Rock, Paper, Shotgun is read by over 92% of the Earth’s population, and our most frequent readers are in the top 15% most attractive people on Earth! Yes, we all love statistics we don’t provide any evidence for. There’s so much fun to be had. Ubisoft have also been revelling in that fun, by telling GI.biz that they experience “93-95% piracy” rates. Which is odd, what with all their boasting that their always-awful DRM has been so darned effective at combating piracy. How incredibly confusing! Anyway, this, says bossman Yves Guillemot, is why they’re heading down the path of F2P games.
Posts Tagged ‘piracy’
The humble .nfo file is a business card, instruction manual, and score-setting rap song in ascii form. They’re the files that the piracy scene drops into their releases to claim bragging rights for that particular chunk of nefarious code. So why the hell did Syndicate Developers Starbreeze stick one in the legitimate release of their first-person shooter? Redditor MikkelManDK spotted the file in the game’s directory: it’s there to partly to mock the scene a little — the install notes read: ‘1) Insert disc 2) Play ;)’ — and partly to bring the Warez groups into the games industry: Starbreeze’s .nfo asks them to apply for jobs.
RPS Feature Dirty money
Last week we celebrated CD Projekt RED’s decision to back down from the practice of demanding cash settlements from alleged pirates. The gambit, that subverts the legal process of innocent until proven guilty, and is based on threatening people with spurious lawsuits with only flimsy, unreliable IP evidence, has been condemned on many occasions, and when tried in the UK led to some rapid backtracking. Many have viewed it as extortion, frightening people into paying fees in the region of €800 in order not to have to go to court to prove their innocence or argue against the notion of piracy equating to lost sales. And as TorrentFreak revealed yesterday, it’s something being done by a huge proportion of the publishing industry.
RPS Feature CD Projekt Vs The Pirates
You’ll likely remember that last week it was revealed that CD Projekt had hired a firm to send out letters to those they believed had pirated copies of The Witcher 2, demanding large sums of money. It’s a practice that is widely despised, due not only to its propensity for threatening the innocent, but more significantly, because it’s based on threats in the first place. A person receives a letter demanding an excessive amount of money (evidence for this story suggests in the region of €750, corrected from 900+ that was previously reported), or the recipient will be taken to court where they may end up paying a great deal more. These apparently necessary court cases will be dropped if the fee is paid. And that’s why I consider it such a serious issue. Never mind the severity of the act of piracy, this process subverts the legal process, avoids actually providing evidence and proving guilt, and depends upon scaring people into paying money they likely can’t afford. This is something I wanted to discuss with CDP themselves, who I thought had given unsatisfactory responses to other outlets who suddenly picked up on the story after RPS reported TorrentFreak’s week-old article. My discussion is below.
Remember how we all cheered when CD Projekt removed the DRM from The Witcher 2? Although the GoG version was always free of the legitimate-customers-only punishing code, all other sources came with the straitjacket. Post launch, however, they patched it out, letting customers enjoy the game without concern. It seemed an all-round sensible way to behave, and despite piracy they sold over a million copies of the game. A happy story. Except, well, now according to TorrentFreak (and seemingly corroborated here, along with mentions of a few other titles) the publisher is reportedly threatening alleged (but unproven) pirates with ludicrous legal letters demanding large amounts of money.
There’s some lovely comments from Volition‘s studio manager, Eric Barker, over on Eurogamer. Discussing why it’s always worth developing for PC when creating cross platform titles, and how Volition will no longer be using external developers for their PC versions, he drops this gem of a comment that I’ll be quoting for some time to come.
“I don’t think [piracy] is something at the forefront for us. First and foremost, we want to make sure we’re making a game people would want to pirate. Let’s make a game that’s worth stealing, and then we’ll worry about making sure they don’t.”
Ubisoft, you do like making mistakes. The publisher’s strange habit of incorporating piracy into their products seems to have reared once more. Remember back in 2008 when they thought it would be a good idea to officially patch Rainbow Six Vegas 2 with an illegal NO-CD crack? Today Eurogamer brings us news that those copyright infringing scamps may have been at it again. This time it looks like they’ve included a torrented version of their own soundtrack in the Digital Deluxe Edition of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood on PC.
Correction: It seems that Ubisoft’s new DRM will be requiring one activation at install, and then not again. While this is problematic regarding DLC, and I continue to argue (as the post below explains) still not okay, it’s not quite as it was understood from the ambiguous statements given before the article was written. However, the “always on” DRM continues to torment users of Ubisoft games like Settlers 7. Apologies for the confusion caused, and to Ubisoft for the incorrect statements.
Don’t be fooled, I say. Ubisoft, amongst others, have been getting a lot of good press lately, including from this very site, for the apparent backtracking on the DRM that had crippled a number of games. By insisting that players be always online as they played, Ubisoft’s games became a subject of headlines – gamers’ progress would be lost, players dumped out of their games, because BT pressed a wrong button somewhere, or the Sun’s flares caused a blip in a wifi signal. It took Digital Rights Management to a whole new level of pointlessly ruining valid customers’ experiences; while the pirates they were pretending to fight continued to enjoy a far better game. And so we celebrate as they remove this, and we compliment them for backing down from the nonsense. But I (John Walker, whose views don’t necessarily reflect those of his (inevitably wrong) colleagues) say: let’s just think about that a little more carefully.
EDIT: Read EA’s curt response here. “Piracy continues to damage the PC packaged goods market and the PC development community.”
I have no words. Actually, I have some words- according to a thread of the Facepunch forums (which may or may not be deleted any second depending how the Facepunch server holds up), a developer build of Crysis 2 containing the full game, multiplayer and the master key for the online authentication has been leaked, and is currently freely available from all sorts of astonishingly illegal websites. This sounds like it might be a serious tragedy for Crytek. Crysis 2 was scheduled for release on the 22nd of March, so the leaked build could be dangerously close to finished. More on this as we hear it, and thanks to RPS reader James B for letting us know.
Polish RPG developers CD Projekt recently announced that their next game, The Witcher 2, would ship without DRM, and there was much rejoicing. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to be all Mr NiceGuy about it. Speaking to Eurogamer, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński said that the company would be pursuing legal action against those net users illegally downloading the game.
“Of course we’re not happy when people are pirating our games, so we are signing with legal firms and torrent sneaking companies… In quite a few big countries, when people are downloading it illegally they can expect a letter from a legal firm saying, ‘Hey, you downloaded it illegally and right now you have to pay a fine.'”
Of course the policing of downloaded content is a highly contentious area in which the legislation is still being proven – and fought against in the courts – but it does suggested a renewed interest by games companies in directly combating piracy on the PC. DRM doesn’t work, we all know that, so it’s hardly surprising that companies like CD Projekt will look to other methods to protect their work. Personally I think low prices and swift digital downloads have been the best weapon.