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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    According to CT magazine, Origin is not spyware.

    http://www.heise.de/artikel-archiv/ct/2011/25/42_kiosk - Thanks to Subatomic. Unfortunately it is in German. My copy is in Dutch...

    Basically, they monitored a version of Origin using Process Monitor. Their results were that Origin only scans its own folder. When Origin scans other things, such as programdata and the registery, this is not actually Origin at work. It is Windows working trough Origin, who always does scans like that when a program makes an HTTPS connection. It does this to check if all the certificates for HTTPS connections are still in order.

    CT magezine also noted that Origin does not automatically detect any EA games already installed on your computer, and the only way to add games to Origin is to enter their respective CD key. They subsequently cracked an EA game and luanched it trough Origin, which worked just fine.

    The conclusion was that no data is ever collected by origin. No extensive study of the connection between Origin and the EA servers was done, because a program dat does not collect data can not send it.
    Last edited by Grizzly; 10-12-2011 at 03:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    But... but... but everyone says it's spyware! Therefore it must be true.

    About time someone actually looked at what was going on, instead of pointing to things in the EULA and relying on the old "EA is evil" chestnut.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    How many mandatory automatic updates would it take for it to become spyware?
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  4. #4
    Network Hub Taidan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    How many mandatory automatic updates would it take for it to become spyware?
    Anywhere between zero and one, depending on exactly what it's doing right now. (Which, despite protests and "investigations" by people and groups with questionable or non-existent credentials, nobody appears to really know, due to the amount of confusion and misinformation being spread by the two different sides of the argument.)

    The bottom line is that you have to ask yourself "How does Origin benefit me?", and then work out for yourself if those benefits are worth the risk of having dealings with a company like EA.

    From my own point of view, that answer is fairly obvious. Origin appears to be a marketing/DRM tool that EA are trying to shoehorn onto my system entirely for their own benefit, and none of mine.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taidan View Post
    From my own point of view, that answer is fairly obvious. Origin appears to be a marketing/DRM tool that EA are trying to shoehorn onto my system entirely for their own benefit, and none of mine.
    But that's kind of the point, Origin, Steam etc. aren't there for your benefit. They're there to give publishers/developers some sort of control over their products once they're in the wild. The most practical system in terms of benefits to the end-user is no DRM, no disc check, internet connection only needed for multiplayer/online features (such as leaderboards) and for patches to be distributed via long-life download sites (GamersHell, FileFront, et al). Steamworks, Origin, Games for Windows Live, SecuROM, Tagés, UbiDRM, UPlay - All of them affect us in some way negatively. Steam is not fully functional at the best of times, GfWL causes issues for many people, Ubi's always-on system needs no explanation, Origin is just another bit of software sitting around, and so on.

    There is no practical and ideal solution. Whereas CDProjekt, as an example, are noble in their intent, it's currently not seen as a practical or sustainable system. Obviously we'd all disagree with that and with good reason, but to the majority of the publishers/distributors, putting DRM-free games out there is a shocking thought.


  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnravThreads View Post
    They're there to give publishers/developers some sort of control over their products once they're in the wild.
    That's exactly right. Steam and Origin are no different, they're the exact same concept. Except one is EA and apparently automatically evil, while one is Valve and therefore automatically good. As you point out they're still DRM methods and serve the company's best interests, not ours. I can't really think of much that Steam does in a superior fashion to Origin, except that Origin's UI still has teething problems. But it's brand new, it's to be expected. Steam was abysmal when it was first released, it was borderline useless and universally hated. Also people were infuriated when Valve decided to flick off WON and insisted everyone who wanted to play online had to use Steam. But we got used to it, and no amount of complaining or boycotting changed that.

    Quote Originally Posted by UnravThreads View Post
    Whereas CDProjekt, as an example, are noble in their intent, it's currently not seen as a practical or sustainable system.
    CDProjekt are still fans of the "legal scorched earth" policy, where they get their lawyers to send out infringement notices en-mass hoping to catch someone and get them to pay up extreme amounts of money. At least in Germany. Heretical source.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taidan
    Anywhere between zero and one, depending on exactly what it's doing right now.
    Steam constantly updates itself automatically for me and then asks to be restarted. Does that mean I should classify Steam as spyware? Spyware is not automatically updating, it implies intrusive monitoring and sending of collected data to its point of origin, presumably for a malicious purpose. If the report above is true, Origin doesn't do this, and there's nothing to suggest that EA are interested in you anyway.

    Let me ask you a question though. If I put Origin under watch for a day or so, looking to see what traffic it was handling and what it was doing, and reported back that Origin wasn't do anything, would you believe me that, at least in its current state, Origin is harmless? Or would you insist that it isn't? Likewise if I did the same to Steam and noticed it dealing with suspicious traffic or IO activities, would you label it spyware?

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    CDProjekt are still fans of the "legal scorched earth" policy, where they get their lawyers to send out infringement notices en-mass hoping to catch someone and get them to pay up extreme amounts of money. At least in Germany. Heretical source.
    I heard about that today. It's ridiculous that they think they can do it, in my opinion.

    Did you hear that they half-lost against Namco Bandai in court, too? They were found to have caused damages to NB, so they have to pay some sum in compensation or whatever. See, even CDProjekt aren't faultless.


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taidan View Post
    Anywhere between zero and one, depending on exactly what it's doing right now. (Which, despite protests and "investigations" by people and groups with questionable or non-existent credentials, nobody appears to really know, due to the amount of confusion and misinformation being spread by the two different sides of the argument.)
    lolwut? It's pretty simple. Step 1 - deploy packet sniffer. Step 2 - run origin. Then look at what it's doing for yourself. It's not exactly rocket science.

  9. #9
    Network Hub Megagun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    lolwut? It's pretty simple. Step 1 - deploy packet sniffer. Step 2 - run origin. Then look at what it's doing for yourself. It's not exactly rocket science.
    A fair bit of it is encrypted traffic. I don't know exactly how you can decrypt that kind of stuff, concidering that it's all asymmetric-key cryptography. I guess it would be possible to throw up a man-in-the-middle that serves Origin a fraudulent public key which your MitM can decrypt, but I doubt that it's willing to accept that fraudulent key (running strings on the .exe seems to indicate that it might check for that kind of thing).

    Either way, most of what I know is that it makes a connection with the webstore (HTTPS), and that it connects to chat.dm.origin.com (XMPP) using your account's numerical ID to log you in to the chat service. I think they're doing some extra stuff somewhere, because connecting using a standard XMPP client (I've tried it with Pidgin) disconnects you after a while, even though you're able to use the chat functionality as expected. There must be some kind of keep-alive signal that the Origin client sends to the chat service, but I haven't figured out what that all is since it's all encrypted.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I'm actually pro origin just because I like retail activations, I no longer buy discs I can't just throw away. But I do not socialise on the forums or get too attached to multiplayer support unless games that are called battlefield .
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    The problem is that it is a magzine and thus very hard to find a link for it, so if any people (esp. Germans) would help me out...
    I found the original article, but it's behind a paywall: http://www.heise.de/artikel-archiv/ct/2011/25/42_kiosk

    The c't-magazine is one if not the most respected computer magazines in Germany, with a long history of supporting consumer rights and internet privacy and have uncovered a number of scandals in these fields over the years. So if they say Origin doesn't spy, I tend to believe them.

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    I had kinda expected someone to already have posted the gist of the article. Huh.
    I'm currently sitting in bed without my stack of c't in reach, but I shall hunt down the relevant issue tomorrow and post a tl;dr

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batolemaeus View Post
    I had kinda expected someone to already have posted the gist of the article. Huh.
    I'm currently sitting in bed without my stack of c't in reach, but I shall hunt down the relevant issue tomorrow and post a tl;dr
    Can't find the issue. :(

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnravThreads View Post
    And? With Minecraft et al you knew what you were getting into. With a retail release, you expect a finished and final product. That's not what you get with CDProjekt RED games - at least not so far.


    Fact is, the game was perfectly playable from launch for me and largely bug-free, I don't know from where you get the idea that it was "unfinished" from. I still haven't even updated to 2.0 and haven't played it in a while and still have rather fond memories of it, I might pick it up again after the Xbox version is out and there have been even more updates (didn't they say something about an Expansion also?)

    Another fact is, software like many other things is never "done", you could always have done something more or different and there's always features and content that were planned but will ultimately be scrapped, it's a reality of software development.

    At some point when your product works and large does what it is supposed to you'll just pick a release date and put it out there for other people to enjoy and I'd rather have a developer that listens to feedback and works to fix issues people had with its product (not that I personally had many) than a company ignoring such issues, which a lot of games have because according to some there is something like a "final product".

    Also, are you annoyed at CDProjekt updating their game or are you "upset" about every site picking up on it and running a news story, which is it?

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter View Post
    Yep, they're really evil for removing the publisher-demanded DRM because customers were having problems cause of it... http://kotaku.com/5819762/namco-sues-over-european-distribution-drm-removal-from-witcher-2

    Wait, what...?
    Did you look at the other article I linked, the one which says they're carpet-bombing Germany with legal threats to a bunch of IP addresses with people who may have been pirating The Witcher 2? That's close to RIAA tactics for combating file sharing: pick out a bunch of IP addresses from the tracker, demand large sum of money or threaten to sue into oblivion.

    The legal issue I think we were highlighting was less that CDProjekt was less about the DRM issue and more about distribution and a potential culture of litigation, but I digress. Point is CDProjekt aren't saints and although they don't particularly like DRM, they're still happy to start litigation like any record label.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    The whole 'it's spyware!!' talk was alarmist bullshit spread by internet game journalists who are more interested in the short term of page hits Vs maintaining a credible reputation. The fallout unfortunately is that a lot of people take this Fox News style reporting seriously, and subsequently every week we get declarations of 'Orign = no sale' whenever there's an article on EA. It would be nice to see a 'Origin is not spyware after all' mea culpa article on a few prominent sites, but of course that's never going to happen.
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  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    So, for all their good PR and attitude, they really can't do shit. Buggy games that seem to necessitate a 2.0 version (Yeah, fine with TW:EE, but for The Witcher 2? Starting to look a little fishy to me), constant pissing off of their distributors, absolutely stunning attitude towards pirates - I'm actually starting to wonder if supporting CDP/CDPR is a good idea.
    Since there have been far worse games that do not get such an update, having a developer that consistently listens to the game critics is actually a welcome change.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Althea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    Since there have been far worse games that do not get such an update, having a developer that consistently listens to the game critics is actually a welcome change.
    But is it? Surely the welcome change would be a studio that puts out a more polished release in the first place? I'm not denying that The Witcher games were improved by the patches, but this is two games in a row they've done it. It's a bit worrying, in a way, but it's also a marketing tool which I don't exactly approve of. "Come buy our game! We fixed bugs, and we've decided to re-label it and sell it in a new version!".


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnravThreads View Post
    But is it? Surely the welcome change would be a studio that puts out a more polished release in the first place? I'm not denying that The Witcher games were improved by the patches, but this is two games in a row they've done it. It's a bit worrying, in a way, but it's also a marketing tool which I don't exactly approve of. "Come buy our game! We fixed bugs, and we've decided to re-label it and sell it in a new version!".
    I think you're conflating two things here. The Witcher games were no buggier than most big PC releases, and they were patched to a similar schedule.

    The stuff that went into the 2.0 versions were stuff that went above and beyond: improved graphics, vastly fixed script, re-recorded dialogue, language options and some extra campaigns for Witcher 1. A new tutorial, arena mode and difficulty level for Witcher 2.

    For the Witcher 2 specifically, the extra content could basically have been sold as DLC (Bioware certainly would have) in which case it would have been covered by websites as new DLC. While I take your point about patches not really being news-worthy, I'd hate to see sites ignore additions like this just because they're not being charged for.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    CT magezine also noted that Origin does not automatically detect any EA games already installed on your computer, and the only way to add games to Origin is to enter their respective CD key. They subsequently cracked an EA game and luanched it trough Origin, which worked just fine.
    Most of this was obvious already and it being "Spyware" wasn't one of the reasons why I'm not particularly keen on supporting a Digital Distribution Platform by EA and will only endure it on titles I absolutely want and require it, but that's either a blatant lie or they didn't test well enough.



    Fact is I only added the BF3 Beta, BF3 Retail and SWTOR Pre-Order Key manually, Bad Company 2 added itself after a Scan, in its entirety with Key/Product Code and everything.

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