The Sunday Papers

Sunday afternoon is filled with delightful free comedy (Ever get a chance, go see Brian Gittins). But the evening? It will be full of pasta and sleeping. But in between, in the meniscus between the two, it’s time to compile a list of writing on games found across the internet this week while resisting linking to some piece of music that caught our fancy.

Failed.

155 Comments

  1. Jochen Scheisse says:

    But the evening? It will be full of pasta and sleeping.
    Yes, it will be. By the way, the Brian Gittins link needs reworking.

  2. El_MUERkO says:

    i protest and disagree with everyone below me!

  3. nakke says:

    Piracy and DRM, you say? Hmmm.

  4. Nick says:

    I’d still like there to be a study or at least some mention of how many console sales are lost due to the trade-in market – something exclusive to consoles and widespread as well.

  5. Dan Lawrence says:

    Skipping to the red meat :)

    I think this piracy article is pretty much on the money. Its a fairly comprehensive only skipping out on some details. The section on the economic impact is particularly clearly explained and the ‘piracy is theft’ question clearly covered and debunked. However much people want to dispute the details I expect it will become harder to argue against the growing weight of evidence as to the effects of what publishers are blaming on piracy (fewer people are buying single player PC Games).

    I believe that if you like mainstream single player PC games without DRM of some kind you are going to be disappointed in the future direction of PC gaming. There is a certain amount of inertia in publishers (multiplatform games being started several years in advance, patterns of work taking even longer to change) but if piracy of PC games continues to grow as this article seems to show it has been then I expect things will only get worse.

    In the most optimistic future we’ll see developers using positive DRM-like downloads that come with additional content to encourage users to buy the original game to avoid the hassle of having to recrack it every few weeks to get the latest updates. Of course, that precludes a complete single player experience purchased on day 1.

    In the worst case we could see publishers holding back PC versions of multiplatform games and putting less and less resources into PC ports…. Ah, I guess thats happening already. On the other hand if you like to only play TF2 and WoW on your PC you are going to notice no change in the PC market at all.

  6. pepper says:

    I agree with dan from what i have read so far, i think its fairly spot on.

  7. Dain says:

    Poor Kieron’s testicles..

  8. Will says:

    Damnit, you guys make me so homesick for my little brick house in the Gloucestershire Countryside and its cable internet… Especially on Sundays, because I get it on Monday…

  9. John Jacob Jingleheimer Saflo says:

    Piracy as Theft: Debunked!™

  10. qrter says:

    Before we all drown in a sea of comments (yarr!), this might also be interesting to the Sunday Papers people (I won’t say “peeps”, because that’s just disgracefully shit): a piece by Blake Snow (?) called “The trouble with game of the year awards”, posted by Dan Hsu on his blog Sore Thumbs.

    Don’t expect any amazing insights, it pretty much confirms what you’ve suspected, but still might be an interesting read.

  11. Tannrar says:

    That Rare article was spot-on, KG.
    Especially that last paragraph. Nuts&Bolts is one of my top three games of the year, console or otherwise, just because it was fun. The glee you feel when the crazy flying boatmobile that you feared might be too heavy to take off or even float actually works is amazing. People need to remember why games were made in the first place (okay, maybe second. Money always comes first.), and that’s to HAVE FUN.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    To be honest, the main argument for piracy is getting stuff for free and the limited possibility of being caught. Anything else is probably just an excuse. (But we’ve been here before)

  13. Gap Gen says:

    qrter: I think the big problem with game awards is that nearly everyone involved works for big game companies. The whole thing just smacks of corporate back-patting.

  14. BrokenSymmetry says:

    I agree with John Walker in his blog that Michael Thomsen’s piece for IGN on Gears 2 is by far the best article/review I have read about the game. Thanks for that link!

  15. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    ” One last point: some people are in such a mad rush to insist that Steam is somehow the solution to every aspect of piracy and DRM, they fail to consider that by giving Valve a monopoly in digital games distribution, this will only help keep game prices high.”(link to tweakguides.com)
    I find this funny because roughly a year ago, I bought 6 games(7 if you count peggle extreme) for the price of 1 game, from Valve. Also I don’t think that valve gets a lot of money for distributing the games, but I have no facts what-so-ever to support this.

  16. Trithemius says:

    Interesting words from John!

    Other professions also tussle with the ideal of objectivity as well. I know very well that there is some discussion amongst archivists about the pretension of objectivity in an area where collection policies (which are written by someone afterall) and murky and inherently biased terms like “significance” prevail. I think a good case for the necessity of critical evaluation of a reviewer is made in John’s article – although I am not sure if he intended to make it.

    Um yeah… sorry about the archival ramblings… how about them games eh?

  17. qrter says:

    He also doesn’t mention the social networking aspect of Steam, which admittedly has only become really strong the last year or so, but I do think it’s why a lot of people embrace the platform – in other words, Steam isn’t just about delivering games and therefore DRM, there’s more to the thing (granted, you might see this as Valve trying to obscure the DRMness of the platform, but you could also see it as them giving the community something extra, to show that it’s not all about restriction).

  18. Dan Lawrence says:

    True, but generally a monopoly is bad in any unregulated competitive field. Thats why we have government organisations tasked with stopping monopolies from developing.

    If you’ve got only one place to buy your PC games in the future then I imagine you won’t see quite as many bargins or sales.

  19. pepper says:

    Dreadnaught, its more about the products of other publishers then off valve, valve isnt afraid to cut there prices, other developers and publishers are.

  20. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Dan Lawrence, pepper. I agree with you two. And I think Valve has this way of pricing stuff, because they know it is a good way to survive in this market.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Funny he says Valve has no motivation to lower prices when i just bought TF2 for 10 dollars (50% off)
    Also in one of his conclusions he says something like “Dont buy or pirate crappy games”, but how are we supposed to know what games are crappy? “Professional reviews” are a laughter, demos are taking the way of Hollywood trailers which show only what the publisher thinks will attract more viewers.
    And call my pirate or whatever but i WILL NOT PAY for a 6 months late SHITTY console port like GTAIV, i will not reward laziness and speculation.
    Also publishers have effectively killed the second hand PC market making it virtually impossible to sell your used PC games, i take caution in spending 50 bucks in what may become a coaster after 6 hours of cliche gameplay.

  22. Gorgeras says:

    I stopped reading the Tweak article when I reached the bit about StarForce. Whilst the commitment to evidence if laudable, this is cherry-picked evidence. I have no less than six optical drives in my garage which are broken because of StarForce. It took six to work out that it was StarForce and I know invariably that those games I have which have SF, if installed, will break my newest optical drive. Corrolation doesn’t equate to causation, but this is an invariable consequence when ever I have tried playing Prince of Persia 2 and 3 again. Those games are now unplayable for me unless I want to keep forking out.

    The pre-conditions the Russian company set out in order to ‘prove’ StarForce harmed machines are conveniently not mentioned either. I’m not going to fly to Russia with my PC to show them personally the optical drive gradually getting slower and slower over many weeks until it can no longer play a DVD, just to get a refund off them to replace the broken drives.

    To say that if someone is wrong in one thing, they must be wrong in everything, would be unreasonable. But the article isn’t wrong; it’s factually correct. It’s dishonest. The truth is being used to tell lies. Distorting the picture without smudging the paint. This is an exception where wrong in one thing really does mean it is wrong in all things because the conclusions being drawn require possibly more time to scrutinise than it did to research the article to begin with; we are relying on our trust of the author that the article as a whole is true and informative. Like in a documentary, a single mistakes doesn’t poison everything, but a single falsehood does.

  23. Pod says:

    No, comment thread, No!

  24. Steven says:

    I do agreen with most of that is said, but some of the points are just naive and wrong. When a finely polished package like the Orange Box come with Steam, I’ve got no problem with it. When a piece of crap (*cough*GTA IV*cough) comes with microsoft AND rockstar DRM, we got a big problem.

    And anybody want to venture a guess to who would complain more about piracy, Valve or Rockstar?

    I also hate DRM that restrict number of installs. Sure, I can call the publisher or whatever, but I don’t really want to everytime my PC hardware spec changes. That is why Steam is a good system, because while Valve is still running (not likely to bankrupt soon), I can install my games on as many computers as I want.

    Demos are a joke, I remember the FEAR demo to be much more exciting than the actual game, in fact, I’m pretty sure the FEAR demo pretty much contained all the excitement of the whole game packaged into a short level.

  25. semi-ev0l pirate says:

    In my home country, you can’t get a bootlegged PC game unless it’s either very popular or you know which bootleg market to go to. Bootlegged console games, however, are sold right in the flea market, sunday market…everywhere there’s more than a smattering of people. To add to this, good broadband internet is expensive and ‘good’ is rather subjective depending on where you live, but it also ensures that anyone who torrents has to know something about how to set networks up. Naturally, most console pirates buy bootlegs and PC pirates torrent, for mutual convenience.

    Granted, countries like mine are markets with little attention paid to by developers, though I’m not sure whether piracy causes this or if it is the other way around. Even localized titles are never in our language, and shops selling bootlegs outnumber legit copies ten to one, so I’m not sure whether anyone ever adds this to the total or not. But just in case we’re willing to look at it as a global problem, this may account for some of the numerical discrepancies?

  26. Al3xand3r says:

    I think it’s stupid to create an article like this just as you have closed down your forums. But hey, often when he wanted to just present his own view he was making locked threads anyway. I love his work with guides and such, but I dislike pretty much everything else I know about this guy.

    Needless to say I disagree with a lot of what he wrote in there, some of it is sound but a lot of it is pure speculation which he tries to pass as fact.

    For example, I don’t think anyone can measure console piracy. Why? Because it’s not done via downloads as on PC on its largest part. A single person will usually download a game, then distribute a ton of copies, which he actually sells to naive people. That’s how it’s usually done. We can’t measure it, because obviously if they knew where those people are, they’d simply arrest and shut down their “business” duh. So I’m afraid the “it happens on consoles too” argument isn’t debunked at all.

    Many other points have similar uninformed speculation, like if the industry really is affected to the worse and what not. It reminds me of Ubisoft’s stance with having no DRM in Prince of Persia just to prove what nobody argues anyway instead of actually service the customers which is only a side effect of their intention it seems.

  27. Al3xand3r says:

    Oh yeah, as for giving Valve the online monopoly, uh, so what? It’s no worse than the oligopoly of the giant retail chains in the largest markets. And it’s better in ways already explained in some other comments here. But hey, how about recommending other platforms like Impulse and Good old Games also then? Oh, that’s right, they have no DRM so they must advocate piracy lolol?

  28. Xercies says:

    Install limits ARE a problem, since you have the thing of when your uninstalling it can sometimes fail to connect to the server meaning that you have uninstalled the game but once you have installed ti again you have one taken away and the unistalled hasn’t put one back. Also Red Alert 3 do not have these uninstalls so you only have 5 activations.

  29. Al3xand3r says:

    Right, not to mention pirates don’t have limited installs anyway, that only hinders legitimate customers and makes them jump through hoops. That’s the whole point of not wanting DRM that is intrusive like that, that pirates are not affected in the least, even the most casual uninformed gamer has learnt how to copy paste a crack or use a patch file, while legitimate customers get the shaft.

  30. Putter says:

    Honestly, I’ve never had an actual issue with SecuROM, and I’m not even aware of the problems others have gotten. I have pretty much no ill-will to any DRM that doesn’t prevent me from playing my games (unless it apparently does that?). The install limit of 3 or 5 though, is completely bogus as I like to keep games permenantly and replay them whenever and however I want. It’s not enough to keep me from buying a really good game, but I’d be more likely to buy it from Steam or not at all if I was in any way on the fence about it.

  31. Xercies says:

    Also sad about Rare, they were the best SNES and Nintendo 64 developers and ever since they were brought by Microsoft they sucked basically. I will always know you rare by the greatness that you made..

  32. Gap Gen says:

    RC-1290’Dreadnought’: The timed demo for L4D was interesting – I can’t think of anyone else who has done this, and it contributed to me not buying the game, after umming and aahing about the £27 price tag for a multiplayer-only game.

    I think it’s valid to suggest that people shouldn’t pirate games as extended demos. Aside from lying about your reasons (if you, say, pirated a game and played it all or most of the way through before saying it was crappy and you won’t buy a legit copy) every product has that limitation. If publishers don’t provide demos or reviews are inaccurate, then just wait for opinions on the internet. This is what I did with GTA4, and they lost a sale. The publishers lose early sales, but tough shit to them for not providing representative demos or review copies.

  33. beetleboy says:

    Weaselwords, with a huge heap of writing on the nose. How about, answer the question – why pay to have a worse gaming experience? I guess his answer is, “those with little patience do it”. I guess the rest will keep not paying, apart for the odd game without DRM. It’s also interesting to see a lot of online music stores starting to sell music without DRM.. somehow, they must believe it possible to make money, even without DRM. It must be that “different user demographic” at work again. Because pirates don’t listen to music?

    I’d also say that WoW is piracy-resistant because it sells an online service (server access), and not a digital product that can easily be copied. You’d have to hack the server and make fake accounts to crack WoW – and if you did, you’d risk your characters that you put months of hard work into being locked if you were discovered. Also, if I’m offline somewhere out in the shticks and cannot play WoW, I won’t complain – being online is integral. But if DRM or Steam risks stopping me playing a single-player offline game.. well, that’s one product I wont buy.

    The future may contain DRM, but I think WoW is the smarter business model..

  34. Theory says:

    I stopped reading the Tweak article when I reached the bit about StarForce. Whilst the commitment to evidence if laudable, this is cherry-picked evidence. I have no less than six optical drives in my garage which are broken because of StarForce.

    It’s dishonest. The truth is being used to tell lies. Distorting the picture without smudging the paint.

    You are the first person I’ve ever seen who has even claimed to have actual evidence of a hardware failure related to StarForce. And I was pretty involved in the debate back in the day.

    It’s not difficult to believe that the same is true of Koroush, so I wouldn’t go around calling him a liar just because he’s not spoken to you.

    (Additionally, it sounds a lot like you keep hitting the WinXP bug that erodes drive speed when a disc with corrupt sectors is encountered. There’s an update out that fixes that…I thought it was on WU?)

  35. Al3xand3r says:

    WoW is obviously a smart business model. But does that mean developers should only make MMOGs and ditch other types? I’d rather have single player games on Steam than not have them at all.

    But I’m not worried that genres will disappear. Genres disappear when they simply aren’t popular anymore, cue the adventure or space sim games, though I think we see a resurgence in both. It has little to do with piracy. And obviously not everyone can invest in making a MMORPG. People can only play so many. Just look how horribly anything that isn’t WoW fails over here. Conan? Failure. Warhammer? Started good, now they’re doing server merges. Tabula Rasa? Dead. Etc.

    There’s no reason to fear that developers willl only make MMORPGs and other online games thanks to piracy as the article tries to say. Genre decisions have little to do with piracy, just what’s currently “hot” and such.

  36. Al3xand3r says:

    Theory, lots of ppl say the same things as Gorgeras about Starforce, including myself. Heck, that’s why people mostly hated it, as most have no clue what ring 0 access or what not really means. One would have to do some heavy searching to find Starforce debates without such mentions, rather than with.

  37. Theory says:

    It’s also interesting to see a lot of online music stores starting to sell music without DRM.. somehow, they must believe it possible to make money, even without DRM. It must be that “different user demographic” at work again. Because pirates don’t listen to music?

    Music: Data that is read by code. I can’t play protected files in Audiosurf.
    Games: Code that read data.

  38. Gap Gen says:

    Well, I think the article argues that some developers have said they’ll only make single player games for consoles, so some genres might just shift to different platforms. For example, Brutal Legend was primarily announced for Xbox when Tim’s earlier work was all unashamedly PC.

  39. Al3xand3r says:

    And yes, we magically stop getting the hardware corruptions when we stop using Starforce. It took you 5 seconds to solve a problem we’ve obviously encountered and researched for months (according to his 6 drives mention), thanks a lot dude.

  40. Theory says:

    Al3xand3r, I saw plenty of people claiming that damage was caused, but nobody who had actually had it happen to them.

    The same is true of those who complained about Spore’s install limits. “Have you been affected?” I always asked. Nobody posting ever had.

  41. Theory says:

    Al3xand3r, disc read speed degradation (if that’s what it is/was) was an OS thing that would by its nature stick around after any software triggering it had gone.

  42. Pags says:

    Theory: I’ll be the second person to claim an actual hardware fault because of Starforce. Burnt through four optical-drives.

  43. perilisk says:

    The nice thing about Steam is that the company that runs it is privately owned, and thus has no ethical imperative to brutally extract as much income from its customers as possible in the short term at the cost of reputation and long term customer relationships. If they feel greedy, they can, but they can’t claim they did so because they were obligated to some third party.

  44. Nick says:

    That thief breaking into your house analogy it terrible.

  45. Dan (WR) says:

    A few years back I replaced multiple CD drives too, until I realised all my problems were caused by Starforce – after lots of research and pulling my hair out.

    I’m not some illogical hysterical tit. In my experience the corrolation was clear. I’ve never had any problems with CD/DVD drives since I started boycotting all starforce games.

  46. Ginger Yellow says:

    On the Sore Thumbs game awards article, I have to say my response is a big “so what”? Awards are compromised, arbitrary and more or less meaningless in every industry (remember Titanic’s Oscar haul?), but at least in games they don’t have any real impact. There’s no equivalent to the Oscar bounce that I know of. Occasionally you’ll get a “Game of the Year” edition, but it’s always just an excuse to package an already blockbuster game with some post-release content and sell it again. I’d be amazed if more than 1% of any (mainstream) game’s sales came as a result of an award. The IGF awards are an obvious exception, but the article doesn’t talk about them at all.

  47. Dan Lawrence says:

    Just in case anyone has forgotten this is a 10 page article of which Starforce forms only a minor and somewhat insignificant part. If there are legitimate problems with Starforce it makes little difference conceptually to the author’s main thrust.

    Also, as another commentor pointed out it is wrong to assume ill intent when the article writer may just be uniformed about the damage Starforce causes. If anyone has some kind of well researched piece on the destruction wrought on certain models of optical drive by Starforce then feel free to post it, but its not the main thrust of the point the author is trying to make.

    His point is that in some cases DRM does work in stopping piracy for a short period contrary to the popular (and indeed my until recently) belief. If DRM works enough and game sales appear to be higher as a result then you can bet publishers will try it even at the expense of minorly inconveniencing their users. I also don’t think the author is in favour of ‘you can only install this game X times’ DRM, but as he rightly points out most, if not all of the games that opted for this route have allowed an uninstall to regain installations or upped their installation limits to something larger.

    I still don’t think its particularly great to be entrusting the fate of my future games workiness to the health of a corporation and its willingness to disable activation should it go down the tubes. However, that surely does not justify piracy? Instead it might justify buying the game playing at as intended and then if the worst happens popping onto the internet for the crack?

    In short; all DRM is not equal the author is aware of that fact, sometimes DRM works, sometimes DRM like steam actually becomes popular. DRM forms a small part of the article in total there are large passages on the economics of piracy (and regional piracy fans, he also comes out in favour of simultaneous world wide releases).

  48. Erlam says:

    “The same is true of those who complained about Spore’s install limits. “Have you been affected?” I always asked. Nobody posting ever had.”

    Wasn’t there a story the day after the game came out where a guy had the game fail whenever he tried to install, and then got to his ‘install limit’? I can tell you that I format my drives every 6 months or so, thus a lot of games would be unplayable within a few years.

    And I still play Quake 1, so.. yeah, consider that.

  49. Erlam says:

    (What I meant was, of course they haven’t been effected when you asked, the game had been our what, 2 months?)

  50. RLC says:

    On the PC vs. console piracy statistics…

    The websites mentioned as sources of piracy are very Western-centric. I’m living in Beijing, and it’s difficult to buy an unmodded xbox360 over here. When I bought mine, I couldn’t take it home, because “it wasn’t ready yet.” They mod it in the shop for free, then give it to you.

    And I still haven’t found a place to buy legit games. I’d like to; there are a few that I’d love to play on LIVE. But when you walk into game shops in Gulou and see hundreds of spindles of copied console games ready for distribution, and each game costing about 1 Euro, you can see how legit copies wouldn’t be stocked.

    On the other hand, I’ve never even seen copied PC games for sale over here. I think everyone just slurps them right off the torrent sites, hence the whole Asian micro-transaction model, etc., etc. Heck, I even heard some people saying WotLK was going to be a free patch over here.

    So no, it probably doesn’t change much overall. But the obviousness of the cracked consoles and distribution of cracked console games is amazing.