or two online because I lost the original packing and was hankering for an oldschool game.

Re:Play at your friend's house? Sell a game? Nope. (3, Informative)

James Skarzinskas (518966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940739)

Your post rubs me as starkly disingenuous.

The Steam hate might have held some ground in 2002/03 while angry Counter-Strike players still clung to WON.net, but times have changed. Unless you're regularly blowing all of your monthly bandwidth on torrenting "linux isos", you can stomach a Steam game download or two with even the most draconian ISP.

"It's XXXXXX and XXXXX. My credit card's on that account, don't use it to download a bunch of games like you did last time, okay bro?"

Steam doesn't persistently store your credit card information. I'd be weary of any digital delivery service that did.

"Can you imagine how difficult it will be to bring a game to your friends' house to play?"

Okay, okay, let's just say your pal doesn't want to waste the bandwidth or time on downloading; that's fine. So, I don't know - as difficult as opening Steam up, navigating to "Backup games", burning it to a disc and walking it over? Personally, I can't imagine a mortal among us to tackle this Herculean errand.

"Wait a minute, I don't have any room on my hard drive left."

Gone are the days of juggling CDs and game installations to ensure you have 100MB of space left in order to pay tribute to the Windows 95 swap deity. If you're using an even remotely modern HDD of an even half-acceptable size (heck, even grandma's new HP for checking chain e-mails and visiting smileycentral comes with a 300GB drive these days), yeah, if you don't have enough space to install something from Steam? Not only are your computing practices more than likely idiotic to begin with, but you can most certainly deal with uninstalling some junk. Or hell, you've just proven you need it - so go buy a second HDD.

But you know what? The fact is, Gabe Newell, Valve co-founder, has gone on record mocking conventional DRM and stated, paraphrasing, that the mission of Steam is to make buying games, storing games, and accessing games easier and more convenient for the customer. Their content servers are widespread, well-maintained, and frankly - your aside about the "Butt Zappers server being slammed" is moot. Even the dreaded Slashdot phenomenon is a drop in the pond to Steam's full throughput. The recent roll out of of Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 content packs have proven testament to this.

The only real complaint of yours that stands is with respect to re-selling your games - but really, tough shit. It's probably the only real remaining trade-off of digital delivery, so just consider that you're trading resale value for a few dollars in publishing costs the next time you buy a Steam game a bit cheaper than the brick and mortar box cost.

As a final note to answer any forthcoming "but, but, but, what-if!?" conjecturing, Valve has stated repeatedly that in the event they close up shop, a means for us customers to retain our purchases will be provided. If you have to crusade against digital delivery, don't go after Steam.

Property or not? (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940159)

Publishers aren't stupid. They know that DRM doesn't work against piracy,' Carmel explains. 'What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets. If DRM permits only a few installs, that minimizes the number of times a game can be resold.

This struck me as a hypocritical position on the part of those game publishers. Either IP is property or it is not. If it is property, then there should be no restrictions allowed on whether or how frequently it can be resold (i.e. no one tries to stop you from reselling your car or your house). If it is not property, then there should be no artificial scarcity surrounding it which would also make this or any other DRM an inappropriate practice.

It should be obvious that what they seem to want is a level of control that is unavailable to the manufacturers of any other sort of good or service. It's surprising that anyone takes them seriously. Much lively debate occurs on the fine nuances of copyright law while missing the point that what they want is to be singularly special, to wield powers unavailable to other industries. That's known as the inability to see the forest for all the trees. That's why I think it's a phony debate, just like most media discourse surrounding what should be regarded as power grabs. They are aiming at an unreasonable amount of control over the marketplace in the name of copyright.

Re:Property or not? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940931)

Owning "Intellectual property" is more like owning an apartment complex with an infinite number of units.

You can buy and sell the hotel in toto, just like you can buy and sell the copyright itself.

Assuming subletting is allowed, you can issue perpetual leases to as few or as many rooms as you like, creating a scarcity or not as you see fit, just as you can publish as few or as many copies of a book as you want.

The analogy breaks down in that most land is leased for a specific term, and most intellectual property that is delivered on a physical media has a perpetual license.

SaaS is the Answer (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940173)

Used games don't make Publishers any money.

Pirated games don't make Publishers any money.

Solution: Games should use the Software-As-A-Service Model.

Imagine paying a "small monthly fee" for say GTA-IV, or a library of GTA games.

Your "small monthly fee" would cover :
      - Saved game storage
      - Game updates
      - Technical Support

Imagine paying to receive a brand new PS3, and a full library of games.

When you are bored with one game, simply pay to play another!

For other small monthly fees, the publisher would also retain your saved games per month.

Nothing to update, nothing to activate, nothing to buy/sell or worry about.

No games to lose, backups to make, etc. All your games are available, simply replace the hardware, which could be covered by another "small monthly fee".

Computing is a commodity, like electricity. People should get used to paying as they use it. Nobody needs their "own" "Personal" computer, just use a cloud service of some sort.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (4, Interesting)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940595)

Yeah, so every time some idiot hits the telephone pole the next block down or an idiot builder augers through the neighborhood cable line or my cable company has a hardware problem I can't watch TV, I can't surf the internet, and I also can't play any game that I've paid for? I don't use Comcast any more for this and other reasons but they charged me for a full month of service despite my cable being out for over a week. Do I get a discount on my service if I can't access this software service for a week through no fault of my own? Probably not, especially if it is some other company's fault.

Also the moment I have to pay every time I open up a text document is the moment I stop using computers at home period and I'm a developer. There is no reason for every company in the world to nickle and dime me. I won't pay a monthly subscription to play a game I already paid $50 for and I won't pay a monthly subscription to do basic things with my computer. I also wouldn't pay for a single listening instance of a song.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940719)

I've thought about this a bit and I don't necessarily have a problem with paying every month. Assuming I can only make use of a certain amount of digital content, my costs should remain relatively constant. Priced accordingly, I suppose I could live with that, but my problem then is that I don't feel that I should have to connect to a third party to authorize my use of a game EVERY TIME I PLAY. I live with it for some multiplayer games because it can improve the experience, but I generally don't feel it's necessary. While I don't have a problem with the model in itself; the day the whole industry goes that way is the day I give up computers.

It makes me nervous enough that I rely on Valve to play some of my games. If they were to go under (not so likely, but certainly not impossible), I only hope that they detach the games from their online component and that I have enough notice to back things up properly. If all games were like that (or worse, all software), I'd probably go crazy trying to keep track of it all. That's especially true since it's unlikely there'd ever be a single, unified place where you purchase/maintain all of it.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (2, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940727)

That model would mean the death of so much of what I love about games, that I'm not sure I'd bother to keep playing new ones. Certainly I've got a long enough backlog of older games to play that it'd take me a few years to get through, and that's not counting any re-plays.

I like being able to re-visit older games, like a book. I like mods, and very often they make the game so much better that it's hard to imagine playing it without them (Morrowind, Oblivion, Rome:Total War). I only play console games on the assumption that by the time I want to re-visit them, if I can't get the game and hardware legitimately then there'll be a PC emulator for it and a .torrent somewhere.

It doesn't sound like there'd be much room in that model for me or other gamers like me, so we'd just find other stuff to do. God knows I've got enough books on my "to read" list to last me for a decade or so, even if I stopped gaming completely and did nothing for entertainment but read. There's so much good entertainment I haven't seen/read/played/heard yet, in every form, that there could be no more music, games, movies, books, etc. made starting tomorrow and I doubt I'd even care for 15 years, if not more.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (1)

torkus (1133985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940783)

And this is thrown around as the holy grail of SAAS.

Except publishers get greedy. Look at iTMS with their multi-tier pricing now. Publishers are always looking for a way to jack up pricing/revenue on new titles because they know 1) people will rush to buy it immediately 2) it won't matter how much it sucks for the first big burst of buying 3) there are no returns or quality guarantees.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940941)

Used games don't make Publishers any money. Pirated games don't make Publishers any money. Solution: Games should use the Software-As-A-Service Model.

I have a better solution: Publishers should make games that are good enough that people want to buy them, in order to support further development of good games.

Computing is a commodity, like electricity. People should get used to paying as they use it.

You can have my gaming box when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940961)

I was thinking on this the other day. At the time and point we are right now, where we watch streaming movies over Netflix with a paid account or the XboxLive Phenomenon, which you buy the arcade games with points that you want to play, or the PSN Store, its all the same... its about dumping DVD's as a media, and having a whole distribution channel digitally. Everyone that plays a decent game has broadband at their house (frankly if you are on DialUP while at home at this time and age, you should shoot yourself).

This would obviously kill retailers like Gamestop or BB, but then again they could associate themselves with Game Publishers and just push out for Games available only through digital distribution.

Personally I can't wait till consoles do this. I really dont want to get up and drive to a gamestore to buy a $60 game, when I could download it for perhaps a fraction of the cost, because its a digital download.

My only expectations for the Next Generation Consoles, may them be the Xbox, PS3 or Nintendo Franchises is that they come with a big enough HD (1TB no less) and that all games are available through digital distribution like XboxLive or PSN or Steam Provides.

Re:SaaS is the Answer (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27941043)

People like to own stuff. Deal with it.

Recently, I heard from a friend about a car they leased for several years and then turned it in to the dealer. They were charged all kinds of nickel and dime things to a big bill. Now they will never lease another car ... ever. It is a business model most Customers will avoid.

Follow Up? (2)

spiffydudex (1458363) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940177)

Was there any follow up to Ubisofts release [slashdot.org] of a DRM free Prince of Persia

Lost Sale Fallacy (4, Insightful)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940179)

These specific situations still suffer from the false assumption that a pirated copy is a lost sale. I would wager that very few pirated copies represent a copy that would have been sold at retail, either:
  • The person has no interest in the game, but will download a "free" copy because it's "free,"
  • The person cannot afford the full retail price of the game, or
  • The person wants to evaluate the full version, not some crippled demo,

When I was a starving student (and associate engineer struggling to pay rent), I had a very slim budget, and would play "warez" until I could save/beg/borrow enough to buy the full versions, and I would *unless* the game sucked anyway. Now that I can afford software and music, I make it a point not to pirate copyrighted info, but I will still "evaluate" music before I buy it from MPAA publishers. And most people I know feel the same way.

So, the real product that DRM protects is the "Turd in a Can," a product that the consumer would not pay for if they knew beforehand that they were buying crap.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (2, Interesting)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940431)

The great flaw in this argument is that you miss one case: People who will pirate because it's cheap, but do have the money and would buy it if the free option didn't exist.

Yes, those people exist. Yes, most people will choose "free" over "not free" any day of the week, especially those who don't consider copyright law to be worth the paper it's printed on.

I mean yes, the numbers thrown around by the BSA are complete nonsense. But the number in most cases for lost sales is > $0. If actually effective DRM existed, you'd see it adopted a fair bit.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940733)

But if those people seek out free things they will NOT pay for it anyway. They are NOT customers. Lets say you are able to magically make something that can not be cracked. You still will not convert them as you are competing with OTHER things that are free and can be cracked. They just will not buy it. There is probably a percentage that will. But you still need to compete with their attention from the existing FREE STUFF...

All you really want to do is 'tag' them somehow so you do not bother wasting money on supporting them.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (3, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940983)

You miss my thesis: I'm claiming that the class of "people who will pirate because it's cheap" are outnumbered by the other classes. The ??AA and SPA are assuming that the "people who will pirate because it's cheap" is the only class.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (1)

clodney (778910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27941017)

The great flaw in this argument is that you miss one case: People who will pirate because it's cheap, but do have the money and would buy it if the free option didn't exist.

There is another case being missed here. Suppose that piracy didn't exist, and everyone had to pay the retail price of the game or skip it. Now the people who can't afford $60 for a game would represent a great market for someone to come out with a good $30 game and make money from people priced out of the more expensive games.

People rationalizing that piracy is OK because they wouldn't pay X for a game is one reason that cheaper games aren't getting produced.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940451)

When I didn't have much money, I didn't buy or play games often. The games that I would buy were usually a few years old costing a fraction of what new ones would. And I'd be able to play them on an inexpensive computer. I saved a huge amount of money over all on gaming. Plus most of the classics are just as good now as they were back then.

In most cases there were reliable reviews out there and communities surrounding the ones that are worthwhile. It doesn't particularly bother me to pay for old games. Best of all when I purchased my copies of Commander Keen and Terminal velocity in the recent past, they didn't come with any DRM.

But, I do have to admit that I usually pay for games second hand, since it's a lot less expensive. Game sites like gog.com definitely need to be more common. I've yet to have any problem at all with any of my purchases from there. Of course once you buy there's no backsies, but still.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940493)

Generally you can get the "try before you buy" experience with a demo. Do you really need to play the entire game to decide whether or not you would have bought it? What's the incentive? The bullet point you forgot is

*Cheap Ass Bastards

Some people won't pay for anything if its free. If piracy isn't stealing or a moral issue, and I'm entitled to download the entire game and play and then pay the publisher if I feel like it, why _should_ I have to pay them at all? Its not morally wrong for me to skip paying them, so pretty much me coughing up the dough totally depends on how generous I'm feeling that day.

I don't disagree with the lost sale fallacy, but I do disagree with the fact that somehow gamers transcend our inherited traits towards selfishness and have evolved into some sort of selfless do gooders. I'd call that the "good Samaritan fallacy". The other way to think about it is the concept of band in a club. They charge a cover on the way in, not on the way out. There's a pretty good reason for that too.

Of course, everyone can go round and round on the morality issue and what they do and what their friends do and why people do what they do, but really motivations and causes are secondary to the point that people pirate games, they've always pirated games, and they will continue to pirate games. The DRM cat and mouse game is just another ebb in the natural progression of things (sharing games over the internet being the "flow" its trying to counter). No matter what you think, if your business model depends on the game not being pirated you're sunk (pun somewhat intended). Pretty much publishers have to turn the internet side of things to work for them, and build in incentives to get a legitimate copy of the game. (Sometimes that's with manuals and addins and such, but the days of the 200 page bound spiral manual for flight sims has sadly passed us by). Rather, now its more about building in an online experience for your game that requires a continuing relationship with the customer - downloads for registered users, online play, new information, etc. Make the game something more than just the bits required to play it and piracy won't be an issue.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940515)

I had a very slim budget, and would play "warez" until I could save/beg/borrow enough to buy the full versions
I hear a lot of people say that... However never is private. In private I get I "warez" the program because I wanted it and only suckers pay for software.

Your excuse that I didn't have the money until I could save up. Well as a starving student how often did that really happen?

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940577)

When I was a starving student (and associate engineer struggling to pay rent), I had a very slim budget, and would play "warez" until I could save/beg/borrow enough to buy the full versions, and I would *unless* the game sucked anyway. Now that I can afford software and music, I make it a point not to pirate copyrighted info, but I will still "evaluate" music before I buy it from MPAA publishers. And most people I know feel the same way.

While I'm sure everyone on Slashdot is an honest consumer who tries out the pirated version and then purchases a shelf copy, I would venture to guess that most people, in possession of a full unlocked copy of a game, movie, or album, do not then purchase another copy.

Re:Lost Sale Fallacy (1)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940911)

This study found that preventing 1000 pirated copies results in an additional 1 sale.
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17350 [gamasutra.com]

Clearly one has to balance lost sales from piracy vs. lost sales due to people unhappy with either the concept or inconvenience of DRM. If the 1:1000 ratio is accurate, it does make me think developers should be pushing much further along the spectrum in the direction of DRM-free or DRM-light.

You Get 5 Days! (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940229)

Most game makers sell the lionshare of games the first 5 days of release. Once that time has passed it's usually a trickle.

The question is, why bother with DRM at that point. How many people that are stealing games now would actually buy the game?

How'd the DRM work out for Spore? (5, Interesting)

GTarrant (726871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940267)

'I believe their argument is that while DRM doesn't work perfectly,' says Wardell, 'it does make it more difficult for someone to get the game for free in the first five or six days of its release. That's when a lot of the sales take place and that's when the royalties from the retailers are determined. Publishers would be very happy for a first week without "warez" copies circulating on the Web.'"

Let us consider, for a moment, a DRM-loaded game from the past year.

Spore.

Its DRM was considered by some to be so limiting that some people simply never played the game. People were exasperated that, at release, it allowed only one user account per copy. That installs couldn't be "restored" by uninstalling the game (many of these things have been added since).

OK, so all that said, copies of Spore were still readily available for download a week prior to release on torrent sites all over the world. Despite cumbersome DRM, that in some cases prevented actual customers from being able to extract full enjoyment from the product they purchased, anyone that wanted a DRM-free copy could still have gotten one prior to the release of the game.

Lesson: It. Doesn't. Work.

Maybe...maybe it prevents someone from taking the game to a friend's house and installing it, or the like. But it isn't preventing wide-scale piracy, even during that "critical first week".

Re:How'd the DRM work out for Spore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940567)

Exactly... 'nuf said.

Re:How'd the DRM work out for Spore? (2, Interesting)

The Moof (859402) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940717)

Fallout 3 suffered some pretty bad DRM faults as well:
SecuROM found process explorer, refused to launch
SecuROM didn't like certain brands of DVD-R/RW drives, refused to launch
SecuROM found debugging applications, refused to launch
SecuROM found burning software, refused to launch
SecuROM installed shell extensions and hooks

All this from a supposed "disk check." Luckily, they packaged SecuROM in the launcher, not the executable itself, so you can bypass the DRM by simply running Fallout3.exe instead. On the bright side, at least it wasn't the version that requires internet connection and server authentication to play the game...

Re:How'd the DRM work out for Spore? (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940827)

'I believe their argument is that while DRM doesn't work perfectly,' says Wardell, 'it does make it more difficult for someone to get the game for free in the first five or six days of its release. That's when a lot of the sales take place and that's when the royalties from the retailers are determined. Publishers would be very happy for a first week without "warez" copies circulating on the Web.'"

Let us consider, for a moment, a DRM-loaded game from the past year.

Spore.

Its DRM was considered by some to be so limiting that some people simply never played the game. People were exasperated that, at release, it allowed only one user account per copy. That installs couldn't be "restored" by uninstalling the game (many of these things have been added since).

Thank you.

I was about to post exactly the same comment. I purchase Spore legally when it came out, using EA's downloader. It was a few days before the U.S. release (the game had been released in Australia already) and I thought "Oh I guess if you get it online you get it early." I guessed wrong, it downloaded 99% of the game and stopped.

That really bothered me, I just wanted to play the game that I legally purchased. If I knew that I was only going to get 99% and the release date would still be the same I would have bought it at a store with the pretty box, physical copy of the CD (which I can easily install on my two main computers), no EA downloader, and an instruction manual. So I went to the pirate bay, found the ISO, downloaded it, installed it, and used my legally acquired serial to play. Plus when it came time to install it on my second computer, it was a lot easier to just copy the ISO over to the second computer rather than installing the EA downloader and downloading the entire game again.

Return Policies (1)

citking (551907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940481)

I usually pay for a game if I know I will like it (i.e. tried the demo, played it at a friend's house, etc.) but I am hesitant to pay for anything I can't return if I don't like it. The last game I bought was "Jeopardy!", which, as anyone here who has played it will know, sucks royal ass. Granted, I paid $10 for it at Target but I didn't have the choice of returning it if I didn't like it. So I sucked it up.

On a game more than $10 I wouldn't pay full price unless I had the ability to take the game, play it for a few days to see if I like it, then return it if it doesn't work out (is buggy, not fun, needs a better graphics card, etc.) I'm not sure if it is the manufacturers who impose this return policy or the stores themselves. I imagine it is a collusion of both. It's a smaller scale on the "return Windows for a refund if you don't accept the EULA" conundrum: Microsoft says it's OK, but you have to take it back to the retailer. The retailer doesn't honor the return because they are losing money. It's a no-win situation.

GameStop buys PC-games? (1)

iJusten (1198359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940513)

'What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets.

Somebody please correct me, but does GameStop even accept PC-games? Their policy is (at least where I live) to only buy console games used. And can those even have additional DRM (on top of the normal "must have CD to play" one)?

Re:GameStop buys PC-games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940649)

They will, soon.

Re:GameStop buys PC-games? (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940929)

Somebody please correct me, but does GameStop even accept PC-games? Their policy is (at least where I live) to only buy console games used. And can those even have additional DRM (on top of the normal "must have CD to play" one)?

DRM does not only apply to PC games.

It could be applied to consoles just the same now the consoles tend to have online storage (where registration keys and such can be stored) and network connections for the code to contact registration servers over.

(whether any console games do this yet I don't know, I'm not a console owner at all so have no first-hand point of reference, but it certainly could be done)

This doesn't make things any better (1)

getuid() (1305889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940547)

Annoying your users with DRM so that they cannot sell their games when they don't want them anymore does not make things better. In fact, it makes things worse.

I bought it, it's mine.

As for you: make up your mind what you're selling. If it is the media, then the moment I sell it, it belongs to somebody else. If it's the right to play the game (i.e. the "license"), then you already sold "one right" -- if I make use of it or somebody else should be none of your freakin business.

Don't try to eat both the egg and the hen at the same time, it's bound to fail.

Carmel is wrong about one thing (at least) (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940581)

"What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets."

Actually, when a retail buyer can afford only less than full price and bought it at $50 KNOWING ABOUT THE RE-SALE MARKET, then the resale market DOES put money in publisher's pockets, by increasing retail sales. I often bought new $40-50 PC games ONLY because I knew I could sell them a couple weeks later for a $10 loss. I actually MADE money ($30 profit) with San Andreas, having bought when slashdot warned me of the impending sales ban due to the Hot Coffee debacle. I STILL don't have GTA IV, too many issues at launch.

Re:Carmel is wrong about one thing (at least) (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940745)

That's exactly why an AAC-protected song from iTunes isn't worth $0.99. There's no resale. An mp3 you could still resell, although Apple might not approve it is physically possible. Saving $10 buying a game you don't know for sure that you want from Steam is a pretty terrible deal, too, no matter how you slice it.

DRM, the First Week, and Gaming on the Long Tail (2, Interesting)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940637)

I never buy a game in the first month, let along the first week of a release. Mostly, I'm waiting for the quality of the game to become apparent after some play in the real world, and also I don't like the bleeding-edge prices of new releases.

Avoiding weird DRM is another benefit.

After a few days or weeks, the real effects of whatever cockamamie DRM scheme the publishers crowbarred onto the game become apparent.

After a few weeks or months, applications like Alcohol 120 will adapt so that I can be assured of making backups.

After a few months to a year, the price starts to dip into my admittedly modest range. By then, I know whether I can keep the game for myself if the company goes out of business, whether I'm facing potential hassle in making my own backups, and whether the game is worth it in the first place.

After a few years, the game may re-release with digital distributors under no-DRM agreements geared toward truly enthusiastic gaming communities. Witness GOG.com [gog.com] .

Gaming on the long tail rules -- provided you're not desperate to get hopped up on the Newest, Shiniest Thing.

One Week? (3, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940641)

Get real. When was the last time a popular game* was released and it wasn't available that day via P2P? In fact you often see them days BEFORE release on P2P already cracked and ready to go.

I remember when Spore came out the first day or two had something like 30,000 seeders on TPB. Even right now there's about 15k people seeding both the star trek movie and the latest episode of fringe ... and as many people downloading. And this is just ONE tracker. It's actually faster to download the game/movie than drive to the store and buy it half of the time.

Any software company that deludes themselves into believing DRM stops piracy by any significant amount delusional. It's all about preventing resale...which is still detrimental to the customer. Stupid how a library can rend DVDs, CDs and books but somehow software managed to squeak in such an exception.

* Excluding exclusively online games (aka WoW, etc.)

Why not just change business model? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940647)

Why can't game developers just accept the fact that their software will be copied, and instead adopt a business model that is unaffected by unauthorized distribution of their software? For example, distribute the software for free via bittorrent etc., but charge monthly fees for connection to the servers? The shrink-wrapped software business is dead -- time to bury it. People need online access for patches and updates anyway; it is a safe assumption that 99% of your customer base has at least occasional connectivity to the internet. Also, first-sale doctrine becomes irrelevant if all you are paying for is server access. (There is a related issue that remains -- should accounts be transferable? If I grind a WoW character up to level 80, should I be able to sell it to somebody else?) Sure, there is a side effect that even single player games would require an online login. But I really think the software-as-a-service model makes a lot more sense for games than for businesses. Businesses are as geographically distributed as game players, and you really don't want a third party to have access to your business's data.

Re:Why not just change business model? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940731)

Probably because for a single player focused game, this doesn't work. What do you need to be connected to a subscription server for? Hell, in a single player game, one of the great benefits is that you can play it *while offline*.

The model works great for a game like WoW, because the client side of the game by itself is basically worthless. It doesn't apply to something like Mass Effect.

Gamestop and Used Games (2, Informative)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940729)

"What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets."

Really?
Last time I checked, Gamestop sells used games a day or two after they come out (at $60) for $55.

And I haven't seen a PC game or peripheral (new or used) in a Gamestop in ages.

Becuase after all, who cares about resale value? (2, Insightful)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940759)

I mean, carmakers worry about it enough to *advertise* their car's historical resale value (well, if its good, eg Honda).

Granted, I suppose 'gamerz' probably dont worry *quite* as much about resale value when deciding to buy a game as someone buying a new car, but with the way the economy is going, they might start doing so more and more.

Just like companies that don't offer support (even documentation) on older products becuase they don't sell them anymore - no concept whatsoever that resale value might affect the price the market is willing to pay for new products.

Shareholders. (2, Insightful)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940799)

Yes, trying to kill the second hand market (both the friend handing over a game they no longer play and the selling-on-to-recoup-some-cash parts of that market) is the publisher's primary reason for DRM, there is another factor that many seem to forget about when it comes to piracy/DRM.

That factor is shareholders and other investors. The developers and publishers know that DRM essentially does nothing most of the time and is in fact sometimes a cost (if the time cost of wiring the DRM deep into the game, as some do, is greater than the small or zero amount not lost in sales), but do they want to spend an age explaining that to the mugs who pony up the venture capital.

When an investor asks what you are doing about people copying your games "there is nothing we can do" is not an answer that will go down well.

What second-hand market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940817)

I have never seen a proper legal business that will buy PC games, much less sell them back to the general public.

Where can I find such a place? I would much rather support local business than pirate.

I won't even get in to what happens when you try to return an opened game to a brick and mortar store..

So, in other words... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940833)

So this isn't so much about preventing piracy as it is about circumventing the first-sale doctrine?

No sympathy. If this is really the goal of such DRM systems, then their authors should go to jail. The first-sale doctrine is too important to allow to be subverted in this manner.

As Jon Stewart Pointed Out (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940897)

With the resurgence of actual piracy off the Horn of Africa, people who copy games off the internet will be demoted to their old classification: Thieves.

Case in point:
Fire hoses do not work against pirates equipped with rocket propelled grenades.
Fire hoses have not be tested on thieves. EA may be working on the technology.

DRM has not been tested on pirates. The Coast Guard may be working on the technology (You pirate, you can no longer listen to your ipod! Bwahahaha!)
DRM does not work on thieves.

Shooting them in the head works on pirates.
Shooting them in the head is against the rules of engagement for thieves in this class. EA may be working to change that.

Market economy? (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 5 years ago | (#27940921)

But who determines that a copy of the game is worth $50 rather than $35? This is the center of the piracy issue, yet it is never discussed.

In a real market economy then there would be a process of price negotiation between seller and buyer. "Negotiation" is the key concept here. The "market" was originally a place where seller and buyer sat face to face negotiating the price of an item. There is virtually no negotiation in the "market economy" today. I know corporations that preferred to go belly up rather than lower the price of their products. It costs next to nothing to clone a DVD, or even some small electronic devices. Instead of adapting to the actual demand by lowering prices, companies prefer to alienate their customers with DRM.

Intellectual Property (IP) is a new form of property that is here to stay. Therefore, so are IP protection and DRM. Unfortunately, what we see most often is abuse, from both camps.

Reasonable Copy Protection (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27940935)

In predominantly client-server based multi player games there is no real need for copy protection mechanisms as the account you are playing with is ultimately under the control of the provider. You can install the game on a thousand systems but without that account token you're unable to play the game.

For software aimed predominantly at a single users or users within a small LAN however (RPGs, Racing Simulators, etc) there is definitely a need for at least basic copy protection to prevent trading between players. Not that long ago (5-10 years?) the original installation media was generally considered prohibitive enough for the average user. These days with near zero day cracks and widely distributed and easily cloned installation media it just isn't.

I think most people can reasonably see the need for these protections to be in place and most understand the implications of downloading and using pirated software. The question is simply where the line is drawn for the obtrusive and sometimes downright malicious DRM in software today.

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