DRM Analysis from Stardock CEO

Climber

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
5,283
Found here. Felt this was a pretty good article in light of AC2, which BradWardell had some harsh words for, and some of the other moves coming out by developers. Lots of good discussion and some funny crap as well.

Here is a line by Brad Wardell:
... Companies like Stardock Entertainment and Good Old Games say they're listening, however, and they believe abandoning the arms race entirely is a better business decision than trying to stay ahead of software criminals. Wardell claims sales have actually improved since the company relaxed their DRM policies.
 

WiLLiSTER

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 24, 2008
Messages
2,702
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I really think that companies just need to make better quality games and maybe drop the initial price a tad bit. It was mentioned in the article that Modern Warfare 2 was the most pirated game of 09, but had they not screwed us over with the multiplayer, I would be willing to bet a lot more people would have bought it. I played it at my friends house and the single player was one of my favorite experiences in an fps, but with the short comings in multiplayer, I couldn't justify buying a copy for myself.

Regardless of the drm used (or not used) pirates will still do their thing. Companies just have to focus on what will bring in buyers.
 

quadnad

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
7,656
It was mentioned in the article that Modern Warfare 2 was the most pirated game of 09, but had they not screwed us over with the multiplayer, I would be willing to bet a lot more people would have bought it. I played it at my friends house and the single player was one of my favorite experiences in an fps, but with the short comings in multiplayer, I couldn't justify buying a copy for myself.

Just because part of the game isn't up to a person's standards doesn't mean that they're free to download it. For those looking to play multi-player, yes the lack of dedicated servers hurt, but then again you knew that going in! It means you make the choice, do I still want to buy this game, even though I'm only really interested in the single-player campaign? If you don't believe the SP campaign will be enough to justify what you would have to pay for it, then you don't play the game.

Something people seem to gloss over is that no matter the reason, piracy is not ok. You are effectively taking something you didn't pay for, and moreover giving publishers additional ammunition to either A. create more restrictive DRM or B. leave the platform entirely.

I thought it was a fine article, but I do think this is a topic that has been beaten to death. There appears to be one constant: games will be cracked and made available at some point. It looks like publishers are really looking for ways to prevent the Day 1 pirates, who they presumably believe are most affecting their game sales, with the intention of patching out the DRM scheme weeks/months into the game's life cycle. Forcing a constant internet connection doesn't sound like something that can't be cracked, more like something that will piss off legitimate gamers. Hopefully there will be a way to strike a balance between security and convenience.
 

MrGuvernment

Fully [H]
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
20,571
Thats the problem, so many people complains that X feature isnt in X game and they wont buy it, and then on release day they own it, most people just jump on the bandwagon and talk crap to try and fit in.

To this day i still down own MW2 and i likely never will.

MW2 would of been pirated no matter what, cause it was the most HYPED game of 09, dedicated servers or not, it still would of been pirated and been the highest, what many fail to see is people who usually download a game, planned to download it no matter what, they can use the excuse of "it had no dedicated servers" but even if it did, they still would of downloaded it, period, end of story.
 

quadnad

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
7,656
MW2 would of been pirated no matter what, cause it was the most HYPED game of 09, dedicated servers or not, it still would of been pirated and been the highest, what many fail to see is people who usually download a game, planned to download it no matter what, they can use the excuse of "it had no dedicated servers" but even if it did, they still would of downloaded it, period, end of story.

I agree, and I think that's overlooked when people quote it as "most pirated."
 

Neb

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 13, 2000
Messages
3,320
"I'd buy more shit if the system wasn't so stupid," he says. ManCat has been illegally downloading movies, music and games for more than 10 years, claiming restrictive DRM policies are his primary motivation for theft. "If I download something legally from iTunes or Steam, I don't have full control over my own purchase; I'm not allowed to transfer my music between machines or loan my game to a friend. Perversely, if I pirate a game or a movie I can do whatever I want with that file."

Wow, 10 years of pirating! I really don't understand the "I don't like what they're doing, so I'm not going to buy it; instead, I'll pirate it" rationalization.
 

MrGuvernment

Fully [H]
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
20,571
most pirated and likely most sold as well, how much did they make on sales for that game...

the bigger the game, the bigger the numbers i am sure all around.. but considering they only started tracking stats like this recently, i am sure plenty of games are in the high numbers for downloads.
 

GHarris

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 20, 2006
Messages
178
The common theme here appears to be "I don't like what those guys over there are doing, so I'll continue to do bad things". On both sides of the debate - the pirates and the DRM-shovellers.

However some of us who choose to boycott a game actually do boycott it. Without having our cake and eating it by downloading it for free. Sadly there are too few of us!
 

Climber

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
5,283
I didn't think much about it last night, but I had dinner at a friends house who surprisingly enough does not have internet. We started talking about games since he just bought a Wii for him and his wife and what not so we talked about AC2. He was interested in why you had to be connected to the internet to play it and when told for security reasons and the talk about DRM and about half way through his response was "why would anyone pay for this all this does is hinder someone who legally purchases the game" When told about activation limits and other forms of DRM outside a simple cd key check he was completely mystified why someone would even bother gaming on the PC.

This was coming from someone who is not a gamer, who doesn't game on a PC, and now probably never will. He thought that was the most absurd thing he had ever heard and to be honest I can't say that I blame him.

This was one of the things that got me thinking the most:

It's not clear, however, that copy protection ever effectively deterred software criminals. When illegal distribution first became a serious issue during the 1980s, PC software developers like Infocom and Sierra attempted to maintain control of their products by bundling games with gratuitous goodies that doubled as DRM. Players were usually required to consult a game's manual for fictional codes or recipes in order to play; The Secret of Monkey Island included an infamous "Dial-A-Pirate" spinning toy that doubled as a copy protection code wheel.

I started asking myself, where will DRM schemes be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? I'm 100% against pirating and 100% all for companies protecting their works. But how do you strike a balance to protecting yourself without punishing the consumer? Do you focus on making the best quality gaming experience within your budget and let the cards fall where they may?

Iron Lore made a phenomenal game in Titan Quest, but went under, partly due to bad press; ironically enough the bad press came from the pirates who illegally downloaded the game because of the loading bug that IL intentionally put in their game to hinder pirates. I like that scheme as it seemed to actually punish the pirates themselves without punishing me, but look where that got them.

The DRM scheme setup for AC2 goes farther really than anything yet, and it affects players who don't have internet (weird I know, but there are some who do), have unstable connections, etc...etc...

I really like where Stardock is heading with their thinking and brainstorming. I think Wardell is in position to make the most change because while small they are also one of the best developers out there able to make the changes necessary to protect gamers and developers at the same time.
 

quadnad

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
7,656
I really like where Stardock is heading with their thinking and brainstorming. I think Wardell is in position to make the most change because while small they are also one of the best developers out there able to make the changes necessary to protect gamers and developers at the same time.

First off, interesting about your friend -- it's refreshing to hear an opinion from someone that's so far removed from the constant barrage of stuff we (i.e. people who play games) read about regarding piracy on a daily basis. Also funny to be reminded of those old DRM schemes...I remember keeping the manual on my desk while I played, because at points I was asked to flip to a page and write out whatever word was on that page (page 6, second paragraph, third word!), otherwise the game wouldn't let me continue.

Although I think Stardock is doing a good thing with their policy on DRM, I don't think it's something they could necessarily do as a publisher the size of UBI or EA (much less if they were a public company). To be honest, Sins of a Solar Empire is the one big title I can remember off the top of my head that they released in the last few years, and it was focused on a very particular crowd in more niche genre. If it were a game like MW2 that had a much larger potential audience, I'm not sure they would be singing the same tune. Being a small publisher and a private company gives them a lot more leeway than the bigger groups.
 

PrincessFrosty

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 6, 2009
Messages
5,905
It's simple, vote with your wallet.

DRM is tied to one thing, and one thing only. Sales. If we prove to developers that we simply will not buy games with invasive DRM then it's going to go away, logically it has to. If everyone moans about it and then buys the game anyway it just shows the developers that gamers are actually willing to tollerate invasive DRM and they'll continue to use it.

It's just that simple.
 

Spewn

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
3,459
Iron Lore made a phenomenal game in Titan Quest, but went under, partly due to bad press; ironically enough the bad press came from the pirates who illegally downloaded the game because of the loading bug that IL intentionally put in their game to hinder pirates. I like that scheme as it seemed to actually punish the pirates themselves without punishing me, but look where that got them.

As you discovered, that's actually one of the worst things you can do to curb piracy. The problem is that even if some people find out the bugs are *because* of the cracking, lots of people will never know. People who never pirated the game will hear about how it crashes while loading or whatever, and they'll say "Why should I risk $40, $50, or $60 on this game? If it crashes for me, they aren't going to give me my money back are they?" And I agree.

Although I think Stardock is doing a good thing with their policy on DRM, I don't think it's something they could necessarily do as a publisher the size of UBI or EA (much less if they were a public company). To be honest, Sins of a Solar Empire is the one big title I can remember off the top of my head that they released in the last few years, and it was focused on a very particular crowd in more niche genre. If it were a game like MW2 that had a much larger potential audience, I'm not sure they would be singing the same tune. Being a small publisher and a private company gives them a lot more leeway than the bigger groups.

Interesting you should mention EA, as they recently stated they're going to be cutting back on DRM because they've found it doesn't work. This was announced months ago from them, and in tune, The Sims 3 came out with minimal DRM(I think it was just a simple disc check). Hopefully they keep it up.
 

Q-BZ

Fully [H]
Joined
Sep 28, 2007
Messages
19,501
The Stardock CEO's opinion is quite credible and backed up with plenty of concrete proof and facts vs. anyone that's a proponent of these near fascist like DRMs like what Ubisoft is foolishly putting on their games and so forth.

They don't work. They encourage more of a piracy problem and they hurt legitimate sales. That's all fact. This CEO ought to know, right? Once upon a time not too long ago Stardock was a profane name 'round these parts. ;)



Even EA learned their lesson on it. Let that sink in. Their games sell great across all platforms.

And it's true: Good copy protection is fine. I'm pro copy protection as long as it doesn't screw with me, my privacy, my system, and so forth.

These guys get it and the facts are completely on their side.

Companies like Stardock Entertainment and Good Old Games say they're listening, however, and they believe abandoning the arms race entirely is a better business decision than trying to stay ahead of software criminals. Wardell claims sales have actually improved since the company relaxed their DRM policies.

That's not an opinion. That's easily verifiable concrete fact in and out of gaming.
 

quadnad

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
7,656
Interesting you should mention EA, as they recently stated they're going to be cutting back on DRM because they've found it doesn't work. This was announced months ago from them, and in tune, The Sims 3 came out with minimal DRM(I think it was just a simple disc check). Hopefully they keep it up.

ooo I didn't realize that -- I wonder if it's an experiment of sorts to determine the effects of DRM or something they'll apply across the board? The reason I mention those two big publishers is because they have obligations to their shareholders, so their choices must be in what they believe their best interests are.

Stardock does have a lot more flexibility than either of those two larger publishers given their size and being private -- constantly being involved in these DRM articles is also good for their exposure, I'm sure.
 

Sikkyu

I Question Reality
Joined
Jan 21, 2010
Messages
2,878
time for new age DRM

MP games you gotta buy anyway to play online, if you want to try out guns/weapons pirate it but your only getting like 10% of the game if that.

SP games you release extra content (ex mass effect 2) with the release of the game to encourge people to buy it. Hell the DLC of ME2 wasnt even that good but at least it was something, and the benifit of future updates for FREE. thats VALUE and earns my dollar.

Rewarding supporters is always better then punishing hackers. whole different mindset.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2003
Messages
680
I wish more companies would be more inventive with their DRM. Why not set up server farms that are releasing bad torrents out there. Let people know up front the means you are using. I don't think these companies need to discourage the actually crackers and people editing code to illegally obtain games. You just can't stop somebody who is determined and has the knowledge. they need to stop the distribution to the casual downloader that has no idea how to crack a game or circumvent other drm's.

Thousands of bad torrent seeds that act like they are fully installing but when you try to fire up the game it tells you that this is an install from an illegally downloaded file that was done intentionally and then gives a link to a downloable demo and a link to where the game can be purchased through legit means.

Another drm I would support is usb security devices like what are used on high end business software. Things like these discourage people who only have to download and play. It makes it tougher if you have to run a program to clone the usb key, as well as find a crack for the game and then a working cd key. It would also mean that pirates making the programs to circumvent drm would have to update their tools more often.

I think publishers really need to rely on how lazy the general public is and not worry about stopping the hardcore code analyzers.
 

bigdogchris

Fully [H]
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
18,523
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I really think that companies just need to make better quality games and maybe drop the initial price a tad bit. It was mentioned in the article that Modern Warfare 2 was the most pirated game of 09
It's also the first time I've ever saw a standard release PC game be $59.99. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw that on the store shelf. It's so fucking retarded.

PC games should not cost more than $39.99.
 

sirmonkey1985

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
22,230
time for new age DRM

MP games you gotta buy anyway to play online, if you want to try out guns/weapons pirate it but your only getting like 10% of the game if that.

SP games you release extra content (ex mass effect 2) with the release of the game to encourge people to buy it. Hell the DLC of ME2 wasnt even that good but at least it was something, and the benifit of future updates for FREE. thats VALUE and earns my dollar.

Rewarding supporters is always better then punishing hackers. whole different mindset.


even so thats how it works the majority of the time.. while companies bitch and moan about people pirating games.. what they never state and never will because its impossible to find out.. is how many of those people that pirated the game actually went out and bought it.. you would be surprised on how many there actually are but the media, gaming industry doesnt want people knowing that.. they want to find reasons to keep pushing DRM.. id saying at least 75% of the games that are pirated these days are games that have absolutely no demo or beta before release.. if theres no demo and the game costs 50 bucks.. theres no way in hell im buying it.. if the game comes with no demo and it costs 30 bucks.. i might think about buying it.. theres just no justifiable reason not to release a demo of a game let alone a demo that doesnt even show anything from the retail product(AvP)..

the MP is honestly what makes the sales when people pirate a game.. if you have an awesome MP in a game.. people will go out and buy it to play it.. if you dont have any MP or its garbage anyways.. then why spend the money just to play single player for 5 or 6 hours and never play the game again.. its just that simple..
 

tybert7

2[H]4U
Joined
Aug 23, 2007
Messages
2,745
It's also the first time I've ever saw a standard release PC game be $59.99. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw that on the store shelf. It's so fucking retarded.

PC games should not cost more than $39.99.

Out of curiosity, do you think the same about console games?


If yes, where is the outrage?


If no, what exactly is it about the same game on a console that warrants 20 more dollars?


Some games cost more on the pc because they can get away with it, it is not exactly like there are a ton of quality titles out there on the pc, at least not in the same volume as consoles. And the higher hardware cost to keep up on pc games is no excuse, we also get the benefit of superior visuals and experience to the crippled, barbarian console players with their crap resolutions and W#$_%^)* quality.
 

Derangel

Fully [H]
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
19,880
It's also the first time I've ever saw a standard release PC game be $59.99. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw that on the store shelf. It's so fucking retarded.

PC games should not cost more than $39.99.

Why? PC games have been $49.99 for many years and there is nothing wrong with that price for good titles. I can see the argument of $39.99 for late console ports, but its not like PV games sell the millions and millions of units that the big console titles do so these studios do need that little extra to make up for that loss. Of course this doesn't apply in all cases, but in general I have no problem with the $50 price even though I very rarely pay that much for games.
 

Ocellaris

Fully [H]
Joined
Jan 1, 2008
Messages
19,072
Out of curiosity, do you think the same about console games?


If yes, where is the outrage?


If no, what exactly is it about the same game on a console that warrants 20 more dollars?


Some games cost more on the pc because they can get away with it, it is not exactly like there are a ton of quality titles out there on the pc, at least not in the same volume as consoles. And the higher hardware cost to keep up on pc games is no excuse, we also get the benefit of superior visuals and experience to the crippled, barbarian console players with their crap resolutions and W#$_%^)* quality.

PC software also cost more to develop and optimize compared to a console games. PC Games should get giddy that the games are not all $60 like on the PS3 and 360.
 

Derangel

Fully [H]
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
19,880
PC software also cost more to develop and optimize compared to a console games. PC Games should get giddy that the games are not all $60 like on the PS3 and 360.

Actually console games cost more. Have for a while. Optimization is harder on the PC, but console games generally have larger teams and larger budgets. There is also the advertising cost associated with console games that is nowhere near as high for PC titles, if there is any advertising at all.
 

Conker

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 1, 2004
Messages
3,025
Companies need to do free trials like what was happening with crysis warhead during christmas time and all that. Give people a chance to play the game free for a weekend or week. A lot of people just want a chance to see what the real game feels like. I played crysis warhead online in one of the free weekends and it was fun so i got it. Betas and Demos don't show the real graphics or textures. No point is giving out a demo or beta if the graphics or sound or anything is completely different from the complete game. Pirates don't equate to sales either. Some people even download just to download lol. I think this whole pirate thing is blown out of proportion. Games before were selling millions when there was piracy at that time like it is now. I think some companies are lazy. Unrealistic deadlines along with a talentless crew = a failure. Games sell because they are fun. The more fun they are the more they sell. Thats what companies got to understand. There are too many tech demos these days.
 

Climber

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
5,283
Companies need to do free trials like what was happening with crysis warhead during christmas time and all that...

I think every game should have a trial the weekend before its release. Doesn't have to be the weekend, but sometime shortly before release.

It gives you an idea of how the final product is and what the game play is like. Although, games like AvP suffered I think because of their demo, but it is a chance you take then hope word of mouth will increase your sales the first week / month.
 

PrincessFrosty

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 6, 2009
Messages
5,905
PC software also cost more to develop and optimize compared to a console games. PC Games should get giddy that the games are not all $60 like on the PS3 and 360.

Most of the additional expense of console games is paying royalties to the platform owner, no such thing exists with PCs.

Developing for more hardware configurations is harder, but it's not as bad as some people would have you beleive, standards like the graphics API are there to help make things easier, if you stick to the standards then making a game compatible with a wide range of hardware is easy.
 

Kangg

Ad Blocker - Banned
Joined
Jun 8, 2004
Messages
1,994
It's also the first time I've ever saw a standard release PC game be $59.99. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw that on the store shelf. It's so fucking retarded.

PC games should not cost more than $39.99.

Never played a new Bliizard game I take it ? :p They go for 60 almost always and worth every damn penny.

I'd like to see 40 bucks myself but in this day and age that's pretty unrealistic.
 

Parmenides

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Apr 25, 2006
Messages
6,578
You have to pay the Microsoft tax for the 360 version of the game. That's why consoles cost more.


but you already know this. I just had to say it.
 

Derangel

Fully [H]
Joined
Jan 31, 2008
Messages
19,880
You have to pay the Microsoft tax for the 360 version of the game. That's why consoles cost more.


but you already know this. I just had to say it.

They also raised the cost of SDKs drastically compared to the Xbox. Sony did the same.
 
Top