Activation Bomb

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Activation Bomb

How long you're allowed to enjoy a game is sometimes completely out of your hands.

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You forgot the one point:

By the time they go out of business, my computer won't be able to run the game properly anyway. I'll have to wait for GOG or something like that to put out a future compatible version.

Thank god I'm the kind of person who eats games like chips!

...That almost sounded like advocation for piracy, man. The old (well, kind of new)"Why buy it when the legit copy won't even install properly because there's no server to turn it on" argument. And it's not like the old company would get the dough anyway, being out of business and all. And do you really want to go giving your money to a company who bought out/demolished/devoured the company you loved for making the game, even though they didn't patch it at the time, when the game won't even work?

This is way I like hard copy of games, you don't have to worry about someone else maintaining it for you.

If Steam ever went out of business, I'd be buggered, but if Microsoft went out of business, my Xbox would still run those games.

Kinda an issue for me.

I've played through some games like a bag o crisps but other times i conquer a game let it rest then string it up to be conquered again

Good article. That's why I buy games that don't require online activation, like console games.

This is why I'm still wary of Steam games - if those servers accidentally crash, burn down or go boom, my account data and all those games I paid for are gone. I know it's not really the same issue, but it is similar.
The thing that stings the most, I suppose, is that you pay good money for a game, and in the end you don't really own it - the publisher does. And once that particular company goes the way of the dodo you might as well have set that fifty on fire to light a cigar in the most stylish way possible.

Now, I could blame this on the evil corporations who enforce harsh DRMs and anti-piracy measures against me, the paying customer. I could say that EA, UbiSoft, Activision and every other game publisher out there is evil for wanting to protect their investment.

But really, I'd rather blame it on the people who downloaded the game illegaly instead of paying for it. I find this situation not at all unsimilar to how alcohol is handled during certain sport events and similar activities. At first it was cool to serve alcohol, because everyone kept it within resonable levels. But then some guys started getting way too drunk, vomiting on others and picking fights with anyone they could. Before long, there was no more alcohol during that particular event because it got out of hand.

All these DRMs are the same way. They are not free (just as the loss of profit from selling alochol) and I am pretty sure that the publishers would rather do away with them, even if it only is to save money. But they feel the need to include them in the software to protect their investment. Sure, there are ways around the verifications, just as there are ways to smuggle your own alcohol to the game if you can't buy it at the arena.

This is one of those cases where it is obvious that the ones who lose out due to illegal game distribution, in the end, are the gamers themselves.

Hmm... overall, I think this article had some valid points... the best one I think is that you pointed out that asking gamers (like myself) to buy games with online activation attached to them requires a great amount of trust from gamers... but for developers/publishers, its a one-way street. So... publishers/developers, if you expect us to trust YOU that much, then why don't you try trusting US, we might surprise you. Despite what you may think, only a small minority of PC gamers actually pirate their games... In my almost 20 years of life, I have not pirated a single game, and I have yet to meet in person, anyone who did (and this is from someone whose family has traveled all over my country, and I have even been to London once).

Compiling legacy code is definitely a pain. I have been trying to get an application back up and running from about 3 years ago and even that can be a pain. Trying to track down certain files that you would have had the 200 character long url for the download memorized down to the _'s and -'s. But now... gotta think hard about how to fix that stupid cryptic error and find the necessary google pages etc that took you hours last time you did it.

gee if they start that kinda bullshit just to play a game , i'll give up modern consoles and games and stick with the classics , hopefully they'll put a label on the game clearly stating the game must be signed in to play and the companies should have a patch that after 2 years no sign in needed... dam piracy ... and yeah i know this is mostly for pc but consoles are next

Companies can and will do only what we let them get away with.

More disturbing to me are the people who don't care and say "WOOO! STEAM AND PURE DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION YAY!" I don't think they'll be smiling so much in five or ten years when Valve* gets eaten by the EActiBlizUbi-OmiPlex and all of the play-privilege licenses for Steam get revoked rendering the bits they paid for unusable.

Meanwhile, industry pundits mock people who actually care about this as 'human magpies' for daring to actually want a physical copy that can't be taken from us on a corporate whim and if worst comes to worst still be cracked & played even if the developer goes belly up.

Which they will eventually.

We deserve exactly what we're getting for tolerating this to begin with and if anything encouraging such behavior further.

I think I'm going to go get a 'little' drunk now.

*-This applies to other companies to obviously, but Valve is the convenient target to pick on and serves as an example.

Booze Zombie:
This is way I like hard copy of games, you don't have to worry about someone else maintaining it for you.

If Steam ever went out of business, I'd be buggered, but if Microsoft went out of business, my Xbox would still run those games.

Kinda an issue for me.

You wouldn't really be buggered if Steam went out of business (Offline mode, anybody?)

This really is a ticking clock for our screwedness. Every 'educated' gamer gets how this will destroy the industry, why doesn't the industry itself see?

MurderousToaster:
You wouldn't really be buggered if Steam went out of business (Offline mode, anybody?)

This really is a ticking clock for our screwedness. Every 'educated' gamer gets how this will destroy the industry, why doesn't the industry itself see?

Yes, but if I ever wiped my PC and I needed to redownload Steam and all of my games, I would be buggered.

I've been saying this for ages.

Anyway, the article dances around the one thing that has happened in the past with similar issues:

Somebody cracks the game.

Oh, sure, it's morally a grey area, but in Europe and some other places, you are actually entitled to a bunch of things with your legitimately bought software, EULA or not, and while owning a physical copy of the disc and faced with broken authentication software (for this reason or any other) you have a pretty good shot at defending the legality of getting your game to run as it should.

But that is not the only issue here. Steam exclusives are even harder to protect in the long run. When (not if, mind you, when) Steam goes out of business it's going to take Plants vs. Zombies with it, and that's not a matter of fixing a few bytes in an exe to get it think it's authenticated, the whole game is compressed and packed away in a single file, there is no other copy and no physical proof of purchase.

And what about MMO's? People buy these discs for the same money a standard standalone release costs, but the only thing they get is the possibility of paying another fee to actually play the game for a while until the owner decides to shut it down. Forget about the money for a second (you know what you're getting into, so it's overpriced, but fair game), WoW is a major cultural phenomenon. It is culturally relevant or, at least, pop-culturally relevant. Millions of people put millions of hours into it.

In a hundred years, though, it will be gone.

In a hundred years, it will be easier to get an original copy of the earliest printed books than it will be to get an instance of WoW up and running.

It will be easier to watch the first film ever recorded than to play WoW.

It will be easier to read the thougts of people dead two thousand years ago than to see what WoW looked like.

This happened to movies, as well. The early films were considered a disposable thing. Many films, not all of them small or irrelevant, disappeared forever. We are making the same mistake. In a few decades, we'll have to rely on private collectors to piece together the origins of interactive art because companies and governments were too short sighted to preserve their work for the future. Even the whole abandonware movement is dying, turned into a selectively licensed collection in sites like GoG, which I think is one of the best e-stores around, for the record, but won't bring Johnny Comomolo 2 back from oblivion.

There is one argument you missed:
No body is going to want to play this game X years from now, and if they do there will probably be a strong enough community that a community made hack will be available. There will be classic games in every generation, those games will find a way to be preserved for the ages. The rest is just chaff people buy and throw away.

Thank Goddess for pirates, who will collectively spend the hundreds of hours necessary :)

hamster mk 4:
There is one argument you missed:
No body is going to want to play this game X years from now, and if they do there will probably be a strong enough community that a community made hack will be available. There will be classic games in every generation, those games will find a way to be preserved for the ages. The rest is just chaff people buy and throw away.

Waaait, so all those old movies I had to watch to get my degree that consisted on landscapes recorded from trains and entire reels of people walking around are actually completely irrelevant? Damn, there go five years of my life completely wasted.

That you are not interested in the story of a medium doesn't make it irrelevant. All that "chaff" is the bread and butter of many scholars doing very interesting work.

This is why I hope various publishers sign up for Good Old Games, since GOG is built upon the basis that they will make those games playable with no DRM and on modern systems.

If everything goes to hell in a handcart, I'll still have my GOG games (backed up), which don't require any cracks or patches to get them in working order.

Ummmm, I'm pretty sure that you have discussed the patch matter in a previous Experienced Points article. This one, as a matter of fact.

I also think that you have driven the DRM matter into fine dust. But, I'm not complaining. After all, the vast majority of game journalists don't seem to bother or care about the DRM infestation, so don't stop bashing it! If the companies refuse to trust us and demand that we trust them, they can fuck right off.

This is more or less why I'm not buying games anymore.

If publishers had any common sense they would realise that online activation and whatnot is a bad thing, and only makes problems, never solves problems.

Sadly there is no common sense in buisness.

I agree with you 100% a much better written and articulated version of something I've been saying for what is probably a couple of years now.

"Look, Mr. Game Publisher, I'm worried about not being able to play that game I paid for down the road. Why do you need online activation?"
"We need online activation because you're a dirty pirate who wants to steal our game."
"But if I was a pirate I'd just bypass your online activation."
"SHUT UP SHUT UP YOU DIRTY DIRTY PIRATE I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA LA."

...there, do I have the logic down right?

Although there are quite a few reasons why everything I own, and everything I will own (be it music, movies or games) will always be on disc, this is the major one, and no-one or -thing will ever make me change my mind about it. If activation goes down there will undoubtably be someone out there who will work a way around it, but as for the games you bought on Steam and Steam alone..

It's also one of the reasons I play everything on consoles now.

... and that is why I always download and keep a crack for every PC game I buy.

Booze Zombie:
This is way I like hard copy of games, you don't have to worry about someone else maintaining it for you.

Seconded. But you shouldn't worry too much, the great thing about pirates is that they will ALWAYS find a way around online activation, no matter what. So keep your solid copies to prove you -bought- the game, then download that no-cd no-activation version of the game from Pirate Bay or something.

Then you are breaking no laws! Except the ones that don't make sense, but that's okay... right? _

Come on Shamus, you're phoning this article in this time. You've said all of these things before.

My media has always existed in a state of temporary ownership regardless of security mechanisms that are in place. My old consoles have either been lost, sold or destroyed. Many old PC games will not run without significant effort simulating a fairly particular set of conditions. I lose cd keys, scratch discs and have had items stolen. Each of these things has robbed me of my ability to play infinitely more games than this theoritical (but entirely plausible) scenario being pitched.

It also occurs to me that people believe corporations are immune to the threat of class action lawsuit.

The only time online activation is reasonable is when it's an MMO or it otherwise depends upon online multiplayer. Aside from that developers are encouraging the very behavior they're trying to curb through DRM schemes.

I don't know what the ideal solution is but I know content that's exclusive to people who bought the game and a friendly corporate image are both steps in the right direction. One of the big reasons people can justify pirating is because they think of gaming companies as faceless monoliths instead of an organization comprised of people like themselves. Bioware has it down, so does Valve.

Is there a third element? What's missing from the picture? Is value really enough to get customers to buy? Considering that Hollywood hasn't gone out of business and the games industry is still intact it's definitely good enough to generate sales.

lluewhyn:
Come on Shamus, you're phoning this article in this time. You've said all of these things before.

Yeah I was just going to say the same thing, I've read the same article probably three times all by Shamus

Expand your horizons my friend

UtopiaV1:

Booze Zombie:
This is way I like hard copy of games, you don't have to worry about someone else maintaining it for you.

Seconded. But you shouldn't worry too much, the great thing about pirates is that they will ALWAYS find a way around online activation, no matter what. So keep your solid copies to prove you -bought- the game, then download that no-cd no-activation version of the game from Pirate Bay or something.

Then you are breaking no laws! Except the ones that don't make sense, but that's okay... right? _

That's true. I'm pretty sure there are laws that allow the personal use of any media so long as you have bought the game at some point. ie. As long as you can prove you bought a game at some point, it's yours to do with as you wish, should you want to, say, download an (otherwise) illegal copy off the net. Anyone who bought games off the Steam network would have been sent a receipt to their e-mail address. I would recommend you save those to your harddrive, or a USB or something. That way, if at some point in the distant future the government sends out squads of piracy police to beat the crap out of unlawful netizens, you could just show them your receipts for having originally bought the game.

oppp7:
Good article. That's why I buy games that don't require online activation, like console games.

Same here, online activation annoys me so much. But, I can see it creeping into consoles now...

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Valve has actually already made and tested the patch that would disable Steam's copy protection. Can't find the source - if someone would oblige, that'd be just swell - but there's hope yet.

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