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Author Topic: "Always Online" DRM  (Read 4612 times)

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Offline Scribblesense

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"Always Online" DRM
« on: August 10, 2011, 07:08:38 PM »
Recently, Blizzard Entertainment announced that their upcoming game Diablo III would require players to be always connected to the Internet while playing. It is a multiplayer game, yes, but it also supports single player; in fact, you could play the entire game from beginning to end without ever taking advantage of its online functionality. Still you are required to be online at all times. One reason for this decision was to enforce their DRM (Digital Rights Management), which ensures that the copy of the game you are playing is a legitimate copy and not pirated. On top of that, Diablo III will support a real money auction house, in which you can trade cash for virtual items with other players. The "Always Online" feature is built to prevent hacking and item duping, assuring the items traded were gained legitimately.

The "Always Online" feature doesn't hurt me in the slightest, as I have a solid, stable internet connection, except when I don't. If my ISP is doing maintenance or has to repair a broken connection, I can't play Diablo III. If Blizzard's servers go down, I can't play Diablo III. If I go on vacation and sneak away with my laptop to play Diablo III, and where I'm at has no wi-fi, I can't play Diablo III. Not even single player, where I gain no benefit from an online connection. Back when I played WoW, there was a period where my local ISP could not communicate with Blizzard's servers - there was nothing I could do for a full month except sit on my hands and hope they would fix the problem. The part that bugged me the most was that I could not communicate with my online-only friends why I wasn't logging in; they were the main reason I played that game for so long. But for single player Diablo III, if that were to happen, I would arbitrarily be locked out of a piece of software installed on my computer because I might be a pirate, or a hacker, or a gold farmer.

The "Always Online" DRM hurts the single player, but it helps the community. An online game free of the influences of cheaters is a nigh-unreachable goal, a gaming nirvana. Blizzard does not lose game sales to piracy, they make more money, and in turn can afford more resources to improve the game. All they have to do is potentially brush away those gamers with poor to non-existent internet connections (like most of the American Great Plains and rural Canada) to create a stronger, exclusive service for their ideal gaming community.

Games like Diablo III are not toys, not anymore - they are a service. They are more easily likened to virtual amusement parks, where your contribution is ongoing. You can use what your ticket affords you, or you can spend a bit more for souvenirs and extra experiences such as carnival games or more exclusive content. You are not buying an object, you are buying an experience.

I will not be buying Diablo III. And though I and everyone else in the gaming industry knows Diablo III will be hacked and DRM-free within the week of its launch, free to download and play (offline) after just a few mouse clicks, I will not be pirating it either. I do not support piracy, and pirating a game to protest draconian DRM is childish and ineffectual. I simply have no desire to participate in the construction of a virtual tourist trap, built for whales with deep pockets to the exclusion of the "common" enthusiast.

A new market of virtual goods is emerging, and I feel it will one day be the top-tier of gaming entertainment. I am not yet so disheartened as to believe "Always Online" will ever fully take over my favorite pastime.

-

Anywho, that's my melodramatic rant. What do you think of the "Always Online" DRM?

Is it the beginning of the end?
Just a minor annoyance?
Would you ever play a single-player game that required you to be online?
Should the turncoats who invented it be drawn and quartered?
Would you have known what it was if you had not read this post?
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Offline mrbasehart

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2011, 07:25:41 PM »
I don't think there's ever a point where I'm not online when I play a game on the PC, so for me it's not a problem. 

And games such as Diablo 3 need to protect themselves in some way from piracy (not that it will, there are far more people out there trying to crack your game than are trying to protect it), and if always online gives them at least some modicum of control, then so be it. 


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2011, 09:36:35 PM »
A lot of people make a LOT more of always-online DRM than I feel is justified, but there is one teeny problem I have with it (Based on my dealings with Ubisoft and Settlers 7). They have to be online too. If their servers are down for maintenance, no Diablo for you. Which is fine by me too, but it also means that in the unlikely event that in 10 years time, Blizzard is a relic of gaming's ancient past, then DIablo 3 ends. As someone who plays a lot of 10 year old games, that bothers me most of all. If Diablo 3 turns out to be one of the greatest games ever, and something happens that renders Blizzard serverless, then the world is deprived of one of the greatest games ever.


Offline Compound

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2011, 09:57:22 PM »
Speaking as someone who went through an internet outage a month or two back, you don't know how frustrating it is to have games that you want to play but can't because the service is down. I don't mean things like WoW or Rift, I mean things like Plants vs. Zombies or Defense Grid. (Hell, there's one game on Steam right now that has been "unavailable" for a week now. Getting real annoyed about that one.)

Look, there is no real reason for a single player game to require constant internet. (And most people will play D3 in SP mode only.) If I want to cheat in it, big deal. If I go into Borderlands right now and grab an ubergun, even in MP it doesn't really cause an issue. But D3 also has an additional issue- the two auction houses- one for gold and one for cash. And they're concerned that people can dupe items, like they did in D2, and then sell them for cash. Frankly, that suggests that perhaps the cash AH might be left for another day. (Frankly that idea fills me with terror anyway. I've played enough WoW to see fairly heated fights over gear. If folks can start getting cash for that blue or purple that just dropped, let alone Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker, then every PUG is going to become a nightmare.)


Offline SJP

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2011, 07:01:00 PM »
I think anything single-player-related needing an always-on connection is reprehensible.  The funny thing is, it could be fixed with something very simple...an added icon in the game folder.  Click this one, go to the single player.  Click this one, go to the multiplayer.  Your MP players are therefore separated from SP, and can only be obtained through the MP portion of the game.  I notice the PS3 doing stuff like this a lot for things like Wolfenstein and Mortal Kombat, where it seems like the two types of gameplay are separated by some sort of barrier.  Not that in Wolfenstein it helps, anyway...the MP and SP are completely different as it is.

I think the problem is that there are, quite frankly, a lot of dicks in the world.  Most of them are people who go onto something like WoW, beat the stuffing out of everybody, and want the world to know they are awesome at WoW as they live in their parent's basement.  There are also a lot of people that want something for nothing, and will pirate everything because they just don't like paying for things.  Sometimes these two groups are separate...many times, they overlap.  But instead of dealing with the dicks and the thieves individually, it's just easier to assume that every single person who plays games IS a dick and a thief and should be treated accordingly.

Personally, I'm tired of these idiots that ruin things for everyone else.  To go on a slight tangent here, I don't care what Sony did to make all these hackers mad at them and attack their servers earlier in the year.  I still think when these jerks go and cause untold damage to not just Sony, but to their vendors, and then sit back and smile because they personally believe they are God's gift to the internet, and then are shocked and appalled when companies go and pull draconian crap like DRM internet connections, I say, they haven't slapped the smug off of them enough.  Not that this applies to anyone here...considering the generally pleasant nature of debate here, I don't think anyone here is one of the kind of annoying putzes I'm referring to.  But it irks me that so many people with clear, talented computer skills have to go and ruin things for everyone over GAMES.  If you can't enjoy it without being "King of the Landscape" for all eternity and ruining it for those of us who just want to play and enjoy ourselves after, you know, WORKING, or can't be bothered to pay for something that used to be considered a luxury item, then maybe you need to slap yourself a few times about the head and shoulders with a toaster oven and get your act together.

But then, I also believe that selling somebody a digital sword on the internet for real money is a sign that we've given up on reality completely, so who cares what I have to say? ;D
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Offline k1

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2011, 05:54:17 AM »
Plus who is to say how much bandwidth it will chew up (hopefully not much if you're on single player) given certain monthly cap limits in place from ISPs.


Offline Rainbow Dash

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2011, 06:32:09 AM »
DRM does nothing except annoy people who want to give companies money for their software.  Games will be hacked, they will be pirated.  Gaming companies need to accept this.  Yes it suck, but it's the nature of the industry.  Developers need to work to make a gaming experience people want to pay for, and ignore the people who just want to pirate their stuff, because they're going to pirate your stuff anyways.  You don't "lose" sales to piracy, because if you made a product worth buying to that person, they would buy it.

And, relevant comments from "Notch" the creator of "Minecraft"
http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2011/03/04/minecrafts-notch-piracy-is-not-theft/

Quote
You probably won’t find a whole lot of video game developers these days extolling the virtues of piracy, but at least one game creator doesn’t seem to mind it. In fact, he embraces it.

That would be Minecraft mastermind Markus “Notch” Persson, a proud member of the Swedish “Pirate Party,” who told the audience of the GDC Indie Games Summit he does not believe the act of copying a game is inherently wrong as nothing is actually being stolen. If anything, it’s a marketing tool.

Quote
    “Piracy is not theft,” said Persson during the session. “If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world. There is no such thing as a ‘lost sale.’ Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?”
He suggests that pirates aren’t “inherently evil, but potential customers.”
Quote
    “Treat game development as a service. Make a game last longer than a week. You can’t pirate an online account.”

Even with some estimates putting piracy for his own title Minecraft at around 70% of those playing, the game has still sold over $1.5M copies, and Notch seems content with that.

His rosy outlook on spreading the love of gaming for free is shared by few others in the industry, and many indie developers have taken huge hits when piracy has cleaved through sales of their titles. Not every game can be a “service” and one-time playthrough titles like World of Goo have suffered 80%+ piracy rates in the past. Even if each downloaded copy isn’t directly a lost sale, it’s still a pretty big hit. Meanwhile, giants like Sony are now hunting down pirates and hackers to the ends of the earth, and piracy continues to be a major concern for the entire industry.


Offline Thrifty

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2011, 07:15:07 AM »
DRM does nothing except annoy people who want to give companies money for their software.  Games will be hacked, they will be pirated.  Gaming companies need to accept this.  Yes it suck, but it's the nature of the industry.  Developers need to work to make a gaming experience people want to pay for, and ignore the people who just want to pirate their stuff, because they're going to pirate your stuff anyways.  You don't "lose" sales to piracy, because if you made a product worth buying to that person, they would buy it.

Total copout.  Similarly, thieves will always steal, drug dealers will always deal drugs, and murderers will always murder, no matter how hard law enforcement works.

Game companies have already made game people want to pay for.  That's why honest people pay for the games.  People who pirate stuff are dishonest people who want the games just as much, but don't want to pay for them.  You are blaming the victim.

Let me put it this way; I would never pirate a copy of any version of Doom, because I don't like first person shooters.  I might pirate a copy of Starcraft 2 if I were a dishonest man, because I like those games.


Offline Scribblesense

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2011, 02:19:14 PM »
No offense to Notch, but if Minecraft hadn't become a global phenomenon and funded his Indie company from now until Judgment Day, he'd probably have a different outlook on piracy. It destroys a lot of Indie developers and a lot of indie games. Why would hackers go through the trouble of stealing source code and breaking DRM and then posting that for free online for games they had no intention of playing? The motivation isn't monetary. With skills like that, they could easily make a good living in the white-collar tech world, but they instead choose to play Ocean's Eleven and lift virtual diamonds from laser-filled museum vaults (to be fair, that sounds much cooler than wearing a suit and punching a clock for the next fourty years).

They are playing with the life and welfare of other people for the thrill of it. They push hard-working, honest, dedicated gaming enthusiasts out of business. That hurts the industry more than it helps it, because it increases the risk for utilizing creativity and innovation - only the Triple-A developers with the resources to market and distribute their games globally aren't hurt by piracy (except in the parts of the world where they are, like mainland Asia where 90% of all software is pirated), and they never would have created Minecraft. And I really doubt the 70% of Minecraft users who pirated their copy didn't actually want the game.

Though I will admit that the video games industry is one of the few where developers can distribute free content without actually hurting sales, and I would love to see more developers offer more free promotions and addons and whatnot as bonuses to fans. The consumers love free stuff, they want free stuff, and in a business where you can continually add to a product at a minimal cost to make the game more attractive to consumers, why the hell won't you? When Disney World adds a new roller coaster, they don't increase the ticket price because suddenly you're getting more content.

That said, I still don't support piracy. It's one of the reasons the gaming industry is leaning towards the service industry model, because experiences are more difficult to pirate than content. You can't download real money from Diablo III, you can't download a 15v15 player Deathmatch in MW2, you can't download a world-first Ragnaros kill in World of Warcraft (I'm aware of the existence of private servers, but they are nowhere near the same level of experience as the actual thing - also, I've never played MW2, so I have no clue if they actually have a 15v15 player Deathmatch scenario).

Pirates are potential customers, yes, but that does not mean we have to let them play their game. We have to change our game so playing theirs isn't worth it anymore.
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Offline SJP

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2011, 07:17:21 PM »
Pirates are potential customers, yes, but that does not mean we have to let them play their game. We have to change our game so playing theirs isn't worth it anymore.

I remember when games used to come bundled with tons of crap.  I never had most of them, but Infocom was almost notorious for the amounts of cool crap they bundled with their games.  I know the game Leather Goddesses of Phobos came with a scratch and sniff card, and during gameplay would inform you of the correct number to scratch.  Leisure Suit Larry 7 did the same thing.  A novelty, yes, but still fun.  Heck, I still think a serious blow game to the PC gaming industry came when laws were passed forcing them to make game boxes certain regulation sizes.  One of the great selling points of the PC era was having boxes that stood out from the others, like Eidos and its trapezoids, or Quest for Darkness IV having a box twice the size of your head.  And this wasn't some stupid "Collector's Edition" crap, either...you could actually tell company brands by the way they built their boxes.  Now that they're just as plain vanilla as the console boxes...that is, console games which are MUCH harder to pirate...what's the point of buying them?  There's nothing special about most of them.  As hard as it is to keep on a shelf, I still love my "Day of the Tentacle" box with its triangular sides.  It was a time of creativity now fettered by regulations designed solely to conserve shelf space.  Because, you know, better to have 30 boxes' worth of "Diner Dash" languishing on the shelf just because you can fit them, rather than 12 copies of a good game somebody might actually buy just because the box is a little unique...and doesn't cost an additional $20 purely for bragging rights.

The company that made Amnesia was seriously considering not making another game until it managed to sell over 350,000 copies, because they were concerned the game might be heavily pirated.  These are seriously talented people, and they almost decided to get out of the business because they weren't sure one of the best experiences I've ever had on a PC would be worth the money to make a sequel to.
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Offline Rainbow Dash

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2011, 09:22:25 PM »


Total copout.  Similarly, thieves will always steal, drug dealers will always deal drugs, and murderers will always murder, no matter how hard law enforcement works.


Big difference though.  Law Enforcement stops thieves, and murderers.  DRM does not stop anyone form pirating if they want to.  I'm not condoning piracy in any form, only making the argument that DRM in no way stops the practice.  I stick by my position that DRM does nothing but provide an inconvenience to paying customers.


Offline Thrifty

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2011, 05:43:09 AM »


Total copout.  Similarly, thieves will always steal, drug dealers will always deal drugs, and murderers will always murder, no matter how hard law enforcement works.


Big difference though.  Law Enforcement stops thieves, and murderers.  DRM does not stop anyone form pirating if they want to.  I'm not condoning piracy in any form, only making the argument that DRM in no way stops the practice.  I stick by my position that DRM does nothing but provide an inconvenience to paying customers.

No they don't.  Theft and murder still happens.  DRM absolutely stops the less technically apt would-be pirates who can't figure out how to get around it.


Offline mrbasehart

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2011, 05:53:36 AM »


Total copout.  Similarly, thieves will always steal, drug dealers will always deal drugs, and murderers will always murder, no matter how hard law enforcement works.


Big difference though.  Law Enforcement stops thieves, and murderers.  DRM does not stop anyone form pirating if they want to.  I'm not condoning piracy in any form, only making the argument that DRM in no way stops the practice.  I stick by my position that DRM does nothing but provide an inconvenience to paying customers.

No they don't.  Theft and murder still happens.  DRM absolutely stops the less technically apt would-be pirates who can't figure out how to get around it.

If they can figure out the internet and the way to actually download the file from it, then I'm pretty sure they can type the words into Google that will take them to a place that can tell you how to crack DRM on a game.  Hell, they don't even need to do that, most download files actually come with the crack in place. 


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2011, 06:48:26 AM »
Yeah. There's no stopping crime. I accept that much, but when the addendum, "So why fight it? Let's accept it as the cultural norm!" is where I have problems with the argument. There are game pirates. There are people who make games that don't want it pirated. Therefore there is DRM. Neither of the first 2 is gonna change, so we might as well get used to the 3rd. Most DRM doesn't bug me since all my games are on the level, and it never interferes with my day-to-day gaming, but the always-online thing is a bit more problematic because it makes things hard for ME, and not the people who managed to work around it and steal it anyway.

In Blizzard's case, however, I suspect it's actually what they say it is. It's not about trying to protect their game so much as to protect the online economy they hope to create.


Offline k1

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Re: "Always Online" DRM
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2011, 07:42:30 AM »
I agree. Although the drm for Spore sucked. My computer died and I can't play it on the new one. (Nor can I trade the game in)