Serious Sam’s DRM Is A Giant Pink Scorpion

By John Walker on December 7th, 2011 at 4:10 pm.

This is actually what Ubisoft's DRM developers look like.

Some companies’ DRM is stupidly cruel, punishing only those who have legitimately purchased the game, and not those who pirate it. Well, most companies’ DRM is that. Serious Sam 3’s DRM is brilliantly cruel, punishing only those who pirated it. By relentlessly pursuing them with a giant invincible armoured scorpion. As revealed by Dark Side Of Gaming, only those who unlawfully duplicate the game encounter this immortal enemy, who haunts them from the opening moments. You can see it in action below.

The only problem now is, I’m quite tempted to pirate Serious Sam 3 just to see this happen.

Thanks again to Craig.

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179 Comments »

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  1. pakoito says:

    That happens the third time you reload because the cracked game crashes every 5 minutes, o’clock.

    • spunkmehard says:

      to be honest, I’d totally pirate SS3 just to fight this thing.

      and kill it.

      because Sam is too serious to be killed by some silly pink scorpion.

    • strikerRD says:

      But if you pirated it, you’d be depriving the publisher of a sale!!!!!!111!!!!!1111!!!!!!

    • spunkmehard says:

      but I already bought it anyway.

    • Davie says:

      But you’d be depriving the publisher of the sale they would’ve had if you had for some reason decided to buy the game a second time!!!!! How could you?!!?!

    • ninjapirate says:

      Perhaps they could sell the pirated version as a collector’s edition?

    • Ruffian says:

      Alright I gotta put my two cents in here. I just want to say that I think the scorpion IS indeed a good idea at least better than most of what’s out there because, and I know people have been arguing forever about this on here, but with the scorpion, it still lets you glimpse the game without playing it – I.e. it almost turns the pirated version into a demo. I mean really you’d have to be pretty dumb to think that one enemy is supposed to tele/rape you like that. And it’s supposedly very crashy too. Idk just wanted to say that. Wrong as it may be to some of you. It might actually make some pirates want to buy by letting them see kickass it is for a little bit. Also, no one will believe me but I totally expected some kind of crazy weird DRM from croteam on this. Haha! I’m psychic!!!!

    • Nethlem says:

      @Ruffian
      People are dumb and DRM like this can kill a complete game.
      Titan quest had an similiar DRM where the pirated version would be just “kinda crashy” but they told nobody about the thing doing it on purpose.

      But people all over the web complained about the game beeing crashy and unplayable and shite, even reviewers of amateur blogs. Really bad press for the game overall, i think this probably snowballed piracy for the game even more.

      People hear about the game beeing crashy and buggy and get carefull with their money, so they pirate it first to see if the game really is as buggy as everybody says. Of course it is because the DRM kicks in…

      In the end this killed the game and the studio and to this day is probably the only case where you could argue that piracy killed a developer, but tbh i would say the DRM killed that developer….

    • archimandrite says:

      @Nethlem

      To be fair, my legit copy of Titan’s Quest was crashy and had this horrible “rubber-banding” bug(look it up! there are pages of pages of threads about it), where it would slow way down and then go super-fast trying to catch up with itself. None of the proposed fixes worked for me, and I ended up uninstalling it because it was so frustrating to play.

      Of course, none of this has anything to do with SS3’s giant pink scorpion, which I think is hilarious and awesome. :)

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      drewski says:

      I suspect most people who found Titan Quest to be crashy did so because Titan Quest was crashy.

      The complete lack of post release support didn’t help any, mind. Oh, you can’t get the game to run for more than half an hour without system crippling slow down? That sucks, buy the expansion.

  2. Ringwraith says:

    Reminds of Arkham Asylum’s DRM.
    We need more things like this, which make the game unplayable for pirates but do not affect paying customers in any way.

    • dontnormally says:

      Love this approach.
      Escape Velocity has been doing it for a decade+.
      Captain Hector would follow you around space and generally ruin your good time if you went over your 30-day shareware allotment.

      http://www.ambrosiasw.com/games/evn/

    • Alextended says:

      Eh, most pirates probably will never know this thing exists. As you mentioned, it’s not the first DRM of this type, ie, something that makes the game unplayable without just crashing it or explicitly showing otherwise, just altering the mechanics or whatever. And yes, all said games so far have been pirated successfully just fine, maybe just troubling the first few people. Sadly. Oh well, I probably shouldn’t be ruining the fun of all the people who will be shouting how amazingly awesome such things are… Ignorance is bliss and all.

    • Jorum says:

      People got round the Arkham Asylum grapple hook DRM thing (if that is indeed what it was) by editing the unreal configs to have negative gravity for a few seconds, which I thought was very ingenious.

    • Vagrant says:

      These DRM methods sure worked great for Titan Quest!

    • Urthman says:

      “Have you tried Serious Sam 3?”

      “Yeah, that game totally sucks. You start out with nothing but a hammer and a pistol and then right in the first level there’s this giant scorpion that’s, like, impossible to kill. It’s not fun, it’s just frustrating.”

      “I was gonna buy it, but it sounds terrible. Thanks for the heads up.”

    • mr.ioes says:

      @Vagrant: Nope it didn’t. Either Iron Lore or THQ themselves said that piracy totally killed their sales on this one.

      Maybe you mean Sacred 2? Cause at lvl 13 your hero started saying things like “hey, time to go to the store now, right?” and you only gained 1 xp per creep.

    • Vinraith says:

      What Vagrant said. This “let’s deliberately break the game for pirates” seems like a clever idea on paper, but in practice it just leads to spectacularly bad word of mouth.

    • Unaco says:

      Maybe we should all just not take word of mouth from Pirates.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Unaco

      Right, because they’re clearly labelled, what with the hats and eye patches.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Vin: I know my friends, I know which of them pirate. Not rocket science.

    • Blinky343 says:

      Here’s what I don’t get, you throw in this little thing as sort of a “haha fuck you” tease to pirates to inconvenience them a bit because hey they’ll crack that shit anyway so why not have a little fun?

      But why not like, have him covered in pirate paraphernalia or yell about stealing stuff? Obviously there’s no real numbers for “crashy DRM has pirates scare legitimate customers” but people keep saying that over and over so you’d think they’d want to at least account for that possibility by making it clear that the game thinks its been pirated, thats why this is happening.

    • grundus says:

      My copy of Red Faction: Armageddon refused to run from my D drive for some reason, it would open and do everything right up until I actually tried to start playing. Moved it to C (meaning having two copies of Steam because I run Steam with all of my other games from D, can’t be arsed to look at Steam Mover yet) and it worked fine. It turns out that was sort of DRM, but nothing in the manual mentioned it and there were no crash messages.

      I much prefer this kind of DRM. Also I got in a lot of shit with Cap’n Hector in Escape Velocity, EV: Override and EV: Nova simply because I totally loved the games but was too young to have a credit card (now I’m just too poor) so I just kept trying to outrun him, which never worked.

      This wasn’t supposed to be a reply.

    • Bhazor says:

      Confucious say
      Man who seeks reviews from pirate seeks oral sex from a goose.

      Generally pirates don’t work for reputable review sites.

    • Urthman says:

      If we’re supposed to believe piracy estimates of 80 – 90 % for PC games, then that would mean the overwhelming majority of everyone in every PC gaming forum pirates their games. It means the word-of-mouth you get on the internet is mostly the opinions of people playing pirated versions of your game.

      So when a developer does something like this, 80% of the people who play their game think it sucks. Genius.

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      Sinomatic says:

      @Jorum I don’t think the grapple hook issue was drm related (or at least not *just* drm related) as I had to use that workaround myself on my nice, legal steam version.

    • DrGonzo says:

      An overwhelming amount of pirates are intelligent rational people. And just like ‘legitimate’ gamers, a bunch of them are knobs.

      Plus, this doesn’t happen if you pirated the game. If you pirated it, it works fine, except there is no DRM.

    • tormeh says:

      I’ve got a better one. Make it a ninja. Suddenly you hear right behind you “so, I heard people asking which of us would win in a fight. Let’s find out….”

      If the developers were extra soffisticated they wouldn’t appear before the game had been released for, say, 3 days. That way the ninja will stay undetected until a lot of pirates have already downloaded it, ensuring lots of frustration.

    • zeroskill says:

      [Urthman says:
      “Have you tried Serious Sam 3?”

      “Yeah, that game totally sucks. You start out with nothing but a hammer and a pistol and then right in the first level there’s this giant scorpion that’s, like, impossible to kill. It’s not fun, it’s just frustrating.”

      “I was gonna buy it, but it sounds terrible. Thanks for the heads up.”]

      Totally agree, people horribly underestimate word of mouth and customer confidence. NO BIG SURPRISE! Developers should focus on making good games with good online features, because good games will always sell. Gimmicky DRM of any sort wont help you sell more copies.

    • PodX140 says:

      ^ This times a thousand.

      I can’t count the amount of times a friend pirated something, found he liked it, bought it, and suggested it to me and I ended up purchasing it. This is actually the resounding majority of my purchases come from “pirate reviews.” And when I heard ARMA II was garbage and the aim was all horrible? Didn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. By putting in their stupid tages system without anyone knowing until weeks after they managed to lose likely thousands if not more sales, as people on forums and everywhere were saying the aiming was horrible.

      Your word of mouth is unbelievably more important than review scores.

    • gillesv says:

      If you’re gonna troll pirates, at least make it obvious like flashing giant letters on screen, or putting in watermarks so they can’t post screenshots without revealing they pirated it, or having enemies scream “BUY THE GAAAAAAAAAMME!!” at you, etc…

      I’ve seen plenty of weirder bugs in non-pirated games than the odd invincible enemy. If I was a stinking pirate and I hadn’t read this first I’d just asume the game was buggy and not buy or recommend it to others.

  3. quaunaut says:

    How do they guarantee this only affects those who have pirated the game, and never a legitimate buyer? Because if they can somehow absolutely guarantee that, I’m sure literally every game company in existence would like to know.

    • Pardoz says:

      Simple – by loudly stating “This only affects eeeeebil pieruts” and sticking their fingers in their ears while humming loudly if anybody says differently.

    • Torn says:

      > How do they guarantee this only affects those who have pirated the game, and never a legitimate buyer?

      Because legitimate buyers’ copies will all pass the piracy / executable checks.

      > Because if they can somehow absolutely guarantee that, I’m sure literally every game company in existence would like to know.

      They already all know. It’s the exact same way that games have been using for years, initially by checking hash sums of their files to detect tampering, and later via DRM like securom.

    • Baka says:

      That remnids me of the infinite amount of times I tried to get my original OFP to work only to fuck up in some inconceivable way.

    • Alextended says:

      Yep Torn, it’s so simple, that’s why there have never been issues for legit customers, ever! And that’s why piracy has been 100% eliminated too, these things actually work right! We even have youtube proof and all!

    • skinlo says:

      Theres a difference between knowing something is pirated, and being able to do something about it.

    • Torn says:

      > Yep Torn, it’s so simple, that’s why there have never been issues for legit customers, ever! And that’s why piracy has been 100% eliminated too, these things actually work right!

      You’re constructing a straw-man here, and any argument you had (if you even had one) just lost credibility.

      DRM causes issues, sure. They slow down PCs, can freeze/crash and can generally make things horrible for the end-user. Certain ones refuse to run at all alongside virtual drives like Daemon Tools and Alcohol 120%. In those ways they affect legitimate customers.

      I have yet to read of a DRM, though, that has caused false-positives and labelled official/untampered installs as pirated copies.

    • Ascense says:

      I’m guessing the game code adds the scorpion to the game by default, and the file checks disable the scorpion. When the game gets cracked, most likely it’s done by changing all file checks to no-ops, in witch case the code that prevents the scorpion from spawning, is also removed. So unless you modify the executable by removing the drm-check code, you won’t have any issues wrt the scorpion, but ofcourse any other drm problems are still entirely possible.

    • aircool says:

      I had a game that would hang within ten minutes of playing due to DRM issues, despite being a legit game. Can’t remember what it was off the top of my head, but it was published by EA unsuprisingly.

      I think it was the original Mass Effect.

    • Orija says:

      I think why other game companies haven’t adopted this approach is because they don’t want the pirates to be able to play the game in the first place.

    • kikito says:

      It’s actually pretty simple. The “real game” doesn’t contain the remote scorpion code at all. Nada. Nothing.

      They they create a “cracked” version of the game with the scorpion code and distribute it themselves on the usual torrent sites.

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      Joshua says:

      I am quite sure that Serious Sam 3 is a steamworks game and uses Steam Copy Protection (as did the HD versions of the first and second encounter). Since every legitamite costumer has the game on steam, there should be no problems with false positives, and if there are, it is fairly easy to check if the ‘false positive’ is not lying..

    • fisk0 says:

      @Torn: Sadly, it happens, about a year ago 12000+ owners of Modern Warfare 2 on Steam were affected by an issue with the checksum based DRM, as there was an corrupted file on the retail discs, so if you installed the game from the disc instead of just directly activating the key on Steam you’d get an corrupted install that would be identified by VAC as modified and banning the user from playing any VAC secured game on Steam. After denying VAC could ever get false positives for a couple of days, Valve admitted it was an error, reversed the bans and gave everybody affected a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2.
      It kind of ended up not entirely screwed up in that case, but sadly Valve’s customer support is probably the exception rather than the rule if anything like that would happen with other DRM or cheat protection.

    • Alextended says:

      Shhhh, torn has not heard of it so it never has happened. DRM is always divine! Shit, your preposterous example is even rather recent. No way! I’m pretty sure the ARMA games (which also have employed systems similar to what is described here) have had such issues too (which made their recent piracy statistic report even funnier), luckily affected buyers can finally play the game past a certain patch that removed the DRM. How sweet is that?

    • eulescu says:

      ok just stop there. all of you . Seriously WTF. Why are you complaining about other games’ DRM . This DOES NOT AFFECT LEGITIMATE PLAYERS in any WAY. It’s funny and brilliant. Now go buy the game and don’t give me that DRM is bad crap on this. On any other game yes but not on this.
      Give me proof . Also , buy the game. It’s brilliant.

    • roflchops says:

      I bet Alextended here is butthurt because he met the mighty pink scorpion.

    • makomk says:

      Joshua: you’d certainly hope that “Since every legitamite costumer has the game on steam, there should be no problems with false positives”, but that seems unlikely. Have you looked at the problems people had with Portal 2 for example? I have to disable my anti-virus every time I want to run it because otherwise the copy protection errors out with a cryptic message or the game just crashes, and when it was first launched the game just plain didn’t work for many users because of copy protection bugs. Apparently it also has code to make the game subtly impossible to complete if it detects you’re using a cracked version and I’m pretty sure I managed to trip that at one point despite it being a legitimately-purchased and unmodified install.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Bang on, quaunaut. While this is cute, it is also still DRM, and that it renders the game unplayable in a funny way rather than rendering it unplayable with a “fuck you” dialogue doesn’t change that.

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      Rikard Peterson says:

      I met an issue like that with Rayman 2 – maybe halfway though the game, a big pirate skull started filling the screen making it impossible to play because the CD failed the piracy check. (No, it wasn’t pirated. The DRM just didn’t like my computer for some reason. But to Ubisoft’s credit: when I wrote them an e-mail, they sent me an updated CD without that DRM. (At no charge, of course.) I wonder if any publisher would do that today?

    • Wulf says:

      Tom mentions hashes (derp) but he forgets the really obvious thing: People like to mod.

      What if someone mods the exe so that it only runs on selected cores (I do this with some games!), or what if someone mods the game to be LAA (if it isn’t already)?

      Under those circumstances, the hash check wouldn’t match. So… GIANT PINK DRM SCORPION.

      I know some people are binary thinkers and they like things being incredibly simple, black & white… but it doesn’t always work that way. It’s not “If you pirate you’ll see it, and if you don’t, you won’t.” because the PC is an open platform. You might end up seeing it anyway for doing something completely innocent and legal.

      So what happens when the first person who uses an LAA patch on this gets it, asks about it on the forums, and is then ostracised and banned for being a pirate?

      Yep. DRM checks are amazing, so perfect, infallible even.

    • Alextended says:

      Lol roflchops. Telling someone DRM software is actually not a simple thing to do efficiently as he suggested (hence the unfortunate yet prominent piracy issues on this platform) now implies I’m butthurt over encountering it, huh? I’ll have you know that even if I was like that – though I’m definitely not like that – I wouldn’t even have a need to pirate games as I’ve been getting the majority of the Steam library – with few exceptions here and there depending on publisher policies – for free since 2005 or so (so about 1000 games including SS3), thanks to Valve’s kind appreciation of my personal games & mods website. But sure, keep making your crazy assumptions public, if anything you cheer people up and/or make them feel better about themselves with your petty attitude ;)

      Unless your little joke was meant to reinforce the points I made earlier with you implying that I encountered this issue with a legit copy. Which I didn’t, but I suppose others may have as, again, shit like that does happen.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Beg pardon, Alextended? I daresay you have got your wires crossed as to who is saying what to whom. Perhaps you are, indeed, a wee bit mad.

    • Shooop says:

      Because you have to tamper with a pirated copy in order to get it to work. The only time you wouldn’t have to would be if the only protection was a CD key. But those are extinct.

    • Styles says:

      “Hurr duurrr…. you don’t like it so you must be a pirate! Huurrr”

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      jezcentral says:

      Boo to no delete button!

    • Razrwolf says:

      @Wulf

      Seeing as how when you launch the game from steam it literally asks you if you want to play a moddable version of the game….

      Further more that fact that the scene groups refuse to crack the game seems to show that Croteam has their act together and they understand that.

    • Pardoz says:

      @Torn: “I have yet to read of a DRM, though, that has caused false-positives and labelled official/untampered installs as pirated copies.”

      Well, now you have. Who says reading RPS isn’t educational? I have software running on my machine even now that regularly throws false-positives and labels my paid-for, utterly vanilla, untampered, downloaded-direct-from-the-developer install as pirated. Exchanges of email with the developer yielded no fruit past “Something in my machine’s configuration confuses the DRM and causes it to throw a gear”. The program’s good enough, and the problem sporadic enough (rarely more than once a month) that I’ll probably continue to pay for future updates despite the DRM false positives rather than getting a fully-functional copy for free off a torrent site.

    • hosndosn says:

      Yea, all those idiots at reddit (and dare I say… right here?!?) praising this move as “DRM done right” miss the point. This is exactly the bullshit that always sneaks its way into the legit version, then buyers can deal with support treating them like pirates. Plus some kids who would never have spent their allowance on a random franchise they never even heard about will pirate the game, miss the headline, and remember it forever as “that stupid game with the scorpion”.

      Trolling pirates is not worth having the risk of it backfiring. It’s a horrible move.

    • Salt says:

      Agreed, Hosndosn.
      In a “normal” game the DRM system will report if it thinks the game is pirated, and the game responds to that by refusing to start and popping up an “invalid install” message or whatever.
      In this case the game responds to the message from the DRM system by spawning an amusing pink scorpion.
      False positives are still going to happen, and any unpleasant side-effects of whatever DRM they’re using to check if the scorpion should spawn are still going to happen. The difference is that when legitimate customers are affected they might not even know it and just assume the game is terrible.
      Reading about a similar system used by Take On Helicopters where the view goes blurry on a copy deemed to be pirated, the developers joke about banning people when they report the error on the support forums. I wonder if they’d so jovially ban people who report “I installed a legitimate copy, but it’s saying I’ve pirated it.”

      Of course maybe Croteam have developed infallible DRM, in which case everything’s fine and piracy is over.

  4. fiddlesticks says:

    I’m looking forward to the first speed run using the cracked version of the game.

  5. Text_Fish says:

    Ingenious! What did they do though, release an altered version to the torrent sites? If so surely people will just upload a normal pirated version? I can’t think of any other way they could activate the scorpion without resorting to traditional online-check style DRM?

    • pepper says:

      Well, they got a couple of easy ways to check, often a cracked version has a changed binary, depending on the way which this is done you can identify its hash. So checking the integrity of the file with a known key is usefull, this is also how many only games verify its content.

      But, what they probably have done is making it relatively easy to crack, so that the culprit wouldnt look to other things that may stop the game from working, thus the routine that checks if the file is hacked is not noticed.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      thus the routine that checks if the file is hacked is not noticed.

      Yeah. That’s often an effective method; “the scene” will proudly crack your trivial protection and distribute the game without bothering to test it. How long it takes to crack the second layer depends on how sophisticated it is and how high-profile the target is.

      I think a moderately successful indie game with a relatively simple system of obfuscated checksumming could wind up never being cracked. That’d be an interesting experiment.

    • Josh W says:

      I’ve heard about this before, but what I don’t get is what happens when you patch the game? Surely you’ll have to redo all your checksum code in completely different areas from the bits you are patching, meaning that you’re going to flag up to hackers which bits have changed.

      On the other hand, if you’re patching the game, that can act against piracy in itself, eg using cute ways to make patches specific to certain copies of the game (with games that are downloaded from your website), or just requiring people to use their original download code or some other proof of purchase to get access to patches (although again, that punishes normal users).

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Surely you’ll have to redo all your checksum code in completely different areas from the bits you are patching

      You’re a crazy person if you aren’t automating that stuff.

      meaning that you’re going to flag up to hackers which bits have changed

      Sure. But that’s just step one in unraveling what can be a highly obfuscated (you can generate long sequences of code that add up to NOP, for example), interconnected mess. Most DRM is off-the-shelf, crackable with specialized tools. When it’s custom, and it’s a bit tricky, you need someone to invest a lot of time to crack just one game.

    • pepper says:

      If, by the time you start patching your game isnt cracked yet then good job! At this point you can either not care that much, or toy around with the crackers and implement multiple layers / change the way the old defenses work.

      You cant really stop crackers unless you crack your own game first and see where it fails. It would not surprise me if these guys have a few very smart/talented developers that know what they are doing.

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      Malkara says:

      @TillEulenspiegel

      This is pretty much thoroughly supported by the fact that throughout its earlier beta, no one ever bothered to crack Mount and Blade.

    • Wulf says:

      Hashing runs into its own problems, though. It means you can’t modify the exe in any way. At least with older hashing methods it does, and I’ve seen this come up before in modding communities. In fact, Skyrim might be suffering with this issue right now. And legitimate customers are making very displeased sounds about not being able to dink with the binary.

      It’s still a broken system for legitimate customers. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t protect your shit from pirates, not at all. Whenever I can pay for something, I will, and sometimes I’ll even pay for it multiple times, but due to the PC being an open platform I may wish to screw around with my purchase. This is where DRM can become very unsettled and upset.

      Many mods throughout the ages have relied on core files being altered in some way or another.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      @Wulf:

      Going by the letter, a lot of EULAs include a clause about not modifying the exe and/or game files or forbid reverse-engineering the exe (which is often a prerequisite of modding it). Obviously that’s not very mod-friendly, but it does mean there’s no legitimate complaint about hash-based DRM for those games.

      Things like setting core affinity or forcing graphics options shouldn’t alter the exe, since they’re managed by your operating system and graphics drivers respectively.

  6. Meneth says:

    What about false-positives?

    • MichaelPalin says:

      They can always download a crack.

    • Carr0t says:

      How do you get a false positive on a checksum for an executable which should be identical on every copy of the game? You get false positives with stuff like virus scanners because they try to detect and track down virus like behaviour from programs when they don’t explicitly have details of the virus in their database. If it’s a locally run program you shouldn’t ever get a false positive. The only problem would be if it sent the checksum to some online host and if it got no response it assumed the game was cracked and did this.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Shit happens, things break. Installations are corrupted, there are bugs in your DRM code… Ideally, when things break, your game will handle the failure gracefully. DRM makes sure that even the tiniest failure becomes catastrophic.

      Hooray!

    • Calabi says:

      Its data there are no false positives. Never, a one can only ever be a one and a two can, and so….. In digital, truth is absolute.

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      Malkara says:

      @PleasingFungus

      If your exe gets corrupted, then you’re fucked even if there isn’t DRM. But, please, continue your baseless ranting!

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      kavika says:

      You guys and your “everything is perfect, DRM never screws up, bits are beautiful” are completely off, man.

      I worked tech support for two years. Installs corrupt ALL THE TIME.

      Even *after* they’re on the hard disk.

      > DRM makes sure that even the tiniest failure becomes catastrophic

      From experience, absolutely true. Certain CD-ROM drives (Lite-On at the time was the most common, though every brand had a few outliers), would always die a horrible death on certain forms of copy protection. Not quite the same as DRM, but very similar, and easily exacerbated by it.

      This physical moving shit is lossy, yo. These bits die, and change.

      Ever run memtestx86? Sometimes bad memory fails in weird random clusters, only when accessed in certain patterns…

      That’s why CRC was invented. And “checked” RAM for servers. And a billion other methods of adding redundant data to detect bad data, and sometimes even recover it.

      I believe CD-ROMs (or audio CDs, not sure right this second and not finding it quickly on google), contain redundant data to prevent data loss in the case of errors.

      RAID arrays do the same to prevent data loss on partial or complete failures of some of the disks.

      TCP/IP does hardware level CRC. IPv4 headers contain checksums. Other layers often have their own data verification (e.g. P2P networks and hash trees).

      You: completely wrong.

    • Wulf says:

      Not only that, but to say it again…

      Mods.

      Modders may desire to modify the executable of a game to make it run better on their system.

      This is a thing, due to the PC being an open platform. It’s an important thing. If you deny them that right then you’re sending them TO the pirates. You’re saying “We don’t care about your needs, you’ll get a better service from the pirates.” and that’s bad. That’s bad for everyone.

      If you want to sell something on the PC, it’s necessary to understand that it is an open platform. It will always be an open platform, too, and an open platform is more important to people than game services. Think about the backlash you’ve seen against some direct download services, and how that’s been growing in time. The first and best way to lose a customer is to make it so that they can’t muck around with their purchase however they desire.

      In consumer technology, this is a fundamental right.

      From a consumer perspective: DRM is like giving me purposeful electric shocks for trying to open up my DVD player to dust and repair it. How does that even work?

      I know what DRM is supposed to do, but i don’t think it does, I think it does something else entirely. I think it tries to rob the benefits of an open platform away from the consumer. DRM is about taking rights away from the person. Digital Rights Management. What a laugh. And this is precisely what drives people to pirates.

      Are you having problems selling games? You may have a number of causes:

      – Your games are of a terrible quality which speaks volumes of cashing in.
      – Your games are overpriced and rarely (or never) show up in sales.
      – Your DRM screws with legitimate buyers.
      – You treat your customers as walking money wallets.
      – Your game service is counter-productive and convinces people not to use it.
      – You have bad financial management, and you’re putting too little/too much money into a game targeted at the wrong demographic.
      – You’re trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator without adding any redeeming qualities.
      – You’re trying to sell games that a large enough demographic doesn’t exist for.
      – You’re trying to sell the same thing in an oversaturated market.
      – You care primarily about pleasing shareholders and meeting profit quotients and little about the game itself.
      – You have a reputation for some or all of the above.

      If any or all of these points apply to a developer, then this is why their games aren’t selling. And none of it has anything to do with piracy unless you’re doing all you can to convince people to pirate.

    • Brun says:

      “I think it tries to rob the benefits of an open platform away from the consumer.”

      Of course it does – that’s the point. An open platform is NOT a benefit to the publisher. Publishers don’t like mods either, as they see them as a replacement for DLC that they could charge for. The big developers can still bully their publishers into allowing them on big-time franchises (as Skyrim proves), but development shops with that kind of sway are few and far between.

      “From a consumer perspective: DRM is like giving me purposeful electric shocks for trying to open up my DVD player to dust and repair it. How does that even work?”

      Most DVD players have little stickers or seals that void the warranty if they are broken by the action of you opening the case, even to clean it. It’s the same concept, but with software.

      “The first and best way to lose a customer is to make it so that they can’t muck around with their purchase however they desire.”

      See: Software as a service. Software as a product is long-dead. Plus that’s not the first and best way to lose a customer.

      Also, publishers aren’t worried about losing customers as long as they’re the only game in town. And as long as they are the sole owner of their blockbuster IPs, they will be. Ubisoft is the publisher that can publish Assassin’s Creed games. Want to play Assassin’s Creed? You’ll have to put up with UbiDRM. And most people will, because being able to play the AC brand is worth the hassle for those people – or they’ll buy it on a console. Either way, the publisher wins.

      “[Big List of DRM Practices]”

      Those are things that Publishers do, not developers. As I said earlier, the publisher-developer relationship borders on a master-slave relationship in all but a very few cases. I think if you talked to most developers they would be anti-DRM and pro-mod (unless you’re baby Cervat Yerli at Crytek and take piracy personally).

    • Josh W says:

      In digital, truth is absolute.

      That is a wonderfully emphatic statement, like you are campaigning for people to upload their consciousnesses, or follow your beneficent AI or something.

    • Premium User Badge

      samsharp99 says:

      In fact, in Digital – Truth isn’t absolute. Digital signals are generally based on voltages, which are susceptible to noise. There can also be timing issues (e.g. skew of signals) that means you read the wrong bit at the wrong time.

      Jus’ Sayin’

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I hear the next generation of UbiDRM will feature a live scorpion which will hunt you by night and inject burning venom into your veins as you sleep.

    • Baboonanza says:

      And it will only affect people who have bought the game!

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Well of course. There’s a free scorpion in every box!

    • sneetch says:

      How typically alarmist of the posters on this site! That will only happen if the scorpion can’t connect to Ubisofts servers. Mind you, I’d recommend not sleeping if they’re down for maintainance. Or if your ‘net fails. Or there’s a power cut. Or if it’s hungry.

    • WPUN says:

      Bah, that’s nuttin. Bathsheepa’s Skyrim has the German metal band Scorpions, dressed in pink, trash your home and fondle your girlfriend. There is nothing quite like the desolation you feel when you can’t play Skyrim AND you see your ex-girlfriend getting into a van with the Scorpions.

    • LintMan says:

      “Well of course. There’s a free scorpion in every box!”

      Like this?
      http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2000/02/21

    • 3lbFlax says:

      This is why you people will never make it big in the game industry. You put the antidote in the box.

  8. dorkus1218 says:

    So we’re calling that giant… in a serious sam game… eh?

  9. Dusk777 says:

    This is going to make me download it to see for myself. It’s a great idea though. I will buy it when i can afford it, or when steam inevitably puts it on sale

  10. wisnoskij says:

    “The only problem now is, I’m quite tempted to pirate Serious Sam 3 just to see this happen.”

    I agree, I don’t really want to own it but it is tempting to pirate it.

  11. StingingVelvet says:

    Doesn’t this game force Steam DRM on you? So it has the pink scorpion AND real DRM.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      No, it’s the pink scorpion OR Steam. :)

    • Kaira- says:

      It’s a Steamworks DRM game? Wot a shame.

    • Arkaniani says:

      @Kaira- What exactly is wrong with Steamworks DRM?

    • sneetch says:

      @Arkaniani

      Offline mode in Steam doesn’t work for everyone, which means that for some people it’s the same as always online Ubi-DRM.

    • DiTH says:

      Actually this scorpion thingy looks more fun than the rest mobs in there so once again the legit customer gets the short end of the stick!

      +1 to them for trying something unubisoft.

    • Cyberpope says:

      steamworks game? screw that ill just pira……..touche croteam

    • Kaira- says:

      @Arkaniani

      Well, I like my games as products instead of services, for one thing. Also, Steamworks makes sure that I can NEVER sell or lend my game to anyone, and my access to the game is wholly dependant on 3rd, compeletly unrelated party.

      Still, I’ll probably pick this game up once it hits sub-10€ price.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Also, Steamworks makes sure that I can NEVER sell or lend my game to anyone”

      I was under the impression that they are introducing game trading facilities into steam, its only for some games now but it will be for… oh wait its Kaira with a anti steam rant isn’t it .

      Dammit always fall for stuff like this!

    • Arkaniani says:

      @Kaira- You’d rather have a disc that can potentially get scratched, lost, etc over a digital copy? Anti-Steam arguments always make you sound like you’re stuck in 1995

    • SparroHawc says:

      @Milky1985 – According to Steam itself on their Steam Trading FAQ:

      Does Steam Trading mean I can sell my used games?

      No, only games that have been bought as a gift, and thus have never been played, can be traded. Once the Steam Gift is opened and added to your game library, you won’t be able to trade it again.

    • Brun says:

      “Well, I like my games as products instead of services, for one thing.”

      Guess you won’t be doing much gaming in the future then. Software-as-a-product has been dead or dying ever since IT and Enterprise Software companies figured out they could make WAY more money on services than on licenses alone. Gaming companies are just following the same trends as the larger software industry. Hell, even the film industry is starting to move in that direction with cloud copies of movies that come with Blu-Rays these days.

      Why are they doing it? Control. And more control means more money, plain and simple.

  12. Skeleton Key says:

    This is funny. I am curious as to how the game knows that it has been pirated, does anyone know? I suppose eventually the pirates will find a way round this, they always do. But if Croteam sell a few more copies of this great game, and cause some amusing complaints in support forums, it’s worth it.

  13. jonfitt says:

    Allegedly Titan Quest contained code to sneakily crash pirated copies. However the story goes that so many people complained about the game crashing that it sold badly and Iron Lore went under.
    .
    It’s a good job this has become public knowledge otherwise forums might be full of people complaining the game is too hard and ruin sales!

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      I recall buying Titan Quest and installing a No-CD crack because at the time I was switching between different games and finding/swapping CDs was becoming a major pain in the ass. I also had a small kid who loved taking CDs out of their cases and scratching them by mistake. Needless to say my experience with it was awful.

      It really put me off this sort of DRM.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      …And then later the developer figured out that Titan Quest was actually profitable for the publisher, putting it above the 85% of titles that weren’t.

      Regardless, “bugs” as an antipiracy measure are still quite stupid. It still only affects legitimate buyers, once there’s a working crack, and it also has the side effects of making the game seem more unstable, as well as false positives getting honest folk accused of piracy.

  14. Sirico says:

    Bohemia turned you into a bird so you were publicly shamed

  15. Blackcompany says:

    Some companies are looking to take the sting out of DRM.
    .
    These guys are doing the exact opposite. Literally. Which is patently brilliant.
    .
    On another note this game actually looks really good. With Skyrim and Orcs and Dungeon Defenders – and all the backlog from Cardboard Children now, thanks for that, really – I don’t see buying this for full price. However, if it goes on sale over Christmas (like everything else will) I may seriously consider it.

  16. JonSolo says:

    A better DLC would be a partnership with Telltale: Serious Sam… And Max.

  17. Drake Sigar says:

    Finally, DRM we can’t complain about because it’s too damn awesome.

  18. SpinX_911 says:

    NOW this is called quality DRM. I am proud of you, Croteam.So, so proud.

  19. Lobotomist says:

    This is best copy protection ever :)

    CRO team , my homeboys !

    And i mean literally (my good friend works there :P)

  20. DickSocrates says:

    I like it. The best DRM is the one that fools the pirate into thinking there is just some glitch so he goes onto a forum to complain about it, outing himself in the process.

    However, if it’s too subtle, then people will think the game is just not very good. How about if you ‘obtained’ a copy of SS3 for testing purposes, legitimately testing it with the 100% guarantee they would delete it and then buy it, but thought ‘this game is garbage because there’s seemingly immortal enemy chasing me from the very start!’ Of course, if there is a demo for SS3 (I don’t know if there is or not), then there is no justifable ‘testing’ scenario.

    Demos don’t end piracy, but I guarantee they reduce it. But demos seem to be increasingly rare with developers not bothered enough to provide one.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Christian says:

    So…now it’s time to head to the game-forums and search for people complaining about how this game is too hard and how developers can think this is a good idea and just generally bitching about the scorpion?

    This is fun..a bit like what the guy behind Garry’s mod did a while back..

  22. MichaelPalin says:

    Without any proof nor any effort to look it anywhere, I can assure you that this has already been solved by crackers. This practice is probably viewed more as a publicity stunt by companies by now than anything else.

    • devtesla says:

      No, whatever Croteam does with its serious sam releases works, because it took months for working cracks to come out for the first and second encounters and there still isn’t a release from major cracking groups of those two games. Cracks for the assassins creed games came out much quicker.

      I think it’s because they actually understand how these guys crack games, and then design their exes around avoiding those methods. It works, and once Ubi etc. get out their heads out of their collective asses they’ll probably do similar things, just probably without the pink scorpions.

    • eulescu says:

      No it hasn’t . The Crack that came out has the scorpion in it!!! How else would people have known about it. Logic ffs. But feel free to google. No other game since the starforce DRM lasted this long without crack . Maybe the second encounter HD. ( Not the original)

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      There’ll be scene code monkeys loving the Scorpion and pouring over the code night after night to tuck it in.
      They won’t be doing it because leechers are pissing and moaning about the lack of a working crack to pirate the game.

      Not in anyway saying this justifies it but that’s what’s happening.

  23. Elmar Bijlsma says:

    Another possible variant of this DRM could be making the NPC teammates in shooters get ahead of the player and making them do all the shooting and kicking down of doors instead of the player. That would be so annoying. The player would be robbed of doing all the stuff that makes a FPS fun.
    What do you mean, “Have I bought any FPS lately?”

    • Skabooga says:

      Haha! I was about to say, a certain segment might find the game even more enjoyable as a result.

  24. Premium User Badge

    TheApologist says:

    That’s pretty great – I can’t work out if it is intended as an effective anti-piracy mechanism or just turning their DRM into good PR. Either way, kudos.

  25. Eddy9000 says:

    Saints Row Three has a similar system, judging from the screenshots if you pirate the game you’re forced to play with a giant purple dildo as your only weapon, and your character becomes an obese elderly lady dressed in an S&M clown costume.

  26. caddyB says:

    I love the music.

    But then I’ve always loved the music in Serious Sam games. Too bad I don’t have the time to buy and play it.

  27. Flappybat says:

    The only problem with these amusing DRM things is they get fixed pretty fast. I read that the much talked about Batman grapple wasn’t even DRM and just a side effect from sloppy memory editing.

  28. aldo_14 says:

    In the absence of a demo, this might actually offer a good way to see if the thing runs on my pc (which is the reason for the solitary time I pirated a game – as it turns out it didn’t work. I later bought it for a different machine anyway, partly out of slight guilt).

    • eulescu says:

      You get to play ten minutes before the scorpion appears . SO, NOT AN EXCUSE.

    • aldo_14 says:

      You get to play ten minutes before the scorpion appears . SO, NOT AN EXCUSE.

      Er, I’m not sure what you mean. Ten minutes of time before the Scorpion o’ Death makes it, IMO, a decent ‘demo'; the issue is that the developers wouldn’t be able to differentiate between people who just want to pirate it and people who just want to, essentially, benchmark it.

  29. MadTinkerer says:

    Reminds me of Baron Von Blubba from Bubble Bobble. The only video game to ever give me nightmares. Not even Amnesia gave me nightmares. But Bubble Bobble? Oh yes.

    Run, run from the invincible red eyed ghost whale thing that can move through walls! You failed to “HURRY!” enough! You didn’t complete EXTEND in time! Your only hope is to finish the last (non-invincible) enemy, but can you do that with The Baron chasing you? Not even losing all your lives can give you relief, for his red eyes will chase you through your dreams!

    At least this invincible pink scorpion thing will just chase you down and kill you, instead of taunting you with the hope of escape. Because the worst part is that The Baron will leave you alone if you appease him, but each level is a new opportunity for him to come after you again. Yes, sudden assured death is far preferable to facing the Baron.

  30. Radiant says:

    Or take the Worms approach to piracy:
    http://worms2d.info/files/pirate.swf

  31. Inglourious Badger says:

    Best DRm EVErrr

  32. Milky1985 says:

    [EDIT] Stupid reply system, i’ll get you one day!

  33. Premium User Badge

    mcnostril says:

    How long until the speed run with this thing hounding you the entire game?
    You know someone’s doing it right now.

  34. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    AMAZING.

    Well played, gents.

  35. eulescu says:

    ok pirates. it’s about f-ing time you shut up about this. This scorpion thingy is genius and is also old news. If you’re frustrated because the game lasted two weeks without a crack , go BUY the game. It’s cheaper than your typical nonsense shooter and it’s quite good. The scorpion thing made me buy the game, since it’s a DRM that works and doesn’t affect the legitimate player in any way.
    NO. The scorpion does not show up on your steam copy, NO the game does not crash ever. NO it’s not an awful DRM . You should stop bitching
    So shut up and don’t fucking dare tell me that the game is flawed because it has the scorpion in it.

    • Wulf says:

      Way to miss some of the important arguments here from people who don’t pirate.

      This isn’t about piracy, this is about being punished for wanting to screw around with one’s game.

    • Brun says:

      Actually Wulf, it has been about piracy. You were really the first person to bring modding or “screwing around with your game” into the discussion.

      Not saying that isn’t a valid concern, but the discussion in this thread really has focused more on this practice in the context of piracy.

    • wazups2x says:

      @Wulf

      People complained about the locked EXE after the Skyrim patch but that same day a new 4GB mod was released that worked without having to modify the EXE. I don’t see the problem.

    • Unaco says:

      @Wulf

      What Wazup says… the 4GB patch was actually promoted by Bethesda peoples, they tweeted about it and approved it on the forums.

  36. Dizzard says:

    Person comes across the video:

    Person: ” WOW that is so cool! I will now pirate the game so I can fight this! :D ”

    Logic Fail from the developers….

    Can’t somebody just mod the scorpion out though? Or give themselves infinite health? It doesn’t seem like it’ll work. :S

  37. Suits says:

    Ubisoft should read and watch

  38. anduin1 says:

    Brilliant move

  39. kalleguld says:

    The author of this article is confusing the piracy detection scheme (always-on / CD key / CD in drive / word x on page y of the manual; what everyone is always rambling about) with the piracy detection consequence (message box saying you can’t play / pink scorpions / whatever).
    For shame, John Walker.

  40. kalleguld says:

    addendum: It could make a rather bad-ass piracy detection scheme if they sent an actual pink scorpion to your house to check if you bought the game.

  41. ilduce says:

    There seems to already be a release on bitgamer that removes the crash triggers and this scorpion.

    • Wulf says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised. People generally underestimate crackers, developers especially. Some of these people are software engineers doing it as a frickin’ hobby, and the more interesting the challenge, the more compelling it is to crack.

  42. Hatsworth says:

    This kind of thing is common practice in DS games, although usually not with such obvious PR bait — though even that happens. The (terrible)Michael Jackson Ouendan\Elite Beat Agent-ripoff added vuvuzelas to the soundtrack for instance.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    That is truly beautiful. I wonder if they’ll enable the pink scorpion on legal copies as a ‘You nutter’ hard mode.

  44. Bensam123 says:

    Well this is great except it falls into the same catagory of being grossfully painful for people who legitimately purchased the game, but still have to fight this thing. Ohhh false-positives effect immortal pink scorpion too!

    PS I’m more concerned about people who think they can actually hurt it, let alone kill it. Why would an immortal scorpion designed to disrupt and screw over hackers actually have hit points?

  45. nyarlathotep-88 says:

    HAHAHA! that is hilarious and brilliant. A great game with great drm.

  46. Xaromir says:

    I actually would like one too and play it through with it on my back as a challenge. Is there a way to get that thing legitimately? I shall go to the official forum immediately and bug the people there about it. Thank you RPS!

  47. Premium User Badge

    Scandalon says:

    Seems a bit of a misstep. As others have stated, it’s not obvious what’s going on, I should it would be better if three levels in, after the person playing it could tell they were enjoying it, the crazy scorpion popped up, with some way to make it obvious why it was there.

    Or they could, you know, release the first few levels as the freebie episode. Or a demo.

    • Wulf says:

      This I agree with.

      See… in your scenario “This game is pretty shit due to unavoidable difficulty spikes.” becomes “Uh, Croteam, could you fix your shit and allow your DRM to let me patch the exe in a non-crack related way? Thanks.”

      Not telling people is… silly. This falls under “What were they thinking?

      I mean, why not have a horde of Headless pirates with parrots on their shoulders that turn up in insurmountable hordes screaming about how you’re one of them, and how Croteam is watching the player?

      Not to mention that one of them running at you yelling “ARRRRRR!” instead of the usual scream would be incredibly funny.

      Really, I’m not being too arrogant here, but this is another instance where I can’t help but think that a development house would have benefited from having someone like me in their ranks, someone who’d actually notice things like this and point them out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Really, I’m not being too arrogant here

      That’s a refreshing change from you Wulf.

  48. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Isn’t the point sorta that it is not neccesarily obvious, so the pirates will get exposed and made fun of?

    EDIT: This comment system needs a “the comment you replied to got deleted while you typed, still want to post a new post?” thingy.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, but that’s not accounting for false positives. Not to mention that someone might say that the game is shit because it’s difficult without actually going into details, and it would be honest too, you’d not get an acting vibe from them at all.

      This all seems incredibly disingenuous. Especially since there’ll be legit customers who’ll inevitably be razed by this, and banned from forums. It’ll happen, it’s just a matter of time.

      Some think that Steam is bad, but I think that practises like this are a billion times worse. I mean, really… a legit customer who’s modded their exe turns up and complains about a bug with their game involving an immortal enemy. They get insulted, mocked, and then banned.

      I know I’d never want to do business with Croteam again after that.

    • Unaco says:

      False positives are going to be a tiny number. Croteam seem to know what they’re doing… if, indeed, the code for the Pink Scorpion is even in legit copies, could be as people have said, they just uploaded a Scorpionised version themselves to the major torrent sites. It may not be 100%, but, like FADE/DEGRADE False Positives will be a tiny number, and they’ll work with those people (who can prove they picked the game up legit) to fix their problem. They’d likely just need to reinstall if that were to happen to them anyways.

      The number of people modifying their exe… again, tiny number. If they do, and they trip this, it’s simple… They reinstall their game, and don’t mess with the exe… or, if they’re determined on altering the exe, they’ll likely not be alone and there’ll be people speaking with Croteam or they can speak to Croteam. Hell, they should probably ask Croteam’s permission before they start altering the exe… it’s only courteous.

      This is a good idea, a good type of DRM. It’s known, if someone starts whining “waaah, this Scorpion is ridiculous!” everyone will know to ignore them… pirates still get to ‘benchmark’ the game, they can still get a taste of it… legit customers are very unlikely to be affected, and if they are a reinstall or a fix of their install is all they’ll need to do (hardly a biggie).

  49. MythArcana says:

    Now that is seriously funny. At least they aren’t holding your Internet connection hostage like some other unmentionable corporate swine-lickers. :)