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Tensions Rise Between Gamers and Game Companies Over DRM

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the opposing-interests dept.

Games 447

Tootech recommends an article at the Technology Review about the intensifying struggle between gamers and publishers over intrusive DRM methods, a topic brought once more to the forefront by Ubisoft's decision not to use their controversial always-connected DRM for upcoming RTS RUSE, opting instead for Steamworks. Quoting: "Ultimately, Schober says, companies are moving toward a model where hackers wouldn't just have to break through protections on a game, they'd also have to crack company servers. The unfortunate consequence, he says, is that it's getting more difficult for legitimate gamers to use and keep the products they buy. But there are alternatives to DRM in the works as well. The IEEE Standards Association, which develops industry standards for a variety of technologies, is working to define 'digital personal property.' The goal, says Paul Sweazey, who heads the organization's working group, is to restore some of the qualities of physical property — making it possible to lend or resell digital property. Sweazey stresses that the group just started meeting, but he explains that the idea is to sell games and other pieces of software in two parts — an encrypted file and a 'play key' that allows it to be used. The play key could be stored in an online bank run by any organization, and could be accessed through a URL. To share the product, the player would simply share the URL."

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One opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336680)

I won't buy anything with Starforce or the new Ubisoft online DRM or with limited installs.

Re:One opinion (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336972)

how about the general gaming public's response:

we won't buy anything with annoying DRM. Really, the solution is to add more DRM? Not exactly a solution.

Steam is no exception, and is only tolerable because it has no competition in that aspect.

Once other companies wise up to the steam concept nobody will give a crap for it anymore either.

Re:One opinion (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337220)

What general gaming public?

I'm fairly certain that if you check the actual statistics of games being sold (the part that matters to publishers), you'll find that the vast majority of sales and games are coming from DRM'ed games.

Re:One opinion (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337110)

I won't buy anything. I just download and play. Arkanoid and my 2005 P4 are gteat.

Digital Ramming Molestation (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336682)

Bunch of cocksuckers ramming their shit up our asses. Hey, dickheads, we don't want your fucking stuipd shit just make the goddamn games fucking fun or somethig.

Is he bloody stupid? (4, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336684)

The user has the key. The user can retain or share the key, or just share the material unencrypted. As for remote DRM, even if you bloody well upload large parts of the game's code remotely it's just security through obscurity. As well as a source for nusiance and flakiness/unplayability.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (4, Informative)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336706)

They have talked about this new DRM system before. Basically they think they can sell it to the game publishers on the basis that "only one person can play it at a time". Similar to the way steam works. IE: I can give my steam account to anyone, but only one of us can use it at any given time. I think that most of the publishers will stick with more traditional DRM, and continue moving away from PC games as a whole (since the console market is somewhat more secure). In any case, to answer your question. Yes.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (4, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336722)

continue moving away from PC games as a whole (since the console market is somewhat more secure

The sad, slow, and painful death of PC gaming.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (5, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336774)

If the big names go away and leave the PC gaming industry, that would be good for PC gaming as a whole. We would see indies take over and fill the vacuum with original IP, and not just another FPS sequel.

Piracy? NWN1 did something which did well at stopping piracy in the long term, and that was eventually chucking the CD-ROM DRM and requiring a valid and unique CD key to play multiplayer. No matter what, the pirates will be cracking the game anyway, might as well just keep them from using network services which legit players would use. This is a simple DRM mechanism, and it does an excellent job long term.

Already, the big names treat the PC platform like crap. Might as well just show them the door, let them have the uber locked down console market, and let Blizzard, ID, and indies with something original to write take over.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (1)

fysician (1883118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336804)

Yeah, Ditto million times. This seems to be the best way to solve this problem. Just don't buy from them!!

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336906)

We don't buy from them, they blame their loss of profits on piracy, then buy laws to fuck us over even more!

More humble bundle? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337134)

The indie humble bundle was an interstig experiment.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (4, Informative)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337004)

Already, the big names treat the PC platform like crap. Might as well just show them the door, let them have the uber locked down console market, and let Blizzard, ID, and indies with something original to write take over.

Blizzard? I'm not sure they really deserve that anymore. Yes, they create good games still but think of some of the recent annoyances.

no LAN play for SC2... SC2 is linked to one and only one battle.net account ever (effectively getting rid of resale and eliminating multiple people being able to play online via one copy of the game)... bnetd. etc

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33337188)

Lately theres also been problems with bnet assigning points on the SC2 ladder -_-

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (2, Insightful)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337086)

Right.If a product has DRM,I don't buy.Hit the bastards in their pocket book,they'll learn REAL FAST.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (3, Insightful)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337272)

Yes. They'll learn to blame poor sales on piracy and use that to justify more DRM, copyright lobbyists, etc. etc.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (3, Insightful)

aekafan (1690920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336818)

I hearing about this, the death of PC gaming, for years now. People keep spouting PCs are dead platforms for games. BS. Which console was it that had WOW, EVE or Starcraft II? Which System let me buy FO3 GOTY edition for $2.50 and GTA IV for $3.50? Oh wait, that's right, none of them. When Consoles can match my PCs performance (look at Mafia ii PC compared to either console version) or price, then i will look them up.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336858)

As far as I can tell more people are buying more games than ever for the PC; they're easier to pirate but they're easier to buy and are generally quite a bit cheaper on PC I find. Plus we have Trusted Platform tech around the corner which could bring a lot of the typically console-only hardware-based DRM protections to the PC.

And I just can't see everyone playing FPS/RTS on controllers, or everyone stopping playing FPS/RTS, or everyone buying keyboards and mice for their consoles.. And it's hard to imagine that it could reach a point where it would actually save money for a developer to leave a market. And what about account-based games.. I could go on

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336998)

trusted hardware is incredibly old, it's not "around the corner", it's been here for years. However, it's only for enterprise, because if you actually had trusted platform enabled on your PC by default there'd be antitrust issues and to say heads would roll is an understatement. It will never happen.

plenty of consoles can and do have keyboards and mice, because they use USB now. why is this some magic surprise? The issue is that consoles have nowhere near the graphics capability of a PC, so adding a keyboard doesn't add to the fact that, well, the games don't play at the same resolutions with the same levels of detail on the console.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336982)

console market more secure? hahahahha.

you do realize that pc gaming and console gaming really isn't that different as a concept, right?

trying to say that a console business is a bigger industry or whatnot is just looking at apples and oranges, because the business itself is not similar.

Consoles are 100% drm by design.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (5, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336834)

Don't forget:

DRM writers can write drivers; they can be cracked.
DRM writers can use hardware dongles; they can be virtualized.
DRM writers can demand use of servers; the servers can be emulated.
DRM writers can download items in pieces; the chunks can be put together via snapshots of a filesystem and memory.

For every item, there is a counter. Every dime spent on more Draconian DRM means a dime less spent on making the game suck less. And to me, some of the big PC companies which sell DRM with a game attached needs to start spending their cash on quality of releases, not new DRM schemes which will get cracked anyway.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337014)

There's one more serious oft-overlooked problem with DRM. For every copy of DRM'd software they sell they spend money every time somebody calls or emails with an activation problem. There's an on-going cost of maintaining servers and software to keep giving permission for installs. Basically, over time, their profits are getting eaten away by their own customer service. Sadly I think it'll take a couple of years before anybody realizes the problem with this. Heh.

Not just that (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337238)

DRM also costs money in and of itself. If it is your own, you pay someone to develop it. If it is third party, you pay a per copy license fee. Either way you pay someone to implement it in the game. The more complex and tricky the DRM, the harder the implementation. Some extreme ones, like the Cubase protection, does dongle checks on almost every operation, even opening menus. Lots of extra coding to make that happen.

Also of course if the DRM is invasive, it may cost sales. I won't buy Ubisoft titles with their new DRM, too invasive.

What it comes down to is that an economic analysis needs to be done on any DRM. Weigh how many more sales it is likely to generate vs costs. Then choose something intelligently that makes more money. That may be no DRM, it may be something non-invasive like Impulse::Reactor, but is probably not these insane high cost, high maintenance DRMs.

Re:Is he bloody stupid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33337204)

games publishers can demand use of servers through gazillions of contents which means huge bandwidth and big processing power; the content can be copied/recreated, the bandwidth and the processing power bought. Oh! Wait!

Yes (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337176)

Unfortunately, many publishers really ARE stupid when it comes to DRM. They think it is a fight they can win. Also they get focus on the wrong thing. They want to reduce piracy at any cost, rather than focusing on increasing sales, which is what matters.

Even if you could make a 100% uncrackable DRM it wouldn't be useful is said DRM was so invasive that nobody was willing to purchase you game. You've have stopped piracy, but killed sales. It would be like a store so determined to eliminate shoplifting that they sealed all exits except one and had armed guards strip search all customers and employees. It'd probably work but nobody would shop there so in the end it would be worse than doing nothing at all.

I'm quite sure the reason Ubisoft is changing is because their DRM has probably cost them sales, as well as costing a good deal of money to administer. I know I'm two of the sales they lost. I was planning on getting Assassin's Creed 2, since it looked like the first one but with the annoyances taken out. Also Settlers 7 looked interesting. After hearing about the DRM, I wrote them off. I didn't pirate them, they've been cracked despite the "server side processing" shit, I simply played other games. There's no lack of good games out there, I lack the time to play them all so if they want to be assholes that's fine, I'll just spend money elsewhere.

What publishers need to concentrate on is DRM that is non-invasive. I'm not saying DRM is worthless, I'm sure there are people who are cheap and won't pay if they can easily get away with it, but you want to make it so that the DRM doesn't hurt legit users, but actually helps them. Steam is a good example in that regard. If you get a Steamworks protected game, it is to your benefit not to crack it. Reason is when you register it on Steam you get all updates automatically from good servers, and you can redownload it as you please, again from fast servers. It actually improves your experience, makes things easier. So even if someone doesn't care about doing the right thing, the easy of use, their laziness, can convince them to pay.

If companies wise up and start focusing on increasing sales, by making things better for legit users, rather than trying to decrease piracy, I think it'll go a long way.

Alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336688)

Ok, admittedly, I haven't taken the time to read the article, but that "Alternative to DRM" just sounds like another form of DRM to me.

Honestly, the DRM involved in games is a reason that I've come to shy away from gaming lately. I'm really looking forward to New Vegas, having played Fallout 3 on XBox 360, but I'm going to do some serious research on the DRM involved before I buy it on PC.

Re:Alternative? (3, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336720)

Well, if the original FO3 was an indication, it shouldn't be bad. They made shitloads of cash, despite the fact that only the frontend launcher was protected... and using it wasn't mandatory.

The DLC also was unprotected. Sure, you (or someone else...) needed to use Games for Windows Live to purchase and download... but some digging in your user profile will find you the data files. You can simply copy those directly into the game's data directory, and you now don't even need to sign into Live to access them!

In fact, this is -required- for use of things like "fose" - which is kind of like a trainer except that it extends the game's scripting engine (and is used by any mod of decent complexity/elegance - see FO3: Wanderer's Edition for instance.

No DRM for me (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336690)

Crap like this is why I put my money where my mouth is and buy from Good Old Games [gog.com] . NO DRM, NO limits on installs, easy and hassle free, and even works perfectly on x64.

Re:No DRM for me (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336728)

Yea, except when you want to play real classics like Independence War, or Myst.

Good luck with that.

(it's still a great service, but their 100% compatibility statement is garbage)

Re:No DRM for me (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336772)

Interesting that you mention Independence war. I have copies of both 1 and 2 on disc and neither of them have any sort of DRM. Iwar 2 has a disc check, but it's removed by the official patch. It's been a while, but I've run Iwar 1 on modern systems. In fact, this computer, which I use as my gamer rig has run it. WinXP if that matters. AFAIK it doesn't need any special compatibility. Although you might have trouble with input devices, if you use anything other than a fairly standard Jstick.

Re:No DRM for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336928)

Interesting that you mention Independence war.

I second that. Even the earliest I-War demo from mid97 still runs like a piece of cake.

Those who complain about old games not working often use nVidia hardware which has drivers intentionally defecting support for old games in favor of the latest hot pieces of crap magazines call 'game of the year' these days.

Re:No DRM for me (1)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336864)

So, just to be clear, once I've bought a game from gog.com, I can download it, whenever I want, forever? Or just the once?

Download whenever I want, as many times as I want, is possible for example Starcraft 2, and I really like that. I no longer have to worry about keeping the game copy safe, on cd or dvd or hard-drive, can just download whenever I want and play.

Gog could be interesting to me if I can download a game as many times as I like, forever.

Personally I don't mind drm, or paying for a game, I just want convenience. There are only about 5 games I play regularly anyway. The cost of those over ten years is trivial...

Re:No DRM for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336888)

GOG gives you a virtual game shelf when you log in to your account displaying all the titles you own, where you can download the game files as many times as you want, along with extras depending on the game - soundtracks, manuals, wallpapers, etc.

Re:No DRM for me (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336950)

GOG and http://www.direct2drive.com/ [direct2drive.com] are my two favourites. I can download forever or burn them to disk if I want. No cd cracks, no cd's. THIS is the way to go and I have bought all my games from these two companies since I discovered them. I have installed my d2d games or gog games on two systems on my lan without issue so my kids can play them.

Steam is just more drm bullshit in my opinion.

I am voting with my wallet. DRM in any form, no sale.

When will these pea brains figure this out. I can just as easily pirate anything I want but I would rather pay for it and have something that doesn't need a patch or the damn cd every time I want to use it. Is it really any sweat off their asses if I want to let my kids play a game I bought? I'm not buying two copies.

Re:No DRM for me (4, Informative)

Drgnkght (449916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336978)

Here is a brief snippet from the gog.com [gog.com] site regarding downloads:

3. Can I backup games downloaded from GOG.com? Yes you can, and as a matter of fact we strongly recommend you do so - backing up your stuff is a very good habit, you know? Because our games are DRM-free, as soon as you download the setup file, you can back it up on a DVD or your external hard drive without hassle. Plus, as our installers are wrapped in nice exe files, you can save them in one folder and create a nice local backup of your games library! And if you forgot to backup your purchased games, fear not. You can always re-download them from our website for free - see below for more info. Sure, downloading will take a little bit longer than launching an installer from your backup disc, but that's no big deal.

4. Can I re-download my purchased games? Is there a limit to the number of re-downloads? You can always re-download games bought at GOG.com via the "My account" page. Also, there is no limit to the number of re-downloads, but please remember that you're not allowed to share your GOG.com account with other users as only you are entitled to download games from your account.

Also if you have more than one computer they don't have a problem with that either:

9. Can I install one game both on my laptop and desktop PC at home? Yes. We are not limiting the number of installations or re-installations as long as you are installing your purchased game on PCs in your household. So yeah, if you've got a render-farm in the basement, you might actually break the world record for the number of legal Fallout installations in one household. However, if you think about installing your game on a friend's PC or sharing it with others then please don't do it, okay?

Re:No DRM for me (2, Interesting)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337116)

Yes, with GOG you own it forever and can re-download it at any time. They also provide updates so that the games will run perfectly on new OS's, even if it's an old DOS game and you're running Win 7 64-bit.

Re:No DRM for me (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337232)

I wish they'd get an updated TIE Fighter up there. =\

Re:No DRM for me (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337274)

I wish that they'd just get a new graphics engine and do a re-release of TIE Fighter with awesome new graphics.

Re:No DRM for me (0, Troll)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336956)

We have battles over huge terrain with stunning graphics and dozens of players on a single server with surround sound, integrated social systems and voice chat, and Hollywood-level production values now.. (For whichever genre you like)
I can't remember the last time I actually had to deal with DRM (I think I had to enter a CD key for Doom 3 a couple of years ago). If you're paying for DRM-stripped 90's games to avoid that I feel bad for you

Good Example: GTA4 (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336694)

I just bought two copies of GTA IV (pc version) for me and my girlfriend, in the hopes that there would be some cool co-op. After installing 'Rockstar Social', and having to get a damn 'Games for Windows' Live-esque account, and having to register account after account and confirm this after that after serial after serial, I said, well, Fuck. It. In the trash they go, and $40 down the tube. Shoulda looked at the reviews [google.com] first I guess.

Overreaching DRM and poorly written interfaces upon interfaces are the death knell for PC gaming. I am sorry, but they just keep getting worse, and worse and worse. Albeit the gaming experiences might be improving, the overall software experience is absolutely terrible. The amount of disneylandish crap pc game devs are pumping into games to mimic the consoles is absolutely infuriating, and doesn't seem to be getting any better.

I'll say it. I love PC gaming, but it is definately an industry that will die if they don't all get together and streamline some of the bullshit. Steam is the closest thing we have, albeit still is one more interface you have to use to get to another interface to start/load/join a game.

Back to Q3A and CS 1.6.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336738)

Not to mention the fact that you always have to have the latest patch to play a 'Games For Windows Live' game, even in single player. Those of us with slower internet connections don't want to wait several days to play the game because there's a new 7 gig patch that fixes a bunch of glitches that you never even noticed before.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (4, Insightful)

johnhp (1807490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336748)

Steam isn't just an interface It replaces the role of the brick and mortar store, as well as the role of the CD/DVD media. It also acts as a library of games and their mods, and provides anti-cheating features (if developers choose to use them). So rather than feeling like Steam is just "one more interface" standing between me any my possessions, I tend to think of it as a merchant who sticks around to organize and update my games.

Long term, I see Steam as the big rival to iTunes. I think they'll eventually start to carry movies, and eventually music too.

And as I've said before, I don't think PC gaming will ever have a chance to die. The line between consoles + TVs and PCs + monitors is very fuzzy even today (the XBOX and XBOX360 are already basically x86 PCs running Windows 2000), and in five or ten years it will disappear completely.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (2, Interesting)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336820)

There are some games where Steam can be a real pain in the ass, like in GTA4. You already have to be logged into both Rockstar Social Club AND Games For Windows Live; if you buy the Steam version, you literally have to log into three separate DRM systems to play the damn game.

Also, Steam is somewhat scary to me because I wonder what'll happen to my game collection should Valve eventually go out of buisiness or shut down steam (probably not in the near future, but it could very well happen eventually). I'm the kind of person who still plays 20+ year old games every now and then.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336918)

To reword it into something more witty...

Detractors look at Steam, and see the DRM, resource usage and potential spyware.
Advocates look at Steam, and see the Digital Distribution, community features, automatic updates, and synchronized saves.

It's a matter of which seems more important to you, and I, for one, see the (relatively minor) DRM as worth the other features.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337262)

Quite frankly, we're going to have DRM, resource usage, and potential spyware pushed on us anyway. At least with Steam, it's usually just one layer of DRM and spyware. I had an old computer that was brought to it's poor little knees by always-on spy DRM fighting with other versions of always-on spy DRM. It was this poor thousand-dollar computer that lost at least half of its cycles at any given moment to DRM making sure that other DRM wasn't secretly breaking its DRM. And yes, Steam games sometimes do install an additional layer of DRM (which is to be avoided), but at least all of the games that use Steam's DRM won't be competing with eachother, or older versions of itself.

Oh, and download anywhere you're logged in is nice. When my laptop eats its next hard drive, I know all of my Steam titles are a download away.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (2, Informative)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336952)

It's not a replacement for a brick and mortar store. At the store I can get a refund or at least credit towards a different game; steam? Tough shit because you're obviously a pirate or cheap stake that has already finished the game if you're asking such a thing.

When I asked for a refund because the game I bought that day was crashing on startup they re-directed me to this [steampowered.com] .

I bought a game with my credit card through Steam and either don't like it or don't want it anymore. Can I get a refund?

The fuck? Don't want it anymore... don't like it? It's a defective product and steam has a ton of third party developers that release poorly programmed games.

Steam is setup as a win win situation for publishers. Once they've got your money you're screwed because there is no incentive for a publisher to release a game that works. The only thing they care about is spending enough money on advertising to THINK you're getting a good game.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (3, Informative)

genner (694963) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336992)

It's not a replacement for a brick and mortar store. At the store I can get a refund or at least credit towards a different game; steam? .

Which store is this? I'm not aware of any store that will give refunds or store credit for a PC game unless it's still shrink wrapped.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33337126)

EBGames (Brick and Mortar) in Australia does.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

NickPresta (1011269) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337022)

How is this any different in the real world?

I've tried to return games to a brick and mortar store several times because I was having an issue with them and my x64 operating system. When I asked for a refund, they told me that all opened games could not be returned.

At least you didn't have to walk/bike/drive to the "store" to figure this out.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33337060)

Tell them that according to the EULA they're obligated to give you a full refund.

Whether or not it's true is irrelevant - nobody reads the damn things.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

johnhp (1807490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337030)

I haven't had to deal with that issue. For specific problems of software quality, I see it as more the developer's problem than Valve's.

At any rate... there is something you can do. Buy your games with a credit card, and if you feel like Valve has screwed you over, call the card company and cancel the payment. It's called a "charge back" and people who know about it do it constantly to software companies. At least one developer/publisher I worked at allocated a strong percentage of their income for paying them.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337026)

the XBOX and XBOX360 are already basically x86 PCs running Windows 2000

The original Xbox was an x86 box however the 360 has gone the way of more traditional consoles with a PPC architecture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon_(processor) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (3, Informative)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337256)

And as I've said before, I don't think PC gaming will ever have a chance to die. The line between consoles + TVs and PCs + monitors is very fuzzy even today (the XBOX and XBOX360 are already basically x86 PCs running Windows 2000), and in five or ten years it will disappear completely.

Well, other than the fact the XBox 360 is PowerPC and not x86, I agree with you.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336756)

I've got a different problem. The DRM in L4D and L4D2 kick me out sporadically while checking my SteamID. None of my other Steam games give me any such problem. This is most likely because I'm playing them under Linux (as they work fine under Windows on the same machine)... It's pretty aggravating when your 100% legal game works 100% under your OS of choice *except* for the DRM.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336768)

It's not just PC gaming - they're starting to do the same crap with consoles too. For some idiotic reason the gaming industry wants to run themselves out of business.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

macara (1813628) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336770)

That same story is what pushed me away from PC gaming to console gaming, and now days mostly turned me off of gaming. Too many hoops to jump through and no real ownership of what you purchase, and even what you do buy is only usable while the servers exist to accept your key/account info.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337002)

They aren't pumping console crap into PC games - they are building games for crappy consoles and porting them to PCs! I was all set to purchase the latest Supreme Commander "sequel" until I found out they did this and the interface was dumbed for consoles! Oh and it was STEAM only - F that. No sale! I finally found my old CD for the previous game and I play UT2K4 when I want a FPS. How sad is it that i play a six year old game just to enjoy gaming on my computer? That's how bad it is now...

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337112)

Ditto. I was disgusted with the bullshit you have to install to play GTA4 on PC. I wish I'd known about it beforehand because I would have just pirated a copy of it instead. Felt so violated by the install process that two days later I formatted my PC (just to make sure I got rid of every last piece of crapware it put on my system - I don't trust "uninstall" when they're pushing invasive DRM) and threw the game away. I've purchased every GTA game on PC up to this one - I won't be buying another. Congrats Rockstar - DRM loses you another customer while pirates have no issues at all. GG.

Same deal with C&C4 (which, folks, is the worst RTS game ever created), which doesn't let you play until you create a new EA account on their website, purely to prevent resale. It's not necessary for DRM purposes - locking down CD keys takes care of that. Nope, it's just to make sure everyone who wants to play it has to buy it new (unlike console games - although publishers will be pushing next-gen console manufacturers to lock keys to consoles, you can be sure of it). Of course, then I actually played it which makes the abyssmal install process look like a walk in the garden of Eden.

It's getting really bad on PC. Activision promises they'll look after us. We'll see..

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337234)

EA is really good at sucking, and not just on PC. I downloaded the X360 demo of Madden 2011 to see if it was as good as it was 15 years ago on the Genesis (Madden 94/95?), and EA wanted me to create an account on their server just to find out whether I liked the demo enough to give them money for the full game. End result is no EA account and 2GB more free space on my drive.

Re:Good Example: GTA4 (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337178)

"Shoulda looked at the reviews [google.com] first I guess."

GTA4 appears to be the highest rated game of all time across all platforms. Not sure looking at reviews would have helped you avoid it, unless you enjoy F-rated games. I don't personally get the high ratings it enjoys, but facts are facts.

reselling used digital copies? what? (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336726)

Game companies will never let you resell a game you don't have on a disc. Unlike with games printed on physical mediums, there is no chance of a downloaded game being unplayable due to scratches, and there is no "shiny newness" that a game that wasn't resold has. Either used copies would be cheaper than new copies and there would be no point in buying new copies (which I can't imagine game companies allowing), or game companies would make the used copies the same price as new copies and it would be a moot point. This will not catch on.

Re:reselling used digital copies? what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336786)

Refer to Stardock's Impulse service.
One of its abilities is to return games with a restock fee (I think its 50-75% offhand) which is more than physical media retailers offer!
Also out of this I believe the game developer may also get a cut.

Re:reselling used digital copies? what? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336974)

Only if it's their games. If it's a third party publishers game [stardock.com] you're still screwed because the publisher can simply say there isn't a problem and deny the refund..

If you purchased an application not published by Stardock and are seeking a refund, we must receive authorization from the publisher of the application in question to provide a full refund.

It's been done already (3, Informative)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336736)

I bought a copy of Neverwinter Nights when it came out and... well, they actually did with the game the very same thing the article is suggesting.

You have your CDs with your serial, which you use to install as many times as you want, and Bioware actually allows you to store that Serial in their servers, protected by a password.

Do you feel like sharing youre game? Just lend your CD key to someone, which could just mean to lend them the password for your account with bioware. Also, if you lose the damn booklet in which it came printed, or if you're just not at home, you can always retrieve your serial from their servers, provided you remember the password.

Now THAT's what I call value.

On an unrelated topic, they also ported their game to linux after a while. You didn't even have to buy it again! Just download the installation package for linux (yes, download, for free, from their servers), use your windows serial and you're all set. Suffice it to say it worked like a charm.

Re:It's been done already (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336860)

Uhmm no offense but they only 'ported it to linux' due to the fact that they'd lied about linux support right up until 2 weeks before release, promised it would be out by the end of the month, then kowtowed for 6 months while really putting it out while all those people who bought it release day on the promise of linux support VERY SOON started to discuss class action lawsuits against them for false marketing.

But that could just be me. And you'll also note Bioware has not had a single game *SINCE* that supported linux, even though a number of other games used derivatives of the engine.

- A Former Bioware fan.

I see what you did there. (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336740)

Say you will not use an aways on drm, use a more well respected company's aways on drm... And yes I know of steam's offline mode but RUSE is an RTS. Offline mode would be pretty much useless.

Re:I see what you did there. (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336762)

Well if you're never going to play offline, why are you so upset about a system that requires you to be online?

I know there are plenty of other issues with DRM, but I really don't see how this would be one of them for somebody who thinks playing offline "would be pretty much useless"

Re:I see what you did there. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336856)

why are you so upset about a system that requires you to be online?

Because they will turn the system off eventually.

Re:I see what you did there. (2, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336948)

Considering the fat sacks of cash Valve is raking in from Steam? Not likely.

Besides, the customer base is large enough that they COULDN'T shut Steam down without a class-action lawsuit. They're already on shaky ground, legally terming it a "subscription service" to bypass various first-sale laws. Even if they won the suit, they would have lost millions in attorney's fees. It may have been possible several years ago, but Steam has a critical mass of users. While that's a good thing for Valve, in that it makes Steam the de-facto digital distribution system, it also puts some restrictions on them. Namely, if they piss off enough of their users, they'll get sued, big-time.

Re:I see what you did there. (1)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337090)

I played Starcraft 1 with my gf yesterday. She complained that the graphics are rubbish and made her eyes hurt, compared to Warcraft 3 and so on. Games rarely last more than about fifteen years anyway... so if Steam does shut down, just get some newer game instead perhaps?

I mean, I do still play Populous 1 with her occasionally, but a game that old, I'd imagine someone would have worked out a way around any drm by that time anyway, or just rewritten it from scratch, eg Total Annihilation has been rewritten approximately as http://springrts.com/ [springrts.com] .

Re:I see what you did there. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336844)

Steam's offline mode works for LAN gaming, and might work fully online, depending on the game. For something not using the Steam server browser, RUSE probably can't tell what mode you're in.

And I, for one, never play RTSes online. Too many obsessive experts, too hard to find someone who just wants to have fun. LAN gaming with your friends works for that.

No problem (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336746)

Ruse sucks - so you don't have to waste any time on it (was demoed on steam)

Or from the game makers perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336754)

is that it's getting more difficult for them to sell their product without it being massively distributed by folks who don't actually have to worry about the development costs.

Now you can argue that the massively expensive games aren't worth the price, or you can argue that simpler games are the way to go, or even that DRM does nothing, but...it's really not that simple.

Do I want a game that's nothing more than a star vehicle in disguise? No. But do I want games that are just repeats of whatever works on Pogo or Neopets? No.

Sure, there are limits, for example, I will not be playing Starcraft 2, but that's not because it's not worth the money, or because it's not a good thing to do with a game, or even any problem with its DRM(does it have any? I don't know..). It's because I simply didn't like the thought of Blizzard sharing people's real names in game. They backed off on it...but not to the degree they'd need to do for me to be comfortable being anywhere near them.

Ah well.

They're bringing back the dongle! (1)

brennanw (5761) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336760)

God Almighty, I thought that damn thing was gone forever.

Re:They're bringing back the dongle! (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337100)

Nah, they're just bringing back the emulator.

Download caps may hit games hard some day with drm (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336792)

Download caps may hit games hard some day with drm systems and any kind of on live system will run of that fast 5 Mbps can hit the comcast 250 gb cap fast.

How well does the Ubisoft system work with dial up or satellite internet. For one thing any thing like on live is out for them.

Call it what it is. (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336810)

"Alternative to DRM"? No, this is just another form of DRM.

I like what Steam offers. I think it's a fair trade. I'm still not going to call it something other than DRM.

You know what the "alternative" to DRM is? Not putting fucking DRM on your products!

Re:Call it what it is. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336994)

Exactly. DRM = Digital Restrictions Management. Being without DRM would be what digital is: without any restriction. Anything which tries to make digital limited like physical is a step in the wrong direction.

Re:Call it what it is. (1)

terminallyCapricious (1838672) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337012)

tHe RtS rUsE wAs A..........

dIsTaCtIoN!

i HaVe ThE dRm!

Re:Call it what it is. (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337140)

I can live with Steam's DRM. It's hassle-free and as long as Steam is around, I can play all my games, wherever I want, without any discs. Great! Now if only Steam let you transfer your licenses to another Steam account - that would be solid GOLD. Even set up an online store where you can sell or trade games with other players, with Steam (and the publisher) taking a percentage of the sale. Steam would replace EB Games. :P

Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (1, Interesting)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336824)

Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works. I no longer need to carry dvds/cds or a dvd-player. I don't need to worry about using 'other methods' for obtaining a game I've bought before. I just need an account, a password, maybe a battle net authenticator, and I'm good to go! Can play anywhere. And I feel warm and comfortable.

So, key parts of SC-2 security I guess:
- the client is freely downloadable, in full, as many times as you like
- since multiplayer is a major part of how it works, that takes care of the drm
- we have an account, that we can use anywhere we like, on any computer

Of course, the campaign bit isn't really secured by this method, so there are still some pieces missing from the puzzle for that, but for multiplayer games, which is I feel the most interesting to me, there doesn't seem to be a major issue?

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (1)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336838)

Personally I have friends in the US that I could lan play with if Blizzard/Activision hadn't insisted on keeping it out as part of their silly struggle to keep everything running through crappy BNet2 - and if you think that has nothing to do with restrictions management, you're deluded.

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (1)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337008)

Yeah, I agree that I find the zone-restrictions, ie europe vs usa vs asia, annoying personally. There again, other people like the great ping times.

If you buy the SE Asia copy, you can use it for both SEA and the States I think. If you buy the european copy, you're out of luck :-(

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336848)

"no longer need to carry dvds/cds or a dvd-player. I don't need to worry about using 'other methods' for obtaining a game I've bought before. I just need an account, a password, maybe a battle net authenticator, and I'm good to go! Can play anywhere. And I feel warm and comfortable.

So, key parts of SC-2 security I guess:
- the client is freely downloadable, in full, as many times as you like
- since multiplayer is a major part of how it works, that takes care of the drm
- we have an account, that we can use anywhere we like, on any computer"

This is how steam has worked for years. It is handy as an option, but shouldn't be the only choice for players.

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336896)

I personally hate how Starcraft 2 works. You must connect to battle.net even to play single player. There is no LAN play.

It's all crippled by choice, and is one of the more evil rights restriction methods out there.

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337092)

Unless of course you're in a hotel somewhere trying to play the game and you can't save the game, get any rewards and you can only play the campaign because you're not connected to your online account and according to some on the forums, if you lose your connection and stay disconnected during gameplay you can't save your game and potentially lose large amounts of gameplay.

I didn't buy Starcraft 2 exactly for that reason (neither did I pirate it) and I was planning on buying the $120 collector's edition. Sorry Blizzard but ever since WoW started you've been going down the tubes and the recent DRM restrictions have made me reconsider - I'm just playing my original StarCraft and Brood War again right now, you know the one with the CD key, the graphics still look pretty good actually...

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337258)

To be fair, the company is Blizzard-Activision, and I wouldn't be surprised if SC2 is the product of the Blizzard you know and love, but tainted by Activision. That said, you aren't the only one who really wants to play it but decided to hold out thanks to the DRM and BNet issues.

Re:Personally I really like how Starcraft 2 works (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337222)

Blizzard really screwed up with the DRM in Starcraft 2. The original just required the CD key to install. It was limited to one battlenet connection at a time, but you could easily create 12 copies and have a lan party. Was this piracy? Sure, but I started playing at a lan party and bought the game because of it. Up until a couple years ago I had my original starcraft key memorized. Now the free publicity feature is gone, and frankly Starcraft 2 is a POS compared to the amount of time it took for it to come out. I was expecting to go WOW, but the graphics mimic the original while maximizing processor load, the gameplay is glitchy and unbalanced, and worst of all they only include a single race campaign. In short I feel ripped off, and having to have an Internet connection to play is just over the top.

"Digital property" (2, Interesting)

Andorin (1624303) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336866)

Realistically, something is your property insofar as you can control it; my car is my property because I have the keys and can do what I want with it. (It helps that I legally own the car as well, but legal property rights do not guarantee that things won't be stolen.) If someone does steal my car, then legally I still own it, but realistically I don't have it anymore.

Copyrighted and publicly released media such as video games are legally owned by the copyright holder(s), but realistically, they are 'owned' by either everyone or no one. Once something goes on the Internet, any privately held control over it is basically nullified. Anyone can copy it and redistribute it to anyone else. The 'owners' can come close enough to actual ownership by not releasing the media or information, but once that happens it is, for all intents and purposes, public domain.

That's why I think the term "digital property" is an oxymoron. It can't exist because of the nature of the Internet, which is the unbiased sharing of information from one computer to another, and no DRM garbage will change that.

Re:"Digital property" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33336980)

You're a fucking retard. I hope no one else in the real world takes you seriously.

Re:"Digital property" (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337010)

The words Intellectual property and digital property are complete bullshit because publishers don't treat it as such. They sell you a license to view or experience their media which is non-transferable. That's as far away from property as can be imagined. The term really needs to die and people need to see reality for what it really is; you're renting a game.

Putting the "real" back into reality. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336886)

The IEEE Standards Association, which develops industry standards for a variety of technologies, is working to define 'digital personal property.' The goal, says Paul Sweazey, who heads the organization's working group, is to restore some of the qualities of physical property — making it possible to lend or resell digital property.

But, but, it's "imaginary" property. How else are we going to illegally download movies, music, and games, if we start giving it physical properties?

Cool, though I'll wait until it's a certainty (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336890)

I loved Ruse in the open beta.

That DRM was the only reason I didn't pre-order the game and was not buying it.

If they dropped that I'll buy it as soon as it's confirmed to work just fine offline.

Of course no one else cares about that, but it was annoying to really like a game and also not be able to play it because the DRM was retarded enough to make buying it not an option. Steam I can live with.

...simply share the URL (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33336932)

"...simply share the URL".

<sarcasm>No, I don't see how that could possibly be abused.</sarcasm>

It'll be cracked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33337032)

Starforce was cracked, Ubisofts "always on" thing was cracked. If you build it, they will crack it. Pirates, bored techies in need of a hobby with lots of time, have often outstripped paid programmers in certain areas. You can get full games at half the file sizes that the publishers themselves provide. HD Movies with a nearly lossless quality are provided at a mere two gigabytes versus the same file size corporations say are needed for standard resolution. Heck, one pirate group even patched a game, fixing a bug the developers wouldn't, or couldn't, fix. As long as games are made for the pc they will be pirated.

I stopped getting tense after MechWarrior4 (3, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337096)

I stopped getting tense after MechWarrior4. When that stupid game didn't work in any CDROM drive I owned due to DRM, I stopped buying new games for PC. I only play old games or open source games, both of which I have plenty.

Re:I stopped getting tense after MechWarrior4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33337200)

I dunno about MechWarrior 4, but Mechwarrior 4: Mercinaries had a free release: http://www.mektek.net/projects/mw4/download.html

it's downloadable via a steam-like program that can update/patch the game and there's still people playing it online, the single player campaign is there too. I think it uses bittorrent to download so you can probably just find the files floating arround on the forums or torrent sites if you looked

the thing that sucks is that most games don't take this route and you're stuck with games that will almost never ever work ever. I've been trying to get King Kong: The Official Game of The Movie to work for years, and it doesnt work on any pc I've ever tried it on.
The advice I found to get it work was to make or download a DVD image, turn off your pc, unplug your DVD drive from your motherboard(!) and try playing via the mounted image, but not even that works!

Microsoft app store (0)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337114)

Personally, I think the future of pc gaming is a Microsoft app store, where we buy *everything* through Microsoft, much like the iPhone app store. I know that might make many of us go "Ewww", but it is I feel the Windows version of the apt-get repositories, only with a credit card involved.

A few advantages of a Microsoft app store:
- trivial to obtain the latest copy of any software one wants
- implicit whitelist, so no more viruses on our various friends' / relatives' pcs

I know I'm risking karma on this... :-O

Stuck on a dead end? (1)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337190)

This isn't a software engineering problem, it's a social engineering problem. DRM can help to some extent, but it can't possibly be a complete solution and it can't be strong enough to approximate a complete solution without causing a host of problems. There are a few key points:

  • Almost all DRM is hackable, especially DRM which is advertised as unhackable.
  • Strong DRM and weak DRM both have the effect of curtailing casual copying, but it's unlikely that any DRM can curtail determined copying.
  • "More powerful" DRM is also much more likely to cause problems for your paying customers.

This suggests that the best approach is to use weak DRM then do everything else through social and design factors. It will be as effective as possible in curtailing casual copying, and it won't piss off or drive away your potential paying customers over a futile effort to spite the people who were never going to pay you anyway. At worst, an increased reliance on social and design factors to prevent copying will be equally effective while not pissing off your customer base. If done well, it may be much more effective.

DRM is not a magic bullet. If it was, it would have been working for all these years in which production houses have been erroneously treating it as one. Careful use of DRM may be part of the solution. But it cannot provide a complete solution. Over-reliance on it can do a lot of harm by damaging your customer satisfaction while failing to adequately address the problem of unauthorized copying. It's a bit like the guys taking the abstinence-only approach to sex ed - there's plenty of proof to show that this "solution" only makes the problem worse.

Free the game (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33337224)

Just make the game free and charge for the online game play in a micropayment fashion.
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