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Old 07-17-08, 10:46 PM   #1
mlts22 
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Game companies and copy protection (rant)

Here we go again. A colleague of mine who works for a small video game company told him that the game they are producing will not get published by the publisher unless it has a "state of the art" copy-protection/DRM system. "State of the art" meaning something like Spore's activation system (where the game only lets you activate three times, then one is forced to buy a new copy.) Due to the recession, apparently game publishers want to annoy legit customers with trying to stop "piracy". Long term, all it does it encourage people to hit crack sites so Draconian measures don't cause security breaches.

This is occurring with Neverwinter Night 2's yet to be released expansion. Its done, but Atari won't let it out the door without state of the art DRM.

I've seen this same nitrogenous cow waste about a decade ago with some game publishers. Back then, one company was even wanting to make a dongle that has a nice row of capacitors to dump a high voltage charge into a customer's machine, frying it, when the software thought it was tampered with, or a serial number was wrong.

Why do game publishers fail to learn this lesson, over and over again, put nasty stuff on their published games, then scratch their heads when nobody buys their games?

If a game company wants revenue, there are some shining examples of how to do it right. Steam, for example. Its DRM, but it does what people want. Install the client, log on, download a game you have purchased, play. Same with Neverwinter Nights 1 (though its time has long since passed) where not many people pirate it because of the online content (which needs a unique CD key.)
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Old 07-17-08, 11:00 PM   #2
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I've been waiting for over 2 hours for my Orange Box install to update and finish.

Steam isn't all it's cracked up to be either.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:12 PM   #3
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The Steam BS will be even better a few years down the line, when you want to pop in an old game out of nostalgia, but oops, Valve went out of business, so you can't download/validate/whatever the game. Since you didn't actually buy a copy of the game, you're out of luck, and the game is gone forever, unless you can find a hack or some sort of pirated version on the internet somewhere.

These "anti-piracy" systems only serve to annoy the legitimate customers, and in a hilarious twist, drive them to piracy.

Unclench, you twits. Make games that people want to play, and they'll beat down your door to play them. Ignore the people who wouldn't pay a cent in the first place. They aren't your customers.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:35 PM   #4
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The easiest thing to do is make the multiplayer inaccessible without a legit purchase. Eventually people who like the game will buy in.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:35 PM   #5
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The Steam BS will be even better a few years down the line, when you want to pop in an old game out of nostalgia, but oops, Valve went out of business, so you can't download/validate/whatever the game. Since you didn't actually buy a copy of the game, you're out of luck, and the game is gone forever, unless you can find a hack or some sort of pirated version on the internet somewhere.

These "anti-piracy" systems only serve to annoy the legitimate customers, and in a hilarious twist, drive them to piracy.

Unclench, you twits. Make games that people want to play, and they'll beat down your door to play them. Ignore the people who wouldn't pay a cent in the first place. They aren't your customers.
That advice is spot on. I wish not just game companies, but movie and music companies would understand that the reason their revenues are dropping isn't pirates... its because a lot of their offerings are pure and utter crap.

You are also right about Steam's downfall if Valve goes under, or they stop choosing to support older games such as Commander Keen. Here is what is ironic. There are some Apple 2 and older PC games whose publishers have long since gone out of business, and the only remnants or availability of the games are cracked downloads, with a BBS phone number and all.

The perfect thing would be something like Steam, but also offering the ability to download and burn ISOs of games that can be used without being tethered to the service. This would allow people to safely back up their collections, and not worry that what games they have now may not be able to played in the future.

V1k1ng1001 also is right. I think, to secure modern games, the best way is to not bother with CDROM copy-protection. Instead, offer multiplayer functionality using a CD key. This allows people to be able to play their stuff anywhere, but it also provides reasonable measures against piracy and key abuse.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:53 PM   #6
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BTW...does anyone want a free copy of HL2?

Seriously, I bought the boxed set and the first PM gets it.
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Old 07-18-08, 12:32 AM   #7
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That advice is spot on. I wish not just game companies, but movie and music companies would understand that the reason their revenues are dropping isn't pirates... its because a lot of their offerings are pure and utter crap.
And it's not even just the movie and music companies. Have you read about all the roadblocks they're spending millions of dollars engineering into A/V hardware now? HDMI really would be a stellar technology, but it's so heavily encumbered with DRM that often fully "compliant" players will refuse to work with TV's.

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You are also right about Steam's downfall if Valve goes under, or they stop choosing to support older games such as Commander Keen. Here is what is ironic. There are some Apple 2 and older PC games whose publishers have long since gone out of business, and the only remnants or availability of the games are cracked downloads, with a BBS phone number and all.
Unfortunately, the abandonware arguments never panned out in court. Nintendo was among those opposing them. Fortunately, I've still got copies of my Commander Keen .exe's.
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