So Who Is DRM For Anyway?

Shamus Young

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So Who Is DRM For Anyway?

With Battlefield: Hardline recently announcing it will have DRM, Shamus mulls what use the practice offers.

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geizr

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Gamers are stupid enough to keep buying the same crap from the same companies that keep crapping on them. Honestly, I've lost all sympathy for the plight of the gaming community because it keeps buying it.

We have two companies (EA, Ubisoft) with a proven track record of just dumping flaming diarrhea on its customers; yet, the gaming community just keeps right on buying from these same companies. These companies aren't doing anything right, at all; it's that gamers keep doing something woefully wrong (throwing money at blatant, unrepentant crooks).
 

rofltehcat

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My theory: Tradition and bureaucracy (or possible mishap).

They probably have some design document/guideline that says limited installations are part of their standard DRM package/requirements. Another alternative would be that the devs were sent an old EA guideline by accident. Either way nobody bothered questioning it.

Alternative: The installation limit has always been part of their DRM suite since the Spore days and only this time someone activated a checkbox that nobody had touched in years.
 

Cerebrawl

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It's a play for the galleries, it's a con by untechsavvie businessmen to tell other untechsavvie businessmen their investment is secure.

I'm quite happy not giving EA or Ubisoft my money though, there's plenty of other companies, making better games, and not being assholes to their customers.
 

immortalfrieza

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geizr said:
Gamers are stupid enough to keep buying the same crap from the same companies that keep crapping on them. Honestly, I've lost all sympathy for the plight of the gaming community because it keeps buying it.
The problem is that for every 1 person that's smart enough and cares enough to not buy games with DRM and other sorts of horrible business practices associated with it there's a hundred idiots that don't know or don't care they are being screwed over that get into some disposable income that keep buying into it. The gaming community's plight is the result of people that aren't really a part of that community making everything worse for everybody.

That, and the number of good and worthwhile games coming out that aren't doing this crap already are few and far between. Sure, there's indie games and other smaller developers out there that don't have DRM and On disc DLC and whatever, but the quality of the games is consequently is much more a hit and miss, not to mention even being aware the games exist in the first place. It's hard not to buy into blatantly exploitative crap like this when the actual choices available to do otherwise are so limited and the bigwigs of the industry know it.
 

medv4380

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In order for the DRM to work the DRM has to be put in the game. Origin is kind of a form of DRM, but it's just a game delivery platform if the Game doesn't have DRM embedded in it to talk to Origin. Otherwise it would be trivial to launch it without Origin after origin installed it, and trivial to redistribute it.

It's really not hard to see who the DRM is intended for, and who they're counting as pirates who ether aren't, or aren't the kind of pirates everyone thinks of when talk about piracy. Might give you a clue about how they have these stupidly high "piracy" figures.

First thing to point out is the your legal rights on a PC are rather small when it comes to what you can do. This site and others like to propagate this lie that you can just take the copy of Windows on one PC and transfer it to another. That's actually false for 99% of the licences out there and would count towards Windows Piracy figures. For the small percentage who paid a premium for a full retail copy of windows, and not the one slapped on their PC by the manufacture, and not the cheap Upgrade copy you can, but that is a tiny percentage of the market.

This is the core of how piracy tallies are made off of the older games prior to DRM that just had key's. You install the game, and put in your key. That's tallied as 1 legal copy. You format your PC, or get a new one, and put the key in again when you reinstall. That contacts the servers and the servers tally that as a pirated copy because it already has a legal tally for that key. Not actually piracy, but how are they to know you are the same person, and not a new person. Remember second hand software on the PC is also Illegal, and Piracy by law. Also with the Licence model they can Licence you to only be legaly able to reinstall it a set number of times.

Isn't the PC licencing model grand at removing, and impinging on the right of first sale.

This is the kind of piracy Steam, Origin, and Ubisoft are squashing.
This is why they pressed to go digital with the PC early.
This is why they've tried to crush the Used market for systems.

Not like any of them understand the economics of why the Used Market made the Game Industry recession proof for decades, and the moment the get a lock in eroding it the 2008 recession started to hurt them all.

There is no way to fix it. Live with the hell the PC has all dragged us to, and accept that most were complicit on the journey there.
 

GabeZhul

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DRM is for the shareholders. The industry have been on a witch-hunt against piracy, blaming their financial troubles on it whether it actually had any considerable effect on profit margins or not. By now it has been ingrained into people's heads that piracy is bad for business. DRM, on the surface, is for combating piracy. It doesn't work, but the investors and shareholders don't necessarily know this. All they "know" is that the eeeeeeeeevil software pirates are lurking outside, and that they want to "steal" their games and destroy their dividends. They want the company to do something about it, and so the company slaps DRM onto their games. It doesn't stop pirates, but the shareholders "think" that it stops them, and therefore they invest more and the company stays afloat and can pay dividends. At the end of the day, DRM is the placebo of the gaming industry.
 

fix-the-spade

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geizr said:
Gamers are stupid enough to keep buying the same crap from the same companies that keep crapping on them.
That's only true to a point though.

Over the last decade my purchases from EA have gone from 'most releases' to Battlefield, Crysis and Mass Effect to Battlefield to nothing.

In 2013 I bought one EA game (Battlefield 4), in 2014 I bought none and 2015 looks like a similar story.

I must spend around $500 a year on gaming, I'm still spending that money, just not with EA and I wonder how many other people out there are steadily repeating the story. Of course none of it matters because EA sports it's a self perpuating devourer of souls with exclusive licenses to everything, EA can heat every developer's home with thousand dollar bills and it would probably still turn a profit.
 

geizr

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immortalfrieza said:
Sure, there's indie games and other smaller developers out there that don't have DRM and On disc DLC and whatever, but the quality of the games is consequently is much more a hit and miss, not to mention even being aware the games exist in the first place. It's hard not to buy into blatantly exploitative crap like this when the actual choices available to do otherwise are so limited and the bigwigs of the industry know it.
One can always chose to do something else, exercise, read a book, see a movie, write a novel, build a yacht, tend a garden, etc., etc. There're tons of life-fulfilling alternatives to video games, especially when the fun and fulfillment of video gaming keeps being syphoned away by the nefarious tactics of a few companies. Personally, I've been finding myself more involved with board gaming precisely because of all this kind of crap.
 

Def25

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I trully dont get this.

Multiplayer bf game. Same thing as last time, a reskin. Dissapointing scores.

Peple will buy it for mp. No one buys it for singleplayer.

They use denuvo drm to make sure pirates cant play a horrible 5 hour campaign. Hundrends of thousands of $$$$ for the drm, they dont even bother adding a fov option so the campaign is playble on a pc.

EA LOGIC.

Then they basicly go with the same garbage they used back in 2009 with limited installs due to changing hardware. Because hey, god forbid someone finds a way to play the copy of he game on multiple systems, that means he is passing the copy around at his friends despite the origin acounts issue. Also lets not forget origin is spyware and makes money of your information.

Then you got nonsense like "no local coop on revelations 2 because we couldnt do it" by capcom, modders prove em wrong they have to patch it in, then you got RE5 re-release using the same argument "we couldnt do it" modder proves it can be done.

Then you wonder why pirates exist while steam is around...did i mention this game is not on steam.

It was nice for a while that ea didnt do anything so they didnt look like the devil, but now they are back at it again.
 

Lightknight

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It only locks out if someone rapidly installs the same license on 8 different machines within a certain time period. It is a timed lockout. So eventually the lock would go away. So this shouldn't even impact the second-hand market depending on the length of the timeout.

The only person this hurts is someone installing the same license over and over again. By using the local hardware then EA is creating some weird kind of two-form authentication here. Since the information is stored on a server then this really isn't something that is all that crackable. You have to basically ghost the same image to make the server think it's the same machine to even get close or to make the server think every pirated copy is a unique version.

I think this may actually work in fighting mass distribution in a way that would never impact an individual consumer but would prevent the average pirate from obtaining a copy illegally.

Shamus (or anyone else), can you clarify if my premise is valid? If so, this may actually be the first form of DRM I'm actually ok with.
 

wetfart

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My theory on what happened:

Dev 1: So ... there's this left over money in the budget. What should we use it on?
Dev 2: DRM?
Dev 3: Really? On top of Origin? That's what we're going to spend the money on?
Dev 1: Sure. If we don't use it, our budget for the sequel won't be as big!
 

schmulki

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I work with a the type of people being complained about here. I can't understand it. They:

1) Will buy and play almost any FPS, even if it's not very good or original at all, "at least it's something new and any FPS is fun. If any is fun, I question why they don't just stick with older ones, which is met with shrugs.

2) Claim to hate the crap companies like EA does, then the game comes out, and 1-2 people buy it anyway, then they all follow cause they have to all have the same game to play.

3) Play the game hard for 1-2 weeks, tops. Usually 1 week. Then they move onto the next one. At least most of them use Gamefly for a lot of it so they're not directly giving money to these companies, but then they'll turn around a month or so later and like clockwork, decide to all rent it again from Gamefly, and pay to keep it this time because now it's "only" $35 or so. Then play it for 1-2 weeks, tops, and move onto something else.

4) Scoff at playing games on a PC, despite them all being in IT with me. They all know PCs well. They all understand the economics of it. Most have PCs hooked up to giant monitors or TVs already. But they all need to be on X-box live cause everyone's on X-Box live.

I gave up a long time ago trying to understand how these guys function. They generally all go home at night, get on X-box live, get wasted, and play the FPS of the minute till 2 AM, then spend the whole next day complaining how tired they are. Repeat that process at least 3 times during the week and twice on weekends.
 

DeadlyYellow

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Perhaps it's the precursor to some new DRM monstrosity EA is concocting? There's theories floating around that this will be the dev studio's swan song, so if EA is just expecting the title to toe the line perhaps they're using it as early staging.
 
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About Point #2 (Brandon Could Buy The Game If He Wanted), does EA really only target DRM at people who could pay? Is it not that Brandon (and all the other pirates) are still costing the company money through server time? It seems like making it a hassle for Brandon to access the game illegally encourages him to either buy it outright, or go find some other game and not take up space in Hardline's infrastructure. The return on investment is however much would have been spent per pirate, plus the more nebulous value of having servers that aren't overloaded by a bunch of pirates and causes legitimate buyers to think that EA is incompetent or that Battlefield has a terrible back end, leading them to not purchase any more titles.
GabeZhul said:
Always handy to have people who didn't read the article out themselves.
 

Shamus Young

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Have not purchased an EA game since BF3 and its bugs, drm dlc misery drove me away. Battlefront is going to have to be the second coming of christ before I'll even consider it.
 

Silence

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Hardline has, afaik, already far fewer copies sold and fewer games played than Battlefield 4.

So maybe the people who buy these games wake up - or it just has to do with the scenario.
 

Kingjackl

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This reminds me of my own situation with Dragon Age Inquisition, where we bought a boxed copy of the game (because fuck downloading it over Australian internet), then found you can only have it installed on one Origin account at a time, meaning we can't play multiplayer and have to kick each other off every time one of us wants to play it. We live under the same roof, these sort of restrictions are just asinine.
 

Steve the Pocket

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Who is it for? The secret Valve plant who works for EA and is trying to sabotage their reputation even more to make Valve look better by comparison, naturally. ;)

But in all seriousness, it really does seem like the people in charge of major corporations are robots programmed to evaluate all possible options and then make whatever decision is deemed to be the stupidest, because there's no way a human being, even one with severe mental disabilities, could reach the conclusions that they reach sometimes. Happens in marketing too; remember when the takeaway from Mars Needs Moms being such a box office flop wasn't that the movie itself was stupid and terrible, but that audiences have an aversion to anything with "Mars" in the name? I shit you not; that's why John Carter of Mars got its title cut down.

Kingjackl said:
This reminds me of my own situation with Dragon Age Inquisition, where we bought a boxed copy of the game (because fuck downloading it over Australian internet), then found you can only have it installed on one Origin account at a time, meaning we can't play multiplayer and have to kick each other off every time one of us wants to play it. We live under the same roof, these sort of restrictions are just asinine.
If you had bought it for a console, you'd still only be able to play it on one system at a time because there's only one disc, so I don't see how this is so horrible exactly?
 

StreamerDarkly

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schmulki said:
I work with a the type of people being complained about here. I can't understand it. They:

1) Will buy and play almost any FPS, even if it's not very good or original at all, "at least it's something new and any FPS is fun. If any is fun, I question why they don't just stick with older ones, which is met with shrugs.
Which can be said about the preferred genre of anyone who buys a lot of games. Few things are more loathsome than listening to someone lecture about how refined their own gaming tastes are compared to those cavemen who like multiplayer shooters.

schmulki said:
4) Scoff at playing games on a PC, despite them all being in IT with me. They all know PCs well. They all understand the economics of it. Most have PCs hooked up to giant monitors or TVs already. But they all need to be on X-box live cause everyone's on X-Box live.
Apparently it escaped your notice that the article specifically refers to DRM on PCs. As console DRM tends to be much less obtrusive, this would exclude your friends from the category of battered wives who complain about bad experiences with DRM but continue to support the offending companies.

No, it appears that the singular purpose of your post was to let everyone know just how high your gaming horse is to be able to look down on your lowly coworkers and the "type of people" like them.
 

Hairless Mammoth

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Yes, DRM isn't there to appease the shareholders. It's there to appease the tech illiterate businessmen who foolishly fear lower profits and their shareholders rarely complaining of lower profits over their customers commonly lashing out against anti-consumer DRM[footnote]Regrettably, there are people who still buy things with horrible DRM schemes, like always online single player or absolute limited installs, lowering the effectiveness of the voices arguing against that sort of DRM.[/footnote] and to keep the pirates busy cracking the DRM for the first few weeks while the majority of the revenue is being made. [small]DRM is still generally evil, though.[/small]

This 8 install DRM, though, really could only affect the typical user if an error occurs and s/he is hit with a false positive, or they really do try installing Hardline on 8 PCs. As Shamus points out, it's a stupid form of DRM who's only real effects are wasting EA's time and money to implement and generating more bad press. They should have had the foresight to see at least a few out there would use Hardline as a benchmark and the internet would blow the effects of this particular DRM out of proportion.

EA should have just relied on Origin's built in DRM, just like Ubisoft should just rely on Origin's and Steam's, instead of tacking on Uplay to games on the other services. Ubi lost me as a customer for that years ago.
 

Kingjackl

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Steve the Pocket said:
Kingjackl said:
This reminds me of my own situation with Dragon Age Inquisition, where we bought a boxed copy of the game (because fuck downloading it over Australian internet), then found you can only have it installed on one Origin account at a time, meaning we can't play multiplayer and have to kick each other off every time one of us wants to play it. We live under the same roof, these sort of restrictions are just asinine.
If you had bought it for a console, you'd still only be able to play it on one system at a time because there's only one disc, so I don't see how this is so horrible exactly?
It's installed on both computers, no disc required. Not to get all Master Race-y on you, but these aren't the limits of the consoles that apply here. It's the limits of the "one account, one install" DRM that nobody asked for. If this were the old days, we could both have it installed and be able to play it at the same time. At the moment, we have to make do with offline mode, but that means we can't play multiplayer with each other.
 

Shamus Young

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(Anti-warning disclaimer - I do not promote piracy and have made sure that the post does not reflect the opposite.)

So while this is sort of an old topic, I'm glad to see someone bring it up again. That any company would still use DRM, apart from online validation, is mindblowingly stupid.

Piracy is generally a non-problem in the western world, since most people can afford the games they want. In less developed countries there generally isn't a market for overpriced luxuries, so what's the issue?

My guess is the usual suspects, the marketing suits and the occasional butthurt creators (artists, writers, singers, musicians, developers etc.), like Lars Ulrik, make a big deal out of it and blow up the consequences.
Huge record company sues for millions of dollars and it makes it to big media. Big media then portrays it as an epidemic and pretties it up with numbers; "200 billion dollars of yearly lost revenue due to piracy".
Since logic isn't applied, the general public assume that massive amounts of jobs are being lost, to general greedy behaviour.
Big companies assume they're losing massive amounts of revenue.
The logic is obvious to anyone who's actually considered the issue; A pirated copy is not a lost sale. Content might not be available legally in the area it's downloaded. Content might be bug-ridden and useless without a cracked exe. Content might only be available online and sold on the streets on discs. Other factors might apply.

So without thinking about it, the suits start demanding DRM for a game that will very likely be pirated, because numbers.

It's such a strange topic that has strange consequences. For example, users on this site and many others can't advocate or admit to having illegally downloaded games.
Why? Because sites like this one are part of a business with set rules. These rules may apply to advertisement and "polite conversation", so allowing discussion of this automatically has advertisement companies sort the site from their customer list.

If I were to admit to buying a knock-off on the street of an actual physical item (like a purse, shoes or spare parts for cars and motorcycles), that would be okay (at least I think the rules here don't cover that).
How screwed up is that? Knock-off's actually do damage to a company, since their brand suffers and they are more likely to suffer a loss of sale than a band or game developer... Not only that, but some companies receive complaints about these products and again lose reputation because of it.

Also, governments generally don't understand how piracy works or what the effects of it are, so they give companies the benefit of the doubt and leave the general populace in the ditch.

-

I think I've said this many times, especially on this site, but I'll say it again.
The only way to combat piracy is to compete with it. It's not about being free, but being better.

Outdated license agreements are holding back services like Netflix and are still preventing European countries from watching the newest episodes of different shows and movies. This is in part due to "old" content still being sold here and other places to tv stations, but it's a lousy argument as more and more people are cutting their cables and moving their entertainment to their internet connection.
Why would you pay for a set list of programs and advertisements in between, when you could see what you want, when you want it?

This makes these services a stroke of genius and superb convenience that doesn't bother people with unwanted content. However, as mentioned, a European Netflix account doesn't allow access to the things that an American account does. People here aren't even allowed to own an American account, so it's not an alternative.
Let me just repeat that: People who want to pay for content, aren't allowed to do so.

Let that sink in for a second, and realize just how mindnumblingly stupid it is and you'll gain a small glimpse of why piracy is still an issue for anyone, at all.

I don't subscribe to any of these services, so if anyone can enlighten me as to whether or not a service like Netflix displays advertisements or commercials, please let me know. If so, then that's another backwards step for the industry.

There's a ton more on the subject to discuss, like whether or not it hurts small developers and indie bands (it's unlikely and can't be proven anyway).
 

Darkness665

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EA finally chucked John Riccitiello, he of the 'would only greenlight multiplayer games' and project $10. Their recent debacles shows clearly he wasn't the only problem at EA. Being wrong is deeply embedded within the culture of EA.

Time for an up to date EA Motto!

EA, where the customer is always a crook. It was them or us.
 

EndlessSporadic

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I want to point out that hypothetical reports are terrible and confusing for stupid people like me. Be clear and direct with your points.
 

JET1971

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I have a legal digital download of FarCry 2 that I managed to go through the amount of install they had and 1 of them was because the server I was trying to revoke on didn't do it. So I went ahead and downloaded a DRM free pirate version of the software I owned. I promptly emailed Ubisoft telling them that 2 of the torrent download counts were mine and was because of the DRM. For me I believe that if the DRM can make the game unplayable and you did buy it then grabbing a DRM free version off a torrent site and telling the publisher that you did it is not piracy and drives home a message that the DRM used is unacceptable especially when it was a digital download from their server where they can see that it was the same IP for each download and every login on the forums that directly related to each install.

Now they have Origin and Uplay so there is NO valid reason for limited installs or other ridiculous DRM bullshit

When they stopped using the limited install DRM for FC2 I was given the fortunes pack DLC for free and my account was never banned even though I used my email that was used when registering.
 

loa

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The reason I was driven to steam was because I got burned by a boxed copy of spore and thought platforms like steam would not have additional layers of DRM on top of them since that makes no sense but nope.
How is hard to remove shit that buries itself into the guts of your computer without ever asking for permission still not illegal?
It should at least be fully disclosed what type of DRM a publisher thinks their game needs on top of the steamworks or origin ones I already know of so I can't accidentally step on that landmine.
 

Gunner 51

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I think the main reason why new games with bad DRM issues not selling very well is simply a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

It all comes down to short sighted money grabbing. The only people who want DRM are the bean counters at the top who don't really understand that games are a different medium. Though when one dwells upon the issue, I think I can understand why they do this.

The suits have got to realise that DRM not only doesn't work but it ultimately cheeses off the people who ultimately buy the games. Happy customers provide more money than any share-holders.

Look back to 1995 and a little game called Doom - that stonking game made money for ages after it was out because there was little DRM, little hype, the customers were happy and the devs at Id software let them mod the game and were generally all around lovely to their fans - securing their loyalty. (Even after the odd turkey like Rage was released...)

Fast foward to today, games are ultimately getting more and more bland, hyped as if they were the second coming of Christ, the devlopers are told to act more like salesmen toward the public by their masters.

And the last turn of the screw comes in the form of being told to add DRM as a final "Fick dich" to anyone who wants to buy the game by making them essentially surrender their rights as a consumer because they had the temerity to buy and own the game as opposed to pay for the permission to play the publisher's game. (Which is how the publishers see things...)

All this isn't truly the fault of the developer, but publishers who want to act like control freaks who wield all the power. But all they're doing is cutting off their own noses to spite their faces and acting like spoiled children who take their frustrations out on their toys when called out on their behavior.

But all that's just my two penneth worth.
 

Gezzer

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This whole question is at the heart of what's wrong with EA, or any big company.

Companies as they grow develop more and more momentum. When they're young they don't develop much and it runs out quickly if there isn't lots of energy being introduced. That's one of the reasons small promising companies disappear, they just couldn't maintain the momentum. But as they grow and develop a larger and larger "management" hierarchy the energy needed to maintain the momentum becomes less and less. What was once a lean efficient enterprise out of necessity, eventually becomes a lumbering giant. That is some what top heavy due to middle managers needing to justify and protect their power base., Also prone to mishaps, due to the "too many chiefs not enough indians" rule. But due to it's enormous built up momentum it can take the hit from their mistakes and keep upright and mobile. For their survivability this is a good thing. But it also means due to the momentum that they aren't very flexible, nor quick to react to outside events. And all the chiefs and sub chiefs don't want to put their necks in a noose by actually thinking outside the box. So the same mistakes just keep being made. This is also why Valve is such a great company, no hierarchy system.

All this makes it almost like EA (and many other large companies) is living in their own little world, that is responsive to their rules and logic, no matter how much the reverse is proven to them. Over and over again they chant the proven mantras. DRM works. In game microtransactions work. F2P lets us deliver compelling experiences. Selling buggy unfinished games work. Selling skinner boxes as games work. Etc. And the sad thing is there are just enough people falling for the BS that they have data to back up these falsehoods. Or least the experts advising the CEO, CFO, and CTO have enough. And every now and then they actually make a game like the last Dragon Age that give the beleaguered believers a bit of hope that all the stupidity is done with. But EA's built up momentum won't allow it to be.

Oh and and I actually have stopped buying EA products. After the Simcity reboot, or as I call it, lets reboot Simcity to be a Sims clone, and BF3 or CoD wannabe, and total proof Quicktime events aren't gameplay and SUCK sweaty balls, I said no more. Does mean I missed out on Dragon Age, but I'm staying strong.
 

gamegod25

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wetfart said:
My theory on what happened:

Dev 1: So ... there's this left over money in the budget. What should we use it on?
Dev 2: DRM?
Dev 3: Really? On top of Origin? That's what we're going to spend the money on?
Dev 1: Sure. If we don't use it, our budget for the sequel won't be as big!
Pretty sure the devs have no say on the issue, it's one of likely many items mandated by the publisher in order to get the funding.
 

heroicbob

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i just really hate the multiple levels of drm i mean they have origin that should be enough

its the same as when i try to play any ubisoft game on steam and it launches uplay on top of it
 

schmulki

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StreamerDarkly said:
A bunch of garbage
I absolutely love this reply. It's nothing but a load of garbage ignoring 905 of what was said while trying to be on the highest of horses possible, while trying to claim I'm on a high horse about something. Bravo random internet person, bravo.
 

Lightknight

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Ok, no one responded the first time I pointed this out. So I'll try again:

1. This DRM would impact almost NO legitimate customer. You have to install it on 8 machines in a short amount of time. Once locked, it is a timed lock so eventually you will be able to install it on more machines.

2. This would only impact mass distributions of the same copy.

3. Because it tracks the computer hardware and is checked by the server rather than the software, this may actually be an effective two-factor authentication that finally actually works. In order for someone to trick the system they'd have to go through major hoops like ghosting the same hardware right down to the MAC or generating a new viable license with every distributed copy. These are major hurdles for people and aren't as simple as just cracking the Software. The fact that the software doing the verification is on the server side makes all the difference.

So really, it seems to be the first bit of DRM I've ever seen that may actually be doing it right. Non-invasive to likely every legitimate customer and only harmful to mass distributors of the same license (aka Pirates).

Does someone have a real complaint about this? A real problem that isn't just the "spirit of the thing" they're bristling at? Seriously, because I'm scratching my head here and wondering what sort of person would rapidly install the same license more than 8 times within a short time period? Laptop, a couple home computers, a couple friend's? Sure. But 8?

I could easily imagine this being standard DRM in the future and I honestly don't have a problem with it if that's all it does.
 

Gethsemani_v1legacy

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Lightknight said:
Does someone have a real complaint about this? A real problem that isn't just the "spirit of the thing" they're bristling at? Seriously, because I'm scratching my head here and wondering what sort of person would rapidly install the same license more than 8 times within a short time period? Laptop, a couple home computers, a couple friend's? Sure. But 8?
I suppose you could technically reach the limit rather fast if you're idea of fun is swapping out lots of hardware, like your GPU and RAM, and benchmarking, like Shamus briefly broached upon in his column. Though I have no idea who would be installing a game on 2-3 computers and then spend time swapping out the GPU in all of them like 3 times each just to get some benchmarks.

To be honest, I have only been hassled by DRM once (StarForce in the Witcher) and that was because StarForce decided my x48 DVD drive was actually a virtual reader and thus refused to read the DVD. The problem was solved by plugging in a x12 USB DVD Writer, which StarForce accepted without questions (despite the claim that StarForce would block all writers...). Never had any other DRM problems apart from occasional network issues with stuff like DA:Os profile system. So I don't really see the big deal about DRM, considering how rampant piracy is I understand that the suits in the companies feel a need to do something to try and thwart piracy of their products, even if that something is near pointless and pisses of some legitimate customers. As a community, gamers brought DRM upon themselves.
 

Lightknight

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The big flaw in Shamus' premise is his number one assumption. That Brandon is not a pirate.

See, this DRM (until someone tells me why I'm wrong which is what I'm seeking) directly impacts torrent sites. The moment one license gets downloaded and installed 8 times, its' suddenly unusable.

In throwing #1 in as a given, he automatically disregarded the only reason why the DRM makes sense and it's a huge reason because it makes any given link to a single install file significantly less useful whereas in the past you could have thousands of people download the same file and it would work as long as your reg key worked or whatever.

But keep in mind, I'm not a pirate. So maybe you all know something I don't. Is mass generating unique licenses of the game easy to do and if so, is there a simple way to distribute it to a mass of people that doesn't still result in licenses getting installed 8 times because 8 people installed them at the same time?

Gethsemani said:
Lightknight said:
Does someone have a real complaint about this? A real problem that isn't just the "spirit of the thing" they're bristling at? Seriously, because I'm scratching my head here and wondering what sort of person would rapidly install the same license more than 8 times within a short time period? Laptop, a couple home computers, a couple friend's? Sure. But 8?
I suppose you could technically reach the limit rather fast if you're idea of fun is swapping out lots of hardware, like your GPU and RAM, and benchmarking, like Shamus briefly broached upon in his column. Though I have no idea who would be installing a game on 2-3 computers and then spend time swapping out the GPU in all of them like 3 times each just to get some benchmarks.
Couple points here:

1. You don't reinstall a game if you swap out RAM or really anything other than the storage where it's otherwise installed. Has anyone verified that slapping the HDD or SSD into 8 different machines triggers this error message or is it only when installing it fresh for the 8th time on new hardware?
2. We actually don't know what they mean by different hardware. As far as we know, it isn't tied to the specs so much as the MAC address or something like that. The smart option would be tied to a unique HDD serial or something like that if there's any sort of unique ID standard for storage devices.
3. Keep in mind that this is also tied to time. Given an infinite amount of time time you should be able to install this game an infinite number of times.

My guess is that this DRM only presented itself when someone tried to distribute a license to pirates and this came up.

To be honest, I have only been hassled by DRM once (StarForce in the Witcher) and that was because StarForce decided my x48 DVD drive was actually a virtual reader and thus refused to read the DVD. The problem was solved by plugging in a x12 USB DVD Writer, which StarForce accepted without questions (despite the claim that StarForce would block all writers...). Never had any other DRM problems apart from occasional network issues with stuff like DA:Os profile system. So I don't really see the big deal about DRM, considering how rampant piracy is I understand that the suits in the companies feel a need to do something to try and thwart piracy of their products, even if that something is near pointless and pisses of some legitimate customers. As a community, gamers brought DRM upon themselves.
Invasive mandatory logins into programs like Origin are a big one for me. Forced logins in single player modes are another.

Stuff like SimCity was a nightmare. It all depends on what games you play.
 

Kstarler

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Not that it should be any surprise (Mr. Young's articles are almost always spot on and well crafted), but this one was so good that I wanted to chime in with some kudos.

I have a friend that doesn't understand why all of his other gamer friends (myself included) refuse to buy any game that requires a DRM service to be running in the background, or one that has DRM included. It's not because the games aren't good (most of them are), or because we don't have always online internet connections (we do). It's not even because the DRM services are terrible (Steam is pretty good, Origin is getting better, and uPlay... well, there's always an outlier). It's because purchasing these products tells the companies in question that they can get away with tacking these things on, so long as the main product is worth the downside.

Unfortunately, losing four sales (myself and crew) doesn't do anything to substantially hurt the game companies' bottom lines, and even if there are enough of us out there to hurt their sales numbers, the end result is more likely to be a halt in PC production than a change in DRM policy. So, to that end I say, preach on brother Young. Amen and hallelujah. Because the only way the game companies will change is if folks like you keep the pressure on them.
 

Lightknight

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Kstarler said:
Not that it should be any surprise (Mr. Young's articles are almost always spot on and well crafted), but this one was so good that I wanted to chime in with some kudos.

I have a friend that doesn't understand why all of his other gamer friends (myself included) refuse to buy any game that requires a DRM service to be running in the background, or one that has DRM included. It's not because the games aren't good (most of them are), or because we don't have always online internet connections (we do). It's not even because the DRM services are terrible (Steam is pretty good, Origin is getting better, and uPlay... well, there's always an outlier). It's because purchasing these products tells the companies in question that they can get away with tacking these things on, so long as the main product is worth the downside.

Unfortunately, losing four sales (myself and crew) doesn't do anything to substantially hurt the game companies' bottom lines, and even if there are enough of us out there to hurt their sales numbers, the end result is more likely to be a halt in PC production than a change in DRM policy. So, to that end I say, preach on brother Young. Amen and hallelujah.
What about DRM (as in the case of Battlefield Hardline) that does not impact a consumer at all and would only impacts the mass redistribution of the game?

Something that legitimately impacts pirates without harming you in any way?

Don't get me wrong, screw EA in general but this is NOT an ant hill worth fighting for. This has got to be the first piece of DRM that actually harms pirates and doesn't harm consumers.

Do you also refuse to buy games that have you enter a registration key?
 

Kstarler

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Lightknight said:
What about DRM (as in the case of Battlefield Hardline) that does not impact a consumer at all and would only impacts the mass redistribution of the game?

Something that legitimately impacts pirates without harming you in any way?

Don't get me wrong, screw EA in general but this is NOT an ant hill worth fighting for. This has got to be the first piece of DRM that actually harms pirates and doesn't harm consumers.

Do you also refuse to buy games that have you enter a registration key?
First, the answer to your question is yes. Right now, I shop exclusively at GOG.com for my games, or buy directly from independent distributors. I will create an account for a website (Kerbal Space Program springs to mind), but that's as far as I'll go.

Secondly, did you read the article? This form of DRM does NOT prevent any real piracy, and it DOES impact end users that legitimately own the game in a negative way.
 

Lightknight

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Kstarler said:
Lightknight said:
What about DRM (as in the case of Battlefield Hardline) that does not impact a consumer at all and would only impacts the mass redistribution of the game?

Something that legitimately impacts pirates without harming you in any way?

Don't get me wrong, screw EA in general but this is NOT an ant hill worth fighting for. This has got to be the first piece of DRM that actually harms pirates and doesn't harm consumers.

Do you also refuse to buy games that have you enter a registration key?
First, the answer to your question is yes. Right now, I shop exclusively at GOG.com for my games, or buy directly from independent distributors. I will create an account for a website (Kerbal Space Program springs to mind), but that's as far as I'll go.
That is even more invasive than the DRM that kicked off this thread. You would not see this DRM impact you at all unless you met very specific criteria.

Again, I have never installed a single game requiring Origin. I have not played Mass Effect 3 to this day for that reason. So I understand where you're coming from but this may be one of the first exceptions I've seen.

Secondly, did you read the article? This form of DRM does NOT prevent any real piracy, and it DOES impact end users that legitimately own the game in a negative way.
I did read the article. What I'm specifically saying is that Shamus, someone who is nearly always right in my opinion, appears to be wrong here.

1. One of Shamus' givens is that it does not impact pirates. However, this DRM prevents someone from rapidly installing the same license on 8 different machines. As a mental exercise I implore you to guess why this would specifically impact pirates and the mass distribution of a single license. The brilliance in this is that they implemented a sort of two-factor authentication. The server side knows what your machine should be and you have to have your account. So this isn't something that is just a matter of cracking the code. You'd have to figure out a way to make it so that everyone downloading the pirated copy is getting a unique license. I imagine it's possible but there's nothing in place for that yet and no guarantee that EA doesn't have something in place to limit the number of possible licenses to the approximate number of copies they already have out there. Any failure to do this appropriately would result in a bunch of pirates getting locked out of their game.

So this represents a legitimate hurdle to have to be jumped.

Keep in mind that a lot of DRM is to keep pirates away for the first couple weeks of sales so that anyone wanting to get the game and is too impatient to wait will succumb to the ticking of time and just buy a game even though they usually pirate because piracy has failed to accommodate them in a timely fashion.

2. There is almost no reason why any legitimate consumer would attempt to install the same license 8 times on different machines that doesn't involve distributing the same license to other people.
 

Kstarler

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The problem with your argument is that it doesn't account for the very first point that is made in the article: your pirate can't be a pirate.

The first thing that a pirate group is going to do is crack the executable so that it doesn't phone home, meaning no license authentication on the official side. From there, it's a simple step to trick the executable into thinking it has authenticated (simple is relative here; I couldn't do it without months, if not years, but I'm no programmer). That kind of cracking happens within hours of a release most of the time. If it does take time, then we're talking days, not weeks. As an example, The Sims 4 was cracked to install in and launch from a dummy Origin account without phoning home before the game was even officially released, thanks to leaked copies and the pre-released character creator. So, in order for this form of DRM to be effective against pirates, it has to be applied to a legitimate, un-cracked copy of the game, as pointed out in the article.

Note: I would provide a source here, but I take it that I ought not be linking to pirate forums, which I do occasionally view for *ahem* legitimate reasons. No, honestly! Also, I wouldn't want to call attention to anyone that doesn't want the kind of attention that a link would bring.

The only people that will be caught by this are outliers that have a legitimate (albeit strange and/or highly unlikely) reason for needing to install the game more than eight times, or people that believe they are buying legitimate copies because they are unaware that the provider is illegitimate. The latter is even less likely than the former in our current digital age, and the former has happened [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/140227-Battlefield-Hardline-Origin-DRM-Will-Lock-You-Out-For-Upgrading-Too-Many-Times], or this article would not exist.

Also, as you point out (and I hate this kind of pedantry, because I do understand your point), that hurdle can be jumped, and quite easily, so the exercise is one in futility that increases the cost of producing the game.

But, all of this is academic, because I really just dislike DRM to the point where I will not support publishers and developers that support the practice. I'm sure I could come up with more logical reasons why I don't want it, but the bottom line is always that I don't want it.
 

Lightknight

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Kstarler said:
The problem with your argument is that it doesn't account for the very first point that is made in the article: your pirate can't be a pirate.
That is the 'given' that Shamus created that I'm saying is wrong.

His premise is that if they were a pirate, then they'd just go pirate it.

The argument that I'm trying to make is that tying the number of installs a license can have to the hardware makes the traditional piracy of the software far more difficult to distribute.

So you've got a situation where the average pirate can't just get it for free or easily. So the question is whether or not they'll just go buy it for the convenience of not waiting or going through insane hurdles.

The first thing that a pirate group is going to do is crack the executable so that it doesn't phone home, meaning no license authentication on the official side. From there, it's a simple step to trick the executable into thinking it has authenticated (simple is relative here; I couldn't do it without months, if not years, but I'm no programmer). That kind of cracking happens within hours of a release most of the time. If it does take time, then we're talking days, not weeks. As an example, The Sims 4 was cracked to install in and launch from a dummy Origin account without phoning home before the game was even officially released, thanks to leaked copies and the pre-released character creator. So, in order for this form of DRM to be effective against pirates, it has to be applied to a legitimate, un-cracked copy of the game, as pointed out in the article.
It's different here because of the two form authentication. The server (the side pirates don't have direct access to) not only checks the license but also the hardware. If the same license has been installed on two many different pieces of hardware then it gets locked down from the server.

The crux of this DRM isn't just being able to authenticate but rather having the expected pair of hardware AND license as well as not having that same license paired with too many other machines.

What I'm saying is that this is different. It requires more information than typical DRM from what I've seen. The traditional license that was pirated is now only half of the full name of the customer and if the first and last name don't match or are paired too frequently then it flags the account.

Note: I would provide a source here, but I take it that I ought not be linking to pirate forums, which I do occasionally view for *ahem* legitimate reasons. No, honestly! Also, I wouldn't want to call attention to anyone that doesn't want the kind of attention that a link would bring.
I understand. I'm generally aware of how it works even if I do not partake of it myself.

The only people that will be caught by this are outliers that have a legitimate (albeit strange and/or highly unlikely) reason for needing to install the game more than eight times, or people that believe they are buying legitimate copies because they are unaware that the provider is illegitimate. The latter is even less likely than the former in our current digital age, and the former has happened [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/140227-Battlefield-Hardline-Origin-DRM-Will-Lock-You-Out-For-Upgrading-Too-Many-Times], or this article would not exist.
The outliers are going to be incredibly rare. It's most likely that pirates found this. 8 people clicked on the link and 8 people were suddenly locked out. That's why the article exists. Not because a legitimate customer ran around to 8 machines under different accounts like that article said they had to make to do it.

As for people paying for a pirated copy. I fail to see why preventing that is a problem> That is piracy being stopped.

Also, as you point out (and I hate this kind of pedantry, because I do understand your point), that hurdle can be jumped, and quite easily, so the exercise is one in futility that increases the cost of producing the game.
Hopefully my response explains why I think this hurdle isn't the same as other hurdles. This incorporates additional information that has to be spoofed in some way.

One way would be to create a ton of distinct licenses and figure out a way to distribute each distinct license separately. So just a link on the internet won't work that way and it's possible that EA has limited the scope of licenses in a way to make this nearly impossible.

Another way might be some sort of virtual spoofing. But this requires pirates to know how to set up a virtual machine to spoof the same machine. It also requires no more than 7 people to screw up correctly spoofing their machines and also relies on EA not having countermeasures in place for the same machine logging in at the same time from very different locations. I'm work at a professional level in virtualization and while it's easy to spoof something like a MAC address, if EA is tying it to the serial number of a hard drive then I don't know of any easy way to spoof that because there's currently no reason to do so. I'm sure it's possible but this would require all pirates to create their own VMs and use whatever technique they can to spoof traditionally not-spoofed hardware. And, as I said, you get 7 knuckleheads who just try to install that link on their base machine and it ruins the game for all the other pirates that did it right.

In all honesty, this is a really simple but brilliant method to identify the consumers. It borrows heavily from two-factor authentication practices in modern security that makes hacking accounts nearly impossible without having access to two major things (for example, the person's cell phone and their email password if you're trying to get into gmail from an unregistered location when the user has two-factor authentication turned on). It's why the blizzard authenticator is so successful at preventing account hacking.

That's all assuming that this is working the way I think it is. If so, pirates are kinda screwed for awhile. If not, then I'm eager to learn why.

I'll also point out that in other DRM cases, the main goal is to provide a hurdle big enough to give them a few weeks of pirate free sales because people (and pirates are people too) will pay for convenience of having games sooner or easier. That's not a bad idea either if it generates a large enough increase in sales. It's the same reason why a bunch of companies aren't releasing the computer version of a game until a year after the console sale. It's not like porting to computers from an x86 environment isn't simple. They're doing that for a reason and this is why.

But, all of this is academic, because I really just dislike DRM to the point where I will not support publishers and developers that support the practice. I'm sure I could come up with more logical reasons why I don't want it, but the bottom line is always that I don't want it.
You just said you were fine with games that require you to enter a registration key or set up an account. This is just DRM too. Easy to crack.

Why would you have a problem with DRM that only impacts mass distribution. Why do you think that scenario is unethical if they really managed to avoid impacting paying customers?

We've had a lot of anti-DRM propaganda thrown our way. So I understand unwavering anti-DRM sentiment in nearly all cases.

But if it only harms pirates then why do you care? I have only three criteria for DRM:

1. Doesn't impact the real consumers.
2. Does harm piracy (whether it does so particularly well doesn't matter as long as 1 and 3 are met).
3. Doesn't harm the game itself.
 

Kstarler

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Point of fact, I did not say that I was okay with registration codes. Please re-read your question, and my answer.

I've already conceded that I can come up with various counterpoints to support my argument, but I have no desire to. DRM is odious, and attaching it to entertainment software should be a defunct practice. Again, thanks to Mr. Young for (hopefully) providing additional pressure to end the practice.

ETA: After a very cursory search, it appears that two pirate groups have already cracked Hardline. I haven't done any other research, and I don't know how the cracks function, so I don't know their time frame or the quality of the work, but this reinforces the point in the article.
 

Lightknight

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Kstarler said:
Point of fact, I did not say that I was okay with registration codes. Please re-read your question, and my answer.

I've already conceded that I can come up with various counterpoints to support my argument, but I have no desire to. DRM is odious, and attaching it to entertainment software should be a defunct practice. Again, thanks to Mr. Young for (hopefully) providing additional pressure to end the practice.
You said you make exceptions for some types like that which are minimally invasive. If you are ok with those enough to make exceptions then why would you deem something you'd likely never even be aware of as somehow worse?

ETA: After a very cursory search, it appears that two pirate groups have already cracked Hardline. I haven't done any other research, and I don't know how the cracks function, so I don't know their time frame or the quality of the work, but this reinforces the point in the article.
Cracking the basic game is not the same as successfully mass distributing it.

The entire crux is whether or not this impacts mass distribution. Of course the game is just as easily cracked as any other.

But again, maybe this kind of DRM isn't what it was pitched to me as. But think about it, if the server looks at your hardware and compares it to hardware already used by that license, how would cracking the software help?

From reading some comments on some of the sites you may be frequenting, I'm seeing other people saying that the double drm is uncrackable.

I'll do some more research now.

EDIT: Ugh, it does include just switching out the video card. They didn't do it as smartly as they could have then since the HDD is the only relevant component where license installation is concerned.

EDIT EDIT: Interesting, it appears that this was actually in place to allow Battlefield to hardware ban cheaters. There is a HDWID Spoofing workaround that allows them to keep cheating but it still triggers the lockout for 24 hours after their fifth install.

I haven't seen a solution to the 24 hours thing.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: Was Anno 2070's full mode ever fully piratable? They seem to have used a similar DRM there but where the offline mode is available it doesn't look like the online mode was ever solved.
 

Lightknight

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Oh well, I guess I don't want to click on several links that should include the information I need. I'm certainly not going to try to download a pirated copy or some such nonsense.

I'll have to wait for someone more knowledgeable to chime in.
 

Kstarler

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Kstarler said:
Lightknight said:
Do you also refuse to buy games that have you enter a registration key?
First, the answer to your question is yes.
Just to clarify the point of fact, I do not condone any type of DRM, even down to registration keys. I can see where the point may have been muddled, as I should have indicated the answer was to your final question. Admittedly, this has not always been my stance, but within the last couple of years, it is accurate.

Regarding Anno 2070, I have no idea. If there is an always online component to it, then I would assume it's similar to Diablo III, where part of the code is stored on the server. While I will concede that holding part of the game code on an online server is an effective DRM tool, I would hope we can agree that this particular form of DRM is even worse than Origin or a hardware restriction, in that it directly harms paying customers by adding server latency and connectivity issues to a game with an entirely single player component.

Also, I want to clarify for anyone else reading this, I do not support and I do not condone piracy. If you like a game and want to see more like it, support the developers and buy it. But, don't forget to gripe about the parts you don't like after the purchase, like the DRM or bugs. Jim Sterling's advice on this (I forget when he gave it, but it seems like it was a while ago) was largely correct. Even EA didn't want to end up at the top of the Worst Company in America list a third time in a row.
 

Veylon

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Lightknight said:
From reading some comments on some of the sites you may be frequenting, I'm seeing other people saying that the double drm is uncrackable.
Client-Server DRM is only uncrackable (and that, only theoretically) in the context of online gaming. Unless there is some key piece of the game that can now and forever be kept from the clients, the game is crackable. Any piece that goes to the clients can be captured and hacked. If the whole game ever goes to the clients - even piecemeal - the whole game is crackable. Only in online gaming that requires a server can pieces be kept from the clients. To crack the game fully then requires hackers to fabricate the missing pieces.

Lightknight said:
But think about it, if the server looks at your hardware and compares it to hardware already used by that license, how would cracking the software help?
The cracked software can lie to the server about what hardware exists. This is why there is a general principle that no information from a client can ever be trusted. The server must rely on it's own records of log on times and IP addresses for administration. There is no point in checking hardware information for DRM purposes as it requires trusting an inherently untrustworthy source.
 

Gethsemani_v1legacy

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Veylon said:
Client-Server DRM is only uncrackable (and that, only theoretically) in the context of online gaming. Unless there is some key piece of the game that can now and forever be kept from the clients, the game is crackable. Any piece that goes to the clients can be captured and hacked. If the whole game ever goes to the clients - even piecemeal - the whole game is crackable. Only in online gaming that requires a server can pieces be kept from the clients. To crack the game fully then requires hackers to fabricate the missing pieces.
Which, in the case of a multiplayer centric game like Hardline, is a pretty good deal for the publisher, no? Even if you "just" keep the pirate out of the multiplayer part, you are still preventing them from accessing the most tempting content of the game. If you keep the pirates out of the MP scene you are effectively telling them to either buy the game to really access the main content or be content with the second rate serving that is the single player.
 

J Tyran

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DRM like that just means I won't buy a game, gaming is mainly my secondary hobby as far as my PC goes. I enjoy fiddling, tinkering and replacing my hardware. I regularly rebuild my machine from the ground up because, well just because.

If a publishers game is going to be an annoying PITA because of that I simply won't buy it.
 

Lightknight

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Veylon said:
Lightknight said:
From reading some comments on some of the sites you may be frequenting, I'm seeing other people saying that the double drm is uncrackable.
Client-Server DRM is only uncrackable (and that, only theoretically) in the context of online gaming. Unless there is some key piece of the game that can now and forever be kept from the clients, the game is crackable. Any piece that goes to the clients can be captured and hacked. If the whole game ever goes to the clients - even piecemeal - the whole game is crackable. Only in online gaming that requires a server can pieces be kept from the clients. To crack the game fully then requires hackers to fabricate the missing pieces.
Ok, this is what I was thinking was the case.

So, in your eyes, does that mean that this DRM is actually effective at preventing pirates from experiencing the multiplayer aspect of the game?

Lightknight said:
But think about it, if the server looks at your hardware and compares it to hardware already used by that license, how would cracking the software help?
The cracked software can lie to the server about what hardware exists. This is why there is a general principle that no information from a client can ever be trusted. The server must rely on it's own records of log on times and IP addresses for administration. There is no point in checking hardware information for DRM purposes as it requires trusting an inherently untrustworthy source.
It seems that their 'intention' was to be able to hardware ban cheaters. But they can just switch out one piece of hardware or spoof it and be seen as a different hardware. they can only do it up to 8 times before they start getting the 24 hour timeouts.

Does the ability to spoof hardware really matter? Even if someone created an easy utility for people to spoof a common machine, all you need is 7 knuckleheads that don't know what they're doing going and installing the license on their own machine and suddenly there's a timeout for everyone.

The only workaround I'm thinking about is the ability to generate a unique license for every pirate. Perhaps EA has contingencies in place for that as well (such as a limited scope of licenses that may be difficult to find).

Gethsemani said:
Veylon said:
Client-Server DRM is only uncrackable (and that, only theoretically) in the context of online gaming. Unless there is some key piece of the game that can now and forever be kept from the clients, the game is crackable. Any piece that goes to the clients can be captured and hacked. If the whole game ever goes to the clients - even piecemeal - the whole game is crackable. Only in online gaming that requires a server can pieces be kept from the clients. To crack the game fully then requires hackers to fabricate the missing pieces.
Which, in the case of a multiplayer centric game like Hardline, is a pretty good deal for the publisher, no? Even if you "just" keep the pirate out of the multiplayer part, you are still preventing them from accessing the most tempting content of the game. If you keep the pirates out of the MP scene you are effectively telling them to either buy the game to really access the main content or be content with the second rate serving that is the single player.
Exactly, I can't believe I'm saying this but they may have finally figured out a piece of DRM I'm not actually opposed to. Something that does hit pirates, doesn't hit the average consumer at all, and doesn't harm the game.

The DRM also has the added benefit of being able to hardware ban cheaters. They can still reconfigured up to 7 times but after that the cheaters get the additional joys of a 24 hour timeout on their license. So one could argue that it not only doesn't harm the game but improves it.
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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J Tyran said:
DRM like that just means I won't buy a game, gaming is mainly my secondary hobby as far as my PC goes. I enjoy fiddling, tinkering and replacing my hardware. I regularly rebuild my machine from the ground up because, well just because.

If a publishers game is going to be an annoying PITA because of that I simply won't buy it.
That would certainly hit you then.

How frequently would you switch out a piece of hardware on your gaming machine? I upgrade mine fairly regularly but no more than three times a year at most. Technology moves quickly but it doesn't move that quickly for me to waste money needlessly on products that are only marginally better.
 

CaitSeith

Formely Gone Gonzo
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GabeZhul said:
DRM is for the shareholders. The industry have been on a witch-hunt against piracy, blaming their financial troubles on it whether it actually had any considerable effect on profit margins or not. By now it has been ingrained into people's heads that piracy is bad for business. DRM, on the surface, is for combating piracy. It doesn't work, but the investors and shareholders don't necessarily know this. All they "know" is that the eeeeeeeeevil software pirates are lurking outside, and that they want to "steal" their games and destroy their dividends. They want the company to do something about it, and so the company slaps DRM onto their games. It doesn't stop pirates, but the shareholders "think" that it stops them, and therefore they invest more and the company stays afloat and can pay dividends. At the end of the day, DRM is the placebo of the gaming industry.
However the article stated that the DRM for this game wasn't disclosed until it failed. It concludes that the shareholders didn't know about it.
 

Lightknight

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CaitSeith said:
GabeZhul said:
DRM is for the shareholders. The industry have been on a witch-hunt against piracy, blaming their financial troubles on it whether it actually had any considerable effect on profit margins or not. By now it has been ingrained into people's heads that piracy is bad for business. DRM, on the surface, is for combating piracy. It doesn't work, but the investors and shareholders don't necessarily know this. All they "know" is that the eeeeeeeeevil software pirates are lurking outside, and that they want to "steal" their games and destroy their dividends. They want the company to do something about it, and so the company slaps DRM onto their games. It doesn't stop pirates, but the shareholders "think" that it stops them, and therefore they invest more and the company stays afloat and can pay dividends. At the end of the day, DRM is the placebo of the gaming industry.
However the article stated that the DRM for this game wasn't disclosed until it failed. It concludes that the shareholders didn't know about it.
False, if DRM prevents the game from being cracked at launch (and it does, sometimes takes several weeks or months depending on the quality of it to crack ), then it should improve revenue in the first few weeks by encouraging the pirates that are willing to pay for games in order to not wait for them. The biggest bulk of sales for a game happens in those first few weeks. For example:

Here's 360 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 [http://www.vgchartz.com/game/44606/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-3/Global/]. To date, it has sold 14.5 million units. It was launched in 2011 and the first 11.8 million units were sold in the first 10 weeks.

The only two weeks it sold into the millions were the first two weeks (6.7 million and then 1.1 million). The last four out of the ten weeks were all within the 11 million mark. The subsequent approximately 182 weeks (just 3.5 years times 52 weeks) averaged just 15k units per week. To put that in perspective, adding 10 weeks (192 total) and the total units sold shoots up to an average of 76k units per week.

So sales drop off RAPIDLY and delaying pirates by just a few weeks can make a non-trivial difference because people WILL pay for convenience in the form of time and ease.

So shareholders don't need to know about the DRM as long as it has a positive impact on revenue.

Let's face it, revenue (that exceeds costs) and clear vision are the only things that really gets shareholders happy.
 

Alek The Great

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Lightknight said:
Exactly, I can't believe I'm saying this but they may have finally figured out a piece of DRM I'm not actually opposed to. Something that does hit pirates, doesn't hit the average consumer at all, and doesn't harm the game.

The DRM also has the added benefit of being able to hardware ban cheaters. They can still reconfigured up to 7 times but after that the cheaters get the additional joys of a 24 hour timeout on their license. So one could argue that it not only doesn't harm the game but improves it.
There is a downside to client-server DRM and that is that people can't host their own games and, once official servers are taken down, the multiplayer experience is absolutely dead as well. So many multiplayer games can't be archived for this reason which only hurts the art-form as we might not be able to preserve particularly good examples of online experiences (not implying that Hardline is one of those, I haven't played it myself).
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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Alek The Great said:
Lightknight said:
Exactly, I can't believe I'm saying this but they may have finally figured out a piece of DRM I'm not actually opposed to. Something that does hit pirates, doesn't hit the average consumer at all, and doesn't harm the game.

The DRM also has the added benefit of being able to hardware ban cheaters. They can still reconfigured up to 7 times but after that the cheaters get the additional joys of a 24 hour timeout on their license. So one could argue that it not only doesn't harm the game but improves it.
There is a downside to client-server DRM and that is that people can't host their own games and, once official servers are taken down, the multiplayer experience is absolutely dead as well. So many multiplayer games can't be archived for this reason which only hurts the art-form as we might not be able to preserve particularly good examples of online experiences (not implying that Hardline is one of those, I haven't played it myself).
This is true with a lot of modern online games that don't even use client-server DRM. It's a general nature of multiplayer games.

At least some companies go back and change how it's done. Rise of Nations just ultimately resolved that issue for example.

But I'm not sure a game that gets a new release every year really matters all that much for posterity. Especially not if LAN parties and single player modes still exist.

So your argument is more against server farms than any kind of DRM.
 

Veylon

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Lightknight said:
So, in your eyes, does that mean that this DRM is actually effective at preventing pirates from experiencing the multiplayer aspect of the game?
I don't want to say that it is, as I don't know the implementation in any depth, but the theory is sound.


Lightknight said:
It seems that their 'intention' was to be able to hardware ban cheaters. But they can just switch out one piece of hardware or spoof it and be seen as a different hardware. they can only do it up to 8 times before they start getting the 24 hour timeouts.

Does the ability to spoof hardware really matter? Even if someone created an easy utility for people to spoof a common machine, all you need is 7 knuckleheads that don't know what they're doing going and installing the license on their own machine and suddenly there's a timeout for everyone.
Well, let's think about this.

The client wants to connect. It claims to be being used by PLAYERID. The server wants to know what it's hardware situation is. The client sends back HWID. The server already has an IP address from the client that may or may not be accurate and records of previous log-on attempts. The server has to make a call about whether to allow or not allow the client to log on. By what logic can such a call be made?

The HWID is easy to spoof; there simply needs to be a 1:1 database between PLAYERIDs and HWIDs. Supply the HWID along with the PLAYERID - no different than a password, really - and you're in! The HWID is effectively worthless as DRM.

The first obvious sign of hacking is if a PLAYERID is already logged on and another PLAYERID attempts to log on from a different IP address. In this case, the second one could by denied.

Maybe a red flag is raised for this PLAYERID. Garner enough red flags and a real live human gets summoned to administer punishment or else the system automatically bans the player for a length of time.

Under this system, any number of people could spoof it provided that no two of them are using the same PLAYERID at the same time. Of course, this would depend on a considerable amount of organization between the hackers on the fly and the trust for people using accounts to not lock them by changing the password.

So you're basically right, the "knuckleheads" are what are liable to bring down this type of hacking. The pirate community needs to purchase enough legitimate accounts in order for their system to work. They could, say, have a dozen PLAYERID/HWID identities that are checked out by their users and then returned after the gaming session is over to avoid duplicate log-ons that would tip off the company. But the level of discipline necessary to make it work isn't likely to exist and so the organizational advantage lies with the company.
 

CaitSeith

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Lightknight said:
snip

So shareholders don't need to know about the DRM as long as it has a positive impact on revenue.

Let's face it, revenue (that exceeds costs) and clear vision are the only things that really gets shareholders happy.
What do you mean by "clear vision"?
 

J Tyran

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Lightknight said:
J Tyran said:
DRM like that just means I won't buy a game, gaming is mainly my secondary hobby as far as my PC goes. I enjoy fiddling, tinkering and replacing my hardware. I regularly rebuild my machine from the ground up because, well just because.

If a publishers game is going to be an annoying PITA because of that I simply won't buy it.
That would certainly hit you then.

How frequently would you switch out a piece of hardware on your gaming machine? I upgrade mine fairly regularly but no more than three times a year at most. Technology moves quickly but it doesn't move that quickly for me to waste money needlessly on products that are only marginally better.
Components get swapped out once or twice a year, then you have the fiddling about and failed OCs and tweaks needing re-installs which sometimes convince this kind of DRM that its a new machine. I just built this:- http://imgur.com/a/xgIaS to replace my Ivy Bridge machine, I will change the GPU towards the end of the year as well.

So there are two chances this year for this kind of DRM to shit the bed, more if I get around to buying an M.2 drive as well.
 

Lightknight

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Veylon said:
Lightknight said:
It seems that their 'intention' was to be able to hardware ban cheaters. But they can just switch out one piece of hardware or spoof it and be seen as a different hardware. they can only do it up to 8 times before they start getting the 24 hour timeouts.

Does the ability to spoof hardware really matter? Even if someone created an easy utility for people to spoof a common machine, all you need is 7 knuckleheads that don't know what they're doing going and installing the license on their own machine and suddenly there's a timeout for everyone.
---SNIP---

So you're basically right, the "knuckleheads" are what are liable to bring down this type of hacking. The pirate community needs to purchase enough legitimate accounts in order for their system to work. They could, say, have a dozen PLAYERID/HWID identities that are checked out by their users and then returned after the gaming session is over to avoid duplicate log-ons that would tip off the company. But the level of discipline necessary to make it work isn't likely to exist and so the organizational advantage lies with the company.
Exactly, it isn't strictly impossible but requires an amount of coordination and discipline that the internet just hasn't proven capable of providing. I can see it working on small cases like we discussed but this effectively kills mass distribution which means this DRM is surprisingly effective if that's how it works.

CaitSeith said:
Lightknight said:
snip

So shareholders don't need to know about the DRM as long as it has a positive impact on revenue.

Let's face it, revenue (that exceeds costs) and clear vision are the only things that really gets shareholders happy.
What do you mean by "clear vision"?
The reason companies keep hosting these "press releases" and "shareholder meetings" is to show the shareholders and potential investors that they have clear goals in mind with positive expected results. Investors steer away pretty hard from aimless companies. Basically, the two ways to encourage investment is to show legitimate blueprints for success and then to demonstrate actual success.
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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J Tyran said:
Lightknight said:
J Tyran said:
DRM like that just means I won't buy a game, gaming is mainly my secondary hobby as far as my PC goes. I enjoy fiddling, tinkering and replacing my hardware. I regularly rebuild my machine from the ground up because, well just because.

If a publishers game is going to be an annoying PITA because of that I simply won't buy it.
That would certainly hit you then.

How frequently would you switch out a piece of hardware on your gaming machine? I upgrade mine fairly regularly but no more than three times a year at most. Technology moves quickly but it doesn't move that quickly for me to waste money needlessly on products that are only marginally better.
Components get swapped out once or twice a year, then you have the fiddling about and failed OCs and tweaks needing re-installs which sometimes convince this kind of DRM that its a new machine. I just built this:- http://imgur.com/a/xgIaS to replace my Ivy Bridge machine, I will change the GPU towards the end of the year as well.

So there are two chances this year for this kind of DRM to shit the bed, more if I get around to buying an M.2 drive as well.
That's one sexy machine.

I really don't notice enough of a performance difference in switching out my old Ivy Bridge CPU to make it worth it. I got a high end i7 at the time even though the i5 was a much better value for the buck. It's the GPU I find far more worth upgrading. However, even then my specs are so far above ultra settings that I haven't been able to justify upgrades this year. I'd expected the console generation to usher in a new age but it hasn't been that noticeable yet.

Anyways, if you only upgrade twice a year then you shouldn't ever see this. Do you really think you'd play hardline for four years?

The only thing I'd be concerned with is the fiddling about bit you mentioned. Now that you know this you can be sure not to log into the game during the fiddling but do you really think you'd hit 8 different configurations in a single year even? Not only that but it's timed so by the second time you get around to upgrades it may have reverted back to zero AND this ends up only being an inconvenience of 24 hours if you do really hit that number some time. So even the rare bird that changes their hardware 8 times in a short amount of time wouldn't be out of luck.

You stand to miss far more days to these kinds of games with the host servers being down than anything else.
 

J Tyran

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Lightknight said:
J Tyran said:
Lightknight said:
J Tyran said:
DRM like that just means I won't buy a game, gaming is mainly my secondary hobby as far as my PC goes. I enjoy fiddling, tinkering and replacing my hardware. I regularly rebuild my machine from the ground up because, well just because.

If a publishers game is going to be an annoying PITA because of that I simply won't buy it.
That would certainly hit you then.

How frequently would you switch out a piece of hardware on your gaming machine? I upgrade mine fairly regularly but no more than three times a year at most. Technology moves quickly but it doesn't move that quickly for me to waste money needlessly on products that are only marginally better.
Components get swapped out once or twice a year, then you have the fiddling about and failed OCs and tweaks needing re-installs which sometimes convince this kind of DRM that its a new machine. I just built this:- http://imgur.com/a/xgIaS to replace my Ivy Bridge machine, I will change the GPU towards the end of the year as well.

So there are two chances this year for this kind of DRM to shit the bed, more if I get around to buying an M.2 drive as well.
That's one sexy machine.

I really don't notice enough of a performance difference in switching out my old Ivy Bridge CPU to make it worth it. I got a high end i7 at the time even though the i5 was a much better value for the buck. It's the GPU I find far more worth upgrading. However, even then my specs are so far above ultra settings that I haven't been able to justify upgrades this year. I'd expected the console generation to usher in a new age but it hasn't been that noticeable yet.

Anyways, if you only upgrade twice a year then you shouldn't ever see this. Do you really think you'd play hardline for four years?

The only thing I'd be concerned with is the fiddling about bit you mentioned. Now that you know this you can be sure not to log into the game during the fiddling but do you really think you'd hit 8 different configurations in a single year even? Not only that but it's timed so by the second time you get around to upgrades it may have reverted back to zero AND this ends up only being an inconvenience of 24 hours if you do really hit that number some time. So even the rare bird that changes their hardware 8 times in a short amount of time wouldn't be out of luck.

You stand to miss far more days to these kinds of games with the host servers being down than anything else.
You're right, the raw performance increase isn't that great although more of the Z97 boards allow turbo boost on all cores simultaneously which is pretty sweet and not something that shows in the raw stats but makes quite a difference straight out of the box as a Devils Canyon chip will run all cores at the same speed as a heavily (not extreme) overclocked i7. I mainly wanted upgrade paths in the future, Ivy Bridge was pretty much done along with the Z77 platform and apart from buying pimped DRAM there was nothing left to upgrade.

My Z97 has SATA Express, M.2 and processors coming out in the future (Broadwell) so I will get another couple of years out of it. I think the main thing this console generation will do to games is a jump in VRAM requirements, all of the extra post processing and other effects eat up more VRAM than we are used too even at lower resolutions.
 

Blackbird71

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Kingjackl said:
Steve the Pocket said:
Kingjackl said:
This reminds me of my own situation with Dragon Age Inquisition, where we bought a boxed copy of the game (because fuck downloading it over Australian internet), then found you can only have it installed on one Origin account at a time, meaning we can't play multiplayer and have to kick each other off every time one of us wants to play it. We live under the same roof, these sort of restrictions are just asinine.
If you had bought it for a console, you'd still only be able to play it on one system at a time because there's only one disc, so I don't see how this is so horrible exactly?
It's installed on both computers, no disc required. Not to get all Master Race-y on you, but these aren't the limits of the consoles that apply here. It's the limits of the "one account, one install" DRM that nobody asked for. If this were the old days, we could both have it installed and be able to play it at the same time. At the moment, we have to make do with offline mode, but that means we can't play multiplayer with each other.
What you are proposing, installing the game on two separate computers from one purchased copy and playing both simultaneously, is technically illegal and the very reason such authentication systems exist. You have basically admitted committing a crime on a public forum.

Legality aside, even if these were the days before such online authentication methods as Origin's "one account, one install", you would not likely be able to play both installs together as multiplayer. Before we had online DRM, there were offline methods. One of the more common was entering a key upon installation. For most multiplayer games which used this method, if two copies of the game had the same install key, they could not join each other in multiplayer. Another common tool was the "disc in drive" requirement, for which the game disc had to be in the computer in order for the game to run; clearly you could not have one disc in two computers at the same time. It has been a very, very long time since there were any games which could be installed multiple times from the same disc and then play together (without using hacks/cracks/etc., obviously). Your expectations of being able to engage in multiplayer with two installs from the same hard copy are completely unreasonable, in any time period.
 

Extragorey

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Another great article, Shamus. DRM needs to go die in a hole with day-one DLC and hard-capped frame rates.
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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J Tyran said:
You're right, the raw performance increase isn't that great although more of the Z97 boards allow turbo boost on all cores simultaneously which is pretty sweet and not something that shows in the raw stats but makes quite a difference straight out of the box as a Devils Canyon chip will run all cores at the same speed as a heavily (not extreme) overclocked i7. I mainly wanted upgrade paths in the future, Ivy Bridge was pretty much done along with the Z77 platform and apart from buying pimped DRAM there was nothing left to upgrade.

My Z97 has SATA Express, M.2 and processors coming out in the future (Broadwell) so I will get another couple of years out of it. I think the main thing this console generation will do to games is a jump in VRAM requirements, all of the extra post processing and other effects eat up more VRAM than we are used too even at lower resolutions.
Sounds really nice but I think I'd like to wait until my specs come down below 100 FPS on high settings before taking that route. It is a marginal enough upgrade to make waiting worth it because if that day comes two years from now where I feel like I need an upgrade I'll be able to get a higher performing CPU than whatever you got for cheaper (assuming technology keeps doing what it does). But that's not to say you aren't getting a much more powerful CPU than what I got a couple years ago. You and I are just in a fun ol' Yin and Yang cycle where sometimes I'll be ahead of you and other times you'll be ahead of me. I'd take a picture of my machine but I never saw the point in spilling an extra $50 for a case. Maybe next time I do a full machine replacement.

I just built my brother a PC from CyberPowerPC. That one looks pretty darn slick since they only offer interesting looking cases.

In the meantime, it's just GPU upgrades for me.

But I do have an overclocked i7, so perhaps that's why I'm not seeing the reason.
 

Lightknight

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Nov 26, 2008
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Extragorey said:
Another great article, Shamus. DRM needs to go die in a hole with day-one DLC and hard-capped frame rates.
Welcome to the thread.

You should note that this DRM doesn't impact the vast majority of consumers, helps lock out cheaters, and actually prevents pirates from being able to mass distribute the game for online playing.

It's basically the first time we're seeing DRM that does hurt cheaters and pirates but doesn't hurt regular consumers.

So I'd rather they just perfect this so we don't get all the other nonsense.
 

NLS

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Jan 7, 2010
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Kingjackl said:
Steve the Pocket said:
Kingjackl said:
This reminds me of my own situation with Dragon Age Inquisition, where we bought a boxed copy of the game (because fuck downloading it over Australian internet), then found you can only have it installed on one Origin account at a time, meaning we can't play multiplayer and have to kick each other off every time one of us wants to play it. We live under the same roof, these sort of restrictions are just asinine.
If you had bought it for a console, you'd still only be able to play it on one system at a time because there's only one disc, so I don't see how this is so horrible exactly?
It's installed on both computers, no disc required. Not to get all Master Race-y on you, but these aren't the limits of the consoles that apply here. It's the limits of the "one account, one install" DRM that nobody asked for. If this were the old days, we could both have it installed and be able to play it at the same time. At the moment, we have to make do with offline mode, but that means we can't play multiplayer with each other.
What? You bought 1 copy of the game and expect it to work on 2 computers at the same time with multiplayer?
Lightknight said:
Ok, no one responded the first time I pointed this out. So I'll try again:

1. This DRM would impact almost NO legitimate customer. You have to install it on 8 machines in a short amount of time. Once locked, it is a timed lock so eventually you will be able to install it on more machines.

2. This would only impact mass distributions of the same copy.

3. Because it tracks the computer hardware and is checked by the server rather than the software, this may actually be an effective two-factor authentication that finally actually works. In order for someone to trick the system they'd have to go through major hoops like ghosting the same hardware right down to the MAC or generating a new viable license with every distributed copy. These are major hurdles for people and aren't as simple as just cracking the Software. The fact that the software doing the verification is on the server side makes all the difference.

So really, it seems to be the first bit of DRM I've ever seen that may actually be doing it right. Non-invasive to likely every legitimate customer and only harmful to mass distributors of the same license (aka Pirates).

Does someone have a real complaint about this? A real problem that isn't just the "spirit of the thing" they're bristling at? Seriously, because I'm scratching my head here and wondering what sort of person would rapidly install the same license more than 8 times within a short time period? Laptop, a couple home computers, a couple friend's? Sure. But 8?

I could easily imagine this being standard DRM in the future and I honestly don't have a problem with it if that's all it does.
I read your posts and...
I agree.
I get that DRM is one of the big swear words around here, but jeez when some good DRM comes around, people still complain.
 

Lightknight

Mugwamp Supreme
Nov 26, 2008
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NLS said:
Lightknight said:
Ok, no one responded the first time I pointed this out. So I'll try again:

1. This DRM would impact almost NO legitimate customer. You have to install it on 8 machines in a short amount of time. Once locked, it is a timed lock so eventually you will be able to install it on more machines.

2. This would only impact mass distributions of the same copy.

3. Because it tracks the computer hardware and is checked by the server rather than the software, this may actually be an effective two-factor authentication that finally actually works. In order for someone to trick the system they'd have to go through major hoops like ghosting the same hardware right down to the MAC or generating a new viable license with every distributed copy. These are major hurdles for people and aren't as simple as just cracking the Software. The fact that the software doing the verification is on the server side makes all the difference.

So really, it seems to be the first bit of DRM I've ever seen that may actually be doing it right. Non-invasive to likely every legitimate customer and only harmful to mass distributors of the same license (aka Pirates).

Does someone have a real complaint about this? A real problem that isn't just the "spirit of the thing" they're bristling at? Seriously, because I'm scratching my head here and wondering what sort of person would rapidly install the same license more than 8 times within a short time period? Laptop, a couple home computers, a couple friend's? Sure. But 8?

I could easily imagine this being standard DRM in the future and I honestly don't have a problem with it if that's all it does.
I read your posts and...
I agree.
I get that DRM is one of the big swear words around here, but jeez when some good DRM comes around, people still complain.
Thanks for taking the time. I came into this thread all gung ho to condemn EA yet again but the facts shocked me. This is the very first time that I can remember being pleasantly surprised with how DRM is implemented.

I understand people jumping the gun here though. EA and DRM? It's basically the devil and his favorite dog going out for a stroll.

But it just doesn't seem to be the same old thing here. EA is being a jerk when they require Origin to play their games. They aren't being a jerk when they implement this DRM.