Proposed In-Store Security System Nerfs Game Discs

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Proposed In-Store Security System Nerfs Game Discs


The Entertainment Merchants Association [http://www.entmerch.org/] has proposed a DRM-esque scheme to help combat shoplifting: A point-of-sale activation system that would leave discs useless until they're paid for at the counter.

The EMA has gathered retailers, home video companies and videogame publishers to determine how easily it could implement what it calls "benefit denial technology," a set of standards that would require games and other forms of entertainment to be activated at time of purchase. A Gamasutra [http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21306] report says the system, codenamed "Project Lazarus," is similar to ink-filled security tags on clothing that break open and leave permanent stains when they're removed by force.

"The deployment of benefit denial technology would reduce shrink in videogame and DVD stocks, increase open marketing of video games, reduce packaging, decrease labor costs, improve consumer access to videogames and Blu-ray discs, and make the categories more attractive for additional retail channels," said EMA President and CEO Bo Andersen. "Given the myriad of potential benefits, EMA recognized the imperative to bring together major stakeholders to provide an impetus for further development and timely deployment of effective benefit denial technologies for DVDs and videogames that are useful and effective for a broad range of entertainment retailers."

I have no idea what impact physical theft has on the movie and videogame industries, but for as much as I've ever thought about it (which isn't much) I would have guessed it was something approaching negligible, no worse than that faced by any other industry that sells its product at the retail level. From that perspective this seems like a lot of time and effort for minimal payoff, but if my guess is way off-base - if shoplifting is "the silent killer" - then maybe there's something to this. Even more interesting, however, is the idea of applying a scheme like this to anti-piracy efforts. Retailers have never really figured into the conventional power struggle between publishers and consumers, but maybe something like this is a first step toward new approaches to copy protection that finally satisfy everyone.


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the_tramp

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May 16, 2008
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Most people who shoplift wouldn't buy it anyway, so the 'negligable' level as it is would produce even lesser sales.
 

Chimpa

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the_tramp said:
Most people who shoplift wouldn't buy it anyway, so the 'negligable' level as it is would produce even lesser sales.
Insinuating that the theft of a product counts in records as a sale? Or did I wildly misinterpret what you were suggesting?
 

John Tacos

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Nov 25, 2008
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I haven't once thought, "I really want that game, but I don't have the cash. So I'll steal it and possibly get a fine so big I'll have to sell my Xbox and every game I own!"
 

Slycne

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Feb 19, 2006
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Shoplifting really only affects the retailer. The developers have already made the sale to them. I have worked for a number of retailers and while shoplifting is a serious issue it's not that big of one.

However dollar for dollar most forms off shoplifting prevention are very profitable for a retailer, so I can see why they are interested in this.

Edit

Now that I think about it, this does affect the developers in a way. The magnetic tags that retailers use to help prevent shoplifting are many times already inside the boxes before they are sealed up. So the publishers must be paying to put them in.
 

Caliostro

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Jan 23, 2008
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As long as it doesn't hurt the legitimate consumer (like the actual DRM) I'm all for it.
 

Brokkr

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This seems like a lot of time and effort being put into something that doesn't seem like a large problem. I wouldn't think that physical theft is a big enough problem to warrant this. It would allow you to not have to get an employee to get the game out of the case if you buy your games at a place like Walmart which doesn't seem like a big deal anyway.
 

Chimpa

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Brokkr said:
This seems like a lot of time and effort being put into something that doesn't seem like a large problem. I wouldn't think that physical theft is a big enough problem to warrant this. It would allow you to not have to get an employee to get the game out of the case if you buy your games at a place like Walmart which doesn't seem like a big deal anyway.
Physical theft from retailers who have the capital needed to invest in these pseudo-drm projects, resulting in reduction of losses incurred. Making it financially a successful operation for the corporations creating this kind of technology.
 

Brokkr

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Chimpa said:
Brokkr said:
This seems like a lot of time and effort being put into something that doesn't seem like a large problem. I wouldn't think that physical theft is a big enough problem to warrant this. It would allow you to not have to get an employee to get the game out of the case if you buy your games at a place like Walmart which doesn't seem like a big deal anyway.
Physical theft from retailers who have the capital needed to invest in these pseudo-drm projects, resulting in reduction of losses incurred. Making it financially a successful operation for the corporations creating this kind of technology.
Yea but is I guess my question was: Is the physical theft of games and dvds such a widespread problem that it is financially worth it to implement this technology?
 

Andy Chalk

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As a non-pirate retail shopping consumer, I am against this. I don't want any more damn loops to jump through to get my purchases to work, enough is a gods-damned enough.
 

Chimpa

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Brokkr said:
Chimpa said:
Brokkr said:
This seems like a lot of time and effort being put into something that doesn't seem like a large problem. I wouldn't think that physical theft is a big enough problem to warrant this. It would allow you to not have to get an employee to get the game out of the case if you buy your games at a place like Walmart which doesn't seem like a big deal anyway.
Physical theft from retailers who have the capital needed to invest in these pseudo-drm projects, resulting in reduction of losses incurred. Making it financially a successful operation for the corporations creating this kind of technology.
Yea but is I guess my question was: Is the physical theft of games and dvds such a widespread problem that it is financially worth it to implement this technology?
No, I totally agree with your perspective, but I?m just commenting on the fact that while there?s money to be made out of it, and retailers more than willing to pay through the nose for it, this kind of thing will continue, in order to increase profit margins. Additionally, neither of these companies are concerned with electronic DRM so I don't think the argument of it being pointless is going to stand up.
 

Boober the Pig

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Most retailers keep new, full price games either locked up or behind the counter because they were stolen so often when they were available to browse with the other items. This kind of protection would mean that you don't have to find a sales clerk just to look at the back of a game case.
 

Lvl 64 Klutz

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Apr 8, 2008
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Big fat, ugly NO! It's bad enough I have too many instances where the clerk forgets to take off the security sticker or something, and I end up having to dig out my receipt and whatnot. I'd hate to take the game home, realize the clerk forgot to actually activate the game, then make a return trip to the store.
 

Slycne

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Khell_Sennet said:
As a non-pirate retail shopping consumer, I am against this. I don't want any more damn loops to jump through to get my purchases to work, enough is a gods-damned enough.
From what it sounds like this is simply a refinement of the magnetic tagging that is already put into video game boxes. So this would have the same inconvenience as that.

It would suck to get your new game home and find out that you can't play it because the checkout clerk forgot to properly scan it. So I hope that it gets implemented with a redundant system to prevent that.
 

Huyderman

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Most stores I know only have empty covers for the new games on display, with the actual discs behind the counter. Can't really see how this would be worth the effort. But still, this is more an issue for the retailers than the developers or distributers. As long as this isn't some system that is forced on retailers, it doesn't really matter. If it is, it will never catch on I'm guessing.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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What a brilliant idea.

Let's say Mr Pikey walks out with Civilization 4. Pikey £0 Shop -£10.
Let's say Mr Shopkeeper forgets to swipe the box. Customer -£10. Shop +£10. Dead disk returned. Customer +Sincere Apology and new copy Shop -£10.

So...it's actually worse for the retailer, whilst the thief gets off as he came in.

And obviously there have never been any incidents of disgruntled employees of Games shops hurting the customer or the store.

Hiring a security guard would be FAR more appropriate.
 

GothmogII

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Apr 6, 2008
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Huyderman said:
Most stores I know only have empty covers for the new games on display, with the actual discs behind the counter. Can't really see how this would be worth the effort. But still, this is more an issue for the retailers than the developers or distributers. As long as this isn't some system that is forced on retailers, it doesn't really matter. If it is, it will never catch on I'm guessing.
Yeah, that's the same with the stores here too. While you could probably jump behind the counter and steal as many discs as you could, you'd have to be pretty desperate or stupid. It's good because anyone trying to shoplift otherwise ends up with an empty box.

Which is odd, is it really -that- hard to simply install a couple of shelves behind the counter? This tagging thing really seems like the more expensive route, given that a lot of shops already have other products tagged, seems like a lot of trouble to go through.
 

the_tramp

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Chimpa said:
Insinuating that the theft of a product counts in records as a sale? Or did I wildly misinterpret what you were suggesting?
No, I meant that a person who shoplifts something is unlikely to buy the product anyway. The negligable sales losses incurred is actually less because a person is unlikely to buy if they can't shoplift.
 

SenseOfTumour

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Jul 11, 2008
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It's simply the same as the ink things on clothing, you buy it, they snap it on the gadget behind the counter, its yours, no extra work.

If you steal it, and open it, I assume it drags a bunch of rusty nails across the surface of the disc, and that's fine by me.

We had a LOT of shoplifting, until we had to hire a security guard, and we were a tiny store, who couldn't afford the guard or the theft really. Until we got the guard tho, we'd have people running in, grabbing like 20 dvds and running out before we could do anything.

Police wouldn't / couldn't do anything either, and if you so much as touch a thief's jacket you're up for sexual assault.

As a store we didn't much care if people were pirating stuff instead of buying from us, but to see our profits going out the door under scumbag's coats was a bit much.

I'm not blaming it all on them, but in part it led to the store closing.

I also wouldn't have minded so much if it was a kid stealing one cd of a band he loved that he couldn't afford to buy, but it was the same scummy chav types grabbing stuff to fence at the local cash converters.

There should be some kind of law where you can't take more than one or two copies of a DVD or CD if you deal in second hand stock too, it's obvious where someone gets 20 brand new copies of the latest DVD release from, especially if they're willing to take £1 each for them.

To be fair, piracy probably was a factor too, along with the main factor of most sales simply taking place online where it was cheaper, but when someone's stealing blatantly in front of your face, its a lot easier to blame them than something that may or may not be to blame.