DragonKnight (User)

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There Is No Excusing DRM

DragonKnight | 367d ago
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Let me make this plain. If you excuse draconian DRM practices like always-online or anything that will completely lock out the entire and most basic function of a game or a console, stop gaming right now. If you excuse these actions, you are doing harm to the gaming industry, not good. There is no justification for these practices and they need to end.

This blog isn't about Microsoft, this blog is about the idea of an always-online requirement and other similar schemes. Over the past month I've seen all kinds of excuses as to why an always-online console is not a bad thing, or is a good thing, or why someone can see why a company would go there. I'm here to tell you that that is the wrong attitude. An always-connected console can have benefits in terms of speed and for lazy people, but a forced online connection isn't one of those benefits. The copout of "well most people are always online anyway" is not a defence. Right now, on any of the consoles, you have a CHOICE of whether or not you want to connect to the internet to message friends, search the internet through a console browser, or play online multiplayer. If you do not want to do any of those things and you do not connect to the internet, you can still put in a game and play it minus the aforementioned multiplayer. That's good right? Right.

The premise behind an always-online required console is that said console will not allow you to use the basic function of playing any games offline. THAT IS OF NO BENEFIT TO YOU! You paid money for that game. You should be able to pop it in and play it. You should NOT have to worry that your spotty internet connection could boot you out of something you paid money for. There is no such thing as a 100% always stable network connection ANYWHERE in the world. I don't care what Cliffy B thinks, I don't care what Adam Orth thinks, IT DOESN'T EXIST!

Online passes are just as bad, but they affect ONLY the online portion of a game. That means you can still play the singleplayer portion of the game if you CHOOSE not to pay for an online pass. All of these restrictions serve no one but publishers. They are created based on myths (the used game market hurts developers) and over-exaggeration (piracy is such a huge problem that studios shut down because of it), but are founded in absolute greed.

The more we excuse these practices, the more we show even the slightest hint of apathy, the worse things will get. And if any of us have principles that would tell us "you can't buy this, it's wrong to support something like this" and more of us adopt this philosophy, then eventually either the core audience will cease being any kind of a priority to these developers/publishers and we all won't want to game anyway; or MAYBE these companies will see the error of their ways and revert back to before all of these pay wall schemes were invented.

Always-online required is a problem with which there is no justification. Any reasoning that publishers make is a bogus copout to hide wanton greed and control issues. It was unnecessary with Diablo 3 and I'm convinced that that game was successful because A)It was so long before the last Diablo game was released and B)It employed the same B.S. that FF13 did where people expected a great game and instead were met with DRM and mediocrity.

We have to stick together on this. We can't reward restrictions no matter who is imposing them. Whether it be blocking used games or forcing a network connection to allow for the basic functioning of console, we CAN'T allow this to go on. We are a community that CAN come together when we want to. Loudly and passionately. Our only problem is with how unstable we are, how inconsistent we are. That needs to change if we truly want the Golden Age of gaming to return once again.

Do not excuse DRM. Don't let these money grubbing control freaks think you agree with them in the slightest. That's the only way things can change.

bishopsindall   367d ago | Spam
Ducky  +   367d ago
"Online passes are just as bad, but they affect ONLY the online portion of a game. That means you can still play the singleplayer portion of the game if you CHOOSE not to pay for an online pass."

What's your opinion on games locking single-player content behind codes?
ArkhamCity and RAGE (maybe?) employed something similar where you either bought the game new, or bought a code to have access to extra single player content.

To a smaller extent, I suppose pre-order exclusives like custom skins fall into this category too since they are all methods to get you to buy the product new.
#2 (Edited 367d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
DragonKnight  +   367d ago
I thought the Arkham City code was for CatWoman and not access to the single player. Hmmm. Anyway, locking out the basic function of the game behind a second pay wall is wrong no matter how you look at it. Pre-Order exclusives make developers and publishers hypocrites because stores like Gamestop sell games used and those are the very stores that these publishers/developers allegedly have a problem with. This just further proves the point that the used market hurting the industry is a lie because what would be served in then HELPING the stores that sell used games?
Ducky  +   367d ago
Well, Catwoman was single-player content, and it was activated similar to how an online pass works.

I suppose ArkhamCity is in a grey area, since you can either say that the developers are good because instead of a paid DLC, they rewarded buyers by giving it to them for free.
... or you can say that it was bad because they had day-1 DLC that was locked behind an online code.

As or the pre-orders, it kinda makes sense to have those incentives in a store frequented by customers who buy used. This way you can entice them to buy it new. So by helping those stores sell new games, they're trying to decrease the population that would buy the used game.
#3.1 (Edited 367d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
dedicatedtogamers  +   367d ago
Here's the problem as I see it. Gamers have been saying with their mouths "I hate DRM" but saying with their wallets "go ahead and rape me with it".

Diablo III sold 12 million copies so far. SimCity sold 2 million in the first month, despite being completely unplayable. DLC is a form of DRM, since it requires you to have an online connection and a legit copy to access the "full" game. For years, console gamers haven't really protested against the restrictions of digital downloads (like only 4 active systems at a time for a PSN purchase, or having to sign in to XBL to use games on your hard drive). You think the increase in Day One patches is a coincidence? It forces users to get online with their game. Skyrim on PC, for example, can only be patched through Steam, even if you went to your local Best Buy and bought a physical copy. It makes me wonder if Bethesda rushing it to market wasn't intentional.

And the biggest culprit of all is Steam. Steam is DRM, no matter how anyone spins it. Steam requires you to "phone home" to the servers every two weeks or so, even if you put it in Offline Mode, or you'll be temporarily locked out of your games.

It really is no surprise that DRM is on the rise.

We asked for it.
#4 (Edited 367d ago ) | Agree(10) | Disagree(4) | Report | Reply
Awesome-Xanto  +   367d ago
I leave Steam in offline mode all the time for a long while, and I have never had it want to "phone" home. I have heard people leaving Steam in offline mode for a year or more. Steam is DRM, and lets face it, we will never get publishers to agree to not do DRM. But out of all the DRM that is out there, Steam isn't the worst.

And you got to look at the company, Steam is proven to be consumer friendly and is likely to still be around 10 years from now.

But for something like always online games, you can't trust publishers... especially EA, who will shut down servers after a few years and take away your ability to play the game you payed for.

Steam=/= Always Online Games.
#4.1 (Edited 367d ago ) | Agree(3) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
Zurn  +   365d ago
@awesome-xanto:
Even in offline mode Steam is still sending a "heart beat" message. Check your network traffic and you will see it. The Steam offline mode is not. It is very misleading to label it such. Try playing in offline mode with your network completely disabled.(Then try it for 6 months completely disconnected and then reconnect - you will likely be surprised at the outcome - I know I was having been a Steam user for years.) I travel a great deal to places without internet connectivity (yes, those places still exist in great numbers). And I am unable to play a significant number of my games in offline mode. Period. The only ones I can play reliably are those that do not have DRM or require Steam. (While you are at it take a look at your system vulnerabilities with the Steam app. Since it requires root/admin it allows full access to your system...try to restrict it and you will lose your ability to play any of your games and will be locked out of Steam. If you use Steam or another form of DRM I highly recommend that you use a separate system for games only and keep your home systems fire-walled off.)

Steam customer service is NOT excellent. It is, in fact, very poor. Most of the good reviews come from fanboy sites or PR firms that front load with glowing reviews. They do not come from folks who are working issues with them. (By the way, I used to be a Steam fan. But, I know Steam now as an electronic pusher for my gaming hobby.) About a year ago, upon returning from travel after months of being offline, I tried to connect and play. I could not and have not been able to play any of the titles I played during that time. I contacted Steam via the required online trouble ticket system and received a single response after two months and a over a dozen emails. The ONLY response from Steam has been for me to repurchase all of my affected games. 10 games at $50 bucks a pop is not a good way to endear customers your service. If you think their service is good then you have likely been lulled into a very low standard expectation. (Note: that I also contacted several of the developers and they, not Steam, sent me new copies of some of the games. That is good customer service.)

Steam is great if you are in a sterile environment with excellent connectivity all the time. But, they are a poor service providers as the consumer has little rights within their domain. Read the EULA and service agreement if you have questions. Imagine a drug kingpin requiring all of his users to sign EULAs and service agreements...that if he gives them bad "stuff" they have no rights at all. And he will prosecute them and "cut them off" if they are not entirely satisfied with his service. Same thing.

If you have no desire to be responsible for your own software or property, Steam will manage everything for you and make it easy. The unfortunate reality is that this is all that most gamers are concerned with. IF you are an honest consumer and gamer who takes responsibility for your system, games, and property ...Steam treats you as the enemy. Dragonknight is absolutely correct in this assertions.

I know I will incur the wrath of the fanboys and hired Steam PR folks...this is the way of life in the Steam world. But to quote John Belushi in a very bad movie (1941): "If you are not taking flak - you are not over the target."
Awesome-Xanto  +   365d ago
When I run steam in offline mode, it is because I have no network connection for whatever reason, and I have never had a problem with it wanting to be connected. As long as you have your log in details saved to Steam, closed Steam properly by clicking exit and closing it down when not in use, all your games are fully updated and have been played at-least once, and the game your trying to play doesn't require extra DRM outside of Steam (some games do like Ubisoft games) it should work fine in offline mode.

I never said they have good customer service, not many companies do... I said there consumer friendly and they generally are when in comes to doing what gamers want and giving them what they want. I'm sorry your account had issues, that wasn't resolved... but many people leave there accounts offline for months without issue. I would have stayed on them until something was done. As a consumer you have rights, EULA or no EULA... EULA's don't always hold up in a court of law either. So not all are set in stone just because you agree to it.

The reality of the situation is DRM is not going anywhere, and unless you mainly play old games from GOG your not going to be able to play newer games without DRM. But there are different levels of DRM that range from tolerable to a pain, and Steam is tolerable. I'm not a fan of DRM, or digital downloads... but I've come to realize that it doesn't matter if you buy physical or if you play on console vs PC.

In today's market, it can all become useless at a drop of a hat. Sure you could buy your games physically on a console and sure you could have them 10 - 20 years from now "if" you console still works... but what good is that when today's games have DLC and are patched all with internet which will be unattainable when the servers are shut down which will likely happen each new generation. What is the point is playing a buggy game when you can't get the patch or it's DLC?

It's not the same world it was 20 years ago, when gamers could buy game and still be playing it today without issue.

Some things I can live with. Steam that "may" have to connect every so often when we live in a connected world I can live with. Steam isn't going anywhere anytime soon or taking away our games from us. The internet situation will improve slowly but surly. A game that has to be connected all the time or a game that has to be streamed over a cloud I will not, at that point it's not worth gaming anymore because you may get a year or two out of the game that you payed for before it is gone.

As I said, there is what you can live with and what is tolerable and there is what isn't. Sooner or later we will see where the market goes, consumers are already showing the will blindly accept such tactics, and we will either accept it or we wont.
#4.1.2 (Edited 365d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(1) | Report
jessupj  +   367d ago
I agree.

I'm a little torn though, and I'll tell you why.

I believe everyone has a right to buy whatever they want (as long as it's legal of course) with their own hard earned money.

However, I also believe it's because of the blind, uneducated casuals that so many of these draconian measures have allowed to be. Online passes, Overpriced DLC which is literally 99% of all DLC, DRM, COD cloning have all allowed to exists because these casuals make it viable.

Both beliefs conflict with each other, but in the end I guess it's moot because the casuals will continue to enable said behavior whether I wish it or not.

Do I hate the casuals as people? No. Do I hate their uneducated, 'I don't care' attitude when it comes to their gaming purchasing habits? Definitely.

I haven't bought a single piece of DLC ever, never bought an online pass, never bought a cod game, never bought a single game with DRM. I vote with me wallet, but unless more people start to wise up the industry will continue to move in this dark direction.
rainslacker  +   367d ago
Being the argumentative jack-a** I am, I really wanted to find some fault in your post to argue with you. Unfortunately I could not...so thanks for ruining my day.:P

Anyhow, CliffyB was right on one point, there are plenty of people who will accept this no matter what. It may not be with MS, or any company, but eventually the likelyhood that always-on comes to pass will gain acceptance because of people that just don't care. I doubt it will be next gen, but I have no doubt that companies will do things that will slowly take away more and more from the consumer. It's really sad, because I remember when companies tried to actually please their consumers, and didn't have to put PR spin on everything to make people want their products.

It's sad that we as a community have generally become corporate apologist. Obviously there are those of us who still try to fight the good fight, or defend a company when people are trying to make something out of nothing, but that pales in comparison to the troves of people who will just ignore the issue, or put some spin on it where it just isn't bad.

The mentality of "If it's good for the companies making games, it's good for the gamer" just doesn't hold true, and it's become increasingly worse as this generation progressed.

I will admit, when this whole thing first started, I was rather pleased at how it was almost unanimously said to be a bad thing. Then the console wars had to come into it and it seemed that the actual topic just got lost in the interest of defending or dissing a company, which likely isn't even going to do this anyways.

I'm not personally going to judge a person's decision to support always-on, should they do so, but at the same time I would like it if more people, particularly those that don't care, actually take the time to see how it will affect them. It would be nice if they could also see, or at least think about things to their logical conclusion and see what anti-consumer practices actually do to the communities and the industry itself. Again, though, it's a problem, because there are still plenty of people that just don't really care outside themselves.

To those that do care about gaming, your post should be required reading. There is absolutely no excuse anyone who claims to loves games should want or accept something which potentially and realistically takes away their ability, or control over playing said games.

Edit: OK, I found a fault...it's in your title. My day is good again.:)

There are valid reasons for DRM, they just aren't terribly effective at achieving the goals for it's existence. More often than not they only punish the honest consumer, so on and so forth(it's been discussed endlessly).

I wish it were possible to separate the issue of DRM and always on(as one is a means to another). Unfortunately they are intrinsically linked. Always-on though is much broader in scope, and has more serious downsides than just plain ol' DRM.
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Bladesfist  +   366d ago
I disagree about online passes even though my opinion on the matter seems to be hated. I believe that the developers deserve as share of a sale. If you choose to buy used you should not expect the same quality as buying new, that's how it works elsewhere. The problem with buying used games, DVDs and music is that there is no downside. Online passes may be a little expensive for my liking but I always buy new and wait for a sale if I want something cheaper.
DragonKnight  +   366d ago
"I believe that the developers deserve as share of a sale."

So Ford deserves a cut of every used car sale from every used car lot? Nintendo should be compensated for every NES sold on eBay to collectors? Developers get their share when they sell the game to the retail store. They made a finite amount of discs and shouldn't be compensated multiple times for one disc. That's ridiculous.

"If you choose to buy used you should not expect the same quality as buying new, that's how it works elsewhere."

Bull. Game quality doesn't reduce by being used unlike things like cars that wear down after awhile. You pop a disc in, it's still the same game as it was day one.

"The problem with buying used games, DVDs and music is that there is no downside."

Why in the blue hell SHOULD there be a downside? You act as though it's a bad thing to sell things you no longer need or want. As though you've never done anything of the sort in your entire life. Try telling your friends and family members who may have had yard sales that selling their box set of Rocky DVDs is wrong because the movie studio isn't getting that money. They'll laugh in your face or look at you like you've lost it.

Online passes are inexcusable and support a myth based on nothing but greed.
Bladesfist  +   366d ago
"So Ford deserves a cut of every used car sale from every used car lot? Nintendo should be compensated for every NES sold on eBay to collectors? Developers get their share when they sell the game to the retail store. They made a finite amount of discs and shouldn't be compensated multiple times for one disc. That's ridiculous. Bull. Game quality doesn't reduce by being used unlike things like cars that wear down after awhile. You pop a disc in, it's still the same game as it was day one."

You pretty much summed up my point, if you buy a used car you are getting an inferior product which balances the market. If used cars were the same quality as new cars would that not cause problems with the market? That is my point, everywhere else these things degrade but not with the entertainment market. Of course this is what I believe as a developer. Used game sales = piracy to a developer. Either you should be rewarded for buying new with say free future dlc (the way I would prefer the system to work) or you should be punished for buying used.
#7.1.1 (Edited 366d ago ) | Agree(4) | Disagree(4) | Report
DragonKnight  +   366d ago
*facepalm* You're trying to state that because parts wear down, games should also have something that reduces the quality since they don't break down? I have never heard a more ridiculous statement in my years on this site and I don't think I ever will again. That's a B.S. argument to the highest degree. Physical objects wear down over time, that's a given. It isn't the fault of a game that it's not made of physical parts but data that doesn't typically break down the same way a car would. Used cars can definitely be the same quality as new. You could be the kind of person that takes excellent care of their car so that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it when you sell it. You could have bought the car and had to get rid of it in a week because you're moving to another country and won't be needing it. But just because games don't wear down is no reason to punish people for wanting to save money. Your argument seeks to claim that it is wrong to want that. That's just... I don't even know how to describe that kind of statement.

"Used game sales = piracy to a developer."

Don't lie like that. Used games = Developers crying that they don't get to make multiple profits off of ONE copy. That's a ridiculous notion. Developers make their money by selling to retailers, not to consumers. Piracy isn't the same thing as used games. Piracy adds to server costs, used games don't. You are completely wrong.
#7.1.2 (Edited 366d ago ) | Agree(3) | Disagree(6) | Report
Bladesfist  +   366d ago
"*facepalm* You're trying to state that because parts wear down, games should also have something that reduces the quality since they don't break down?"

No I simply stated that games don't. What I am trying to explain is that if new and used was the same except for price in another industry things would go bad fast.

"But just because games don't wear down is no reason to punish people for wanting to save money"

You save hardly anything most of the time for buying used however you support stores ripping people off by paying next to nothing for used copies and selling them just bellow new. For the £1 you saved a developer receives nothing. That is if you save anything in the first place. I can generally find a game cheaper online than I can in store used.

"Don't lie like that. Used games = Developers crying that they don't get to make multiple profits off of ONE copy. That's a ridiculous notion. Developers make their money by selling to retailers, not to consumers. Piracy isn't the same thing as used games. Piracy adds to server costs, used games don't. You are completely wrong."

Haha. It is the exact opposite. Used games without an online pass drain server resources which cost the developer. Imagine ford had to pay people for using there used cars. A pirated copy is most likely going to either be downloaded via P2P which means that no official servers are used or transferred via physical media. The only drain on resources is a simple CD Key check which is pretty much free. If you allow someone to use your servers before a CD key check then you are crazy.
#7.1.3 (Edited 366d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(3) | Report
DragonKnight  +   366d ago
"No I simply stated that games don't. What I am trying to explain is that if new and used was the same except for price in another industry things would go bad fast."

Again, you stated people should be punished for buying used games because of some perceived level of quality that is the same across the board for games and not for anything else. Well you're wrong because it's the same with anything that doesn't break down. It isn't the fault of the consumer that the product doesn't break down and they shouldn't be punished for that.

"You save hardly anything most of the time for buying used however you support stores ripping people off by paying next to nothing for used copies and selling them just bellow new. For the £1 you saved a developer receives nothing. That is if you save anything in the first place. I can generally find a game cheaper online than I can in store used."

For one, savings add up and it's never just a buck. If it was a buck cheaper most wouldn't buy used. Two, you're forgetting the used market extends beyond brick and mortar stores to individuals selling to friends and family. Third, the developer SHOULDN'T receive anything. They didn't do any extra work that shouldn't warrant extra pay. They made a game, they made discs, they sold it to stores and got their money from those stores, they didn't do ANYTHING ELSE beyond that at all. In any other industry, if you don't do extra work you don't get extra pay, why should this be any different simply because the product is digital and not physical?

"Haha. It is the exact opposite. Used games without an online pass drain server resources which cost the developer. Imagine ford had to pay people for using there used cars. A pirated copy is most likely going to either be downloaded via P2P which means that no official servers are used or transferred via physical media. The only drain on resources is a simple CD Key check which is pretty much free. If you allow someone to use your servers before a CD key check then you are crazy."

Hahaha you're wrong. A used game is a 1:1 situation. One person bought the game new, took a spot on a server, then decided to sell it to a friend who then occupies THAT SAME SPOT on the server. Piracy is a 0:1 situation. The individual paid nothing for a spot on the server and took up a spot that wasn't already taken and likely found a workaround so they don't have to worry about key checks or any other hassles. If you were talking about selling the game online, used games have nothing to do with the cost of hosting that game online as the cost would be ever present regardless.

I'm sorry but your philosophy is terrible, it's wrong, and I can't believe anyone thinks that people should be punished for buying something used simply because the product doesn't degrade in quality. Do extra work, then demand more money. Don't demand extra profit for less work.
coolbeans  +   366d ago
The core problem with online passes is the publisher's mindset to artificially place a greater burden on a potential "new" customer. Since another $10 up front for the whole game is required after the initial used physical purchase is made at say...Gamestop, the value of used games plummets resulting in used game SELLERS with less gamestop credit to potentially buy more new games.
DragonKnight  +   366d ago
What I'm worried about is if the online passes could potentially translate to a future price hike for all games. Online passes right now are a choice, but what if publishers decide that they still aren't getting enough and just decide to add on the price of online passes to all new games in addition to keeping them for used games just to hedge their bets? I mean, this gen has showed us that publishers are capable of anything.
coolbeans  +   366d ago
@Dragon
Eh...I don't know. I'm not exactly an expert of speculation for these possibilities but I don't see it coming to that. When considering other ways for publishers to make $$$ (season passes, micro-transactions, etc.), I don't see why they'd go so far as to make online passes an additional thing to purchase. I'd imagine it would also harm many gamers' impetus to buy new altogether if it came to that.
Zurn  +   365d ago
@ Dragonknight:
I think you are spot on in your assessment. I am at a point where I have to evaluate every game purchase I make specifically for the reason stated in your article. I now spend much time looking for DRM free games and talking with developers/publishers to determine if a game will be DRM free or not. Recently, I have been supporting several kickstarter developments simply because they will publish DRM free.

It is my impression that it is the publishers (and DRM pushers like Steam) who are the root cause of the decline in the game market (at least for PC). They have, with the use of DRM, created the perfect electronic drug. It creates the environment and self justifies its actions by simple manipulations of the gamer community (OMG piracy is killing us! You must submit to DRM or we are all doomed!) AND we buy it every time. The same was used on the music community...that piracy would kill the industry. Take a look at earnings for most music labels. Profits are better than ever...and piracy has has not come close to causing a catastrophic failure. Now we have "services" that control our access to music and provide us with proper management. IT was manipulation that created vast profits- just ask iTunes. The same can be said for the current DRM business model. "Radix malorum est cupiditas" For those who know their Chaucer.

As for passes and DLC, they are just another gateway drug to DRM.

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