Anno 2070 DRM

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 30, 2012

Filed under: Video Games 196 comments


We begin with this story, where Guru3D tries to test Anno 2070 on various test machines with different configurations of graphics cards and quickly runs out of allowed installs. And then later Ubisoft thought this was perfectly reasonable.

At the time I wrote:

I’m actually glad that Ubisoft isn’t falling over themselves trying to make this right. Yes, this DRM is horrible, unjust, counter-productive, and anti-consumer. We’ve been over this. But aside from the DRM itself, I’d say the most pernicious practice is one where the media is excused from having to deal with it. If a publisher wants to saddle their game with time consuming, annoying, nagging, inconvenient DRM, then that practice should be reflected in the review score.

Developers don’t like this idea because they don’t want their magnum opus to end up with a low score because of something the publisher did. I admit that’s a bad deal for them, but reviews aren’t written for the benefit of developers. They’re consumer advice, and if they don’t advise the consumer then they’re worthless. (See also: Bugs.)

But before I got around to posting that, Ubisoft announced they would remove graphics cards from the “machine identification” process, thus letting Guru3D get their benchmarks without Ubisoft having to confront or even explain their nonsensical DRM policy. I was depressed by this. It’s technically a small victory for customers, since it means Ubisoft games will be slightly less annoying to install and run, but it was a window of opportunity for them to re-evaluate their policy. They could have sat down and thought about DRM and the impact it has on piracy, consumers, and the medium as a whole. But instead they put a band-aid on a PR problem and walked away.

Try to imagine this:

Highly paid people got together in a room, had a conversation with each other about DRM, and this is what they came up with? They looked at this situation and concluded that the only problem was that their DRM shouldn’t eat one of your limited installs when you buy a new graphics card?

They’re ignoring everything any halfway decent software engineer can tell you: DRM can’t stop piracy. They’re ignoring what Valve software has learned in the process of making millions of dollars in Russia: Convenience, not DRM, is the #1 weapon against piracy. They’re ignoring what you can learn from just about any forum discussing Ubisoft games: People hate this DRM so strongly that they will vow to pirate the game simply out of protest. It ignores what any sober business grad will tell you: If you drive away a customer in the process of stopping a thief, then you aren’t gaining anything.

When I was young, I had a tendency to assume that my betters knew what they were doing, even if I couldn’t make sense of it. I thought that executives were masters of secret knowledge. I believed this because the alternative seemed insane: People can be paid upwards of a hundred thousand dollars a year, even if they have no idea what they’re doing.

And now I see I was wrong. The people at Ubisoft are provably incompetent. I say this, not knowing anything about about the sales figures behind recent Ubi titles. It doesn’t matter what those numbers are. Those numbers are beside the point. Their DRM is manifestly a bad idea and you can prove it on a blackboard in under ten minutes.

Also, let’s remember that publishers defend their limited-activation installs by claiming that if you need more they will be happy to issue more installs through support. Let the record show that Guru3D waited days for that to happen, and it’s not really clear if that request was ever honored.

And so it goes.


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196 thoughts on “Anno 2070 DRM

  1. Adam says:

    I didn’t buy it because of the DRM. It looked fun. But I’m not putting up with that crap.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Knowww the feeling Ubisoft, THQ, Blizzard and EA are all on my no-buy-list these days. It’s seriously reducing my amount of AAA games these days :-(

      1. Alex says:

        Honestly, you probably wouldn’t lose any sleep if you had to give up the big-budget stuff altogether. I’m starting to realize that AAA titles aren’t worth the time or money. All of that DRM, all of the price-gouging and the volumetric pixel-buffer nonsense, and what do we have to show for it? Bald Guy Shooting From Behind Brown Cover #14: The Revenge?

        But at the same time, I can also relate to the desire for something a little more valuable and stimulating than Angry Birds. That’s why I think the potential for modern games lies somewhere in the middle: the handheld market.

        Although if that Resident Evil thing is anything to go by, even handhelds aren’t safe from used-game-sale “preventative measures”. >_<

        1. RCN says:

          The problem here is that this is Ubisoft. Horrible, horrible PR and publishing practices, but undeniably the best developers out of the trinity of evil. Heck, this is an issue with the DRM of Anno 2070, a city-planning sim. Something most thought were extinct. I’d be more than happy to never buy anything Activision related ever again (not even from Blizzard’s side. If they’re so comfortable in staying at the 90s, I’ll leave them there). But I just couldn’t live without the latest Heroes installment. I almost don’t regret The Settlers 7. And so on.

          1. Alex says:

            Well, you get only what you put up with… Although, like you said, it’s easy to hate on the people who make Madden or whatever and avoid that. It’s tougher when the people making the games you want are also buttholes about it.

            (See: Capcom)

      2. Adam P says:

        What put Blizzard on your list?

        1. Agammamon says:

          ably because Diablo 3 will require an always-on internet connection, even when playing by yourself.

          1. Kaitain says:

            Also, no modding. I actually proposed to my wife with a modded wedding ring item in Diablo 2 (one of our favorite games of all time). So instead of buying 2 copies for the both of us, and then however many we’d get friends/family to buy, we’re going witch Torchlight 2.

            So thanks to Blizzard (or Activision, whoever technically made these decisions) they’ve lost our business. No matter how “fun” the game turns out to be, I will never give my money in support of these kind of bad decisions.

    2. rofltehcat says:

      I bought it via “key reimport”. Retail keys are bought for much less in less developed countries and then resold online. On the site I bought it from, it is currently at 16€ and when I bought it, it was around 20.

      I’ve said it before: If the DRM is too strict, it just decreases the amount of money I’m willing to pay. I’ll not pay you 60€ for a digital-only version of your game, dear publishers. Especially since I can’t lend it to a friend and you even cut out the retailers… but don’t want to drop the prices accordingly.

      With the limited installs etc, I’d say it is worth the 16€/20€.
      And my motherboard recently broke, so I had to reactivate Anno once again with the replacement parts a friend lent me. Today, my motherboard’s replacement arrived. I bet I’ll have to use up my third and last activation once the pc is up and running >:(
      what happened to 5 activations like we had it with Spore? And even then people protested heavily against it.

      Well, Ubisoft… you won’t sell me your DRM stuff except for very cheap anyways.

      1. Entropy says:

        5 activations was only AFTER people protested heavily.

      2. James Pope says:

        What happens after you run out of installs is that you pirate it. Why sit down and try to defend your legal installations to some idiot in tech support when I bet you can pop over to the dark side of the internet and crack the thing in less than fifteen minutes – and have a game that will run for you on an infinite amount of future installs.

        Eventually I end up cracking nearly everything I buy, because at some point it’s just easier dealing with No-CD files and “don’t try to play with my Firewall” cracks than whatever nonsense the content producers think is “best for me.”

        1. Trix2000 says:

          I never understood the point behind limited install limits. But then, I never understand anyone who seems to think DRM of any kind will actually gain sales/money overall. Fighting piracy and cracking through arbitrary barriers such as these doesn’t work against people who repeatedly hop over fences.

          It’s one of the main reasons I like Valve so much these days. They give me an easy way to get and play games with no hassle and not unreasonable cost, and I feel good supporting developers into making more games. I cannot understand how so many other companies can keep hold of old-fashioned policies when Steam and the ideas it stands for are doing so incredibly well.

        2. evileeyore says:


          That’s how I begin. Even when I’ve buy the game first, I never bother installing the non-cracked version. I’ll wait on the crack to download.

          The disk goes on a shelf, the cracked version gets burned to disk, the game is installed…

          The only games that I install without cracks are MMOs.

  2. Alan says:

    It is one thing to inconvenience a single person, but to inconvenience a game review is quite another story – literally.

    1. rofltehcat says:

      I wish more reviews would actually subtract points/value for technical problems and DRM.
      But then again everyone wants to be on Metacritic and reviewers seem to feel a need to give out better and better reviews to keep publisher support.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “I wish more reviews would actually subtract points/value for technical problems and DRM.”

        But if they started doing that game scores would plunge to as low as 7,or even *gasp* 6!It would be utter chaos!

        1. Alex says:

          I can’t blame game critics who don’t go into the lower scores. Not in a medium where a guy will get crucified if he gives the next Metal Gear Solid a 9.8 out of 10 or whatever.

          And for some crazy reason, video games aren’t taken seriously in mainstream culture…

          1. Sumanai says:

            I ran into a review some time ago who pointed the blaming finger towards himself and other reviewers. If you handle 10/10 like it’s no biggie, people will start expecting it. If you never sink below 6, people will start treating 6 as absolute crap and the rest will adjust lower as well.

            The problem that can’t be their fault is people not understanding that different sites handle the scores differently and that different people have different values so they’ll give different scores for the same game. But they aren’t worthwhile to keep as clients, so you can pretty safely ignore them.

            Note that usually when people start complaining about a score it’s not different by decimal points. When the range is 6-10, that one whole point suggests a big difference and when most reviewers give high scores to big releases no matter what, those few who don’t shine brighter.
            Personally I’d suggest sunglasses for the fanboys, but bitches gonna bitch.

  3. Bubble181 says:

    You think there’s a chance we can get Guru3D or some other gaming site try to do comparisons with different CPUs, different amounts of memory, and so on, and so on, until every last bit of the computer is taken out of the equation?

    I’m honestly baffled by this decision. I mean, even if you’re a big fan of DRM and think it’s a great idea (be it against piracy, the used games market, to get people to switch to consoles, to push people to on line gaming, or because you’re just a sadist who likes to see honest gamers suffer), you’d have to realise this is just a horribly short-sighted solution, wouldn’t you?

    Sheesh… I want to be paid €100.000 a year to make this kind of decisions. I’d be better at it than some of those that are.

    1. Okay, but you don’t need to be this strenuous any more than you need to play the game dozens of times or unlock every secret or find out all the procedural content. A review is designed to help people buy games. If you say, “My Windows 7 set up with pretty standard hardware chugged”, then that’s something that people deserve to know, and you can’t give the game a 10/10 because it’s not actually perfect.

  4. It’s almost depressing to know how much money is going into all these university qualifications, when I know can do these people’s jobs objectively better than they can.

    And I suppose I would have already tried if New Zealand had any sort of video games industry.

    1. RCN says:

      Well, it helps that management qualifications are a scam all by itself.

      Really. Management has nothing to do with increasing efficiency or solving problems, just in telling the people upwards that you have a solution that will solve all their inefficiency (consider Piracy to be inefficiency in this case) problems by just implementing their draconian, non-sensical, loathsome (and 100% assured to do the exact opposite of solving problems) solutions.

      1. I consider such a degree to basically be a sheet of paper saying “now you have to listen to me and also pay me a lot”, which is pretty much why I’m getting it.

        Still, my university does seem to be a bit more competent than that article implies – They devote surprisingly little time to buzzwords and jargon. Except when I did a paper based on applying philosophy to leadership theory oddly enough. It was one of the stupidest things I’d ever heard, or at least the most pretentious.

      2. Nimas says:

        Thanks for the link, may quote it a bit from now on.

        “management theory is what happens to philosophers when you pay them too much.”

        1. RCN says:

          My favorite part is how one man can take the work of the absolute best miners in a mine, make them work their very best for ten minutes, multiply it for the daily load of every miner as a mandatory quota, enforce payment cuts for anyone who doesn’t meet the quota, and having this remembered from then on to be the absolute best example of how management is a science and can be applied.

          And since then every manager has come up with reasonable expectations from his managees.

      3. That’s assuming the goal is profit. But it’s not. The goal is MAINTAINING the conditions wherein profit flows to the owners. That’s very different. Even if you could increase worker autonomy and increase profit, you don’t because of the prerogatives of those up top. Pretty simple.

  5. Scott Richmond says:

    In other news ANNO 2070 is actually REALLY fun, technically amazing and has one of the best online/community integration into the game itself I’ve ever seen. So it pisses me off that crap like this can mar ANNO.

    Shamus, please, if you’re going to smash a publisher and its DRM choices it would be nice if you at the very least wrote 1 positive sentence about the game you’re using as the posterchild for the publishers’ sins.

    Do yourself a favor and just BUY the game, please.

    1. Shamus says:

      “Shamus, please, if you're going to smash a publisher and its DRM choices it would be nice if you at the very least wrote 1 positive sentence about the game you're using as the posterchild for the publishers' sins.”

      I’m not the one who put this DRM on the game. Please direct your ire at the saboteur, not the messenger. I don’t have the money to go around buying every game that comes up in a discussion.

      1. Shamus says:

        Just looked on Steam. They have this idiotic crap clinging to the Steam version as well: “Solidshield Tages SAS – 3 machine activation limit”

        Words fail me.

        This is the business equivalent of repeatedly cutting yourself and complaining that nobody loves you.

        1. Scott Richmond says:

          Sorry, but not every developer has the luxury of picking and choosing who to publish their games with. In fact I’m fairly confident that Related Designs (The dev) have ZERO control over the DRM or even the ANNO IP. What are they going to do? Just walk away? Don’t be foolish.

          Also, I wasn’t insinuating that you go buy ANNO specifically but that you simply explain to your audience that the game itself isn’t to blame. Or at least do your research to prove otherwise.

          Finally, and to comment more directly on your post – I believe you may be misunderstanding the leadership who make the ultimately stupid decisions on these sorts of things.
          Having worked directly with the GMC leadership team of one of the biggest companies in the world I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty that it is much more likely that they know full well what DRM is doing, but that they just don’t care. All that matters to them is that they appear to be protecting their core source of income to their stockholders. Trying some radical flip on their stance with no other sources than a competitor doesn’t look very good to the stockholders. Nor will they care what happens to the company in 10 years time as you can be rest assured that they have their golden handshake and next career move already lined up.

          There is also the fact that as leaders of a software company I have no doubt they have their fingers in the pies of other software companies – DRM software companies to be specific – as we all know what the saying is – “Its not what you know, its who you know” – and its a very small world at the top of the tree.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “Sorry, but not every developer has the luxury of picking and choosing who to publish their games with. In fact I'm fairly confident that Related Designs (The dev) have ZERO control over the DRM or even the ANNO IP. What are they going to do? Just walk away? Don't be foolish.”

            Sorry but I dont buy that they had no choice,and here is why:Might and magic heroes 6.It was developed by black hole entertainment,another small studio,and yet they managed to go a different route.You can play the game in offline mode just fine,but are locked out of some nifty features,like dynasty weapons and bonuses.This system is far superior,its only a shame that its plagued by horrendous bugs that are being fixed at snails pace,if at all.

            1. RCN says:

              Yeah. I felt it was kind of unfair to the developers that most reviewers that did bring up the DRM problem forgot to mention you can still play it offline, just without some of the bells and whistles. I saw lots of angry comments raging that they wouldn’t buy the game if they couldn’t play it when their connection dropped.

              Still it is far from the ideal, but it is remarkable they managed something like this under Ubisoft.

              1. MelTorefas says:

                Except that Might and Magic Heroes 6 is gods awful. Last time I ever give money to Ubisoft. As mentioned, the bugs are getting fixed horrendously slowly, IF AT ALL. But it is more than that. You cannot just “play offline without the bells and whistles” unless you have never played online, OR you are willing to start completely over. Because once a game is saved while you are playing online, that save can NEVER AGAIN be used offline.

                Which is utterly absurd. The only things an online save gets you is a bonus to the stats of your special magic weapon, and a single perk per map (chosen at the start). It would be ridiculously easy to just disable those two things when the save is converted to offline, but no.

                If you decide you are sick and tired of having the game boot you out if your connection so much as blinks, WITHOUT LETTING YOU SAVE, and you decide you want to play offline from now on… well, I hope you like starting the entire game over from scratch.

                1. RCN says:

                  Which is why I said this is remarkable under ubisoft, where the USUAL solution “deal with it”.

                  My brother took my copy and just plays it offline from the get go and never gets in my way. Usually, this wouldn’t be possible in other titles.

                  It is still unfair to a developer to say you can’t play the game at all without a connection when there IS an offline mode. And it works exactly the same as Diablo 2 worked. Even though it is not necessary in this genre, at all, it is a good concession considering the requirements from the publisher and investors.

                  Diablo 3 will be much worse, and a lot of people is begging for a separate offline mode. If they’d include an offline mode, people would like to know.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Sure,but diablo 3 will offer some things that justify its always online status:polished game from the get-go,swift and long term patching,polishing and updating,and(most importantly for it being always online)legal gold farming.I wont be playing it,but I still think blizzard is justified in their decision.

                    1. Gamer says:

                      But at the same time, there really isn’t a reason why you can’t have an offline mode. All they needed were separate saves to avoid breaking the economy.

                      Then again, I don’t play PC games, so I have no real reason to argue this.

                    2. Alex says:

                      Blizzard is “justified” in making a Diablo game you can’t mod or play offline?

                      That’s like… a Mario game where you only get to play as Waluigi, and you can’t jump.

                    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Oh please!First of all,those were not the defining things of diablo 1 and 2.Second,not everyone played those for mods,or by themselves.Third,diablo is owned by blizzard,and was built from scratch by blizzard.If they want to change it,there is nothing wrong with that.Heck,they can make it into a racing game,and they still would be justified.They built the thing from zero,they can do with the series whatever they want.Just like how theyve turned warcraft into mmorpg.I dont like it,but I have no right to bitch about it.Its not like they bought the name from someone else,and then slapped it on a completely unrelated game just for marketing value.

                    4. Abnaxis says:

                      That…is a very strange stance to take. So what, nobody can criticize anything, because “hey, the producers made it, and they’re free to do whatever they like with it”?

                      For the record, I never played DII on B.Net or unmodded, and everyone I know played it the same.

                    5. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Sure you can criticize it.But if you are going to criticize it just for being different,when its not out yet,then its just bitching.Saying how the developer isnt justified in making a game into what they want is not criticizing either,its just bitching.Especially if you equate the way you were playing it with how it was “supposed to be played”.Ive never played it either online,or moded,but I do know people who did both.Yet even if I didnt,I wouldnt dare to say how only vanilla single player was the way to go.

                    6. Shamus says:

                      Actually, saying “This is not what I want” seems like a pretty reasonable thing to say, even when a game isn’t out yet.

                      Always-online single-player is a deal breaker for me. Especially when Torchlight 2 is on the horizon.

                    7. Abnaxis says:

                      ^ This.

                      I wanted to add something, but every time found I was satisfied with what Shamus said, there

                    8. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Sure.Heck,even I said that.But that doesnt change the fact that blizzard is free to make it that way despite me disliking it,just like how I am free to not buy it.However,thats not what Alex said.

              2. Veloxyll says:

                I tried playing it offline when the activation servers go down (which they do daily fyi).

                I get into the game – it asks me to log in.

                So the launcher goes “Hey, you can play offline since we can’t find our servers.”
                Then the game goes “Hey! Log in to play”. And if it can’t it crashes. So yeah. Online DRM ladies and gentlemen!

                And developers do have a choice of publisher in most cases. Which means they can choose DRM too.
                Though given the choices are between EA and Ubi’s crazy DRM, or Activision not paying, it’s a pretty bad set of choices if you want to go to brick and mortar stores.

          2. Raka says:

            In the midst of the trolling, there’s a halfway decent point: the execs presumably do know what they’re doing. They’re just responding to pressure from a population that doesn’t understand (the shareholders). And it’s not the shareholder’s job to understand. So the execs are taking the easy way out by choosing to deceive them rather than educate them, and demonstrably damaging the bottom line in the process.

            Some of us have indeed worked with corporations at a high level (though really, just watch The Wire and you’re educated enough), and this is hardly unique to the game industry. But the only way we can address the issue, if at all, is to put pressure on the population that the execs do care about. And the only pressure the shareholders care about is money. So we vote with our wallets, and make sure to squawk loudly and publicly about exactly why, which makes it more challenging for the execs to just blame it on the pirates.

            As protests go, it’s a fairly weak form. But y’know what? The protest aspect is just the decorative sprinkle on top of my “not paying someone to mistreat me unless I have no reasonable alternatives” cupcake.

            Second baked-good metaphor in two comments for me. I’m going to go get breakfast.

          3. Aanok says:

            “Sorry, but not every developer has the luxury of picking and choosing who to publish their games with. In fact I'm fairly confident that Related Designs (The dev) have ZERO control over the DRM or even the ANNO IP. What are they going to do? Just walk away? Don't be foolish.”

            These kind of situations are exactly the reason why I strongly advocate for digital download and the possibility it offers to the devs to completely bypass publishers. Who cares about physical copies or the remote chance that the DD platform could close in some years, if this is the alternative?

            1. Blake says:

              They still then need someone to invest if they don’t have enough money to support an entire development cycle on their own.

          4. Peter H. Coffin says:

            Wait, you’re telling the guy that is self-publishing his own novel that a developer doesn’t have any control over her own work?

            1. Piflik says:

              There is quite a bit of a monetary difference between publishing a book and publishing a game like Anno…

          5. acronix says:

            This is a bit like saying that everyone should try out your favourite soda even though their cans and bottles are known to be radioactive and produce a mutated evil head on 100% of the people that drink it. Yes, maybe the soda is delicious, but the packaging is still mutating you.

            1. X2Eliah says:

              That’s a bit like saying that a virtual entertainment product, some spare cost vs. some inconvenience is equated to medical health problems and serious issues.

              Perspective, man, perspective.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Seeing how there already were some pretty intrusive drms(example) that led to(directly or indirectly)to the loss of sensitive data(remember,some people are earning their living with computers),its not that far off mark.

              2. Zukhramm says:

                Just because a comparison is of a different scale does not make it less valid, not when the important part of the parallel is the relation between the good and the bad rather than the severity of the problem. The point that the good does not necessarily outweigh the bad, regardless of if the bad is a three activations limit DRM or nuclear war.

                1. Amazon_warrior says:

                  A curate’s egg, if you will. :)

              3. acronix says:

                From my perspective, DRM looks like a growing mutant evil head whose only desire is to eat my soul. So obviously I compare it to one!

                Also: Exageration as an argumentation tool. Or maybe not…!

          6. Steve C says:

            It could be the best product in the world, but it doesn’t matter. They put flesh eating bacteria in it. I’m not going to try it, Shamus isn’t going to try it either. Why? Because we are sane.

            Your argument is basically:
            “It wasn’t -that- group of they, but a completely different group of they that put the flesh eating bacteria in. And regardless whoever put it in, they can’t be blamed because they don’t care and can’t be expected to care because it doesn’t address their own short term self interests.”

            What. The. Fuck.

          7. BenD says:

            So, is this the ‘how to run Scribblenauts in an emulator’ Scott Richmond?

        2. Anonymouse says:

          You’re a brilliant writer Shamus, please don’t lower yourself to repeating offensive stereotypes of mental illness.

          I’m sure you had no intention of offending anyone, but self-harm is a delicate issue that generates enough hostility as it is.

          1. Halceon says:

            Stereotypes or not – self harm pretty much never achieves what the person is striving for.

            1. Bell says:

              I used to cut. I didn’t like the pain, but you try living in a body you hate, and see if you never act a little irrationally sometimes. As something I could freely do to my body that I had complete control over, I can tell you it served my purposes very well indeed.

              Similarly, I’ve talked to people who cut because the pain felt energising and refreshing; I’ve talked to people who cut because it forced them to focus on something outside of their own head, in the moments when they were badly struggling with a flood of thoughts with which they couldn’t cope. As a way of dealing with an immediate problem, many people find it works exceptionally well, even if it’s not a real solution. That’s part of why it’s a consistent issue, and not just something that people do once or twice: it does work, all too often, and people come to rely on it as a coping mechanism.

              I’m offering the previous paragraphs as a friendly correction. You said a thing that was incorrect; here is something you might like to know, so that in future, you may be better informed. The following paragraphs are a general statement that, despite being inspired by some comments that were made here, is directed at nobody in particular, and were not written as a way to passive-aggressively accuse anyone of being anything.

              People cut for a variety of different reasons. The idea that people only cut for attention is almost as perniciously, harmfully wrong as the idea that it’s okay to make fun of people who only cut for attention. Because you’re still laughing at people who feel so isolated that they will deliberately cause harm to themselves in the hope that it might make someone else notice them, and you’re doing it in such a way that derides many other people by association, some of whom are already dealing with mental disorders that make it much harder to cope with casual cruelty from strangers. As an isolated example, it’s bad enough, but as a meme that you’re choosing to perpetuate for the sake of laughs? It’s bullying. Pure and simple.

              I don’t expect people to be perfect. I am 100% certain that nothing here has been said maliciously, and I’m not trying to paint anyone as being a terrible person just because they said something out of line. I’d just like it if people would think seriously about the things they’ve said, and maybe be willing to accept or investigate information about things they don’t really know much about, even if it contradicts ideas that can seem intuitive.

              1. Bubble181 says:

                Hmmm…. I’ve cut in my life, and while I do understand what you’re saying, I have to disagree ith your saying that it does work and does help. It doesn’t (unless, of course, your goal is scarrification and/or attempted suicide when taken too far).
                It’s a stopgap solution, it may help temporarily, but it’ll never help in the long run and is, in the end, mostly counterproductive.

                I do, absolutely, understand that it can seem necessary and the only way out and so on – but all of that, and basically your whole argument, can be applied to drug abuse as well. Most people don’t end up heroine junkies because they like the feeling. It’s a way to cope, it’s a way to escape from your own head, the pressures and thoughts you can’t stop. It’ll give you relief, too. Very temporarily. But if you don’t do anything *else* to help you, it *will* destroy you in the end. Drug abuse more so than cutting, I’ll admit.

                Heck, to push the point to the limit, most of your reasoning is the same as that of attempted suicides. Mind you, both for cutting, for suicide attempts, and for drug abuse, I do agree that you shouldn’t just make fun of the people involved for an easy laugh (though I do subscribe to the school of thought that one should be able to laugh about anything, that doesn’t mean you have to *make fun of people* about anything). Someone who’s cutting themselves will usually, in the long run, be much better served by being helped to find other ways of channeling that energy, being taught other ways of coping, and so on. Be it therapy, a boxing ball, a dog to look after who loves you back, getting a tattoo, changing jobs/relationships/whatever. Of course, the hardest step is the first one – looking outside of yourself for help and answers, instead of looking inward. Accepting help from the outside is putting y ourself in such a vulnerable position and seems such a sign of weakness (which it isn’t!) that many people have great problems getting there. Heck, I couldn’t do it for a long while.

                TLDR: you’re right that people shouldn’t just make fun of people who cut because it’s an easy target. I think you’re wrong in the idea that it actually helps. And I do think you can make fun of goths/people cutting/whatever if it’s not the same old tired joke but something actually witty and non-insulting.

                1. Bell says:

                  Oh, absolutely. I don’t think we disagree; rather, I should have been clearer that I don’t think cutting is a real solution to anything, simply that people do it for a variety of different reasons, and it’s a problem that deserves more understanding than the common idea that “Oh, they’re just whiny and irrational attention-seekers”.

                  I have mixed feelings about the use of humour, and I’ve yet to come to a firm conclusion. So I’ll refrain from saying anything too definitive on that front.

                  1. Anonymouse says:

                    Hey stranger, thanks for having the eloquence to explain what I was getting at. I agree with you entirely.

                    1. Dmitri Monro says:

                      This thread is a perfect example of why I keep coming back to this site: I come for the Vidjya Games and Snark, and stay for the respectful and intelligent commentariat. The only place on the internet that never makes me feel like I need to spend a couple weeks in the shower. You guys win the internet.

        3. GiantRaven says:

          I was going to post about the Steam version and what DRM it had, since I assumed it would be different to the boxed version and therefore I would be happy to buy it. Nope!

          1. Ysen says:

            Ugh, I hate it so much when they put third party DRM on games on Steam. Steam is supposed to handle that already. I’m not putting up with yet another layer of garbage on top of the stuff I’m already putting up with to use Steam. Is signing into to one online verification system just not inconvenient enough? Perhaps before installation you should be required to spend three days and three nights in prayer, meditation and fasting? That would totally stop piracy!

        4. JPH says:

          Hey, don’t bring cutting into this. Many self-cutters are genuinely depressed and need help. They’re not just being cluelessly self-destructive for no reason.

          1. James Pope says:

            Self-harm as a response to piracy isn’t no reason either, it’s just no good reason in the same way cutting yourself because you’re depressed is also no good reason.

            In both cases they, companies and individuals, need to stop harming themselves regardless of their rationale.

            1. JPH says:

              The reason the analogy offends me is because Shamus is calling these publishers incompetent fools.

              Depressed people are not incompetent fools, and this mentality that there’s anything wrong with them for how they feel is horrible and needs to be abolished.

              1. Shamus says:

                Ah. NOW I get where this was coming from.

                I thought you were objecting to using a self-abuser in an analogy. I run into this sort of thing now and again. In front of a large enough audience, pretty much anything you bring up is going to be a personal subject for SOMEONE, and sometimes I get people who simply forbid the use of their Sensitive Issue as the basis of an analogy / joke / abstract example. See also: Rape, suicide, domestic violence, slavery, disabilities, etc.

                Obviously These companies don’t hate themselves and suffer from self-loathing issues. The root of the problem is different. (Obviously. I mean, a company is not a person.) But from the outside this frustration is the same: WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!

                So no, I was not implying that people who cut themselves are willfully stupid and just, like, constantly cutting themselves because they don’t know what they’re doing. If we were trying to build an analogy from that direction, it wouldn’t be people who cut themselves on purpose, but people who are just incredibly clumsy and unable to learn from experience. Who have a job handling scissors for a living.

                1. JPH says:

                  Rereading my comment, yeah, it does seem like I was saying that.

                  I’m fine with you using self-cutters in your analogies as long as it fits.

                2. tengokujin says:

                  Could always use “shoot themselves in the foot before running a race”.

                  1. StranaMente says:

                    Or burning the house to sell the ashes? Is it only an italian saying?

                    1. Nick says:

                      I’ve always liked ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic’ as an English expression of futility

                    2. Shamus says:

                      I’ve never heard that, but I do like it.

    2. Zombie says:

      See, if he buys the game, hes helping Ubisoft’s DRM by saying: “I dont care that this DRM sucks, im going to buy it anyway”, and Ubisoft stops thinking that its bad. If we refused to buy Ubisoft games with this DRM, then Ubi, if it had any sense, would realize, Hey, this isn’t working and no one is buying our game, so maybe we should stop putting this on our games.

      1. Scott Richmond says:

        That’s like saying that we should hang the whole family because the father raped a woman and made her have kids. No. You persecute the father and take goddamn care of the kids.

        1. Sagretti says:

          So you’re comparing a game developer to a rape victim and her children? Please, think for a second. Never, ever is anything in the games world the equivalent severity to rape, unless EA starts actually murdering employees or something.

          1. sab says:

            I’m not entirely sure that the term rape would apply even then.

        2. Nick Bell says:

          But by your other posts, it is obvious you feel the developer can not leave the publisher. Using your current analogy, your solution to “helping the kids” is give money to the father, hoping it’ll improve the kids lives, because the mom can never leave.

          In an abusive relationship as you describe, step one is to separate the father from the rest of the family. Then you help the family directly without helping the father. So if developers want us to help them by buying good games, they need to help us by stepping away from abusive publishers.

          1. MelTorefas says:

            THANK YOU for this. I was shaking my head in disbelief at the analogies being spewed out.

        3. Alex says:

          @Scott Richmond:


          Really? A -rape- comparison? Because a guy wrote some stuff about a game with a stupid definition of “installations”?

        4. Raka says:

          That’s a vile metaphor, which is a lovely complement to its inaccuracy. And how, exactly, do we “persecute” Ubisoft here? We have one lever: our collective purchase dollar.

          Perhaps it’s not the developer’s “fault”. Who cares? If a bakery creates a delicious cake, it’s not their fault that the distributor packaged it in a steaming cow flop. But more importantly, it’s not *my* fault either, and I’m not going to pay anyone for the resulting product.

          1. lasslisa says:

            Thank you for that. The whole argument seems to hinge on the idea that somehow they deserve our money and how dare we not give it to them. If the DRM ruins the game, then the game is ruined and it’s no point in giving them my money.

          2. Pickly says:

            Not to mention, developers are in a much better position than someone being abused. They can switch publishers, go work for someone else, form a new company, etc.

        5. gragsmash says:

          However, to use your analogy, you can’t simply give money to “the family” – this only validates the horrible and destructive behavior.

          You encourage, and help the woman get free, but if for whatever reason she can’t or won’t leave, simply giving money to the family won’t change things. You’re only feeding the problem.

          On another note, please don’t ever say “I’m pirating this because of DRM” – if you feel that strongly, consider writing both the publisher and the developer to let them know that they have lost a sale. That will be much more effective than an illegal download, which only adds to the statistics Ubi uses to justify their decision.

      2. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Sadly, though, even if nobody bought this game, “This DRM sucks” is not the lesson that the executives would take away from it. The lesson they’d hear is “Nobody’s interested in this IP anymore. What else is popular these days? Write a game that looks like that.”

        You cannot communicate with shareholders like that because there are no shareholders listening. Most people that own stock in anything do so through not any belief in the company or the product but as part of giant funds of stocks tracking whole industries.

        1. Deoxy says:

          This is actually the biggest problem with our financial system – the supposed owners have no actual say in running the companies they supposed own.

          Theoretically, they could join together, etc, etc, but since dividends are no longer the main reason to own stock (it is largely just prospecting now, with the only money being made coming from whoever buys it from you), there’s no real incentive to pay close attention.

          This leaves the company in the un-over-seen control of someone who incentives are the polar opposite of the company as a whole: the executives – how can I get as much out of this for ME as quickly as I can?

          Which explains a LOT of problems in our financial institutions, actually.

          1. Peter H. Coffin says:

            Oh, the SAY is there. There’s stockholder meetings, and everyone that owns a registered share is entitled to attends, schmooze, and often is entitled express an opinion about the upper-level management. But one has to make the effort to attend and own the shares directly rather than through an index fund or something. The simple fact is that the vast majority (probably 90%) of the shareholders don’t care about anything except share price, and 9% more don’t care about anything except the dividend rate. It doesn’t even matter to them what the company makes or if the company makes anything people are interesting in buying so long as those two things only go up. And they vote for policies and directions in the business on the matters brought up at the shareholder meeting strictly along the lines of how obviously those policies and people are likely to keep those numbers growing.

            1. Deoxy says:

              And they vote for policies and directions in the business on the matters brought up at the shareholder meeting strictly along the lines of how obviously those policies and people are likely to keep those numbers growing.

              Or at least growing for as long as they intend to keep the stock. What happens the moment after they cash in matters not at all.

              From what I can tell, the best companies are ones that have AN owner (or perhaps 2 or three who know each other by name) who cares about how HIS (or her) company does. Who has a noticeable chunk of his personal wealth invested in said company.

              But that is becoming quite rare these days, at least for companies of any size.

            2. decius says:

              Maybe we should get a lot of gamers to buy a total of a few percent of the stock, and then attend those meetings and say “Hey, this DRM runs directly counter to (y)our core values and mission statement, and it IS a big deal.”

    3. tengokujin says:

      Here’s what the choice seems to be:

      Do you buy the game to support the devs who worked long hours into the night to bring you this excellent game, or do you refuse to buy it now, so that publishers learn that this method only drives away people who have a sense of “Fuck this, I’m not going to walk into a con job I see coming from a mile away just because I know a fraction of the money being stolen from me will go to feed the con man’s hungry children.”

      Really, it seems to be either feel magnanimous for supporting devs now or refusing to pay for a broken product.

      I know I can spend money on a whole product; why pay someone for a broken one? At some point, you need to look out for yourself.

      1. Scott Richmond says:

        The product isn’t broken at all. Its actually extremely well polished. Like Valve polished. The DRM is in reality actually not noticeable at all.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Any DRM which means I can’t play the game both at my place and at my parents’ without buying the game twice is a no-sell. Any DRM which means I can’t play it in my yard (no internet) is a no-sell. Any DRM which means I probably won’t be able to play it in 5 years time (when the servers are down) is a no-sell.

          The developers probably do’nt have a choice and no voice in the matter, very true. And I’m very, very sorry for them. However, your point can be easily translated to another market. Let’s try.

          “Those Nike sneakers are made in a third-world country for $1/day! Don’t buy them” “Ok, but those poor people don’t have a choice in the matter! You should buy these shoes, because the poor working people in Taiwan/China/Uzbekistan/… need the money!”

          See? Doesn’t work. The developers are the $1-a-day-poor in this comparison, of course. Yes, I want to help them. Yes, I want to sympathise with them. I’m well aware that a whole lot of the development team probably *are* gamers, and some will hate the DRM as much as I do, or a lot more (I’m not all that militant, actually). The only way I can tell the publisher – be it EA, Ubisoft, THQ or anyone else – that I don’t agree with their business practices, is by “voiting with my wallet”. I loved Iron Lore, but they still went under because of their publisher. I loved Bullfrog, Westwood, and so on and so on. It’s not my fault as a consumer that good – even great – developers go out of business or get bought up and destroyed.

        2. Rayen says:

          install it on your laptop, your other desktop, and then buy a new graphics card and then say that.

          1. sab says:

            And hope that the previous activations won’t be revoked, and never will be in the future, of course.

        3. Aulayan says:

          You’re obviously a huge fan of the game and/or the developers.

          Step back. Re-read what you’re typing. You’re coming across as a fanboy. The same type that freaks out when a game gets 9.8 instead of 10. Just calm down, step back, and breathe.

          1. BenD says:

            If it wasn’t for the 15+ hours playing the game Mr. Richmond’s clocked on Steam, I’d assume he is one of the developers. But I’d expect most developers are pretty burned out on playing their game when it releases.

            1. Kresh says:

              This is how I see some of the posts here, especially a few of the upstream ones that I’m attaching this to.

              “Internet Word Problems. Please write your answer in the following space: (__)

              If somebody disagrees with you, and thus the collective hivemind (AKA the fanboys/readers of the OP/Blog owner), he or she must be;
              A) A fanboy of the game being criticized.
              B) Working with/for the developer
              C) A mental retard
              D) A Troll.”

              Obviously, the selection; E) A human being with opinions and values differing from my own, cannot be on the list as this would require people to not be jerks. An almost impossible feat on these here internets.

              I happen to agree with the prevalent opinion that the DRM in question is silly, obtrusive, and poorly implemented. It’s the reason I had to stop playing the game and I won’t be buying another UBIsoft game, or another game with a similar DRM-like “feature” in the future (I’m looking at you, Diablo 3.)

              I don’t agree with the attempt to shut down people with differing opinions through name-calling, or with insinuations of dishonesty. Leave that behavior for 4chan. This is supposed to be a better community. Do try to behave accordingly.

              1. Shamus says:

                I’m Shamus Young, and I approve this message.

                1. tengokujin says:

                  I’m not, and I, too, approve of this message.

        4. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Nope,sorry,thats completely false.YOU dont notice it.That doesnt mean NO ONE will ever notice it.Heck,the very example given in this post shows how someone did notice it.

        5. PhotoRob says:

          What you’re failing to recognize is, as long as the DRM is included with every purchase of the game, it is part of the product. So technically, true, the product is not broken… the DRM is working exactly as Ubisoft intends. It is just not working as Shamus and many other people (the potential purchasers) intend.

          The fact that it is mostly invisible to many makes it even worse, not better.

    4. WysiWyg says:

      “Do yourself a favor and just BUY the game, please.”

      But you’re not buying the game, you are, at best, renting it.

      1. Marauder says:

        But you're not buying the game, you are, at best, renting it.

        And for upwards of $20 a pop at that!

        When I’ve looked at games with activations, I’ve asked myself, “Would I be willing to rent this game X times at Y/X price?” where X is the number of activations and Y is the asking price. Unless Y/X is sufficiently low (on the order of a dollar or two) the answer is likely “no!” because at the end of the day it is still really only an extended rental.

    5. Gabriel Mobius says:

      No, I most certainly will not buy this game, and I certainly hope Shamus won’t either.

      Let me try to put this into perspective for you. In the last two months, I have found myself in a situation where I would have used up the three installs on this game like that. And then what? I have to get on the phone or send an e-mail to Ubisoft begging for a new set of activations like some simpering peasant because… I dared to upgrade my RAM and decided I wanted to play it on my laptop too? You don’t seem to understand that this DRM is quite literally a form of punishment that only affects the legitimate customers of this developer and game that you seem to be so enamoured with. So exactly why should I take my hard earned money and spend it to punish myself? On some off chance that maybe the game experience will outclass the teeth grinding insanity of being forced to cow myself before Ubisoft begging to be allowed to make use of the product I bought?

      I think not.

  6. DM T. says:

    Settlers 7 was the last Ubisoft game I’ve bought and played.
    Until they remove their DRM catastrophe, I’m not going to get any new UbiSoft published games (One of the reasons that keeps me away from getting ‘From Dust’).

    1. StranaMente says:

      I’m not going to buy any ubisoft game until they stop with this DRM non-sense either.
      They’re actually losing customers, this way.

      And for similar reasons I’m not going to buy games from Origin, neither I’m going to play the games I already own there (because I bought them when it still was ea-download manager).

      I don’t like their policy and I’m voting with my wallet.

      1. tengokujin says:

        Actually, if you’ve already paid for them, you should continue to play, so that you cost them money for running the validation servers. The money’s been spent, so not playing them is just negative benefit to yourself: you’re not burning any CPU time on their servers, they still have your money.

        1. StranaMente says:

          But to install them, I have to install the origin client.
          And that is a thing I don’t want to touch right now with a 2 yards pole covered in duct tape. Being a lawyer concerned with privacy issues, I’m really concerned with their policy towards customers and I don’t want either to let them think they’re doing right, nor to have that client on my computer. Even if I don’t have anything to be ashamed or worried about.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            I have to say I understand that. I just recently downloaded “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: the Demo”. Nice enough game, I think. Some serious bugs (which have apparently been ironed out for release – EA insisted on releasing a demo but the devs didn’t want to because it was 3 months old code…Hurray), some issues (no saving? No remapping WASD-keys? Do these people even realise that WASD is impossible on an azerty or qwertz keyboard?) which are *hopefully* fixed too…
            Anyway. I did read the EA EULA and their privacy policy. Man, those two almost made me uninstall the whole thing unplayed. They withhold the right to change any access to anything at any point without any warning or notice, they don’t guarantee any support in any way (up to and including keeping their identification servers on line! They could take down their servers 2 weeks after release and you’d be shit out of luck!), they reserve the right to install 3rd party programs to check up on you,….Really, I think the Devil can offer aless one-sided deal than that.

      2. Ysen says:

        I’m also not buying Ubisoft and Origin games, for the same reason.

    2. Ragnar says:

      I have actually been thinking of buying Settlers 7 despite the DRM. I thought that the price would drop a year after release, but it’s still in the 35 euro range. I think a good game with hideous DRM might still be worth spending 5-10 euros on if I think of it as a throwaway game that probably won’t work in a few years time.

  7. MadTinkerer says:

    “People hate this DRM so strongly that they will vow to pirate the game simply out of protest.”

    Indeed, the main reason I haven’t done so myself is all the Steam Winter Sale games that have filled up my backlog. I will now post an open letter to Ubisoft:

    Dear Ubisoft,

    I own every game on Steam you released without DRM. EVERY ONE. I also have a bunch of non-Steam Ubi games from years past and platforms non-PC. I also have a few that do have your DRM, but those purchases were accidents, I assure you. Please remove the Anno 2070 DRM so I can purchase it legitimately and not pirate it in protest.

    Your loyal customer (far more loyal than you deserve),
    The Mad Tinkerer

    1. gragsmash says:

      pirating the game is not a legitimate form of protest. not buying it is.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        I can’t agree with this enough. Pirating will just exacerbate the problem, since it gives them more reason to fight back.

    2. SyrusRayne says:

      A lost sale is protest. A pirated copy is a statistic. Don’t be a statistic.

  8. Amarsir says:

    “If you drive away a customer in the process of stopping a thief, then you aren't gaining anything.”
    Depends on the gross margin, but we’ll assume software was implied.

    Also I’m not sure pay logic at a French company follows the same laws of physics as the real world, but I’ll bite my tongue since Yanks are hardly innocent. :)

    1. Dragomok says:

      Let me guess… You’re French, aren’t you?

    2. Veloxyll says:

      Sales departments have only 1 thing they control – their number of customers (alright, the number of customers they can successfully sell to). If you lose a sale, that’s a failure. If you get thiefed, well, that’s what insurance is for. And video games have amazing margins.

      Also, the only empirical study I’ve seen on the matter showed that for every 1000 pirates you stop stealing your game, you generate ONE sale. THat doesn’t count how many potential sales you lose (since they’re impossible to measure).

      The othre thing is all this DRM-y stuff means that rather than talking about actual gameplay, a lot of blogs, havens of tech-savvy customers, talk about the terrible DRM instead. And you can bet that doesn’t generate sales.

      Pay logic is like trickle down economics – sounds good in theory but doesn’t actually exist in the real world.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        Given that, depending on how you look at it, DRM stops NO pirates (or not enough to matter)…even gaining double digit sales seems unlikely to me. Maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but given the way things go I don’t imagine it to be that far off.

  9. Eruanno says:

    I have sworn off ANY games that pull that installation limit-bullshit on me. I want to be able to find that game in a drawer (or in my Steam library) in fifteeen years and think “that game was cool. I think I’ll install it again and play it for a bit”. Installation limits make this impossible, because I very much doubt I can call up and ask for another five activations for my really old game, pretty please.

  10. Shodan says:

    Isn’t it true that Ubisoft has upto now removed the DRM from their titles after a while? This is the case for Assassins creed 2 I believe. Also Anno 1440 has the DRM /activation removed totally I’ve heard.

    Is this than still an issue? If they remove it after half a year or 1 year you could argue that it at least postpones the pirating a bit to be able to sell more copies of the game?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m still completely against this DRM, but maybe it is not as bad an issue as it seems.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      No, they haven’t. Settlers 7 still has always-on DRM without any off line mode worth talking about (no DLC I can understand – just barely – but no campaign? No hotseat multiplayer? No LAN multiplayer?)

      Anyway, they’ve removed the DRM from *some* of their older games; the ones they could be bothered to put out a patch for. Their slightly-less-popular things (or just more niche work) doesn’t even get that last patch made. Or any other patch, for that matter.

      1. RCN says:

        No Hotseat multiplayer?

        Wait… are you talking of the same game I own? Because the Settlers 7 I own (and still frustrates me whenever I try to play) is not a turn-based game. You know, the only requirement for a game to be possible to play in Hotseat?

        I love the game (then again… my grandfather IS german), but really wish they’d patched the DRM away.

        Stupid, stupid Ubi. Why do you HAVE to be the publisher to own some of my favorite developers/games/licenses? Why?

        1. Bubble181 says:

          At least one of the previous Settlers was playable by several players on one screen. I admit “hotseat” may be poorly worded; split screen would be correct.

          Anyway, it’s still not possible with this one :-P

        2. Sumanai says:

          The first Settlers game actually supported hotseat. You needed a second, serial, mouse for it.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            Yarr! I knew there was a hotseat in there somewhere! :-)

          2. RCN says:

            Which isn’t hotseat.

            Hotseat is called that specifically because the seat will be changing sitter. Like a hot-potatoe. Because one person plays, then changes to the next. Which can only happen in turn-based games.

            It is multiplayer, but it isn’t hotseat. Heck, hotseat isn’t even really a plus as a feature, it is just the only way to have more than one person play a turn-based game at the same time in the same computer.

            1. Bubble181 says:

              “Multiplayer on the same computer”. Now happy? English is my fourth language, I hope you can forgive me :-P

              1. RCN says:

                And it is my sixth.

                In any case, just clarifying. Hotseat is more a necessary devil for turn-based games than a feature, really. Multiplayer is multiplayer, hotseat is a form of multiplayer.

              2. Sumanai says:

                “Split-screen multiplayer”, if you want to be literal. But I used “hotseat” specifically because it was used before and I knew what was meant by it within the current context.

    2. Alan says:

      That would be a wonderful compromise. “We hereby promise to release a patch removing all online DRM after 2 years.” They would need to formally agree to that promise, making it a legal commitment, otherwise they can back out. There would be some risk if the company went out of business in the meanwhile, but I’m willing to accept some risk in this compromise. Sadly, it’s not happening.

      1. Marauder says:

        That would be a wonderful compromise. “We hereby promise to release a patch removing all online DRM after 2 years.”

        And then I just might purchase the game…
        …in two years

        Being a long-time fan of the Command and Conquer series, as soon as it was announced I ran out and pre-ordered a copy of Red Alert 3: Premiere Collector’s With All The Goodies Edition… Then it came out that RA3 was going to include the same horrible SecuROM 3-Activation DRM that EA used with Spore. I quickly cancelled my pre-order.

        I didn’t stop there however, I sent EA a letter, including a copy of my pre-order cancellation receipt, explaining that as a long time fan of the franchise I had been excitedly looking forward to the game. I told them that even though I had been looking forward to playing the game, because of the activation scheme I cancelled my order and would not be purchasing or playing the game until and unless the activation was removed.

        Months after release (Wikipedia has it at about 5 months) EA did remove the SecuROM activation was from the Steam version. At that point I did purchase (and play the crap out of) Red Alert 3 and sent EA a follow-up letter thanking them for removing the SecuROM activation in the Steam version so that I finally could purchase and enjoy the game.

        I did the same thing with Splinter Cell: Conviction after the Ubisoft always-on-phone-home DRM was revealed. They never did remove that, but when it was a couple dollars on one of the Steam mega-sales, I felt it was cheap enough for the restrictions they place on it.

        I realize that in the grand scheme of things a single letter from a potential customer saying “I won’t buy your product because of X, and here is my cancelled pre-order” barely even registers as noise, but what if we had THOUSANDS of cancelled pre-orders with accompanying letters…?

        1. Pete says:

          “Ugh, what is that dreadful sound? Could you close the windows, my dear chap, I can hardly concentrate on the meeting! Ah, thank you, now, what was it you were saying about decreasing the allowed activation limit, my dear boy?”

          Call me a cynic, I dont have much faith in publishing companies listening to ANY amount of customer outrage.

      2. Irridium says:

        I believe Shamus touched on that a while ago.

        Basically, there is NO GUARANTEE they’ll even be around in two years. Or if they are, if they’ll be well off.

        But Shamus’ example uses 10 years. What kind of company would go from top to bottom in only two years?

        Well, THQ, for example. A couple of years ago, they were doing great. Now, they’re doing so badly they face being de-listed from NASDAQ. They’re shares are valued at about $0.70, and falling. A few years ago they were doing just fine.

        You may be willing to take a risk with them, but I’m not willing to put my trust in companies that have proven time after time that they do not care one bit for their customers. It would also require them to actually compromise. Which is a long shot at best.

  11. Nathon says:

    Shamus, have you ever considered a conscientious gamer’s buying guide? My views on DRM are like yours, but more so. A convenient list of games and the degree to which their DRM infringes on my rights as a paying customer would be really handy. I have far more money than time, and such a list would really help me with my game buying decisions.

  12. Rax says:

    This rockpapershotgun article is strange. It seems they really see the problem in the fact, that changing your graphics card uses an activation. How is the real problem NOT the fact, that this 60$-game basically destroys itself? Why it does that doesn’t matter to me at all, like Eruanno said “I want to be able to find that game in a drawer (or in my Steam library) in fifteeen years and think “that game was cool.”

  13. Dmatix says:

    Good point, and a good Kurt Vonnegut reference too.

  14. Wolverine says:

    How come no one mentioned that Rayman: Origins (one of the newer Ubisoft games, as far as I know) will be released on PC without any DRM at all?

    1. Irridium says:

      Because they said the same thing with From Dust.

      And that had DRM on it.

      So we’re waiting to see if it’s actually DRM-free.

  15. Irridium says:

    Ubisoft’s DRM is why I’m not buying ANYTHING that has these jackass’ label on it. No PC games, no console games, not even pirating. I want NOTHING to do with these bastards until they remove their DRM.

    Do you know what game was on sale a while ago? From Dust. Made by Eric freaking Chahi. For $5. I did not buy it.

    Do you know what game is coming out soon on the PC? Rayman Origins. By Micheal freaking Ancel. I’m not buying it. I was going to when I heard it’ll have no DRM, but apparently that’s the retail copy. Digital version still does.

    There’s also the fact that they said From Dust wouldn’t have DRM on it. And it did.

    I guess it remains to be seen what Rayman Origins is like. If it’s DRM is somewhat acceptable, like just an online activation (the fact that an online activation is considered acceptable these days really pisses me off) or something, and maybe I’ll buy it to show support. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

    There’s also the fact that Ubisoft thinks me a bitching little pirate because I have the gall to want to play I Am Alive on the PC. I don’t much like buying from people who outright insult me.

  16. Rayen says:

    i’m wondering. If i buy a box copy of ANNO 2070 if i’ll have to play it through steam. “Valve learned that the best weapon against piracy is convience.” We don’t see a lot of pirated movies… well not as much as video games. We don’t see the movie industry tripping over itself and strangling it’s legitimate customers totry and stop pirtates (SOPA Excluded). and i’m beginning to wonder if there is something to that. One of the great things about movies is i can buy it and pop it into my machine and watch it.

    Buying and installing games these days is a chore. Lets say i buy a game and a new PC with the recomended specs at best buy. the steps i will need to take to play the game are as follows;
    -put in game disk
    -install Digital distrubution client(steam, big fish,impulse, etc.)
    -connect to the internet
    – all of the steps and BS connecting to the net takes these days.
    -create game client account OR verify permission for this PC to access my DD client account.
    -verify that i bought the game with a 16 digit activation code
    -it is at this point i can actually install the game i bought.
    -restart computer (optional not always neccesary)
    -restart and relog into client
    -play game

    meanwhile to pirate i need to do these;
    -begin pirate download
    -go buy PC at best buy
    -place download on external harddrive
    -take copy off external hardrive
    -play game

    do we see the problem here?

    1. Marauder says:

      We don't see the movie industry tripping over itself and strangling it's legitimate customers totry and stop pirtates (SOPA Excluded). and i'm beginning to wonder if there is something to that. One of the great things about movies is i can buy it and pop it into my machine and watch it.

      Bad example. The Movie industry IS screwing their customers over, people are just used to it…

      You technically can’t create a centralized movie library from your DVDs/BluRays like you can with music from CD. There have been a number of products such as RealNetworks RealDVD that have been killed by the movie studios under the thumb of the DMCA. So much for “fair-use” and “space-shifting” from RIAA vs. Diamond Multimedia…

      I have a BD-RE drive in my computer but I can’t watch BluRay movies on it without violating the DMCA. Why? Because my monitors are more than two years old and don’t support HDCP. Since they’re so afraid I might record the video as it streams over DVI, the BluRay refuses to play without DRM built into my monitor. Only with a product like AnyDVD HD can I actually watch the movies I PAID FOR on my desktop.

      If you have more HDMI devices then HDMI ports on the TV in your living room, you better be sure that you find a good HDMI switch that doesn’t have broken HDCP support, or otherwise half of your stuff won’t work right.

      I’ve seen the HDCP handshaking between a device and TV crap out and break an otherwise working configuration, usually requiring resetting one the devices to force a re-handshake.

      I can’t watch DVD’s under Linux or with other Free/Open Source software without breaking the DMCA because of CSS encryption not to mention licensing fees for the easy to reverse-engineer keys.

      Remember DIVX (No, not the MPEG-4 derived codec, the single play “disposable” DVD-like system pushed by Circuit City). Thankfully that died quickly.

      Then there is this….

      Unskippable trailers on DVDs are just the beginning. With BluRay, there are all sorts of fancy new ways to annoy customers. Internet connectivity, Executable Java Code, etc. Check out the Amazon reviews for the Apollo 13 BluRay some time…

      I could go on…

  17. Dev Null says:

    People can be paid upwards of a hundred thousand dollars a year, even if they have no idea what they're doing.

    Oh Shamus. You’ve been working from home for too long.

    People can be paid upwards of a hundred million dollars a year precisely because they have no idea what they’re doing, just to get rid of them.

  18. zob says:

    Shamus I think you are missing one important point, limited install is not there to stop piracy. It’s a practice against trade-ins and resales. They know they can’t milk pirates so they went for their next target, their legitimate customers. It’s just another nefarious business practice.

    1. StranaMente says:

      Since reselling of pc games is almost non-existant, I can’t really see how that could be a problem, actually.

      1. Dave B says:

        Reselling of PC games is almost nonexistent precisely because of policies like this.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          Reselling of PC software died out long, long before there was any DRM measure to counter it. Somewhere around the time DVD burners came on the scene, and box stores stopped accepting returns because a customer could copy a disk and return it, bypassing the disk-check DRM that existed at the time (and, incidentally, didn’t stop second-hand sales)

  19. burningdragoon says:

    It’s times like this I am more than happy to be a primarily console gamer where things like this don’t happen at all…

    wait, what do you mean these types of business practices have been creeping into the console market!? We didn’t listen! We… we didn’t listen *sobs*

    1. RCN says:

      Errr… Capcom has been doing similar practices pretty much ever since the consoles they make games for have discovered online gaming.

      Don’t think for a second console manufactures aren’t salivating all over the place for their DRMs. Project 10 dollars is a good example. It is just that the consoles are slower to incorporate technology that appears on the PCs, good, evil or/and retarded.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        No worries. Tne Next Generation of consoles (Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 I guess) won’t be introduced for better graphics or more memory; they’ll be the generation made to be played always-online, with cloud saving (perhaps one generation further it’ll be cross-platform saving! Imagine the ease-of-use, being able to continue your Gears of Honours 17 save game on your neighbour’s console!).

        It’ll all be to “improve the gaming experience”, of course, and to “connect you to your friends in-game”, to “bring you all the latest updates even faster” and whatnot, but it’ll still be the exact same thing. People will complain that they can’t take their Wii 2 or 3 or whatever with them on a weekend to play party games, but the big media companies won’t care. Welcome to the gaming world as publishers want it.

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          You’ll have to come up with something that doesn’t already exist. Cloud-saves, digital delivery and online play are part of the Playstation Network stock and trade (albeit for a monthly charge) and I’d be unsurprised to learn that 360 Live does those as well.

      2. burningdragoon says:

        Oh yes, I’m aware all the problems consoles already have, but was trying to be funny about it. We don’t have anything quite like this yet other than online passes (which I do have a problem with)

        Of course there are rumors that the next Xbox will have built-in prevention of playing used games. It’s probably not going to but that’s a pretty serious situation if it’s true.

  20. Paul Spooner says:

    Dear everyone: Okay, so the DRM is terrible. So, don’t buy it from the publisher. If you want the game and don’t want to steal it, then get a “pirated” copy, and then send money directly to the developer. I’m sure they will be happy to accept your donations.

    Developers really should start doing this (or do it a LOT more). Set up a “pirate chest” or something. Make it easy for people to give the money directly to the developer, earmarked to support a specific game, bypassing the publisher entirely. This would do several things:
    1. It would help developers, and reward good games.
    2. It would demonstrate that “pirates” are not all “bad” people.
    3. It would punish encumbering DRM, by bypassing it entirely, along with the companies who enact it.

    This has to start with the developers though. All they would have to do is set up a “Donate toward Anno 2070” button. The question for you is, would you “buy” the game this way?

    1. RCN says:

      Wow. This is brilliant. Unfortunately, it is retarded as well (no insult intended, really).

      Developers just cannot do something like this. This would be illegal on several layers of the copyright law and it’d be the same as they openly telling the publishers to suck it. Which in turn is exactly the same as begging the publisher to disband them, burn the house and salt the earth then charging for the salt and the matches. (Also known as lawsuits and contracts. Legal fees alone will destroy ANY developer if their publisher is so inclined)

      After all, if developers COULD do something like that, they would. Actually, they DO. It is when a developer is also its own publisher, which requires a butt-load of resources from the developer up-front to be even slightly feasible. Valve is one of the so-rare-they-might-be-outnumbered-by-unicorns case.

      1. BenD says:

        If the developer bypasses publishers entirely and self-publishes, it’s not illegal. It’s just permitting the marketplace to set their own prices for your games.

        1. RCN says:

          If they self-publish a game made with the resources given BY the publisher, I assure you, it is highly illegal.

          If I pay you and give you the materials to build a house in a land I own, then you sell the house yourself to someone else bypassing me, I sure hope the law is on my side, regardless of how much of a jerk I am.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            However, let’s say I pay you to write a song. You do, and then I sell the song, only with advertisements mixed in. Lots of people like the song, and some people sing it without the advertisements. Some people even mix out the ads and distribute the song without them, and without paying me. I can go after those people for copyright infringement.
            But then, some of those people give you money, not for a copy of the song (they already have that) but because they liked the work you did. I already own the song, but I don’t own you. I have no legal right to money given to you, especially since you aren’t the one distributing the song.

            1. RCN says:

              Right. But this is an initiative by the customer.

              And it is not that simple. In this case, you’d pay someone to write a song, come up with a way to make it profitable, supply the recording facilities and the instruments, pay for the marketing, produce the music videos, supply the bling and the fashion designer for a fashionable cool outfit, plus several other costs that you absolutely need not just to make the music but make it popular, and then the songwriter would publicly announce that everyone pirate the song and pay him directly. At any case, a song needs much less resources to be made, but a game is a whole different process by orders of magnitude (for big-name titles, at least).

              As long as the creator isn’t actively going like this, no foul. But the second he is publicly telling people how to circumvent the people who made it possible, it is open season for the publisher to accuse him of foul play.

              And if this mishmash way of circumventing publishers goes on for long enough, I assure you it’ll catch their notice and they’ll do something about it.

              It is just not realistic, and even if it was, disagreeing with someone to the point you use their resources for your profit isn’t exactly moral.

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        No offense taken.
        I’m pretty sure it’s quite legal to take donations, which is all I’m suggesting. I’m not saying the developer should offer non-drm copies of the game. I’m not saying they should in any way officially condone “piracy”. All I’m saying is they should have a button on their site which says “If you liked game X, here’s where you can give us money for making it.”
        The implication is there, of course, but implication is notoriously difficult to prosecute.

        1. Alex says:

          Uh… I get the feeling even “donations” would, by some contractual obligation go mostly to the publisher, even if it were sent to the developer.

          The Snake-Men who write these things are pretty meticulous about it.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      I think this would be an interesting experiment to try. It takes “voting with your dollars” to a whole new level–instead of a passive “we aren’t selling as much, must be because of pirates” message, you’re sending a “just LOOK at how much money you COULD be making!” message to publishers.

      The problem I see with it is not with intellectual property rights or losing publishers as customers, the real problem is that you are asking people to give you their bank account information while they are admitting to doing something illegal. Even if people trust you enough to do that (most won’t), and even if you have their best intentions at heart, how long do you suppose it will be before you get an injunction from the publisher demanding your financial transaction records?

      I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure there have already been battles where the government has demanded the records of scholars who collect data about illicit activities from criminals for their studies, and the scholars lost.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        While this could theoretically be a problem, there’s nothing stopping people who bought the game legitimately, or people who have never played the game at all, from donating as well. Sure, it’s possible for pirates to donate, but as long as you don’t have a checkbox saying “Yes, I stole this game” I don’t think it would be a big issue.
        This method (without the publisher) is how DF is funded. It is also, ostensibly, how World of Goo and any other “no drm” game is paid for. Letting people give you money must be legal, especially if you are providing no tangible service for it.

        Now, the point is well taken that this might piss off the publisher. Personally, I find it illogical to be annoyed by someone else’s good fortune, but that doesn’t stop most people. The political elements are, of course, numerous and individual to each developer. But if your publisher starts throwing a fit because people are giving you money, go find another publisher!

        1. Abnaxis says:

          Ah, but I thought the entire point was to create a money inlet with the express purpose of “if you pirated to get a game, please pay us for our work…”

          A more general donations box strikes me as a less successful proposition. It’s one thing to make a donations box, with a message of, “if you pirated the game and liked us, please pay us so we can know we’re doing to a good job;” it’s another thing to just stick a bucket out and say “please give us money.” Legal risks notwithstanding, I think people would be more willing to give money in the former case than the latter one.

  21. littlefinger says:

    Help me out a bit here, does Anno and other Ubisoft software have it’s own drm software (similar to steam or origin), or does it simply ‘phone home’ at the moment of install? Or is it one of those dumb as hell ‘required to be online always’ software packages?

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Anno must always be on line, AND can only be installed 3 times. Don’t ask me why exactly, it seems overkill to do both, but hey.

  22. Eric says:

    “When I was young, I had a tendency to assume that my betters knew what they were doing, even if I couldn't make sense of it. I thought that executives were masters of secret knowledge. I believed this because the alternative seemed insane: People can be paid upwards of a hundred thousand dollars a year, even if they have no idea what they're doing.

    And now I see I was wrong.”

    We have a new quote of the day, here.

    I know a couple of people who have been in the games industry and the stories are all largely the same… and one needs simply look at that recent open letter from former THQ employees to see even more of the picture. Like a lot of businesses, those at the top are just there to soak up as much cash as they can while everyone does the real work. It happens everywhere, and while I certainly don’t know anything about any particular publishers, at least we can content ourselves with the fact that there are a lot of very talented and smart people out there as well. And, for what it’s worth, DRM is not the only measure of success as a CEO. Just saying.

    I think there are also a lot of people who got into the industry when it was fresh and young, where you could just throw money at something and get sales. That doesn’t work anymore. Games are too expensive, the market is too competitive and the free availability of the Internet now means that you have both legal and illegal competition. DRM isn’t an attempt to address that, it’s a way of pretending the problem doesn’t exist, so that you don’t have to change your business model or the services you offer. We saw it happen with the music and film industry recently and the exact same thing is happening with games – only thing is that at least the games industry has generally been quicker to adopt the sane strategies.

  23. Smejki says:

    the DRM stopped me from buying the game too. I was almost about to accept the always-online but limited activation? Fuck off, Ubi! I am getting back to my previous state and never gonna buy anything from you.

  24. “but it was a window of opportunity for them to re-evaluate their policy. They could have sat down and thought about DRM and the impact it has on piracy, consumers, and the medium as a whole.”

    Absolutely. That’s TOTALLY what would happen…

  25. TheMerricat says:

    I think the biggest issue here isn’t the DRM, it’s that even people like Shamus buy into the idea that this ‘to reduce piracy’ and thus focus their arguments on the red herring.

    Folks, I’m sure you can find people out there who honestly believe that is what DRM is for, who will argue as passionately as an MPAA shill about how it’s necessary to prevent the industry from collapsing.

    But seriously, just because you can find them doesn’t mean that’s the real reason. DRM exists for one primary purpose, and it’s not curbing piracy, it’s curbing used game sales.

    Seriously, no one at the top who actually has a clue actually thinks that a pirate, being deprived of the ability to play ‘your’ game is going to just give up and go out and buy it. They’ll simply just go find another game to steal. It’s about like how you don’t need to outrun the bear, just the guy next to you.

    What the people at the top DO think however, is if you are given the choice between buying a used game at a slight discount, which may be completely unusable by you due to having DRM issues, or buying the ‘genuine deal’ which is ‘guaranteed’ to work at least the first time around, you’ll pony up the extra cash as insurance.

    “But wait!”, you might be exclaiming, “You can’t sell your used Steam games, so your point is invalid!”

    But the sad reality is, the folk who play at this the way Ubisoft do don’t care if you can or can’t resell your games on Steam. Keeping two (or more) different code bases alive simply to accommodate that doesn’t make monetary sense to them. You get this BS DRM on Steam because they still sell the game on CD, and thus every version of the game sold, on CD or not, gets DRM.

    Did anyone honestly buy the aggrieved (and highly ironic) protestations from the MPAA, RIAA and other supporters of SOPA and PIPA about how the Internet blackout was completely just the machinations of bad ‘companies’?

    Then stop buying the same strained bullshit about DRM being about piracy and look to what is actually being taken away with DRM.

    1. Jan says:

      Seriously? There is no used game market here to speak of (except for the really old “garage sale” type of games (multiple years at least), so why do we still get DRM?
      Why are copies sold on online stores (Steam, Gamersgate, etc.) still burdened with it?

      1. TheMerricat says:

        You do realize WHY there is no longer a PC used game market, don’t you?

        It wasn’t even a decade ago that I had the pick of three different stores in the city I live in that sold used PC software. And given I was working for an ISP at the time, they didn’t die because the internet came along and made piracy cheaper.

        They died because software makers started making it harder and harder to get a ‘used’ copy working on your machine. Because even when they were selling games that retailed new at $50 a box for $15 a pop, people were more willing to pay that $50 knowing that it was more likely that they’d actually be able to get the game to run.

        Albeit back then it was due to over protective CD copyright protection that would kick in if the CD had some much as a dust speck on it, but it amounts to the same thing. Publishers of all industries are scared shitless of the used market, to the point where they’d cut their own nose off just to pound even the smallest glimmer of life out of possibility that such a market could regrow.

        1. Jan says:

          There never was a used game market where I am from. Not in the twenty years that I’ve been buying PC games. There is no Gamestop or anything like it in my country. Second hand (when it’s not books) has a certain stigma here: you never know what’s been done with it, and only poor people buy it.

          Maybe that explains the difference in attitude you see between publishers: in some countries in Europe (Eastern Europe or over here) the problem is piracy, so either Starforce/rootkit-like DRM, or light (disk check) or no DRM, and in America and other parts of Europe the problem is used game sales, so online activation and day-one DLC.
          And of course publishers with strong roots in both the United States and Europe go for a draconian combination of both. Like Ubisoft…

        2. Abnaxis says:

          In my own neck of the woods, PC software returns and resells stopped way before there was phone-home DRM or install limits or hardware checks. They stopped when DVD-burners became cheap (the idea being that a customer could buy a piece of software, copy it, return it, and use it freely because a CD check was the only DRM present).

          The used software market was dead an buried long before any DRM that could work as an anti-secondhand measure was implemented

    2. Shamus says:

      I always stay away from this position because it leads to endless conjecture about what people are THINKING behind the scenes. The DRM on offer is overkill if all you want to do is kill used game sales, and it’s obviously an expense to implement, a source of bad PR, and a source of support headaches. We still end up right back where we started: The people running the show have no idea what they’re doing. I don’t care if their goal is to kill the used market or piracy, they are failing at fundamental points.

      I choose to take them at their word. If they want to defend their actions by confessing to an alternate form of stupidity, they are welcome to do so.

      1. TheMerricat says:

        Two Questions though:

        Is DRM (and it’s predecessor CD copyright protection) more effective at killing the used game market than it is at killing piracy?

        I would contend it is. As demonstrated by the fact that there is virtually no used game market anymore and that piracy was rampant well before that market died.

        Two, which is likely to encounter more backlash:

        * Publishers getting upset over ‘piracy’ – an activity which is illegal and thus hard to defend – and implementing measures they claim are to help stop it.

        *Publishers getting upset over the resale of used products – an activity which is guaranteed under law (not that the ability to use such products once sold is) – and implementing the exact same measures as above but claiming it’s to help curb used game sales.

        Sure, it’ll piss some folk off. But they bet that the number of people they piss off and who actually NEVER buy the game are less than the people who would have bought the game, but only used.

        They aren’t being stupid at all. They just realize that if they are going to pull crap, they have to have a plausible excuse to pull it.

        For the PC market, the plausible excuse is ‘piracy’.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          You forget: you never buy a game at all. You get a one-person, non-transferable, temporary license to use their product. It’s very much illegal to sell that on.

          1. TheMerricat says:

            That only became the case after Vernor v Autodesk was overturned on appeals and refused rehearing in 2011. Prior to then, it wasn’t.

            And it is not so much ‘illegal’ as it is a legal impossibility. You can still sell someone a CD containing the software on it if that’s how you bought the software, you just can’t transfer the license to run that software to them.

          2. Rasha says:

            Except when it’s not. You know with companies that actually deserve to be compensated for their work?

          3. Steve C says:

            You forget: the internet is global and international. The crazy laws in the US don’t apply to the vast majority of the rest of us. A sale is a sale in the rest of world. The US market makes up far far less than 50% of game sales but 100% of us saddled with all this DRM and copyright nonsense.

          4. krellen says:

            If you buy a box with a disk in it, there is no “license”. There’s a disk with software on it, and that disk is a good, not a service.

            Working in the industry, there is a huge difference between what licensed software (sold by volume, and often unlimited installs within a certain organisation) and individual sales constitute.

            While some judges and jurisdictions may have supported the “software is a license” idea in the past, they are wrong. Judges are human, and can, in fact, be wrong. (If you want proof, most Americans learn of one in school: Dred Scott.)

            1. Bubble181 says:

              As long as EULAs apply, they seem to be right. I’ve just read EA’s EULA for Kingdoms of Amalur… I don’t know how legal a EULA really *is*, cosnidering you can’t read it before you buy most of the time, but still. They specifically state the software you buy is a one-person liccense and nothing more. It’s technically illegal to use one boxed copy of that game and play it both yourself and your wife. According to them, you’d need two boxes and to installs.

              1. krellen says:

                As far as I’m able to tell, an EULA has only ever been upheld once, and only because they couldn’t actually charge the guy with copyright infringement. EULAs largely don’t apply.

        2. evileeyore says:

          You’re ignoring the digital download market in your analysis.

          If anything can be “responsible” for killing the “used game market” it would be Steam and GOG.

          From both places I can find all those games from last year (and years before) for less than I can find them at second hand game stores or bargin bins and I am assured these games actually work.

    3. DTWolfwood says:

      Jim Sterling seems to be on the same page. i.e. latest Jimquistion.

      Customers love convenience, the more of it the more willing they are to pay for it. It’s one of the reasons the F2P model works IMO. You can grind the hell out of something or pay a nominal fee to get it quick.

      Shoot this is where i learned the phrase “Convenience Tax” (thanks Shamus :D) I wholeheartedly believe it as i’m a patron of said tax.

      So whether DRM is to stop pirates of used games sales (which is kinda funny if you think of the ladder, there hasn’t been a used PC game market since the late 90’s) it really is counter intuitive to all logical business practices. But its not like that isn’t common knowledge right? lol

  26. Zak McKracken says:

    My thesis is that this isn’t as much stupidity but the result of two things:

    1. Quarterly revenue reporting
    2. Payment based on quarterly revenue

    This leads to what engineers and mathematicians know as “Steepest gradient optimisation.” You do whatever increases your results most for the next quarter, Or the next game, or the next anything.
    If things look better after that, you must have done everything right => continue doing that, and try doing more of it.
    If things don’t look better (this is where it deviates from steepest gradient methods), it’s probably the market’s fault. Or the pirates, or the used game market, or all of them. You may be an executive for a big company, but you wouldn’t get there if you couldn’t sell your own work, even if it’s bad for the company.

    Whoever works according to these rules has an increased chance of making it to the top, compared to someone who doesn’t. The logical result is short-term thinking on the top executive level. That’s not stupidity, either, at least not individual stupidity, since the single people are making quite the career. It’s more collective stupidity.

    The _really_ sad thing is: If your company doesn’t act like that, chances are your next largest competitor will just buy you.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      The good news about this is that there’s no conspiracy. Everyone’s acting stupid in the same way, but not because they have some common dark goal. Rather because they’re in similar stupid circumstances that reward the same stupid behaviour.

      Until the actual majority of gamers starts buying DRM free B games instead of DRM-infested AAA ones. Improbable scenario.

      1. Dasick says:

        Well, like they say, PC gaming is dying… in the sense that the AAA market for the PC is becoming less and less interesting (mostly because they’ve all been shifting their focus on the consoles and leaving us bad ports as scraps).

        But all it means to me is that the big boys are just going to leave us alone, giving free reign to the real leaders in terms of innovation and game design, the “indies” and “indie-like” companies that are behind titles like MineCraft, Overgrowth, Red Orchestra, Amnesia and Achron. Those guys are pretty much stuck in the Golden Era of technology. They’re stuck in those team sizes where you’re big enough to get things done, but small enough that everyone is making meaningful contributions to the game. They’re making proper toolsets before they let their artists off their chains – they have to, because they have enough people to make awesome stuff, but not enough of them to have Da Vinci making shrubberies. And sometimes, they’re working using other game engines, like that German Oblivion overhaul, Nehrim (seriously Shamus, if you haven’t played that, you should. Just to see Oblivion reaching it full potential. So beautiful… a drop of joy/ life-giver rain instils hope/roll my manly tear).

        Also see this insightful, if somewhat obscene, Jimquisition.

        Sorry to burst your gloom bubble like this, but despair is a sin :P .

    2. Bubble181 says:

      Sadly, almost the entire market runs like that. Also, politics. Just replace quarterly revenue reports with either quarterly polls or bi-yearly elections. It still leads to short-term thinking right where long-term planning is important. Personal benefit for the top should coincide with general benefit for the company/organisation/country/theatre group they’re running, and on a larger scale, in our market, it doesn’t.

      If you’re the conductor of a small orchestra, your livelihood depends on keeping the orchestra playing. Your goal is to keep it going as long as possible.
      If you’re the CEO of EA, your livelihood depends on making EA profitable this quarter. After that, if it crashes and burns, well, too bad.

  27. Agammamon says:

    Ubisoft has already lost 2 sales from me – I’ve passed on both Anno 2070 and Silent Hunter Umptysquat – I love me some WWII sub sim, but not to the point of dealing with always-on internet and limited installs. Especially when buying the game off Steam.

  28. Jason W says:

    I’m just having fun imagining the conversation behind the scenes with the development team.

    Bob: “We’ve got this really high priority request from the PR guys, here’s the problem a reviewer’s having.”

    Jill: “Hmm, yeah, that’s a problem, probably something pretty fundamentally flawed in how we designed this. Frank, how long would it take to make this work ‘reasonably’ and not break everything?”

    Frank: “Now? I might be able to get it done if you gave me two months. Assuming we don’t find out we broke something a month into it.”

    Jill: “What if you had until the end of the day?”

    Frank: “I could flip that bit flag over there so the graphics card check gets ignored. That’d just take a few hours to test.”

    Jill: “OK, fine. Bob, tell PR we’ll have a fix ready by the end of the day. Hopefully we’ll get product management to give us some time in the next release cycle to revisit how terrible this was.”

    …And they all lived happily ever after without ever dealing with what sounds like a terrible design, even if you’re a fan of DRM.

    Not that I’ve ever been in a meeting where more or less that exact conversation happened. Multiple times. :)

  29. zootie says:

    “People can be paid upwards of a hundred thousand dollars a year, even if they have no idea what they're doing.”

    No truer words. People get executive jobs exactly by stepping up to a job they don’t know how to do, based on their ability to imagine that they can do it, and convincingly express their confidence in themselves to their incipient boss.

    I just thank god these people flocked to the gaming industry because if they were in real jobs, we wouldn’t have made it to 2012, much less have hope of surviving it.

    1. Mephane says:

      I just thank god these people flocked to the gaming industry because if they were in real jobs, we wouldn't have made it to 2012, much less have hope of surviving it.

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but the same kind of executives, managers and generally speaking idiots can be found in any industry, and also in politics. It’s one of the reasons so much on this planet is in such a bad shape – stupid, possibly greedy people in positions of power.

      1. DTWolfwood says:

        rather like to think Money is the Root of all Evil. So much of it has to do with Greed, i.e smart people manipulating the stupid for their own personal gain.

        However, I can’t justify that statement in light of what the video games industry is doing with the PC market. It is really does look like Stupid > Greed in this case XD

  30. RTBones says:

    I’ve always wondered why the media don’t always elaborate on the DRM issues that happen with various titles. If they _really_ dont have to actually deal with the DRM (i.e. they somehow get ‘exempted’) then I think reviewers are doing consumers a disservice. Reviewers should have to deal with the exact same title as I do – bugs, DRM, all of it. If the DRM is a pain in the backside for them, review scores should accurately reflect that.

    This begs another question – how much do consumers rely on reviews before they purchase a title? If the answer is ‘lots’ – see my point above. Also – you won’t stop DRM until the act of putting the DRM into a title actually affects a company’s bottom line negatively. It is all about the money. If lots of people pirate a title out of protest but a company still makes tons of money on it, all the company is going to do is say – hey, look at all the money we lost to piracy. We must lock down our software tighter. If, on the other hand, a title that might have otherwise been fantastic fails financially because of DRM, they MIGHT have second thoughts.

    It has actually happened – see Intuit’s Turbo Tax debacle of a few years ago.
    In short, in 2003, Intuit faced vocal criticism for its TurboTax activation scheme.[7] The company responded by removing the product activation scheme from its product.

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