RSPOD: DRM Distinctions

By Shamus Posted Friday May 23, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 37 comments

Yesterday I scorned Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness because of the built-in DRM system. I’ve been following the forum threads both at Penny Arcade and at publisher Hothead games, and there are some really important differences between this and the Mass Effect / Bioshock stuff. While I do enjoy getting worked up and filled with indignation as much as anyone, I need to clarify what’s going on here. There are distinctions that need to be made between this and the other DRM systems I’ve lambasted over the past few months.

One is that the the demo is the full version of the game. All you need is a valid key and the demo unlocks the rest of the content. This, coupled with the fact that this is a digital delivery game with no physical media, pretty much requires some form of activation. Once you have (buy) a key, they will let you download the game all you want, thus letting you use Hothead as your backup. You don’t need to maintain a copy for yourself. This is akin to Steam, and in direct contrast to the stuff from 2kGames and EA, where you need both physical media and the online activation.

The Hothead guys and Robert Khoo (the responsible business guy behind Penny Arcade) are in there discussing this with fans. This is very different from the BioShock saga, where overworked temps insulated the higher-ups from public input. This is different from the Mass Effect story, where Bioware developers listened politely but had no power to move the mountain that is EA. The people in the forums are the people make these decisions, and they are taking it seriously.

The sticking point for me is, or perhaps was, the limited installs. If they got rid of that, this would be more or less like Steam. What the Hothead guys are saying is that the “limited installs” thing is just so they can reserve the right to deal with the same key being used by many different people. As I read it, this isn’t like the EA system where the fourth attempted install results in rejection and you have to call up tech support to get back in. The system as designed will allow unlimited activations, but the language in the EULA is there to give them wiggle room in dealing with obvious and flagrant piracy. If they see the same key being used hundreds or thousands of times, they will have to manually block the account, and the language in the EULA is there to allow them to do that.

This is not the only possible interpretation of what has been said so far, but despite my normal bitterness, cynicism, and paranoia on these issues, I’m actually subscribing to their version of the story. They’re talking about re-wording the EULA to make this more clear.

This doesn’t solve the “will the servers still be there in 10 years” concern, although this is a problem faced by anyone who distributes a demo which contains the unlockable full version. If they don’t take some modest measures they would actually be aiding the pirates by providing them with a fast and convenient place from which to download the game. A system where all you need is a valid serial number to turn a demo into a full game is probably the most susceptible to piracy. You don’t need a crack and you don’t need to know how to use the torrents. You just pass around a valid key. Reflexive Entertainment was using such a system when they looked at the codes being used and realized 92% of the copies being played were pirated.

This is a different delivery medium from discs, and will have different drawbacks and benefits. You don’t have to maintain a physical disc which can be lost or scratched, and you can get the full game game the instant you decide to unlock the demo. Like Steam, and unlike the EA and 2kGames approach, the customer is getting added convenience in exchange for the reliance on the Greenhouse servers. I don’t see any added hassle placed on the user.

The other benefit of this system is that one key unlocks all versions of the game. You can download the Mac, PC, and Linux versions, and your key will work on all of them. Again, this is something EA and 2kGames don’t have. They rarely bother with Mac. They ignore Linux. And they never offer a way to buy a single copy of the game that works on all platforms.

I guess the thing I’m thinking is that this isn’t some new obligation being placed on owners of physical media. This is an entirely new scheme with different mechanics. There is even talk that later they will have a CD version on the shelves in stores. I’ll be curious as to how that will work when it comes out.

I’m not a fan of any DRM, but I don’t fault anyone who partakes under these conditions. I grudgingly tolerate Steam, even though I’d just as soon buy a disc and go my own way. This system is much the same.

I don’t think Mike and Jerry are being hypocrites, and I think Hothead is serious when they claim they are trying to design a lightweight and unobtrusive DRM system. It will be interesting to see what changes they make over the next few days. I’m not getting the game right away, but I’m not forswearing it, either.


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37 thoughts on “RSPOD: DRM Distinctions

  1. Factoid says:

    As the person who started both of the afformentioned threads (I’m a rabble rouser, what can I say) I’ve been totally placated.

    My problem was never with online activation. It’s a digital download game. Who is going to buy the game but penny arcade readers? They all have internet access. I’m never going to be without it, so I’m not going to worry about the mythical “What if I have no internet to activate” scenario.

    I also was upset about the “limited activation” scenario, and now that they have clarified their position and stated publicly that the key-auth system isn’t actually being “enforced” but rather the EULA is in place to reserve the right for enforcement…I’m happy. I’m heading over to those threads to say so right now.

    I haven’t played much of it, but so far I’m enjoying the game ( I had already bought it when I discovered the DRM).

    EDIT: I’d also like to point out that Hothead is going to ammend their EULA because of this…something I’ve never seen done in a game.

  2. Alexis says:

    I strongly disagree with broad legislature, by which I mean making things illegal or restricting rights beyond what is reasonable, with the promise that the power will only be used in extreme cases. That’s a massive “trust us”. Trust the police not to persecute people and trust Hothouse/Greenhead/whoever not to pull the plug on your game because they felt like it.

    If you want to be able to terminate widely shared license keys, define widely shared and license accordingly. If you can’t clearly define what you mean, don’t be a lawyer.

    So yeah I probably still won’t buy this game. Further I probably won’t even bother to pirate it. I was considering buying it to support them but from the demo, it just ain’t that good compared to eg Shadow Hearts. Beautiful, mind.

  3. Teague says:

    Good on ya for taking the time to keep up with it, and being willing to listen, instead of just ranting and leaving it. I think that’s the reason you still have so many readers without DMotR.

  4. henebry says:

    Alexis: If I understand what Shamus is saying, Penny Arcade won’t be able to terminate your game remotely. If they see that a license key is being used abused, they can kill that key, preventing it from being used to activate any further copies of the game. Because this game doesn’t “phone home” every time it is played (but only once, when you transform the demo into the full game), any copies already installed prior to the key being killed will (as I understand it) still continue to work.

  5. Picador says:

    The fact that I can’t install this on a new machine several years down the road (when the publisher is out of business) is enough to tell me that this isn’t a piece of software I own; it’s a service I’m renting for a limited time. That makes a big difference, and it should be priced accordingly.

    As for the Reflexive story above with the shocking 92% piracy number: almost every gamer I own (as in, I paid for) would report itself as pirated, because I almost always resort to a crack to get the things to actually work. Sometimes the discs arrive corrupted; sometimes the DRM scheme doesn’t work with my USB DVD drive; sometimes I’m running the games on Linux using Wine and the DRM scheme isn’t supported. I obviously don’t have a problem paying $50 for a game I’ll spend 30 hours playing, but I just use pirated cracks as a matter of course now after ordering the game from Amazon, because it saves me hours of frustration later trying to get the DRM or the faulty discs to play nice. So I suspect that 92% figure corresponds to a whole lot of paying users.

  6. MadTinkerer says:

    Good for them! I’ll definitely consider RSPOP now.

  7. Aufero says:

    That’s a lot different than what I assumed was going on when I read the EULA, and far less objectionable. (Maybe they need to change the EULA language to reflect what they’re actually doing?)

  8. Jeremiah says:

    Thanks for taking the time to clarify some of what’s going on. I think their response is pretty telling — that is that they even bothered to respond, especially considering the fact they’re thinking about rewording the EULA to make things more clear. That’s a pretty big step.

  9. Mephane says:

    The problem with external activation on installation remains. I can still remember the moment I heard for the very first time in my life of a piece of software requiring internet activation, and that huge, huge “WTF?” in my mind at that time. That “WTF?” has never gone away. The whole idea is still mind-boggling to me, both in terms of DRM in general and especially in external activation (of what use is a copy, even legit, if you cannot connect to activate?).

    I appreciate their efforts in clearing the confusion, but i will not but buy the game. I’ll rather not play it than let them get away with this, especially since it is quite hypocritic in this special case.

  10. Eltanin says:

    This is what we want right? A developer who has a face in the forums. Someone willing to listen and respond to concerns/criticisms. They’re even talking about changing the EULA. Not only listening, but response too!

    It seems like this is the kind of behavior that we want to support and encourage. If the DRM proves to be as benign as it now appears, we should have a rallying cry to go buy the dang thing to further thumb our collective noses at the blockheads in corporate-monolith game developing companies. Eh?

  11. Eric says:

    Like Jeremiah says, thanks for going through the threads and making the effort to explain this in Plain English. It seems like a pretty fair use of DRM, and their transparency does wonders in separating them from the big, faceless, evil corporations. I’m all for it.

  12. DaveMc says:

    It’s nice that the developers are implementing point #2 in Shamus’s “Five Ways to Fight Software Piracy”, namely: “Get closer to the community”. By actively engaging in the forums and writing actual responses, they managed to calm the fears of many people, and at the same time I suspect they have made people less likely to pirate the game, since they will now feel like they’re taking money from a guy they sort of know, rather than from some faceless corporation. And when people say “Trust us,” it turns out that it really does matter who’s saying it.

    The “ten years from now” scenario is exotic and unlikely enough that it was never a real deal-breaker for me, and I don’t regret having purchased the game (which I’ve barely played, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far).

    However, for all their good-will and good intentions, this is still a step in the direction of lack of ownership of things you purchase, isn’t it? The system has a dead-man’s switch built in to it: the default behaviour is that you can’t execute the code, and it requires something active to happen (online activation) for you to be able to play the game you purchased. [Disclaimer: ONLY under the somewhat rare circumstance that you have left the game lying around for years, changed systems several times, and then come back wanting to play it again, only to find that Hothouse no longer exists. True, this is unlikely.] This isn’t deliberately sinister on Hothead and Penny-Arcade’s part (in fact, they are completely up-front about the fact that you don’t own this product in any way), and I do think they have good intentions, but it is a bit chilling to think that this seems to be the way of the future: we are supposed to get used to the idea that digital things are not in the class of things one can own, even after paying for them. As more and more of our lives become digital, this is a bit disturbing. Remember Shamus’s rant about the television you bring home but can’t use unless you call the store? That seems to be what’s going to happen with software in general.

    Having said all that, this is a pretty lightly restrictive scheme, and I think their intention to avoid persecuting their customers has been clearly communicated, so that’s all good. It’s just a shame that they’re part of this larger trend towards lack of real ownership.

    [Rereading the above, I realize that it can be summarized as: “I’m fine with the DRM, but also vaguely worried by the fact that I’m fine with it.” If this sounds insane to you, you may be right.]

  13. DosFreak says:

    The biggest things for me with DRM are the fact that I won’t be able to play the games 10 years down the road without using a crack (if there is one).

    There’s also the fact that if you have 50+ games all with different DRM then it can be a PITA.

    The only way I’ll put up with DRM EVER is if it’s something I don’t have to worry about (Don’t need to even think about it, it’s not even installed on my computer) . Meaning the games are on the remote server and all I have to do is connect. Since I despise needing the internet to play games and I have tons of offline games and continue to gather more and more games at an ever increasing pace I won’t have to worry about connecting to a remote server to play offline games until I’m old and drooling on myself (Assuming I’ve played and finished the thousands of games in my collection by then). Hopefully I’ll be too brain dead by then to care.

  14. Lain says:

    For me, nothing changes.

    Buy the game.
    Use the crack.
    Fck off that kind of politic.

    Have no time for that kind of customer politic.
    I want to use my time for playing, not for annoying and expenisve calls to the technical support with minimally teached personals, because of an undeserved punishing of an paying customer.

    And I want MY DATA ON MY CP ONLY. I don’t trust any program who wants to send unknown informations to someone else without my knowledge.

    When I buy a poker cardgame, than the cards belong to me.
    When I buy the good old monopoly, all within the box belong to me.
    When I buy a PC-game, all within the box belong to me.

    Such a game is to expensive to accept any kind of other EULA or ontracts, I am only aware of noticing, when I can’t get my money back, because I freakin’ opened the box for installing it.

    As paying customer I feel lied and cheated at with this kind of “anti-piracy-politic”. So they have to live with the consequences: Ignoring their Products, or taking care, that the customer rip off the unwanted parts of their products.

    *huff huff huff* hyperventilation because of anger stopped.

  15. GAZZA says:

    It looks as if the problem here was making the demo the whole game minus activation key. Had they chosen instead to release a demo that was a subset of the full game, they would largely have avoided this – and ironically, I can see that they probably thought they were doing the right thing here by not forcing people to go through 2 separate downloads (demo and then full game).

    Even so, what was the problem with just emailing you an activation key so you could do an offline unlock? True, you might lose the key and still be unable to play in 10 years, but at least you’re not tied to the company’s long term viability.

    I dunno – still definitely iffy about whether I want to play this or not.

  16. McNutcase says:

    I suspect I’m unusual; I wound up buying Spheres of Chaos (sort of a combination of Asteroids and peyote) not once but twice, after I lost my original “make this demo into a full game” code in an old e-mail account. Admittedly, it was a cheap buy, but it’s still unusual (and I shared the code between my desktop and my laptop…)

    From what I’ve seen, I probably won’t be buying RSPOD, but that’s more because I prefer other types of game than because the DRM is bad. It’s a small enough step from the DRM of Spheres of Chaos (which simply consists of the executable checking the code and, if it’s valid, putting a magic number in a file that it checks on run) that I can happily call it OK.

  17. Drew says:

    “When I buy a PC-game, all within the box belong to me.”

    This is a downloaded game. There is no box.

  18. Alexis says:

    @Picador: pirating gamers is evil and wrong. You say you have to ‘crack them’ to make them work, how brutal ARE you? Do you let them stumble around, ‘cracked’, or do you at least give them some bandages? You don’t have to do this, set them free for the love of all that is holy. Please.

    @DaveMc: we have never owned software. The EULA? License Agreement. As in, nonexclusive license to use. My understanding is that a piece of software is considered a single legal entity, therefore if we were able to ‘buy’ it, we would gain the right to copy and resell.
    It seems obvious that this would hamper innovation so we all went along with EULAs which allowed us rights similar to those we would expect if we owned only our instance of the software, rather than the entire software entity. It fell down for me round about when a) companies began eroding those rights, eg demanding we buy twice for multiple platforms and not make personal backups, b) adding oppressive conditions to our use of it such as DRM.
    I feel that the consumerbase as a whole believes it isn’t being allowed reasonable rights over media; and therefore is not respecting ANY rights of the content provider, in backlash.
    It looks like EULAs may die entirely, seriously damaging the ability of the industry to reliably monetize their content. This imho is a step too far, but they shouldn’t have been so f*g greedy then should they?

    @Gazza: even if it was two downloads, they would presumably feel the need to DRM the full game.
    Stardock has shown the light. This is why I feel the need to fork out 20 quid for a game I’ll barely play.

    @McNutCase: get Super Stardust HD if you get a chance, it’s pretty awesome.

    @Drew: there is no spork.

  19. I’m not satisfied. Partly because I’m holding the penny arcade guys to a higher standard since it’s their JOB to be in touch with the community, and partly because I expect better from so-called “indie” games in general.

    Activation is not necessary to keep honest people honest. A friendly reminder is what it takes to keep honest people honest, and any attempt at enforcement will be broken, and the break will be provided to anybody who is even remotely dishonest.

    I have seen software (I don’t remember which) that, when I ran it, gave me a popup saying “Please buy this if you like it.”, with the options “I did”, “Remind me later”, and “Don’t remind me again”. I clicked “Don’t remind me again”, and I ended up buying that software later. I actually would have felt bad about not buying it, since I would have violated the developers’ trust. I’ve also bought software where all you did was put in a license key and the software checked it only internally. In fact, this is what Blizzard games (StarCraft, Warcraft III) and ID Software games (UT2004) do: they only check the key online when you try to use their matchmaking service.

    If there is DRM, then the developers are telling you that there is no trust. If the developers tell you straight up that they don’t trust you, then what are you going to feel bad about violating? I know I don’t feel any guilt when I crack a game that has online activation, including the Steam bullshit, and most recently, RSPoD.

    Shamus, you can say what you want about the “developers being reasonable”, but the fact remains that if software has online activation, it breaks my notion of my computer as a closed set of software that WORKS ALONE, in ADDITION to being able to play well with other computers. The idea of my software being dependent on other computers is unacceptable.

    If this activation system did not require re-activation after hardware changes, I would be pretty much okay with it, since it would be a one-time online check for online-distributed content. If the activation system had internal checking with no online activation, I would be completely okay with it. But the way the game stands, it will have to meet a higher standard than normal for me to give the developers my money, and if I do buy the game, I will keep using my cracked copy.

  20. Shamus says:

    Lain & Alex: I don’t disagree with either of you, and I certainly don’t fault anyone who refuses to accept the deal as presented. We all have different tolerances for this sort of thing. I would much rather just give them money and get a self-contained product in return. I would even pay a little extra if it came in a nice box which I could put on my shelf.

  21. Cuthalion says:

    I’m pretty sure most EULAs say the company can terminate your license at will if you don’t follow it. And most of us probably don’t, whether it’s burning two copies instead of one so we can trick the LAN into working, getting a no-disc crack when we lose the disc(s), using dubious software to trick our computer into using a dvd drive over the network since we didn’t realize we were ordering a dvd version when we only have a cd drive… unauthorized modding, etc.

    So really, we don’t own it anyway. It’s always been kind of a lease. You pay them for the right to use it within the boundaries of their license. If you break the license and they shut you down somehow, you don’t get your money back, ’cause they still own the game and you just payed a (usually) one-time fee to play it.

    All that said, it irks me to have all these restrictions in the licenses. I like the ones that are loosely enforced, that let you play on a LAN with just one disc (you can do 4 people on one disc for Super Smash Bros, why not Battle for Middle Earth?). The ones that link to mod sites.

  22. McNutcase says:

    Cuthalion: Bring back spawning?

    I remember games that let you install a network-only version for LAN parties.

    I also remember Bungie’s Marathon trilogy. Each of those came with two serial numbers: the full game one, and a network-only one so you could show your buddy how cool it was in multiplayer, and encourage him to buy a copy for himself (or, you could even call tech support and they would sell you a full serial over the phone, or extra network ones for LAN parties…)

    And heck, Delta Force had it about right with CD requirements: if you wanted to play single-player, or to host multiplayer, you needed a disc. To join multiplayer, you just launched the program and it would see no disc, and only let you do that. Result: Win for LAN parties and word-of-mouth buzz.

    I miss those days. Now, if you want to try before you buy (and what sane person wouldn’t?), you might be lucky enough to find a downloadable “demo” that’s maybe one level, is almost certainly in the hundreds of megabytes range, won’t let you use any multiplayer there may be, will expire within a certain time, and will probably infect your computer with just as much malware-like copy prevention shonk as the full game would. And companies wonder why PC sales are declining…

  23. Steam allows me to backup my games and continue playing them — even on different machines — if the activation servers go down. Is this true for RSPoD?

    That, for me, is an issue I won’t compromise on.

  24. Jeff says:

    So what you’re saying, Shamus, is that it’s the new generation of Shareware? :P

    How’s Spiderweb Software doing nowadays? They’re still doing Shareware without online activation.

  25. Blackbird71 says:

    As I read it, this isn't like the EA system where the fourth attempted install results in rejection and you have to call up tech support to get back in. The system as designed will allow unlimited activations, but the language in the EULA is there to give them wiggle room in dealing with obvious and flagrant piracy. If they see the same key being used hundreds or thousands of times, they will have to manually block the account, and the language in the EULA is there to allow them to do that.

    This is still a serious issue in my opinion. They can state the intention behind the wording of the EULA all they like, but unless it’s put down in a legal document it’s worthless. If they truly do not intend to limit installs, let them state it unequivocally in clear, legally-binding terms. So far, it seems there opinion seems to be that they “are not sure” whether they will enforce limited installs or not. That ambiguity makes me nervous.

    If they intend to change the EULA, that’s great, but until such change actually takes place, it’s meaningless. Even then it’s sketchy at best, as the capability to lock keys is still there, and many EULAs contain clauses that allow them to be modified at any time, without notice. Has anyone checked this EULA to see if they have such a clause?

    [Disclaimer: ONLY under the somewhat rare circumstance that you have left the game lying around for years, changed systems several times, and then come back wanting to play it again, only to find that Hothouse no longer exists. True, this is unlikely.]

    Rare? Unlikely? This is practically an every-day situation for me. I have an entire bookshelf containing every computer game I have ever bought, some dating back to DOS days. There are very few that haven’t been pulled off the shelf within the last year or so. I also typically replace at least one piece of hardware in my machine each year, either for upgrades or repairs, so my system changes frequently. Limited hard drive space means that games are frequently uninstalled and reinstalled at a later date. Oh, and there’s a fair number of games just on my shelves alone whose creating companies no longer exist, many of them burned out in 2-3 years, much less than the hypothetical 10-year figure that keeps getting thrown around. Forgive me for being cautious on this scenario, but I don’t believe it’s as far-fetched as some people seem to think.

    Legally, software liscensing is much like movie liscensing. If you buy a DVD (or VHS for that matter, or whatever other medium), the legalese specifically states that you do not “own” the movie on the disc/tape, but you own a license to view it in your own home. The problem is that software companies have taken extreme steps to limit the rights of the customer as a license holder. What would happen if film distributors suddenly decided to limit the number of times you could watch a movie, or keep track of and limit the number of different players you could put your disc in? What if any time you wanted to watch the movie, you had to phone in to a support line to verify you paid for it and then get an access code to unlock it? I’m sorry, but if I pay for something, movie, game, whatever, I want to be able to use it when I choose without restriction, period. I paid to use it, why shouldn’t I be able to? I understand the need to protect their IP in order to make a profit, but when that protection interferes with the use of their product by legitimate customers, then that’s going to far.

  26. ngthagg says:

    If the DRM works the way you describe, Shamus, then I’ll buy the game.

    I have no objection to DRM as a concept. In fact, I think it’s a very good idea. What I object to are the horrible implementations we’ve been forced to endure. If PA and Hothead are making efforts to reduce the intrusiveness of their particular DRM, then I’m not going to criticize them for not eliminating it entirely.

    I certainly don’t object to having to activate a downloadable game online. And I’m pretty cool with the idea that I might not be able to play a game five or ten years down the road, since based on past experience, I’m not going to playing it anyways.

  27. ngthagg says:

    Blackbird: We’d have to do a poll to be sure, but I expect that you are the exception. But that doesn’t invalidate your points.

    What if Hothead stated (in the EULA) that they will unlock the game after 2 years, or when the company folds, whichever comes first. It’s not a bad idea if they’re publishing episodic content, since FREE GAME! is always a good way to get someone to come to your website, and there’s no better advertisement for the current episode than playing an older one.

  28. Richard Sutherland says:

    I just don’t understand why every publisher cant undertake to release a patch after a certain amount of time that removes the DRM. All games stop making money and become bargain basement software after a few years. Undertake to release a patch to remove DRM and I’ll even buy games with product activation. Until then, I wont.

  29. Zaghadka says:

    Nope. It’s still on my Do Not Purchase list.

    This is not like Half Life 2, which was good enough to get people to accept an online activation scheme. This is just a crummy casual title.

    Big mistake.

  30. Craig says:

    One interesting thing I read from Robert is that Greenhouse is a joint venture between the PA crew and HH. If HH vanishes/explodes/dies of cholera then the PA crew will continue to manage the activation servers. It’s not a perfect solution, but Robert did pinky swear. ;)

    @Richard, that sounds like a good idea. I think it’s pretty much put into practice by the crackers out there ;)

    I think id Software did something similar with their old games, even going as far as to release the source (although I think it was pretty much out in the wild anyways).

  31. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Kaspersky anti virus has unlimited number of retypes,yet if they see your key being abused,they will terminate your key.Although it is true that the key is rechecked with every update you download,thus its harder to share your key with numerous people and not get detected like it is with some reflexive game,I still find this to be a better method even for a game.So what if a bunch of people decides to buy a single copy of your game and then proceed to instal it on all of their computers,play it,finish it,and forget about it?Its still better than that same bunch not buying a single copy and downloading a pirated version,playing it,finishing it and forgetting about it.

  32. mark says:

    I was going to buy it on xbox 360 to save hassle. Now though, I’ll have to try the demo on both and compare controls and price.

    thats a good thing :)

  33. RodeoClown says:

    To the people saying there should be no DRM because of Stardock’s approach – we are talking about two very different types of products.

    Stardock does have products with DRM (although they try to keep it unobtrusive), but GalCiv 2 and Sins of a Solar Empire do not. They are working on the model that a valid install key will allow a legitimate user to patch their games, and in those patches they release substantial gameplay improvements (not just bug fixes).

    Contrast this to the PA game, which is an adventure and doesn’t really have room to add further gameplay changes and you will see that the situations are quite different.

    GC2 and Sins are meant to be played again and again, and so those without a legit key lose out, and are encouraged to purchase one so they can play with the improvements. PA’s game is meant to be played through once or twice, and pirated copies give the same experience as legit copies.

    This is why they have DRM – there is no reason for a pirate to ever purchase a copy once they finish the game.

    (Not saying I like it, but it’s understandable)

  34. DosFreak says:

    “This is why they have DRM – there is no reason for a pirate to ever purchase a copy once they finish the game.”

    Pirates don’t play games. They are too busy ripping off ships…..or duplicating CD’s which in this case there are none.

    “Pirated” (an word intentially used for copyright infringement to make it sound worse than it really is….in the future a word similar to rape/beastiality/murder will likely be corrupted into use as to replaced “pirated”) copies of games do not give the same experience as legit copies of games. They give a better experience which is one of the many reasons why home users download them.

  35. Harley says:


    What if Hothead stated (in the EULA) that they will unlock the game after 2 years, or when the company folds, whichever comes first.

    The problem is, if the company folds, what incentive do they have to fix it so new installs (or re-installs) automatically work? That would require modifying the game to not require the activation (or to make a patch that’ll make it believe it’s activated after the demo is installed), but putting it in a place that prevents just everyone from grabbing it. Doing that would be time spent working for a developer (or developers), and if the company is folding, they likely don’t have any more money for it, if they didn’t already lay off their developers before disappearing. They would also have to host the new installer for the registration free version (or just the patch), which, again, if the company is folding, they probably aren’t going to keep a website going unless it’s minimal (like Interplay did).

  36. Blackbird71 says:

    ngthagg said:

    “What if Hothead stated (in the EULA) that they will unlock the game after 2 years, or when the company folds, whichever comes first. It's not a bad idea if they're publishing episodic content, since FREE GAME! is always a good way to get someone to come to your website, and there's no better advertisement for the current episode than playing an older one.”

    Then I’d wait 2 years, and if at that time the game truly has been unlocked, then I would consider buying it, not before.

    EULAs have proven to be flimsy, unenforceable, and easily altered with no notice or consequence. I have lsot any faith in EULAs being able to protect the user. Any assurance would have to be in a more legally-binding document than an EULA for me to trust it. Even then, if the company goes under, there is no way to enforce such a change to the software. They would have to code up the patch at the same time as the release of the game and just keep it on hand. That way, if the company were to go under or disappear, it would not require additional work and expense to release the patch, and if necessary, a simple court order could render the game useable.

  37. Picador: Both episodes are hell of cheap, much cheaper than the $60. It’s a rental you get to keep for years. For $10-$20, that’s pretty damn good value.

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