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Indie Game Dev On the Positive Side To DRM

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the it's-an-excellent-whipping-boy dept.

Games 440

spidweb writes "The online backlash against DRM has gotten a bit excessive, especially since the purpose of DRM is entirely admirable: to stop thieves and free riders and to help creators actually get paid for their work. This blog entry calls attention to XBox Live, a place where strong DRM is helping to encourage quality games at low prices which make money for their developers. Quoting: 'If I could snap my fingers and give myself the same absolute control over the games I make that XBox Live has over theirs (in return for lower prices), I would. The freedom of the current system is nice, but it comes at too high a cost. Honest people need to pay extra to subsidize thieves. The unfairness is just this side of intolerable, and it's only getting worse. DRM is fair if, for what the corporations take, we get something in return.'"

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Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strategy (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29395751)

To me, DRM is about two things. First it's about making sure that people don't actually have control over the things they've ostensibly bought. The Amazon debacle is a prime example of this.

Secondly, it's about trying to create artificial scarcity, which seems to me to be all the wrong strategy.

And, on a different note, I don't think the low prices you're seeing are because of DRM. I think you're seeing them because developing good games shouldn't actually take the gobs of money that it's currently fashionable to throw at the problem. I know of several indie games that seem to be doing OK for themselves completely in the absence of DRM. Word of Goo [worldofgoo.com] , and The Penumbra Series [penumbragame.com] .

Watermarking (0, Flamebait)

goombah99 (560566) | about 5 years ago | (#29395797)

To me, DRM is about two things. First it's about making sure that people don't actually have control over the things they've ostensibly bought.

Okay then I assume then you would be in favor of a scheme were your copy is entirely unlocked (ignoring the fact that it only works on the version of the Xbox you bought and perhaps no future version). But that it is water marked with your Credit card number and you agree to be liable for every single one of the games that shows up in the wild even if its thousands of them?

If your cool with that then say so.

Re:Watermarking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395851)

What if he resold it, and the buyer put it on the pirate bay? Then, he would have done nothing wrong, but still would be liable, under your plan.

Re:Watermarking (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | about 5 years ago | (#29395875)

You could do it like adobe does: if you transfer the lic you have to register the transfer with adobe. they have a form you submit. this is not an obstacle.

Re:Watermarking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395923)

Like anyone has ever actually done that.... roflmfao.

Breaking News (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396143)

African fast running "woman" has a cock inside of her cunt... and the cock is hers.

It's a brave new world of trans-gender niggers out there.

Re:Watermarking (4, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | about 5 years ago | (#29396139)

Except its none of their business who owns a particular license after the first sale.

Re:Watermarking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395857)

i'd be cool with buying a game which was unlocked which i could subsequently sell with no consequences.
how would watermarking with my credit card help me resell the game i bought ?

Re:Watermarking (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29395895)

So, how is this related to my statement? As you are well aware, I would not be in favor of such a scheme. This seems like a straw man argument to me. How isn't it?

In fact, I'm in favor of digital cash based on David Chaum [wikipedia.org] 's algorithms. These completely avoid the need for a merchant to have information that can be used to drain my accounts. I think the current situation with credit cards is just a huge, gigantic security hole that we currently try to ineffectively plug with a flimsy legal framework.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (4, Insightful)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | about 5 years ago | (#29395803)

I think you're seeing them because developing good games shouldn't actually take the gobs of money that it's currently fashionable to throw at the problem.

But it does take gobs of money if you want to develop a very slick-looking game that, besides its graphics, is the most basic regurgitation of a previously innovative and hugely successful game. There is very rarely significant innovation in subsequent games of a given successful franchise, yet they throw similar amounts of money at the development of each installment. See: COD, Every-EA-Sports-Game, etc. Let alone the development costs for games (and this is most of them) that do nothing more than attempt to mimic the pioneers/true-greats. Ultimately, I think it's because it's infinitely easier, in the corporate setting, to pitch a remake/sequel/imitation of a successful franchise, than to take a risky stab at something truly innovative.
How many hundreds of thousands of indie games are there that have never even approached the success of World of Goo?

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395887)

Read his linked resume, he wants others to work for free but has made a carer of working for companies with major IP holdings. He simply wants stuff for free. But we should thank him for letting future employers know that he doesn't have a problem with stealing as long as he benefits. That should do wonders for his job prospects.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29395945)

Well, the weird thing is, you see, I actually bought copies of World of Goo and Penumbra. And while I don't think copyright infringement is stealing, I didn't even commit copyright infringement.

And my employers have generally been aware of my feeling that they should release all software they published as Open Source. Often they became aware of this before they hired me.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29395903)

Yes, I've noticed that somehow derivative games seem to be a LOT more expensive to produce. My suspicion is that basically the giant pyramid scheme that is the modern corporation siphons off too much money.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396097)

Couldn't agree more. What people don't understand is that even a small indie-game cost at the minimum $100 000 - $150 000 to develop and thats the minimum.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396117)

there are hundreds of small indie games that have been developed for far less, such as $0. Perhaps by "small" you meant "big"

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396207)

Nothing is developed for $0. Unless you're a worthless piece of shit who can't hold a job ... then sure, maybe your time is worth nothing.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (2, Interesting)

barrkel (806779) | about 5 years ago | (#29396141)

I bought World of Goo in part based on all the interest around it, when they did their pirating blog post or whatever. I played it for a few hours, finished it in a single day IIRC. I haven't replayed it.

In terms of total game time and replay value, it was not nearly worth it. Compare it to a game like Far Cry 2 - my current replay favourite, I love crossing the beautiful countryside avoiding the guard station hazards - and there's simply no comparison. Far Cry 2 is worth 50x World of Goo.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395809)

Funny that you want others to work for free yet you have no issues with working for companies that lock up your work. 09/08-04/09 Attachmate C++, Linux, Unix, PKI, OpenSSL, ssh, secsh Assisted in development of Attachmate's implementation of ssh (i.e. the IETF secsh standard). I assisted in reviewing code for bugs, making design decisions with a security impact and writing code to fix bugs and add new features. * Discovered important bugs in code by inspection. Either fixed bugs myself or assisted in fixing them. Assisted in creating tests to show bug's existence and prevent regression. * Convinced people to clearly articulate the reasons for design choices, and discovered better ways to optimize all design criteria. * Learned new complex cryptography APIs an implemented software on top of them. * Helped several team members learn better and safer C++ coding techniques. Wrote reusable code demonstrating those techniques. 11/07-02/08 Evri Ant, Subversion, Linux, Maven I was the build engineer for Evri. I was responsible for making sure the build environment, build system, and source control system supported the needs of the developers who used it. * Improved integration with Maven so many build products could be removed from source control. * Made several tweaks to improve modularity of Ant scripts as well as moving them from a procedural to a declarative style so developers could invoke any target at any time instead of having to invoke them in a particular order. * Made a case for and sketched out preliminary plans for moving to a distributed source control system. Git was already informally used by many developers. * Changed build system to invoke new automated deployment system to run integrated, full-system tests. * Moved several operations from external perl scripts into Ant so the build was easier to understand. * Assisted test engineer in understanding and using Ant to its full capabilities. 02/07-08/07 Regence Blue Shield on a contract for Kforce. Python, AIX, Java, Source Code Management, Turbogears, Ant I was a release coordinator for Regence. I managed the source code control system, official builds, the build system, and releases for a team of developers. I also did other miscellaneous coordination tasks as required, and was sometimes called on to investigate version histories to determine how some change happened or where lost changes might be. I was also responsible for ensuring that developers have followed Regence policies and good software engineering practices in both testing and creating a system that can be built with a well defined set of tools. * Wrote a web app in Turbogears (a Python web app framework) to automate certain portions of my job and provide better visibility into which builds of which projects have been released. * Started building mindshare and comfort with new version control tools that work better than existing tools to ease possible future transition to those tools. * Ensured mission critical applications were not deployed to production without adequate testing. * Provided a communications channel for disparate groups to learn surprising ways their actions might affect each other, thereby enabling them to make better plans to minimize the negative impact of those actions. * Coordinated the actions of different groups to ensure that an environment is adequately set up for a new piece of software or changes to an existing piece of software. 05/06-11/06 Lockdown Networks Ruby, Linux, Layer-2 networking, switches, Ethernet, VLAN, 802.1q, SNMP Lockdown Networks makes a network appliance that controls the switches on your network in an attempt to enforce a security policy that both ensures only authorized users use the network, and that those user's systems are clear of various forms of infectious software. It does this by isolating them from the main network until they pass a configurable policy. * Add and/or confirm support for new switches in the Ruby based switch controller. * Participate in design discussions about future directions for various parts of the software. 06/05-05/06 TeraCloud Inc. C++, Linux, TCP/IP, HTTP, SSL, XML, Xerces, OO design, OO programming, Python, z/OS, mainframe TeraCloud makes software that customers use to get a handle on what all the hard-drive space is being used for on the computers they own. It does this using an agent that's installed on the computers whose storage is to be monitored, a server that maintains a database and periodically fetches data from the agents, and a client that queries the server for its data. * Maintain an agent that acts as an ersatz web service written in C++ that runs on an IBM mainframe running z/OS. This agent makes calls to mainframe assembly code written by other programmers in the organization and it also queries VSAM tables. * Act as a resource for questions about Unix systems and C++. * Participate in design decisions and reviews for all parts of TeraCloud's product line. 11/03-05/05 Amazon.com Linux, C, C++, TCP/IP, relational databases, Oracle, multi-threaded programming, Python, shell scripting, NFS, system administration, OO design, OO programming, perl Amazon is the worlds biggest online retailer. I worked in the supply-chain side of things where Amazon makes extensive use of information technology to reduce costs. * Front-line, pageable support for common errors and problems of a set of Amazon's supply-chain Oracle databases. More difficult problems were brought to the attention of an Oracle DBA. * Wrote reports in perl and Python that combined data from multiple data sources to provide insight into holiday supply-chain operations for upper management. * Maintained existing C, C++, and perl code. * Answered questions about internal details of Unix, Linux and Oracle for developers and support staff. * Provided some mentoring for less experienced developers. 2/01-3/03 TIE Commerce (formerly St. Paul Software) Unix, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, C, C++, Java, TCP/IP, SMTP, relational databases, multi-threaded programming, Python, shell scripting, cron, CVS, Subversion, test-first design, extreme programming, NIS, NFS, system administration, OO design, OO programming, perl, Ethernet, IPv6, cryptography, AES * Unix, systems programming and software engineering mentor/guru. * Managed version control, meshed backups with ITs backup scheme using Unix shell scripts and cron. * Administered hardware and software environments for Product Development using NIS and NFS. Also compiled, installed and maintained Open Source tools for our various platforms. * Fixed bugs and implemented new features in flagship eVision product, which was written in C++ and Java. Solved many tricky issues involving interactions between threads and other operating system features. Worked to plan least risky change that would solve a customer's problem. * Developed escalation procedures for support department and assisted in implementing them. * Led an effort to port all existing C++ code to the new ISO C++ standard to increase portability. The code that I wrote when I worked at St. Paul Software is still in operation. Of the sections of code of that maturity level, it is among the most bug free. 8/99-2/01 eBenX C, Unix, Solaris, Linux, Sybase, relational databases, CVS, OO design, OO programming, Python, perl, CGI eBenX administrates healthcare plans for large companies. From a technical standpoint, this mostly involves reading large payroll databases exported in a flat file format into a database, then exporting the data to insurance companies in the format they ask for. * Developed procedures and software for release and version management using Python, Sybase, and CVS * Answered questions about Unix and systems programming * Assisted Keith Willenson in re-engineering mission critical software. 5/97-7/99 Global Maintech (http://www.globalmt.com) Unix, Tru 64 Unix, DEC, Linux, embedded systems, realtime systems, C, C++, perl, Java, JNI, multi-threaded programming, CVS, OO design, OO programming, TCP/IP, SNMP, OS/2, HMC, shell scripting, software engineering This company makes a unique enterprise management product. It's a combined hardware/software solution that's capable of agentless management of a wide range of systems, including mainframes, Unix, VMS, and some NT. * Implemented program to assist in testing using TCP/IP and my StreamModule framework. * Transformed script interpreter into daemon that forks copies of itself to lower startup time for scripts. * Debugged SNMP and OS/2 based system for managing IBM mainframes. * Visited several different customer sites for onsite service and repair of software. Our customer's opinion of our company repeatedly went up on the basis of my knowledge, analytic ability, honesty, and experience. * Assisted in creating multithreaded object-oriented designs and answered questions on C++ and Unix issues. * Participated in a system of rigorous code review. 3/96-5/97 St. Paul Software, St Paul, Minnesota (currently known as TIE Commerce) Unix, DGUX, SCO Unix, AIX, Solaris, Microsoft Windows NT, C++, C, perl, shell scripting, TCP/IP, Visual C++, protocol design, OO design, OO programming This company creates software that helps people work with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) transactions. At the time that I worked there most of the software was in C, but they were moving to C++. They were using C++ for most new development. The software had also been moving to a three tier client/server architecture. Their product ran on almost any flavor of Unix or MSDOS. They had been trying to port to NT, and were about midway through porting/re-architecting for the NT platform when I left. Most of my work there was on the 2nd tier of a three-tier client/server system. * Sole designer and implementor of middle tier of three-tier client server architecture. Used StreamModule. * Also responsible for communications protocol between UI and middle tier. o Documented this well enough that another program that used the protocol was written in Java after I left. * Learned Windows NT and ported middle tier to NT in three months. * Wrote a perl script to automate FTP uploads and downloads of EDI data to and from a mainframe. * Coded a perl script that mapped data from several formats into one format. * Served as a C++ and Unix mentor/guru, assisted other developers in moving to C++ from C. * Helped identify and solve systems portability issues. 10/95-12/95 Insource, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Unix, Solaris, C, Oracle, relational database, protocol design This company is a consulting firm that often hires outside contractors. At that time in Oklahoma City, they did most of the Unix/C/Oracle development for a company called Datatimes. Datatimes marketed a search engine running on MS Windows that connected via an X.25 network to a multiple terabyte database of news articles. The database ran on a Sun Solaris platform. All of my work there was done under Solaris 2.4, and used Oracle PRO*C for all database accesses. * Learned Oracle's Pro*C in a couple of weeks and wrote code that processed large queries of several joined tables. * Took initiative in suggesting and implementing design changes to increase portability in the future. * Coordinated changes between middleware, management GUI and end-user GUI. 1/93-9/95 WinterFire Software, Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota C++, Microsoft Windows 3.1, Unix, OO design, OO programming, Paradox, relational databases This company consulted for companies trying to move their programming shops towards a more object oriented way of doing things. WinterFire designed and wrote object oriented software. I wrote pieces of the software WinterFire's clients had contracted for. All of the work was in C++, usually for IBM PC's running DOS, or MS Windows. My typical project was to write a few C++ classes that interfaced with a relational database and provided services for a user interface layer. * Wrote a large piece of a code generator currently used at a client site to write a highly praised hospital control and scheduling application. * Ported StreamModule to OS/2 and used it for the same hospital scheduling package. * Designed and implemented part of a translation layer between an object oriented database and a relational database. 9/89-2/95 Bellboy Incorporated, St. Louis Park, Minnesota C, C++, GW-Basic, QuickBasic, MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, Paradox, B-Trees, system administration, Quatro Pro, OO design, OO programming Wrote and maintained programs in C, C++, GW-BASIC, and QuickBasic for PCs running MS-DOS, MS Windows, and Lantastic. This was mostly accounting and inventory control software. * Learned Paradox and wrote a useful application with multi-table entry forms, lookup tables, a several level menu hierarchy, and a wide variety of report formats within 2 1/2 days of getting Paradox. * Sole IT person for 10 PC shop. Troubleshoot and solve all software problems, and advise on a course of action for hardware problems. * Wrote software that significantly improved the speed and accuracy of accounting. * Wrote my own B-Tree based database manager 9/89-7/92 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota (volunteer work) C, C++, Unix, Solaris, HP-UX, FORTRAN, Pascal, Scheme, shell scripting, X-Windows, Motif Helped maintain a network of Sun Sparcstations and HP Series 400 workstations. Volunteer consultant for students working with C, C++, FORTRAN, and Pascal on Sun Sparcstations, or an Encore Multimax running a BSD 4.3 compatible, multi-processor Unix. * Answered programming questions from students ranging from freshman to graduate students. * Also answered questions about systems and networking * Helped system administrators maintain the campus computing facilities * Wrote software to generate and analyze data for a paper on usefulness of TCP or UDP over ATM for video traffic 8/88-7/89 Electronic Specialties, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota C, MS-DOS Wrote a program for MSDOS that serves as a simple database for blind people. It is a substitute for those things that most people would use notes by the telephone or personal organizers. This was done on contract while I was still in high school. This program should now be commercially available. * Created new version of CP/M based filing application for MS-DOS. * With advice from a blind person, carefully tweaked the user interface to work well for someone using a text-to-voice system.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (2, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29395853)

I like getting paid for my work. And I think that game developers should get paid for their work too. Please point out where in my statements I say that game developers shouldn't get paid for their work.

As for working for companies that make closed source, I don't really enjoy it, but companies that make their money from Open Source are hard to find. They exist. Red Hat is doing very well. But most people seem to have the same fear driven mindset that you do and seem to think that producing Open Source software means they can't get paid.

Several of the companies I worked for produced software that I felt could have been sold as Open Source and done just fine or better than they were doing. One of the customers of one of the companies I worked for actually went to the trouble of debugging all of our poor SQL queries for us. It would've been so much easier for all involved if they had just had the source code themselves. I campaigned for this inside those companies.

Several others have been companies that made perfectly valid internal use of Open Source software, like Amazon.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396033)

"But most people seem to have the same fear driven mindset that you do and seem to think that producing Open Source software means they can't get paid." When you start making your money from producing Open Source software then you can talk. As is you put yourself into the more equal than others category.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29396081)

*chuckle* Point taken. I'm working on it.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (4, Insightful)

localman (111171) | about 5 years ago | (#29395935)

I absolutely hate DRM -- it creates problems for legitimate users and does virtually nothing to stop piracy.

But... I think that it is attempting (and failing) to address a very real problem. It's all well and good for us to say "just don't worry about the pirates", but it's probably not a long term solution. Eventually, honest users feel like suckers for paying for music/software/movies/etc and they start moving towards taking stuff for free as well. I know that CD sales went up while Napster was big, but it is truly hard to imagine that such a situation unchecked would have continued for, say, a decade. At some point people just decide it's stupid to buy stuff they can get for free.

And as much as we've become accustomed to the idea of free creative works, it's not really a cure-all either. Yes, some stuff will get created even without any notion of intellectual property, but some very valuable stuff won't get created in such a world. So without any other obvious solution to the problem, it's not so hard to see why DRM is attractive to desperate content creators.

I don't have a solution. But I do believe there will be a growing problem for funding digitizable media in the future.

Cheers.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (2, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29395967)

I agree with you. But I think there are things you can do that make the people who buy your stuff feel special and important. And as long as you do that, I think you'll end up with a lot of people buying your stuff.

I look at what Radiohead and NIN have done in this regard. Johnathan Coultan [jonathancoulton.com] is also a good example.

People could've gotten and can still get the work of any of those artists for free. Many people choose to pay anyway. And the reason is that those artists do things to make the fans who choose to buy feel appreciated.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (3, Insightful)

maeka (518272) | about 5 years ago | (#29396067)

Radiohead and NIN are poor examples, and you know it.
They both were established through the system before their little experiments with downloads-for-donations.

The fact you used this broken argument pretty much proves the other's point. (Not that I agree with all the bashing you've received in this thread, I just can't let this one slide by.)

Fact is I can browse the internet and find others who did make some money with downloads-for-donations, but I can't point to but a few who made a good living at it.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29396101)

The same is true for almost all musicians. Almost no musicians who go with a standard record label ever make any money at it either. Which percentage is higher?

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | about 5 years ago | (#29396003)

you dare to speak the truth, i'm suprised yor arem't modded troll of something as stupid.

the group think here is very much as you describe - don't worry about pirates, but if /.er's were spending 10 mil on developing a title only to see it on pirate bay for free i reckon they would sing a different tune. just look at how they react to gpl infringements....

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396191)

But it's perfectly fine to pirate software, movies, music, books, proprietary software, etc because when it comes to those things copyright is teh evil!! But don't you dare violate the GPL license (despite the fact that it's only enforceable via copyright) and suddenly you're the spawn of satan.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (2, Insightful)

gnupun (752725) | about 5 years ago | (#29396187)

I absolutely hate DRM -- it creates problems for legitimate users and does virtually nothing to stop piracy.

That's not even the worst part of DRM. DRM is about spying on users, collecting their application usage data, and uploading that to the company server. Why the hell should anyone pay $60 to be spied upon? Is violating privacy so cheap? There must be at least a dozen ways to avoid/reduce piracy without violating user privacy and not using this DRM crap.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (1)

crispytwo (1144275) | about 5 years ago | (#29396219)

I agree - but the problem keeps being identified as thieves and this may be missing the crucial problem.

Perhaps these people aren't thieves (maybe some are) 'cause to me, a thief is going to somehow make a profit off stealing. In most cases here, it isn't being resold, remarketed, or whatever a thief may normally do to make a profit. It is being appreciated, played, evaluated, maybe shared, discussed, and so on (more often than not).

The problem may need to be re-identified as something else that allows the producers of the game/music/text to be rewarded/paid so they can continue to do this type of work. A fair tax is one way to do this. Advertising is another (which is a form of tax).

Everyone keeps falling back to the DRM which isn't really the desired method of distribution. It's a crumby way to enforce payment - and happily enforce re-paying for it again, and again.

I think that there has got to be a better alternative to actually retain value of the products without costing both the production team and the consumer (what is now being called 'thief').

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (4, Insightful)

killthepoor187 (1600283) | about 5 years ago | (#29395937)

I don't mine the intentions of DRM. I'm all for game developers getting payed for what they make. The reality, though, is that the drm gets cracked and the game gets pirated anyway. So the end result is that the game costs more to make in order to put the DRM in, the user experience is often worse from having to deal with said DRM, and the pirates still do what they do. So nobody wins.

At some point (and it may have arguably already happened with some games) the consumer will be able to a get better game by NOT paying for it, simply because they will be able to find a cracked version that doesn't treat them like a criminal. (ie phoning home regularly for security, getting pissy about being reinstalled, etc.)

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (1)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | about 5 years ago | (#29396215)

I don't mine the intentions of DRM. I'm all for game developers getting payed for what they make. The reality, though, is that the drm gets cracked and the game gets pirated anyway. So the end result is that the game costs more to make in order to put the DRM in, the user experience is often worse from having to deal with said DRM, and the pirates still do what they do. So nobody wins.

At some point (and it may have arguably already happened with some games) the consumer will be able to a get better game by NOT paying for it, simply because they will be able to find a cracked version that doesn't treat them like a criminal. (ie phoning home regularly for security, getting pissy about being reinstalled, etc.)

I am told that DRM often holds up for 14 days, and that the devs thinks that this is worth it, since a huge amount of the sale is in those 14 days.

But yeah, DRM sucks. For games, I still think the best solution is to put some of the game on a server. For music films and such, I don't think there is a good solution.

Scarcity (3, Interesting)

DeadDecoy (877617) | about 5 years ago | (#29396013)

I disagree with you. There is a scarcity and it is skilled developer's time. Software development isn't the kind of domain where you can pay lots of low-skill, cheap, developers to replace a few highly skilled developers. They'd probably expect 60k (low end) - 100k (moderate end). Skilled programmers if not paid well or interested, will probably move somewhere else, and that costs more money to orient another employee to their work. Now if you have ~10 people on a project that spans 2-5 years, you're looking at a few million in development, not counting marketing, publishing, and lawyers (for miscellaneous legal negotiations). This implies that you should sell a few hundred thousand copies to break even. Some IPs can do this easily and others cannot. That being said, if developers came up with an ideal piracy-prevention method, it could mean the difference between staying afloat to produce another game or closing shop. This is, perhaps why some companies see DRM as a necessary evil: It annoys a small population of consumers, but might give them a better chance at surviving the fiscal year.

Re:Scarcity (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29396127)

You have an interesting point. The thing that is scarce, and the thing that it takes all that money to produce is the first copy.

I'm going to have to think about that for awhile longer. Though I think part of the issue is the organization that pays the programmers has a fundamental problem all of its own. I would like to separate any idea I have from the idea of an organization needing to be fed.

While I'm a huge believer in free markets, I think capitalism (the idea that a lot of capital is needed to produce things and somebody needs to own that capital to care for it and keep it producing) is a poor economic fit for creative work. And that is why I think the 'organization' as an entity separate from the people actually making the work is a different problem that needs to be separated out.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396019)

I really think that you could even do large globs of money games, if you were to target the game at enough audiences. How about instead of DRM, you have a counter that's very visible in the menu that says, "You have used this for whatever days. Since you like it, you really should pay us for this, then we'll keep making better things for you."

The fact is, if a person does not like your game, chances are many of them wouldn't have bought it anyway. If they like your game, and have money, a lot of them will pay a bit to fund you further. You just need to make it really easy. In fact, have a "buy game" button which takes you to your paypal account/enter cc number window right under the "pay us" message. Maybe even offer payment plans ($5 a month for 12 months), that would offset the distaste for paying $60.

Most importantly, don't cripple anything. People hate to be pressured.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (1, Insightful)

TikiTDO (759782) | about 5 years ago | (#29396103)

I really think that you could even do large globs of money games, if you were to target the game at enough audiences. How about instead of DRM, you have a counter that's very visible in the menu that says, "You have used this for whatever days. Since you like it, you really should pay us for this, then we'll keep making better things for you."

The fact is, if a person does not like your game, chances are many of them wouldn't have bought it anyway. If they like your game, and have money, a lot of them will pay a bit to fund you further. You just need to make it really easy. In fact, have a "buy game" button which takes you to your paypal account/enter cc number window right under the "pay us" message. Maybe even offer payment plans ($5 a month for 12 months), that would offset the distaste for paying $60.

Most importantly, don't cripple anything. People hate to be pressured.

That, only logged in.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (5, Insightful)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | about 5 years ago | (#29396061)

DRM doesn't stop piracy in the slightest. A check of any torrent site shows that.

As you rightly said, it's about control. This claim that "honest people subsidize thieves" is absolute nonsense as:

A) Despite the claims to the contrary, most people wouldn't buy the games they pirate anyway (when I did it back in the day it was for the collecting). Also people should be grateful for piracy as they're preserving these titles.

In ten years time, if you want to install Spore for example, will you even be able to install a legitimate copy and get it authorized so you can actually run it? The pirated version will still be around and you'll be able to still use it. DRM like Securom which requires online activation conveniently puts an expiration date on the games you buy. If you can't play them in ten years time, you're only choice will be to buy new games, which is exactly what EA and the like want. Once again, it's about control. Piracy is just a red herring.

B) If piracy ended tomorrow, prices would NOT drop. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a rube. These are folk in the money making business. Look at Starforce protected titles. Uncrackable when they came out. GT Legends took TWO YEARS to crack. Yet the game came out at the exact same price as everything else within that genre. Actually $5 more here.

The reason games are cheap on Xbox Live is nothing to do with piracy, and everything to do with market exposure and standardization. On XBLA games are released pretty much every week, promoted well on release etc... The points system sets down a very rigid price structure.

It's more that than anything else. It seems rather than DRM being the selling point, it's convenience and standard pricing. Stats from the like of Valve have shown that when a game is put out at a cheaper price, sales increase far beyond what was expected.

It would appear that the folk behind Xbox Live have figured this out when laying out the service. It's better to sell 10,000 copies at $10, than 2,000 at $30.

Look at Steam last Christmas. Bioshock sold an astronomical amount due to it being reduced to $5. Left 4 Dead also did the same when Valve reduced the price. So much so they said how surprised they were.

Re:Enforcing artificial scarcity is a poor strateg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396167)

If we don't all die (or ascend) in 2012 then we are all going to be taken over by the robots. So.. worying about protecting imaginary property seems a little.. archaic.

Devs should like DRM (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395763)

If your software has DRM in it, it can't be transferred or resold (first sale), so there is no used market, which increases revenue. It can't be backed up, so if you accidentally destroy the media on which the software is recorded, it must be purchased again, which increases revenue. It can be remotely deactivated, so you have to buy something else to play, which increases revenue. Thus, devs should love DRM in their games.

Re:Devs should like DRM (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 5 years ago | (#29395807)

If your software has DRM in it, it can't be transferred or resold (first sale), so there is no used market, which increases revenue. It can't be backed up, so if you accidentally destroy the media on which the software is recorded, it must be purchased again, which increases revenue. It can be remotely deactivated, so you have to buy something else to play, which increases revenue. Thus, devs should love DRM in their games.

did you pay less for giving up those privledges? How much extra would you pay to regain those privledges?

Re:Devs should like DRM (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29395847)

First sale is a right. In fact, it is a right to the same degree, and by the same means, that copyright is.

The law could change, it isn't one of those inalienable self-evident rights; but it is not a "privilege".

Re:Devs should like DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396121)

There are a few laws of nature, most laws made by man are just there because we wan't them to.

Why is stealing cars illegal? Thats because we don't like to get our cars stolen, it's not a law of nature it's there because we want it to.

The nazis made it legal to kill jews. Are there something absolute that says it's wrong to kill jews? No there isn't. Killing jews, like killing anyone else, is illegal because luckily most people think it's wrong to kill and therefore made it illegal.

Immaterial rights is important today and will become even more important tomorrow, thats where the jobs will be created in the years to come.

Re:Devs should like DRM (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 years ago | (#29396223)

There are a few laws of nature, most laws made by man are just there because we wan't them to.

Why is stealing cars illegal? Thats because we don't like to get our cars stolen, it's not a law of nature it's there because we want it to.

Nope. Or at the very least nowhere near as directly as you've put it.

Stealing cars is illegal because (a) we don't like it but just as importantly (b) it is an enforceable law. Cars are inherently rivalrous and excludable. Software, and pretty much everything else categorized as "IP," is not. It's that (b) part that which is a law of nature that makes the human law practical enough to be worthwhile.

Immaterial rights is important today and will become even more important tomorrow, thats where the jobs will be created in the years to come.

No, "immaterial rights" are a house of cards. Far better to stick with what is enforceable - charging for the labor of creation rather than for the copying of creations because the labor, just like the cars, is rivalrous and excludable but the copying is neither. And then there is the entire problem that people LIKE to share stuff, we it is an inherent trait of humanity to share ideas, people gain social points by discovering cool stuff and giving it to their friends. Our entire civilizations is built on the sharing of disocveries and ideas. So, unlike stealing tangible objects such as cars, there is no clear consensus that "we don't like it." Thus "IP" laws go against the grain of human nature and the laws of nature - that's a certain recipe for failure.

Re:Devs should like DRM (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | about 5 years ago | (#29396225)

Yes, first sale is a right. However "First Sale" implies that subsequently I as the consumer have the right to resell a product once I am finished with it. Ford doesn't tie the ownership of my Tarus to me forbiding me to sell it in the future. A more appropriate analogy would be that I have the right to sell the dead tree versions of books, even though the original publisher/author had the first sale right to the copies I own. DRM steals (in the same sense that software piracy is stealing, which is to say it's not but I digress) from me the right I have to reclaim some part of the value of my purchase by selling it to another consumer. DRM is at it's simplist an erosion of the consumers rights to the product they purchased.

Re:Devs should like DRM (3, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 5 years ago | (#29395891)

First sale doctrine is a RIGHT, not a "privilege". DRM makes people mad. And lastly, I think this whole 'pirate' definition is skewed. To me a pirated game is one that is copied, repackaged, and sold as if it were genuine. Getting a copy for free, trying it, and deciding you don't like it is a whole different matter. Just because some one is playing a game you developed that is a copy of one that someone bought does not in my mind mean that person would ever be a customer. Maybe he/she thinks the game is ok, but not good enough to pay for. My guess is that most people, if they really like something will buy a copy for themselves. Thinking some one owes you money for some peice of crap game just because the tried a copy is off the wall to me.

I don't buy DRM'd anything.

Re:Devs should like DRM (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395997)

My guess is that most people, if they really like something will buy a copy for themselves.

Well then you are incredibly naive.

Re:Devs should like DRM (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#29395867)

Since when can't you backup DRMed media? In most cases backup is easy - you just need the keys to use it. Contrast with older, non-DRM techniques which use things like deliberately defective media, which are difficult to copy or backup, so you do need the original media, unless you hack it.

Subsidizing? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395765)

Why would the "thieves" need to be subsidised? What costs are they incurring? Bandwidth? Aren't they all self-distributing with bittorrent, taking a load off the developer's servers? Clearly they should be reimbursed for this valuable service?

Re:Subsidizing? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29395987)

THIS. Thank you.

Whatever happened to supply and demand (4, Insightful)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | about 5 years ago | (#29395767)

I like how the reason for high priced games is laid at the feet of piracy, instead of accepting the fact that the prices are based on what the market/gamer can bear. Who needs basic economics knowledge when you have a crusade?

Re:Whatever happened to supply and demand (1)

abigor (540274) | about 5 years ago | (#29395963)

Talk to anyone who works for a major game developer: PC gaming essentially died because of piracy. End of story. The "price that the market/gamer can bear" when copying is easy is $0. So, goodbye PC, hello consoles!

Re:Whatever happened to supply and demand (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | about 5 years ago | (#29396047)

Right, because console games are never pirated. Oh, wait [thepiratebay.org] .

That won't stop publishers making the argument, but there would be no argument at all if one side wasn't completely invalid.

Re:Whatever happened to supply and demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396135)

Do you honestly not unterstand, that there are levels between "ridiculous amounts of copying" and "no copying at all", or are you just deliberately trying to look like an idiot?

Re:Whatever happened to supply and demand (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29396083)

PC gaming essentially died because of

Whoa whoa there, I'm going to have to see a netcraft report before I believe that.

And anyway, I speak for PC gamers when I say you can take your "major game developers" - we don't want them. These companies have been churning out wildly successful but completely inconsequential titles for years. Fantastic graphics, a hundred voice actors, celebrity scifi writers.. It's like a summer movie. It's awesome, funny, whatever, but months later you've completely forgotten it. Hundreds of summer movies roll by, each with their flashy effects and compelling premise and stratospheric budget, and they're all the best movie ever but they're all indistinguishable.

Well while the greedy lip-licking journeyman game studios descended the mountain to found gaming's Hollywood and make their fortunes, the wizened masters stood and watched silently from their monastery gate. The masters filed inside, leaving the gate unlocked- their students would return, extravagantly wealthy, seeking the deep secret to making a single game that doesn't utterly suck. Have fun with your awful shooter controls, forced release schedules, and games designed by executives.

Re:Whatever happened to supply and demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396089)

PC gaming essentially died because of piracy

PC gaming died because PC games were/are being designed to run on hypothetical future computers and serve as advertisements for the latest in high-end graphics hardware. Nevermind that piracy is just as rampant on the most successful of today's consoles as it has ever been on the PC.

Ummmm (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#29396123)

PC gaming has died? Better let all the studios know that are still releasing PC games. Since July we have seen 16 releases including:

Batman: Arkham Asylum, Wolfenstine, Tales of Monkey Island, and Street Fighter 4.

That is just since July of this year. Then there's a little game called World of Warcraft that has over 12 million active (meaning paid to play within the last month) subscribers.

PC gaming is hardly dead. Tons of games keep coming out from major studios, including games also available on the consoles. That's your real indicator right there. If it were such a problem, if it were truly "dead" then why would console titles come out for it? Wouldn't they avoid it as to not have their game pirated and to save the cost of porting? However, that's not the case. Street Fighter 4 came out for arcades first, then the consoles. They spent a little more time on the PC version giving it better graphics and more content and made it the definitive version. Hardly what you do for a "dead" platform, of it piracy will just eat all your sales.

Money is being made on PC games, and plenty of it.

"pay extra" (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 5 years ago | (#29395769)

"Honest people need to pay extra to subsidize thieves." -- why? Honest people are perfectly capable of paying the same amount of money to subsidize thieves. It's not like most the thieves were ever really going to give you money anyway. And they laugh at your DRM and attack it with 1337 h4x0ring and steal it anyway.

Re:"pay extra" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395799)

Exactly. Why should I be penalized for a game that not enough people want to buy.

What they are missing are the number of "pirates" that download games to make sure they aren't a pile of crap and can run on their system. I purchased one game that was labeled as vista compatible without verifying. Well can't get my money back now.

There is a quick and easy solution to this sort of piracy: release demos again. I was bored and downloaded six demos off steam of games that I was unlikely to purchase. Now I own three of them and the developers are all getting a cup of coffee on me.

Re:"pay extra" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395905)

oh for the days of the original q1 shareware cd.

however protip: do not also include the full versions of software on the same cd. *cough*qcrack*cough*

Re:"pay extra" (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | about 5 years ago | (#29395973)

The summary was poorly worded. I think that the author intended to mean this: The freedom of the current system is nice, but it comes at too high a cost -- honest people currently pay extra to subsidize thieves. It does not seem that the author was stating that you should have to pay to subsidize theft.

Dishonest Summary (1, Insightful)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | about 5 years ago | (#29396093)

The problem with the summary goes deeper than that. It's full of weasel words, disingenuously conflating copying or filesharing with "theft" and suggesting that you cannot be an honest person if you are every the recipient of copyright infringement. Spidweb needs to get off his high horse. I think there are fewer honest people among those who shill for DRM.

XBOX might not be the best example.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395773)

Didnt I just read Microsoft & Game Developer are being sued by customers who bought halo 3 because it DOES NOT WORK?

Great idea to use XBOX 360 for a shining example....

Re:XBOX might not be the best example.... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29396001)

Not only that but you can chip your cd-drive (apparently you can soft mode it too) to accept any game, this means that your game is only protected if it's only available through xbox-live (no cd version), this surely reduced your target market.

Um, no. (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 5 years ago | (#29395779)

DRM is there to allow big game studios, the entertainment industry and big business ultimate control over the content that the consumer pays for.

Instances of this:

1. Amazon.com yanks Big Brother copies off all Kindles. Only after a massive public uproar does it apologise.
2. Sony implements illegal malware to implement it's DRM, gets into massive trouble and then apologises.
3. Microsoft implements dial home license checking. Most people who pirate Windows get a crack to get around it, those who purchase the produce must use it before they can make hardware changes. No change there.

Tell me that DRM has been implement for the little guy again?

Everyone here is honest... (1)

Foredecker (161844) | about 5 years ago | (#29395805)

Certainly all the previous people replying would -never- download and keep a game that they never paid for, but that the should have. Only the other people do that.

No. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29395811)

All the honeyed words in the world won't change the basic, essential, fact that DRM is a system where somebody other than you controls your hardware, against your interests. It cannot work any other way. The purpose of DRM is entirely admirable in pretty much the same way that the purpose of mind control chips would be(just think of all the crime they'd reduce!!).

That's the thing, even if everybody agreed that the objectives of DRM are 100% squeaky clean and wonderful(which is hardly the case, DRM schemes to date have had a nasty habit of trampling all over first sale and fair use, and generally giving the seller substantially greater power than copyright law would grant them) the means by which DRM must be implemented, namely taking control of everybody's property in order to protect yours, are simply unacceptable.

Admirable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395821)

How is DRM admirable? Justifiable maybe, but admirable!?!?

I stopped buying games (2, Interesting)

MeNeXT (200840) | about 5 years ago | (#29395825)

because of DRM. I use more than one system. I do not wish to load the game on the disk and still keep the DVD in the drive. I don't like to be kicked because some stupid punkbuster program gets it wrong! I'm not a thief don't treat me as such!

Re:I stopped buying games (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395869)

if you're so windows free than what the fuck drm games are you playing?

blow it out your ass. you cunt liar.

-don caballero.

Re:I stopped buying games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396107)

if you're so windows free than what the fuck drm games are you playing?

Ones on Linux or OS X, maybe? They exist, believe it or not.

Re:I stopped buying games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396119)

if you're so windows free than what the fuck drm games are you playing?

Ones on Linux or OS X, maybe? They exist, believe it or not.

SO DOES THE UNICORNS!

But DRM doesn't help THEM get paid (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395831)

Sure, if DRM actually worked toward its purpose, there wouldn't be as much complaining.

But DRM doesn't prevent piracy. It always get cracked. And furthermore, before it gets cracked, it makes stuff hard to use and not work right.

Ergo, people are faced with a choice: buy the product that is crippled by DRM to the point that you probably won't even be able to play it on your computer, or get the pirated product without DRM for free. That choice leads to DRM not merely failing, but working against its ostensible purpose. After many years of this being painfully obvious in everyone's face that DRM causes piracy, we begin to doubt the motivations for DRM. Maybe helping content creators get paid, isn't what DRM is really for.

In the case of music and movies, it's very clear that it's about controlling what playback equipment people buy, and creating monopolies for "standards" licenses. I can buy a bluray drive pretty cheaply, but a bluray player is expensive. And that is the purpose of DRM: to keep mplayer out of the player market. So it's about making sure someone gets paid, but that someone isn't the content creator. It's Sony's electronics (not movie) division.

Now, on to your xbox gaming rant. You complain about low sales and the high price of your game. And you use DRM. You wish you could lower your price and gain sales. Well, there's one thing you can do that will not lower your sales at all, and will probably raise them: drop the DRM. You're thinking about pirates instead of the customers. Telling customers to join the pirates, isn't going to help your situation. All if takes is for someone to have one problem with your DRM, and you will have converted him to the other side: the pirates' side. Look to your customers.

Re:But DRM doesn't help THEM get paid (1)

ex_ottoyuhr (607701) | about 5 years ago | (#29395955)

"You wish you could lower your price and gain sales. Well, there's one thing you can do that will not lower your sales at all, and will probably raise them: drop the DRM."

You heard about what happened to Paradox, didn't you?

Re:But DRM doesn't help THEM get paid (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | about 5 years ago | (#29395971)

I recall a similar case with somebody high up in Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire)... effectively, what they said was something like, "There'll always be people pirating our stuff but those people aren't are target market. Our target market consists of paying customers. And we produce stuff that sells by listening to our target customers. The people who'll pay for our stuff."

Rather than crippling their games, they just don't allow you to register (and receive patches, access to the forums, etc.) without a valid key.

Re:But DRM doesn't help THEM get paid (1)

ex_ottoyuhr (607701) | about 5 years ago | (#29396065)

Correction -- in my comment above, I'd meant Stardock, with the piracy numbers for Demigod. (The same situation occurred with indie darling World of Goo.)

Re:But DRM doesn't help THEM get paid (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | about 5 years ago | (#29396087)

Yes DRM may always be cracked, but the majority of a game's sales happen in the first few months. If you can create a system that isn't cracked for several months, then it's done its job.

More 'Pro' DRM Propaganda (1)

gadlaw (562280) | about 5 years ago | (#29395861)

Basically the advertisement and apology for DRM is that we will treat you like thieves since there are some thieves out there. Sorry - it's all your fault. Bull - I see those locked down games for XBox and such sitting there in their big piles of unsold games at the locked in prices of 69 bucks or 59 bucks - just sitting there, nobody is buying them at those prices. XBox games are nicely locked down aren't they? Where's the price savings? Nowhere cause when you bastards have the thing locked up there are no sales, there is no price deal and no sales. 70 bucks for an XBox or PS3 game that may or may not be good? NO thanks. 60 bucks for a PC game that probably won't work on my computer cause who knows why (Could it be the DRM?). Small game developers have been able to see distribution advantages because of sales through Impulse and Steam and other companies that are online as well as from the online communities from the non PC entities. It's not the DRM or lack thereof. Typical false logic.

DRM and delayed harm (5, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 5 years ago | (#29395865)

"The online backlash against DRM has gotten a bit excessive..."

DRM is still popular among game publishers, which leads me to believe there hasn't been enough of a backlash. Geeks like us know about DRM and can choose to avoid it when told of a product that has it, but your Average Joe won't know the difference until it bites him in the ass, and by then it's too late for him to demand a refund. Right now software publishers can sell me a game as part of a retail transaction and then impose additional terms, after the sale, at the point of installation. I see that as a kind of fraud, and say there hasn't been enough of a backlash.

Where to begin? (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#29395879)

So difficult to pirate that nobody bothers

So he's not a complete moron in thinking that a "perfect" DRM scheme exists. However, it's pretty stupid to think that something would ever become "so difficult to pirate that nobody bothers" -- remember, it only takes one person to bother.

Defense Grid is ten bucks, and it's giving me more than ten bucks worth of fun. Sure, I'm at Microsoft's mercy, and I don't "own" the product, but hey. Ten bucks.

It's also twenty bucks for the Greenhouse version [playgreenhouse.com] , which seems more than a bit odd. It's worth mentioning, though, that you do own that one, such as it is -- the only DRM is a single Internet check on first installation, which seems reasonable for a downloaded game.

I charge $28 for a new game. I would LOVE to charge ten bucks. But, to stay in business, I'd have to triple my sales, and that won't happen. Would sales go up? Sure. Would they TRIPLE? Almost impossible.

I don't know about that. You didn't seem to have much trouble getting onto Slashdot, which would get you a fair number of sales. But your general attitude in this article already makes me skeptical, and there's no way I'm paying $28 for what I see in that game. $10? Sure, and if it was good, I'd tell my friends about it. $28? You just lost a sale, buddy.

The result? My games get pirated like crazy,

The question: Would your games be pirated less with more DRM?

More importantly: Even if they were pirated less, would that mean more sales for you? Because if I was pirating your games, and I suddenly couldn't pirate them anymore, I'd probably go pirate another game, not start paying for yours.

DRM is fair if, for what the corporations take, we get something in return.

I will agree with that. However, very often, what we get in return is nowhere near worth the DRM.

An example of a marginally fair trade: Steam. Being able to IM a friend and hop into the game he's playing is cool. Being able to back up games, with a tool that will nicely create DVD-sized files, is very cool. Being able to download every game I own -- saturating my fiber connection -- after a reformat, in case something went wrong with the backup -- and needing only a username and password to recover all my games, and they're even planning to include savegames and settings, at some point -- is awesome.

But this is still a trade many users are unhappy with. I'm online all the time -- many users would like to play their single-player games offline.

An example of a very fair trade: World of Warcraft. The DRM is pretty much inherent in the system -- it connects to a server, and that server is unavailable to anyone who doesn't work for Blizzard. While there have been a few pirate servers, they pretty much have to reverse engineer and/or build from scratch most of the content and gameplay, and there's still the network effect -- if your guild's on a Blizzard server, you're on a Blizzard server. This is a case where you give up pretty much nothing for the DRM to work -- the one thing it takes from you is the ability to play offline.

One of the problems with eBooks is they take away the ability to loan or sell the books you buy online, not to mention the lack of a satisfying physical object, and they still charge the same price for the book.

That is why those of us in the know insist on unencumbered PDFs. I can get one that's watermarked, so I can't easily pirate it to the world, but I can easily share it among friends.

the purpose of DRM is to prevent free riders (aka self-justifying weasels and morally damaged scumbags).

The purpose of the McCarthy trials was to prevent communism from taking over America. It's a noble goal, but the casualties are unacceptable.

If DRM enables products to be sold for a price that is cheap to users and fair to developers,

Then you are in a magical fairyland where DRM actually works.

Let's go back to your $10 example. Right now, Defense Grid costs half as much on Xbox Live Arcade as it costs on Greenhouse. You'd say it costs twice as much on Greenhouse probably because so many people pirate it.

Is it possible you've got your cause and effect reversed? Maybe, if it cost $10 on Greenhouse, it'd see similar performance to what it does on the Xbox. And maybe if it also cost $20 on the Xbox, people who own both platforms would ignore it on the Xbox, and buy it (or pirate it) on the PC?

Re:Where to begin? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#29396071)

Ya I went and had a look at his games. $30 for that? Ummmmm, no. Those are not $30 quality games, I'm not even sure they are $10 quality games, maybe if the gameplay was real good.

I am not the kind of person who demands top notch 3D graphics to play a game, I can accept that indy titles will have less assets, and thus cost less money. However, they still need to look decent. Defense Grid would be a good example. No, it isn't the best looking game out there, nor the most complex, nor the most playtime, etc. I wouldn't buy it for $50. However I did buy it, don't remember how much it was, $20 I think. World of Goo is another indy game I bought, Mr. Robot is another, Aztaka another. All these games have something in common: They don't look as good as AAA commercial titles, however they do look good. They also sound good and play well. Oh, and they are also all reasonably priced for what they are.

All in all I think he's just kidding himself about the quality of his titles. Maybe they take a lot of work. Ok, well that still doesn't make them good and thus doesn't make them worth a lot of money. I suspect the problem is that he's a 1-man programmer show. Ok fine, but in my experience most programmers suck at the graphics and sound. So he makes games and works hard on them, but he lacks the talent to make them good by himself. Nothing wrong with that, however you have to be real and not charge $30 for them.

He can whine and bitch all he likes about piracy, the reason he's not getting my money is because his games do not look to justify the price.

DRM = Joke (1)

Mishotaki (957104) | about 5 years ago | (#29395893)

So, because people pirate their games, they pay another company to install DRM in their game, wich changes nothing for the pirates who still get their DRM-free version anyway... then the legit buyers are stuck with the bill and the DRM...

how is that fair?

DRM is not about hardcore pirates (1)

voss (52565) | about 5 years ago | (#29395917)

It was never the intent of DRM to stop hard-core pirates, DRM was made to stop casual piracy, the "Oh can I borrow your game" where 1 copy of a game gets installed on five different peoples computers. The MMO people figured out a way around that, pay for play....people will pay for something they see a value in.

Who doesn't want power? (1)

KYHopeful (1452945) | about 5 years ago | (#29395919)

The quote sums up the DRM attitude: "If I could snap my fingers and give myself [] absolute control..., I would". Hell, absolute control sounds pretty appealing to me, too! But, often taking control means wresting it from the hands of others. Those who seek to control absolutely, absolutely should not!

I oppose DRM because it rips off the buyer (2, Interesting)

electricprof (1410233) | about 5 years ago | (#29395925)

My problem with DRM has nothing to do with wanting to distribute content illegally, defend pirates or any other such thing. My problem with DRM is that in an attempt to stop the theives, the companies are treating the legitimate customer like crap! When DRM measures first came out I frequently found that the so-called license to the music that I purchased didn't actually work the way it was supposed to. I had to purchase several songs multiple times in order to run it on different devices, even though the licenses were supposed to transfer. In short, bugs in the implementation were ripping ME off. I didn't rip off the company. Similarly, when Vista came out with a large amount of DRM integrated into it, I found that certain functionality that was important to me broken or removed. In particular, I had a lot of trouble playing certain kinds of media files even though I had legitimate ownership of them. I even created some of them! As far as I am concerned, I have NO sympathy for the media industry as long as they continue to cheat me.

Except it doesn't (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#29395969)

The thing is, any DRM scheme can be cracked and it seems any DRM scheme WILL be cracked. You name it, it seems to have been busted. So this means that the people who wish to illegally copy a game can. They just go to one of the many sites offering it and get it. They are then not inconvenienced, since their copy has the DRM removed. However legitimate gamers, well those people it hurts. They have to deal with the DRM restrictions. It makes their experience worse.

That's the situation I find myself in with a number of games these days. They are protected with SecuROM or TAGES or the like that require online activation, and only let you activate a few times. Well, that is not acceptable to me. I need to be able to play the game many years down the road. I like replaying games. So, there are games I just won't buy. Dawn of Discovery would be one. It really interests me, however I won't buy it because of the DRM. I suppose I could copy it, but I don't like doing that.

So DRM hurts the legit customers, not the infringers.

That's my biggest problem with it. If you actually could show me a DRM scheme that was 100% unbreakable, ok then maybe I'd give it some credit. After all, if you really could ensure that people HAD to pay for your product, perhaps it would do some good. I'd still want to see a real study showing that it does, but at least it would be possible. As it stands now, your DRM can and will be bypassed, which means that it only hurts people who actually pay.

I'll even meet the developers and publishers half way. If DRM makes them feel warm and fuzzy, ok I can deal with it if it is non-intrusive. Impulse GOO is one I'm ok with. It doesn't bother me, it doesn't limit my installs, so it is fine. I'm not a zealot, I'm willing to compromise. However these ultra-restrictive DRMs do nothing to stop the copying, and just piss people off.

Part of the problem is that developers need to stop seeing infringers as potential customers. While some might be, many aren't. In many cases if you made it so they couldn't have the product without paying, they'd simply do without. As such you can't look at all the number of copied software and say "We are losing all these sales," because you aren't. You need to worry about not pissing off paying customers. You don't want me angry with you, I spend a lot of money on games, but I WILL (and have) take it elsewhere if your DRM messes with my ability to play.

Self Contradictory (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 5 years ago | (#29395975)

I definitely want the creators to get paid, and I don't want people to pirate copies of their games.

That aside, I don't buy this argument. If piracy leads to "Honest people need[ing] to pay extra to subsidize thieves" and strong DRM helps to counter this, why is it that PC games are always much cheaper than console games despite their relative ease of piracy?

Re:Self Contradictory (1)

panoptical2 (1344319) | about 5 years ago | (#29396025)

That's largely because the high price of console games help subsidize the discounted cost of the console itself (with the exception of the Wii, which makes a profit with each console sold). Both Sony and Microsoft accept a slight loss with every console they sell, largely because they know they'll earn it back and then some with the boosted game sales. It's the cell phone conundrum. (Also the printer ink conundrum.)

With PC games, no subsidizing is necessary, as you already paid full price for the computer. At that point you're just paying for the content.

xboxlive is probably a bad example (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | about 5 years ago | (#29395977)

He does realize that xboxlive isn't stopping any pirating, right? In fact, it's so prevalent, there's been more than one major modder that has been arrested in the not so distant past.

http://games.slashdot.org/story/09/08/04/1319221/California-Student-Arrested-For-Console-Hacking?from=rss [slashdot.org]

This guy should probably be a politician. Ignore the facts at all costs, even if your proof directly contradicts the point you're trying to make!

typical DRM whores (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29395995)

Look at this shill at AOL for DRM. Typical DRM Whore! [aol.com]

the purpose of DRM is entirely admirable? (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#29396023)

to stop thieves and free riders and to help creators actually get paid for their work

"The" purpose? No, that's just the only socially acceptable purpose. There's also lock-in, forcing you to re-buy content you already own, the ability to take content back from you either intentionally or just by making a server go dark. You sir, are disingenuous.

I wouldn't have a problem with DRM... (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about 5 years ago | (#29396043)

I wouldn't have a problem with DRM...

If it didn't violate the First Sale Doctrine.
If it didn't violate the principal of Fair Use.
If it didn't violate my right to format shift.
If it didn't violate my right to backup my data as many times as I want, in any way that I want.
If it didn't violate my right to use my content on any device I want.
If it didn't violate my right to use my content whenever I want and without expiration, even in the event that the content provider no longer exists.

These are all rights that content providers have not been able to bribe politicians to take from us in the US.
These are all rights that DRM can strip away, by making the expression of these rights impossible without circumventing DRM and doing that is criminalized under the DMCA.

one more thing... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 5 years ago | (#29396053)

I posted before finishing my thoughts, oops.

DRM takes all those rights away.

And at best it only delays Copyright Infringement.

I won't use the term Piracy or Theft because those are well defined crimes that have nothing at all to do with distributing copies of content.

Re:I wouldn't have a problem with DRM... (1)

carlzum (832868) | about 5 years ago | (#29396235)

Exactly, DRM technology was created with only the publishers' interests in mind, but it's a step back from physical media for consumers. Publishers can have lower production and distribution costs and customers can have a product that can't be damaged or lost. But instead of investing in features that allow me to resell and use my product, they thew money at lobbyists and politicians to protect themselves.

DLC Content is MORE expensive on XBox (1)

mightypenguin (593397) | about 5 years ago | (#29396045)

So the XBox DRM makes stuff cheaper?
If that was true than how come so much DLC content on the oh-so-easy-to-pirate PC games is often free and the same content for XBox is not free?

Soulskill is clearly trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396077)

Really, a post about how DRM is 'admirable' and it's only to stop the evil thieves and actually helps consumers? This can't not be a troll.

Let's call it what it is (5, Interesting)

mykos (1627575) | about 5 years ago | (#29396095)

Copyright infringment is stealing. Disturbing the peace is murder. Driving without a license is embezzlement. Any other minor crimes that we can rename to more serious ones?

Dumb (2, Interesting)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 5 years ago | (#29396109)

You don't have a right to make money; so if you're selling an intangible product, you need to add value that makes purchasing the product attractive. In the past, when EA was "Electronic Arts", they took an approach where they treated developers like talent, and put their names and pictures in boxes and printed manuals. Packaging was creative and attractive, and the manuals, maps, etc included with the product had a certain value.

The cost was alot less as well. $30 was probably the average cost for a new computer game. Now, in an age where almost all technology-related costs have plummeted, games are easily double that.

IMO if you want to make money, you either need to add intangible value-adds, like packaging, manuals, maps, stickers, comic books or have online subscription or expansion options that allow you to pull down revenue for an extended period of time.

Why so few comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396209)

This article is getting the rounds on all the sites I visit. This one has 90 comments already. I know this is /. and RTFA doesn't work here. So I implore all that actually bother to leave a comment tearing his pathetic, sad, sad, why 28 bucks for such a crappy game, arguments at his site. There is only 12 currently.

DRM helps creators get paid? (1)

srjh (1316705) | about 5 years ago | (#29396217)

DRM just makes pirate copies more useful than the originals, so even honest users who pay for the games/movies/etc often end up breaking the DRM or obtaining pirate copies anyway.

No unskippable "piracy is stealing" promos on DVDs (which the pirate copies obviously don't have), no phoning home every time you run a game, no access being denied to a single player game because your internet is down (and therefore want something to do while it comes back up), no scrambling around for half an hour looking for a disc when there's no valid reason to require one, no "you've upgraded three times since you bought this game, sorry, you have to buy it again".

Yes, it is a problem that pirates are offering a cheaper product but for those of us who want to pay for it, the answer isn't to ensure that they are also offering a superior product.

The purpose of DRM is fine, the implementation.... (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about 5 years ago | (#29396221)

The problem with DRM is implementation. Most technical implementations of DRM make a product difficult to use freely. In the case of music, DRM often locks out into a single music player or prevents you from playing music on anything but proprietary software. Furthermore, you are often not able to play the track on more than one computer, and the proprietary software often only allows you to export the tracks or record them to CD at a much lower quality. Furthermore, users will find ways to circumvent DRM which just increases development cost and time because you have to continually try and patch holes. AS FOR GAME DRM I have purchased one game with DRM and that went quite terribly. I purchased the game, played it a few times, then ended up having to wipe and reinstall windows. The game refused to start up, stating I could only install one copy on one machine (this was the same machine, same copy of windows, same serial, etc.). Contacting support proved fruitless, and I soon grew so disgusted with the situation I gave up and now intend to never purchase a DRMed game ever again. Mind you this was a few years ago, but I doubt any improvement of DRM would give me as much freedom to use what I have purchased as a non-DRM solution.

Stop pirating games - or you will never own them. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29396275)

If you do not stop pirating games, all console games will transition to a thin-client model - similar to the way MMO games operate. You'll pay subscription-based access in order to play games. You will never own them.

You will buy a box that does IO - processes inputs and does basic rendering operations. All the game logic and levels will live and run on a central server - and will never be transferred to a computer that end-users have access to.

It doesn't even need DRM to work - just strong authentication security. And that's the future of the commercial videogame market if you fuckers don't stop stealing games. Pay for games - or don't play them. Period. Your "but I have the right to try it for as long as I want" bullshit is wearing thin.

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