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June 2nd, 2008, 21:23
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
Do you mean like resell it after you are done? I haven't encountered any DRM that would prevent that (outside of maybe needing to call and do a telephone activation).
Here in Germany, Microsoft constantly battles a company that sells used licenses - in business terms. Commercial software, reallly expensive one, not games.

Recently the xth try to draw this company towards a court has been made by Microsoft.

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June 2nd, 2008, 22:07
DRM in indies: Maybe I don't know what DRM means in this context, but I just bought a copy of GalCiv2 from eBay (brand new), and you can't update the game unless you create an account with stardock AND register the game with the CDkey you got emailed when you bought the game online. Obviously, I DIDN'T buy the game online (at least not from them), but the despite my having what is obviously a legit retail copy (I don't think a pirate designed and printed up a whole PC game box just to fool suckers on eBay), the registration process didn't even acknowledge the possibility of having a CD key from a physical CD, and kept telling me mine was invalid and asking me for the one I got in email when I bought the game from Stardock. Eventaully, I was able to register using th CD key, but through a different part of the stardock central program, and only then could I update the game.

In the course of researching my problem, the most seemingly on-point post (sticky actually) I found on the Stardock forums was specifically addressed to people who'd bought a copy of the game on eBay and found that their CD keys were invalid (since they had already been registered). Stardock's position on this: Sucks to be you, because you had no right to buy a used copy of our game, now buy another copy from us. Being the clever fellow I am, I realized that this was not addressed to me, since I'd bought a NEW copy off of eBay, but it was clear that whoever wrote the post hadn't considered that there might be new as well as used copies on eBay, and the sticky certainly SEEMED to be targetted squarely at me, a person who bought off of eBay who was getting an invalid CD key message.

So that was a PITA, and here's the point. Relative to say buying a copy of a console game off of eBay, used or new, the experience of buying a brand-spanking new indie PC game was a titanic hassle, which I wouldn't recommend to anyone with limited understanding of the way these activation schemes work and a penchant for sifting through forums to get answers, ESPECIALLY if the person in question would ever call me for advice. No thanks, just go get yourself some Medal of Honor 17 for xbox and leave me out of the equation.

But I'm not of those people who don't understand PC gaming, and at this point, neither are most PC gamers. The nnoyances DRM schemes give us are indeed minor. If you honestly think that piracy doesn't affect game sles, then I still see why you'd think copy protection is stupid. But if you honestly think piracy doesn't affect game sales, then you seriously believe people will pay for something when they can get that same something for free. I wish I'd had your upbringing, because you must have had a pretty sweet life filled with honest, hard working people who never wronged you. If you lose your wallet, you figure it's going to turn up in your mailbox in a few days, with every dollar of cash still in there. That's a nice world.

Me and them pessimistic game companies, though, see things differently. And again I raise the airline anaolgy to counter that movie theater anaolgy. You do have to wait on line to get through those metal detectors EVEN THOUGH you paid so much for your ticket. You don't complain because you know this level of safety is necessary to make the industry work.

Of course there are limits to what we'll put up with, but automatic once-every-ten-days online activation is showing blatant contempt for your customers? I don't see it.

I write too much, but I say this anyway to address the notion that piracy does not affect PC sales. The fundamental flaw in most people's thinking about the 'morality' or the effect of casual piracy is the notion that mediocre games don't deserve to be bought. In the grand scheme of things, I cannot say if that's true. Bt, on consoles, and in movie theaters, mediocre productions ARE bought. Withuot the try before you buy of software piracy, people just pony up the dough. They still have access to movie reviews and console game reviews, but the public pays a lot of money to see crappy movies and play crappy console games anyway. Go to rotten tomatoes, and look at the ratings fro the top 10 movies. No correlation between quality and financial success. PC games, on the other hand, are held to this higher standard, since so many people have the option to try before they buy. You would have a hard time convincing me that this is not a major factor in the PC sales difficulties.
Last edited by Yeesh; June 2nd, 2008 at 22:18.
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June 2nd, 2008, 22:13
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Seriously, would you feel it a bad thing if the mainstream AAA market abandons the PC to the above-named groups? I certainly wouldn't mind.
In the niche market that RPGs have turned into? Probably not considering the whole JRPG has already move to the consoles years ago (or perhaps more accurately: have never left the consoles) and a game like The Witcher has shown that sometimes the grit does contain a perl. But for many other genres, then I would indeed mind. I want my RTS and FPS games based on mouse control and not a little imprecise thumbstick.

And let's not forget that while many here have enjoyed Spiderweb games over the years, that kind of games ARE nevertheless themselves also a niche branch of the RPG genre and I, for one, would NOT gladly accept exchanging ALL the glittering graphics and high quality voice acting for Spiderwebs or Eschalons. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy all kinds of fruit; apples, pears, bananas and oranges. However, I wouldn't want to replace all the apples, pears and oranges with bananas.

So, yes I guess I would indeed mind if all the AAA were to go away … or to be perfectly honest: Should that happen then I'm fairly certain my days as a PC gamer would be over. I like my principles as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day, I'm a gamer first and foremost and if the games are going away, then I'm going with them. I did it when I exchanged my C64 for an Amiga and I did when I exchanged my Amiga for a PC. Judging by the ratio between my recent purchases of console games vs. PC games it would indeed seem like I'm doing it again ….

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Last edited by fatBastard(); June 3rd, 2008 at 00:58.
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June 2nd, 2008, 22:40
Between AAA titles and relatively tiny productions like Eschalon and the Spiderweb games, there is a huge space.

I personally have no great desire for AAA titles, unless they're of a genre that is currently barren or limited. The case with such games is always that they need to reach a huge market to justify production costs, and as a natural rule in the gaming industry that directly translates to compromised gameplay - or if you prefer - "dumbed down" games.

The RPG space is sufficiently big to make a profit, even if you invest a reasonable amount in terms of production values and stick with a limited audience. I'm sure games like Two Worlds, Sacred, and even The Witcher generated a very reasonable revenue. The Witcher had a big budget, obviously, but it's not what I would consider a pure AAA title - and though you could consider the combat system "dumbed down", it's obviously not a mass market oriented game. Too cerebral for the masses, i'd say.

No, let's get rid of the crowd-pleasers and hold on to the developers with enough integrity to make do with a respectable audience and a reasonable profit. Bethesda, Take 2, Bioware, and so on are already lost in greed. I say let them go.
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June 2nd, 2008, 23:17
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Really? Examples?
Depends on how you want to argue the definition but lots of people are upset that Mass Effect has a 3-install limit on different hardware, right? Then all Spiderweb games and Depths of Peril. Both of them use a hardware-linked serial number and you'll need to write in to install on a different machine once (it's easy to get around, but that's not the point). Mount&Blade allows two hardware configs, IIRC. You get the idea.

You know just as well as I do that this is a gross simplification, Dhruin.
Of course it is…just like your comment that publishers are idiots. This is a complex issue and we have almost no data to work with - we're all making guesses and assumptions.

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June 3rd, 2008, 00:15
(Regarding Spiderweb: if you buy their game on a CD, there's no problem with serial numbers as they are not needed. You can install the game anytime and anywhere you want. Demos upgraded to full versions with serials are different, though, as Dhruin said.)
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June 3rd, 2008, 02:39
I received a reply from Shamus about access problems. Here's the response.

Thanks so much for the heads up. I do have a lot of IP's banned here
and there. Mostly because of this:

http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1529

It helps knowing that some of the victims of the blocks are in Poland.
I can see if I can locate and remove those entries.

Thanks again for taking the time to let me know,

Shamus

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June 3rd, 2008, 09:15
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Seriously, would you feel it a bad thing if the mainstream AAA market abandons the PC to the above-named groups? I certainly wouldn't mind.
In a few select cases I definitely would. Luckily interface issues have kept migration down in my preferred genres so far.
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June 3rd, 2008, 12:20
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
DRM in indies: Maybe I don't know what DRM means in this context, but I just bought a copy of GalCiv2 from eBay (brand new), and you can't update the game unless you create an account with stardock AND register the game with the CDkey you got emailed when you bought the game online. Obviously, I DIDN'T buy the game online (at least not from them), but the despite my having what is obviously a legit retail copy (I don't think a pirate designed and printed up a whole PC game box just to fool suckers on eBay), the registration process didn't even acknowledge the possibility of having a CD key from a physical CD, and kept telling me mine was invalid and asking me for the one I got in email when I bought the game from Stardock. Eventaully, I was able to register using th CD key, but through a different part of the stardock central program, and only then could I update the game.
That's not really DRM or even copy protection. Even purchasers of stolen/already installed copies of GalCiv2 are able to install and play the game. They just require a unique CD-key to register for updates (oh yeah, you also get access to download the game anytime on any machine as well as retrieve your serial key should you lose it.) I'm not sure why you had so much trouble though, as I had registered the serial off the physical key just fine through the link from the launcher. Just asked my friend across the hall and he did not encounter any difficulty with it either. It's possible you were merely re-typing the same incorrectly read code until you came back later to re-try inside the account managment part of the stardock central software.

It's interesting that you chose to complain about stardock though. Unlike that X-Box game you bought, stardock will allow you to re-download it as much as you want and even send you the serial information if you lost it. You're perfectly capable of selling the game used- you just have to configure the account for the new user. People who sell the game disc but do not turn over access to the associated account are simply thieves. It's like selling a used laptop on ebay but keeping the ram and processor without mentioning it. Your complaint is akin to someone buying said gutted laptop and then being confused about why the manufacturer wouldn't send them the replacement parts.

Stardock provides a pretty robust support service like-
-real time chat with staff who are actually testers and programmers of the software. I noticed an issue with larger maps incorrectly scaling resource bonus tiles and asked about it in chat through stardock central. CariElf (sp?) responded and emailed me a link to a hotfix they created the next day. Within a week the scaling tweak was included in an official patch.
-regular updates that have included massive performance boosts, graphics texture improvements, ai improvements in addition to the standard bug fixes you see from most developers.
-ability to retrieve the serial keys and download the software on any system indefinately.

Can you redownload that x-box game if you lose the disc?
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June 3rd, 2008, 12:28
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
[Would it be] a bad thing if the mainstream AAA market abandons the PC to the above-named groups? I certainly wouldn't mind.
Neither would I because it doesn't require a mainstream publisher to produce a successful high quality PC title. In fact the current mainstream business model is fundamentally flawed and it's their business practices not PC gaming that's endangered. What puzzles me is why the debate is always framed in "either or" terms: either the console or the PC, as if the markets are mutually exclusive. There's no reason why a publisher cannot make money in both markets. Sega, a console brand name is ever there was one, has made money with the PC 'exclusive' Total War series.

Regardless of corporate bottom lines, there is no shortage of talented people out there developing and expanding games for *free*. The "Broken Crescent" Mod for Medieval 2: Total War looks and plays far better than anything Creative Assembly have produced for their own engine. Ditto "Fall From Heaven" for Civilization 4 (another PC 'exclusive'). Meanwhile, sans hype or fanfare, the smaller publishers continue to churn out AAA PC title after title: The Witcher, Disciples III, Kings Bounty, Sins of a Solar Empire…
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June 3rd, 2008, 15:17
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
I received a reply from Shamus about access problems. Here's the response.

Thanks so much for the heads up. I do have a lot of IP's banned here
and there. Mostly because of this:

http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1529

It helps knowing that some of the victims of the blocks are in Poland.
I can see if I can locate and remove those entries.

Thanks again for taking the time to let me know,

Shamus
Thank you for sending him the info! Strange situation. Funnily enough, I was able to enter his site to read the explanation, but I'm still not allowed to read the actual article. Shannow sent the text to me - thanks!
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June 3rd, 2008, 17:00
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
In the niche market that RPGs have turned into? Probably not considering the whole JRPG has already move to the consoles years ago (or perhaps more accurately: have never left the consoles) and a game like The Witcher has shown that sometimes the grit does contain a perl. But for many other genres, then I would indeed mind. I want my RTS and FPS games based on mouse control and not a little imprecise thumbstick.
I agree.

But it's not like PC has a niche only for RPGs. If all the AAA RPS producers completely abandon the PC, that niche would too be filled. It's kind of an economic inevitability, because there's no way PC is simply "unprofitable".

Still, we might have to settle for less (graphic) polish on PC.
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June 3rd, 2008, 18:28
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
Stardock's position on this: Sucks to be you, because you had no right to buy a used copy of our game, now buy another copy from us.
I think this is the very core of DRM :

1 person = 1 copy of the game

With effective binding through DRM. So that used games (used software) cannot be re-sold anymore. Like win xp, for example.

This vastly increases the amount of sold copies, because you ALWAYS have to buy a new one - even if your old copy breaks physically, I assume.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 4th, 2008, 14:12
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
If I'm Average Joe Consumer, then the choice between console and PC is determined by a lot of factors. One of those is DRM, and DRM can be enough to tip the balance. If I look at Mass Effect, I not only see that it was available on Xbox360 long before it was available on PC, but I hear indirectly that on top of that a number of people who bought it couldn't even play it on PC because of the DRM.
And probably 100x more couldn't play it because they have some "wrong" combination of hardware and software that has nothing to do with DRM.

I'm with the "I hate the DRM crap but grit my teeth and put up with it" camp. I've known enough casual copiers that I understand who they are trying to prevent from stealing their stuff. And don't get me going on the hypocrisy of the "the evil, greedy gaming companies/distributors/stores are ripping us off" people…
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June 4th, 2008, 20:57
Maybe we should forget DRM, and instead mandate an extra charge on any computer uploading content to the internet, per gb.
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June 4th, 2008, 21:31
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Maybe we should forget DRM, and instead mandate an extra charge on any computer uploading content to the internet, per gb.
And you would monitor that… how?
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June 5th, 2008, 01:08
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Maybe we should forget DRM, and instead mandate an extra charge on any computer uploading content to the internet, per gb.
In a way that's done here in Oz. The ISP's monitor both downloads and uploads and you are only allowed so much COMBINED for your monthly fee. Let's say $60 gets you 12 GB. That's your combined limit before they cut your speed to dial-up or below!!

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June 5th, 2008, 02:16
That's simply limited broadband Corwin. Here, in the UK, you can buy limited and unlimited broadband packages with limited being much cheaper.
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June 5th, 2008, 08:39
It's actually called UNLIMITED here and we only have a choice in what the 'limit' is based on what we're willing to pay.

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June 5th, 2008, 13:48
Oh, and lest I forget…

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Of course it is…just like your comment that publishers are idiots. This is a complex issue and we have almost no data to work with - we're all making guesses and assumptions.
'course it's not that simple. Buy you don't need an Economics Major (just a Minor) to understand that the interests of publishers do not necessarily mesh well with fighting piracy and promoting PC gaming on the long term. All they care about is squeezing as many sales as possible out of the game - preferably in a single week. DRM is perfect for that, and they have no reason to care about any long-term consequences for PC gaming.
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