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GOG: How an Indie Game Store Took On the Pirates and Won

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the arrr-me-hearties dept.

DRM 397

An anonymous reader writes "As if we needed further proof that DRM really is more trouble for publishers and consumers than it's worth, Good Old Games, the DRM-free download store that specializes in retro games, has yet more damning evidence. In an interview this week, the store's managing director says that its first venture into day one releases earlier this year with Witcher 2 was a storming success — and the version that hit the torrent sites was a cracked DRM version bought from a shop. The very definition of irony."

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Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108731)

Releasing the source code under a free GPLv3 license would however be much more preferred.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108791)

Yes because then you can get it for the cost of $0 because you are cheap/entitled.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108805)

Source code != assets.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (2, Insightful)

slimak (593319) | about 2 years ago | (#42109003)

I've seen this a few times lately and am curious why this belief is held. Maybe (probably) I'm missing something but I would think that source code would be an asset and potentially valuable in a few cases:

1) A complex system that took significant time to develop. Something like MS Word. While it may not be your favorite it certainly is an assest and has a value. A word processor is easy to think of, but Word is difficult/time consuming to implement (I'm guessing).

2) Software the implements a trade secret. Something like an auto stock trading system or the Google search results ranking algorithm. Again, you may hate these and they are of no value to you, but if your livelihood was on the line would you want to release the source?

I completely agree that the source code to a generic sorting algorithm of your favorite memory copy routine has no value, but even and AC must see there are exceptions. Of course, I could just be stupid.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109081)

When talking about games, the "assets" are 3d models, textures, scripting and dialog.

Source code isn't playable without data

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109413)

And data isn't playable without code.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (3, Insightful)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about 2 years ago | (#42109175)

Assets in a game would be all the audio, textures, models, sprites, map/level data, possibly game engine scripts, etc.. All you're left with without assets is a game engine.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109211)

Note the plural of assets, in the same way that x != 2x . While the source code is indeed an asset it is not everything.

Regarding 2); if you allow somebody to run an algorithm on their hardware then they can reverse engineer it. So the proper place to protect such things is with patents (or having the results communicated via a network).

Of course all this assumes we hold the position that such things should be protected in the first place. It seems odd to have to remind people here of all places that society at large may infact benefit more from a lack of such protections. Imagine if the alphabet was patented, anybody wishing to write anything would have to pay for the privilege of using it or create their own system. So Tolkien would have been OK, but what works wouldn't have been produced?

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (4, Informative)

BobPaul (710574) | about 2 years ago | (#42109101)

Doom is open source. You still need the level file (*.wad) to play the game. You have to pay for that.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (4, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | about 2 years ago | (#42109441)

And the perfect example of what happens when you open source your code. Doom gets opened source, enthusiasts modify it for things they want out of it: higher resolution, hardware rendering, better input controls, native ports, etc.

New people are attracted to these new features who never played the original and, would you look at that? They're buying a decades old game for the asset files to run against new code. Long-tail sales at $20 a pop at the id Store. Minus merchant fees and some minor distribution costs, the rest is pure profit by now.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108827)

Agreed! Why does someone think they have the right to own something just because they spent millions of dollars making it? Information wants to be free, man!

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109005)

If you want to "own" your creation then keep it a secret. The moment you reveal it to the world it is no longer yours.

If you want people to pay you for bits then you need to come up with a compelling reason. Whining doesn't solve anything, you can't put the genie back in the bottle, "your" bits will be transmitted across a global network whether you want them to be or not.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109523)

Sorry, that is freetard bollocks. "the moment you reveal it to the world it is no longer yours". If you take that attitude to it's logical extreme, no-one would ever tell or explain anything to anyone. So much for "information wants to be free". When you grow up and produce something of value yourself, you'll probably find that you would like some sort of recompense for the work you did.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1)

jameshofo (1454841) | about 2 years ago | (#42109383)

I couldn't really care less if a game is open source, I pick it up and put it back down when I'm done if a company wants to protect their software from competitors they should have a right to. DRM is to protect the company against the consumers, so they don't have to try to actually make their product any better to make people want to purchase it. And further you may have difficulty reselling it, if the company goes belly up will you still be able to play your game, can you make a copy so when your kids learn to put CD's in the microwave it doesn't cost you money. No one's product is above the inherent standard of ease of accessibility.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 2 years ago | (#42109535)

DMR is NOT for protection from customers because customers pay for what they want. Im a customer, i pay for all my games/software/anything. i Don't steal them. So please get your facts right i don't want to be held in the same class of people who are criminals.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (5, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | about 2 years ago | (#42108829)

I disagree. While I am an open source advocate (and use it extensively). I do not see why everything "has" to be open source. Open source is a philosophy, DRM is pure idiocy disguised as philosophy!

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#42108961)

Yes but, there is more than one philosophy at work. Remember that Open Source came after the Free Software movement. They both have very different aims, even if they look the same in overall direction and strategy.

Free Software (which, as a term and philosophy, predates Open Source by decade), proponents of which drafted the GPL itself, does, indeed espouse that all software should be "Free Software" (which is the same as open source except this philosophical difference) and the GPL is seen as a viral way to hack copyright to use it to support such an environment.

For more, check some of this out: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/ [gnu.org]

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109027)

"Remember that Open Source came after the Free Software movement"

Nonsense. Stop being so easily led by obvious liars. Open source predates Stallman by 40 years; the work he pretends he did was adapted from earlier open source, if you'd look.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#42109181)

Sharing code and designs predates computers by many years, hell, in many ways, it goes back to the begining of recorded history.

However the term "Open Source" was, by all sources I can find, coined in the late 90s... and was rather inetionally setup as a way to break away from the more radical elements of free software philosophy.

Free Software, and Open Source both come from much older and less well defined traditions, but, they each brought their own perspectives to the table in much more explicit ways than before them.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109231)

Oh, bullshit. If you're going to lie, don't be so obvious in your number-fudging: you're suggesting that "open source" dates back to between 1913 and 1943.

While manufacturers did, indeed, distribute source-code prior to Stallman's contributions in the 1980s, it was far from what we today would consider "open source". Whether the man deserves any sort of recognition for a movement that he, himself, decries is another argument entirely -- but don't sit there and suggest that it was the fscking inspiration for his prior work.

I am not a fan of the man, but I'm less of a fan of libel.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

BobPaul (710574) | about 2 years ago | (#42109125)

Doesn't Open Source predate the free software movement? When Richard Stallman was fighting with that printer which he didn't have a driver for, he was using a Unix machine. Traditionally, Unix has come with the source code but you were restricted with what you could do with it. That sounds like Open Source to me.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109397)

It is not -- it is "distributed source". Try to distribute a forked version of HPUX or Solaris and see how far you get. Simply providing the source code does not wholly qualify as an "open source" philosophy.

Or, more aptly:

Open Source != open source

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108993)

To further your point isn't forcing open source the antithesis of open source? Freedom. Why shouldn't someone be free to charge for what they made? On the opposite end you are free to give it away if you like.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#42109285)

The Open Source philosophy defends the user's freedom who, accordingly to it, should have the right to be aware about everything a given program is doing in his system, it has nothing to do with developer freedom.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#42109379)

To be fair, your parent said it was simply preferred and not mandatory. It sounds like an idealist notion and was put in an idealist way. Nothing wrong with that.

Re:Dropping DRM is a step in the right direction (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#42109437)

I disagree. While I am an open source advocate (and use it extensively). I do not see why everything "has" to be open source. Open source is a philosophy, DRM is pure idiocy disguised as philosophy!

Everything doesn't have to be open source, and that's actually not even what the op is saying. I agree with him/her that it would be appreciated if the source code was released.

Love GoG (3, Informative)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42108753)

Found a lot of my lost collection and favorites there. Love em.

Re:Love GoG (1)

jjsimp (2245386) | about 2 years ago | (#42109009)

Yeah so do I. Now when will the new Starcraft and Diablo be on there?

Re:Love GoG (3, Insightful)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 2 years ago | (#42109179)

When Blizzard and Activision die and somebody else buys the rights to the games? Blizzard loves their DRM and would never release their games on a platform that doesn't allow DRM.

Re:Love GoG (1)

slippyblade (962288) | about 2 years ago | (#42109087)

Agreed, I've spent a lot of money with GoG over the past year. And most of the stuff works just fine off a USB stick so I can take my games with me!

Re:Love GoG (5, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | about 2 years ago | (#42109119)

As did I, and have quite a few older favorite titles from my younger years sitting in my GoG shelf.

Another thing I love is how they repackage older games to support newer OS/hardware setups.
I have a 10k text file of directions I wrote up to remind myself all the convoluted steps to install Planescape Torment from the original CDs to my Windows XP/7 systems, all the settings to change just to get it to run, not to mention bypassing the disc changing handlers.

I recently repurchased the game from GoG, which consists of clicking download, double-clicking the setup, hitting next twice, and that is is. A start menu entry ready to run without having to mutz about with ini files or messing with the games directory structure.

The extras are a nice touch too, as it's packaged with the hint guide and walkthrough. All for ten bucks. Well worth the money to me, despite already owning the original release of the game.

I also purchased Fallout 1 and 2 after the original release, and at some point lost my original media.
GoG was running a special at the time selling both games together for $6, which I also picked up.
I could have easily torrented the games and felt little guilt, as I've already bought them both, but would have had to deal with the same installation issues and problems. Buying them this way was a no brainer.

Re:Love GoG (1)

gorzek (647352) | about 2 years ago | (#42109493)

Wow. I am going to have to buy Planescape: Torment from GoG, then. I have a two-disc version I bought for $10 years ago, and I could never get it to work to the extent of bypassing the disc checks--and I never like to carry CDs around. I want everything installed to the hard drive.

It's a good enough game I'll happy buy it again just so I can play it the way I want.

Re:Love GoG (1)

Applekid (993327) | about 2 years ago | (#42109517)

I wasn't aware they did that! After struggling and ultimately failing to get Thief installed on my current machine, the $10 it will cost to buy it again is cheap compared to the cost of reacquiring the parts to build a functional Windows 95 machine again.

I know what I'm doing this weekend. :D

Star Control II !!!!!!!!!! (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#42109203)

Wow. What a great game.

Re:Star Control II !!!!!!!!!! (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#42109317)

The Urquan Masters remake is better than the original; in that its the same, but its been updated to run on modern PCs.

I've picked up several titles on GoG, my -only- complaint at all is the lack of xpacs with a number of titles. (Wing Commander / WC II), Dungeon Keeper, Wing Commander Privateer, Syndicate...

In some cases I have the original with xpacs, so their lack is annoying -- and the incentive to re-buy the game as a drm free download is diminished.

In other cases, i never had the xpac, and if they offered it that would be a huge draw for me.

Re:Love GoG (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#42109339)

My only complaint with GOG is that I wish their distribution system was more like Steam's. It's minor, I'll admit, and probably frivolous, but there's a certain convenience about Steam that GOG just doesn't have. With that said, I have about 40 games in my GOG library, so I'm not too bothered by it.

Addressing only half the battle. (1, Interesting)

sunking2 (521698) | about 2 years ago | (#42108801)

DRM may not stop piracy, but there are many people out there who aren't outright looking to pirate things. These are casual users like my mother who has tons of silly little puzzle and mind type games that she buys for a few bucks. Her friend comes over and wants a copy and she gives it to them thinking nothing of it. Low and behind it doesn't work. It's a $5 game so nobody really cares. DRM isn't about the hard core pirating community in a fully electronic world. It's about discouraging the casual user who primarily passes around physical media around.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (5, Interesting)

metrometro (1092237) | about 2 years ago | (#42108929)

> Her friend comes over and wants a copy and she gives it to them thinking nothing of it.

In our company, we call that "lead gen" and seek to encourage it. In the attention economy, trading marginal costs (literally zero, in your example) in exchange for a referral is good business. Many of those referrals won't become customers. But for the ones who do, the cost-to-acquire-customer is again literally zero. It helps to have good branding and more than one product. But this isn't rocket science.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109313)

How many attentions is it for a gallon of gas?

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (5, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#42108981)

DRM is not intended to stop piracy. It's intended to stop legal resales and gifting of products.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42109123)

DRM is not intended to stop piracy. It's intended to stop legal resales and gifting of products.

Its also a FUD product for sellers of DRM software and licensors of DRM tech (patents etc).

"If you don't pay us $250K for magicdrm(tm) then pirates will steal your stuff, so pay up, dweeb"

The correct response is:

"They'll steal it anyway, and we'll be out a quarter mil, and our legit customers will be angry"
"grrr.... well on to the sales meeting with the next batch of suckers"

The wrong/popular response is:

"OK here's the money and I'll check this off on my performance review"
"Thanks and heres some baseball season tickets"

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42108997)

It a mostly wrong headed attempt to solve a serious problem, which is that a huge number of users aren't paying for your product, and could be setting themselves up for a lifetime of going to thepiratebay rather than the local retail shop.

Take the Hulu example, (or CD's), Hulu seemed great, until people realized the piratebay was still better. It was too late for Hulu, and a lot of potential customers permanently lost.

With games we have an entire generation of gamers coming up who will probably expect to be able to pirate. So what's happening? Apple App store, the PSN, XBL, the Microsoft App store, Steam etc. Putting right in peoples faces that this is where you pay for the product, and on the gaming side of things, if we catch you pirating we can just lock down your account. But of course we should have had those online stores in 2001, 2002 era. Young kids now expect to have to pay, 30+ year olds expect to pay and pirated when they were poor, but the 15-25 year old crowd is a lost decade of potential customers. Fortunately they'll have the next set of app stores in their faces enough that they might come around, but who knows.

A bit like the lock on your front door isn't actually an impediment to criminals. But the person who got past the lock has no defence of 'oh but I thought I was just free to walk in and take things'. No. No you aren't. Hopefully eventually we can turn pirates into paying customers. Because you can't run an industry where the accepted norm is not paying for the thing you produce.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (3, Insightful)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 2 years ago | (#42109245)

the 15-25 year old crowd is a lost decade of potential customers

Thanks for the blanket statement, but I'm 24 and pay for all of my media (games, music, books, movies, etc.), at least that which is not freely distributed by the creators. With only maybe one or two exceptions, all of my friends and associates do the same. Crappy people are crappy people; age makes no difference except that in previous generations, one had to be technically inclined to even know how to pirate media, whereas now it's common knowledge.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#42109299)

This is also not new. Back in the 80's I knew some people who genuinely didn't know it was illegal or even immoral to copy games. There would be companies that would buy one copy of a software product and then just share it around the department with everyone. Churches would buy one copy of a songbook and the photocopy it many times.

There are really two sets of people who break copyright, those who are genuinely ignorant of the laws and those who know the laws but don't care.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#42109399)

> It a mostly wrong headed attempt to solve a serious problem, which is that a huge number of users
> aren't paying for your product, and could be setting themselves up for a lifetime of going to
> thepiratebay rather than the local retail shop.

Even the problem is wrongheaded, because its based on the assumption that the choice is between pirating game X and buying game X in the store.

While this may be true for some subset of what pirates pirate, its demonstrably not true for the majority. Both studies and every bit of anecdotal evidence I have seen says that the divide between pirates and non-pirates is money. People who can't afford to be aquiring media in the first place are the ones who pirate it.

Honestly, the most prolific pirates I have known, are the same people that, if they told me they were going to buy a couple of DVDs, I would probably chastise them for wasting money they need to feed their kids.... or are kids themselves. They also seem to consume a lot more media than people who pay for it.... and also seem to have a lot of free time with which to watch movies, play games etc, often on account of not having steady employment or being disabled, or again, being a kid.

So.... stop piracy, maybe sales go up a LITTLE. However, the choice for pirates is typically not "have it all free or buy it all". Its "have it all free or buy a small fraction of it". My estimate is, stop piracy entirely, you can expect MAYBE a few percent increase in overall sales.... and most of those will be bargain bin purchases or used product purchases.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#42109025)

Right because the company makes so much money off of the person who does not get to try the game for free and therefore not only does not buy that game, but does not buy any other games from the company.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109051)

This scenario only requires some very marginal DRM scheme, like simple CD keys, or something smart but simple.
Current DRM uses shit like "Solidshield Tages SAS" and others, which are costly, complicated, may require online activation from a server that might not exist in the future and restrict legitimate user's rights.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (1)

JMonty42 (1961510) | about 2 years ago | (#42109221)

Yes, simple CD keys ... that can be studied and then cracked. Don't you remember all the CD key generators from a few years ago?

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (5, Interesting)

N0Man74 (1620447) | about 2 years ago | (#42109067)

DRM doesn't only fail to stop piracy, it can encourage it...

Last weekend my girlfriend rented a blu-ray from Redbox. The largest TV in my house happens to be my monitor, and the only blu-ray player I own is a drive on my PC. I attempted to start it, but instead got a message from my player software that I needed to update my software to play the movie. I checked for an update to my player software, and it said it was up to date.

Then, I looked on the drive manufacturer site looking for a firmware update for the drive, thinking that might help. My drive model was not listed on the manufacturer site. I found another support site, but they also did not list my drive. I searched for a while and eventually found out that it was only available on a support site for a European division. I updated the firmware and tried again... no luck.

By this point, I had spent 30 or 45 minutes trying to get this to work. I got fed up, and said, "Screw it, I'll just pirate it."

It took me less than a minute to find a pirated source. It took maybe 15 minutes to download it. I spent much more time than that trying to get it working legitimately, without even counting the time to drive and get the movie.

I don't pirate stuff because I'm not willing to pay it, it's because they make it a pain in the ass to be legit.

If I know ahead of time I'll have problems with DRM for either games or movie, I usually skip them entirely.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (5, Informative)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42109243)

Probably detected a break in the HDCP chain. The Anydvd driver is essential for HTPCs even when you own the bluray disc.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#42109391)

I'm just avoiding bluray permanently. Blu-ray was explicitly designed to get around the "flaws" in DVD, that they were easy to copy and did not have DRM. The "DRM" being separate from mere copying because DRM is about making sure you do not play the media in the wrong region or at the wrong time. Blu-ray is locked down tight, it trusts nothing and no one.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109541)

Last weekend my girlfriend rented a blu-ray from Redbox.

Pics or it didn't happen.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#42109183)

But when you have an inferior product when you pay for it, than when you pirate it, you will certainly pirate it. DRM makes a pain, and most times plainly impossible, to do simple things as for example transfer your media between devices. Many times I would have paid for something and ended downloading it because I couldn't find a non-DRM version to buy.

GOG proves you can sell games (probably the most pirated media) and be successful without hostilities your clients by treating them as criminals, so even the need or the positive effects of DRM are at question here.

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109219)

"Low and behind"

did you mean "lo and behold"?

Re:Addressing only half the battle. (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#42109467)

DRM may not stop piracy, but there are many people out there who aren't outright looking to pirate things. These are casual users like my mother who has tons of silly little puzzle and mind type games that she buys for a few bucks. Her friend comes over and wants a copy and she gives it to them thinking nothing of it. Low and behind it doesn't work. It's a $5 game so nobody really cares. DRM isn't about the hard core pirating community in a fully electronic world. It's about discouraging the casual user who primarily passes around physical media around.

What about my parents who bought an overpriced DVD in Italy, in English, from some tourist trap, but when they got home to play it, it turned out to be region locked. Of course, they didn't know that and all they knew was what they paid for just wouldn't play. Do they ever buy DVDs overseas anymore? No.

For every "sale" DRM protects from the average consumer, there are probably a few people who either got stopped or tired of jumping through the hoops the content makers make the paying customers jump through.

Ok so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108889)

How exactly is this a win for them? Maybe it's a notch to put in your anti-DRM belt but I don't see how they won against the pirates.
 
Had the DRM version not have existed it would still have been just as pirated. Had the version on disc been DRM free than it wouldn't have made a difference either way.
 
There's some kind of twisted logic here to make anyone think that DRM had anything to do with the rate of piracy or the cause of piracy.

Re:Ok so... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108999)

They could have spent the millions of dollars and thousands of man hours creating a better game than DRM.

The point being made is that DRM is pointless, expensive, and annoys your customers. Where as a lack of DRM is equally as pointless, free, and doesn't annoy your customers.

Re:Ok so... (4, Insightful)

Zephyn (415698) | about 2 years ago | (#42109189)

I see your point, but I would suggest it's not so much a 'took on the pirates and won' situation so much as it is a 'remove some of the incentive for piracy and discovered it worked' situation.

DRM does provide some incentive for piracy when it reduces the usability for their legitimate customers. When a publisher is releasing software that installs a rootkit or has limited installations that counts down every time you perform a hardware change, finding a copy of the same software without all that crap on it becomes much more attractive.

Re:Ok so... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#42109305)

There's some kind of twisted logic here to make anyone think that DRM had anything to do with the rate of piracy or the cause of piracy.

Not so! For instance, many folks here would rather turn to piracy than purchase a game that uses DRM, simply because they refuse to support DRM in any fashion. But there's a more important point here: you're misstating their argument.

Their argument was not that refusing to add DRM was solely responsible for the win against pirates. You put those words in their mouth. Their argument was actually more along the lines of:
1) If you make good old games available legally and conveniently,

2) And you offer them at reasonable prices,

3) And you provide some added value with the purchase (e.g. removing DRM, adding bonus features, porting it to newer OSes, etc.),

4) Then you can create a market for those games out of thin air by converting many of the would-be pirates into paying customers.

The fact that the DRM'd version was the one that was pirated is anecdotal evidence that their approach is not harming the industry by facilitating piracy. And it's an approach that we've seen work repeatedly in different industries, such as with the rise of the digital music stores, which operate on the principle that if you make something more convenient to purchase than to steal, most people will choose to purchase it.

Simple Qs (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#42108919)

Someone clarify for me - if a game doesn't have DRM, does that mean you can copy the folder to another HD, and the game will still work?

Is password protection a weak form of DRM, or not DRM at all?

Re:Simple Qs (4, Insightful)

alannon (54117) | about 2 years ago | (#42108975)

Someone clarify for me - if a game doesn't have DRM, does that mean you can copy the folder to another HD, and the game will still work?

Yes, or at least the installer can be copied and used without restrictions.

Is password protection a weak form of DRM, or not DRM at all?

Passwords are not DRM.

Re:Simple Qs (1)

MBlueD (1464095) | about 2 years ago | (#42108979)

Yes to (my understanding of) the first question. The only things preventing you from giving copies of the game to all your friends are the fact that it is illegal and your own ethics.
Re. password protection, I think it is a weak form of DRM.

Re:Simple Qs (1)

Imagix (695350) | about 2 years ago | (#42109007)

Basically, yes. Password protection to get to the download page, no (unless you actually must download the program every time you want to install it). I could see an argument that a password on the ZIP file is a form of DRM (albiet probably a pretty weak form).

Re:Simple Qs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109013)

GoG packages games as .exe's, so you just install without keys, codes, etc.

Re:Simple Qs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109045)

You download an install package and install it as many times on as many PCs as you want. If you lose or delete the install package, just download it again. Older games (DOS era) might still have their manual or codewheel protection, but all the docs are right there to download, often with a quick reference to get through the protection query.

Re:Simple Qs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109069)

Passwords are DRM. But they don't restrict legitimate user's rights. It is mighty inconvenient for them, though, what if you lose your 15 year old manual?

Re:Simple Qs (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#42109113)

Nope. You will still need to use the installer. But that's a Windows problem.

Snarkyness aside: here's what I use them for.
Their DOS games run in DOSBox. Which comes with a very nice instaler that does the fiddly DOSBox bits for you. That is very nice.
So now that you have that old DOS game living in it's shiny new NTFS folder happily unconfused about the past 20 years.

GRAB THE BUGGER BY THE SHORT&CURLIES AND DROP IT ONTO YOUR TABLET OR SMARTPHONE.

In some cases it's better to use a mouse for strategy games since pointy finger touchscreen stuff lacks the precision of a proper mouse for reasons that are beyond me. And you will need a right mouse button. And some games will be suggish on tablet DOSBox. Dungeon Keeper 1 for instance runs at about 5fps on my Transformer Prime. Master of Magic OTOH works fine. As a rule of thumb I'd say any DOS game that ran on a high end 386 will run nicely in DOSBox on a sufficiently beefy tablet.

Sadly tho I don't see a HoMM3 or DK2 or anything like that running on a current gen tablet. They would have to be properly ported as WINE running on tablets stil is 2-3 years off.

Turning off sound and music might also speed things up.
Don't expect to use your PS3 controller too much. In the olden days PC joystick support was wonky at best.

Re:Simple Qs (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#42109233)

Someone clarify for me

You're asking vague questions, so I can give only vague (but hopefully useful) answers.

if a game doesn't have DRM, does that mean you can copy the folder to another HD, and the game will still work?

By "copy the folder", I assume you mean copying the already-installed game folder. In theory, this should work fine. In practice, you're gambling. The game may have generated configuration files or registry entries that include absolute paths, so those will still point to the old location. If that old location is ever deleted, the game may simply stop working.

If you're referring to copying the installer, it also depends on the program. I've encountered an installer that really wanted to be installed from the first optical device in the computer, not so much for copy protection, but to find the files it needed to copy from the CD. We'll not discuss the design implications here.

In short, in an ideal world with developers that care about writing clean and portable programs, you could copy and move the game in any form wherever you wanted, and everything would be fine. Is the real world, though, I can only wish you good luck.

Is password protection a weak form of DRM, or not DRM at all?

That depends on who you ask:

  • Ask a mathematician, and there is no such thing as "DRM", because it's all provably breakable, and therefore reducible to nothing.
  • Ask a publisher, and a password is a weak form of DRM that is really just there to discourage casual sharing, without requiring expensive development and infrastructure.
  • Ask a lawyer, and he'll tell you that it may or may not be DRM (as referred to by the DMCA), because while it could be argued that it is a "copy-prevention mechanism", it's also arguably trivial enough that sharing the password is not really bypassing or disabling as the DMCA covers.

In short, a password is a weak attempt at DRM that doesn't really do the job.

Re:Simple Qs (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#42109439)

Thanks, that's interesting.

In short, in an ideal world with developers that care about writing clean and portable programs, you could copy and move the game in any form wherever you wanted, and everything would be fine. Is the real world, though, I can only wish you good luck.

My very OpalCalc program is portable, and completely DRM/password/key free for the paid version, so a good start I guess ;)

In short, a password is a weak attempt at DRM that doesn't really do the job.

Yes, it would seem the product would at least have to "phone home" so that the company could cancel that installation, otherwise piracy sites could simply give out the password/key along with the installation exe. Since I'm against this 'phoning home' lark, I can see the dilemma for both the publisher and the end user. It's somewhat unfortunate.

Re:Simple Qs (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#42109261)

No, the game may have copy protection, which is not the same as DRM. Ie, it may require the CD or DVD to be in the drive.

DRM is Digital Rights Management. It controls who has "rights" to use the product. DRM products are often tied to the person who purchased it, ie, you may need an account (itunes, steam, etc). If you buy a game with DRM you usually need permission to install it, you may even need permission to install it a second time on a new computer if the old one breaks. If it's music with DRM you may be required to only play it with a certain player. Quite a lot of DRM products require an active internet connection to verify whether you are allowed to use the product. With just plain copy protection I can buy a game and immediately give it to someone else and it can be played on their computer (still just one computer at a time), if it's music I can pass around the CD to my friends, play it in a friend's stereo, etc.

There is some similarity though, but the difference is really philosophy. Copy protected products are owned by the person that bought them, DRM products are not owned but are used with permission much like a rented product. DRM attempts to go beyond copyright, remove fair use, remove right of first sale, etc.

This is where GOG.com did well I think, they specialize in older games that no one really cares about pirating. These are often games that the purchaser may already own only they don't run well on the latest Windows or the newer dvd/hd/bluray drives have trouble reading the CDs.

Re:Simple Qs (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#42109359)

Right. I have bought a few products which require keys/passwords to be entered. I'm not sure if those products "phone home", but otherwise in theory it would seem I could pass on the product to someone else and they could use the same password and username to activate the product again (not that I would actually do that of course).

Irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108933)

That's not ironic, it's coincidental.

"The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention." Now THAT is irony!

Re:Irony? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42109063)

It's a situational irony because DRM is a tool to deter privacy, but it was the DRM version that was cracked and released by pirates, rather than the entirely DRM-free version offered by GoG. Irony! [youtube.com]

Re:Irony? (3)

Dinghy (2233934) | about 2 years ago | (#42109107)

That's not ironic, it's coincidental.

"The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention." Now THAT is irony!

2.Happening in the opposite way to what is expected, thus typically causing wry amusement.

I would guess that if most people were asked if the DRM-included version or the DRM-free version would be the most pirated, they would have said the DRM-free. That is the expectation. The opposite happened.

Their files are widely disseminated on torrents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42108949)

I only hope they're from desperate a$$h0les... GOG's prices are more than appropriate, given their volume of bonus material they make available for every game download.

System Shock 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109019)

We're all waiting for it.

Re:System Shock 2 (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42109241)

hear, hear

Re:System Shock 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109371)

The work is already done in the form of the recent fanmade "patch" [ttlg.com] which improves things so much that it's obviously really a source port based on the leaked Dreamcast WinCE Dark Engine source. GoG would have legal and liability issues with using that as things currently stand, but perhaps something could be worked out.

you keep using that word (1)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | about 2 years ago | (#42109023)

you seem to use the words "morals" and "ethics" as though they were interchangeable

Re:you keep using that word (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42109273)

Indeed. Morals are about doing the right thing, while anyone who's ever taken a professional ethics course can tell you that "ethics" are about avoiding the *appearance* of impropriety - i.e. not getting caught.

Re:you keep using that word (2)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | about 2 years ago | (#42109381)

ahh, a moralist, my favorite enemy. i would say the same, except i would switch how you use the terms.

i feel that ethics is a simple concept, given lip service by many religions around the world. the golden rule is a very easy version of ethics. you simply cannot hurt people. Morality, however, can also include things that are unethical like the persecution of people with alternative lifestyles, ethnicity, or ideology. Morality uses aspects of ethics to lend itself credence, but in actuality, american "Family Values" is a thinly veiled Neo-Fascist (or neo-nazi, supremacist) agenda.

I am a Libertarian Socialist, and i will always oppose the Moralists, the Capitalist Rationalists, and and other form of fascism.

Re:you keep using that word (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#42109529)

while anyone who's ever taken a professional ethics course...

isn't taking a course on ethics at all. They're taking a corporate sponsored course in avoiding liability.

Take an actual academic ethics course at a university instead of a worthless 'professional ethics' course.

Maybe it works for them, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109031)

What about all the authors/publishers who tossed in a CD with a full content PDF attached to the inside cover of their books, only to get burned when their PDFs starting turning up on page one or two of google searches of the topic. (I know this happens because I turn up those PDFs in google searches all the time).

People are addicted to getting free stuff, past the point of what they can reasonably consume.

Were I a Pirate (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#42109145)

I would like the DRM Cracking Challenge.

It's no fun to just push out something someone else is already DRM-Free'ing... and why hurt their cause since it is probably the same that drives me?

But without DRM ... (3, Insightful)

JMonty42 (1961510) | about 2 years ago | (#42109161)

The article gives the example of Witcher 2. It says it's ironic that the most leaked version of the game was the DRM version. But is that really ironic? Witcher 2 sold 1.1 M copies for the PC in its first 7 months [strategyinformer.com] . It only sold 40 k DRM-free copies through GOG, which would the crackers most likely find to crack?

Besides, if there were no DRM for a big title like that, it stands to reason that there would be just as many if not more leaked copies available on torrent sites. What they really need to do to prove their case is get a publisher to release their AAA title on nothing but GOG, then they would be able to see the true effects of DRM-free games on piracy.

Re:But without DRM ... (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#42109469)

But is that really ironic?

Yes.

Witcher 2 sold 1.1 M copies for the PC in its first 7 months. It only sold 40 k DRM-free copies through GOG, which would the crackers most likely find to crack?

It REALLY underscores how ineffective the investment in DRM is. The game was released without it, and the DRM version was still cracked and widely pirated.

Stop the Press! (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#42109165)

You mean not pissing off the customer / making them jump through loopholes to do what they want can be profitable?

But what about "the precious"? We wants it, we needs it!

So? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42109177)

Trying to pretend piracy isn't still rampant on the PC is laughable. Yeah someone got the DRM version first and made their pirated copy out of that. Removing the DRM just means he needs less effort to share it. DRM probably doesn't do a whole deal to protect companies but if everyone went with the GOG model, there'd be no improvement. The problem is there are too many self-entitled little kids who think paying for their ISP is payment enough for content. We should remove DRM and any other restrictions from media but the freetards still need to be punished.

earned my $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109201)

I've paid more to GoG than Activision and EA combined.

Article is Misleading (-1)

MatthiasF (1853064) | about 2 years ago | (#42109239)

The Witcher 2 was originally released in May of 2011, not this past year when GOG finally started selling the game.

So, of course the most pirated version of the game would be one of the DRM variants, since the DRM version was available for a longer period and typically more in demand closer to the original release date.

But no mention of either date (original release of the game) or GOG's release are mentioned in the article, nor the period for statistics they are using for the torrents.

Anyway, sorry for interrupting the anti-DRM circle jerk with facts and logic.

Re:Article is Misleading (4, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about 2 years ago | (#42109429)

That is besides the point. There are two points here:

1) The DRM version was widely pirated despite the DRM, and, therefore DRM served nothing but to irritate the people who really bought the game and make some DRM company richier.

2) The non-DRM version sold by GOG sold very well even without any DRM and being a year old game.

The lesson here is: If you do something people judge worthy they will pay for it, at least enough of them to make the endeavor profitable. And no, it doesn't really matter how much you could make if the whole humankind decided to pay you for it, and you are not entitled to become a billionary just because you created something.

Re:Article is Misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109501)

That is besides the point.

No, it's just plain not true: GOG was selling the game at almost the same time as the DVD release (AFAIR it was released on DVD a few days early in some markets). See my other post above.

Perhaps it is worth noting that the original GOG release, if I remember correctly, required registration with a game key after install, though it's now completely DRM-free.

Parent is idiot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109445)

Uh, no. I bought Witcher 2 from GOG in May of 2011, when it was released. It's one of the few games I've bought on release recently, because it was available DRM-free from GOG.

Sorry for interrupting your FUD with facts, but a simple google search would give you the GOG release date in ten seconds.

Re:Article is Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109491)

I purchased my copy of Witcher 2 from GOG on 10 May 2011

Re:Article is Misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109507)

Witcher 2 was sold on GOG on it's release day you idjit. If you're going to start with the self-fellatio, get your information correct first.

yikes... writer gets a C- for clarity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109283)

"the store's managing director says that its first venture into day one releases earlier this year with Witcher 2 was a storming success"

Methinks that could have been made more clear with multiple sentences.

Who could have imagined... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109293)

Offer a quality product at a reasonable price and don't include things that PISS PEOPLE OFF...
And you'll do well and make money...

Oh wait. Just about all the pirates already imagined that. And the lack of that is what drove many of them to pirate. Screw me once. Shame on you. Screw me twice... well i was a fool to give you money again before finding out what a pile of shit your game was.

I dont like drm. I dont like spyware and rootkits. I don't like always on connection required to play. I don't like stupid ass activation stuff that fails hard on day one.
I dont like social club. I dont like twitterfacebookothershit stuck onto my game. And i don't like having to find the maybe functional cd whenever i want to play.

Do it right and we will give you money. Do it wrong and we're just going to pirate it. Remove the shit we didnt like. And not pay you a cent.

Here is how you beat (the majority) of pirates. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109315)

Game developers and publishers...

You guys need to start making games more of a value to your customers. Instead of releasing a game for 60 bucks and immeditately start shitting out DLC and basically just nickle and diming your customers to death give them the entire game out of the gate and stop it with the DLC.

You also need to stop bad mouthing your customers, when gamers dont like something dont do like bioware did and tell gamers they are wrong. You think because we dont make games we cant actually decide if we like one or not. I may not make movies but I can still decide for myself which I like to watch and which I dont and I dont need the people who make movies to tell me what I should like. You should lay off people who buy used games as well because well, they PAID FOR THEM so surely you could understand that when you pay for something it belongs to you to do with what you want. Not to mention when a game is 60 dollars its hard for a lot of people to buy multiple games new when they can afford many more used.

You also need to beta test your games more, optimize them more and trouble shoot them more instead of doing the old "Well we release it now and fix it later. If we decide to fix it that is". Bethesda Im looking at you mainly. Games arent new anymore folks and there is no excuse why so damn many buggy and glitchy games hit the market now a days. You all should understand the basics of making a game.

Stop shitting out the same old thing, nintendo youre the biggest whore in the whole game industry. Try doing something new instead of the same old thing. Try shocking people, try thinking outside the box, try to be offensive, try to be creative because even indie developers basically just copy eachother.

Stop rising prices. You charge more and more and more money for games and guess what? People will pay less and less and go more towards piracy. I loved lollipop chainsaw but 60 bucks at launch for a 5 hour game? F that. If you stop gouging customers more of them will be willing to take chances on new games they havent played, they will be able to afford to buy more games and it wont the wallet as much so youll get overall increased sales because more people will buy games.

Get rid of DRM. DRM only confuses, annoys and causes your paying customers problems. Thats right, your DRM drives away paying customers because they dont like it. Pirates can and will defeat your DRM, it will not stop or even slow them. Even games like world of wacraft are pirated and people download it and play it free on private servers. All games are pirated and you cant stop them, all your DRM is doing is punishing the people who purchase your games new.

Do those things then go check out this and what neil gaiman has to say about piracy http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/02/10/neil-gaiman-piracy-lending-books/

Piracy is mostly due to bad customer service. You cant get rid of it completely but if you make your customers feel valued, they feel like they are being treated well and like the product your selling they will come back and in greater numbers because they will bring friends with them. But if you gouge them and treat them like shit they will steal your stuff instead of paying for it.

Wouldn't a hard copy be a wiser thing to pirate? (2)

dmomo (256005) | about 2 years ago | (#42109461)

"pirates went to the trouble of buying the game in a shop, taking it home and breaking the DRM instead"

Who knows if the the downloaded version has some sort of hidden tracking mechanism? With a store bought copy, the pirate can more easily remain anonymous.

It's a stretch perhaps, but that might bring light to why it worked out this way.

DRM doesn't enter into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42109481)

Pirates just pirate. "beating" pirates by no DRM or DRM or whatever doesn't matter...
it's the ease of getting the product to the costumer that matters.

Customer will buy a product when:

  Value * DifficultyInObtainingLegally + Respect > DifficultyInObtainingIllegally - Morality

Where:
Value is what the customer believes is the right price based on his/her level of desire to own the product
Morality is how much the user considers the moral and ethical implications of his actions
Respect represents how how esteem the customer holds the product, producing company, etc.

I say it's a tiny moral compass walking the path of least resistance.
If you believe people are inherently good, if you make the product easy to download and pay for, you'll get plenty of paying customers.
If you make it such a pain in the neck to buy legally or you price it ridiculously, you'll get more pirates.
Some pirates will always be pirates. You never had those sales in the first place.

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