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Default Mass Effect - Copy Protection Details

May 9th, 2008, 14:36
Originally Posted by fatBastard() View Post
And do you honestly believe you would get sued for using an unofficial patch for a game you purchased? It doesn't strike you as a wee bit paranoid? (I'm not trying to belittle you. I'm just curious as to why such a minor issue would even cause you to blink let alone steer clear of a game without an official patch)
I'm reading really weird storiers about U.S. companies sueing … Especially the RIAA …
(Okay, that's no company in an economical sense …)

“ 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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May 9th, 2008, 19:04
I've never heard of an individual getting in trouble for using a cracked exe (and doubt I ever will, honestly). People do go to jail for pirating software, though. They're the ones doing it on a grand scale.

The first civil suits I ever heard of were filed against the big Napster uploaders. Downloaders got a free ride. BitTorrent is a much more clever iteration of the same concept, so…

Corporations are something else entirely. No one gives them a free ride at all.

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May 9th, 2008, 19:09
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Corporations are something else entirely. No one gives them a free ride at all.
Funnily that even that even those that *enforce the copy protection* get caught for using pirated software. It happened som month ago but Im not sure what firm it was but it was a big one (RIIA?) and at first they tried to hide the incident. After investigations they found up to somthing like 50% of the firms software to be pirated. Its a messy situation all around.
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May 9th, 2008, 19:37
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Funnily that even that even those that *enforce the copy protection* get caught for using pirated software. It happened som month ago but Im not sure what firm it was but it was a big one (RIIA?) and at first they tried to hide the incident. After investigations they found up to somthing like 50% of the firms software to be pirated. Its a messy situation all around.
It was Sony, in France. Someone at a local Sony office called a software company for support, and when the support guy arrived, he noticed that all serial numbers they used were pirated. The software company sued.
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May 9th, 2008, 20:49
http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums…5&sp=0#5774350

Read. I can't answer questions or talk about it in any other terms, so just read.
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May 9th, 2008, 20:54
Much better! Thanks for the link, Patrick!
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May 9th, 2008, 22:05
This change in policy could be seen as a win for fans and a loss for Bioware, but that would be too simple. This whole episode is regrettable.

Someone at Bioware got the idea that it could give its piracy problem to its customers and that the facts supported that kind of approach. But it ignored the crucial fact that customers deserve to be well treated and given the benefit of the doubt, no matter what.

A better idea would have been to enhance everyone's enjoyment of the game in a way that could offer pirates something more than what they can get for free in exchange for their patronage.

If you're like me, that doesn't really seem right, does it? It’s like rewarding bad ethics. Still, it's an approach that would actually work. Compare it to Bioware's idea that didn’t. As RPG fans, we all know that chests full of treasure ought to be locked. But when the locks stop working, it’s time to think in terms of another solution.

Developers and fans need to stay on the same side, and pirates need to be welcomed back into the fold.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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May 10th, 2008, 00:04
Stanley Woo posted:

"To clarify once again:

Uninstalling and reinstalling on the same PC will not use up additional activations. It is only when there is a significant change to the hardware profile that it will count as a subsequent activation.

The extent to which the same PC may be altered before requiring another activation has not yet been disclosed."

That is… better, and I think a good thing to know for some.
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May 10th, 2008, 04:23
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Developers and fans need to stay on the same side, and pirates need to be welcomed back into the fold.
The occasional pirate who just downloads games because it is more convient than buying it needs to be welcomed back, but I'm not so sure about the people who download everything no matter what just because they think it is their right to do so because it isn't "stealing". God I love how some pirates try to justify their actions by saying it's just a copyright and isn't stealing.

Onto the battle against piracy. The music industry is taking a different approach than the pc market as explained here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology…y.digitalmedia

From what I understand from this article, Radiohead offered their music for free before their CD was released for whatever the people wanted to pay for it, 2.90 pounds it turns out. Then when their CD was released it went to No.1 in sales. Radiohead had to leave their old label to try out this experiment because the powers that be didn't want anything to do with this.

I'm not so sure this could work for PC games. You could download a few of Radioheads songs and listen to them to see if you like them, then go buy the CD. But if you gave away the whole game like MEPC what would be the incentive to get the average gamer to go buy what he already downloaded. I think if the publishers did what Stardock is doing by offering real incentives to buy the game by offering more patches and additional content, then this might work.

Here is something out of the twilight zone,
http://gizmodo.com/380418/the-pirate…music-industry

The pirate bay was sued by International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (never heard of them before, I guess they still use phongraphs ) They sued pirate bay to block access to their site but it looks like the courts are going to side with TPB. So now PB is going to sue IFPI for damages and use the money to start a grant for aspiring artists. So I guess they think they are taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The 21st century Robin Hood and all the pirates who download their stuff are their merry men. Next thing you know they'll all be wearing tights and singing "Men in Tights."

As for MEPC I'm glad EA changed their minds about the ET phone home deal. Now I don't have to look for a crack, but are they still going to have it so you don't need a DVD in the drive?

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Last edited by skavenhorde; May 10th, 2008 at 04:31.
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May 10th, 2008, 10:45
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
I'm not so sure this could work for PC games. You could download a few of Radioheads songs and listen to them to see if you like them, then go buy the CD. But if you gave away the whole game like MEPC what would be the incentive to get the average gamer to go buy what he already downloaded. I think if the publishers did what Stardock is doing by offering real incentives to buy the game by offering more patches and additional content, then this might work.
And with, "more patches and additinal content," you mean the patches and content that you have to download via an open internet connection - I take it that's the same internet connection which is impossible to use for an online authentication… see the hypocrisy? Btw, Bioware is offering the first expansion to MEPC for free… unfortunately fans didn't seem to realize that in the hysterical state.

Honestly, there are differences between the music industry and the pc games industry and I don't think you can compare them on every level. Take the example of Radiohead - these guys are a fairly well known group, they could without any doubt simply finance themselves, they could be totally independent if they wished to do it… or just found their own label. Even if if they earned absolutely NO money with their records, they could make enough money with merchandising and concerts. Established artists have absolutely no problem with piracy because they'll make their fair share of money anyway.

The average game developer does not have these possibilities. NO publisher or game developer can give away a brand new product for free. The costs to produce a game are much higher than the costs to produce a music album.

Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
This change in policy could be seen as a win for fans and a loss for Bioware, but that would be too simple.
That's correct, because it is also a win for the FXP and filesharing scene. The release scene will probably be a bit pissed that they don't get a really new copy protection to crack, but that's about it.

Don't get me wrong - I value customer rights, but I despise one-sided views. People these days talk alot about working together with the fans and customers, but piracy is a problem that does not primarily concern fans and customers - it concerns the people that are neither fans nor customers. The reasons why people pirate games are manyfold - the formular "people pirate because they can" is too simple… we know that from numerous studies. Socialization and cultural influences play a role, as well as group pressure and last but not least financial aspects (among many other things). In my personal opinion it is impossible for the games industry to find models that address all these problems.

Please don't forget that the faces of piracy are manyfold, there is not just the elite release scene, the not so elite FXP scene, and end-user-piracy which usually is a synonym for p2p nowadays… piracy has more ugly sides, like street corner sales for example. There are people who make hard cash with pirated games, just think about certain Asian and Eastern European countries. These guys are not fans, they don't care about the game - they care about money… and no additional content will keep them from seeling the stuff.

When it comes to the article about the heroic aspirations of The PirateBay, I can only quote the internet:

You know, I think the media really fucked up when they called it “software piracy”. Everyone WANTS to be a pirate. If they’d called it “software faggotry” everyone would still buy all their shit.

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May 10th, 2008, 18:13
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
That's correct, because it is also a win for the FXP and filesharing scene…Don't get me wrong - I value customer rights, but I despise one-sided views…Please don't forget that the faces of piracy are manyfold…
(please excuse the editing)

If you're suggesting that what's important to pirates is important too, then I have to disagree. Pirates are exceptions in all of this. They don't have equal status. They're not deserving of anything. They simply need to be understood, and then only to a point that's necessary.

The Internet's a tool to be used. Pirates use it to enable their piracy, and developers have been trying to use it as a means to try to defeat it, and I don't see any hypocrisy there.

But I do see what I think is a better approach and one that lends itself to RPG. Developers could take advantage of the Internet by offering variety as additional value that would be available only to legitimate customers (via server access).

Variety is the key. RPGs don't need to be made in a single version. Cleverly designed additional content, without labels or readme information, would just be too much to evaluate and categorize with any amount of confidence. So no pirated version would ever have quite the same perceived value.

Downloads would be there for customers to access whenever they wanted. The Internet wouldn't be positioned between them and the game. Pirates would still be able to enjoy their pirated versions, knowing that something better was available to them if they decided to buy it.

PS. Piracy where games are physically duplicated and distributed is something else altogether. That's more of a matter for law enforcement than anything else.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; May 10th, 2008 at 18:20.
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May 10th, 2008, 18:32
I think the only people who count if you want to sell a game, or make a game to be sold later, are exactly the members of your target audience. This is everybody who you think could realistically be convinced to purchase your game.
Take the anti-CP faction's favourite example: Stardock. Their boss explained why their windows customization suite mostly consists of big, weird skins which look strange to a power user. The answer: Because the people willing to pay for their product want it that way. Experience told them the people who suggest slick designs have good ideas but are not willing to spend money. Thus they are not relevant.

So some of the pirates are relevant: those who you think you can convert to paying customers.
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May 10th, 2008, 19:11
Originally Posted by PatrickWeekes View Post
http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums…5&sp=0#5774350

Read. I can't answer questions or talk about it in any other terms, so just read.
PatrickWeekes if you've got the time could you please read this
http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums…9036&forum=125
and tell me whether you think, from a developer point of view, whether buying secuROM from Sony is a logical way to spend game developers' tight budgets?
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May 10th, 2008, 19:36
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
So some of the pirates are relevant: those who you think you can convert to paying customers.
I don't know how to respond to disagreement followed by an expression of, essentially, a very similar point of view.

Pirates certainly are potential customers, and I've expressed that opinion in detail, but that doesn't mean we can't refer to their piracy. Their point of view as potential customers is valuable, but their point of view as pirates isn't.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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May 10th, 2008, 19:41
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
The Internet's a tool to be used. Pirates use it to enable their piracy, and developers have been trying to use it as a means to try to defeat it, and I don't see any hypocrisy there.
Neither do I (and I never said that there is any - the hypocrisiy is on the side of the people who have an open internet connection 24/7, but complain on the bioware boards that they need to contact to a server every 10 days), but unfortunately a lot of gamers piss their pants if they hear that they have to connect to a game server once in while. For the overwhelming majority of them it would probably neither be a problem, nor an inconvenience. Everyone wants high quality games, everyone wants innovative games, and that publishers and developers take a risk, etc., but in an environment where piracy flourishes most publishers simply won't do that.

Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
But I do see … knowing that something better was available to them if they decided to buy it.
I always said that additional content is a good thing, the question is how far you can go. If I see the outcry whenever someone mentions "episodic content" I'd think that you cannot take this concept all too far.

Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
PS. Piracy where games are physically duplicated and distributed is something else altogether. That's more of a matter for law enforcement than anything else.
No, it's exactely the same, well not exactely, but more or less. In most European countries the distribution of illegal copies is a criminal act, it does absolutely NOT matter if you make a profit or not. Often the release scene considers itself morally superior since they don't make any money, but let's face it - in the end they are still damaging the industry.

The boundaries between end-user-piracy and professional counterfeit are blurry nowadays. It's pretty safe to assume that most counterfeiters and street merchants can neither crack a copy protection nor program a keygen… where do you think they get this stuff from?

For the industry it's totally unimportant who makes them lose money - they don't care if it's the filesharing user or the street merchant. But it schould be fairly clear that concepts like "additional content" will not keep counterfeiters from pirating the game, because they are not interested in the product itself.

Hey, I'm not saying that piracy is the source of all evil, from a customer point of view piracy might even have advantages, but I see the difficulties involved. Plus, I know the alternatives… because if you really think that a harsh copy protection is a worst case scenario then you should have a look at what alternative measures the industry and governments are thinking about.

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May 10th, 2008, 19:58
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
… the hypocrisiy is on the side of the people who have an open internet connection 24/7, but complain on the bioware boards that they need to contact to a server every 10 days), but unfortunately a lot of gamers piss their pants if they hear that they have to connect to a game server once in while. For the overwhelming majority of them it would probably neither be a problem, nor an inconvenience.
I guess your analysis misses the problem. I was bitching about this scheme, and I have a 24/7 internet connection. Nevertheless, I think I have a very good reason for this bitching. I don't like games with a limited lifetime. When I buy a game, I want to be able to take it 10 years from now and, after the then necessary fiddling with the hardware, be able to play it. If EA had said, OK folks, in one year from now, we will release a patch to get rid of that obnoxious phoning, and in three years from now, we will release a patch that removes the activation process altogether, I would be fine. But they won't do that. And that's what I don't like about it.

OK, they dropped the "always online" requirement. If they now tell us they will release that patch for the activation requirement one day, I'm happy. I'm OK with it for the moment, but not for eternity.
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May 10th, 2008, 20:03
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
I don't know how to respond to disagreement followed by an expression of, essentially, a very similar point of view.

Pirates certainly are potential customers, and I've expressed that opinion in detail, but that doesn't mean we can't refer to their piracy. Their point of view as potential customers is valuable, but their point of view as pirates isn't.
I think the gap between our positions might be a bit subtle.
Let me tackle it from another perspective:
Pirates´ (:= A) opinions do not matter at all.
Potential customers´ (:= B) opinions do matter.
A subset of the pirates belongs to the set of potential customers because your research has told you they might purchase your game. This intersection (:= C) between A and B shall be treated as members of B. (An example could be gamers who buy original if the standard ISO + fixed .exe thing doesn´t work within a few days after release.)

IMHO subset C is pretty small. Maybe something between 1 and 10% of A.

Or to summarize it more casually:
Define your target audience, listen to them and make the best product for them. The rest can STFU.
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May 10th, 2008, 20:08
Originally Posted by Turjan View Post
I guess your analysis misses the problem. I was bitching about this scheme, and I have a 24/7 internet connection. Nevertheless, I think I have a very good reason for this bitching. I don't like games with a limited lifetime. When I buy a game, I want to be able to take it 10 years from now and, after the then necessary fiddling with the hardware, be able to play it. If EA had said, OK folks, in one year from now, we will release a patch to get rid of that obnoxious phoning, and in three years from now, we will release a patch that removes the activation process altogether, I would be fine. But they won't do that. And that's what I don't like about it.

OK, they dropped the "always online" requirement. If they now tell us they will release that patch for the activation requirement one day, I'm happy. I'm OK with it for the moment, but not for eternity.
Fair enough, but don't you think that the limited activation might turn out to be a much bigger problem in terms of lifetime? I seriously doubt there will be many people around in ten years who won't have used up their 3 activations.

Basically I agree with you, customers should of course have the possibility to play a game they bought as long as they meet the necessary requirements. And yes, I think it's an huge mistake on EA's part not to announce that after a certain period of time they will intruduce a patch that adresses the issue.

On the other hand it also should be fairly clear, that in a few years (even months) ME's copy protection will not POSE a problem to anyone anymore. Of course it cannot be a solution to expect from people to work with cracks, but… ya… well… it's just a fact.

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May 10th, 2008, 20:37
Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
Honestly, there are differences between the music industry and the pc games industry and I don't think you can compare them on every level. Take the example of Radiohead - these guys are a fairly well known group, they could without any doubt simply finance themselves, they could be totally independent if they wished to do it… or just found their own label. Even if if they earned absolutely NO money with their records, they could make enough money with merchandising and concerts. Established artists have absolutely no problem with piracy because they'll make their fair share of money anyway.

The average game developer does not have these possibilities. NO publisher or game developer can give away a brand new product for free. The costs to produce a game are much higher than the costs to produce a music album.
Exactly. That's why I said I didn't think it would work. Tons of hours go into one game, one product, with little to no chance of making any additional money off of things like you said concerts, shirts whatever. I don't think there will be a huge rock Mass Effect Concert coming soon So the devs and publishers have to get people to buy that one product or all that time and money went to waste.

I however don't think it was hypocritical of people to be a little peeved about having to dial in every 5 days even though they have a internet connection. With Stardock you dial in when you want to, not because you're forced to. So we come back to some way of shutting down p2p sites. Copyprotection isn't ever going to work. Stop making it so easy for the people to download whatever the heck they feel like. Make it so if they want to pay nothing for something then they have to actually get off their butts get down to a store and steal it. We'll see a dramatic drop in piracy after that.

China just showed us it is possible to somewhat control the internet when they blocked every little news bit covering the olympic protests. I'm not for blocking news and information but I sure am hell not against shutting down these sites that blatently allow people to steal these products or at the very least give them hefty fines for allowing people to steal so easily.

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May 11th, 2008, 11:26
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
I however don't think it was hypocritical of people to be a little peeved about having to dial in every 5 days even though they have a internet connection. With Stardock you dial in when you want to, not because you're forced to.
It was every 10 days… but let's leave it at that. I guess this particular copyprotection is something you either like or dislike. People just should be aware that such a copy protection simply has its advantages.

Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
So we come back to some way of shutting down p2p sites. Copyprotection isn't ever going to work.
That entirely depends on the copy protection. I absolutely agree that traditional copy protection methods will probably never offer a full protection. Although, right now they are pretty much a necessity. That really has to do with the law in different countries… In Germany for example it is perfectly legal to make so called private copies of a game and give these copies to friends UNLESS you have to circumvent a copy protection to duplicate a game.

Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
China just showed us it is possible to somewhat control the internet when they blocked every little news bit covering the olympic protests. I'm not for blocking news and information but I sure am hell not against shutting down these sites that blatently allow people to steal these products or at the very least give them hefty fines for allowing people to steal so easily.
I guess that blocking certain internet sites, even if they contain illegal content is out of the question. In most western European countries that's simply unthinkable and against the law - and rightfully so. Of course there is the possibility to shut them down, but let's face it - that's absolutely impossible. Take The PirateBay for example, there were several attempts to shut down the site… without much success really. And TPB is one of the biggest sites on the web. There are countless small websites out there and whenever you close one, two others will pop up somewhere else.

I think that we're in need of different business models, publishers have to find the courage and try out new stuff. A recurring online authentication, is, at least from my point of view, a step in the right direction. One can certainly discuss how long you have to keep such a copy protection alive until you release a patch that gets rid of it. Things like limited activations are an absolute no go - I think a lot of people did not realize yet how bad that actually is… they will. Give them 5 years.
Publishers could give out old games for free - you buy a new game and if you register it online you'll can choose from a collection of older games and download one for free, stuff like that. These are really just examples… other things are certainly possible.

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