The DRM Effect

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Blayze:
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/07/18/ubisoft-having-a-crack/

the only concern I have is that if Steam goes out of business, do we all lose all the games we've bought?

I've seen - on a few occasions - references made on the SteamPowered forums to a quote from someone at Valve who essentially said "If Steam goes belly-up, we'll release an update that lets people play the games they've bought."

If they go belly-up, and are presumably bought out, would it make economic sense to be wasting time and money on such a thing? This is a problem for any game that requires online activation. I can install Total Annihilation right now, even though Cavedog is long gone. Ditto for X-Com, Warcraft II, Heroes of Might and Magic III, etc. If EA goes down, I can't install, say, Mass Effect or Bioshock, at least not legally.

Companies can say that they'll fix things if it ever comes to this, but when they're fighting for their lives, are they really going to make the effort that it takes to appease customers whose money they already have? I think not.

I'd be very surprised if Steam didn't already have a patch ready to roll out that fixed the problem of not being able to connect to steam servers, and I imagine it'll be a few k at most.

If Steam are in financial trouble, there may be companies interested in buying them out, in which case they wouldn't want to turn their entire customer base against them, so they could have the patch ready to go if needed.

I don't even know what it is about Steam, but I just trust them with my money and my games, and I know they've had problems, but they've fixed all the ones I've heard.

Also as previously stated, the chance to get hold of old games that I'll never be able to find in a store, for like $5-10, is great, as a brit, where its 2 dollars to a pound, I can buy games for the price of a trip to McD's, go large and add an ice cream and there's a bigger range to choose from.

I don't remember Sims having really heavy DRM tho, and isn't it the biggest selling PC game of all time?

I know when I worked in a music store, no matter how many copies of the expansions we would be sent, we'd generally be sold out on the launch day.

I know if I was still working there, I'd be reading up more on the DRM issues, and warning buyers ' do you have a net connection, do you have any drive image software, etc?' not to turn people against DRM, but purely as a way to guide customers into buying games they can actually play after they've bought them.

I know at one point we had to get dummy sleeves sent out for PC games, whereas before we used to take the discs out and put the cases on display, as people would come in, copy the cd keys and then go download it, and we'd have honest customers returning games because the cd key wouldnt work.

Also, what these big companies STILL don't realise, is they're putting their PC security department of , I dont know, 20-50 'experts' mainly, against THE INTERNET!

The crackers just see these new things as a challenge, its probably quite fun for them to have a new puzzle to beat, and as such, I will be very surprised if there's not a working version of Spore on torrents a day after release.

Of course, Spore has the advantage of being so net centric that most people will buy it anyway, and also, imo, most people WILL buy it instead of pirating it, and the people that pirate it weren't going to spend the money anyways, I'm not saying its right, just that its how it is.

Also, after sales service, patches, updates, etc. IF paying for an original copy was getting you extra content, you'd maybe be more likely to go out and shell out the cash for a real copy of the game.

Look at WOW and TF2, both getting constant updates, (I know you pay monthly for WOW) TF2 having lots of extra stuff added for no extra cash, also the anti cheat thing, I feel keeps the dodgy pirates mainly away from the honest players, and who wants to risk their cd key just to cheat?

I heard somewhere that The Sims 3 will have a similar implementation of SecuROM as Spore. Which is most unfortunate, as it means I can't buy it now.

I can put up with the restrictions. Or, rather, I can evaluate the restrictions on an install as an adult and decide whether I want to put up with them. What I can't agree to is the mechanism by which they're enforced, which is more often than not an irremovable rootkit with side effects throughout the system. And even if they remove the restrictions, how am I supposed to be certain they didn't leave the rootkit? I'd be more inclined to purchase PC games if I could be certain that they were safe, but that's no longer the case. I am petrified of buying games that don't come from a developer and vendor I trust - essentially Valve, Stardock, freeware, and self-published games from people who can't afford to license DRM, these days.

Incidentally, I'm now wondering if there's a website that keeps a listing of the types of copy protection employed on games.

It's even getting to the point that I can't buy a legitimate version and install a crack (if I wanted to - I haven't ever done that, but I was considering it when I first heard about what they'd done to Spore), because the games are so Net-centric these days that they'll probably include a way to check when you connect, or they'll de-crack (and, hence, re-break) themselves by automatic updates, or something. The publishers have learned one lesson: they've managed to make the games so that the pirated version isn't necessarily a superior product. Problem is, they didn't do it by improving their own offering.

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