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  Your thoughts on DRM.  (Read 3480 times)
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Offline mast3rpyr0

Senior Newbie


Medals: 1



« Posted 2013-03-19 02:45:16 »

For a long time I have been conflicted on my thoughts for DRM. On the one hand, it helps prevent piracy, on the other its usually at a huge disadvantage to legitimate customers. Now I love downloading the latest overpriced AAA game for free as much as the next guy, but as a business man myself obviously I wouldn't be ok with that if people could easily download my hard work for free. However, I do believe that I should not try to hide behind laws to prevent this. It is my responsibility as a product creator to build it in such a way that that is not possible, hence DRM (in it's current form its still rather trivial to hack and get passed). What I'd like to hear is your thoughts on DRM as it is, as well as what it could be. If I had a say I would propose these guidelines be followed in order to allow DRM technology to be implemented in the first place on a product:

  • Playable demo of the game (a good portion of it, 5-10% of the entire game, or at least enough to experience everything that is to come)
  • Functions on all devices a user could possibly play the content on. I think this is the biggest fault in DRM today, mostly for movies. (Hello 1997 DVD players)
  • Online requirement of multiplayer portion only.

Can anyone think of other things that could help DRM work as intended without screwing legitimate customers?
Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 202



« Reply #1 - Posted 2013-03-19 02:47:48 »

Make the purchase, download, and install management so convenient and seamless that the user doesn't even realize there's DRM at all.  See Steam for one example of how to do this.  See Games For Windows Live for an example of how not.

If you can't do that, just skip the DRM entirely.
Offline mast3rpyr0

Senior Newbie


Medals: 1



« Reply #2 - Posted 2013-03-19 02:59:14 »

Steam is definitely good, though not all games(or other creative content) can or should be released on the platform. Will there be a point where online requirement is ok for most things? Nearly everyone has internet these days, its only a matter of time before EVERYONE has it, or at least the companies core audience will. In the case of the recent Sim City BS, personally I think the online requirement to play is terrible, but saving the games in the cloud is an interesting idea that requires and authenticated user account to access(granted still essentially requires an internet connection). What about 1 time internet required applications that download some type of encrypted file necessary to play thats different for every person and that works forever?
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Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 202



« Reply #3 - Posted 2013-03-19 03:12:09 »

If the game is "in the cloud", you already have an online requirement inherent in the game.  As for downloading a license file, that's your choice, but if you don't make it seamless and effortless, you just chase away people who would actually pay while putting up no effective deterrent to people who were going to pirate it anyway.
Offline mast3rpyr0

Senior Newbie


Medals: 1



« Reply #4 - Posted 2013-03-19 03:40:44 »

I was thinking less of a license file and more like required code. It would be seamless, like steam's install before release thing where the files are encrypted until the release date. I'm not thinking of any of these options for a product im putting out, just talking about it in general. I'd like to know what is acceptable and what isn't. Personally I think there has to be something, if it is available to pirate, people can and should pirate it. The company is soley responsible for protecting their (digital) products from piracy and should not hide behind laws(you can't tell me I can't download something when my torrent client says otherwise, you have to physically prevent me from doing so). That said it has to be fair and give the benefit of the doubt to the consumer if there is an issue.
Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #5 - Posted 2013-03-19 07:45:38 »

The "always online" thing is something you have to package properly so people can accept it. If you call it "always online" like Ubisoft did - you fail because boohoo all those people who do they think they are bla bla. But if you call it "the cloud", you succeed even if it is basically the same deal with the same possibilities. Then all of a sudden it is no longer a limitation, it is a service.
Offline princec

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« Reply #6 - Posted 2013-03-19 08:33:25 »

Behold the coolest DRM ever.

Cas Smiley

Offline Regenuluz
« Reply #7 - Posted 2013-03-19 08:43:05 »

I hate single player games, that requires me to be online all the time. There's no reason what so ever for a single player game to require an online connection(I can live with it, if it requires a connection when installing, but after that, it should f**k off with the "always online" requirement!).

Besides, DRM wont stop people from stealing your game. "Just" make the game good enough so that people will actually bother supporting you.

Feel free to obscure the source as much as you want, and do all sorts of hacks to make it harder to decompile, but don't require always online, unless there's no single player gameplay.

And preferbly do as Cas and co. Smiley
Offline princec

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« Reply #8 - Posted 2013-03-19 09:06:08 »

We deploy our code unobfuscated. We even give away our source code. It makes no difference to sales (which, ahaha, are pitiful anyway Smiley) We make most of our money now from Steam, which has draconian DRM, and there's no demo. This is what consumers actually want. Go figure.

Cas Smiley

Offline Nate

JGO Kernel


Medals: 147
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Esoteric Software


« Reply #9 - Posted 2013-03-19 11:20:46 »

I'd say make the demo uncrackable by only including code for the content available. Make the full version a separate download. Now someone has to buy your game before they can redistribute it. Not much, but better, and this won't bother any users.

To take it further, you can uniquely identify users, eg by having the full version request a serial number or better by embedding the serial in the user's download. Make the app call home so you can see how many computers a serial number is running on. If someone distributes the full version of your game, you can disable that serial. If they run it without internet, let them play.

Whatever you choose to do should not bother users at all while at least providing some protection over people just uploading the full version for mass distribution. Anything can be cracked, so don't bother trying to make it uncrackable. The most I would do is litter your code with checks, making it annoying to remove them all.

I do think DRM is the wrong problem to fret about until you are successful. Smiley

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Offline princec

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« Reply #10 - Posted 2013-03-19 11:23:46 »

I personally think it's the wrong problem to think about even when you're successful!*

Cas Smiley

* we've yet to get there properly of course so my advice is technically worthless posturing

Offline erikd

JGO Ninja


Medals: 16
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Maximumisness


« Reply #11 - Posted 2013-03-19 13:11:36 »

Interestingly, a recent research report suggested that providing game demos actually reduces sales quite significantly (whatever the quality of the game).

IMHO the best form of DRM is adding value to your product that is practically impossible to copy.
This can be different things that apply to different people.
1) For example an online community can be very important to some people (MMOs and such, but also things like friend lists on platforms like XBL etc)
2) For many people, having the original in its original packaging simply adds value in itself that no pirated copy can provide. This doesn't even necessarily need to depend on physical packaging: Knowing you downloaded an official copy is valuable for many people. Liking the company you buy from helps a lot there.

This doesn't really apply to a large number of games and to a large number of people.
For example single-player games often don't benefit from online features. Many people just don't see the value of getting legitimate copies. The sense of 'value' is a very subjective thing.

So I don't really have an answer for that other than making sure your game is visible everywhere and getting your game via legit channels is as easy as possible.
But trying to prevent creating a digital copy is usually a waste of time and can even promote piracy.

Offline JESTERRRRRR

Senior Member


Medals: 7
Exp: 1 year



« Reply #12 - Posted 2013-03-19 14:02:26 »

My computer is constantly connected to the internet, I have no problem with always online DRM. Not to tarnish everyone with the same brush but the people IRL who have bitched about this wanted to pirate it, straight up
Offline Regenuluz
« Reply #13 - Posted 2013-03-19 14:36:51 »

I have a problem with being thrown out of my single player game/unable to play it, if there's problems with my internet connection. I wish everyone would do as Cas is doing. DRM doesn't stop people from pirating your game anyway, it'll only slow them a day or two, at best.

The best "DRM" is to make buying your game super convenient, this is what Steam does, even if they have DRM and whatnot. But I can play all my single player games, offline. Plus I get updates delivered to my door, without having to do anything myself.

And "syncing your saves to the cloud" is just a crap excuse for DRM*. Sure it's convenient for the people who play on tons of different computers, but who does that? No one I know, that's for sure. And that's even despite the fact that they have multiple computers.

* It's fine to sync, but don't make it mandatory. If a save game gets out of sync, tough cookie. Ask the player which copy to use, or just add it as another save file.
Offline Groboclown
« Reply #14 - Posted 2013-03-19 14:39:04 »

My computer is constantly connected to the internet, I have no problem with always online DRM. Not to tarnish everyone with the same brush but the people IRL who have bitched about this wanted to pirate it, straight up
I have several reasons why I would want to never have a game that requires this always-on connectivity.

Firstly, I commute by rail which claims to have wifi access, but it's slower than a 4kbps modem connection when it actually does work.  There are other times when I am using my laptop outside the house where my wifi does not reach.  In each of these scenarios, I may wish to spend a few moments on Popular Game (it's happened many times), and if it requires an internet connection, then I won't be able to play it.  This makes me much less likely to want to buy the game in the first place.

Secondly, any game that requires connection to a server makes me question my ability to play said game after that company has gone out of business, or if it decides that running its DRM servers isn't worth their while (like what EA did to its "older" sports titles).  While not a show-stopper for me, it does make me reconsider whether I should buy it or not.


Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #15 - Posted 2013-03-19 15:05:45 »

Two very good reasons to hate it. I highly agree, for those reasons it sucks really badly.

Me - I'd use an "always online" feature to keep track of what players do and adjust the game accordingly - AND make it optional so you can keep playing even when you don't have internet available to you. A game like SimCity 2013 should have applied it for that very reason, but alas it seems to be used for DRM reasons only.
Offline JESTERRRRRR

Senior Member


Medals: 7
Exp: 1 year



« Reply #16 - Posted 2013-03-19 19:24:51 »

Fair enough about on the train. Perhaps this wont be a problem 10 years down the line though, when we are connected no matter where we are.

The stuff about the game servers though, do you know the name of any of the games? I mean its a problem with Steam too, being unable to download them if Steam went under. I would of thought in the case of always online DRM theyd just release a lil patch making it no longer neccesary?
Offline Groboclown
« Reply #17 - Posted 2013-03-19 20:44:43 »

The stuff about the game servers though, do you know the name of any of the games? I mean its a problem with Steam too, being unable to download them if Steam went under. I would of thought in the case of always online DRM theyd just release a lil patch making it no longer neccesary?

EA shut down some multi-player servers a while back: http://www.cinemablend.com/games/EA-Sports-MMA-Multiplayer-Shutting-Down-Soon-40599.html.  Not quite the same thing, though.  A better example, though not directly related, was when Microsoft turned off its music service: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2008/04/drm-sucks-redux-microsoft-to-nuke-msn-music-drm-keys/

As for Steam, this big long thread on their forums discusses what their plans are: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=870603.  The tl;dr version is "Steam would revert to "Offline" mode."

Offline Cero
« Reply #18 - Posted 2013-03-19 21:44:43 »

First of all, I think your game should have BASIC copy protection, so that you cannot copy it as simply, because that will hurt sales.
You dont have to really invest there... once a game is popular enough that someone with skill enough to hack it will look at it - you wont need it anymore

Now, I see the "perfect DRM" as kind of a engineering challenge (not only engineering though).
I believe it is possible to create the prefect DRM which will cause legitimate users absolute zero trouble, and will stop people from pirating it.
DRM has gotten a bad rep because its been done badly - but that doesnt have to be that way.
With a good DRM, a legitimate user will never even notice that there is a DRM.

Offline deepthought
« Reply #19 - Posted 2013-03-20 00:04:24 »

do it Serious sam 3 style. if it's pirated make a boss enemy constantly follow you around and shoot at you.

but seroiusly, puppygames's approach to DRM actually makes sense. Also, lots of people who pirate games buy the second one if they liked it, assuming the DRM isn't a total jerk.

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Offline ctomni231

JGO Wizard


Medals: 99
Projects: 1
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Not a glitch. Just have a lil' pixelexia...


« Reply #20 - Posted 2013-03-20 06:33:42 »

Pirates again. Shiver me timbers...

DRM is just very interesting. I mean, I know the reason behind it is to protect the software developers from pirates. I also know that it somewhat alienates the user base. At the end of the day, those who want to get a hold of your content, will get a hold of it, so what is the point?

To be honest, there is no such thing as a perfect DRM. At least, I feel there isn't ever going to be any. If there is any evidence behind that, I'd point directly to movies. Movies are very one dimensional, and yet... can easily be pirated. Looking at the solutions given to games, I can see where this will just be a huge problem.

1) Encrypt the movies: To be honest, I have to admit it is the best way. People have to go through more effort to grab the data off the disk and it'll ward off the simple hackers from attempting to get the data. User base is pretty much unaffected because the disc works as intended. The only problem is the more persistent hackers will find a way to get through it.

2) Free Online service: This is where users who do not have an internet connection will be irritated. Yes, they do own the movie, but now, the only way you'll watch the movie is through the service. If the service shuts down... well, tough rocks. It is hard for hackers to steal it, but that doesn't stop them from making fake accounts...

3) Paid Online service: Now we can track down and close those fake accounts, but now people are paying even more for a service...

4) Build all new Hardware/Software for the movie: Really... that is just ridiculous.

I think leaving the code out there is going to be the best method. Pirating, sadly, can't be stopped. I, for one, enjoy owning physical copies of things I own. When DRM starts getting in the way of that, then it completely turns me off.

Here is the deal...

If a game is well-made and priced fairly, the majority of the people will purchase your game. People who are pirating the game are usually the ones who don't have the means to get it, want a free trial of it, or want the challenge of cracking it. These are people who, at the moment, don't feel your game is worth their support anyway. The extra time and resources it takes companies to make a very solid DRM is probably biting them just as hard in sales. This goes in double for indie developers.

In my opinion, there has been a gradual decrease in game quality (feature wise), because a lot of gaming companies are not being honest and are trying to milk the system. Especially in console gaming, where some games have taken the liberty of shutting out of features you already own on the disc. These are the kinds of things that infuriate users, and turn loyal people into pirates. It creates a snowball effect, in where developers are trying to protect against the horde of pirates they are creating.

In the end though... it all comes down to the game. That is where the focus should be.

Developers should take the time and effort to make a solid game with a good control scheme, game play that'll occupy you for hours, and costs a decent price. The rest of those resources, instead of putting them into DRM, should be pushed into marketing. Let the people know about your game. (Word of mouth marketing is still extremely powerful, sadly.) Those are the developers that'll be making money, while the rest is working on decryption methods...

But alas...

I guess we live in a time now where developers can't trust the users. Just as well, I can't depend on developers to create a game that I'd be happy with the purchase. I'll just sit back and watch the DRM methods increase...



Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #21 - Posted 2013-03-20 07:51:02 »

No. Simple. One game that sums up the absolute worse way to try and go all online in a game meant for single player. Diablo III. Another game on how to do the transition right and not screw over those who have bad internet or no access. Starcraft II.

At this point, never do DRM. If you want to protect a game, make it an mmo or pure multiplayer. D3 = mmo. SC2 = pure multiplayer. I absolutely love sc2. Because I can still play it when school or public networks block internet games.


Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #22 - Posted 2013-03-20 09:33:24 »

Because I can still play it when school or public networks block internet games.

Some people would argue that when you're playing games in school, something is wrong Wink I certainly hardly had any time at all to do that!
Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #23 - Posted 2013-03-20 10:27:22 »

During break I want my daily dose of brain numbing. Also, most public wifi do not allow games. At least, the ones where I am from. I must say short of a VPN I have yet to get much going on the wifi at my school and asking around it seems I am no the only one.

Offline princec

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« Reply #24 - Posted 2013-03-20 10:50:17 »

At this point, never do DRM. If you want to protect a game, make it an mmo or pure multiplayer. D3 = mmo. SC2 = pure multiplayer. I absolutely love sc2. Because I can still play it when school or public networks block internet games.
This is a simplistic view of the issues. What if I want to make a single-player game? I can't make MMOs or multiplayer games anyway. It's exceptionally hard.

Cas Smiley

Offline gouessej
« Reply #25 - Posted 2013-03-20 10:55:48 »

In my humble opinion, DRMs are useless, they encourage piracy. We need a sustainable business model for the digital world, not something that expects from a software to behave like a physical product. Repression is not a solution, let us treat social and political causes. That's why I defend the collectivist cooperative global patronage.

Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #26 - Posted 2013-03-20 11:16:30 »

well princec if you look at games today they are all on console with a crap port to computer or mmo types. You really don't get any more single player as piracy has killed the market. But if you want to still make a single player game, I would go with CD Projekts model. (if that is spelled right) The Witcher games were great. They had no DLC crap and they are making a third. The probably lost around a million from piracy. It is bad but you really cannot stop it. So, the best strategy is to ignore it. Let it happen as it will and try to make a game so damn good the even the pirates well be like "damn this game is great!" At least, thats what I want to do. (probably will end up doing some boring DB programing but hey we can dream)

Offline theagentd
« Reply #27 - Posted 2013-03-20 11:21:17 »

Hopefully the ports will better since there are no more consoles.

Myomyomyo.
Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #28 - Posted 2013-03-20 11:50:52 »

The probably lost around a million from piracy.

No they didn't. If you can prevent piracy, the people who used to play the pirated stuff still won't buy your stuff. We're talking about people that will download games that cost a couple of bucks; its not about being poor, its about not wanting to pay - ever. So you don't lose business there, the only thing is that you feel kicked in the nuts because people play your stuff illegally.

Any way you slice it - people who play pirated games cannot be counted towards your customer pool and thus cannot be calculated into your losses. You lose creating a game that is not good enough so people only buy it when it is discounted, if at all.
Offline JESTERRRRRR

Senior Member


Medals: 7
Exp: 1 year



« Reply #29 - Posted 2013-03-20 12:42:41 »

EA shut down some multi-player servers a while back: http://www.cinemablend.com/games/EA-Sports-MMA-Multiplayer-Shutting-Down-Soon-40599.html.  Not quite the same thing, though.  A better example, though not directly related, was when Microsoft turned off its music service: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2008/04/drm-sucks-redux-microsoft-to-nuke-msn-music-drm-keys/

As for Steam, this big long thread on their forums discusses what their plans are: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=870603.  The tl;dr version is "Steam would revert to "Offline" mode."

See I couldnt think of a game where this exact situation had occured, thats why I asked. Also with Steam the point is you won't be able to download the games, so you lose them if you format or w/eso still a different situation
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