Fallout 3 Vs DRM: ULTIMATE BATTLE

By John Walker on October 2nd, 2008 at 4:26 pm.

Plant a few flowers, this place will look lovely.

I know this probably sounds like paranoia, but sometimes I wonder if there’s some people predisposed to dislike the forthcoming Fallout 3. Yes, I realise what you’re thinking: But this is from Bethesda, who make those incredibly popular Elder Scrolls games, and the Fallout series is excellent and deserves a new game from a stand-out development team. But despite all this, my gut just tells me that there’s a dissenting voice, quiet as it might be, out there. While I’m here, another prediction: I think DRM will soon become a hot-button issue amongst PC gamers. Time will prove this. I laugh to think what would happen if you combined the two topics, were my instincts to prove correct.

Wait, what’s this?

Fallout 3 will have minimum DRM. Possibly just a disc-check. And no install limits. As with Oblivion, Bethesda don’t intend to impose any mad restrictions on their legitimate customers. That’s rather lovely. But they’re still concerned by the subject. Talking to Shack, Pete Hines explained,

“[It's] pretty similar to what we did for Oblivion, which was – we basically don’t do any – we do the mildest form possible… We try to be really non-invasive when it comes to that stuff. And it is a pain in the ass – it is a pain in the ass that we have to do it at all in the first place. But when you spend tens of millions of dollars, we don’t think it’s right to just put something out there and let everybody do whatever they want and pass it around.”

Some hilarious diet joke!!!

I like this response. It’s not, “RAH RAH IMPRISON THEM ALL!”, but more a reluctant, “Oh, I wish they wouldn’t.” He continues,

“But no, we’re pretty mild about how we do it, and we try to do it in a way that prevents folks from exploiting and distributing our games that we worked very hard on, and that we feel we have a right to try and sell and not have distributed free without our okay. It’s very important for us not to ruin the experience for the person who did buy a copy, so we try to be very careful.”

It’s then confirmed that there will be no install limit on the game either. Hurrah! It’s worth reading the whole, interesting interview. (And of course to read our own with the man). There’s more discussion of piracy, which we all love to talk about so much. And they go on to discuss the nature of developing for the PC, and all that sort of thingamy.

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125 Comments »

  1. Lorc says:

    That’s pretty reasonable of them.

  2. Alec Meer says:

    COPYRIGHT IS THEF… Oh. Okay.

  3. Colthor says:

    So it is like the first two games in at least one way, then ¬_¬

    Seriously: Huzzah! The only thing that’ll stop me buying this will be Clear Sky-style “horrible disappointment” reviews. And I hope it doesn’t get those.

  4. dhex says:

    that’s a damn reasonable response.

    edit: and he hints at it possibly being on steam, too.

  5. Him says:

    I think I’ll hold onto my shinies until NMA get their hands on a copy and release their dissection results. I’m expecting offal and horror, but will purchase should one of my two expectations be proven wrong.

  6. YogSo says:

    “we try to do it in a way that prevents folks from exploiting and distributing our games (…) free without our okay”

    But why? Why bother in the first place? Whatever they do, pirates will have a working crack sooner than later, and in the end those who want to buy the game will buy it, and those who don’t will torrent it… So, why bother? He even says that it’s a pain in the ass to implement, so why don’t they realize that it’s a worse solution to upset* your buying customers trying to stop something that you-just-can-NOT-stop…?

    * Of course, it seems that’s not the case here, I’m talking about the other recent examples we’ve had…

    Pre-emptive edit: If the reason is to stop the so-called ‘casual piracy’ as in “I’m decided to buy the game, but then my friends will borrow and play it for free”… Well, do you really believe that if there’s some DRM stuff that prevents doing this they are going to be “Oh, noes! I can’t pirate it! I will have to RUN to the shop to buy it!…”? The thruth is they are going to say: ” Oh, wait, pirate bay, search… Fallout 3… 3000 seeds… hmm, hummmm…”

  7. Maximum Fish says:

    Now there’s only the Games for Windows Live! bit to be worried about. Not that i’m not going to buy Fallout 3 on the day of release or anything, just saying. GFWL in my opinion is far worse than DRM.

    In principle DRM sucks worse, but in practice i don’t upgrade my computer 3 times generally before the asinine install restrictions are broadened are totally removed (don’t have that sort of money unfortunately) and have been lucky enough not to run into the cd read errors.

    But GFWL is a slap in the face to PC gamers, an akward, cumbersome and time consuming log on process, a crappy an insecure save system (where are they? Or more troublesome still, were did they all go?), hit Y button xbox controls nonsense, etc..

    In Kane and Lynch, the game would hitch along like a spastic with parkinsons, come to find out it’s because GFWL is polling my HID’s for a freaking Xbox 360 controller every damn second. No, i don’t have one. They’re retarded. This is why i play PC games. Whatever.

    I really hope Bethesda’s likely-to-be-classic isn’t unduly burdened with Microsoft’s total incompetence in the PC games market.

  8. Urael says:

    I liked Morrowind and Oblivion very much. I like Bethesda. I don’t want to hate them for any reason, and I’ve never been a huge fan of Fallout (not having played the games) so won’t even have a go at them for corrupting the spirit of a ‘treasured franchise’ with their new-fangled 3D gubbins.

    But I want this game. I’ve only recently decided to buy it and am looking forward to it based on the previews – it looks great. However, if some kind of savage, EA-like DRM appears on the disc in any form, I will not purchase it. It’s that simple. Even the DVD-check will stick in my craw a bit but at least a crack for that will appear in short order, allowing me the same, non-dvd-in-tray ease of use as the pirated version will undoubtedly provide.

  9. Maximum Fish says:

    @YogSo (…thoth??)

    I can understand their frustration, i mean if i dedicated several years to something i was very proud of (and planned on selling), i’d resent the tools who just jumped in and stole it. Even though you’re right, and it doesn’t actually work anyways (or at least it never seems too), it has to be irritating.

    EDIT – also, and not trying to start a tangent discussion or anything, but I think Clear Sky is pretty awesome myself, and was a huge fan of the original. I didn’t however even start playing it until version 1.505, but with this version i would recommend it to the more technical-quirk-tolerant (okay, outright bugs in some places) players.

  10. arqueturus says:

    I really don’t care about DRM. Sorry.

  11. Iain says:

    @John: “I think DRM will soon become a hot-button issue amongst PC gamers”

    I think my sarcasm-o-meter just exploded.

  12. Theoban says:

    @Him

    You do know that NMA will tell you this is the worst game ever, regardless of how good it is? Have you EVER seen anything that’s not frothing at the mouth from that site about Fallout 3? Instead of treating the Fallout series like ‘games’ they’re treating it like they’re a religion, which scares and horrifies me.

    Try posting on there saying you think you’ll wait and see if it’s any good. They’ll be calling you every name under the sun within minutes because you’re not joining in on the mass frenzy.

  13. YogSo says:

    @Maximum Fish: I too completely understand their frustration, but they have to find a better solution, one that works against pirates and not against the people that have bought their game in the first place. I think that’s a pretty sensible thing to ask for… don’t you?

    @Theoban: Of course, we (here) are better than they (NMA). We can perfectly come to terms with a critic from the RPS-mind saying how Stalker:CS is somewhat worse than it’s predecessor without “joining in the mass frenzy”… ;)

  14. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Fallout 3 will have minimum DRM. Possibly just a disc-check. And no install limits.”

    I realise I’m in the minority on this, but disk checks are the worst kind of DRM as far as I’m concerned. I’d rather have an online check every single time you play than a disk check. I don’t want to search through five different bookcases and crates to find a disc to play a game I haven’t touched for a while.

  15. futage says:

    @Maximum Fish

    If I’d dedicated several years to something I was quite proud of, I’d want as many people as possible to experience my work.

    I see the currently unauthorised means of distribution as being to games what public libraries are to books (and CDs and DVDs). And given that I also see games as being as important as books, I think those distribution channels deserve the support and legitimisation that public libraries enjoy.

    Surely the actual producers of artistic works do and indeed should primarily want to reach the widest audience possible? It’s the publishers who are (rightly) worried. And it’s the publishers who always want to milk it for the last drop

    This is old news so I’m sure you’ve seen it before. But that sort of attitude makes me happy. That’s what it should be about: http://torrentfreak.com/producer-thanks-pirates-for-stealing-his-film-071113/

  16. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    While I’m here, another prediction: I think DRM will soon become a hot-button issue amongst PC gamers.

    This is why I love RPS – always ahead of their time in predicting major trends :lol:

    Non-intrusive copy protections. Okay. I can get into that, if only because there’s a genuine effort to both protect their properties and not findmuck costumers. Still, that they believe it will amount to any degree of solid protection really shows how messed up the industry is on a number of issues.

  17. Gap Gen says:

    YOU WOULDN’T COPYRIGHT VIOLATE A HANDBAG doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

    There’s also this: http://www.angryflower.com/supergo.html

  18. Colthor says:

    @YogSo
    I think they know they won’t stop the “hardcore” pirates, or anyone who can download a torrent, but they probably want to make it awkward to use one copy between loads of different people, or simple click-”copy DVD” piracy.
    There are possibly even more people who’d do that than torrent it (‘cos it’s easier), and it doesn’t feel as wrong (“My friend bought it, I’m just borrowing it to install…”), and downloading some significant number of gigabytes can be a disincentive if you’re on a slow/capped service.

    And it doesn’t stop you reselling it, lending it to friends when you’ve finished with it, playing it every time you upgrade/reinstall, etc., so it’s fair enough in my opinion.

  19. teo says:

    I’m predisposed not to like it
    Lots of people are predisposed to like it
    What’s the difference?
    Lots of people didn’t like Oblivion even if most critics did.

    Also, could you guys make the picture in the post link to the full post? It’s much easier to click the picture than “Read the rest of this entry”

  20. koliban says:

    That stuff about pirates calling the support line is insane. It really shows up how stupid the idea of a general pirate being ‘savvy’ is, if they’re dumb enough to spend time (and presumably money) trying to get free-game-X working when they could just torrent free-game-Y and play that.

  21. Noc says:

    Screw this! Considering that this is nothing more than Bethesda taking a long, wet, splattery defecation over one of the greatest RPGs of all time, I’m appalled that they’re even considering charging us for it!

    I can’t believe how they can talk about “Oh, we put money into this, so we feel like we should get something back for it.” They don’t deserve ANYTHING for this, and the only responsible action on Bethesda’s part would be to give the game away for free.

    Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. [/king of siam]

  22. Maximum Fish says:

    @YogSo

    Yes I do.

    @Futage

    Libraries are rentals, piracy is ownership. And besides, no one having to pay for entertainment and ‘sticking it to the publishers’ all sounds swell and rebellious, but without the developers AND publishers getting paid (and moreover getting paid handsomely enough that they can’t make more money with their skill sets doing something else), there’d be no entertainment to pirate.

    If i spent years on something as a hobby that i planned on giving away, because i had alternate sources of income, (sort of like modders), than yes, i’d want it to have the broadest distribution possible by whatever means. This is not the case here.

    Let me put it another way. If you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building a restaraunt from the ground up out of your passion for cooking, would you be okay with people eating and running without paying their bills, happy i guess in the knowledge that they enjoyed your food? I doubt it.

  23. Fumarole says:

    I’d be happy with Fallout 3 showing up on Steam.

  24. Bhazor says:

    Right! No one is allowed to dismiss or review this game unless you’ve actually played it for at least six hours. They have already said their getting rid of everything you miserable sods hated about Oblivion.

    No slanging matches unless both parties have played the game for six hours. Agreed?

  25. Shadowmancer says:

    We wont know if fallout 3 will have drm until it is released, the publishers might just stick it on.

  26. Maximum Fish says:

    I would, but Steam won’t let me buy anything. It takes issue with my debit card for whatever reason. Of course, this card expires this month, so i may be getting it via steam afterall…

  27. James G says:

    Oh dear, we know things have got bad when we end up praising a publisher for only mildly inconveniencing us. Still, I suppose it is better than the alternative. That said, Steam has made me love not needing a CD, but No CD cracks are easy to find. (Which again raises the question, why bother; I figure its like a comfort blanket.)

    On the subject of the game itself, I’m withholding judgement. I wasn’t much of a fan of Oblivion, and have only recently started playing the original Fallout games. I found the first to be a bit meh, although I think this was partly as I only really ‘got’ it towards the end. As a result, I’m enjoying Fallout 2 a lot more. Its also made me realise some of the other aspects of the Fallout games that people fear this sequel will not encompass. (I find the whole game feels quite free-form and progress in the main plot line expects you to integrate with the world, rather than just running from point to point.)

  28. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @James G:

    Precisely why I enjoy Fallout ;)

    Also, while many people prefer Fallout 2 because of a better interface and more content, I feel Fallout 1 is the superior game thanks to its more down to earth storyline and pace, along with the urgency of solving the Water Chip and Master storylines or watching the onslaught caused by the Mutant Army.

  29. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Reasonable is nice. So that means Bethesda’s being nice. Nice.

  30. futage says:

    @Maximum Fish

    I didn’t say anywhere that producers of media should not be able to make a living from producing their media. I may be wrong, but I was under the impression they were doing so despite piracy.

    I disagree that libraries are rentals (no rental fee is paid by the person renting at the point of rental) and that piracy is ownership. I’m not really sure what constitutes ownership with digital media and to a lesser extent even with books.

    Your restaurant analogy is invalid. If people steal my food then I have less food, I have lost something. If people download my game, film, song or book I do not have less game, film, song or book. I have not lost anything. You might respond that I have lost a ‘sale’. I may have done, in some small number of cases. Public Libraries work on the basis that disseminating this media has more value than those few lost sales – something I agree with.

    I happily borrow books from friends. I happily borrow books from libraries. Why should I not happily borrow a book from the 300 people who happen to be seeding it?

    Again, I’m not saying anyone should be able to take anything that they want whenever they want. I’m saying that the old ways of looking at this don’t really work any more. The ability to replicate media digitally is a far more profound shift than the printing press was for books and requires a more profound reassessment of how we think about this shit.

    It’s also about (without wanting to sound all godfather) respect – I think that’s something which shines through in that link I posted. If a viewer of media is thought of as that – as an active part of the process rather than just a ‘consumer’ then they will respond accordingly. If, however, they are overcharged for media laden with DRM, restrictive licensing and so on they will not feel respected and will see no reason to act respectfully in return.

  31. Horatius says:

    Game hopes aside, does anyone else find this to be of strange news-worthiness? Bethesda is saying they are doing pretty much what game companies have been doing since the compact disc saw widespread use. Are we supposed to give them a thumbs up?

    Maybe I’m getting bitter… I still hope it’s a fun game.

  32. cliffski says:

    “Surely the actual producers of artistic works do and indeed should primarily want to reach the widest audience possible?”

    No, we need to pay rent and buy food too. Anything artistic comes behind food and shelter. sorry.

  33. Walsh says:

    Here’s the best thing ever:

    1. You create a game (lets call it S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky)
    2. You release it via a digital distribution platform with its own form of DRM that I’m not offended in the least by (lets call it STEAM)
    3. You add your own 3rd party DRM on top (lets call it TAGES) with a 5 limit activation
    4. You don’t release any patches for said game via said digital distribution system because rumors abound the TAGES DRM in the STEAM release is making it difficult to patch it
    5. Don’t profit because I will never buy a GSC game again

    <3 Bethsoft
    Although I purchased a bunch of their DLC way back when and now I can’t download it again because the link is gone… there was probably some caveat when I purchased it that I need to back up the installs. That is mildly irritating to say the least.

  34. Okami says:

    Disc Check?

    ZOMG BETHESDA ARE TEH NAZIS!!!!

  35. Funky Badger says:

    futage: libraries pay the creators for their work.

  36. Dreamhacker says:

    Bethesda has messed up so much of Fallout that I’m kinda surprised they’re not messing the DRM up. Wow!

  37. futage says:

    @FunkyBadger

    I know. But they do not pay them the retail cost of the book multiplied by how many times it’s borrowed.

  38. Heliocentric says:

    Much love. I’ll buy fo3 when a no cd shows up. Although i won’t be buying the dogmeat armor drm! Oblivion with guns indeed.

  39. Greg Wild says:

    Anyone else find it funny how it’s only taken a matter of months – weeks even – for low-DRM restricted titles to become some kind of maverick exception?

  40. EyeMessiah says:

    The reason a disk check seems so inoffensive is because its so trivial to get around. No-cd cracks and mini-images grown on trees.

    I’m kinda pre-disposed not to like F3 not because I have some crazy reverence for the originals (still haven’t got around to playing them), but because I’m still feeling the “meh” from Oblivion, and a lot of the promo material for F3 gives me the same feeling.

    I’ll still give it a go though.

    Do we think that this might be part of shift going on in the industry where they are finally realising there isn’t much they can do to stop people pirating expensive, probably mediocre (I don’t mean F3 in particular of course), hardware intensive AAA titles?#

    For these sorts of games I doubt there is any way to reduce piracy on the Windows PC, as it currently exists, except by making them easier to download than to torrent, and selling them at a low price point (ala steam).

    As I have said before, if you want people to legitimately purchase a game you have to make that the path of least resistance. IMHO a lot of DRM schemes have no effect at best, and at worst have the reverse effect. I.e. they don’t discourage piracy, but do make it harder for the legitimate owner to play.

  41. TooNu says:

    Oh this is going to be the most obvious game to buy ever. Lets make a checklist of why:
    Bethseda – CHECK
    Fallout – CHECK
    Huge map to explore – CHECK
    Similar features to Oblivion/Elder Scrolls – CHECK
    Non-linear Non-boring storyline – CHECK
    Much better than average voice acting – CHECK
    Futristic apocalyptic wasteland set in the future – CHECK
    Dogmeat – CHECK

    Ok so who would not buy this game? Go on raise your hand then out of the door, line on the left, one cross each.

  42. Mathias says:

    That’s a reasonable approach, it prevents casual copying. Doing anything more has no other effect than to annoy legitimit customers. And the money on licensing some overcomplicated protection is better spend on the game.

    I don’t know why publishers do not get that. Probably it’s their stockholders that don’t get it.

  43. Heliocentric says:

    Dlc… I meant dlc. The edit button isn’t quite working with my mobile browser. What happened the the non overlay edit?

  44. Maximum Fish says:

    @futage

    The “old ways” not working anymore is not entirely accurate, as the “new ways” aren’t all that new. It’s a public good, as i explained in the comments of the “CliffyB is a toolshed” article, meaning the consumption of one unit of the good does not exclude others from consuming it, and it’s been a problem dealt with for hundreds of years.

    But the other aspect of a public good that you are neglecting to consider is that with piracy, or “free-riding”, reaching too high of a degree the good will cease to be created to begin with. It’s why you pay taxes, why your highways are not decrepit and collapsing, why you have state and national parks to go to and ‘funds for the arts’, etc. etc..

    In Star-Trek-Land, once we’ve “evolved beyond money” or whatever, your theory would be appropriate. In reality, it isn’t. The, “they’re still making money anyways” argument doesn’t hold water, in much the same way as the “it’s just one coke bottle” defense of littering doesn’t. The library and book lending analogies sound like the sorts of excuses and justifications you’d find on a torrent site’s forums.

    And there may be quantitative difference between one asshole and two thousand assholes, but if you pirate games you’re still an asshole. It’s everybody who still pays for them that support the industry you leech off of (not “you”, by the way, just going along with the whole people-who-pirate thing).

  45. Dreamhacker says:

    TooNu:
    Bethseda – CHECK
    Fallout – CHECK
    Huge map to explore – CHECK
    Similar features to Oblivion/Elder Scrolls – CHECK
    Non-linear Non-boring storyline – CHECK
    Much better than average voice acting – CHECK
    Futristic apocalyptic wasteland set in the future – CHECK
    Dogmeat – CHECK

    Does not adhere to Fallout artstyle – CHECK
    Does not adhere to Fallout canon – CHECK
    Ridicules Fallout organizations – CHECK
    Has mind-blowingly crude DLC – CHECK
    Leaves out editor and tools to prevent superior free DLC- CHECK

    Basically everything your list lists is the kind of stuff that makes original Fallout fans cringe. But will I buy the game? Yes. Will I love it as much as the originals? No way.

  46. cyrenic says:

    @Greg

    I was just thinking that this morning reading the Fallout 3 DRM post at Kotaku. Perhaps it’s because Spore is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

    @Heliocentric
    I like your post better with DRM instead of DLC :P

  47. Maximum Fish says:

    “It’s also about (without wanting to sound all godfather) respect – I think that’s something which shines through in that link I posted. If a viewer of media is thought of as that – as an active part of the process rather than just a ‘consumer’ then they will respond accordingly. If, however, they are overcharged for media laden with DRM, restrictive licensing and so on they will not feel respected and will see no reason to act respectfully in return.”

    I agree entirely with this part. And seeing as DRM and other means of technological restriction don’t work anyways, developers and publishers need to rely on brand loyalty and “respect” to keep doing what they’re doing.

    However, this does not excuse taking something you didn’t pay for but were supposed to. This mentality derives from the belief that you somehow are ‘owed’ this media, or have right to it. Which we don’t. It’s an exchange, not a free-for-all.

    And besides, “those developers are just assholes anyways” is so easy of an excuse to abuse in order to justify unethical and illegal behavior.

  48. Sam says:

    @Maximum Fish:

    Indeed. And, I’m totally behind some concept of “paying people who you like the work of money to make more cool stuff”, in order to support a proper approach to a Public Good.
    I’d gladly, for example, pay Introversion (or Bethseda, or several other games companies) some nominal monthly or yearly fee to just Keep On Making Cool Stuff, as long as I had the right to stop paying them if they stopped making Cool Stuff. It’s like the old idea of Patronage, but all Democratic, like.

  49. Colthor says:

    The problems with the library analogy are:
    1. The library buys a copy of the book in the first place.
    2. Only one person can take out that copy of the book at a time, and they have a limited period to return it (usually they’re fined if they don’t). Once they do so they no longer have the benefit of the book.

    Apparently some libraries actually do do computer games, but I’ve never seen it myself (rarely visiting libraries).

  50. TooNu says:

    @Dreamhacker. Though many agree I say please change the record., the whole internet knows this Fallout is “just not the same” as the previous games in the series. I think it would be easier to accept it if, as a gamer, people relise this is an exciting game with great combat systems and what looks like to be large replayablitiy. Like Oblivion, only with guns. I can’t see what is wrong with that?