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Any chance of activation-free release?

posted by Laser Eyes on - last edited - Viewed by 1.1K users

I'm sure you've heard all the arguments for and against online product activation. So I won't go over them all again. All I'll say is I extremely dislike online activation for games and I will not buy any game that requires it. My main gripe is that I require your continuing support simply to play the game that I have paid for. Yes I've heard the story that a patch will be made available if you ever go out of business. But that's like a cheque from a company you've never done business with. Maybe it will be honoured and maybe it won't. Who knows? There are no guarantees in life. BTW if Telltale ceases to exist who will release this patch? And is it a legally enforceable promise against someone? You see what I mean?

But I didn't come here to gripe about online activation. The main purpose of this post is to say this to Telltale. I sincerely hope that in the future you release a version of your games that do not require activation. Think about it. There are no disadvantages to you from doing this. After your game has been out one or two years you have already made the vast majority of sales. By releasing the game without the need for online activation all the people who would not previously buy your games for that reason will then do so. I am one of them and there are bound to be others. The risk from piracy long after initial release is minimal.

This is becoming a trend. Enlight have recently released a new version of X3: Reunion without the previously used Starforce copy protection. No doubt one of their reasons is to sell their product to gamers who were put off by Starforce: http://www.enlight.com/cmsel/press/view.php?id=52 Other companies are doing the same thing.

So how about it Telltale? Can I hope that some day in the not too distant future you will release a version of your games that do not require activation?

19 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I guess the bit about the present purchasing system blowing chunks and the company maybe being better off selling it through Valves Steam system escaped you there. Sure Valve take a slice, but your getting access to something like 8 million users and inclusive advertising at each game launch. Psychonauts has gone down a treat on Steam, the market for RPG is there.

  • I know what Steam is, I just don't want people flaming each others' OS.

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    swi

    I just want to mention that i agree to Laser Eyes. I'm 100% willing to pay for software and i know that there is a problem with bad people copying software.
    But to be honest, the way you are protecting your property is definitly a problem for all regular users. Protection Software has rendered my last Computer completly useless and of course nobody seemed to be responsible for my problem. Then i had to reactivate all my products and ... yes short time afterwards the system was unusable again. A glimpse at this forum reveals that there a couple of users having probs with their activation and i am pretty sure, that many of them will be unsatisfied with their situation. So you make your problem to your customers problem.

    It's a pity, but i guess that the only users who won't have a problem with your cp, will be the bad guys with a cracked version.

    I am no sissy, so you won't see me crying here, but i won't buy your product. That no prob for me and i don't think it bothers you. But don't start whining if your profit goes down due to bad sales figures.

    [Don't be upset about my bad english, i'm not a native english speaker]

  • We're aware of the fact that our activation system's limitations, and please believe me when I say that we're working on it.

    We pride ourselves on good, personal, customer support, and one side-effect of having good customer support is that you know, on an intimate level, the problems that your users are going through, how many of your users are going through each particular problem, and what it will take you to fix that problem.

    Changes to how something works - for instance, how we've protected the twelve different products we sell from our site - aren't going to occurr over night. Even updating everything to be Vista compatible isn't happening in the blink of an eye, and that's something we already have a solution for. We've got lots of plans for improving how downloading, installing, activating, and owning our games works fur you guys, but there is no "make it better" button that we can press to eliminate the necessary hours of work and planning that goes into doing something right.

    Thanks for being so supportive of us so far, too! (including those of you who have decided to not purchase our products yet, but have also decided to not pirate them as well) I personally think we're doing pretty well for where we are. We use DRM, yes, but it's not malicious in any way (like something like Starforce), and we provide re-download links for every new purchase on your Order History page. And, our tech support is frequently lauded by you guys as being prompt, personal, and helpful. These things don't suck. That said, we spend more time with these games than I'm sure even the most rabid player does - including installing, uninstalling, activating, and redownloading them - so we know in and out what parts of them could be better, and needless to say, we're always working on making things suck less.

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    swi

    Hi Jake!, Yes, i really do know that piracy is a big problem. But S&M is not the only product with CP. And usually one single product doesn't make much hassle, but combinations of different cp make things complicated. Maybe there's a Microsoft copy protection API in future, or a really good and compatible DVD/Blue Ray, whatever protection, but till then activation and system driver for cp is a mess. You wrote that you often install your game, but imaging a user, who is not working with computers all day (like most elderly people) with a couple of different applications and games. And what about your game in 5 or 10 years? Years ago, i bought my games and i can play them in 10 years if i want to, without any registering or any other anyoing mechanism. I don't have to ask myself, if the company is still doing activation for that products and i don't have to re-register. I don't mind any CD or DVD protection as long as it doesn't install anything within my stystem directorys or playing with my system.
    And, yes. I am willing to pay a few bucks more for a game without any online register and activation stuff. I prefer buying a real CD or DVD - put it into my computer and start playing. I'm pretty sure you know the good times too, where you had your handbook and looked up first word on line 20 of page 10 :) I still can play these games today and i don't have to worry much (indeed most problems with these games are caused by copyprotection...).

    So i am waiting for your "sucking less" copy protection and i would be glad to be one of your customers, who bought a S&M CD/DVD without hassle :)

  • I am not a huge fan of Copy Protection myself. I've had very little issue with any of the telltale games in this regard. I completely agree that from a business sense you have to insure that you protect your revenue stream. Though I will say the business tactics of larger companies in regards to DRM have been unscrupulous at best.

    Pipe dreaming of coarse I wish there was a way I could make sam and max portable, so I could take it with me on thumb drive and get my fix during breaks, but I know this would just make it easier for the pirates.

    Ever evolving , I am looking forward to what the future holds for telltale

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    bnf

    Hi,

    I felt the need to comment on this thread ;)

    @Jasirus said: I am not a huge fan of Copy Protection myself.

    Neither am I. I hate copy protection with a passion, since it's at best an inconvenience, at worst a major problem - and ironically only for the honest buyer!

    @Jasirus said: I've had very little issue with any of the telltale games in this regard.

    Same here. I was very sceptical about Sam & Max Episodes, for various reasons: the episodic concept, the bad press Sam & Max got after Lucasgames decided to cancel Sam & Max 2, my high expectations since I have some very fond memories of the original Sam & Max hit the road - but I tried the demo of Episode 1 when it came out and I was taken by storm and bought the entire Series 1 bundle right away. I love it and I haven't had any problems with the drm or the game itself (although I'm not entirely pleased that 1280*1024 is not supported).

    @Jasirus said: I completely agree that from a business sense you have to insure that you protect your revenue stream. Though I will say the business tactics of larger companies in regards to DRM have been unscrupulous at best.

    That I do not agree with. In my opinion, copy protection made sense back when people copied games and traded them with each other. That was something copy protection could prevent. Nowadays, pirated releases of the game can easily be downloaded by pretty much everybody and those pirated copies can be shared with people who are not internet savvy. I firmly believe that copy protection only hurts the honest buyers (more or less, depending on the protection used) and doesn't impact pirates at all since every game, even those with the nastiest protections end up getting pirated. I'm sure that the only way to sell a game is to provide a good game, not to slap a placebo protection on it - THQ and Bethsoft proved lately that you can sell games without copy protection just as well as games with Starforce and whatnot.

    Anyway, to the thread starter: as I said, I hate copy protection, I really do, but Sam & Max Episodes have not caused any problems for me and I can only urge you to give it a try. The games are really good, I can't wait for Episode 4 and I hope enough people support Telltale so we'll get a Season 2.

  • I can understand that Telltale Games wants to be provide the game exclusively to their customers for at least the first few weeks after release, but it is pretty well known that any protection scheme will be broken eventually, especially if a game contains no online content.

    I don't know if you monitor these things, but cracked versions of all three episodes of Sam&Max are readily available and provide 100% of the content without any hassle. Ofcourse I paid for my games because I think it's fair to do so, and it's nice to be able to play them a few weeks earlier, but if you think DRM is preventing people from playing the game without paying, you're dead wrong.

    However, I do worry that if I want to replay these games in a few years, it may entirely impossible, either because the complicated DRM schemes used don't work with future operating systems (there were already problems with Windows Vista) or because Telltale Games or Digital River have dropped support for the game or the DRM system (or have gone bankrupt, or lost my registration info, or for some other reason can't/won't support the game anymore). Are you willing to guarantee that the activation system will work indefinitely?

    A more practical issue: will the DRM also be present on the CD version that will be shipped after the series is done? Personally, I would like to have a physical copy of the game so I know I can play it later, without having to depend on my current hard disk or your webservers. However, I wonder what the point is if it requires activation and Telltale can't support the game indefinetely. In that case, isn't everyone much better of just downloading the cracked versions of the games (since they don't rely on any support from Digital Rivir or Telltale Games) and burn those on a CD?

    Or phrased differently, what do you have to lose by offering an activation-free release as a service to your honest customers later, when cracked versions are already available anyway?

  • Well, let's put it this way:

    Amazingly, there are some people that DRM discourages from abusing their game. It's like the need to put a CD in the drive for store-bought games. It's not so that people won't steal the game and play it for free, it's so that people who DID buy it won't give it away for free.

  • In common i have no problems with DRM as long the Dev./Publ. provides a solution if something goes wrong with business.

    I use several DRM products, from different companys, but it is in fledgling stage(imo).

    And Country restrictions getting on my nerves. ;) (D2D).

    But in case(as example) of EA Games, i will not support them, they just trying to rip off the customers. (prices are crazy, and support is crap like UBI too.)

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