A Jailbroken System - We Need DRM Exemptions for Abandoned Games

A Jailbroken System - We Need DRM Exemptions for Abandoned Games

Who owns the games that we play? The answer may seem obvious, but it isn't.

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We need...NO DRM, period. The practice itself is without merit.

GOG is probably a good answer. Publishers will always slap DRM on new titles, but as they get old, those titles will sell less and less, and there will always be a certain number of gamers eager to buy it DRM free, even if they bought it when it had DRM. Eventually, most publishers will cave in and put their games on GOG.

It's not a perfect solution, but it's a good start.

The idea that we own our games is much like the idea that we are in charge of this planet, when it was paid for by mice.

The problem is that the answer should seem obvious, but the concept that we don't own software is older than almost everyone on here, user, staff, or otherwise. It's going to be very hard to change a system that we've enabled (even if passively) for the ballpark of 40 years. Even harder when we keep "voting with our wallets" for Steam games and other DD platforms which incorporate DRM as a matter of course.

Hell, the fact that we're even calling it DRM is a win for them.

Gaming will continue to have fights like this as long as the software industry (and related hardware/tech industries) continue to fight it. And they will do so for as long as there is no downside to doing so. Unless there's a mass exodus like we were seeing in music, it's unlikely we will see this approach change.

And in case people think this isn't on the topic of the opinion piece, it is. The review process appears to not only be impacted by lobbying, but exemptions can and have been revoked. I believe this site even covered stories on this a couple years back. There is little security in such an exemption, as one day it could be legal to jailbreak abandoned games and the next it could not be. Further, with the way the enforcement of the DMCA has been framed, simply being exempt doesn't mean you're necessarily safe.

So what do we really need? We need a revised DMCA, which means a revised WIPO treaty. We need to revisit and revise intellectual property laws, period. And all of this has to be done within the confines of both local and global interests, because we are talking about treaties we signed up for. This is a very large task, and these exemptions are like band-aids. Awesome if you've got a cut, but probably not so much for a sucking chest wound.

Captcha: problem solver.

not quite, Captcha. I'm more a problem pointer-outer.

FalloutJack:
We need...NO DRM, period. The practice itself is without merit.

It reduces piracy. Well, actually it doesn't, but that's GOG's fault.

I just bought today The Witcher 3 and.. it has no DRM.

Nothing, nothing at all... awesome.

Because if I want to replay it in 5 years. And I just might I love RPG's and big open worlds. Then guess what I rather not be dependant on some kind of online server or patch that disables that check.

09philj:

FalloutJack:
We need...NO DRM, period. The practice itself is without merit.

It reduces piracy. Well, actually it doesn't, but that's GOG's fault.

The piracy is Gog's fault or the lack of effective anti-piratical stuff is?

FalloutJack:
We need...NO DRM, period. The practice itself is without merit.

Personally, I think we need more DRM. DRM isn't yet restrictive enough to cause a customer revolt, and that's what the industry needs. Always-online isn't enough? DRM that fries SSDs isn't enough? We don't need less DRM, we need all of the DRM.

FalloutJack:
The piracy is Gog's fault or the lack of effective anti-piratical stuff is?

GOG is too consumer friendly for it's own good. The lack of DRM makes things easier for the purchaser, but also for the people who will buy a copy and then upload the whole thing to a torrent site.

09philj:

FalloutJack:
The piracy is Gog's fault or the lack of effective anti-piratical stuff is?

GOG is too consumer friendly for it's own good. The lack of DRM makes things easier for the purchaser, but also for the people who will buy a copy and then upload the whole thing to a torrent site.

DRM has never adequately deterred piracy. This is not a condoning of piracy, but a statement of fact. Given its track record and how much it's generally hated, you can't blame Gog for throwing up their hands and just making stuff accessable. The best way to remove piracy is to remove the need for piracy. Maybe you can't scrub it all out because some people are shit, but you cane remove any that comes from people who think they have to because of something unfair or hindering. By giving up control, you can retain a measure of loyalty and save the money you were going to use towards DRM in finding other ways to make profits. Frankly, I have always felt that the Neil Gaiman defense - piracy as though a library to preview something you might want to buy - is a worthy prospect.

So precisely what is wrong with firms adhering to an Abandonware policy? Let them embed DRM to help reduce piracy (arf arf arf) but then once a developer or publisher decides to walk away from a game they place it - DRM free - into the public domain? A huge chunk of games from the 90s fall into this category ... games that had manual protection, password protection, copy protection et al on release were, in the years or decades to follow, released unencrypted for gamers to enjoy freely as Abandonware.

Piracy hasn't been an especially effective boogeyman in practice anyway, considering that historically, those who most loudly whined about it have been the largest and most financially successful entities in the business.

I don't agree with piracy on principle, but you cannot for a moment convince me that it has had any significant industry-wide killing effects for producers. Legitimate paying customers? Most certainly, since we're the only ones who actually have to deal with the baggage of DRM, but never producers.

The main reason DRM continues is because consumers are wishy-washy as hell when it comes to putting their foot down and maintaining reasonable standards for the shit they pay for. On one hand, I can point to the grand refusal of Microsoft's pre-180 Xbone; that narrowly averted disaster. On the other, Diablo 3 is the best-selling PC game of all time.

(one might say that was the result of separate markets, but given the incredible cross-over in platforms that occurred in the past 6 years, I sincerely doubt that)

When consumers lack fortitude, they are invertebrate. But when they aren't, they're tenacious and stubborn as hell.

Due to that dynamic, I have long held that consumers and publishers are currently engaged in a quiet, slow-moving, but ultimately deadly game of chicken with each other.

Big publishers want consumers to accept Always Online, $100 (USD) up-front costs games and twice as much in DLC with a smile; yet none of these companies are growing at any significant speed (I'd personally wager they're slowly shrinking) despite all of their arm-twisting schemes.

It seems to me that the industry is just waiting for a big budget disaster to occur.
Who knows what will happen when it finally does...

While it is reasonable for game makers to fear infringing uses of copyrighted material, neither content creators nor the law should discount the free will of users. Broadly criminalizing authorized access in this way alienates consumers from developers, and undermines the symbiotic relationship between artists and players that has historically allowed the video game industry to thrive.

Ah, but that would get in the way of planned obsolescence schemes as well, which I have no doubt have crossed the minds in the upper echelons of Activision and EA.
(I know a number of people that already treat Call of Duty like an MMO)

I think the approach used by X3's publisher (forgot the name) is conceptually a reasonable compromise.

X3 had DRM for the first 3 months, but then they patched it out.
By the time there was a 'budget' release of the game, the DRMpovertyhad been stripped out completely.
I'm fairly sure it had also been patched out of the original release.

Now, to be fair this tactic requires the devs to cooperate, and it still isn't clear whar the point of DRM even is, but at least it is a fair compromise for publishers that feel they need that kimd of security blanket...

Aren't the pirates already taking care of this? I keep hearing lamentations that no game is safe from their diabolical hackery. It might not be convenient or bug-free or even safe to get ahold of the current-gen games in the future, but when has playing the bygones ever been those things? Before GoG and DosBox, locating and playing the gems of the early nineties was incredibly dicey and involved manuevering around shady abandonware rings and putting arcane things into your computer's startup files.

Something Amyss:

FalloutJack:
We need...NO DRM, period. The practice itself is without merit.

Personally, I think we need more DRM. DRM isn't yet restrictive enough to cause a customer revolt, and that's what the industry needs. Always-online isn't enough? DRM that fries SSDs isn't enough? We don't need less DRM, we need all of the DRM.

Uplay is thinking of implementing a system where on booting up the game Yves Guillemot kicks down your front door and steals your monitor.
I think he kicks your cat on the way out too.

Mikeybb:

Uplay is thinking of implementing a system where on booting up the game Yves Guillemot kicks down your front door and steals your monitor.
I think he kicks your cat on the way out too.

And that's if you're a customer. If you pirate the game, well...poor Mr. Sniffles.

Atmos Duality:
Piracy hasn't been an especially effective boogeyman in practice anyway, considering that historically, those who most loudly whined about it have been the largest and most financially successful entities in the business.

I don't agree with piracy on principle, but you cannot for a moment convince me that it has had any significant industry-wide killing effects for producers. Legitimate paying customers? Most certainly, since we're the only ones who actually have to deal with the baggage of DRM, but never producers.

Have you ever been outside of the US, Western Europe, or Japan/S. Korea? Piracy rates are nearly 100%. In China and India, home to almost half of the world's population, everything is available and almost 0% of it is legal. It's all pirated. There are quite literally hundreds of millions of PCs running versions of Windows and Office with whole slews of games that the developers never got paid for. The issue is that someone got paid - the pirates, who download all this stuff and burn it to discs which are readily available everywhere that isn't a first-world economy.

You can argue that it doesn't affect sales, but quite plainly it does.

DRM could go die for all I care but I'm not naive enough to believe that the industry is going to abandon it, but the least publishers could do is remove DRM for you know...GAMES UNPLAYABLE? Remember DarkSpore? A mediocre game but that game is unplayable too my knowledge due to the DRM being abandoned...

flashoverride:

Atmos Duality:
Piracy hasn't been an especially effective boogeyman in practice anyway, considering that historically, those who most loudly whined about it have been the largest and most financially successful entities in the business.

I don't agree with piracy on principle, but you cannot for a moment convince me that it has had any significant industry-wide killing effects for producers. Legitimate paying customers? Most certainly, since we're the only ones who actually have to deal with the baggage of DRM, but never producers.

Have you ever been outside of the US, Western Europe, or Japan/S. Korea? Piracy rates are nearly 100%. In China and India, home to almost half of the world's population, everything is available and almost 0% of it is legal. It's all pirated. There are quite literally hundreds of millions of PCs running versions of Windows and Office with whole slews of games that the developers never got paid for. The issue is that someone got paid - the pirates, who download all this stuff and burn it to discs which are readily available everywhere that isn't a first-world economy.

You can argue that it doesn't affect sales, but quite plainly it does.

And DRM quite clearly isn't affecting these potential billions of customers. They aren't being marketed to, either. What, exactly, would the point of EA lobbyists whining to Congress about this? They aren't even trying to properly sell things outside of the first world.

flashoverride:

Have you ever been outside of the US, Western Europe, or Japan/S. Korea? Piracy rates are nearly 100%.

Yes yes, that is rather dreadful isn't it?
But what about piracy on the moon, or even just lower orbit on the ISS? The Marianas Trench? How about the Indian Ocean?
I hear their piracy rates there are like, 110%.

I know, because I can just say so and it will be so.
At least, by your logic.

In China and India, home to almost half of the world's population, everything is available and almost 0% of it is legal. It's all pirated. There are quite literally hundreds of millions of PCs running versions of Windows and Office with whole slews of games that the developers never got paid for. The issue is that someone got paid - the pirates, who download all this stuff and burn it to discs which are readily available everywhere that isn't a first-world economy.

Oh please.

"Legal" by whose standards and enforcement? Contrary to what some think, the U.S. in fact, ISN'T the world government and judicial system. Not every country is beholden to international copyright law, nor does every country enforce it either.

You bring up China, but gloss over the fact that until this year, foreign games and game consoles (among a great deal of other media and software) were legally considered CONTRABAND well before piracy is even involved. Even today, after the ban, game localization is still at the fiat of PRC's Ministry of Culture.

Failing European economies mean there are many more who can't afford games because of the insane prices publishers charge relative to their earnings. Argue the morality of that as you like; I don't care because as of right now, the only way the publishers would get any money out of, say, Spain or Greece is by marching in and taking it at gunpoint.

What this boils down to is Economics 101.
You can't lose potential revenue where none is available to begin with. Publishers can't lose sales where they aren't able to sell in the first place; either by government restriction or economic restriction.

So spare me the speech and crocodile tears for the multi-billion dollar software giants.

You can argue that it doesn't affect sales, but quite plainly it does.

And since you have offered exactly "jack and squat" to prove that, I'm just going to shrug my shoulders and say "No, it plainly doesn't EFFECT them enough to matter."

If it did, the bulk of the software industry should have collapsed as soon as broadband internet became widely available. So let me know when it actually, finally happens, because I've heard this same song and dance for about 13 years running now, and it's beyond old.

thewatergamer:
DRM could go die for all I care but I'm not naive enough to believe that the industry is going to abandon it, but the least publishers could do is remove DRM for you know...GAMES UNPLAYABLE? Remember DarkSpore? A mediocre game but that game is unplayable too my knowledge due to the DRM being abandoned...

I've got DarkSpore and it is still playable. I just booted it up to play about 2 minutes ago after I read your comment. I believe EA did something to fix the problem because people complained when it was announced that Darkspore wasn't going to continue to work.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/125526-Darkspore-Gone-Forever-Due-to-Abandoned-DRM-UPDATED

Link to an Escapist article documenting the "death" and "rebirth" of Darkspore.

Imperioratorex Caprae:

thewatergamer:
DRM could go die for all I care but I'm not naive enough to believe that the industry is going to abandon it, but the least publishers could do is remove DRM for you know...GAMES UNPLAYABLE? Remember DarkSpore? A mediocre game but that game is unplayable too my knowledge due to the DRM being abandoned...

I've got DarkSpore and it is still playable. I just booted it up to play about 2 minutes ago after I read your comment. I believe EA did something to fix the problem because people complained when it was announced that Darkspore wasn't going to continue to work.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/125526-Darkspore-Gone-Forever-Due-to-Abandoned-DRM-UPDATED

Link to an Escapist article documenting the "death" and "rebirth" of Darkspore.

Huh well the more you know I guess, with that said though DarkSpore is certainly not the only game I can think of, tons of decent games are outright unobtainable because they can't be sold anywhere, and even if you get a copy it's unplayable because of abandoned DRM, situations like DarkSpore will continue to happen and the company won't always fix things for people, if the company can get away with it, they won't bother removing the DRM, dark souls on PC is another prime example, that game was unplayable for me because of GFWL, the only reason I managed to get it working is because eventually From patched out GFWL when that service was shut down (thank god) if anything DRM is only going to make things worse now that it's becoming more and more intrusive, so even though DarkSpore was fixed, replace it with any game that has abandoned DRM that didn't get the same treatment and my point still stands

The problem is that the EULA usually explicitly states that you don't actually own the games you purchase, just a license to use them. Technically, circumventing their DRM goes against that. It's beyond idiotic, but it's hard to avoid.

Atmos Duality:

And since you have offered exactly "jack and squat" to prove that, I'm just going to shrug my shoulders and say "No, it plainly doesn't EFFECT them enough to matter."

It actually is "affect" in this case. A company "effects" DRM, DRM "affects" the playability of a game.

 

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