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Thoughts about copy protection and what should be done

posted by Anonymous on - last edited - Viewed by 666 users

We live in a time where the internet is very fast and downloading a pirated game takes very little time.. and people sure know how to take advantage of that.
So naturally, gaming companies must do what they can to protect themselves from theft.
This would not be so bad if there was a guarantee that when we bought a game, we would be able to play it for as long as we wanted to.. even after the company dies (and is no longer around to unlock your downloaded game) or after your CD/DVD (with copy protection which renders it impossible to make backups) wear out due to age (those things don't last forever).

Gaming companies are very keen to limit the consumers rights in the EULAs but they certainly don't like to give the consumers any rights or guarantees that demand some kind of effort on their part.
I think they should add a section giving the user a guarantee that if they've bought the game, they will be able to play it for as long as they want (even in 30 years from now) on the systems the games were developed for.
For example, Telltale could add this to their EULA -
"Telltale gives you (the user) the guarantee that should for any reason the authentication system seize to exist, Telltale will create a solution to remove the authentication requirement." (I'm not a good EULA writer but you get my point :D).

The same thing could be done with CD/DVDs -
"[Insert company name here] gives you (the user) the guarantee that should your CD/DVD wear out due to old age, we (the company name) will provide you with a new CD/DVD.
Should (company name) ever go out of business and the IP ownership has not been bought up or anything like that, (company name) will release a patch that removes the copy protection from the CD/DVDs in order to allow you (the user) to make backups (for personal use only).
(Company name) also guarantees never to sell the IP to any company not giving the user the same guarantee".

Now if THAT was in the binding EULAs the games come with, then I would feel much safer buying games and old classics wouldn't disappear because the company went under or the storage media stopped working due to old age.

I know I'm a terrible EULA writer but you get my point so don't start talking my lacking EULA writing skills :D

37 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @Emily said:
    Which would you prefer, free (online) activation whenever you want it, or a $10 fee for a replacement disk (even if the disk is faulty out of the box)?

    Hey! Everyone should check out if their country has some sort of legislation protecting the customer! I don´t know about USA, but for an example in Finland that kind of shit (faulty disk out of the box) is not acceptable and it has to be replaced for free. So, you´d better check that shit out before paying anything.

  • I just purchased Sam & Max. Your copy protection confuses me. Will I be able to play this on more than 1 of my personal computers? I had planned to play this at home and on my Laptop when traveling.

    Also, is the activation ticket based? Will it time out after a period of not having net access? I go out to sea and loose stable net access for long periods.

    I'd have preferred the copy protection be spelled out clearly in black and white before purchasing. Though I am not entirely a close reader, I'd say that there wasn't anything to suggest that there was copy protection in place on this game.

    Is your system closer to Steam? Steam is the only form of DRM/Copy protection I trust thus far. Starforce, and those like it, have forever put a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Once it's unlocked on your machine it's unlocked regardless of whether or not you have an Internet connection - it only phones in to check your activation key the first time you play. You can unlock it on up to five machines before the game will start complaining that you've used your maximum registrations, at which point, if need be, you can write us and we can reset your key.

    This isn't the most elegant solution, and we're looking into better things, including going with serial numbers or even a system more akin to Steam, but for right now we have what we have, and it's working for the large majority of our customers. Fortunately, as I've said elsewhere, Telltale is staffed entirely by human beings who do in fact care that our customers get a good experience out of our games (versus many companies whose customer support staffs seem to be employed solely by form letters), so if you do at any time find yourself in the small group who does run into problems with our activation system, you'll be assisted by a real person who has a strong interest in seeing you happily playing the game ASAP.

    As for putting clarification about the game's copy protection on the checkout page, that's a good suggestion. I'll pass the idea around and see.

  • Thanks for the reply and the info. ^ ~

    After poking around the forums for a bit, I've seen behavior from the Teltale staff that is extremely conducive to keeping customers.

    I think you'd find if you explained your copy protection some what similarly to how you did to me, simple and sweet, that you may get a few more of those people that are sitting on the edge. I was a tad reluctant at first due to not entirely understanding how it all worked in the end. But then the kid in me could not resist Sam & Max. Glad I took the dive! (got all 6 chapters and anxiously anticipating each and every release).

    A very happy customer!

  • I think gamers are getting the wool pulled over their eyes. Just because there is no on-disk protection the fact you have to register onto a site with a serial number to get the copious number of updates and 'improvements' is DRM! Just as all the complaints about HL2 and Steam are the same. 'I don't own the game, I can't sell it, or buy it second-hand, I am still dealing with a company that will say to me when I have bought what I believe to be a genuine game 'sorry, but that serial number exists, please BUY a new serial'!

    Assuming Stardock sells 100,000 copies of this game, in 18-24 months, 75,000 will be floating out there on ebay or in bargain bins or at boot sales and 100 other types of places, and people that don;t know about the Stardock DRM method will load up the game, look for updates, find out they have to jump through a few hoops, download a couple of programs only to then find the site telling them 'that serial number exists....'. As it currently stands, if a gamer dies and his estate is put up for sale, everything potentially will be re-usable except for the Gal Civ II game! To me that means I never truly own the game, because I cannot give it away. That's exactly why people complained about Steam and HL2 and that's exactly what I call DRM.

    But, the marketing is working. Because Starforce is so disliked (partly for being Russian and partly for stopping the pirates), Stardock is being pronounced as 'the saviour of gaming' with most gamers quite happy to say that because there is 'no DRM' he will buy the game!

    How about going back to the days where games had real content and real manuals? Where the protection was made sensible, like codes to get into doors or weapon recognition from a long list of weapon graphics in the back of the manual?

    Producing bland games with bland stories and bland pdf manuals is only making it easier for pirates, because we no longer have the love of the 'package' like we did with the Infocom games, or the Microprose games or Origin games with their 100 page plus fun, informative manuals, made out to be training manuals or top secret files or 1,000 year old magician books, including fold out maps, or cloth maps, or tech tree maps or keyboard overlays. Back then Pc gaming was a hobby. Now it's just throw away entertainment. this helps pirates and as I say will lead to 75,000 useless used copies of Galactic Civilizations II waiting for unsuspecting buyers..... Short term gain for Stardock, long term loss for gamers, especially mainstream gamers not clued in about Stardocks 'non DRM' that is DRM by any other name......

  • I've never even heard of stardocks before? Is this some sort of new game? =P

  • I have to make my voice heard here... I also refuse to purchase content with strong DRM as I want to have the option of enjoying that content in 10, 20, 30 years' time. This applies to games, eBooks, MP3's... Because of this, It's taken me until recently to actually start downloading music -- thank heavens for eMusic, who have no DRM but still sport a fairly decent catalogue!

    It's a damn shame that Sam & Max is DRM'd; I'm a huge fan of the comics and the original game, and was really itching for the new one to come out.

    I appreciate that Telltale is an indie publisher with a human touch to their business. I think they've said they'd release the content in the event of a bankruptcy, but this is not very credible as in such a case the IP would probably be bought by some other publisher who has made no such guarantees. The rights might well be lost in limbo anyway, owned by some corporation which has no inclination of ever using them commercially! Alternatively, should Telltale prosper (and I hope it does!), chances are some bigger entity will sooner or later purchase the company anyway. Bigger company goes under. Sam & Max lost forever.

    Would it be possible to make at least the CD-ROM release non-authentication? That way, you would still be able to milk the people who _really_ want the game ASAP while avoiding piracy issues during the episodic release period, and then just unlock the game for everyone once the CD release is out?

    I suppose there's little chance of this happening... Oh well.

    Good work, though, for picking up Sam & Max from Sierra -- those two cuddly beasts have deserved a sequel for far too long!

  • @Jake said: Except of course since LucasArts hasn't maintained any of their games in years (despite still being in business with paid employees and everything), you have to play the games with scummvm, a fan made tool (which incedentally bypasses all the codewheel and manual-based copy protection which used to be such a hassle with those games when they were new - you know, you had to go and photocopy them from your friend and stuff).

    Unfortunately ScummVM doesn't affect the copy protection of Day Of The Tentacle, since it doesn't appear at the beginning of the game. Luckily many websites provide the copy protection solutions, if you don't mind plenty of alt-tabbing.

  • I vote for continual retinal scanning while you are playing the game. If you try to let someone who has not bought the game play it, it would cease to function. Also, if you go to a friends house or a library, you can play the game anywhere because it checks against an online database of registered retinal IDs. Yep.

    Seriously, I like the serial number system best, because it does not install anything new that might mess up your system. Either that, or the CP that renders a game unplayable, or with limited functionality, when cracked. That way, people playing a cracked game would be moreso playing a "limited demo" and would have to pony up to enjoy the full game. All of these methods are possible to circumvent, but I do believe some form of CP at least deters some individuals from stealing the game.

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