Is DRM Killing PC Gaming?

  By Shamus   Sep 11, 2008   49 comments

Jay Barnson is the preacher, and I am the choir. Please turn in your hymn books to #132, “Is DRM Killing PC Gaming?“, and sing along with me.

I sing that song often enough around here, as everyone is painfully aware. But Jay has been both a mainstream and an indie developer (and in fact recently moved back to indie after another stretch in one o’ them highfalutin’ mainstream outfits) and it’s nice to have some support from someone on the other side of the gamer / developer divide.


20209Feeling chatty? There are 49 comments.


  1. Raine says:

    I hate DRM. i glad, for once, i have an old laptop.

  2. The Lone Duck says:

    I agree with Jay’s comment, “Fortunately, even DRM (when it WORKS) isn’t as onerous as document lookup or those awful code-wheels we had to put up with back in the day.” I’ve downloaded Abandonware, as well as old games I still own, (the 3.5 floppy disks don’t have anywhere to go). As long as it is safe, I don’t care about DRM IF THEY TELL ME UP FRONT. Sneaking this stuff in, that’s despicable; especially when it is still not bug free. But we’ve all heard this tune. Sorry for the repetition. :D

  3. Aergoth says:

    Nice metaphor Shamus. See if developers could learn to develop solid games at a low price (such as indie developers are, I believe, almost forced to do) or on a donation basis (kind of like a band allowing downloads of select tracks and asking you to maybe drop a few dollars their way) they’d kill piracy and DRM would become irrelevant.

  4. Tom says:

    The problem with DRM is it NEVER works. Look at the crazy DRM they are forcing people to suffer with Spore, yet there are about a million people currently sharing it on bittorrent. Those people won’t have to deal with the DRM.

  5. Veylon says:

    I’d say “NO” simply because the game industry is a market, not a single entity. Do people stop driving cars because the Big Three automakers are having a bad year? Did we stop buying PCs because IBM pulled up stakes and left? Sure, EA might kill itself, but that doesn’t mean Paradox and Stardock won’t be more than happy to fill the gap with DRM-free software. The consumers own the market and if some companies ignore them, then they will suffer for it.

  6. Nilus says:

    I think the problem is there is no “PC gaming” or “Console Gaming” anymore. All the modern consoles are basically custom PCs running there own OS. Consumers are just finding it easier to buy them and play games on them then they are PC games. There are very few things a PC can do better then a console in this day and age. I am not saying DRM are not part of the problem making consoles easier to use but I am saying other things are also driving people away.

  7. Hal says:

    I’d like to know what people mean when they say, as Jay did, that companies need, “less stick and more carrot.”

    It’s really one thing to say that you have to offer a product that the pirates can’t. I’m just not sure myself what that translates into.

  8. Coyote says:

    Consoles are easier to develop for, too.

    But I love the PC. There are a lot of limitations for what kinds of games work well on a console — and a lot of my favorite kinds of games are on that list.

    As far as DRM is concerned – I’ve flip-flopped on the issue. I was marginally in favor of it (and – if it is implemented WELL and reasonably, I admit I prefer it over disc checks). But really – I think it’s an artifact of old-world thinking. Like putting a propeller on the nose of a jet – it’s useless at best, and inconveniencing and frustrating and even downright dangerous at worst.

    It’s all in the name of stopping piracy – which is an admirable goal, as piracy is killing gaming as surely as anything else. But it’s throwing gasoline on the fire (wow, am I mixing metaphors here, or what?).

    Times have changed. The days of buying games that come in boxes at the local game store are numbered – at least as a primary method of distribution. When dealing with goods that are purely digital, you need to come up with digital solutions – not just try and force yesterday’s material-goods “solutions” on us.

  9. Veylon says:

    Carrots are just large, tasty, orange sticks with which you can beat pirates on moral grounds rather than legal ones. They take away the pirates’ excuses, separating them from those who would otherwise support them, leaving them isolated and vulnerable.

    Companies can offer demos, remove DRM, give better support with patches and upgrades, offer better customer service in general.

    On the stick side, they can also degrade the quality of pirated warez by getting on the torrents themselves, poisoning the torrents and watching whose IP address come up for uploading and downloading.

    Ultimately this is a war of perception more than technology. When corporations act like the secret police, breaking into your house and rummaging through your possessions, naturally the pirates seem less like mobsters and more like freedom fighters. But when the corporations act in an honest, aboveboard way, that casts the pirates as the sneaks and villains, making stick-style attacks that much more effective.

  10. qrter says:

    I’d like to know what people mean when they say, as Jay did, that companies need, “less stick and more carrot.”

    It’s really one thing to say that you have to offer a product that the pirates can’t. I’m just not sure myself what that translates into.

    It basically translates into: make a great game, perhaps offer little extras to consumers and completely drop the DRM.

    The first one should be the priority and also the hardest to achieve. The second one is optional to some, but can figuratively be a nice carrot to others. The third one is the controversial one, although it might be tied to the first one.

    Make a genre specific game or something that’s a bit stranger, a bit weirder, a bit more interesting than the next shooter using some id engine appearing on consoles. That’s where PC gaming thrives, that’s when a surprisingly large group of people will pony up the dough (see Stardock’s success with Sins of a Solar Empire, or GSC’s STALKER, or – sorry Shamus ;) – CD Projekt’s The Witcher) and because it’s a more niche market – a lot less need to use DRM or even, dare I say it, no need to use DRM at all.

    When DRM isn’t preventing what it should be preventing, why keep it around? Because it sounds good to shareholders? Because it makes it sound like you’re tackling a problem when you’re not?

  11. The Lone Duck says:

    Regarding less stick and more carrot: The metaphor refer to hanging a carrot on a stick in order to catch a rabbit/bunny/hare. The carrot is the appetizing part, the bait, while the stick is what lets you catch the rabbit and reap it’s reward. (Something not mentioned would be the string… I’ll talk about that later.) Whether you wanna eat the rabbit, sell it’s skin, or keep it as a pet, it does no good to just throw carrots willy-nilly. Ergo, to return to PC gaming, the game itself is the carrot. The stick is the method of compensation for the game. A good string is the means of making sure the carrot(game) doesn’t fall off for free. The trouble is, there are a lot of crafty bunnies who like to chew through the string to get the carrot for free. So continuing the line of thought, the next choice is to either make stronger string, or create a new trap. (The trap being the sales method.) At any rate, more carrot won’t help. You either need to make better traps, or find easier bunnies to catch. I don’t know how often Peggle is pirated, but I’m guessing not as much as Crysis. Hardcore hares are tough to catch.
    Heh, pardon the long windedness. One of my flaws is I like to pursue a line of thought to the edges of absurdity. I hope this offers either clarification or confusion to the discussion. :D

  12. Flo says:

    A good “carrot” would also be to actually put some extra value into the package in the form of a proper manual (instead of just a pdf on the disk) and bringing back “feelies” like maps and minor trinkets.

    Nowadays stuff like maps, artbooks etc. are pretty much relegated to overpriced “collector’s editions”, when they used to be commonplace some 10 years ago. It doesn’t always have to be the torrent of stuff coming at you from an Ultima box, but putting at least *something* in the box that is both worthwhile and not on the actual disk itself would go a long way towards giving some real added value over the pirate version.

  13. Avilan the Grey says:

    Well the big thing with Torrents and Spore, specifically, is that it was a leaked copy, not a cracked copy. AFAIK, the Spore version on the Torrents are not cracked, since there is no need to crack the game. The DRM only kicks in if you want to play online, and there’s absolutely no other copy protection on the disc. So to argue that the DRM didn’t stop people to crack the game and upload it to the torrent sites… That is simply false. The DRM stops the people that downloads from the torrents to play online, that’s all, and that is the way it is meant to work.
    (You also have an unlimited number of installs if you do not play online).

    Again, this is AFAIK.

  14. Steven Jones says:

    Maybe I’m being a bit rose tinted as I’ve never come up with any DRM problems in my gaming years (I’m 34 so there’s been a few of them!) including Spore which I got from D2D.co.uk However I think a lot of the problems and potential future problems could be resolved if all the gaming companies got together to create a DRM central organization which would be funded by all developers, in some means-tested way, to handle the access control. This way you wouldn’t have the worry of any one publisher going out of business and rendering your game unplayable, and therefore not owned. Of course this is an idealist idea, and possibly impossible to implement, but would, I believe, go a long way to get both sides of the equation sedated.

  15. Luvian says:

    @Avilan the Grey

    That’s wrong info. It does have a crack, and it’s not a “leaked” version. It’s actually the final retail product but it was released early in Australia and the hackers used that version, which is the same as the American version.

  16. SolkaTruesilver says:

    The problem is, the support we just received from “the other side” came from an indy developer, a.k.a. one of those whacko hippies who cannot even afford a proper DRM.

    Or at least, that’s how the soullest corporates will see it at EA.

  17. devoid of tek says:

    I strongly oppose DRM like many of you and like Shamus remember the silly days of code wheels and games that made you look up x word on y page of the game manual. I’m not that tech savvy, (low end of the bell curve in computers). My question is DRM related but take a tangent so please bear with me. What I was wondering is this:

    Would it be possible to distribute games on something similar to a usb flashdrive , with the software scrambled? You could then plug the stick into a small portable descrambling device connected to the computer. Also maybe most of the game could still be installed by CD with only critical info delivered using this device. Maybe i’m just wonky. I’ve never been that technical and I tend to see things in a “path of least resistance” way.

    My reasoning for this (if you could call it that), is from my days watching as my Dad pirated satellite TV in the 80’s and 90’s for us here in Canada from the US. We got all the good stuff back then, HBO, CINEMAX, PLAYBOY et al, anyway we had to use a scrambler box connected to the satellite box to get the signal. I just don’t think a software approach to stemming the path of least resistance will ever work. Hardware will at least keep it in check, and ONLY those hardcore enough will use workarounds. At least this would bring pirating and the ability to circumvent and track pirates back into the realm of hardware.

    I know the TPM chip thing is what THE INDUSTRY WANTS to move too. Its the internal and required component part that I don’t like. At least something EXTERNAL and NOT PART OF THE MOTHERBOARD is a reasonable alternative to me. That thing smells of the coup de grace of information corralling.
    I just got a really bad feeling bout that TPM thing, just spooks the hell out of me. Like chipping pandora’s box so someone can come in, oh like 10 years from now and shut down anyone’s computer anytime they like or at least seriously restrict info (BIG BROTHER VIBES MAN).

    Ok, Maybe I’m just WAY too paranoid or just ate some bad fish. Any thoughts to this?

  18. pdwalker says:

    I will never again buy a game with DRM. NWN2 was the last game I bought that had DRM.

    needless to say, it didnt work on my machine. I had to download a no-cd crack for the game *I PURCHASED* in order to run it on my machine.

    The gaming companies can all go out of business for all I care unless, unless they start rereleasing good games without DRM.

  19. ShadowDragon8685 says:

    It used to be that most people who pirate games are those who could not, or would not, pay for games legitimately. Game developers lost essentially all of jack and shit in sales to these people, since if they couldn’t pirate it, they weren’t going to buy it anyway.

    I, myself, have the technical capacity to pirate games. I know I can do it, I’ve done it before.

    A few days ago, I got to pining for the days of Wing Commander, and I was about “this” close, where “this” means putting your thumb and first finger about as close as they can go to one another while being able to see through them, to pirating WC: Prophecy Gold from The Pirate Bay.

    I own Wing Commander: Prophecy legitimately, and since WCP: Secret Ops was, in fact, a *free* expansion pack, there’s no reason whatsoever I should have to pay for it now.

    In the end, I didn’t, simply because it involved burning to disks and using those in lieu of game disks. I could have done a virtual drive system, or gone out and bought some CD-RWs, but the fact was it was simply easier to get some windex and a dishrag and very thoroughly clean my troublesome CD2 of Wing Commander: Prophecy.

    Point? Pirating is a hassle. The only other time I pirated a game, it was Halo for the PC. It worked, but it was slow, and I only really did it because I was bored and desperate for game at the tender hour of 5 AM. Net result?

    I went out and bought a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved for the PC.

    It’s really quite simple. Companies have to stop viewing pirate websites as crooks, thieves and liars. That they may be, or may as not be, but they are there, they are a known part of the Market; just as bootleggers were and are.

    So, in a Market wherein you have been forced into competition by someone who’s offering the same product as you, how do you maintain customer loyalty to your brands? Is it by treating customers as criminals and imposing draconian measures upon them?

    No. It’s by out-competing the other guys. Most people do not want to pirate as a thing of principle, or simply because it’s a hassle – you have to muck about with CD images, burning to CD-RWs or dealing with Virtual Drives, and all in all, it’s a lot of *hassle* to get up and running, and sometimes – like with Halo for me – it lags like a sucker.

    Sometimes, games are available on The Pirate Bay before they’re available in stores. Arcanum is the most stunning example of this, as the best game that was ever killed because the Publisher (Sierra, you fools!) delayed it FOUR MONTHS to have it localized into TWENTY LANGUAGES. Net sales for those other twenty languages were an utter PITTANCE, even compared to the English sales, which were themselves crap because everyone just torrented the English-only pirate copy.

    Spore, too, was like this – all their vaunted DRM, and a fully-working, hacked copy was still in the hands of the pirates before LEGAL copies were in the hands of paying customers – excuse me, paying dupes.

    Frankly, the soloution is pretty damn obvious – provide a less-hassling environment, and people will flock to you. The only ones who will continue to pirate are those who would never have paid anyway. Do away with ‘launch dates’, ship completed copies out as soon as they’re ready, in the order in which they’re recieved, have them hit the shelves the moment a retailer gets them. Better yet, do away with DRM entirely, and kick the retailers in the nuts and go with Stardock and Steam’s approach.

    And don’t just treat a game release as a fire-and-forget. Support it, and I don’t mean just patch the bugs the players threaten to string you up over. Release minor but appreciable new content every few months or so, for FREE. This will keep most people going for you, since it would be a constant string of hassle to update the pirated versions to incorporate them.

  20. Rim says:

    @Veylon

    You can’t rightfully expect game companies to go torrent hunting, just like you can’t expect ordinary people to go hunt fences when they got robbed. It might work to some extent, but their time would just be much better spent creating games.

    @Shamus

    I really disagree with you that DRM is killing PC Gaming. It may be a big nail in its coffin but I personally think the success of gaming is killing PC Gaming. In ye old days, most notably before the widespread use of the internet, I’d purchase one of the few available games and play the crap out of it. Because, you know, I paid for it. Even relatively poor games had some lasting appeal, since I wanted to drain every last penny out of it.

    Nowadays, I think games have already become as disposable as you feared. I bought more games in this console generation than since I started gaming way back in the 80’s and I don’t think I’ve completed more than 10. Even when I really like a game, chances are I’ll have bought a new one before I completed it and then it just sits there until I just may happen to get back to it. Poor games obviously get discarded even easier with little to no chance of ever getting played again. Somehow the abundantly available games don’t suck me in as much anymore that I want to play them exclusively or even feel the need to finish them.

    The catch is, publishers know this. They thrive on this widespread mindset, which seems to be predominant in the console demographic. This completes the downward spiral for PC Gaming, since why would a developer put his heart and soul (let alone his financial well-being) into a game that, no matter how good it is, will only last for weeks or a few months at best?

    That said, I found I enjoy playing and tinkering on games a whole lot more when I don’t clog my mind as to how much better they were ‘back then’ and how PC Gaming is going down the drain. A sure-fire way to drain the fun or even magic out of anything is by over-analyzing it.

    @devoid of tek

    Sounds like the good old days of the Dongle to me, which caused no amount of grief for many a software purchaser. It may be better than some on-board chip, but it’s just another DRM failure waiting to happen. As with the above ramblings, I think only our mindset can really save PC Gaming as highlighted by the success of niche games like Sins.

    Gaming needs to become personal again!

  21. Shamus says:

    Rim said: That said, I found I enjoy playing and tinkering on games a whole lot more when I don’t clog my mind as to how much better they were ‘back then’ and how PC Gaming is going down the drain. A sure-fire way to drain the fun or even magic out of anything is by over-analyzing it.

    Blink.

    Then what navigational disaster led you to my site of all places? Over-analysis is like, what I do here. Along with heaping praise on golden-age classics.

    That’s my whole shtick – it’s what I’m known for. (That, and DRM screeds.)

    Me? I enjoy a good over-analysis myself. I might even enjoy it more than playing the game.

  22. Shamus says:

    Oh, and to clear up something I didn’t mention in the post: I’m not really suggesting that DRM is the ONLY thing killing PC Games. Buggy releases, bewildering system specs, and the upgrade treadmill are hurting it too. Plus the current crop of consoles have just about eliminated any advantage the PC once claimed. This has led to diminishing base, which led to diminishing titles, which feeds the entire process.

    It’s a downward spiral. Lots of factors. I do think DRM is the easiest one to fix though.

  23. Rim says:

    I’m not talking about your posts; I enjoy those or I wouldn’t be coming here.

    I just found myself getting pretty jaded rehashing the whole PC/gaming thing over and over, so I thought to point that out for the benefit of anyone in the same state of mind… Anyone wanting to get out of said state that is :)

    Gaming needs to become personal again and a whole lot less serious.

  24. Luvian says:

    I have to second the opinion of games becoming more expendable. Not only do I rarely finish the games I buy, sometimes I don’t even play them!

    You know how it is; you see a game at the shop, look interesting and you get it. But once home I realize I already have all these games I haven’t actually finished, and the new one just goes on the pile. Sometimes I may pop it in and look at the intro. Sometimes not.

    I’m certainly in a different mindset than twenty years ago when I would play horribly bad/hard old games to completion (sometimes multiple times) just because I had them. Old, infamous games people use as horror stories? I remember playing them and having fun with it.

  25. Bizarre says:

    For what it’s worth, carrot and stick is a reference to getting a horse to go. The carrot is the good incentive held in front of it. The stick is the bad incentive behind it, making it get away.

    More carrot and less stick means give more rewards for good behaviour rather than punishment for bad.

  26. Factoid says:

    In the article shamus links, Jay also links a couple of articles to people defending DRM. This was interesting, though their arguments are nothing you haven’t heard before, and one of them actually has since backpedaled.

    One of the posters on the one of THOSE threads, made an interesting comment regarding PC gaming, claiming that the PC market was actually expanding, not shrinking, and its growth was larger than growth in any of the consoles, and possibly all of them combined.

    He didn’t link any sources, so I’m not sure where that’s coming from, but it was a well written and thoughtful post.

    You can read it here:

    http://www.bruceongames.com/2008/09/10/spore-drm-and-a-broken-business-model/

    It’s comment #8.

    On another note, anyone who saw Shamus’ post on Good Old Games and got a beta key….they’re doing a 2 for 1 special on Interplay games. Buy ONE game (and only one at a time) and they’ll email you a code for another interplay game free. This means I’ve acquired Fallout 1 and 2 for 5.99.

    The downloads on that place are amazing. Not only did I get the game, but it has the full manual in PDF, the game’s reference card, an avatar pack, as well as MP3s of the game’s soundtrack! Separate downloads too, so you don’t have to get it all unless you want it.

    Most of it downloaded as zip files for easy archiving, and the game is a single exe installer. Plus you can download it as many times as you want from their site. Thanks for sharing Shamus! Forget about a “new” golden age, we can go back to the old one now!

  27. Steven Jones says:

    @Luvian I call that the shrink-wrap factor. I have a collection of games, and even more DVD’s in this state, bought full price on day of release, but not so much as even opened. Probably the byproduct of being in a DINK situation.

  28. Mike says:

    Erm, am I the only one here that still remembers that console discs actually do have DRM on them? You know, like how you can’t just pop one into your PC, and burn a new disc, and have it work? Have we all forgotten about this already?
    This is just a case of consoles having DRM that works correctly, doesn’t get in-between a consumer and his game, so it is suddenly irrelevant to his existence.

    Perhaps the current DRM fiascoes asre just companies trying to port(snerk) what worked for consoles to the PC market. Any thoughts?

  29. Illiterate says:

    Bizarre, you stole my thunder.

    Although I think in terms of a donkey for that metaphor.

    The real problem with the comparison to musicians giving away tracks is that musicians get money from live shows. Those free tracks are really no more than a form of advertisement.

    I don’t know that I would have purchased the original Diablo if the demo hadn’t so thoroughly addicted me. I played those first two levels over and over again, and on battle.net I stared at the paying players like the orphan with his nose pressed up against the shop window, marveling at their colorized avatars, their ability to enter the third dungeon level.

    Blizzard, it seems, made plenty of money by having battle.net check to see that the same serial wasn’t online in two places. Remember that on LAN play, they allowed you to install spawn copies? A ratio of three “friends” to one paid customer on the same network game. It worked.

    Spore could do the same thing. No more than one online presence at a time from one serial number. Be friendly to LAN play. Would EA lose money from this? Possibly. Maybe someone would not have bought an extra copy for their child to play. They would have had my fifty bucks, however. I think they would have had Shamus’. They would have had 50 extra bucks from at least half of the people who have put those 1-star reviews on amazon(2200 reviews now). They wouldn’t have had to pay for SecuRom (can’t find that figure online).

    Here’s hoping Diablo3/Starcraft2 will treat customers with the same love and respect as their previous offerings. I really like giving blizzard my money. Except for WoW. I just don’t have the time to play an MMO.

  30. SolkaTruesilver says:

    @ Shamus

    I wonder how you feel about the mod community on the internet. I mean, that’s something unique to PC games, the capacity to alter the game to fit your needs.

    I.. agree that while PC game developpers are loosing more and more character over the year, the community out here is helping keeping some sort of standard for good games. They can turn Oblivion into a perfect game, increase the awesominity of Fallout 2, and many others, which is quite some great feat.

    And we also have to agree that mod development is more commonplace now that it was 10 years ago.. I am not sure if it’s a + or a -. After all, there are mods because games may be sucky..

  31. Joe says:

    So here’s a question: what are the disadvantages of the death of PC gaming? What are the advantages?

    To me, the primary disadvantages are with I/O: on the output side, there’s not as much screen real estate available, which makes some things (like text) much more difficult. On the input side, entering text without a keyboard sucks, and few controllers have 104 buttons. Also, the mouse is the most awesome pointing device ever.

    On the output side, HD helps. 1080p still is far below the resolution of even some of the crappiest PC’s, but it’s a far sight better for text than ~480×440. The only problem is that until the bulk of the market is actually *using* HDTV’s for their gaming, producers will code to the lowest common denominator. On the input side, driving games are pretty awful without a steering wheel controller, and can be awesome with one. Thus, there’s a market for wheel controllers, both for PC and consoles. Steel Battalion, DDR, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band all seem to do pretty well by selling the controller as *part of* the game. I’ve got to think that a console FPS that actually included a mouse-like pointing device would do pretty well. If Blizzard decided to sell a $50 version of WoW for the 360 that came with a keyboard, they would, well, continue to roll in piles and piles of dough, but the piles might get a little bit bigger.

    The secondary disadvantages are economic. Because MS is selling the 360 at below-hardware-cost (and recouping the loss through licensing to “allow” games to run on their platform), the licensing cost means that big-name games like Mass Effect cost a whole $40, instead of just… well, it costs $40 for PC too. I’m not sure why. It’s either because 1) some of the licensing costs are per-title or per-developer, or otherwise something they can spread out over a bazillion sales to the point where it disappears, 2) MS cuts them a break because they realize that Mass Effect for 360 sells more 360’s, and if you’ve got a 360 you’re going to buy a bunch of games for it, most of which get MS the full license fee for, or 3) just because they can. The big problem is the high barrier of entry for indie developers. My understanding is that some console makers are actually working to make their consoles a viable distribution channel for indie game designers. If true, that would kind of rock.

    The advantages are: the upgrade treadmill runs somewhat slower. My original xbox served me well for around 5 years, and cost as much as a nice video card. System specs are completely understandable: This is a game for the 360. Do you have a 360? Yes? You meet the specs. And best of all, you can sell, trade, borrow or rent games. They don’t require an activation server to function. My xbox games from 5 years ago will almost certainly work (on an xbox) in 10 years. Most of them even work on a 360.

    So, it looks to me like there are a few things that consoles could do that would really drive a spike through the heart of PC gaming. The only remaining thing is to see if they’ll actually do any of them.

  32. wildweasel says:

    Hoo boy, more news from the Spore front – apparently, if you have more than one person in your house that wants to play Spore, you need to buy an extra copy of the game if you want to create a new user account for them:

    http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/09/12/ea-just-one-spore-account-copy-despite-game-manual039s-claim-otherwise

  33. ThaneofFife says:

    Hey folks,

    One bit of good news: I’ve been reading up on the new Intel Nehalem (aka Core i7–what the hell does that mean anyway?) chips due out this year, and according to the register none of the first three are going to incorporate Intel TXT (Trusted eXecution Technology), which is Intel’s implementation of the TPM. So, at least one piece of good news for those (like myself) looking to buy/build in the coming months.

    Here’s the link: http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/06/16/intel_roadmaps_bloomfield/

    And, no, I’m not selling anything, just wanted to share the info, as it’s the kind of thing I’ve personally been looking for for a while now

  34. Don J says:

    Shamus, you have just identified one of the reasons I love this site. I hadn’t made the connection before, but I love to do this too, and I especially enjoy shared thoughts like this.

    Coincidentally, this is one thing that my girlfriend can’t stand about me. Especially with movies.

    “Wow, I LOVED that movie. So awesome! Best thing I’ve seen all year! But enough of that. Now I’d like to spend an hour talking about all the little things that I hated about it!”

    I really don’t understand why this bothers her.

  35. Illiterate says:

    I was thinking about “what can PCs do that consoles can’t”, and for me the answer might be RTS/citybuilding

    When I play a game on my xbox/wii, I’m sitting 5-8 feet away from my lovely giant TV screen. As my eyes are focusing from across the room, I like looking at things that are big, and having pretty details on them adds to the effect but isn’t essential.

    When I play pharaoh, or starcraft (GET OFF MY LAWN!) on my PC, my eyes are at best 2 feet away from the screen. I’m scanning and focusing on 30-40 different items on the screen. Each one has to be individually distinct, and I’m not sure how well this would work on a console.

    When I played goblin commander, I was working in a testlab environment where I was 2-3 feet from the screen, the many small units were easier to pick out (and GC has unit/building caps that keeps the screen uncluttered). I’ve never gone back and played it “for fun” so I don’t know how it plays from across the room.

    Mouse and keyboard will no doubt be added to consoles, but we’ll still be sitting across the room.

  36. Jeysie says:

    To me the big advantage of using a PC for gaming is… I could spend $1000 on a PS3, an X-Box, and a Wii so I can play all the games I want to play. And I can use one of them to watch DVDs, listen to mp3s, and awkwardly surf the web, while the other consoles are useless when I’m not playing the games exclusive to them.

    Or I can use that $1000 to either buy a new PC or upgrade my current one, and then use that one PC to play games, surf the web in an efficient manner, listen to any music file I want, watch DVDs and videos, chat in IRC, write papers, create artwork, read PDFs, etc. etc.

    Let’s not forget that, AFAIK there’s a lot more free/indie games and software available for the PC than there is for consoles, too.

    Now, if I could just buy one console and play all the console games available that I want to play, then it’d be worth spending the extra money to own one instead of just throwing that money into my PC that I need anyway.

    Anyhoo. As for whether DRM is killing PC gaming, it’s certainly not helping. As others have said, the game developers need to realize that DRM just does not work, and concentrate on instead finding ways to woo people who are willing to pay for games but are wobbling on the fence for reasons of things like price, convenience, and quality concerns.

  37. Jeff says:

    I just wanted to point out…

    DRM reclaiming sales has entirely ceased to be true now.
    Perhaps in the old days, but not anymore.

    Now, some sort is still necessary, however the current options are such, for ALL copy protection.

    1. Buy the game.
    2. Download game crack.

    That’s it. That’s all.
    The people who will buy the game will, those who do not won’t. Ramping up DRM does nothing, because it will be cracked, and furthermore to the average user-level pirate, there’s absolutely no difference.
    All it does is increase production costs and drive away sales from consumers who don’t want extra crap installed.

    The only advantage over purchasing over downloading is time, with the downside being cost (obviously) and secret crap installed as well.

    The ONLY way anything beyond the most basic copy protection would increase sales is if it was effective. However, this is like building an unsinkable ship. It is not just improbable, but impossible.

    In otherwords, in the cost/benefit analysis a consumer one undergoes when looking at a purchase (consciously or subconsciously) it’s a cost. As awareness increases, the more DRM, the less sales. This is in the core gamer market, too.

    Addressing both posts that he linked to… dear god.
    They highlight two things: Ignorance of market pressures, and ignorance of the market.
    To address them:
    1. One feels that he doesn’t trust the pirated version.
    That’s nice. It’s also utterly stupid as a defense for DRM, as it means you’re a buyer anyways. In otherwords, that view is irrelevant. Regardless of if it was just a Serial Code or “ComputerRape 6.0″, he’ll go along with it.
    2. The other blames it all on pirates. Yeah, they’re there. It’s a part of the market. I’ve said this before – you adapt. Failure to adapt correctly is what’s killing the industry. This is like the printing press or public libraries. You sure as hell better adapt, because no amount of whining will change reality.

    It always frustrates me how otherwise intelligent people always seem to become utter morons over two things: Change, and Economics.

    Don’t blame airplanes for ruining your passenger train service. That way is stupid and will have people look at you funny. Airplanes are superior long distance people movers. Trains dominate long distance freight, and short distance passenger service. Yet we still have cross-country trains, they just up the luxury – offer things that planes can’t.

    In this case, it’s like adding a rod in the middle of the train seats so that you can’t share seats anymore. As Shamus has said, an inferior product.
    By far it would be more effective to offer a physical token of some sort, yet the fifty-cent plastic bits are only part of collector editions. Go figure. The problem remains the idiot businessmen who focus on lowering cost and investing on enforcement to recover phantom lost sales, as opposed to investing in increasing actual sales. Bah. At least we have StarDock.

    (My copy of Spore arrived, it’s amusing but a tad shallow. It does offer some replayability, and doesn’t kill too much time. Very much a casual game, although I keep racking my brain at the creation screens trying to design my vehicles so they look somewhat respectable.)

  38. Deleted by request of original poster.

  39. Deleted by request of original poster.

  40. Please delete my last two posts, I was mistaken, DRM and pirates had nothing to do with this one.

  41. illiterate says:

    Please disregard this post. It has nothing to do with the rest of the thread. Boobies poop gerbils.

  42. Jansolo says:

    More than piracy, for sure.

    See that, in Spanish:

    http://blogs.gamefilia.com/jmvbok/12-09-2008/12880/pirateria-en-2008-proteccion-absurda-que-te-obliga-a-piratear-tu-propio-orig

    It’s about pirating your own game in order to make it work, because the SecureROM did not recognice the original DVD.

    Some people just ignore the first step: to buy the original game.

    This guy has decided not to buy MASS EFFECT, because of the 3 installation limit.

  43. Jeff says:

    I’ve got both games, though I rail against the DRM, which means kneejerk reactions of “defending your piracy” fails on me, heh.

    I just wanted to correct my original comment on Spore: Man that Space Age is crazy hard.

  44. illiterate says:

    Good news! EA learned their lesson from the spore debacle!

    They’ve increased activations to 5.

    http://games.slashdot.org/games/08/09/14/1510217.shtml

  45. Aulayan says:

    Just decided to comment to give you this headsup. Washington post article:

    Spore and the Great DRM Backlash.

  46. TSED says:

    Shamus, something was brought to my attention that may have slipped yours:

    Casual consumers.

    EA’s DRM may not be targetted at internet pirates AT ALL. Instead, it might be directed at Average Joe who lends his disc out to all his friends after he’s done with it.

    What’s wrong with a CD-check I’m not sure, but that is possibly their real target. I do think that Spore’s backlash will reach some executive’s ears this time, which is a good thing, but if they go “well we stopped five hundred thousand pirates and only lost maybe two hundred thousand sales because of it, the DRM did its job.” Keep in mind there is still background cost for Spore – they have to keep the servers running and taking all of the creatures and models and cataloging them, then sending it to random players. Rampant lent copies might have cost them a pretty penny.

    That’s enough of playing devil’s advocate. I think the pirates out there need to learn what ‘boycott’ means. Going “I wanted to buy your game but you put something in it so I won’t buy it now, but I’m still going to play it” doesn’t come across as mature and empowering consumers. It comes across as “well you were going to pirate it anyways so if we did drop the DRM you’d find some other excuse.” I for one haven’t played Spore yet and won’t until the DRM drops off. I urge you people considering pirating it to not, and simply find a way to inform EA you’d like to buy it but won’t. Send pictures of you waving $50 at the monitor captioned “gee I wish Spore didn’t have intrusive harddrive corrupting software packaged along with it so I could spend this” or whatever.

  47. Avilan the Grey says:

    A quick one:
    I might have been mistaken about the need for a crack for the game (Spore) if you download the pirated version.

    However there seems to be a general misunderstanding about DRM and not having your DVD / CD in the reader while playing. These two things has nothing to do with each other!

    Again, as an example: I run Spore (bought version) without a No-CD crack, and yet I don’t have my DVD in the drive. How? Because this game allows to install from anywhere, so I simply copied my disc to a folder (in my case “C:\Disk Images\Spore”) and installed from that folder.

    Works like a charm.

  48. DRM isn’t killing PC gaming, but it is another bullet in the gun PC gaming companies use to shoot itself in the foot.

  49. Blackbird71 says:

    Ok, browsing around a few forums I found this little gem:
    http://forums.ea.com/mboards/message.jspa?messageID=4171286#4171286

    This is from the EA forums in a discussion on the DRM for the upcoming C&C game. The post is by an EA rep, Apoc. In the same post, he first flat out admits that DRM will do nothing to stop piracy, then with the same breath, he supports the idea of their 5 activation DRM system. How deluded can you get?

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