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  1. #1
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    The case for and against DRM

    Edit: In short, just write out the reasons why you are anti-DRM (wall of text ok). Thanks!

    I have been very interested in why DRM exists in the first place, why do publishers persist (in an ever increasing fashion) with DRM, if it is so harmful to their profits and certainly has no effect on getting pirates to purchase a copy.

    There seem to be many people who are anti-DRM, and I hope someone more knowledgeable than me, can argue the case of anti-DRM vs pro-DRM, so that I can finally put this thing to rest. At least, please, argue the case of anti-DRM rationally and robustly.

    Because, for months now, I've found the opposite to be the case. The more I read about it, the more I realise the necessity of this vile thing called DRM, which I, like everyone, despises.

    The argumentation demonstrated on websites like RockPaperShotgun are lacking, with broken logic to justify statistics clutching at straws, so that left me thoroughly unimpressed. I then looked at the academic research and found several articles showing the effectiveness of DRM - investigating levels of effective DRM, and indeed one found a case for when increased piracy is useful due to positive network externatilities (free publicity). Overwhelmingly, the argument was pro-DRM. A brief critical literature review I prepared from this (revised earlier post) is quoted at the end of this post.

    Unsatisfied, like many, with academic reasons on the effectiveness of DRM, I found more practical ones. This one exhibited the most technical insight, and succesfully and robustly examined the reasons why DRM exists:

    Quote:


    Most anti-DRM arguments were thus succesfully argued against.

    If you can, I invite you to (preferably with a wall of text, like me ) to rationally argue the anti-DRM case. Because I too like many, would want to get rid of DRM.


    Lit review:

    There is not much relevant peer-reviewed / academic literature on the matter of PC software DRM and its effects, but there is some. References are lazy, including para-phrasing, and there is a lot of copy-paste, but this should suffice for a forum post.

    The 2005 GSP Report commissioned by the Business Software Alliance estimates that 35% of software is copied. Software copying rates are as high as 92% in Vietnam and 90% in China. In the United States, copying rates are estimated to be 21%. The study concludes that software copying is one of the industry’s worst problems. The study did not include the positive network effects of copying, which Hui and Png (2003) did and showed that industry estimates of lost profits because of copying more than doubled the actual losses in such a case.

    According to Jain(2008), “Many industry analysts see copying as one of the key threats to profitability and innovation. They claim that copying leads to higher prices for legitimate users, lower profits for the firms, reduced new product innovation and is generally harmful to society .” The paper continues to examine the impact of illegal copying of software and other similar intellectual properties on firms’ prices, profits, and quality choices, even when there are no network effects and the market is saturated.

    Controversially, his paper actually finds a case when copying can increase firms’ profits, lead to better quality products and increase social welfare. The assertion is that there is reduced price competition in mature markets with no network externalities, applicable when, for example, markets of entertainment products mature in developing countries with large income disparities (such as China and India). Unfortunately for you, this case is not applicable with Batman’s DRM, and the converse is true with regard to copying’s effect on the firm’s profits, product quality, and social welfare.

    Hill (2007) established the only effective strategic responses copyright holders can adopt to deal with pirating. His approach involved first establishing the causes of copying by prior work done (1) work on moral development (Kohlberg, 1969), (2)equity theory (Adams, 1963; Kabanoff, 1991), and (3) moral intensity (Jones, 1991). Based on the causes and economic consequences, both in a static and dynamic sense, Hill then proceeds to offer the only effective strategic responses that copyright-holders can pursue, of which there are seven. The fourth one is relevant with several games like Anno 2070, which is “offer something extra to consumers who purchase the legal good”. “One solution that can works well for computer software is to offer online services, such as periodic upgrades and security patches, to consumers who register the legal product using a security code that is unique to every legal copy of the product. Since those who purchase pirated copies do not have access to a security code, they cannot get these benefits. This strategy effectively raises the value of the legal product, decreasing the perception of inequity.”

    Note that both in the case of Jain’s paper and Hill’s book, one of the first assumptions is that the software protection is always cracked. Also, the effect of losing consumers due to intrusive DRM is always part of the effect they consider, and is arguably why they researched it, i.e. to look at effective and profitable levels of copyright protection, DRM.

    Another interesting paper on this (Sundararajan, 2004) where an optimal choice of technological deterrence level is found in a market where sellers can influence the degree of piracy by implementing DRM systems. He finds the optimal response in market where the seller can price discriminate, is to offer lower levels of technology-based protection, to the point where the pirated good will always be inferior to the legal product whilst minimising any impact for the legal user.

    The issue is converting a sub-set of those pirates to buy the game, and this does happen (Jain(2008),Hill(2007)), which ends up translating into a significant amount of money because there is a ridiculous number of pirates (one in third, unbelievable). This is even after the fact they consider the cost of implementing and running the DRM, the loss associated with perception of intrusive DRM, any possible product innovation loss and harm to social welfare. Even after considering all these aspects in detail, it is still better to have slightly intrusive DRM according to them. The level of intrusiveness of the DRM is arguably one of the main points and there is certainly a level where it is detrimental to, well everyone. Buying specific DRM hardware, ID checks before playing the game via creditcards, passports, fingerprinting or other biometric scans, regional locks etc. are examples. Most games DRM is fairly non-intrusive (having internet, running out activations in an unlikely event), and ends up being a win-win situation for all on the whole (apart from criminals).

    I think my main issue is - if you say this level of DRM is so intrusive that it harms the sales to such an extent as to not be worthwhile, please show me some evidence. Otherwise, I will take the peer-reviewed research. And my deductive skills, which say that no publisher would continue to repeatedly punish their profits, year after year, if this DRM was indeed harming their profits. And make no mistake - companies operate for profits, and DRM would be the first thing to go if it was so detrimental to them.

    References:
    Adams, J. S. 1963. Toward an understanding of inequity. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67:422–436.

    Hill,C. 2007, Digital piracy: Causes, consequences,and strategic responses’, Asia Pacific J Manage (2007) 24:9–25,DOI 10.1007/s10490-006-9025-0

    Hui, K., I. Png. 2003. Piracy and the legitimate demand for recorded
    music. Contributions Econom. Analysis Policy 2(1).

    Jones, T. M. 1991. Ethical decision making by individuals in organizations: An issue contingent model.Academy of Management Review, 16: 366–395.

    Jain,S., Digital Piracy: A Competitive Analysis,Marketing Science, Vol. 27, No. 4, July–August 2008, pp. 610–626
    issn 0732-2399 _ eissn 1526-548X _ 08 _ 2704 _ 0610

    Kabanoff, B. 1991. Equity, equality, power, and conflict. Academy of Management Review, 16: 416–441.

    Kohlberg, L. 1969. Stage and sequence: The cognitive development approach to socialization. In Growling,D. (Ed.). Handbook of Socialization Theory and Research. New York: Rand McNally.

    Sundararajan, 2004: Managing Digital Piracy: Pricing and Prote
    Edit: A similar thread existed on Steam, but only got a few replies due to the forum rules of discussing piracy. Hence, please feel free to express your views here, thanks.
    Last edited by rojimboo; 24-07-2012 at 04:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Hypernetic's Avatar
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    DRM, with the exception of something as intricate as Blizzard's always online DRM in D3, really doesn't stop piracy. Case in point, I could go pirate any piece of software out there (game or otherwise) right now in about 30 seconds.

    You don't need a peer reviewed article, go do a search on a torrent site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypernetic View Post
    DRM, with the exception of something as intricate as Blizzard's always online DRM in D3, really doesn't stop piracy. Case in point, I could go pirate any piece of software out there (game or otherwise) right now in about 30 seconds.

    You don't need a peer reviewed article, go do a search on a torrent site.
    Cheers for responding!

    In the light of the fact that this thread is about people's anti-DRM arguments (not about influencing people one way or the other), I won't really debunk any of those points, which are of course debunkable and not really valid, rational anti-DRM points at all.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Unaco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypernetic View Post
    DRM, with the exception of something as intricate as Blizzard's always online DRM in D3, really doesn't stop piracy. Case in point, I could go pirate any piece of software out there (game or otherwise) right now in about 30 seconds.
    What about software that isn't out there? That is, software still to be released... there is the argument that DRM can prevent zero-Day piracy.

    Myself... I'm not anti-DRM, necessarily. DRM is not bad just by existing. Specific implementations of it are bad, but there can be good DRM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hypernetic View Post
    I just have an opinion different to your own. Circle jerking is good for no one, be glad somebody isn't afraid to disagree with women on the internet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hypernetic View Post
    No, you are literally the cancer that is killing gaming.
    Quote Originally Posted by Serenegoose View Post
    Nobody's ever lost sleep over being called a cracker.

  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node Velko's Avatar
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    I think it's rather simple really. Suppose that the more intrusive and annoying the DRM system is, the better it is at preventing piracy (note: no total prevention is needed here), and the more annoyed the potential legal customers are. Inturisiveness is a scale, sort of. Zero DRM does nothing to piracy but consumers are not annoyed. Huge, massive, overkill DRM prevents some amount of pirates from pirating, forces part of the would-be-pirates to buy the game, and prevents some legal to-be-customers from purchasing the game due to the annoying DRM. So, therefore, at some point of the DRM-intrusiveness scale, the profits of the gaming company are maxed. It is hardly plausible to claim that the maximum lies in either end of the scale. Therefore, some DRM but not too much is the optimal choice. Because of imperfect information, different companies estimate this optimum differently, ending up in different points along the intrusiveness scale.

    It's not a matter of either no DRM at all or some sort of fingerprinting system. It's a matter of searching for the optimum, and that's what we are seeing at the moment.

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    This whole 'gota protect the consumer from themselves' (that is what is comes down to when people justify encumbering buyers with obtrusive drm that may even detract from the quality of the game e.g singleplayer lag in diablo, freezing in uplay games, not able to play uplay games when servers went down before offline mode, measurable performance impact compared to the version with the drm removed in several games in the past) is ridiculous.

    Fact is that the industry cares only about the numbers produced, not about the quality of service provided, why should I or anybody else care about the success or sustainability of such an industry?
    Riddle me that, please.

    The world is so fucked up when producing shit is just done for the sake of producing it.
    Noone is going to starve or die of disease or be hurt or unhappy or emotionally scarred or miss out on anything if they don't min max their downloaded vs purchased numbers at the cost of quality.

    It's the 21st century, we should strive to make the world better in every aspect, not piss on freedoms and quality, even in an industry as insignificant to quality of life as the gaming one.

    + I find the whole bullying and manipulating people into certain behavior aspect that the entire industry reeks of really insulting.
    Last edited by Finicky; 24-07-2012 at 05:33 PM.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Wow. I know that anything that isn't math or science (and usually stuff that IS math or science) aren't scientific, but holy crap is this a biased prompt.

    Look, if you just want to know "why DRM bad", go to GoG and post this there. You will get more than enough support for your argument.

    If you actually want to discuss it and understand it, I suggest not calling your call for discussion "Say why you hate DRM"


    Anywho:
    DRM is not inherently bad. DRM helps to act like a security blanket for publishers and devs. Think of it this way: Do you lock your door? Someone can kick it down, can't they? But you still lock it, don't you?

    DRM is not meant to stop all piracy. It is meant to discourage piracy. The best example would be Securom and MEPC where many pirates actually purchased MEPC because Reloaded and other groups couldn't crack the DRM, and they wanted to play Mass Effect. That stopped 0-day piracy, which boosted sales.

    And even a trivial DRM (anything that needs a crack) is enough to keep most computer users at bay. Remember, most people who post on message boards tend to fall closer to "power user" than "Grandma looking at boy-on-boy porn".

    As was previously mentioned, it is about finding a balance, and spinning it. Steam has one of the most restrictive models out there, but people don't mind because of all the benefits of Steamworks. UbiDRM, not so much. GoG actually DOES have a DRM model (basically the same one as Gamersgate and Impulse), but they use PR and spin it so people don't mind. There wasn't enough PR in the world to make people like UbiDRM.

    In fact, I think the door is the best metaphor. You lock your door, because you want to discourage people from stealing your stuff. If you live in a really bad neighborhood (publishers in Russia and Eastern Europe who aren't CD Projekt), you get some really heavy duty locks. If you live in a "nice" neighborhood (US and Europe), you look weird if you have a shotgun on a string. A dedicated thief/robber/mugger/stalker is going to get in no matter what you do, but most people will be discouraged by trying to turn the knob (or even just seeing the door is closed).
    Last edited by gundato; 24-07-2012 at 05:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velko View Post
    I think it's rather simple really. Suppose that the more intrusive and annoying the DRM system is, the better it is at preventing piracy (note: no total prevention is needed here), and the more annoyed the potential legal customers are. Inturisiveness is a scale, sort of. Zero DRM does nothing to piracy but consumers are not annoyed. Huge, massive, overkill DRM prevents some amount of pirates from pirating, forces part of the would-be-pirates to buy the game, and prevents some legal to-be-customers from purchasing the game due to the annoying DRM. So, therefore, at some point of the DRM-intrusiveness scale, the profits of the gaming company are maxed. It is hardly plausible to claim that the maximum lies in either end of the scale. Therefore, some DRM but not too much is the optimal choice. Because of imperfect information, different companies estimate this optimum differently, ending up in different points along the intrusiveness scale.

    It's not a matter of either no DRM at all or some sort of fingerprinting system. It's a matter of searching for the optimum, and that's what we are seeing at the moment.
    Extremely astute observations, and if you haven't read any background literature, well done dude. I mean, it is sort of obvious for most people, but still, you seemed to have jumped ahead of what most researchers had to show in the first place, and they then went on to research effective levels of DRM.

    Having said that, not really your rational reasons of being anti-DRM, is it? But thanks anyways! Check out some of the links, you might be interested in them.

    Edit: TBH, my bad. My OP and title of thread are a bit contradictory, so please everyone feel free to argue the case for and against DRM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    DRM is not inherently bad. DRM helps to act like a security blanket for publishers and devs. Think of it this way: Do you lock your door? Someone can kick it down, can't they? But you still lock it, don't you?
    Yes but DRM is not me locking my door. Its someone else locking my door and sometimes not letting me into my own damn house. Frequently when this happens and I complain I get no help.

    DRM is of zero benefit to me.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightbulb View Post
    Yes but DRM is not me locking my door. Its someone else locking my door and sometimes not letting me into my own damn house. Frequently when this happens and I complain I get no help.

    DRM is of zero benefit to me.
    My friend Jim-Bob locks his door and doesn't let me into his house whenever I want to (he has a kickass train set). Frequently, when this happens and I complain, I get no help (I just hear a moaning sound coming from his bedroom).

    Locks are of zero benefit to me.

    In case that wasn't clear enough: The lock isn't for you, it is for the publisher/dev. I thought I made that clear in the previous post, but I guess I should clarify (plus, I like typing "Jim-Bob").
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Wow. I know that anything that isn't math or science (and usually stuff that IS math or science) aren't scientific, but holy crap is this a biased prompt.

    Look, if you just want to know "why DRM bad", go to GoG and post this there. You will get more than enough support for your argument.

    If you actually want to discuss it and understand it, I suggest not calling your call for discussion "Say why you hate DRM"


    Anywho:
    DRM is not inherently bad. DRM helps to act like a security blanket for publishers and devs. Think of it this way: Do you lock your door? Someone can kick it down, can't they? But you still lock it, don't you?

    DRM is not meant to stop all piracy. It is meant to discourage piracy. The best example would be Securom and MEPC where many pirates actually purchased MEPC because Reloaded and other groups couldn't crack the DRM, and they wanted to play Mass Effect. That stopped 0-day piracy, which boosted sales.

    And even a trivial DRM (anything that needs a crack) is enough to keep most computer users at bay. Remember, most people who post on message boards tend to fall closer to "power user" than "Grandma looking at boy-on-boy porn".

    As was previously mentioned, it is about finding a balance, and spinning it. Steam has one of the most restrictive models out there, but people don't mind because of all the benefits of Steamworks. UbiDRM, not so much. GoG actually DOES have a DRM model (basically the same one as Gamersgate and Impulse), but they use PR and spin it so people don't mind. There wasn't enough PR in the world to make people like UbiDRM.

    In fact, I think the door is the best metaphor. You lock your door, because you want to discourage people from stealing your stuff. If you live in a really bad neighborhood (publishers in Russia and Eastern Europe who aren't CD Projekt), you get some really heavy duty locks. If you live in a "nice" neighborhood (US and Europe), you look weird if you have a shotgun on a string. A dedicated thief/robber/mugger/stalker is going to get in no matter what you do, but most people will be discouraged by trying to turn the knob (or even just seeing the door is closed).
    I am very slowly (but surely) beginning to think you are bordering on trolling, or just have some severe reading comprehension abilities. If you actually read my post, you would realise I have only found pro-DRM arguments, i.e. all the rational anti-DRM arguments I could personally think of were debunked, which is why I was puzzled as to why there were so many anti-DRM people. Despite your blatantly inflammmatory arguments, which I (and everyone else, don't feed the troll ffs) should ignore, there are some decent points in your post.

    You should get rid of some of the prejudices you have against certain publishers, and realise that even Ubisoft has managed to provide an unintrusive DRM that enhances the single-player experience. Check out Anno 2070. First of all, always-online DRM with an offline option giving you almost a fully functional product. Note the server downtime is rare, and in such a case you can always use the offline option. However, you miss out on functionality. Persistent upgrades, OP Ark upgrades, community based events and powers, and ofc multiplayer, are just some of the things you miss out on. The thing is, the legit user, only misses out on these things when Uplay servers are down (actually pretty rare), whereas pirates will ALWAYS miss out on these things. I have already personally observed two of my student buddies buy a legit copy of the game due to this.

    I do agree with some of your points - that most DRM is there to reduce casual piracy (on top of delaying/preventing initial sales piracy) and has been shown to be pretty effective at this, whilst being unobstrusive.

    I mean, the main argument for always-online DRM seems to be that it prevents you from playing the game, whereas the pirated version does not - well, pretty much all of these (including the draconian Ubisoft) have offline option now, negating that point. So why still hate Ubisoft? Is it because of the past?

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    My friend Jim-Bob locks his door and doesn't let me into his house whenever I want to (he has a kickass train set). Frequently, when this happens and I complain, I get no help (I just hear a moaning sound coming from his bedroom).

    Locks are of zero benefit to me.

    In case that wasn't clear enough: The lock isn't for you, it is for the publisher/dev. I thought I made that clear in the previous post, but I guess I should clarify (plus, I like typing "Jim-Bob").
    Right. So here's the thing: if I'm the one that paid for the train set, why is it in Jim-Bob's place at all?

    If I buy a game I should be able to access it. I should be able to back it up. I should be able to play it 10 years from now, whether the original publisher still exists or not. If I can't do those things, it's a rental, not a product I purchased.

    So, product prices get paid for games that behave like products, those with no or light/non-intrusive DRM. Rental prices get paid for games that behave like rentals, those where the publisher can "lock the door" at their whim. And, finally, games in the latter category controlled by particularly incompetant/capricious publishers, where the door not only can be locked but frequently is, are worth nothing at all.

    In short, I have no interest in arguing the merits of DRM, I care about how it affects me as a customer. The more of a problem it is for me, the less that game is worth, all the way down to zero.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Steam has one of the most restrictive models out there, but people don't mind because of all the benefits of Steamworks. UbiDRM, not so much. GoG actually DOES have a DRM model (basically the same one as Gamersgate and Impulse), but they use PR and spin it so people don't mind. There wasn't enough PR in the world to make people like UbiDRM.
    Pretty much.
    Steam takes away your ability to lend discs to other people or sell your games (laws may be changing the latter if we are lucky), but don't forget that the whole DD being non transferable becoming successful was riding mostly on DD being cheaper than Retail.
    It was even pitched heavily as such, with claims that lack of shipping and production costs, booklets and in-between-men cuts the prices could be lower. The tradeoff would be not owning a physical copy to sell (and in the case of steam not even a cd key to sell) and people accepted it.

    That promise of lower prices has sadly faded over the years (slowly enough for people to accept it and forget about it) Outside of sales steam games are just as expensive as retail ones.

    The thing steam gets right about drm is not bothering the user with it.
    -You enter your cd key or buy it off steam store and bam it works, it patches automatically and since the initial growing pains many years ago (during which steam rightfully caught a lot of flak!) it's easy and convenient.

    -You click a game you haven't played in 3 years and it is already patched for you (try playing battlefield 1942 with a vanilla disc copy and see how long it takes to patch)

    -the overlay doesn't pop up unless you ask it to with the hotkeys (hint hint gfwl)

    -There are no limited activations, I have had steam installed on about 10 different computers since it was first released, all it does is send me an email with a code the first time it detects a new IP to verify it's actually me playing (account 'hack' protection)

    -when my inet disconnects while playing it doesn't affect my singleplayer games

    -It lets you mod, add non steam games, add launch parameters and most importantly it lets you move your games and saves freely between hard disks without shitting itself and having to reinstall everything. The latter is a big deal.

    -Steam isn't going anywhere and is a private company.


    Because another problem with DRM is stability of the host company:
    I would not bet a single cent on Uplay games still being functional in 10-15 years. Let alone the securom servers still being there to upload all those packets to keep my sp game functional...

    And with the rate at which EA drops mp servers for their games all bets are off wether in 5-10 years their games will still launch or be available for download.
    I personally lost my copy of crysis to EADM.
    Bought a copy online (activation key), my account pre dated the 'new' eadm account log in system, it accepted and used up the activation key but did not add the game in eadm (or origin today), while it was visible in my account information as activated.
    Contacting EA resulted in them telling me I was out of luck as it was too much effort to copy my account to the new system to get my game to work, and that I should ask the shop for a refund (yes they'll refund me after I used the activation key..) or should buy a new copy of crysis.
    I've been an eadm user since its launch, it sets a pretty obvious tone for what to expect from them in the future compatibility and support wise.

    If you buy a disc copy that shit will never happen (unless it's just a token box and you still have to activate it in some online drm like uplay games for sp or windows 7/office boxes), so again, the host company had better be reliable for people to want to take the risk.

    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    Right. So here's the thing: if I'm the one that paid for the train set, why is it in Jim-Bob's place at all?

    If I buy a game I should be able to access it. I should be able to back it up. I should be able to play it 10 years from now, whether the original publisher still exists or not. If I can't do those things, it's a rental, not a product I purchased.
    This is so painfully true and they are words publishers want to avoid at all costs.
    This really need to be the general public's description of DRM locked games, and the price needs to be adjusted.

    The value proposition of a game normally includes right of (transferable) and physical ownership (not even getting into things like support for community content in the form of modding) and a game that doesn't have these things should see its price lowered in accordance.

    You want to rent a game to me for a limited time as you see fit, with no contract or law to protect me? then I'm not going to pay you for a purchase, I'm going to pay you for a lease.
    Last edited by Finicky; 24-07-2012 at 06:09 PM.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rojimboo View Post
    I am very slowly (but surely) beginning to think you are bordering on trolling, or just have some severe reading comprehension abilities. If you actually read my post, you would realise I have only found pro-DRM arguments, i.e. all the rational anti-DRM arguments I could personally think of were debunked, which is why I was puzzled as to why there were so many anti-DRM people. Despite your blatantly inflammmatory arguments, which I (and everyone else, don't feed the troll ffs) should ignore, there are some decent points in your post.
    Uhm... So I am a stupid troll? Wow, if I am a troll for pointing out bias and having an opinion, I hate to think what that makes the guy who calls someone a stupid troll... I'll never understand the interwebs.

    Dude, you are asking for opinions, but tainting them with your own (especially with your summary that just asks for anti).
    Look, let me explain it this way: I am going to go ask someone about religion. I open by saying "So, are you a stupid dumbass who believes in a higher power?" or by saying "So, are you a satanist heathen who is going to hell?". No matter what happens, I am tainting the results I get.

    Issues wrong with your first post:
    You summarize it by saying "Say how much you don't like DRM"
    You give everyone reading and junk and basically position yourself as "I am starting to accept DRM even though I hate it and it is evil, convince me otherwise"
    You are mixing a "literary review" and tweakguides...

    Like I said, if you just want to hear why DRM is bad, go to GoG. If you want a proper discussion (which is really the only way to approach crap like this), you don't taint everything in the first post.


    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    Right. So here's the thing: if I'm the one that paid for the train set, why is it in Jim-Bob's place at all?

    If I buy a game I should be able to access it. I should be able to back it up. I should be able to play it 10 years from now, whether the original publisher still exists or not. If I can't do those things, it's a rental, not a product I purchased.

    So, product prices get paid for games that behave like products, those with no or light/non-intrusive DRM. Rental prices get paid for games that behave like rentals, those where the publisher can "lock the door" at their whim. And, finally, games in the latter category controlled by particularly incompetant/capricious publishers, where the door not only can be locked but frequently is, are worth nothing at all.

    In short, I have no interest in arguing the merits of DRM, I care about how it affects me as a customer. The more of a problem it is for me, the less that game is worth, all the way down to zero.
    Me and Jim-Bob chipped in together on the train set, but he has a house and I have the back of an El Camino.

    It isn't a perfect metaphor :p
    I agree that DRM affects how much I am willing to pay for a product (which is why I skip so many Ubi titles), but I just felt it important to explain the rationale FOR DRM, at least from a publisher/dev's point of view.
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  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    You know, all this DRM talk is about treating software like physical objects that are manufactured. This is fundamentally wrong, and unethical. Software is like research - progress is unclear, you may need to explore different aproaches, and in the end it may turn out to be much more complicated than you expected. And fail. Games in particular are hard to nail down, they require research-like methodology and the elusive thing - fun. Many games, while technically working and making for good screenshots, are failures in practical terms, because they frustrate, bore or annoy.

    Just like with research, once it's done it's trivial to copy and you have to try very hard to stop people from spreading it. This is what DRM is trying to do. But should we try to achieve this ? Copyright wasn't intended as a business model. It was an extension of patent law, intended to encourage inventors (and creators of useful works) to share their invention in exchange for a temporary monopoly. Then it would go to public domain. The fear was that otherwise they would, like Gutenberg, try to destroy their device (!) rather than share it with the rest of the world. On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution only really started when James Watt died, because he was trigerhappy about suing other steam engine constructors. Once he was out of the picture - new, improved designs started popping up like mushrooms after a rain. So there's solid evidence that monopoly and its brother copyright can do a lot of harm. And don't forget the Tolkien estate. They didn't have anything to do with creation of Lord of the Rings, but continue reaping profits from something they haven't made. Why should they ?

    Books, movies, even games are a part of our culture. Anyone can take norse or greek myths myths and borrow heavily from it. It's hard to find a fantasy book that is not based on either ancient Greece or Tolkien (any game with a human-size elf is inspired by Tolkien, too). While creators can get away with putting undeniably Tolkienesque elves in games, everyone has to tiptoe around Hobbits or get a cease&desist letter. So we have Halflings, Hoburgs, or Kithkin. But forget about Shire, Ring Wraiths or Moria. Copyright now lasts 70 years after book author's death in EU, and they don't miss any opportunity to extend it. As long as they're making profit from it, they extend copyright for something and it remains locked down.

    With zealous copyright like we have today, works (including games) don't enter public domain. They can't serve as an inspiration, at least not directly, they can't be built upon. Look what happened to books about Conan in absence of copyright - tons of authors, better or worse, wrote their stories. A boom of creativity, essentially a modding scene for books. There are countless mods and indie games that have been attacked by lawyers, including Generations mod for Quake 2, King's Quest 9 (The Silver Lining), the imperial trooper for TF2, or twenty Battlestar Galactica mods. And that's not all - think of all the mods that aren't made because someone leaves in fear of lawyers.

    So, it's time to address the "but artists need to eat !" fallacy.
    First, it's not like artists and game developers are earning much in the current, 20 century system. They're mistreated, assigned stupid deadlines, replaced like cogs, working crunch and overtime. People are often fired when a game is completed, which is especially damaging because programming and game development in general is very complex and takes a lot of experience to become good at.
    Second, creators were getting paid before the introduction of copyright. Bach, Mozart, Michangelo are all pretty good. People like them either had quasi-permanent sponsors, or were paid on a per-work basis. For example Mozart was paid for the creation (research !) of a new work. Of course, there were people who weren't paid. They must be excused because they were doing that because they enjoyed it.

    Why did I say that selling "pieces" of software is unethical ? Kids understand this intuitively, and have to be "taught" the "proper" way by parents and teachers. Because only the research process takes effort. Copying software doesn't. So why should people be paid not for creation, but for... how do you call it ? I can copy it myself, you don't need to hold my hand. You could say "the company pays the developers using money from sales". But game devs don't retain any right to something they worked on ! They work on a monthly salary. The development of a game is paid not by sales of the game, but by something else - an investor, or profits from a previous game. Because Diablo 2 was very well received, it allowed Blizzard to take 10 years and produce Diablo 3. Not to mention Diablo 3 sold so well because it was a sequel to the cult game.

    That's why I'm very happy that Kickstarter showed up. It is much closer to the grant model from the past centuries. It's not perfect, and seems to require either a lot of fame or a convincing prototype - but it's the right way to go. Money is paid up front, everyone knows what he's paying for, so you don't have to pay for Diablo 3 by buying Diablo 2. And here's the kicker: it doesn't matter how much Wasteland 2 is pirated, it has already paid for itself. Anything on top of those $3,000,000 is just icing on the cake. This model is very much immune to piracy, it makes piracy moot, and they could as well release it for free. I backed the project just to be perverse.

    Thanks to the 2 people who read this far :-).
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    @Finicky: Nice post. Thanks.

    There are some counter-points, though, not really relevant to my objective of finding out why you object to DRM.

    Pricing of games: You are neglecting inflation and increased cost of production (more expensive credit due to financial crisis, more advanced rendering/development with new AAA titles).

    Stabiltity of publishers: Many of them state that in the event of bankruptcy, they have a patch (non-DRM) they are ready to go live with, in terms of TAGES (ANno 2070) or Securom (Batman games), but your point is entirely valid if GWFL (Microsoft) or Uplay (Ubi) go out of business.

    Steam: It is great. I love it. It does not, however, in any way prevent zero-day piracy which others have shown to do. If your game is not Steam exclusive, you still need to provide non-Steam authentication for say the hard-copy market, necessitating things like GFWL and Uplay. Also, there is a true risk involved for the consumer if there is a monopoly, so it is in our benefit to have multiple digital distributors.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rojimboo View Post

    Stabiltity of publishers: Many of them state that in the event of bankruptcy, they have a patch (non-DRM) they are ready to go live with, in terms of TAGES (ANno 2070) or Securom (Batman games), but your point is entirely valid if GWFL (Microsoft) or Uplay (Ubi) go out of business.
    I'm perpetually amazed that anyone takes those "promises" seriously. It might happen, it might not, but there's certainly no reason to trust that it will. Publishers/distributors going out of business generally have other things on their mind, and PR is no longer a concern.

    That's to say nothing of the likelihood of authentication servers being shut off while the company is still in business, of course.
    Last edited by vinraith; 24-07-2012 at 06:34 PM.

  18. #18
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    The problem with DRM is that it's a declaration by publishers that their profits are more important to them than customer satisfaction. DRM is basically an exercise to push customers as far as possible without discouraging sales.

    Given an alternative with fewer hassles, I'd take it. I gravitate toward the best overall customer service.

  19. #19
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    @borsuk, you mean like books? Your argument makes little sense since books don't require a blood and stool sample and and a goat sacrifice to open (this isn't harry potter with a magical lock)

    You confuse drm with artistic copyright it seems, pirates don't copy game ideas to sell them in their own product. (hence books and cds being easily copied and not a license you rent -unless you use itunes)
    Ironically gaming is the industry with the most copying of artistic and creative ideas... copyrighting an IP is meaningless if it's just a name, there are tons of clones of movies and games where a cat is called a horse but is still a cat.
    Thank fuck that you can't patent in the gaming industry yet like you can in the hardware industry (not that apple and Co aren't doing their best with patenting the 500 year old slide lock on doors) .
    Imagine a world where concepts like netcode, strafejumping, rpg elements etc were patented and in the hands on EA or ubisoft...

    @ gundato: the op is clearly making a very PRO drm argument and challenging the reader to counter argue, reading comprehension man and less passive agressiveness.


    @asking about why we distrust ubisoft :Because they can't just earn trust by undoing some of their biggest wrongs?
    Ubi are THE company that has done nothing but test the waters for what they can get away with in exploiting the consumer, just because they crossed the line too far and had to backpedal a bit because even the masses caught on doesn't mean their intentions are more pure.

    This cultural shift away from values like quality, goodwill and trust to not giving a shit about circumstances as long as the results are there even from consumer perspective BAFFLES me,what on earth is wrong with people, such a selfish narrow sighted unable to think ahead society.
    Does intent really not count for anything any more?

    Extreme ubisoft analogy for the lols and to get a rise out of some people, please don't latch on to it, I just want to spew some bile at ubisoft : you wouldn't let a child molestor babysit your kids just because he hasn't raped in a few months and there's a cop in the other room and for today he isn't that likely to fondle your child so why not give him another chance, the liplicking he was doing as your toddler walked in was just a coincidence. He even offered to take you all to a day at the park and have a picnic to reconcile your "differences" on the topic of fondling kids. He really just does what he has to to be happy.
    This is the kind of naivety you display when you defend ubisoft or EA or MS. (and many others)

    @rojimboo: ubi or ea or whoever don't have to go out of business to stop supporting their games.
    This has been shown plenty of times by online MM being shut down for games less than 2 years old (ea sports series among many).
    They have a marketing dept. for these things, a free pass to do whatever they want as long as there is no explicit law to prevent it and they can provide a spin to it and play the pity card.
    After all the shit these companies have pulled it is pretty obvious that the gaming audience is one that will turn the other cheek over and over as long as you have some new baubels to dangle in front of them.

    There also isn't a monopoly, there is GOG (no drm) and the many retail chains with their own DD service and there are independant developers and there is the good ol' normal retail cd key way to sell games to fall back on.
    You can't seriously think that in the world's biggest ME TOO, ME TOO! business there would ever be a monopoly for games distribution,right?
    Noone is arguing for a steam monopoly or even that steam is better than retail or no drm, we are arguing against numbers over quality DRM.

    And there we go, Djbriandamage summarised in one sentence why DRM is fundamentally wrong.
    Last edited by Finicky; 24-07-2012 at 06:55 PM.

  20. #20
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    Two fairly simple reasons:

    1) It doesn't work
    Almost every game still gets pirated (not Diablo 3, which is interesting, but that's a different argument). There was a time when we had 'casual' piracy, kids trading copied DVDs/CDs/cassettes in the playground. Or adults doing it at work. DRM that prevented copying by the average user had some sort of use. But the industry persisted with this sort of DRM even after that all but dried up. People don't do that any more. They use torrent sites (or in some countries, buy discs burnt from copies got from torrent sites). If you check any torrent site, pretty much all the games are on there. Most of them require copying a single crack file over to make them work. That's not advanced computing. If you're smart enough to use a torrent file, you're smart enough to use a crack, especially as said crack will be packaged with the torrent file along with instructions for using it.

    2) It inconveniences legitimate customers
    Needing to always be online, or always online to start, or online to register, is an inconvenience. The amount of that inconvenience will depend on your circumstances, but inarguably is.

    Now, neither of those two arguments are sufficient alone. If the DRM doesn't work but doesn't bother legit consumers at all, it's harmless and benign. If the DRM works but does inconvenience legitimate consumers, then you're trading-off customer goodwill against stopping pirates. Which matters more is down to you as a publisher. Us consumers may hate it, but an argument can be made.

    But 99.9% of DRM falls into both categories: it doesn't work and it annoys the legit user. In which case it's utterly worthless.

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