Ubisoft is at it again - DRM follies

Discussion in 'Discussions' started by LionsDen, Jul 30, 2012.

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  1. FaxCelestis

    FaxCelestis Will Mod for Digglebucks

    That's largely because game developers are still insisting on a $60 price point, where Steam and others (though mostly Steam with its sales) have proven that they will make more sales (and thereby more money) with a lower price point.
  2. Kaidelong

    Kaidelong Member

    A high price point at launch lets you make the most out of the people who are willing to pay and if I understand what I've been reading about human behavior, it makes your sale work better when you finally do have it (people see a formerly 60 dollar game sold for 20 dollars as a big bargain, more than they see a 20 dollar game sold for 2 dollars. Putting an impressive number like "90% off!" does help though).

    On the other hand, you risk the sales being weak while the game has buzz. For high profile companies like Bethesda, they can keep buzz going around their games for years, for something like Dungeons of Dredmor, it's more important to sell it as much as you can while you're in the spotlight.
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  3. Karock

    Karock Member

    This isn't what I am saying at all. Rather it is that no matter WHAT the draw to GOG, the fact that they have made SO much money while not having DRM of any kind (I can literally just give the games to someone else with no hassle if I wanted to) means that even if you don't put any effort into protection at all, you will still make bundles of money.
  4. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    It doesn't mean that at all. What it means is that one store is doing something right, or more likely a combination of things. I could easily counter-argue your point with Steam - give the consumer some software that protects your own and gives them the illusion of end-user benefits, and you'll make bundles of money.
  5. klaymen_sk

    klaymen_sk Member

    Steam as a protection is just as worthless as any other DRM.
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  6. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    Perhaps, but it hasn't stopped games like Fallout: New Vegas, Skyrim, Dawn of War 2 or even Valve's own collection being incredibly successful.
  7. dissection

    dissection Member

    Nice one.

    Of course it works and of course EA just claims it to cheapen intellectual property because their Origin just doesnt make it against steam.

    Let`s face it - realistically, the strong acceptance of piracy has changed the demands of PC gaming industry. On the one hand it is a bad thing for developers because it definetely costs a lot of money. People just dont see why they should pay for something they can get for free easily.

    Out of the customer`s view that also is a good thing kind of. It demands countering on the side of the industry and DRM just doesnt work at all. Actually it is a big game for the release groups. If someone can create it, someone can disable it. Simple as that. The release groups just wont have challenges anymore when they stop doing DRM, thats all it does - entertaining release groups and annoying customers.

    The only true counter is shown by Valves sale policy - get over it, the piracy has lessened the acceptance of high pricings. Thats the way it works. Not actual worth is driving prices, it is the customership (and if they refuse to pay the price it is not worth anything at all ;)). And out of one viewpoint the developer is obliged to offer something, not primarily to get something. Its a deal between two parties and if the deal is not doing as supposed to than it is most probably not the customer thats bad but the offer itself. Delivering more quality works the same. Skyrim worked although it is a single-player only game and thus easily pirated (Although being honest, today commercial success in part has to be based on cross-platform development because PC gaming is not the driving frce anymore - for obvious reasons).

    Although I am critcal regarding the big piracy thing it has quite a positive influence also. It creates space for things like the Steam system where you are offered to get something more for your money. It defenitely is more effective in countering piracy than anything else.

    I "know people" that have pirated software. And it is the same people that bought a lot of games legally on steam although they could have it for free - just because it is so comfortable. Not only the price-tag when on sale, it is just nice to have it all on one platform where you can run, install, uninstall and auto-update them without any kind af annoyance. Something the pirated releases just dont offer in this way. This is how it works - if the peoples demands change you dont try to change the peoples demands, you change your offer. Its economy for dummies. ;D

    P.S.: And, it also creates opportunities for small indie developers because they offer value for low money without needing huge development budgets. The real losers of the piracy are those that dont lose THAT much really - just like a multimillion fraction out of a billion income. Its not like anyone in the industry starves to death because of piracy, thats my thought on it when youre talking in moral terms...

    As mentioned above, it is not only an illusion. Cloud, achievements, easy DL/install/uninstall, game management, auto-updating - all of that are actual enhancements of the games that you just wont "pirate" because this kind of service only can be offered in a commercial environment. The whole piracy thing has also become a pseudolegal-commercial thing with all the file-hosting stuff already.

    In addition you`re right with some psychological factors. Those you`ll have to play the right way, too. It can be more satisfying to actually have invested in something that you wanted. Common psychological knowledge that we tend to value stuff more we paid a lot for. Ease the inhibition to do so in a intelligent way (such as "ultimate deals" in sales you HAVE to grasp until its to late) and there you go.
  8. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    Steam has done something clever, and that's to push DRM coated in sugar. Whether you buy a non-Steamworks game from Steam or a retail copy of a Steamworks game, you're locked to Steam. You can't download and install without it, you can't update without it. You can't do shit.

    But Valve are not stupid. They compensate, such as it is, with a load of pointless and unstable features - Offline Mode is still notoriously wobbly, Cloud has been known to overwrite more recent saves (it did it for me with Saints Row the Third, but luckily I salvaged that), the overlay's browser freaks out fairly often and so on, but with the sales and a few other features, they've really covered up just how invasive, intrusive and annoying Steam is. And, yes, we still use it. I have it running right now, in fact.

    Steam does one thing few DRM solutions do - it removes the majority of control from the user. Version, install directory and other features we normally have? Nope. They're either complex to change or out of the user's control completely.

    How's that a good thing?
  9. dissection

    dissection Member

    Actually i didnt notice that i couldnt change the install folder - never needed to and had to check first because i was almost sure you can set it somewhere. You are right, that is a problem but i dont even understand why it isnt possible, should be quite easy in terms of the software.

    Bugs aside (which is no point in a discussion about the whole concept imho), i can see where you are going with the version stuff - to me its no problem because i never were one of the guys flaming every change basically because something changed and now everything is worse than before yaddayadda. Still I see that some people might want to keep a version (which is in principle possible, by disabling the auto-update function) but steam prevents from doing so. I put this in the "flexibility vs. accessability" category which is a problem in every type of software. You have those that want to be able to get more control than average but this can not be achieved without a tradeoff in user-friendliness. Optimally you want to do it optionally, so a good thing would in fact be to include some "advanced options" without causing irritating and time-consuming complexity.

    It may be a matter of taste but the concept itself is great i think (i was more critical when this stuff was new - digital download only? No way!). In a way taking away all the options IS the good thing about it. If confronted with the option to install my retail Company of Heroes again (which i cant integrate into steam, sadly) and looking for my disc, installing it, applying felt 156 different patches (looking on my hdd because i remember the pain of last time getting them all together a second time) and 1 hour of time wasted just by searching, clicking, selecting things i`d rather have my steam, see it greyed out in my game list, decide to play it again, click a few times and are ready to go. I dont have to look for my backup savegames somewhere (i might as well have deleted or not, lets see...) i have to do NOTHING. Just download which is similar in speed to regular install and play. But i am still to greedy to buy it a second time in Steam, the one thing i hate is this license exclusitivity they have for some games.

    Up to now everything worked fine for me. I dont care for DRM as long as it doesnt mess up with me. And it doesnt very often in Steam I think.

    Your point for not giving options, though. Taking choices from users is good as long as there are options to choose also available. Because users like me are lazy and stupid. And their choice for the backup place of the savegame or to delete them previously may turn out to be bad later on...
  10. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    Taking choice from the user is never a good thing, at least if there's no alternative.

    Steam is certainly more convenient at times - installing, updating, etc. - but some of that takes the choice from the user. You can't really leave a game not-updated, because it'll either magically update itself or it won't launch until you've updated it. So, if a patch breaks something, you're absolutely boned until it's fixed - if it ever is!

    You touched on a point, but didn't go far with it. Steam lacks basic features. Really basic features. Install paths, content management and so on? No-where to be seen. What if I uninstall the Hi-Res Texture Pack for Skyrim because I don't want it? Oh, Steam will just download all three gigs again. The way Steam does, or did, patch files is also an issue. Due to the way certain games are structured and the way Steam works, it can often make a small patch into a huge download - a few fixes for Sanctum, for example, resulted in 1GB of content needing to be re-downloaded.

    Steam's convenience comes at a price.
  11. dissection

    dissection Member

    I do not quite agree on this at least without adding "if there`s no alternative".

    A great example of the positive side of taking choice from users is Blizzards policy in Starcraft 2. People are complaining all the time, that is why you HAVE TO ignore what people say to some degree and be confident in your product. What makes you right is not forum troll posts but commercial success.

    In Starcraft 2 they established a no choice matchmaking ladder system for those that dont know. If you want to compete you have to deal with the matchmaking system which will give you exactly one option: Which race to play. The rest will be determined fully automated by Blizzards matchmaking algorithm and besides the usual whining and complaining from users that lost their last game and are offended to death by their loss, i believe the matchmaking works as well as the laws of statistics allow it. The balance is another topic as well, but also here the "we decide what our game is like, not the user" policy makes them right: Game statistics show that the three races win matches almost completely 50/50 on a global scale which is the only convenient way to estimate balancing quality and way superior to the emotional trash talk of gamers that cant lose well.

    They give you alternatives - you can create custom games. They just wont allow them to count in a competitive ladder system, so if you want to play the game you have to play by the rules of the gamemaker.

    Taking options is good if your design holds the challenge against opinions of single users. The reason is that single individuals most often judge out of emotional reactions and their complaints rarely have a serious basis - still you would do best to listen to them while sorting out the trash by yourself as a developer. If you are good then success will prove you right besides what "some people" are saying.

    Success is proving that Activision-Blizzard is right somehow, as well as proving that Valve cant be that wrong as well. They started with one sucessful game and now they pulled up a big business creating loads of cash. I think it works. If it didnt, not so many would be using it imho.
  12. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Personally, I'd love to see a more rational evidence-based discussion on DRM. The problem with making assumptions about DRM being useful or useless is that it creates a playing field where the arguments from both sides are based on 'facts' taken out of one another's rear ends.

    If there are NO facts that can be established with evidence, then this is the only form of argument that you can have, which makes both sides totally based on irrationality. And that's how it appears to me.

    I admit that I'm highly skeptical about the efficacy of DRM. But the problem is that no one on the opposite side has a good argument either. It's just stories about this game or company or whatever being more profitable or less profitable without DRM.

    I understand that most people (myself included) don't actually like DRM and it can be a royal pain at times. That's a valid argument. But in a world of gray areas, you have to balance that against claims (for and against) the cost of piracy and the effects (positive AND negative) of DRM, from the business owner's perspective. Because that's who makes the decisions.

    Anyway, I just see this kind of discussion, without those considerations, to be not worth the time. Instead of arguing against DRM, people need to be arguing for actual research, dollars and cents numbers, etc. to get at the heart of the matter. Correlations don't equal cause and effect, and any example that people list is just a single data point at best (and not always a relevant data point).

    Let it be said that I'm skeptical of both sides of the argument, for and against DRM, because I think that both sides are full of you-know-what.
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  13. Kaidelong

    Kaidelong Member

    Empiricism is hard work and elbow grease, I know this firsthand: references can take a long time to dig up even with competent help and when working on your own studies you're working with vast amounts of data for which even with speedy algorithms, take hours to crunch.

    If you want to insist on it for your personal posts in a discussion forum you're welcome to do it but you'd likely have to put the details somewhere else. It's not appropriate to expect people to base arguments made in a discussion forum on (empirical) evidence. There is a whole separate infrastructure available for that. (Subjective experience should still substitute in the place of empirical evidence).

    That said, it's not really accurate to say you have to balance the cost of piracy against the costs of DRM from the perspective of media producers. There are many other stakeholders involved, including people like archivists and public libraries who I think do deserve to be held a bit sacrosanct above business interests.

    I do read journals, and as far as what empirical studies I remember are concerned, the only one I've ever read about regarded the piracy of movies. Action films suffered the biggest losses, and the amount of losses cumulative to the entire industry were astronomical, something to the tune of billions of dollars. Given that virtually all movies are distributed with some type of DRM these days (which accompanied the replacement of VHS with DVD), I'm skeptical that DRM is an effective way to counter piracy.
  14. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Isn't most movie piracy in the U.S. is either from within the studio themselves, or from people with hand-held cameras in theaters? If so, then that's not a reflection in the efficacy of DRM, but on other security issues (theaters and movie studios). Of course there is a lot of large-scale piracy going on primarily China. I am unfamiliar with the quality of pirated movies available in China, but there is very little going on in the U.S. So an opposing argument to what you say could be that DRM seems to be very effective within the U.S., for whatever reason. But again, I'd be equally wrong in stating that as a fact, as that may or may not be the reason.
  15. Kaidelong

    Kaidelong Member

    Don't you see? That IS a reflection on the efficacy of DRM.

    Now that I remember more about the article, it was printed some time ago in the Scientific American, and made a suggestion that movies can cut their losses by not doing staggered releases but releasing to theatres all around the world simultaneously. Seems like a common sense thing.
  16. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I don't disagree that staggered releases (even in the software industry) is an impetus for piracy, but I can't make the leap that you are making that this has anything to do with DRM.
  17. Karock

    Karock Member

    The point is that the argument for DRM is that without it, no one would buy your product (or at least you wouldn't make much money if any at all). Essentially: DRM is required to prevent companies from being financially unsuccessful.

    My point is that GOG sells games that are DRM free which are less hassle to 'pirate' or 'share' than anything since the days of the original command and conquer (which had a CD check). You simply install them and you're done. No hassle. Despite this, GOG is still selling it's games and making tons of money. Whether people ALSO like their games because they are patched up well, etc, has no bearing on the fact that they could like those games as pirated editions.

    In addition to the previous point, when you take into consideration that Steam sells a lot of the same games WITH some form of DRM attached, for a cheaper price, you only end up building an additional argument against DRM. Think about it: You could pirate a game that is hassle free, probably more compatible and has no aggravating DRM schemes attached -OR- you could pay a cheaper price than GOG and get the same game (that you COULD HAVE FREE) with DRM included.

    This means that people aren't pirating the easy, hassle free version of the game, and are instead paying for the game despite one version being publicly available having no DRM. If this is the case, then the argument for DRM breaks down. Understand?
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  18. LionsDen

    LionsDen Member

    I have to agree with Karock, I use Steam (quite a bit actually) but I also purchase from GOG. I am willing to pay a little bit more to get a version that has no DRM and find it a nice bonus that they certify the game for a number of operating systems. Plus I can go back at any time and redownload the game if they upgrade it to work with a newer operating system.
  19. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I don't know how common this is but there has never been a DRM-free version of the Alpha Centauri expansion "Alien Crossfire", even though the original game has never had any form of DRM. GoG only sells Alpha Centauri stand-alone, not the expansion, nor the combined version. Alien Crossfire requires the expansion's CD to be in the drive to play.

    All that said, as a consequence, I HAVE made multiple purchases of old copies of the game on e-bay. So far as I know, these are legitimate, never opened boxes (granted the last one I bought was a special U.K. edition in one of those discount boxes. I'm guessing that I paid more than I'd probably have paid had it been a DRM-free version from GoG, but since that was my only option, that's what I did. I never liked those games in the past that required you to run with the CD in the drive, and I find it a whole lot more annoying than having to connect to Steam. But at this point, all the complaining about it is in the past, since I'm sure that, barring a newly revised version of the game, nothing will come from it.
  20. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Member

    I'm not disagreeing with you at all, but if you watch the position of games like Fallout when it's a Daily Sale, you'll see the original trilogy rise up into the top few positions. That shows, even despite DRM, that older games still sell.

    But I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion, largely because I can't quite make sense of it. A game will be pirated whether it's DRM-free or DRM-inclusive, free-to-play, paid-for, new, old, or any variation on that. There's a book publisher called Baen Books, and they have a Free Library system - they basically allow you to download certain books for free with no strings attached. These books, despite being free, are still circulating around pirate networks. Most, if not all, can be traced back to their own site, but people are still pirating free things.

    The argument against DRM breaks down in a very simple way - is DRM stopping people from cracking, distributing and/or modifying the game? No, it is not. Therefore DRM is a wasted effort.
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