Online Activation Is a Ripoff

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Online Activation Is a Ripoff

Online activation is not reasonable, it's anti-consumer.

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I agree, I think steam is annoying and gets in the way, I miss the days of discs that installed the game and all you needed was the disk to play it, they were simpler times.

One major problem with online activation is that after a certain amount of years you will simply no longer be able to play them. When you want to play a 15 year old PC game now you simply download DOSBox and look in the game's manual for the copy protection (if you've lost it you can quickly look it up on the internet). But when you'd want to play Bioshock 15 years from now you'll probably have to find and install some kind of crack to bypass the online activation, something that can cause a lot of trouble.

Companies don't seem to get that THIS is exactly why the pirates are doing so well.

This is exactly why I don't buy downloadable games and/or content...

I completely agree with this, while I use Steam, you can, in essence, with a little finagle, play the games without Steam.

He makes a lot of good points.

Steam isn't innocent in this either. If you trigger a false positive on their VAC system (which they claim is impossible, but isn't) you lose access to 99% of servers on which to play your MP games on. And if you close your account and open a new one, you can't use the same games to install and work with your new account, you have to purchase them all over again. Your money goes down the tubes, and you're out even more replacing your collection. They steal your money, essentially and leave the customer with no options.

You have absolutely no recourse to fight it, they won't tell you what happened or when, they won't answer your emails with anything but a form letter saying their system is perfect. They will ignore requests through the BBB. Basically, you are presumed guilty and you get nothing but doors shut in your face by Valve.

This happened to someone I know and soured me on Steam. Why would I want to invest in a game collection on there if they can just snatch it away without any explanation or ability to defend myself?

This is obviously a specific example, but it just highlights one of the many problems with digital distribution, DRM, online registration, etc. It treats us as thieves who need supervision and takes all rights out of our hands as consumers.

Online activation seems perfectly reasonable for online-only games, such as TF2. The only times you can't activate the game, it's unplayable anyway. However, there's no damn way a game that has a single player campaign should require online activation.

There's nothing wrong with a Steam version of a single player game if there's also a box copy that doesn't require it, and in fact I'd probably use the Steam version because I don't plan on getting rid of my account, or cheating and getting banned from VAC, or anything like that, but it's important that they give that option for single player games.

P.S. Thanks

The simple answer for all these problems is: publishers are evil. Necessary, but evil.

I play starcraft for the single player....

I remember there was a time during the late nineties here in Argentina when companies realized they wouldn't be able to curb piracy if everything they offered from game price to service was a hundred times more expensive and lacking in support than what your local "pirate" could whip up(we're talking about 56k modems era here in a non US/european/japan area).
In fact these merchants would actually compromise on what they sold ,make sure it worked and offer an exchange in case it was faulty.
So the big companies finally started selling original games at reasonable prices and improved their service.

Nowadays the idea of globalism seems ironically lost to these "massive" platforms,as trying to acces them from a non-american/european/japanese location will most likely result in the system stating lack of support or knowledge for this areas.

What does this means?
That a great potential customer base in a whole lot of countries is left with nothing else but access to pirated software if they are lucky enough to have access to a provider or a good internet connection.And the companies in keeping a few pennies have lost the chance for massive income

I also hate DRM, and online activation, mainly because until a few months ago, I had no internet connection. I had just got a new computer, which I thought I would be able to walk into any store, and pick up a game and buy it without looking at the system requirements. Bit me in the butt when I did that with my HL2 Collector's edition. I was very mad, it was months before I could play that thing.

Although I love Steam, I don't have a bunch of DRM to worry about, I just need an internet connection for a few hours to get my games downloaded, then I could put it in offline mode and I can play my games at any time. But I do think it would be nice if they added a way to do it over the phone or by email, or something. Just fior people that don't have an internet connection.

Captain Pancake:
The simple answer for all these problems is: publishers are evil. Necessary, but evil.

And idiots, you don't win pirates by detracting value from your product. Seriously has no one learned from the mess that is the music industry? Punishing legitimate customers, means that later in life those customers are going to hate you because you made their product worse, because they paid full price. And doing it under the pretence of piracy? Pay full price = game can be taken away from you at any time, hoops to jump through. Piracy = you always have the game, few/no hoops to jump through.

If you want to stop piracy add value to your product and don't punish paying customers using BS excuses. Because if people like you, your product and your company they are less likely to pirate! Starcraft is a good example of this, I used to be someone who would've bought Starcraft as soon as it became available, now with all the splitting it into 3 parts (*cough* moneygrab *cough*) and stupid hurdles to jump through I probably won't bother.

I do mostly use Steam, and while I don't particularly like that they can halt your access at any time, I do it for the convenience, because I can't be bothered carrying discs around with me.

I had a similar issue like this when trying to purchase "Guild Wars" a year or two ago. I got it off Half.com real cheap, and it installed pretty well, but the registration code for the game wouldn't work because it was registered to someone else. I sent a few emails back and forth with NCSoft and they basically told me that they wouldn't change the registration code to be labeled as 'owned' to me. So I purchased a perfectly good copy of "Guild Wars" from someone that won't work because they already played it. -_-

Might not fit in this topic--"Guild Wars" being a MMORPG then a single-player game like "Bioshock" is--but I think MMO's can face this outcome as well. I thought I heard from the GameFAQs forum that some servers were down for a Month with WoW a few times that some people couldn't play. If that story is true (though it could happen), then I'm sure they got their $15 USD dollars of play time...

Skrapt:
[quote="Captain Pancake" post="6.134410.3031721"]
If you want to stop piracy add value to your product and don't punish paying customers using BS excuses. Because if people like you, your product and your company they are less likely to pirate!

You mean like World of Goo? No extreme DRM, small developer, well-received game, and one of the most pirated games to come out in recent times.

That's not to say you're wrong. Just look at Spore vs The Sims 3. Even I have pirated games that I already own legally, for various reasons.

P.S. Thanks

Before DRM, I made a point of *never* pirating games. My first few were pirated when I was a freshman at the Milwaukee School of Engineering but any game I tried and liked I bought the CD for the next time I was at a software store. I still have most of those CDs somewhere.

Now I travel internationally for business. Even my factory-installed, 100% legit Windows complains about all the changing time-zones (and regions). If I can't trust a game with DRM to work reliably here in the US, I certainly can't trust it in Turkey, Germany, or Russia.

Interestingly, what I found when I lived in Russia for a few years was that DRM and draconian licensing procedures were one of the primary root causes of Russian piracy *not* in response to the piracy. Pirate copies were often retail price or higher but they were available in the original language (not just poorly translated into Russian), played off your hard-drive (great for notebooks and now netbooks), and clean of DRM and other forms of malware.

Funny that you write about this now. I just recently bought Empire:Total War and once I installed it and played for a while I decided to move the icon to the desktop from the weird location it was hidden in before. It was my first time using Steam and I didn't know how to start the game without the icon and I got tired of using the search function to start it. Turns out moving the icon was a mistake. A big one. The game couldn't find a certain steam_api.dll file anymore and since I didn't know where the icon had been before, I couldn't move it back. I had to reinstall Steam and the game in order to make it work again. Believe me, that was not the way I was planning on spending my first day with the game.

I was shouting and raising my tiny fist in the air by the end of this article.

This is what I was pointing out about the SC2 LAN thing. People are like "oh it's only authenticating with Battle.net, that's fine." No. There is no need for it to do that, and it's not a "reasonable compromise." When I said that stuff, I had already read elsewhere about the Battle.net-authenticated LAN-like mode. It isn't good enough.

Covarr:

Skrapt:
[quote="Captain Pancake" post="6.134410.3031721"]
If you want to stop piracy add value to your product and don't punish paying customers using BS excuses. Because if people like you, your product and your company they are less likely to pirate!

You mean like World of Goo? No extreme DRM, small developer, well-received game, and one of the most pirated games to come out in recent times.

That's not to say you're wrong. Just look at Spore vs The Sims 3. Even I have pirated games that I already own legally, for various reasons.

P.S. Thanks

Would World of Goo have been pirated less if there was extreme DRM on it? No of course not, the DRM would have been cracked in a couple of minutes and it would have made its way to the torrent sites regardless. And less people may have been convinced to buy it if there was some stupid DRM system. People will pirate, but punishing legitimate customers because of piracy is stupid, and won't win you any fans.

People use the example of World of Goo all the time as a case for DRM, why is that? It would probably have sold less with DRM.

What do you expect. They're a business, how are they going to make any money if they're not cheating you out of yours? =/

The harsh thing is, that it dosen't combat piracy, a compitent programmer can get past it, and publish it on a file sharing site for anyone who wants to to download.

I like Steam, and you can play your single-player games on Steam without being connected to the net, in offline mode. I make a point to only buy games from Steam (if they have online DRM).

Skrapt:

Covarr:

Skrapt:
[quote="Captain Pancake" post="6.134410.3031721"]
If you want to stop piracy add value to your product and don't punish paying customers using BS excuses. Because if people like you, your product and your company they are less likely to pirate!

You mean like World of Goo? No extreme DRM, small developer, well-received game, and one of the most pirated games to come out in recent times.

That's not to say you're wrong. Just look at Spore vs The Sims 3. Even I have pirated games that I already own legally, for various reasons.

P.S. Thanks

Would World of Goo have been pirated less if there was extreme DRM on it? No of course not, the DRM would have been cracked in a couple of minutes and it would have made its way to the torrent sites regardless. And less people may have been convinced to buy it if there was some stupid DRM system. People will pirate, but punishing legitimate customers because of piracy is stupid, and won't win you any fans.

People use the example of World of Goo all the time as a case for DRM, why is that? It would probably have sold less with DRM.

I'm not arguing in favor of DRM, I think it's crap too. I'm just pointing out that removing it doesn't necessarily mean that fewer people will pirate it.

P.S. Thanks

Skrapt:

People use the example of World of Goo all the time as a case for DRM, why is that? It would probably have sold less with DRM.

Sorry, that argument is just as baseless as saying that it would have sold more with DRM. There's no way to ever know, so you're just projecting your ideology.

The point of World Of Goo is to point out that whether a company is "friendly" or not, uses DRM or not, piracy will STILL happen.

So arguing, as Shamus seems to do, that if enforcement isn't perfect it shouldn't happen is a non-argument. It's like arguing if we can't prevent murder perfectly, we ought to legalize it.

His other arguments against DRM are valid.. but the point of "It doesn't work anyway" isn't. Nothing will work anyway. The only thing that will stop piracy is if we released all games for free. Since developers like to eat, that ain't gonna happen.

So rather than rant on and say "Piracy happens because of copy-protection", which is garbage, let's try to figure out better ways to lessen piracy, knowing full well that we won't eliminate it. Offering extra goodies recognizing purchase may be the way to go, but let's be honest, if those goodies are digital, they too will be hacked and passed around. It's funny, but piracy may bring us back to the days of Zork et all, where buying the game bought you more than a disk and a 6 page glossy brochure, but actually got you stuff.

I find steam quite well working, but I don't know if it actualy works against piracy.
Otherwise I utterly hate it when you have to register and activate alot of bullshit on different websites just to play your game.

Kwil:

So arguing, as Shamus seems to do, that if enforcement isn't perfect it shouldn't happen is a non-argument. It's like arguing if we can't prevent murder perfectly, we ought to legalize it.

But DRM is different (in more ways than the obvious), DRM is punishing the people who act within the law. Last I checked you don't get arrested for not murdering, so why do you get install limits and self destructing games when you pay?

I have a hard drive full of torrented back ups to the games I buy, in quite a few cases (specifically anything with EA or Activision on the box) the pirated versions work better than the store bought ones. In BF2142's case the pirated version works and the retail one doesn't at all, it tells me I haven't got a genuine copy (yes it is the retail install that tells me this, it's why I started downloading backups in fact).
It's madness, I'm doing something criminal because I get punished for being a customer.

I see where you're coming from, just because Pirates will never stop copying doesn't mean publishers/developers should just give up trying to stop them. But as it stands they're cutting their noses to spite their face.

The games industry needs to step back and look at what they are doing against what they are trying to do, or they will keep giving the advantage to the pirates.

Shamus, reading your article makes it sound like you're not completely up-to-date about how the new battlenet is running. I had lost my warcraft 3 cd's some time ago, but I still had the case + the CD key. The new battlenet download service is already available where you're able to tie keys to accounts, so I decided to do that. Lo and behold, I could download and install the game. So it isn't just DRM activation, there's a good level of service attached.

Obviously this does nothing to your valid argument of "what if blizzard goes broke" or "what if they change personality". I'd prefer to own my games and selling licenses for singleplayer games is invasive. If they do go under, I'll take a gamble with piracy and hope no malicious virus gets installed when I get around their activation.

fix-the-spade:

But DRM is different (in more ways than the obvious), DRM is punishing the people who act within the law. Last I checked you don't get arrested for not murdering, so why do you get install limits and self destructing games when you pay?

It's a case of some (in this case many) spoiling it for the rest. Some people do get arrested for not murdering. Then they're convicted for not murdering. Some people do decades of prison for not murdering. Like Ray Krone http://forejustice.org/wc/ray_krone_JD_vol2_i9.htm

Would you prefer there be no system in place to arrest murderers? No, you wouldn't.
Would you prefer there be no system in place to stop piracy? No, you wouldn't.
Is this the right system to stop piracy? Hell no.

Game piracy is a complex market problem with no easy solutions. For small games a no DRM strategy may help to win goodwill and give free exposure, but a corporation like blizzard with an immense market share stands to lose a lot of sales. The people who would have saved up money for a month to be able to buy it. Bam, download, play. The people who would have thought a week or two whether it's worth the money. The people who aren't familiar with starcraft and are unsure if it's worth the buy. Demo? Nah, just download the pirated version.

I wish there was an easy solution. Or a complex effective one.

Captain Pancake:
The simple answer for all these problems is: publishers are evil. Necessary, but evil.

Publishers are not necessary. I'd rather buy full price from a greasy guy in a smelly coat so long as he can guarantee I get what I'm paying for.

Great article. I wish to God that all that wasn't true, but this is the world we live in today. The only way to stop trends like this is a massive boycott or two, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen unless people collectively get their heads out of their asses and realize what's going on. I for one thank Mr. Young for such a great eye-opening article.

*whispers* I had to download a pirate copy of Planescape Torment because there are no retail versions left in the shops only second hand 30 plus ones.

*shouts* I hate piracy!

On the one side, I hate online activation because, think of all the people who still don't own the internet (not many people I know but there still are) and second, when your internet is down there is no fucking way to reinstall the damn game.

On the other side, I understand online activation. Pirating gets a thing more heard of every day and developers get sick of it, they lose their money. (I wouldn't mind if Modern Warfare 2 was pirated by every single human being in the world ^^ fuck you Infinity Ward ^^, anyway that's not the point.)

Kwil:

Skrapt:

People use the example of World of Goo all the time as a case for DRM, why is that? It would probably have sold less with DRM.

Sorry, that argument is just as baseless as saying that it would have sold more with DRM. There's no way to ever know, so you're just projecting your ideology.

The point of World Of Goo is to point out that whether a company is "friendly" or not, uses DRM or not, piracy will STILL happen.

So arguing, as Shamus seems to do, that if enforcement isn't perfect it shouldn't happen is a non-argument. It's like arguing if we can't prevent murder perfectly, we ought to legalize it.

His other arguments against DRM are valid.. but the point of "It doesn't work anyway" isn't. Nothing will work anyway. The only thing that will stop piracy is if we released all games for free. Since developers like to eat, that ain't gonna happen.

So rather than rant on and say "Piracy happens because of copy-protection", which is garbage, let's try to figure out better ways to lessen piracy, knowing full well that we won't eliminate it. Offering extra goodies recognizing purchase may be the way to go, but let's be honest, if those goodies are digital, they too will be hacked and passed around. It's funny, but piracy may bring us back to the days of Zork et all, where buying the game bought you more than a disk and a 6 page glossy brochure, but actually got you stuff.

I never said getting rid of DRM would eliminate piracy, in fact in my post I said quite clearly that people will pirate anyway. But punishing legitimate customers for acting within the law using DRM that does nothing to stop pirates is stupid. You don't get thrown in jail for failing to break the law.

I believe that a person who has purchased a legitimate copy of a game, who then has that game made useless due to whatever form of DRM, is well within their rights to get a cracked version of the game.

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