One Solution for DRM-Free Games: Wait

As DRM technology becomes more invasive, an article on CNET takes a look at the methods used and offers some possible suggestions for DRM-free gaming.

The reaction to Ubisoft’s DRM, which requires a constant Internet connection, has been well documented, with a reverse boycott organized and hackers taking down the publisher’s authentication servers twice. The new Electronic Arts release Command & Conquer 4, despite employee claims that the game “has NO DRM. Zip, zero, zilch, none,” also requires an Internet connection to play, which has already resulted in a thread full of complaints on the C&C forums.

Noting that “the joke seems to be on the customers who end up buying this software when it first comes out,” CNET offers the advice that gamers simply wait for PC games without DRM. Examples given include Spore, which was released on Valve’s Steam platform without SecuROM just two months after its retail release, the original Bioshock, which saw an update released that removed installation limits once the game had aged and even Ubisoft, which removed Tages DRM technology from both Dawn of Discovery and World in Conflict through updates, albeit well after the game’s shelf life had almost expired.

The waiting game however, poses a couple of problem to gamers: First of all, waiting sucks and “PC gamers, and gamers in general, are a restless bunch. Getting them to wait for anything is a hard sell, especially when it’s access to a new game.” Additionally, if all PC gamers waited for stale releases to be stripped of DRM, early sales of a title would suffer, and publishers often use these figures to determine the viability of sequels.

Another way to fight back might be to link up with the organization Defective by Design, which proposes that DRM should stand for Digital Restrictions Management. The group is organizing a Day Against DRM that is scheduled for May 4, 2010.

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  1. thatblack1 says:

    Same here.  I have a healthy respect for Stardock.  What really gets me is that games that need to rely not on internet connections to play but their own servers.

    How many of us here have gone back into out library to play a game again?  Hell me and a few friends are going to do a full multiplayer run of Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 with all the expansions.  I doubt we would be able to do that again with many of the games out in the future.

    We just need to stop buying their shit all together.  Don’t buy it and don’t pirate it.  Show that we are actually willing to let a game series or IP die all together than give into this shit.  When I pay for my games thats all I want.  I want to play without asking the server daddy if I can.  I stopped that shit when I was in high school no need for me to do that now as an adult.  Let the series die and keep the good times in your memories don’t buy it and don’t pirate it.  Leave it to die ignored and depressed and let them sell the IP to someone that not only respects the series but the customers and fan base.

    Ubi and EA.  Take a lesson from stardock.  Hell Steam needs to take a lesson from Stardock too.

  2. Spartan says:

    I simply stopped buying titles except from companies like StarDock, Ironclad, Paradox GPG and couple other similar businesses. 


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  3. Longjocks says:

    After a recent conversation with a friend I reached the conclusion that these copy protection measures are being introduced about a decade too early (I think a comment somewhere on this site said the same thing).

    I remember when HL2 came out and being so utterly frustrated that I couldn’t play the game when I got it. I had to install Steam, create an account, update Steam, install the game, validate the game, update the game. On 56k dialup – all I could get – it took about 3 hours and I then had to do other things then get to bed for work the next day. A night spent in total frustration when I’d like to be kicking back. But I deal with it and move on. At least it’s all set up and I can play offline, right? Well, that’s another story and one that I no longer have too many problems with as Steam has improved over time and I eventually was able to get broadband after moving house.

    Now back to Ubi’s DRM. We all know there are still many parts of the world, even the industrialised world, which don’t have the infrastructure for broadband. My broadband isn’t exactly the best as it is. But what happens if I’m playing a game and my housemate does something network/Internet intensive? I know that our household management of the Internet is not Ubi’s problem, but I’m wondering if they considered how most people use the Internet when deciding to use this technology? Or was it a case of "We have an awesome network and Internet setup here in our office so that’s good enough for us."

    Anyway, this whole waiting for games isn’t a new concept for me; I just did it for a different reason. I’ve never seen the justification of having to pay AU$110 for a game (console in this case, $90-$100 for PC). I went through a phase of simply never buying new games and waited for them to come down in price, or even a sale. Now stores like BigW often sell new games for as low as AU$78, and with the Australian dollar being so strong against the US I can order from there and get new games for AU$70 including postage.

  4. jedidethfreak says:

    I’m not fighting "for" or "against" anything.  As a piracy-fighting tool, DRM has always been worthless.  However, I don’t see anything in the Constitution stating that games, by law, must be allowed to be resold, so claiming that the legality is "questionable" is a stretch at best.

    Also, your methods for claiming that DRM is solely to prevent used game sales is based on nothing more than conjecture, and can’t be proven in any realistic manner.  The only way it COULD be proven would be to somehow convince all pirates in the world to stop pirating for a very long period of time, WITHOUT the game companies finding out, and see if they begin to do away with DRM or not.

    Since you can’t prove your claim, I suggest you stop making it.

    You KILL Vampires. You don’t DATE them.

  5. FlakAttack says:

    Every single one of you, once again, has missed the point. DRM has not affected piracy AT ALL. NOT EVEN PUT A DENT IN IT.

    Meanwhile, nearly every DRM scheme available has prevented used game sales. Everything from CD-KEYS to Steam/Impulse/Direct 2 Drive to Ubisoft’s new DRM to install limits.. all are designed to control, limit, or completely deny the sale of used games.

    This was never a war against pirates, it is a war against the second hand industry. Legitimate customers pay the price (both literally and figuratively) so companies can make more money using methods that are of questionable legality. So before you guys keep talking out of your asses, please, know what you’re fighting for/against before you start shooting your mouths off like cowboys.

  6. jedidethfreak says:

    Remember, though, that piracy is what caused the situation in the first place, and you know that people won’t follow "Don’t Buy."

    You KILL Vampires. You don’t DATE them.

  7. Adamas Draconis says:

    The problem is the publishers don’t listen to opinions, letters, or anything but their wallets. That leaves only two choices, Pirate or Don’t Buy, and I fear that they usually don’t listen to Don’t Buy either.

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  8. Vake Xeacons says:

    It’s a vicious circle.

    The Publisher releases DRM to STOP piracy.

    The Pirate downloads to STOP DRM.

    Is anyone else seeing how neither one is working? Because neither side is learning? And the honest consumer is caught in the middle.

    Personally, writing letters, voicing opinions is the only way to let publishers know how we feel. Boycott, not just PC versions, but consoles as well. I refused to buy Assassin’s Creed 2 on the 360 because of the PC DRM.

  9. Magic says:

    I got boxed copies of the original and CR. What details are incorrect?

    Steam and GFWL are part of the DOW2 experience so I’m perfectly eligible to complain about them!

  10. Anonononomous says:

    There’s a lot in there about DoW2 and DoW2: CR that is false. Complain about Steam and GFWL all you want but why make things up?

  11. Magic says:

    When we compare movies with games in this instance, the problem is far more prevalant – retail games usually require far more pissing about beforehand.

    For pirated games, you install it, set up the crack and you’re off – and you don’t need a disc in the drive from then on.

    For games like Dawn of War 2, I have to install it, set up my CD key, install Steam and set up an account, install Games for Windows Live and set up my Live account … and then every time I want to play I’ll have to insert the disc AND login to Steam and GFW before I can finally play. For other games, replace Steam with EA or Ubisoft’s service platforms.

    I bought DOW2 legitimately and don’t know how a pirated version would work but I imagine it avoids all of the services and checks. It’s the most tedious install process I’ve ever had with a PC game, some games are certainly better (Games on Steam itself are straight forward) but it just really annoys me how long-winded and frustrating it has become.

    Incidentally, I got the new expansion pack, Chaos Rising, and since Steam and GFW were sorted, the installation wasn’t too bad, but redeeming my DLC was annoying (Guess what? I need a Relic Online account now! After registering the DLC I had to enter the code into GFW…). The number of these service platforms seems to be practically one per publisher so there are a lot of logins to track too. Urgh!

    As for movies, I’ve never had a DVD with 3 mandatory trailers at the start, but the adverts and 1 minute anti-piracy stuff always annoys me, especially when it’s a TV series that I’m watching an episode of every evening in the week.

  12. Craig R. says:

    "Do you think pirates are getting THAT much better a product because they can skip five minutes of crap before a two hour movie?"


    But it goes beyond skipping the crap. It includes creating a ‘product’ that can be used without restriction on whatever platforms you like.

  13. Ratros says:

     I have to agree with you on the fact that it makes little difference with movies, but with games, the pirates are getting the better deal.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  14. FlakAttack says:

    Though downloading a copy of a game you have bought is not illegal in Canada, I know circumventing copy protection is illegal in the US so I wouldn’t suggest downloading games unless you’re quite familiar with your nation’s copyright laws.

    Either way, the DRM is a waste of time anyway and only affects legitimate consumers.

  15. Magic says:

    Don’t worry, someone posted a similar comment on the thread … within 30 seconds of EA’s original post.

    (Edit: to clarify, I’m having a go at EA and the speed of the backlash, not you:)

  16. Adamas Draconis says:

    About the time that the ppl who bought the regular version starts sueing because they are unable to use their product. I may be wrong but wouldn’t Ubi be under breach of contract is they were unable to provide proper support to their product because they can’t keep their servers operating?

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  17. Roh02 says:

    unfortunately there are far too many mindless consumers out there that want nothing but instant gratification.

  18. Valdearg says:

    Lmao.. Hilarious. I’m rooting for the attacks to continue until Ubi’s forced to actually do something about it. I’m not holding my breath that Ubi will learn from their mistakes, but hopefully those paying customers who are getting screwed remember this incident the next time they think about purchasing a game with overzealous DRM from Ubisoft.

  19. Ratros says:

    Ubisoft’s isn’t doing it’s job.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  20. Ratros says:

    If you bought it you own it.  As long as you are not copying and selling it, I doubt they can arrest you for it.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  21. Speeder says:

    Note: Only in the US it may not be legal, because of the DCMA. Most other countries still use the copyright law like was created internationally (btw: This actually apply to the US too, the DCMA is in conflict with it). And the copyright laws commonly state that you are allowed to do whatever copies and modifications (crack) to make a software that you bought work on your computer.

    In the US law, this is the section 117 of the copyright law.

    Unfortunally in the US, the DCMA says that doing what the 117 allows, make you go arrested (strange, no?)

  22. Gardog says:

    By paying for games and movies you pay the salaries of the people who made the game/movie that you enjoy and then they make more games and movies for you. Do you think pirates are getting THAT much better a product because they can skip five minutes of crap before a two hour movie?


  23. KayleL says:

    I love this image when ever talking about DRM and pirating.

    I pay for my games and what not (I am too scared of viruses) but I hate how pirates get a better product.

  24. DorthLous says:

    Make that 4. It just got brought down again…


    Also it seems to have been confirmed now that the cracked versions can be played normally when the server are under DOS but not, most of the time, the official ones. 85% of Ubi’s servers are down under right now. The scripts to do the attacks are becoming more and more widespread and the attack better and better coordinated and more frequent. This is turning into a crash course class into script kiddying… What an utter fiasco.

  25. DorthLous says:

    Quote: "The reaction to Ubisoft’s DRM, which requires a constant Internet connection, has been well documented, with a reverse boycott organized and hackers taking down the publisher’s authentication servers twice."

    Three times actually. It happened for near 2 hours again friday or saturday evening, can’t remember. All the Steam forums went up in arms until most of it was moderated out.

  26. Papa Midnight says:

    Actually, that’s more of an honest legal gray area as what you have then done is effectively purchased a license to legally possess and operate the game, therefore, technically you are not breaking the law by downloading the game. Now if you upload the game on the other hand or share it afterwards, you might get hit with a charge of "Making Available" like they got Jammie Thomas for.

    Edit: It could be argued that you circumvented the "Rights Management" software which the developer/publisher included, and therefore, could be cited as breaking the DMCA – in US law, at least.

    Papa Midnight

  27. Tom says:

     That’s definitely a reasonable solution for some, but to my mind it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue.  Purchasing a game with an invasive DRM that you don’t agree with is not using your power as a consumer – the solution is to just not purchase the game in the first place until the DRM is stripped.  Don’t pirate the game and pretend that you’re some sort of digital Robin Hood – just suck it up, move on to something else, and reward the game company with your cash once they elect to remove the DRM.


  28. SeanB says:

    If you don’t like the DRM, buy the game, then download the pirated version. no, it’s still not legal, but it’s not evil either. It’s also not a perfect answer, but it’s probably the best one out there.

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