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Default PC Gaming Alliance Report-The State of PC Gaming

August 21st, 2008, 05:43
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
That's true. Another problem is when piracy becomes the excuse for everything.
I don't really agree. Sure, game companies talk piracy up - why wouldn't they? It's a problem a lot of people don't care about, so they're trying to increase the visibility of the situation. In the boardroom, however, I don't believe they are so naive.

I'm not currently in an industry even remotely connected with software but when one of our products fails to garner the sales we wanted, we don't publically say "that widget sucked". We say "it's a competitive area of the market and we'll continue to refine our approach" or somesuch - but behind closed doors, we know exactly what happened. Just because the righteous 'net gamers want to hear "mea culpa" from game execs doesn't mean it will happen or that it should - they are the same as every other industry.

No matter how harmful it is however, I'm surprised the industry still hasn't managed to solve that problem. I mean the tools exist. We know how to prevent piracy. Other games showed how (yes I'm thinking MMOs, so what's stopping single player games from using the same model except for the monthly fee?). And yet countless publishers make stupid decisions and totally fail on how they fight piracy (like paying to include secuROM in their product only to have it removed by "fixed exe" once released, and the only people who really suffer in the end are the legit costumers).
Yeah…it's a solution for you, perhaps. How often have you seen people say they won't accept an online component for a single-player game? Plus the server and development expense with no ongoing income? Perhaps it will happen but it isn't the panacea you make it sound.

Is it perhaps possible the game execs have good estimates of what sales Securom protects, versus the license cost? I don't know - but it belies credulity that every significant publisher is wrong but the internet knows better.

That isn't to say they can't do things smarter and better, by the way.

Originally Posted by abbaon View Post
A single pirate causes the industry a non-zero loss in revenue. Together, pirates cost the industry billions. No argument there.

But you appear to be suggesting here that arguments over the exact damage caused by piracy will themselves encourage piracy which would not otherwise have taken place. (That's how I read "enabling"; correct me if I'm wrong.)

Taken as a whole, how many lost sales do you suppose all of these arguments represent?
Yep, that's what I'm suggesting. And yes, I realise few will agree with me. Every time piracy is discussed, a whole bunch of people will defend piracy by proxy (not necessarily maliciously, of course). Game companies estimate piracy too high, they're all idiots for using Securom anyway, if they only used a free/ad-supported/whatever model instead of an outdated paradigm (have we had "nothing is removed from an inventory yet?" I didn't look).

Ultimately, these arguments serve to encourage and embolden a culture where piracy isn't that big a deal. In fact, the bastards probably deserve it.

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August 21st, 2008, 11:36
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Yep, that's what I'm suggesting. And yes, I realise few will agree with me.
I do agree with you. I just wanted to do my recursive "lost sales" gag. Okay, a serious post.

If I were in the habit of framing issues in moral terms, I'd say something like:

Game piracy is always wrong, even when games are buggy and broken, and even in countries where game prices are some absurd multiple of the average weekly wage. (You missed those two excuses.) Pirates aren't merely victims of circumstance. They're moral agents who are responsible for the harm they've done to the industry.

The debates on this forum are the least of the circumstances which could excuse piracy. The people participating in them are doing nothing wrong, because nothing ever transfers one iota of responsibility away from the pirates. The choice and the blame remain with them.

That's a bunch of bullshit, though. The logic I can really get behind is that of a pirate: a few debates taking place on one small specialty website is almost harmless…

Yeah…it's a solution for you, perhaps. How often have you seen people say they won't accept an online component for a single-player game? Plus the server and development expense with no ongoing income? Perhaps it will happen but it isn't the panacea you make it sound.
And there may be no way to make it more desirable than piracy. It's hard to see a service component in a single-player RPG. No-one needs global leaderboards or matchmaking. You can't soak the people who will willingly pay more for in-game advantages. DLC is iffy, because you can just steal that too on an open platform. Perhaps the only big-budget PC RPGs in a post-piracy world will be MMOs?

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August 21st, 2008, 12:30
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Yeah…it's a solution for you, perhaps. How often have you seen people say they won't accept an online component for a single-player game? Plus the server and development expense with no ongoing income? Perhaps it will happen but it isn't the panacea you make it sound.
I never said I like that solution, I believe however it's the only known thing to-day that totally prevents piracy. Of course it has downsides, of course it's not convenient for us gamers. But publishers aren't concerned by that… unless it negatively affects sales.
This leads me to believe that they know they're going to lose even more sales with such a drastic anti piracy measure than what piracy is costing them right now.

In the meanwhile they're trying to find out other means, that won't drive users away and so far all have proved ineffective.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Is it perhaps possible the game execs have good estimates of what sales Securom protects, versus the license cost? I don't know - but it belies credulity that every significant publisher is wrong but the internet knows better.
It's not that I know better -not going to talk in the name of "the internet"-. Publishers are well aware of their shortcomings, they know they're wrong, but they have no other choices. On one hand they're talking piracy up as much as possible because it's actually convenient to hide other shortcomings and at the same time they can't implement the really effective anti piracy measures because its effects would be even more harmful than piracy thus proving piracy isn't as big as they claim.

Publishers know how many sales secuROM saves : zero. There are recent examples of games with no anti piracy measures that sold very well, Company of Heroes for instance. They don't put secuROM to prevent piracy, they put it to convince their investors they're actually trying to do something against piracy.

The only thing investors care about is securing their investments, and if a publisher says he's not going to use secuROM or similar, there's no way he'll get any money.

I apologize if I sounded like "publishers are stupid". Indeed they're not. They know, they know much better than me, that everything they do doesn't work. But they have no choice, they have to at least show that they're trying to do *something*.

And I'm surprised you believe secuROM may work, being against piracy doesn't prevent you from trying to learn how pirates operate. The problem with secuROM is that it's a second product added at the final stage of development over an already completed product. As long as games aren't developed with anti piracy in mind from as early stage as preproduction, as long as all vital game assets are stored locally, ad hoc anti piracy measures such as secuROM will never work.


Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Yep, that's what I'm suggesting. And yes, I realise few will agree with me. Every time piracy is discussed, a whole bunch of people will defend piracy by proxy (not necessarily maliciously, of course). Game companies estimate piracy too high, they're all idiots for using Securom anyway, if they only used a free/ad-supported/whatever model instead of an outdated paradigm (have we had "nothing is removed from an inventory yet?" I didn't look).

Ultimately, these arguments serve to encourage and embolden a culture where piracy isn't that big a deal. In fact, the bastards probably deserve it.
I'm not trying to defend it. I'm trying to measure its exact effect, and if it's not possible, at least try to determine why it can't be measured. After all that's what IGN was asking. And the moment a definitive solution to piracy exists, as cumbersome as it may be, piracy becomes a SOLVED problem : it's only a matter of which corporate risks publishers decide to take : losing sales to piracy or losing sales to anti piracy measures.

If a patient refuses to be treated for rabies because he's not willing to cope with the side effects of that treatment, that won't change the fact that rabies is considered as a "disease that humanity solved and that is no longer a threat to us"

Because solutions exists, any time someone in the industry complains about it they're just trying to make excuses, and hide their fear of taking difficult decisions.

Yes piracy is a problem, but it has to be considered as an inherent problem that's part of the business they're running. And it comes down to how a given player of that business decides to work around that problem, the same way tobacco companies have to deal with anti-smoking policies and campaigns or car makers with the rise of gas price. You can complain about it, or you can sell cars that consume much less even though that means losing costumers who enjoy big fancy fast cars. Yes that means your company will have to change and adapt but so is the market: changing and adapting.
The game industry can choose to continue making offline single player games and risk piracy, or they can stop doing any offline single player games and force costumers to change their behaviors. In the end there are no piracy problems, only decisions to take.


PS: and I have to add that the gaming industry is in a privileged situation compared to the music or movies industries : at least a solution exists for computers. The same can't be said for records or movies.
Last edited by Hedek; August 21st, 2008 at 13:00.
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August 21st, 2008, 13:57
I agree with you, Dhruin, but…

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Is it perhaps possible the game execs have good estimates of what sales Securom protects, versus the license cost? I don't know - but it belies credulity that every significant publisher is wrong but the internet knows better.
I hate this argument. It's an overly simplified appeal to authority. "They're professionals so they must know". I've seen publishers make gaffes before, and there's plenty of historical precedent of market segments buying their own lies.

So no, you can't just appeal to the authority and knowledge of gaming publishers. It doesn't actually invalidate any specific argument made about piracy, it's just a blanket catch-all "you must be wrong"-ism.
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August 21st, 2008, 15:00
Id software joins the discussion:

"I think that there's been this dirty little secret among hardware manufacturers, which is that the perception of free content - even if you're supposed to pay for it on PCs - is some sort hidden benefit that you get when you buy a PC, like a right to download music for free or a right to download pirated movies and games," said Hollenshead in an exclusive interview published today.

"I think that if you went in and could see what's going on in their minds, though they may never say that stuff and I'm not saying there's some conspiracy or something like that - but I think the thing is they realise that trading content, copyrighted or not, is an expected benefit of owning a computer."

Hollenshead - famed for PC titles Doom, Quake and the forthcoming Rage - believes that PC manufacturers will obviously speak out against piracy in public, but the enormity of the problem is evidence that it's being largely ignored by hardware companies.

"I think that just based on their actions…what they say is one thing, but what they do is another.

"When it comes into debates about whether peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that by-and-large have the vast majority, I'm talking 99 per cent of the content is elicitly trading copyrighted property, they'll come out on the side of the 1 per cent of the user doing it for legitimate benefit.

"You can make philosophical arguments that are difficult to debate, but at the same time you're just sort of ignoring the enormity of the problem," he said.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/article…rs-hollenshead

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August 21st, 2008, 17:57
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Id software joins the discussion:
Thanks for pointing it out. Indeed he makes good points, but what is he expecting? That Dell HP Sony & co should band together to include hardware copyright protections on the computer they manufacture? That's exactly what the WII PS3 and XBOX 360 provide, and it's actually the only reason why these consoles even exist : they're just DRMs. Not going to happen.

So while he's right, he also knows hardware companies aren't going to do anything. What is he adding to debate? Nothing but trying to put part of the responsibility on someone else. It's not going to help solving the piracy problem for software companies in any way though.

Again it's only up to software makers to solve that issue, no one cares about them, no one's going to help them. They're alone on this one.

offtopic PS: love your sig Zakhal
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August 21st, 2008, 18:08
"When it comes into debates about whether peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that by-and-large have the vast majority, I'm talking 99 per cent of the content is elicitly trading copyrighted property, they'll come out on the side of the 1 per cent of the user doing it for legitimate benefit.
Can somebody please put this second quote into a bit more simple words ?

In understood that people think or believe that the "Free Trade" is something that comes shipped with any new PC … But I don't quite understand this quote.

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August 21st, 2008, 20:16
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Can somebody please put this second quote into a bit more simple words ?

In understood that people think or believe that the "Free Trade" is something that comes shipped with any new PC … But I don't quite understand this quote.
Hardware makers will use this 1% of legit sharing to justify not doing anything. "We're not taking actions because there are legit users that we don't want to penalize".
Even though they know the vast majority of P2P sharing is violating copyright, they use the minority of legal users as an excuse for the whole.
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August 21st, 2008, 20:51
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
Thanks for pointing it out. Indeed he makes good points, but what is he expecting? That Dell HP Sony & co should band together to include hardware copyright protections on the computer they manufacture? That's exactly what the WII PS3 and XBOX 360 provide, and it's actually the only reason why these consoles even exist : they're just DRMs. Not going to happen.

So while he's right, he also knows hardware companies aren't going to do anything. What is he adding to debate? Nothing but trying to put part of the responsibility on someone else. It's not going to help solving the piracy problem for software companies in any way though.

Again it's only up to software makers to solve that issue, no one cares about them, no one's going to help them. They're alone on this one.

offtopic PS: love your sig Zakhal

MSFT could solve the issue pretty easily I would think. The way the 'drm' works on consoles is simply that they won't play burned DVD's without some type of mod chip. The software exists to detect if a disc is original or burned, so MSFT could add something into DirectX where if keyed off by the game, it checks to see if the disc is burned or not.

Of course, this is similar to the systems that require you to have the CD in the drive, but if it were integral to the DirectX process the only ways around it would be to rewrite DirectX, or rewrite the portion of the game that makes the call. This would certainly piss of the crowd that likes to use the 'no-cd' patches though.

I think fundamentally if you are able to transfer content off the delivery platform (whether that be by DVD or server in a MMO), pirates will be able to get around any DRM scheme.

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August 21st, 2008, 22:43
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
MSFT could solve the issue pretty easily I would think. The way the 'drm' works on consoles is simply that they won't play burned DVD's without some type of mod chip. The software exists to detect if a disc is original or burned, so MSFT could add something into DirectX where if keyed off by the game, it checks to see if the disc is burned or not.

Of course, this is similar to the systems that require you to have the CD in the drive, but if it were integral to the DirectX process the only ways around it would be to rewrite DirectX, or rewrite the portion of the game that makes the call. This would certainly piss of the crowd that likes to use the 'no-cd' patches though.

I think fundamentally if you are able to transfer content off the delivery platform (whether that be by DVD or server in a MMO), pirates will be able to get around any DRM scheme.
As long as everything happens client side, any anti piracy measure won't work. Sooner or later crackers will trick DirectX into thinking the illegal copy is actually genuine. The only way to prevent piracy is through mandatory and constant connection to the publisher's server. And if pirates prevent the game from connecting to that server, the game should be programmed in a way it wouldn't be able to run because it lacks vital assets (that only the server provides).

Hardware protection, as the ones found in consoles, aren't harder to crack, they're just less convenient to crack. But in practice they are very effective as they require a physical intervention from the cracker on the console (because everyone doesn't possess such "skills"), so in most cases people aren't able to get their console "fixed".
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August 21st, 2008, 23:22
Trusted Computing anyone? The hardware giants haven't ignored IP protection they just can't sell it to consumers.

I'm not sure server-side assets is a complete solution either - at some point those assets have to be displayed/used on the client computer and I wouldn't put it past a smart group to copy or emulate them client side.
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