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Default Good Old Games - Interview @ Strategy Informer

March 27th, 2009, 20:25
Strategy Informer talks to Lukasz Kukawski, Marketing & PR Manager for digital download site Good Old Games about their business model, the new Ubisoft additions to their catalogue, DRM, and how things are going for them so far:
Strategy Informer: What is the underlying ethos behind Good old Games?

Lukasz Kukawski: Good Old Games is a digital distribution platform dedicated to classic PC games. What is different about GOG.com and other services, aside of the games catalogue, is that we offer DRM-free games. This means after you buy a game on GOG.com you can download it as many times as you want, install it on all computers that you own, burn it to CD and play it without having an internet connection. It's like a CD version of the game, but without the CD…
Strategy Informer: What games to consider ‘old’ enough to feature in your catalogue? What’s your cut-off point?

Lukasz Kukawski: As for how old game should be to appear on GOG.com, there's no specific rule for it. Simply saying we release games that aren't new, so don't expect the new Dawn of War or Empire Total War. The shelves in game stores are too short to have all games on them, that's why a game that is 6 months old is sometimes hard to get. We want to offer games that are hard or even impossible to find in retail…
Strategy Informer: What are your thoughts on DRM?

Lukasz Kukawski: We are all gamers at GOG.com and frankly saying we hate DRMs implemented in games. We don't think DRM is the best way to fight piracy. You won't find any copy protection that haven't been broken, so this won't stop pirates from getting the games the illegal way. DRM is more of an obstacle for legitimate buyers than people who pirate games, because if you get the pirated version you'll get it stripped from all forms of copy protection and you can do with the game whatever you want…We think that the best way to fight piracy is to offer good games in a reasonable price with cool additional content.
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March 27th, 2009, 20:25
DRM is more of an obstacle for legitimate buyers than people who pirate games, because if you get the pirated version you'll get it stripped from all forms of copy protection and you can do with the game whatever you want…We think that the best way to fight piracy is to offer good games in a reasonable price with cool additional content.
Locks on doors are more of an obstacle for legitimate homeowners than for people who want to steal TVs. That's because if thieves break in through the window they can steal the TV without having to worry about the lock on the front door, whereas the homeowner has to use his key every time he comes home. We think that the best way to fight theft is to offer good TVs at reasonable prices with cool extra features, because most thieves are only stealing because they earnestly dislike unreasonable prices. Please stop locking your doors, that just pisses the thieves off.
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March 27th, 2009, 21:27
Interesting but flawed comparison.

DRM for TVs is more equivalent to having legally bought TVs with artificially reduced angle of view — so only two or three people can watch at once — and a set of code cards which you have to exchange for watching different channels. Unfortunately both the card reader and the cards wear out occasionally and make funny noises when used.

However, some shady guys around the corner sell cheap TVs they stole directly from the manufacturer one cent each with wide angle view and free channel selection sans code cards and funny noises, but of course it is amoral to use a stolen TV set and also quite illegal. Also, sadly some of the companies producing the artificially hamstringed TV sets go out of business because the market is already saturated with stolen — and enhanced — TVs from their own factory.

Please do not misunderstand me: I am against piracy and felt greatly annoyed by it personally when I read about the closure of Iron Lore, but unfortunately, DRM is only providing incentives for pirates unless it really works (to my knowledge, only MMORPGs are secure in this respect).

And just to defeat any upcoming argument in that direction: no, the crackers are not pissed off by DRM, but on the contrary cherish the challenge!
Last edited by coyote; March 27th, 2009 at 21:50.
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March 27th, 2009, 22:01
DRM is only providing incentives for pirates unless it really works (to my knowledge, only MMORPGs are secure in this respect).
That's not quite true, while MMORPGs stop pirates from using the officials servers, it doesn't stop them from using unofficial ones. But at that point, pirates should just play the free-to-play MMORPGs that exist out there.
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March 28th, 2009, 08:32
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
Locks on doors are more of an obstacle for legitimate homeowners than for people who want to steal TVs. …blah, blah, blah… Please stop locking your doors, that just pisses the thieves off.
So, are you saying you actually like DRM and other invasive copy protection schemes? Or did you just want to bitch and moan? Good grief, for some people the glass is always half-empty.

I've bought several games from GOG and have been very pleased with their service and even more pleased for the fact that I don't have to jump through copy protection hoops before the game can finally be played.

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March 28th, 2009, 12:42
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
Locks on doors are more of an obstacle for legitimate homeowners than for people who want to steal TVs.
The point is that there is NO company out there selling products which enable to protect the software/texts/photos of home users !

They just argue that the value of stuff of home users is so small it just doesn't need any protection - any protective software.

This implies that only companies have such a great value to be protected that other companies actually dedicate themselves to the development of such protections.

Just take a look around you: How many companies are out there which offer you protection solutions to get your house door locked so that no burglar can steal your TV ?

And compare that to the amount of companies offering similar, yet "heavier" protection solution to big, wealthy companies …

A saying here says: "Justice is where the money is".

I expand this to this: "Protection is where the money is".

As long as there are security-theme conventions only for big companies, computer viruses and trojans will spread, because no-one cares for the security of the weakest part on the chain, wich is the home user.

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March 28th, 2009, 13:26
Good interview. Thanks Margerette. It's always good to hear companies waking up to the fact that DRM pisses off a lot of customers.

@Yeesh Were you serious? How does DRM help us exactly? Locks help US. How does a lock compare to DRM in terms of helping us keep our possesions safe?

If you want to compare how COMPANIES keep their products safe then use an example of securtiy guards, barbwire fences and video cameras.

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Last edited by skavenhorde; March 28th, 2009 at 14:16.
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March 28th, 2009, 15:59
Originally Posted by Lurking Grue View Post
…pleased for the fact that I don't have to jump through copy protection hoops…
Jump through copy protection hoops? Can we provide an example of a recent game here, please? The most I ever had to do was click on an "Activate Now" button. A simple click of the left mouse button.
Look, if you consider that "jumping through hoops" then maybe you should quit gaming altogether because you must be going insane playing a game like Diablo then where you have to click the left mouse button in rapid-fire fashion which then in turn must end up being a jump-a-thon of hoopness for you or something .

Seriously, I do enjoy GOG mucho. Just recently bought a bunch of games off of them but I fully understand the need of other developers and publishers to protect their games via some form of copy protection in the full price retail segment. And CD Projekt has been using TAGES for The Witcher as well (which they later removed in a patch, I know, but they had it in place for the time the game was "hot") so parts of this interview come across as somewhat hypocritical. It's pretty cheap to point at yourselves as the DRM-free saints when all you're offering is old budget games anyway.
Let's see them release The Witcher 2 completely DRM-free from day one. Better yet, let's see them themselves put up The Witcher 2 on The Pirate Bay two weeks prior to the release of the game and then let's see what happens. If they are really that convinced about their DRM-free approach they shouldn't have a problem with that.
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March 28th, 2009, 20:43
So Moriendor the only way for companies to keep their products safe is through DRM. Is there not an alternative means that could be implemented. Say like EAs way with the sims. Type in a code and have the disk? Seems pretty effective to me and it has been a standard for years. Hell even the games in the old days had this with codewheels and other ways even before DRM was a twinkle in some programmers eye.

Just a thought. There are other ways of protecting their investment that does not force their customers to jump through hoops and YES having to log in is one hoop that I do not want to jump through.

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March 28th, 2009, 21:10
I don't mind DRM per se. I do mind DRM that significantly impacts my rights. For example, I find Mass Effect's "three installs, tops" condition odious — I didn't *rent* the game, I *bought* it, and I should damn well be able to install it however many times I want. I also don't like DRM that adds 30 seconds or more to the game's startup time, or DRM that breaks with operating system updates.

I have no problem typing in a CD key on install. I have no problem activating my copy on-line, if I can deactivate it later, independently of the machine I installed it on. (Disks crash, you know.)

Short of completely new business models, I think the best compromise would be a temporary system. Say, online activation with max three installs… for the first six months in the game's lifetime, after which the number-of-installs restriction will be removed, and after 18 months, the DRM will be removed altogether. I'd be happy to live with that.
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March 28th, 2009, 21:21
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
So Moriendor the only way for companies to keep their products safe is through DRM. Is there not an alternative means that could be implemented. Say like EAs way with the sims. Type in a code and have the disk? Seems pretty effective to me and it has been a standard for years. Hell even the games in the old days had this with codewheels and other ways even before DRM was a twinkle in some programmers eye.
What? Where was I talking about activation being the only viable form of DRM? Where was I excluding or including any sort of measurement from being DRM or not being DRM? I wasn't.
DRM stands for "Digital Rights Management". According to my views on the whole thing any form of copy protection (including, of course, the serial codes you mentioned) is DRM.
And BTW the CD Projekt guy was talking about (simple) copy protection as well throughout most of the interview and not about activation or other stricter forms of DRM.

Just a thought. There are other ways of protecting their investment that does not force their customers to jump through hoops and YES having to log in is one hoop that I do not want to jump through.
Log into what? The Internet? Most PCs are online via a router 24/7 anyway, especially gaming PCs since you need to keep your Windows, your drivers, your DirectX, your BIOS, your virus scanner, and of course your games up-to-date. I don't know what you would have to log into otherwise. Every single game that I have personal experience with or heard of allows activation via a simple click of the left mouse button at the end of the setup process. Doesn't get much more simple than that and is certainly very far from being a "hoop". No, not even a tiny one .
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March 28th, 2009, 22:23
What are the oldest games in their catalogue? I'm sort of hoping for a Darklands release, though I'm not getting my hopes up either. But that would be awesome.
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March 29th, 2009, 00:41
These agressive protection methods are also raising my blood pressure level quite constantly. The pj's example of Mass Effect hitted the nail's head. Normally during a transaction of merchandise when a customer hands over his credits for certain product, at the same time the seller relinquishes his control over the product to the customer. The ownership of this item changes. Naturally ownership has certain boundaries, but the customer should have every right to decide how to use this product in his personal use. Its common sense.

When I bought Mass effect I no longer felt that I had actually bought anything. Sure I have a physical disc, but the company still holds a right to determine how many times I can install it before I have to conctact them. For an awerage customer this doesn't make any sense. I don't belive that many gamers want to spend any of their precious gaming time for crap like this.
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March 29th, 2009, 05:17
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
Log into what? The Internet? Most PCs are online via a router 24/7 anyway, especially gaming PCs since you need to keep your Windows, your drivers, your DirectX, your BIOS, your virus scanner, and of course your games up-to-date. I don't know what you would have to log into otherwise. Every single game that I have personal experience with or heard of allows activation via a simple click of the left mouse button at the end of the setup process. Doesn't get much more simple than that and is certainly very far from being a "hoop". No, not even a tiny one .
Sorry about jumping to the conclusion that you were saying only one way was the best way to protect the companies products.

But, I do disagree with you on the whole internet thing. I'm not going to go into how some people have a hard time getting on the net because of their location. That isn't really true anymore. Hell, even my mom who lives in literally the middle of nowhere in an Arizona desert still has ADSL. But there has to be a better way. It just feels like I'm being punished for having bought the dang thing instead of pirating it.

Like what PJ said, You don't want your customers pissed off because the game they just bought will only give you three shots at installing it or installs programs that mess with your system. Forget about even thinking about having a program like daemon tools. The game will not even let you play. It always says something like"insert the original disk not a copy" IT IS THE ORIGNAL DISC! But just because it sees Daemon it will freak out. Now that is going too far. It is punishing me, the customer, for having unrelated software on my system even though I bought the stupid game, have it installed correctly, have the disc in and probably have had to type in some code. Oh let's add one more, had to activate it online

The best way, imo, would be to go after the real pirates not your customer base. I know it's difficult but anything less than that is punishing us for buying it. Once it becomes more difficult for the average Joe to download software for free, then this problem starts to go away.

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I'm still just a rat in a cage.
Last edited by skavenhorde; March 29th, 2009 at 06:43.
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March 29th, 2009, 06:25
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
But, I do disagree with you on the whole internet thing. I'm not going to go into how some people have a hard time getting on the net because of their location. That isn't really true anymore. Hell, even my mom who lives in literally the middle of nowhere in an Arizona desert still has ADSL. But there has to be a better way. It just feels like I'm being punished for having bought the dang thing instead of pirating it.
Its still a big issue in some places, ADSL is only effective if you're within 5km of the exchange, there's a lot of places that arn't close enough. You also need reasonable phonelines to mantain the signal, and they'e expensive to replace so you're out of luck if the line is old.
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March 29th, 2009, 06:56
Where there is a will (or money to be had) there is a way. Don't worry the companies will upgrade the lines or offer better services sooner or later. At least they did with a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Total population is like 1,000 - 2,000 people. The closest real city is at least an hours drive away. Even there people needs them some internet The phone companies saw this and first started offering satalite net connections, but that was too expensive so about 2 or 3 years ago they upgraded the lines and offered ADSL. She doesn't get near the same connection speeds I get here in Taiwan, but it is a heck of a lot better than the old modem she was forced to use.

Do not get me wrong here I'm no expert on what the companies have in mind for every town or city across America. It just seems logical that if that tiny town is wired up then it must be profitable and if it is profitable then the rest of the country will get upgraded sooner or later.

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