Game Design Reducing PC Piracy, Inflating Identity Theft

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Game Design Reducing PC Piracy, Inflating Identity Theft

image

The PC Gaming Alliance president says that game design is reducing piracy, while also increasing the instances of online identity theft.

New PC Gaming Alliance president Matt Ployhar recently spoke to Gamasutra about the current state of the PC gaming industry. He says that while the levels of pirated PC games are actually on the decline thanks to new developments in design, that same design is responsible for new forms of online crime.

Ployhar points out that MMOs and free-to-play games are much harder to pirate than single-player titles. Many games also offer bonuses that only legitimate owners can acquire. The increase in these kinds of titles and bonuses is actually decreasing PC piracy, Ployhar believes.

"So what's happening is game design is shifting and as a result of shifting game design, piracy, at least on the PC side, is actually declining as a result," he says. "There are stats that do corroborate that ... Now what you're seeing to combat that or reduce the chances of piracy are developers implementing achievements, in-game pets, all of these things that are tracked and stored in the cloud. So even if you pirate the game you're still not getting the bragging rights."

He admits that piracy will never go away, but indicates that publishers can use more than strict DRM schemes to reduce instances of it. However, now that videogames are making it big in the digital space with Steam and download-only titles, this "anti-piracy" movement has a new disadvantage.

"The game design is now shifting to combat piracy, but because the value propositions are altering and changing, now you're getting more of an increase in the identity theft space," Ployhar added. While developers can design out reasons to pirate a game, consumers are put at a bigger risk of having their Steam or MMO accounts hacked now that more of them available. I'm not sure if it costs more to deal with piracy or account hacking, but they both seem like a pain in the butt.

Source: Gamasutra

Permalink

No matter what the levels of Piracy and Identity theft there will be... The amount of douchebags online will always be a level constant.

I'm still behind the idea that buying a game legally will give you some kind of in-game bonus or real life discount or something.

It sucks just how much time and effort developers are putting towards anti-piracy when it ends up being almost entirely futile in the long run. Even the best DRM's will end up just harming the legal buyers. Maxim's new Darkspore is a lot of fun (I'm in the beta test), but I'm reluctant to buy it because it has that STUPID anti-piracy thing where you have to log into an online account to start the game up, even when just playing single-player. C&C4 had it, and I couldn't stand it there either. One little hiccup in your internet connection and BAM all your experience points and mission objectives lost.

Ouch, that sounds pretty bad, to be quite honest. Also, RARRRR DRM. Why increase it? >_< It irritates me, as it's stopped me playing my games that I bought legitimately. They need to figure some way to compromise, difficult as that may be. :/

Ace: How can anyone pirate MMO's in the first place and/or other social games? Aren't they by nature structured in such a way that playing it legally is the reward? And online distribution has been around for a while. Nothing is new here, but it's nice to read an article about it and hopefully, sheds some light for the average indie/consumer out there.

Angel: This is a good initiative and evolution of the medium, but it's perplexing that half of the article is...umm...not to sound rude, but utter rubbish. Maybe if they explained this 'progress' and how it works would have been much better then saying 'Game structure changed = Lower Piracy Rate = Higher Identity Theft".

Luigi: Blizzard solved this with an old technical system I like to call "Dongles". Cookie to who gets the reference (and I'm not that old).

Of course there are better ways to reduce piracy. Stop treating your legitimate customers as pirates is one way. That way they'll be more likely to buy the game then, you know, pirate it.

Publishers think some kind of technology will stop pirates. It will not. Piracy is more of social problem, not a technological problem. And of course "social" is where pretty much all Publishers fail at.

Stammer:
I'm still behind the idea that buying a game legally will give you some kind of in-game bonus or real life discount or something.

It sucks just how much time and effort developers are putting towards anti-piracy when it ends up being almost entirely futile in the long run. Even the best DRM's will end up just harming the legal buyers. Maxim's new Darkspore is a lot of fun (I'm in the beta test), but I'm reluctant to buy it because it has that STUPID anti-piracy thing where you have to log into an online account to start the game up, even when just playing single-player. C&C4 had it, and I couldn't stand it there either. One little hiccup in your internet connection and BAM all your experience points and mission objectives lost.

I never understood that DRM system. Do they expect my legitimate copy to somehow become a pirated version?

Ace: How can anyone pirate MMO's in the first place and/or other social games?

Private servers and emulation. Also leaks.

Maybe if they explained this 'progress' and how it works would have been much better then saying 'Game structure changed = Lower Piracy Rate = Higher Identity Theft".

Mostly digital distribution and having to be connected to the internet for extra features to be available. Identity theft isn't a cause of lower piracy, but of more and more people having accounts.

Ironically, identity theft is a greater crime than piracy, but it doesn't harm the industry nearly as much.

I never understood that DRM system. Do they expect my legitimate copy to somehow become a pirated version?

And even more ironic is the fact that it WILL be pirated, DRM or not. I wonder how many times they have to fail at combating piracy to understand that DRM isn't the solution.

Irridium:
I never understood that DRM system. Do they expect my legitimate copy to somehow become a pirated version?

Well, on the beta feedback forums there have been a lot of complaints about the system. The people communicating with us on the forums told us that it wasn't in place specifically for anti-piracy, but that it was primarily there as a method of anti-hacking. See, they decided to keep everything server-side so that it wouldn't end up like Diablo II where everyone hacks their game and creates a Lv.99 super-human character with 1billion in each stat. The only downside is that server-side data requires you to have a constant connection.

It seems like no matter what customers do we get screwed...

The industry complains about piracy and how it's killing them, but then say "Don't buy it then if you don't like it and piss off!" when it comes to legitimate complaints, after that they wonder why people are buying less. When it comes to demos they complain about how much work it takes to make one despite games with demos sell better.

And when people DO play ball and go with this online stuff that requires internet connections and personal information on GAME servers, people have their lives ruined with identity theft.

All of the above is still why pirates will continue to pirate; it's just less hassle and there's less risk of identity theft

Mmm. I knew that account theft is an issue with WoW, but on other platforms, really? I wasn't aware that there were frequent cases of Steam account theft, perhaps someone could fill me in?

I find it kinda funny that companies even bother with DRM anymore, you aren't gonna stop pirates, all you're doing is pissing off paying customers.

Stammer:

Irridium:
I never understood that DRM system. Do they expect my legitimate copy to somehow become a pirated version?

Well, on the beta feedback forums there have been a lot of complaints about the system. The people communicating with us on the forums told us that it wasn't in place specifically for anti-piracy, but that it was primarily there as a method of anti-hacking. See, they decided to keep everything server-side so that it wouldn't end up like Diablo II where everyone hacks their game and creates a Lv.99 super-human character with 1billion in each stat. The only downside is that server-side data requires you to have a constant connection.

Ah, I see now.

I still don't see why you would do that to people that just want to play single player though.

Stiffkittin:
Mmm. I knew that account theft is an issue with WoW, but on other platforms, really? I wasn't aware that there were frequent cases of Steam account theft, perhaps someone could fill me in?

Honestly, I don't know if it happens frequently but I have heard of it happening.

A steam account can be worth a lot of money if there are a lot of games on it.

Imagine greedy brat says to naive brat, "Would you like all the achievements in Left 4Dead? I can do it with my hacking program, just give me your password and I'll load them on now."

Naive brat goes for it, and next thing he knows he's getting an email from greedy brat: "Lol thanks for all the free games newb."

You or I would correct this by calling Valve support and having the account returned to us, but there are many people who aren't so sensible.

Identity theft is only going to get easier now that they have cards that can be passed in front of a scanner and Verichip (if anyone is retarded enough to try it) is a disaster waiting to happen.

Korey Von Doom:
I find it kinda funny that companies even bother with DRM anymore, you aren't gonna stop pirates, all you're doing is pissing off paying customers.

But how many pirates can actually breach DRM versus just ass clowns who like to think of themselves as pirates? How many guys who are decent at that side of it but also impatient and give up? If you can't build a wall big enough to keep them out make the task arduous so many will get sick of it. I think of it like the hidden parcels and such in a GTA.

I don't even know why I read these stories. One day, piracy is sky rocketing, the next, it's declining. I don't mean to be critical of Matt Ployhar, but I believe it's safe to say none of these guys really know what they are talking about, because the piracy data is not accurate.

manythings:
Identity theft is only going to get easier now that they have cards that can be passed in front of a scanner and Verichip (if anyone is retarded enough to try it) is a disaster waiting to happen.

Korey Von Doom:
I find it kinda funny that companies even bother with DRM anymore, you aren't gonna stop pirates, all you're doing is pissing off paying customers.

But how many pirates can actually breach DRM versus just ass clowns who like to think of themselves as pirates? How many guys who are decent at that side of it but also impatient and give up? If you can't build a wall big enough to keep them out make the task arduous so many will get sick of it. I think of it like the hidden parcels and such in a GTA.

The thing is, the pirate himself has to do jack shit to circumvent DRM.
"Breaching" DRM amounts to little more than downloading a crack and copying 1-3 files.
That is, if he really is inept enough to download a release that doesn't include the crack to begin with.

The argument that it is more troublesome for the release groups is equally moot, as they just live for the challenge or reputation.
So to them the harder a game is to crack, the better.

free-to-play games are much harder to pirate than single-player titles.

*Facepalm.*

Surprised I'm the first one to notice this. "Oh dude, you hear about that new free to play game? I'm going to pirate it."

"Lolwut?"

Tom Goldman:
"The game design is now shifting to combat piracy, but because the value propositions are altering and changing, now you're getting more of an increase in the identity theft space," Ployhar added. While developers can design out reasons to pirate a game, consumers are put at a bigger risk of having their Steam or MMO accounts hacked now that more of them available.

Okay, are we talking about actually hacking, or are we just talking about phishing? There is a difference. For example:

Actual:
Imagine greedy brat says to naive brat, "Would you like all the achievements in Left 4Dead? I can do it with my hacking program, just give me your password and I'll load them on now."

Naive brat goes for it, and next thing he knows he's getting an email from greedy brat: "Lol thanks for all the free games newb."

That is not hacking. Maybe it's not exactly phishing either, but definitely not hacking. And you have no reason to worry about stuff like that if you're smart enough not to give your log-in details to strangers.

Phishing is generally easy to avoid as well; if you get any e-mails claiming to be from some service and they want you to click here to log in and do something, you don't click there. You open your browser and manually type the URL of the site, and log in that way so you know it's safe. If the e-mail was real, you should easily find what they needed you to do, and if it was fake, you won't find anything (although checking with support never hurts).

The thought of being actually hacked does scare me a bit, and if that's what's actually happening to others more and more frequently, that sucks. But if it's just people trying to trick you, that I'm not so worried about. Would be nice if Matt Ployhar would be more clear or site some sources on this.

Xzi:

free-to-play games are much harder to pirate than single-player titles.

*Facepalm.*

Surprised I'm the first one to notice this. "Oh dude, you hear about that new free to play game? I'm going to pirate it."

"Lolwut?"

Aren't there some retail MMOs that make you buy the game but after that are free to play (no monthly fees)? If there are, that's obviously what they were talking about.

Pretty soon they will be stealing our souls. Thankfully I sold mine for a stick of gum a few weeks ago. But hey, at least they aren't stealing as many games!

mjc0961:

Xzi:

free-to-play games are much harder to pirate than single-player titles.

*Facepalm.*

Surprised I'm the first one to notice this. "Oh dude, you hear about that new free to play game? I'm going to pirate it."

"Lolwut?"

Aren't there some retail MMOs that make you buy the game but after that are free to play (no monthly fees)? If there are, that's obviously what they were talking about.

You are correct. Playing the game is free, but you still have to own (buy) it to begin with.

It's a misleading term, though.

Steam is not "game design".

Actual:

Stiffkittin:
Mmm. I knew that account theft is an issue with WoW, but on other platforms, really? I wasn't aware that there were frequent cases of Steam account theft, perhaps someone could fill me in?

Honestly, I don't know if it happens frequently but I have heard of it happening.

A steam account can be worth a lot of money if there are a lot of games on it.

Imagine greedy brat says to naive brat, "Would you like all the achievements in Left 4Dead? I can do it with my hacking program, just give me your password and I'll load them on now."

Naive brat goes for it, and next thing he knows he's getting an email from greedy brat: "Lol thanks for all the free games newb."

You or I would correct this by calling Valve support and having the account returned to us, but there are many people who aren't so sensible.

Cheers Actual.. again! :)

This is what I thought. An MMO account theft is sensitive because of all the volatile elements to it. Equipment can be sold, gold transferred etc. But what can anyone do with my Steam account? Download and play my games for the whole 24 hours it's going to take me to get it back? They can't transfer them or sell them off. Valve has that wrapped up pretty tight. I mean, maybe they could mess with my cloud saves if they're real bastards but the local save games can be forced to take priority so.. Hell you can't even read your own credit card info. This hardly seems like a burgeoning threat to the gaming community.

mjc0961:
Okay, are we talking about actually hacking, or are we just talking about phishing? There is a difference. For example:

Actual:
Imagine greedy brat says to naive brat, "Would you like all the achievements in Left 4Dead? I can do it with my hacking program, just give me your password and I'll load them on now."

Naive brat goes for it, and next thing he knows he's getting an email from greedy brat: "Lol thanks for all the free games newb."

That is not hacking. Maybe it's not exactly phishing either, but definitely not hacking. And you have no reason to worry about stuff like that if you're smart enough not to give your log-in details to strangers.

Phishing is generally easy to avoid as well; if you get any e-mails claiming to be from some service and they want you to click here to log in and do something, you don't click there. You open your browser and manually type the URL of the site, and log in that way so you know it's safe. If the e-mail was real, you should easily find what they needed you to do, and if it was fake, you won't find anything (although checking with support never hurts).

The thought of being actually hacked does scare me a bit, and if that's what's actually happening to others more and more frequently, that sucks. But if it's just people trying to trick you, that I'm not so worried about. Would be nice if Matt Ployhar would be more clear or site some sources on this.

I would be very surprised if he meant actual hacking. Actually hacking into the servers of an online game or somehow tricking it into thinking you were the owner of accounts you weren't would (hopefully) require great expertise and be hugely time consuming.

Why bother when you can just trick people much more quickly?

I work in a software company and we tend to call it account hijacking for lack of a better term, as you're right; hacking doesn't fit it at all, and it's a little broader than the phishing term.

Stiffkittin:
Cheers Actual.. again! :)

This is what I thought. An MMO account theft is sensitive because of all the volatile elements to it. Equipment can be sold, gold transferred etc. But what can anyone do with my Steam account? Download and play my games for the whole 24 hours it's going to take me to get it back? They can't transfer them or sell them off. Valve has that wrapped up pretty tight. I mean, maybe they could mess with my cloud saves if they're real bastards but the local save games can be forced to take priority so.. Hell you can't even read your own credit card info. This hardly seems like a burgeoning threat to the gaming community.

I'm not stalking you, I just like answering questions. o.o

I think you're right, taking someone's steam account doesn't allow you to do any further harm to them.

You could sell the whole account on but a google search has showed me there's no organised market for that (unlike for World of Warcraft, for instance) so you'd have to try and ebay it or whatever and the original owner can still get it back, I don't see it being worth all the effort.

Actual:

Stiffkittin:
Cheers Actual.. again! :)

This is what I thought. An MMO account theft is sensitive because of all the volatile elements to it. Equipment can be sold, gold transferred etc. But what can anyone do with my Steam account? Download and play my games for the whole 24 hours it's going to take me to get it back? They can't transfer them or sell them off. Valve has that wrapped up pretty tight. I mean, maybe they could mess with my cloud saves if they're real bastards but the local save games can be forced to take priority so.. Hell you can't even read your own credit card info. This hardly seems like a burgeoning threat to the gaming community.

I'm not stalking you, I just like answering questions. o.o

Haha. Sshh, let's just pretend. Having a stalker makes me seem more important. <.<

Actual:
I think you're right, taking someone's steam account doesn't allow you to do any further harm to them.

Well, they could always send snide, novelty postcards to my real address I suppose. I know that's what I'd do if I were a ruthless Steam-burglar. Or, for the truly devious masterminds, they could play my games and earn me achievements to which I had no right!! The horror!

Yay! Everyone wins!

...Except legit consumers who will be impacted anyway, but nobody seems to care about them.

Instead of the company being screwed over it's the consumer!

Irridium:
Of course there are better ways to reduce piracy. Stop treating your legitimate customers as pirates is one way. That way they'll be more likely to buy the game then, you know, pirate it.

Publishers think some kind of technology will stop pirates. It will not. Piracy is more of social problem, not a technological problem. And of course "social" is where pretty much all Publishers fail at.

Korey Von Doom:
I find it kinda funny that companies even bother with DRM anymore, you aren't gonna stop pirates, all you're doing is pissing off paying customers.

That's beacuse the purpose of DRM isn't to prevent piracy. It is to prevent used game sales. Afterall, while DRM is about as effective as a paper towel against piracy, it is essentially an almost foolproof method of preventing sales of legitimate used copies.

Digital distribution, MMOs and "free-to-play" games are a step up from that, since they effectively turn a game from a product into a service, thus taking away legal ownerships from the consumer and bypassing the "First Sale Doctrine" altogether. This is the primary reason why developers and publishers are attracted to these kind of business models, since it essentially allows them to have the cake and eat it too.

Tom Phoenix:

Irridium:
Of course there are better ways to reduce piracy. Stop treating your legitimate customers as pirates is one way. That way they'll be more likely to buy the game then, you know, pirate it.

Publishers think some kind of technology will stop pirates. It will not. Piracy is more of social problem, not a technological problem. And of course "social" is where pretty much all Publishers fail at.

Korey Von Doom:
I find it kinda funny that companies even bother with DRM anymore, you aren't gonna stop pirates, all you're doing is pissing off paying customers.

That's beacuse the purpose of DRM isn't to prevent piracy. It is to prevent used game sales. Afterall, while DRM is about as effective as a paper towel against piracy, it is essentially an almost foolproof method of preventing sales of legitimate used copies.

Digital distribution, MMOs and "free-to-play" games are a step up from that, since they effectively turn a game from a product into a service, thus taking away legal ownerships from the consumer and bypassing the "First Sale Doctrine" altogether. This is the primary reason why developers and publishers are attracted to these kind of business models, since it essentially allows them to have the cake and eat it too.

Good point. Or it would be, if you could trade in PC games. You can't. At least not anywhere I've seen in the US.

Which is why I feel EULA's on the PC are absolute bullshit. They're not revealed until we buy them, and usually revealed only when we're in the middle of installing the game. Which is way past the point of returning anything for the price you paid.

Irridium:

Tom Phoenix:

Irridium:
Of course there are better ways to reduce piracy. Stop treating your legitimate customers as pirates is one way. That way they'll be more likely to buy the game then, you know, pirate it.

Publishers think some kind of technology will stop pirates. It will not. Piracy is more of social problem, not a technological problem. And of course "social" is where pretty much all Publishers fail at.

Korey Von Doom:
I find it kinda funny that companies even bother with DRM anymore, you aren't gonna stop pirates, all you're doing is pissing off paying customers.

That's beacuse the purpose of DRM isn't to prevent piracy. It is to prevent used game sales. Afterall, while DRM is about as effective as a paper towel against piracy, it is essentially an almost foolproof method of preventing sales of legitimate used copies.

Digital distribution, MMOs and "free-to-play" games are a step up from that, since they effectively turn a game from a product into a service, thus taking away legal ownerships from the consumer and bypassing the "First Sale Doctrine" altogether. This is the primary reason why developers and publishers are attracted to these kind of business models, since it essentially allows them to have the cake and eat it too.

Good point. Or it would be, if you could trade in PC games. You can't. At least not anywhere I've seen in the US.

Which is why I feel EULA's on the PC are absolute bullshit. They're not revealed until we buy them, and usually revealed only when we're in the middle of installing the game. Which is way past the point of returning anything for the price you paid.

Yeah, but why do you think you can't trade in PC games? Precisely beacuse they have DRM on them. Rather than deal with the hassle of recognising whether or not a specific PC game has DRM or not, most retailers decided to just ban trade-ins of PC games outright.

Its not like retailers just decided out of the blue to not allow PC game trade-ins. They did so beacuse DRM effectively renders sales of used PC games entirely moot.

Tom Phoenix:

Yeah, but why do you think you can't trade in PC games? Precisely beacuse they have DRM on them. Rather than deal with the hassle of recognising whether or not a specific PC game has DRM or not, most retailers decided to just ban trade-ins of PC games outright.

Its not like retailers just decided out of the blue to not allow PC game trade-ins. They did so beacuse DRM effectively renders sales of used PC games entirely moot.

I always figured stores stopped taking used PC games because people would just buy the game, copy it, then re-sell it.

Perhaps its all of the above.

All it costs to help reduce identity theft is to give people more information about how to protect themselves. You don't even need to add new code! Whether people heed that advice is up to them, but for the most part, identity theft falls on the person with the bad password and the poor virus protection.

Irridium:

Tom Phoenix:

Yeah, but why do you think you can't trade in PC games? Precisely beacuse they have DRM on them. Rather than deal with the hassle of recognising whether or not a specific PC game has DRM or not, most retailers decided to just ban trade-ins of PC games outright.

Its not like retailers just decided out of the blue to not allow PC game trade-ins. They did so beacuse DRM effectively renders sales of used PC games entirely moot.

I always figured stores stopped taking used PC games because people would just buy the game, copy it, then re-sell it.

Perhaps its all of the above.

You think stores themselves actually care about that? If that were the case, they would have killed off the used game sales of most handheld and console games a long time ago.

That said, yeah, it was probably all of the above.

JediMB:

mjc0961:

Xzi:

*Facepalm.*

Surprised I'm the first one to notice this. "Oh dude, you hear about that new free to play game? I'm going to pirate it."

"Lolwut?"

Aren't there some retail MMOs that make you buy the game but after that are free to play (no monthly fees)? If there are, that's obviously what they were talking about.

You are correct. Playing the game is free, but you still have to own (buy) it to begin with.

It's a misleading term, though.

Those are just called MMOs with no subscription fee. Free to play literally means just that. Example: League of Legends. Download, play. No cost.

I don't buy that piracy is going down because of MMO's and such. More than likely it is down because currently there aren't enough games coming out worth the effort. Wait til this summer and I bet the stats go back up with Portal 2, Duke Nukem Forever, and other long-awaited releases.
As for Identity Theft, that term doesn't really apply to having your Battle.net or Steam account being hacked or phished. That is a big misstatement if I ever seen one and just convinces me more that these guys didn't really care that much about their research as they should have. All you lose is your account access and what was included. Now if they manage to pull your payment info out (which doesn't show it all to me when I want to change it so not sure if that is even a concern for anything outside of Steam purchases) then that can be used for ID theft.
But definitely take note that if you lose your Battle.net or Steam access to a hacker or phisher the first thing you should do is cancel the card you have put in for payment info. If you currently are not running a WoW account best to delete the payment info anyway. You can reenter it with ease when you resubscribe.
Then contact Valve or Blizzard and get the ball rolling to get the account back in your control. That will take longer but won't cost you anything in the meantime if the sleaze that took your account away can't use your credit or debit card. I wouldn't be surprised if some phishers are quiet about taking some steam accounts, and use the payment info to buy their own account gifts(so it pays to keep a sharp eye on your account records). Others will use a phished account to phish everyone on the person's friends list, as what happened to me once. I got lucky and figured out it was bogus and changed my password immediately, twice for good measure. Breaks my heart I will probably never play with that guy again, as I can never be certain that he is legit if he gets his account back.
The old adage of changing your password often still plays in your favor here. Also using a good malware scanner to look out for keyloggers will be good. Some are free to use and are effective without being hindrances like Norton(which doesn't even scan for all malware and spyware itself). Changing your password won't stop a hacker, but will discourage phishers. And if your account does get cracked, changing the password uncracks it giving nothing but frustration to the weasel on the other end. Of course if they crack it, then they can change it, if they also have access to any other info the service will ask for upon any change in account. Otherwise they only have until you change the password yourself.

9_6:
Steam is not "game design".

That is very accurate. Steam is actually an operating system in its own right. It just lacks the coding to run on its own minus Windows, Linux, or Mac OS.

Irridium:
Which is why I feel EULA's on the PC are absolute bullshit. They're not revealed until we buy them, and usually revealed only when we're in the middle of installing the game. Which is way past the point of returning anything for the price you paid.

One reason they will never be legally binding. Which keeps me happy.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here