Impossible (to beat) DRM

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Hubilub:

Woodsey:
Alright, supposing the game has only just been broken (I'm still not sure about what I think concerning the first-day crack rumours) it doesn't work.

Why?

It blocked legit-buyers from playing a game for 2 weeks after releases (Settlers 7 I believe) and AC2 has locked people out numerous times for days on end.

Oh, and an entire country was also blocked at one point.

I don't know about about everyone else's version of something working, but that ain't it for me.

It's almost as if Ubisoft are saying:

You can either take the easy way and buy the game, which will result in it breaking down all the time and your gaming experience being ruined.

Or you can work (or wait) your ass of for a few weeks or months and voila, now you can play the game offline without any issues!

Assassins Creed 2, being a pain in the ass for everyone.

The most annoying thing being that the game is fucking brilliant.

I bought it on the 360 back when it released (I'm sorry, I cannot wait for 3 months for no particular reason!) and it was incredible. Now all its famous for is being the first to use their shitty DRM.

Make something thats worth paying for instead of throwing a ton of shit on it and you wont have piracy "problems"

Woodsey:

Hubilub:

Woodsey:
Alright, supposing the game has only just been broken (I'm still not sure about what I think concerning the first-day crack rumours) it doesn't work.

Why?

It blocked legit-buyers from playing a game for 2 weeks after releases (Settlers 7 I believe) and AC2 has locked people out numerous times for days on end.

Oh, and an entire country was also blocked at one point.

I don't know about about everyone else's version of something working, but that ain't it for me.

It's almost as if Ubisoft are saying:

You can either take the easy way and buy the game, which will result in it breaking down all the time and your gaming experience being ruined.

Or you can work (or wait) your ass of for a few weeks or months and voila, now you can play the game offline without any issues!

Assassins Creed 2, being a pain in the ass for everyone.

The most annoying thing being that the game is fucking brilliant.

I bought it on the 360 back when it released (I'm sorry, I cannot wait for 3 months for no particular reason!) and it was incredible. Now all its famous for is being the first to use their shitty DRM.

Second. Silent Hunter 5 used it first. I don't know if Command and Conquer 4 used the same system or one based on it, but either way... But yeah, you're right. Good game famous for the wrong reasons.

Make something thats worth paying for instead of throwing a ton of shit on it and you wont have piracy "problems"

You'll always have piracy problems, because getting something for free is plain better than paying for it, period.

Nurb:

Oh, and PC Gamer magazine, in big bold red letters said "Don't buy this game", to protest it's use on the PC version in their review.

I think I'm in love with that magazine. Good for them.

Also, count me as another lost sale on anything you put out Ubisoft, regardless of the system I'm never buying from you again until you get rid of your stupid DRM.

addeB:
So a unbreakable DRM would basically just stop people who won't buy the game from playing...

Which I think is pretty fair all in all.

Nurb:
Yea, "always on" DRM was cracked a couple weeks ago before the CNET article.

But they didn't make any money off of me. I didn't pirate their second-hand shit, but I didn't buy it either, so they neither gained or lost anything from me by forcing their DRM on legitimate customers.

Oh, and PC Gamer magazine, in big bold red letters said "Don't buy this game", to protest it's use on the PC version in their review.

Likewise, and while I don't buy PC Gamer magazine, I have to say that they're right to decry the PC version. Ubisoft were way out of line, and it's pretty clear that piracy doesn't impact sales nearly as much as they claim they do. I think I only ever downloaded a PC game once, and it was a pretty old game that was WAY beyond any reasonable sales figures.

I hope gamers don't let Ubisoft forget this bullshit any time soon.

dagens24:
Not only is the DRM gonna stop people from pirating their games, it's going to stop them from playing them all together.

QFT.

Seriously this DRM scheme MIGHT help them but surely you are royally fucking over your legit costumerbase, if you have any left after all this hassle it is.

Find a better way, like they did with Batman Dark Asylum. That was serious HILARIOUS stuff.

*sigh*

What we have here is a lose-lose situation.

I know, I know, how dare Ubisoft put into place this ridiculous and intrustive copy-protection scheme that punishes legitimate customers. I can't really scold anyone who buys the game and picks up the relevant crack so as not to be the prisoner of Ubisoft's servers and the dubious quality of their Internet connection.

But it's really not helping anyone to be going "Hooray, the evil game company got schooled!" (Add Nelson laugh if desired.) Yes, the DRM was stupid, but... That "evil game company" is the same one that put out the game for the PC in the first place.

And I like being able to play games on my PC.

And every time something like this happens, there's a few fewer games that get ported to the PC next year.

It's just... so... stupid. PCs shouldn't be the smallest platform; there are PCs in far more homes than there are any of the consoles. But most of the games require more horsepower than a "casual user" PC dishes out out of the box... And Intel, Microsoft, AMD and their lot can't quite seem to get their act together, and occasionally make me wonder if they're even trying. Games For Windows indeed...

And, yes, there's piracy. The PC was first to the 'net, and first to set up communities there... And the bar set on the knowledge necessary for early admission to the club, combined with the non-proprietary nature of the hardware, almost inevitably meant that at least some of the people playing would be the equals in technical know-how of the people coding the game... And the DRM.

I can't help but wonder if PCs are the sacrificial goat of the gaming industry. There's already piracy on the consoles as well. If the PC gaming market dies, or at least navigates away from the big-budget, triple-A platinum releases, will that bunch of pirates just go away? Or will they then spread out to descend on the consoles?

There's already piracy on the consoles as well.

Tons of it, really. It's just the tiniest bit harder, requiring a simple bit of hardware modding, but this tiny bit seems to be enough to make a difference.

Gotta love how they completely ignore the fact that the 360 is hackable, and that their game can be played on it using a burned dual layer DVD. Nobody ever mentions that though...

Shamus Young:
Experienced Points: Impossible (to beat) DRM

Congratulations, Ubisoft, on making DRM so awful that it might eventually work.

Read Full Article

You make it sound like it's impossible to crack DRM when half or even all of the game is run off of a server. You seem to forget or simply not realize that MMOs have been pirated. Yes, there are private servers for practically every MMO that has a fanbase.

It may be time consuming to copy a game by emulation instead of straight bit-by-bit copying but, if an emulated copy behaves exactly like the original, how is that any real difference from taking a bit-by-bit copy of it?

If someone makes a Tic-Tac-Toe game and tries to protect it by storing all of the data on the server, that doesn't stop a person from basically writing their own game using the same graphics and sound effects and have it behave exactly the same as the other person's game. It may not be "piracy" in the traditional sense but then neither is downloading a cracked version of a game.

Personally, I call bunk on the entire copyright and patent systems. Their whole purpose is to promote creativity and innovation and the way it's being used right now does far more to hurt creativity and innovation than to help it. People are afraid to try to make their own product because you never know when you'll get sued for infringing any number of patents and copyrights. There are companies that do nothing but buy up patents to sue people over it.

Also, let us not forget how the RIAA has made a business out of suing customers. They even sue dead grandmothers. Can any sane person call this kind of utter crap a good thing?

I think it would be entirely possible to run a successful software/media/whatever business even in a world with absolutely no copyright and patent system to protect them. It's the simple thing called supply and demand. You supply something people want and they'll pay for it. No, not everyone will but that doesn't mean that it's impossible to profit from that type of business. Also, this insane notion that just because you make a product you are suddenly entitled to massive profits needs to go. There's this thing called quality to worry about. You have to actually produce something that people want. If they want it enough, they'll pay for it. If not for the convenience of having a legitimate copy, they will because not everyone is a complete immoral asshole. It's my belief that if you trust people that they will return that trust. No, it wont work out that way all of the time but it's a lot better than the crap they're doing now.

baker80:
Tons of it, really. It's just the tiniest bit harder, requiring a simple bit of hardware modding, but this tiny bit seems to be enough to make a difference.

I'd argue it's easier. You can buy a console premodded. This means you simply download it and burn it. With a PC game, you often have to fiddle with cracks that may not work or may even be a virus. There is no such problem on the console.

The pc market is only the smallest in terms of physical sales, you know?

LordZ:

Shamus Young:
Experienced Points: Impossible (to beat) DRM

Congratulations, Ubisoft, on making DRM so awful that it might eventually work.

Read Full Article

You make it sound like it's impossible to crack DRM when half or even all of the game is run off of a server. You seem to forget or simply not realize that MMOs have been pirated. Yes, there are private servers for practically every MMO that has a fanbase.

It may be time consuming to copy a game by emulation instead of straight bit-by-bit copying but, if an emulated copy behaves exactly like the original, how is that any real difference from taking a bit-by-bit copy of it?

If someone makes a Tic-Tac-Toe game and tries to protect it by storing all of the data on the server, that doesn't stop a person from basically writing their own game using the same graphics and sound effects and have it behave exactly the same as the other person's game. It may not be "piracy" in the traditional sense but then neither is downloading a cracked version of a game.

Personally, I call bunk on the entire copyright and patent systems. Their whole purpose is to promote creativity and innovation and the way it's being used right now does far more to hurt creativity and innovation than to help it. People are afraid to try to make their own product because you never know when you'll get sued for infringing any number of patents and copyrights. There are companies that do nothing but buy up patents to sue people over it.

Also, let us not forget how the RIAA has made a business out of suing customers. They even sue dead grandmothers. Can any sane person call this kind of utter crap a good thing?

I think it would be entirely possible to run a successful software/media/whatever business even in a world with absolutely no copyright and patent system to protect them. It's the simple thing called supply and demand. You supply something people want and they'll pay for it. No, not everyone will but that doesn't mean that it's impossible to profit from that type of business. Also, this insane notion that just because you make a product you are suddenly entitled to massive profits needs to go. There's this thing called quality to worry about. You have to actually produce something that people want. If they want it enough, they'll pay for it. If not for the convenience of having a legitimate copy, they will because not everyone is a complete immoral asshole. It's my belief that if you trust people that they will return that trust. No, it wont work out that way all of the time but it's a lot better than the crap they're doing now.

the article suggest that a DRM that basicially sent almost all important bits of code from the server, which may be a lot.

It'd be getting awful close to something like onlive, and that's still shit.

I AM SICK OF ALL THE GODDAMN ANTI PIRACY!! JUST STOP IT YOU FUCK NUGGET ASSHOLES! God, it's like these people never learn, they won't fix anything and most pirates are broke people who can't afford to buy the game, but if they play it free, then spam the idea to buy it to every other inter-nerd they know and two people buy the game based on their suggestion then the company made a profit. Fuck, some people are so stupid it makes me gag, let's not forget there are pirates who buy games to support them, and some people find piracy morally apprehensive. *sigh* OK, rage over, I stand by my words though, piracy does nothing but irritate the consumers.
yeah, know what? Here's an example. Last month a game came out I'd never heard of, for the DS, it was priced at about forty bucks and look really neat, it was a turn based strategy game. Had I had the money to buy it I wouldn't have, as I had no knowledge of it's existence before I got there. I am, however, a pirate, and I downloaded it, once I played it for a time I cried, IT SUCKED HORRIBLY. I wouldn't even speak of it after I played it, and reviewers found it crappy too. About a day later I found another game, completely over looked, for ten bucks cheaper, and it was good, so I suggested it to some people I know and they bought it. If you ask me, anti piracy (AP) is only to protect shitty games until everyone knows they are shitty, then the company have already made all the sales and can focus on the next piece of shit they want to make.

Irridium:

Nimbus:
I'm betting Ubi made a loss on the PC version. Serves 'em right, too.

I'm curious to actually see how many games turn a profit on the PC. I'm sure its a very small percentage compared to consoles. And even on consoles even breaking even is a stretch.

They will lose money with this system. Even if they do make a profit on the PC games, that profit will have to go towards upkeep of the servers.

And thats if you make a profit. I'm sure AC2 didn't sell all that well on the PC, along with Ubisoft's recent titles (Settlers 7 and Silent Hunter 5).

How much do you think those small games for small markets made?

Not to mention there was that one time basically all of Australia couldn't play any game using this DRM.

Well lets say your a game developer like Crytec, you have 100 employees on a project everything from Programmers/Animators,IT-Prof and Security Guards... Lets round it out to say on Average they make 150k/year just for argument sakes and it takes 1 year to develop a title.

150,000 x 100 = 1.5million for development cost

Now you need to factor in Manufacturing/Distribution cost that's done per unit shipped so lets say your going to ship at lest the number of units it takes to re-cope your development cost.

1,500,000/30.00 = 50,000 units so say it cost 10.00 in M&D that puts the price at 40.00 (39.99) if you do digital download you cute your distro down a lot. (I know i am ignoring sore markups that can pushes the price from 39.99 to 59.99) but that's money the developer never see's anyways

So really the profit margin on a decent title is relatively large, esp if you build it for the major console platforms since the dev kits make it a lot easier to devlop for the counsel systems than for PC. just to become limited on hardware, user input options and system flexibility. When you really think about it 50,000 units is a joke in todays marks when even bad games can sell 50k, and good games can sell millions not even counting special editions.

I don't even care about the DRM thing in regards to having to buy the game cause I ALWAYS buy my PC games. But this whole debacle and lack of respect for the gamers out there makes me stay away from ubisoft games as much as possible. I was thinking about getting Splinter Cell but will not get it because Ubisoft just wants to treat us PC gamers like children.

And honestly, how many of those pirates would really buy it if they couldn't get it any other way? Prob like 3. The point of pirating is getting shit for free you wouldn't otherwise buy. They need to quit crying and just stick to making games that work regardless of internet connection.

i purposely don't buy games with excessive drm, just because they are such a pain. Steam sometimes allows for the drm to be less of a pain, like for mass effect they pretty much got rid of it all

Putting yourself in a developers shoes it's easy to understand why they get mad at people stealing (yes pirating is stealing) their product.

Whine and bitch about "oh but I didn't have a demo" or other pitiful excuse. The developer is providing you THEIR product on THEIR terms. If you don't like those terms, vote with your money but that doesn't enable you to steal with good conscience. You try working 2-5 years of your life while providing for your family at a small company and than have some entitled snot tell you he "deserves" it for free.

Sorry, but this hits home for me. Some of my best friends have been layed off due to "budget cuts". Furthermore many companies have had to shut down due to rampant pirating.

The other thing that bugs me is the idiotic idea that people think "the developers are turning on us! it's them versus us". When someone is defending themselves for survival purposes they are not on the attack. It's not them versus us, it's you versus them. If you care more about getting your new toy than helping a developer you don't deserve to be in the gaming culture, period. You want DRM to stop? either you personally stop pirating or tell your friends you know that pirate to stop.

That being said, DRM does hurt paying customers. My solution to only punishing pirates is pirating should be more thoroughly persecuted by the law. If there was even a 10% more imprison/fine/community service sentence for the thieves I bet a lot more people would not pirate.

That may sound harsh but really, you want a system that ONLY punishes the criminals? that's pretty much it. Other than that, I pray for the day a band of hackers actually seeds a nasty virus disguised as a cracked game....god I pray for that day.

at the end of the day the best, and only permanent solution, is for gamers to make a stand that a true gamer does not pirate and use peer pressure to do the rest.
/flameon!

You guys are forgetting the Rockstar Approach to DRM. Make terrible PC ports with annoying background programs.

If they just made the games better people would buy them and they wouldn't have to waste the money on these stupid DRMs. Look at Blizzard, they made millions off Diablo, Warcraft (not counting WoW as MMOs are in a different league) and Starcraft. The only security measures they use are a CD key and a good online matchmaking system (battle.net is still the best matchmaking system in use today imho).

Starcraft has the fourth highest game sales of all time. The only games to beat it are WoW (made by the same damn company), The Sims and The Sims 2. The last two are even debatable as many estimates include the expansions/bundles.

MR T3D:
the article suggest that a DRM that basicially sent almost all important bits of code from the server, which may be a lot.

It'd be getting awful close to something like onlive, and that's still shit.

How do you think an MMO works? Nearly all of the data is server side and you're just watching it play out on your client. This is essentially what always online DRM is trying to copy. I was saying that even an MMO, a game where everything is already server side, can be "pirated" and that there's no such thing as a perfect DRM or even anything close.

If it can be made, it can be copied. This is an inevitable and undeniable fact.

Points:

The reason most games are cracked within 1-2 days is because of the 6-18 months of work that went into legitimately cracking each new DRM system (securom, tages, starforce). The games were still playable with lesser circumvention methods (emulation, custom exes, etc) but now those systems are completely cracked and each new version only lasts a few hours, as only so much can change.

MMOs are pirateable. Theres no uniform method of farming out the server responses, but doing so isn't difficult. Just time consuming. Usually private servers are multiple versions behind the current, but that doesn't bother many people.

The server emulators that farted around the last few weeks are half-assed measures, subject to being rendered irrelevant by ubisoft changing one or two characters in each of the "server" events. The "scene" as its known rejects these types of measures on those grounds.

Skidrow modified a grand total of one file to crack AC2. A single file under 700kb. They did not emulate the DRM server, they completely removed the DRM, as it was located primary in a single small file.

Increasing the amount of communication between the client and the DRM servers would only make the DRM easier to crack. The sparseness of the communication between ubisoft's DRM servers and the game is what allowed this DRM to last as long as it did. Once you indicate what bits of code are interacting with the server, the crackers know exactly where to devote their time, and no amount of encryption on either end can even slow them down. The reason securom, starforce, and tages took so long is because the crackers had to go through each line of compiled, encrypted code one by one to determine exactly where the weakest bits of code were ("if fail, goto fuckyouscreen," "if succeed, goto game") then trial and error how to, basically, hotwire them.

So... yea... do some research occasionally.

Jinxey:
Putting yourself in a developers shoes it's easy to understand why they get mad at people stealing (yes pirating is stealing) their product.

Your statement is purely and utterly wrong. Copying is not stealing. Copying can be copyright infringement. As much as the corporations like to demonize copying, it is a legitimate function of daily life. Copying is probably the most important way to learn and we are all guilty of it. Copyright law may make it illegal to copy a copyrighted work but it is by definition not stealing. To steal, something has to be taken away and no such thing occurs when you copy something.

My biggest problem with this style of DRM is that once servers go down (after enough time passes, money runs out, companies die off, whatever). The game disc and data is useless unless they patch it out of the game. If someone wants to play AC2 on PC in ten years is it even going to be possible without piracy?

"The boss you're supposed to fight won't show up, a door won't open, or you won't get a key item you need to progress"

That used to happen to my [legitimate] oblivion game all the time

Shamus Young:
Publishers have been bemoaning that 90% of their sales have been lost to piracy. While I pretty much agree that 9 out of 10 PC players are pirates, it's important to remember that not every download is a lost sale. The skulls of
John Riccitiello and Bobby Kotick (heads of EA and Activision) are particularly well-armored against this concept. But here we have a well-reviewed, high-profile, AAA title, with incredibly dense coverage that was ostensibly impossible to pirate for six entire weeks. (Which is when the bulk of sales take place.) If every download was a lost sale, then a piracy-proof game should have somewhere in the ballpark of ten times the usual sales. Assassins Creed 2 should be burning up the PC sales charts, dwarfing the sales numbers for its predecessor. Looking around at the sales charts on VGChartz, it would appear that this is not the case.

While that's all true, and understand that I'm not endorsing DRM either, we might look at some other factors that taint the quality of this experiment.

The first is the availability of substitute goods. So we can't play Assassin's Creed 2 for a little while without actually buying it. But we can go pirate another game that doesn't have offensively unnecessary DRM. So while it's true that not every download is a lost sale, it's also true that not every lost sale caused by downloading is even a download of the same game. We can expect the aggregate affect of the existence of piracy to have market effects even for games with 'unbeatable' DRM. In this case, Assassin's Creed 2 was competing with other games that can be pirated, and a game that someone might not want quite as much still has the advantage of having no price at all. Video game intellectual property is somewhat commoditized, especially as long as they continue to be very similar to each other. So in order to test the effect of piracy on the industry as a whole, you'd have to actually put ridiculous DRM on everything, and for quite awhile.

Shamus Young:
Experienced Points: Impossible (to beat) DRM

Congratulations, Ubisoft, on making DRM so awful that it might eventually work.

Read Full Article

Great article as usual sir.

Your point that every pirated copy is not a lost sale is a valid one. People who want to pay will pay. People who won't don't. All DRM does is deter potential buyers from buying. I for one do pay for games but play for single player enjoyment. I am not always connected to the internet. Having a system that depends upon it seems like they are doing everything in their power to stop me from buying.

Maybe in a decade when the entire free world is wireless and high speed, then maybe.

laryri:
You guys are forgetting the Rockstar Approach to DRM. Make terrible PC ports with annoying background programs.

They got rid of said annoying background programs (or at least not as annoying) as of releasing Episodes From Liberty City on the PC

Based off this idea, maybe they could have a DRM like this that:

A: Allowed for server hiccups, and

B: Deactivated after six weeks?

I wouldn't have a ton of trouble with that, and a lot of pirates would be deterred to the point of actually buying the game. And really, allowing for server hiccups would make the whole thing SO much more tolerable.

BlindMessiah94:
People who want to pay will pay. People who won't don't. All DRM does is deter potential buyers from buying.

That's not entirely true. A good tenth of people who don't want to pay, WILL pay if there's no alternative. That is still a lot of people. Although it is deterrent, you are correct.

radio_babylon:
imagine the cognitive dissonance thats going to occur when someone finally does implement an unbreakable DRM, and the game STILL sells like crap. youll hear the sounds of executive's head exploding all over the place. meanwhile, indie devs will just tool right along, selling their games without DRM (and save money from not licensing DRM), develop a loyal customer base, and not sweat the "lost" non-sales from piracy just like they have been for a while now.

[Needs Citations]

You're like the Apple commercials touting how Macs don't get viruses, as if some part of the architecture of the machine makes it more resilient. Macs didn't get viruses because they were such a small market that it's not worth it to make a virus.

Indie games don't "lose" many sales due to piracy because they're simply much less popular in general. Lemme put it more simply:

I would wager that there's little piracy of even non-DRM indie games because there's a lot less exposure, and the games aren't as in demand. It's the reason I can simply lock my door, while the bank has armed guards. Yes, people can steal from me, but the reward from stealing from me is much less. Indie developers don't reject DRM because they 'don't sweat' it, it's because it's less of an issue for them. But, a hot property worth millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars, you protect with everything you have.

Fort Knox has more security than an ATM, go figure.

lacktheknack:

BlindMessiah94:
People who want to pay will pay. People who won't don't. All DRM does is deter potential buyers from buying.

That's not entirely true. A good tenth of people who don't want to pay, WILL pay if there's no alternative. That is still a lot of people. Although it is deterrent, you are correct.

I don't know if the number is actually that high, but I get what you are saying. I actually wouldn't be surprised if they lost more paying customers due to DRM than they did to piracy.
Even if 1/10 piraters would pay for the game, I wonder how many out of ten who don't pirate chose not to buy the game because of DRM.

LordZ:

Jinxey:
Putting yourself in a developers shoes it's easy to understand why they get mad at people stealing (yes pirating is stealing) their product.

Your statement is purely and utterly wrong. Copying is not stealing. Copying can be copyright infringement. As much as the corporations like to demonize copying, it is a legitimate function of daily life. Copying is probably the most important way to learn and we are all guilty of it. Copyright law may make it illegal to copy a copyrighted work but it is by definition not stealing. To steal, something has to be taken away and no such thing occurs when you copy something.

Yeah, we've all seen the pictures.

But that argument only works for a very, very, very specific definition of "stealing". In point of fact, theft includes not only "larceny" (which is the theft of tangible property), but also the unlawful acquisition of "money, labor or property" (in California, governed by the California Penal Code Section 487). So, your argument is both highly semantic, and simply specious.

To conflate 'copying' with 'theft of intellectual property' is a bit like saying that because everyone walks, we're all equally guilty of walking away from a bank with stolen goods. Yes, we've all also taken drugs. What matters is not whether one copies information, but whether one does so legally. Copyright violations are a theft of the labor that went into the creation of that data. In the same way that I'm stealing from J.K Rowling if I republish Harry Potter as Larry Hatter, even if I do so without making any money.

Please, stop trying to make a silly distinction between piracy (in the sense of illegally obtaining intellectual property) and 'stealing' (in the sense of illegally obtaining property

No company demonizes copying, they use it every day, and expect customers to use it. And most of us copy things in legally acceptable ways, and copy legally acceptable things. But, to say that "eh, copying is copying, don't demonize it" is a bit like saying "eh, drug use is drug use, don't demonize it" as a way to explain why Heroin is okay as long as Asprin is.

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