In Defense of DRM (And the Importance of Steam)

XKCD In the Rain

Arguing about Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a lot like talking politics or religion. The two sides immediately polarize into their respective camps and begin lobbing angry comments at each other over blog-walls and forum moderators. For me, the usefulness of DRM isn't a polar decision. Information doesn't "want to be free", and limited-activations are an unreasonable limiation to force on consumers. I have a suspicion that the usefulness of Digital Rights lies somewhere in between those to viewpoints. I have a sense that there’s something of value to the perception of protection, even if that perception is flawed or outright incorrect.

While DRM solutions like those offered by Electronic Arts have been roundly criticized (and from all accounts, rightly so), it doesn’t follow that all DRM systems are created equal. The online activation methodology used by Steam in particular seems to be a measure that PC gamers can get behind. And still, it’s despised and spit on as a prelude to a “rental society” where we can no longer truly own anything. To the folks who would have us toss the baby with the proverbial bathwater, that see all DRM as a waste of time and a slap in the face of consumers: lighten up. To the free-love hippies that see no problem with pirated games as far as the eye can see: get a job. Seriously.

The middle ground between these two poles, the quietly successful business strategy powering Valve, is the Steam publishing service. It's DRM for the common man, and a service well worth defending.

This is obviously a subject that's been tackled on Gamers with Jobs before. The Stardock viewpoint on this issue, both sides of EA's DRM decisions, and even the horrors of Starforce have been explored by fellow GWJ writers. What hasn't is the "reasonable" rights management offered by Valve. Its place in the PC games industry and the ultimate goals of the platform publishers are all given short shrift by commentators on the hard-core anti-management side. That needed addressing.

Anti-Steam Argument #1: Purchasing a game through the service precludes reselling it or lending it to a friend.

You can’t resell a PC game you’ve purchased through Steam to a shop like Gamestop, and there’s no physical media to allow you to lend a game to a friend. This is an understandable frustration, and is the source of the ‘rental society’ crack that so often gets levied against Steam. The ability to make use of your property however you wish (be it to sell it to another party or just give it away) is one highly valued by consumers. There was, no doubt, a goodly amount of ‘re-gifting’ during this holiday season just past for that exact reason.

The issue of reselling games at all is a thorny one, and not worth addressing here, but it’s important to note the relative resale value of PC games generally vs. console games. Piracy has changed the retail landscape when it comes to gaming on the PC platform; that’s the number one reason that PC games can’t be resold to big games resellers like Gamestop. Pawn shops and smaller resale establishments aren’t so picky, but even there I challenge you to get a good value for the game you’re offering. Assuming you exclude cutting-edge graphical hogs and their associated hardware requirements, PC gaming in general is a less expensive hobby than its console cousin. The games are cheaper (usually by at least $10), the barrier to entry is lower, and there are a vast swath of games out in the PC wilds that cost absolutely nothing to play.

As for lending titles to friends, a few of my friends (GWJRabbit among them) delight in sharing their steam-based games with friends. It's actually easier to share a game with Steam than it is with discs - no physical media. A violation of the Steam terms of service? No doubt, but as long as only one user is actively playing on the account at a time it's hard to see a real problem. Just because things may appear harder with the new fangled do-dads and services doesn't mean they really are.

Anti-Steam Argument #2: Online activation is a hassle, and playing games in the future requires you to be online.

Valve has responded to this criticism definitively by providing users an Offline Mode. You don't need to be internet connected 24/7 to fire up Portal in the middle of the night. As long as you keep your games up to date via the online update service, there's no reason you couldn't play Half-Life 2 in the middle of the Sahara.

Many commentators are grumpy with the requirement that their PC be online to activate the title in the first place. In an increasingly connected society, in a culture that more and more values the virtues of online experiences, I find it hard to stomach this as a realistic argument against Steam. Twitter-using Netflix-streaming online gurus can’t have it both ways. It is a restriction, to be sure, but it’s one you have to personally balance for yourself. Purchasing, downloading, installing, and updating a Steam game is entirely done via an internet connection. How is activation of the title online a burden on top of those steps?

Anti-Steam Argument #3: “Will I be able to play this game in ten years?”

This is one of the most valid arguments made against Steam, or any DRM service that requires support from an external server. Someday Valve may go out of business, and the future of Steam-supported titles would be in question. A friend also pointed out a possible future where the service makes a massive update to how it protects games, an update that might be financially infeasible to deploy to every title in the service portfolio. In either of these cases, there is the theoretical danger that you could lose access to your games.

Honestly, there’s no logical or fact-based counter to this. Anything could happen in a world of uncertainty. By that same token, though, your house or apartment could catch on fire tomorrow. Every disc you own could be incinerated, depriving you of your gaming collecting just as decisively. For that added measure of security, you can actually back up the steamapps folder and "save" all of the game files. Restoring your games after a reinstall of Windows, for example, can be as easy as installing the Steam client and then copying the Steamapps folder into the right directory.

Purchasing a game through Steam is a vote, a measure of confidence in the work Valve has done and the power of the Steam service as a whole. If it means that there’s the outside possibility my games may be lost at some point in the future, then that’s a risk I’m willing to take on to support the Steam service of today.

Anti-Steam Argument #4: The games all just end up on torrents eventually anyway.

Despite the best efforts of everyone from EA on down, PC games are pirated at a staggering rate. Even Valve’s games, entries in the Half-Life series built specifically for Steam, are available without those hang-ups if you search out the right torrent site. So, this argument goes, what’s the point? Why frustrate the consumer with DRM if it’s just going to end up on a torrent site anyway? Some developers have even bought into that argument, offering up their wares with no rights management strings attached.

The point, missing from this argument, is that the consumer is ultimately not the only player in this picture. If games publishers and developers look out at the PC market and see a commercial landscape impossible to make profitable, it will scare them away. It has scared them away, to a greater or lesser degree. The ‘PC games are dying’ cry that goes up regularly every six months has as much to do with worthless rights protections as it does any other individual factor.

The point then is to offer a balanced solution between what the publishers want (hard-locks, limited installations, invasive DRM) and what the consumer wants (ultimate portability, no locks, unlimited instillation). The balanced midpoint in the marketplace right now is Steam. Valve’s support of the Steam service, and their dedication to walking that midpoint line, has result in votes of confidence not only from consumers but from publishers. When EA itself effectively walks away from its own online distribution model to adopt Valve’s portal, it speaks volumes about Steam’s importance in the modern PC gaming world.

Blaming Valve For the Sins of Others

Above all else, arguments against Steam’s DRM come from a general distrust of Digital Rights Mangement. Not all DRM is created equal, and beliefs about property ownership held by the creators of SecuROM differ drastically from those held the Steam's managers.

Isn’t the strongest argument for Steam the simple reality that Valve isn’t just another soulless corporation? They’re a development house that has consistently put out amazing games. Unlike detached pencil-pushers, lawyers, or IP vendors who primarily care about keeping their property sacrosanct, Valve has a vested interest in gamers actually playing videogames.

At the end of the day, every purchase on Steam is a vote of confidence. Every new game launched on Steam is a promise to consumers. Give an inch, get an inch. Work together with the PC game publishing marketplace, understand that there have to be some restrictions to make sure there’s a profit, and the future of the PC marketplace is assured. Steam is, bar none, the most important force in the PC games industry today. I vote for it with my wallet on a regular basis because – in this case – I love the DRM I’m being offered.

Comments

Datyedyeguy wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
Aetius wrote:

I'll make one quick comment because I'm busy - more later.

Michael wrote:

For me, the usefulness of DRM isn't a polar decision.

And that is the dividing line between the two sides. It is a polar decision. Either a user has control over their own computer, or they do not. Either a user has control over whether or not they can use the software they purchased, or not.

Obviously this is something about which you feel strongly, you have your reasons and I wouldn't presume to say you shouldn't have that perspective.

But where that perspective is going to one day end up, is you won't have any games to play. DRM is going to become more pervasive. As sure as the sun will rise it is going to get more ubiquitous.

This is the core of the DRM argument right here, and I can see the points behind both sides of the arguments. The reason people allow Steam is because they trust Valve. If Valve goes rogue, there goes your stuff. My one thought is this. Yeah, I use Steam, knowing that they can remove my ability to play these games at anytime. The problem I have with DRM is when you are not given the facts. When the box of the game does not specify that it has DRM that forces limited installs, background software, etc, then I have a problem with it. In the end, I see competition eventually knocking out DRM altogether, but it's going to be a bumpy ride. I just want to play games, darnit!

And it's very hard to get anywhere if you don't trust anyone, ever. Yes, Valve may bend all of us over the barrel one day, but I trust them more than I trust EA to release an update that unlocks their entire catalogue when they stop paying for the SecureROM servers.

I resent the non-recoverable install limits on games, so that is the line I draw. I also resent the underhandedness on EA's part by not disclosing the limitations on the game box.

I think the counter-arguement for “Will I be able to play this game in ten years?” is hopelessly optimisitc.

Unlike detached pencil-pushers, lawyers, or IP vendors who primarily care about keeping their property sacrosanct, Valve has a vested interest in gamers actually playing videogames.

That basically says: "Trust Vavle"
The problem, however, is not whether we trust valve now, its whether we can trust the lawyers, ip vendors, and detached pencil pushers who will almost certainly own valve's IP at some point in the future. Companies, especially smaller companies, grow, evolve, mature, are bought, are sold, merge, go bankrupt etc, the odds of Valve 15 years from now looking like Valve today is pretty low.

I really think there is no counter argument for this point. Similar to argument 4, its a question of personal preference - are you (or I) willing to purchase a product knowing its limitations.

verzechuan wrote:

That basically says: "Trust Vavle"

I wouldn't trust Vavle. That's basically like saying "Trust McBonalds".

verzechuan wrote:

I really think there is no counter argument for this point. Similar to argument 4, its a question of personal preference - are you (or I) willing to purchase a product knowing its limitations.

I don't agree that the optimism is necessarily hopeless, but I do agree with your point. It is a personal preference as long as we know the limitations. For me the answer is yes, for Aetius, no and each is equally valid.

verzechuan wrote:

I think the counter-arguement for “Will I be able to play this game in ten years?” is hopelessly optimisitc.

Unlike detached pencil-pushers, lawyers, or IP vendors who primarily care about keeping their property sacrosanct, Valve has a vested interest in gamers actually playing videogames.

That basically says: "Trust Vavle"
The problem, however, is not whether we trust valve now, its whether we can trust the lawyers, ip vendors, and detached pencil pushers who will almost certainly own valve's IP at some point in the future. Companies, especially smaller companies, grow, evolve, mature, are bought, are sold, merge, go bankrupt etc, the odds of Valve 15 years from now looking like Valve today is pretty low.

I really think there is no counter argument for this point. Similar to argument 4, its a question of personal preference - are you (or I) willing to purchase a product knowing its limitations.

Then trust the fact that companies exist to make money. So if Valve is bought whoever buys them would need a really really good reason to shut down Steam.

Even then you can't go to shareholders and say, "We feel like creating a PR disaster today by screwing millions of our customers by shutting down Steam with no backup plan."

The only way they could get away with this is if so few people used the service no one would care.

Since Steam is constantly expanding its catalogue with new and old games and more and more publishers this is unlikely. Hell, just shutting off Peggle for a weekend would make the internet explode with angry gamers and soccer moms alike.

rabbit wrote:
1Dgaf wrote:

"A violation of the Steam terms of service? No doubt, but as long as only one user is actively playing on the account at a time it's hard to see a real problem."

I think if you're going to argue on Steam's behalf, you should do so within the confines of the terms of service.

Technically all mods that use anything not found in the SDK are against the TOS. Most PS3 games now have a license which makes resale a no-no. Technically if you allow a friend to sit down at your machine to play portal for 10 seconds, you've violated the TOS regardless of the fact that it's your machine and your game, and you're not charging anyone for it. Since Michael called me out on it (thanks Michael) I invite Valve to cancel my account for allowing my friend to play through portal on my Steam account.

I'm just a bit curious, maybe the comment was written quickly but what was the thrust of your statement? That ToS are all crap and have no legal standing? I don't really see how it related to 1Dgaf's comment... that's all - not trying to start an argument or anything.

Interesting note... since my previous post talking about how I trust Valve and Apple to do good things instead of evil things with DRM... today, Apple announced at MacWorld that soon everything on the iTunes Music Store will be available as iTunes Plus. (i.e. non-DRM higher bitrate versions for a slightly higher price.)

I didn't know there was an Offline mode! That inclusion immediately removes one of my problems with Steam and eases another. Now I don't feel so bad about the fifty bucks I dropped on it this past sale.

I don't have anything useful to add to the DRM debate, as I am woefully undereducated on it. On some level I find it distasteful that I am paying to access rather than own a game, but on the other hand, if I'm paying for lifetime access then for all intents and purposes I don't need to own it. I wonder if Steam accounts can be transferred via will or deed, but I don't have the patience or the law degree to read the ToS to find out. My guess is No, which I guess is a slight disadvantage if I die and want to bequeath my games. This is not a compelling reason in my eyes not to use Steam, but an argument could be made.

So far as being able to play your PC games in ten years, it seems that the inability to do that has always been part and parcel of the system. It is difficult, and in some cases impossible, to run older PC games on modern systems. It is unlikely that today's games will be easy to run on future systems whether DRM is in place or not. This is part of the reason I prefer to purchase games on a console; my wife and I are able to play games on the Atari 2600 we found in her grandmother's house while I had a good deal of trouble getting my nine-year-old copy of Thief Gold running on my laptop.

However, until this point buyers could take comfort in knowing that if they kept their old machine up and running—or were willing to download or create patches and fixes on a new machine—they would be able to play their old PC games long after the companies who created them had gone out of business. Until the recent rise of digitally managed products, this has always been a fundamental promise of one's non-perishable purchases: that if one properly maintained them, they could be enjoyed indefinitely. What digital rights management does is to take this ability, that of responsible management and preservation, out of the hands of the purchaser entirely. This is not important to everyone, I know, but it is important to some people and could become more important to people as this generation gets older, more nostalgic, and more interesting in re-experiencing their past or as younger gamers want to look back on the history of the medium.

Where I feel that Mr. Zenke's counter-argument to this concern is that he feels it is more important to "support the Steam service of today" than to mitigate against the "outside possibility [his] games may be lost at some point in the future." I would argue that his games being lost—and here I don't mean the save games, which are irrelevant, but the actual games themselves—is not an outside possibility but a certainty. Valve will go out of business one day, and, unless changes are made between now and then, the games on Steam will be lost.

rabbit wrote:

Since Michael called me out on it (thanks Michael) I invite Valve to cancel my account for allowing my friend to play through portal on my Steam account.

When they take you away, Rabbit, can I have your basement?

And Mr. Zenke, two words:

"Spell checker."

I said this in the "Steam Sale" thread, but #3 is no concern to me. The chances of Valve going out of business or being eaten up, not fulfilling their promise to put it in eternal offline mode, and nobody finding a way to crack it in ten years time is, in my opinion, far more slim then having a disc that's no longer readable, or a cd-key that's worn out or lost, or the game just is incompatible with newer technology.

Duoae wrote:

I'm just a bit curious, maybe the comment was written quickly but what was the thrust of your statement? That ToS are all crap and have no legal standing? I don't really see how it related to 1Dgaf's comment... that's all - not trying to start an argument or anything.

I think it's less that they have no legal standing, and more that ToS writing tends to have rules more restrictive and demanding then the companies who made them are willing to enforce. It's more lawyers afraid of someone stealing or sabatoging a company's work and getting off on a technicality or a statement open to interpretation. In other words, you violate the EULA if you shared a physical copy of a game with a friend if that cd-key was already in use, so if we were going by the confines of the terms of service, then the argument is moot anyways.

The only way they could get away with this is if so few people used the service no one would care.

Well, we already have precedents with MSN Music and Sony Connect.

My point was one of timing. I agree it would be a PR disaster now, but in ten years it may be a smart business decision. How many users will care about whether they can re-install a game they bought 10 years ago? Most people, myself included, won't care very much so there wouldn't be any PR disaster.

I think expecting server based DRM purchased on a game now to function in 10 years is naive. That said, I also think that if your planning to install and run a 10 year old game, DRM is probably the least of your concerns.

Clemenstation wrote:
verzechuan wrote:

That basically says: "Trust Vavle"

I wouldn't trust Vavle. That's basically like saying "Trust McBonalds".

...and its even in bold... sigh...

adam.greenbrier wrote:

I would argue that his games being lost—and here I don't mean the save games, which are irrelevant, but the actual games themselves—is not an outside possibility but a certainty. Valve will go out of business one day, and, unless changes are made between now and then, the games on Steam will be lost.

But that isn't true because the games themselves will always exist on your hard drive. So even if Steam isn't there you can find a way to make them work. People who don't like to pay money for entertainment already do.

And if someone wanted to explore the history of games they very much can do that now whether they have a PC or even the console to play old games. Again this might not always be legal, but if those games are out of print and the companies who made them no longer exist sometimes there isn't another option. They certainly aren't going to come get you for having an Atari 2600 emulator.

Also nostalgia is hardly ever a good reason to go back and play really old games. There's a reason I don't watch silent movies on the weekends.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

But where that perspective is going to one day end up, is you won't have any games to play. DRM is going to become more pervasive. As sure as the sun will rise it is going to get more ubiquitous.

You assume, like Michael, that there are no games out there without DRM, because that can't possibly work. That's not true, and their numbers are growing. GOG.com is now selling DRM-free older games - I was finally able to play Fallout and am now playing Fallout 2, DRM-free, no hassles. Alien Arena. Urban Terror. Tremulous. Battle for Wesnoth. Eschalon. Smokin' Guns. Sins of a Solar Empire. Some are popular, some are not. Some are open source, others are commercial. None of them have DRM. There is a continuum of freedom that runs from totally public domain code to DRM so tight you can't run the game without turning over your firstborn child. It's not a one-lane DRM-only street.

What Michael and the more moderate people like myself are trying to say is, if it is inevitable, we need to make sure that it is as friendly to us as possible. Steam is relatively painless, so we choose to reward the system, rather than support EA with its limited install version of Securerom.

By rejecting Steam as equally insidious as SecureROM, Starforce or Tages you are giving equal weight to those as you are to Steam. By not supporting the 'lesser evil' DRM system you are effectively providing equal support to the more damaging and limiting systems.

I'm not saying you need to 'see the error of your ways' and go buy a few games on Steam, what I'm trying to say is that this hard line perspective doesn't expand the discussion.

Steam is only relatively painless because you haven't felt the pain yet. Sony's music DRM was pretty painless ... until they stopped supporting it. You assume a world where DRM is the only option, and we already know that that isn't true.

You can hope that there is a DRM free future, but I don't see it happening. Hell, you may be right and we are contributing to the problem, but I have games to play.

One of the reasons I'm so adamant about this is that a DRM-free future really depends on us, the gamers. If we allow this sort of thing to be done to us, then it'll happen. If we don't, then it won't. For me it's no longer about gaming. It's about trust, respect, decency, and how you interact and treat other fellow human beings. And for me, that's a lot more important than any game. I will not submit to appalling indignity, mistrust, and disrespect just so I can play a the latest version of Half-Life.

verzechuan wrote:

.... the odds of Valve 15 years from now looking like Valve today is pretty low.

15 years is a long time and that leaves room for a lot of maybes. Who is to say whether the physical of digital media we buy today will be compatible with the systems of tomorrow. Maybe in 15 years, the CD drive will be dead, something you can only obtain at swap meets. Would you be playing today's L4D or in 2023 will you be more interested in playing L4D 5.0. Drivers will definitely go unsupported. Tin whiskers may fry your computer. PC makers may be forced to break compatibility at some point with legacy components. Maybe MS will implode, leaving all windows apps as legacy apps for windows 'hobbyists' to endlessly tinker with over the weekends as they emulate the OS from old images on dusty cobbled together systems.

It might be interesting to see if Steam evolves into a compatibility layer as we move from one generation of technology to the next, where our purchases today work on our systems of tomorrow, or if we find ourselves with Steam purchases that have gone obsolete because of hardware incompatibility or a lack of developer/non-Valve publisher support.

I think there are different degrees of DRM. I am happy with what steam gives me, while I detest the entire concept of physical install limits. Both Steam and EA's DRM require online activation, but the thought that EA was going to re-activate my software every ten days while also locking me into an install limit boils my blood. Where I can understand a publisher reasonably protecting their software, any DRM that will cripple my system, like erode its ability to read from the DVD / CD drive is absolutely unacceptable. DRM which realistically damages performance of the application it is meant to protect is also unacceptable.

Over the holidays, I bought a retail Indy developed game and upon installing it saw it had no protection whatsoever on it. For a moment I thought "None, really?" and found myself questioning the wisdom of that decision by the publisher.

Those companies that are offering DRM free games are either private or selling old games or both.

How is a publicly traded publisher supposed to go to it's shareholders and say, "We don't believe in DRM so we're not going to do anything to try to counteract piracy?"

You can't do that. I know in the fantasy world we all wish we lived in the big bad corporations would just trust us, but in this time on this planet it's an impossibility.

People steal games. As long as people continue to steal games (and they will) a publisher has a responsibility to try to stop them. As long as it doesn't hurt their bottom line.

EA probably sold less copies of some games this year because of DRM uproar. They're selling games on Steam now.

The problem with piracy isn't that someone is letting a friend play their copy of a game, it's duplicating that game over and over again. Personally, I think that Steam comes very close to what I feel should be the goal of DRM software; one copy per purchase. I purchase a copy of the game and can install it on as many PC's as I want. If my friend wants to check out Left 4 Dead it's not a problem, I'll just give him my log in and password and he can play it for a night. Sure, I can't play it at the same time, but that's no different and actually far more convenient than loaning him a copy of one of my console games.

The only thing that I think Steam is really missing is the ability to give away my copy. Like their gifting program, if I no longer want to play Half Life 2 ever again, I feel that I should be able to give that to someone else, losing my access to it, just as if it were a physical copy of the game.

Mean Red Worms wrote:

Those companies that are offering DRM free games are either private or selling old games or both.

A lot of them also only have their "DRM-free" motto when it suits business purposes. For example, the heads of CD Projekt seem to like to publically talk about how publishers worried about DRM-free games on their Good Old Games service are being silly, and yet are rather silent as to why they use TAGES DRM on almost all their newer PC games, including The Witcher, in the countries they publish them despite complaints of incompatibility.

Irongut wrote:

I dont see how Valve could implement gifting of games that arent wanted anymore. This would immediately result in trading groups that just transfer the same game purchase again and again and again. That would definitely hurt their bottom line and actually cost them money, as their servers have to stream and patch the same purchase again and again with no revenue being generated. This is one feature where I think they are smart to avoid setting any precedent.

You make a good point on the server cost of things, and I completely understand why Valve would never want to do something like that from a business perspective. As a consumer, I'd happily pay a small fee for something like this, but it's definitely not something I see happening, nor something that they have any incentive to do. More of just a wish feature for me I guess, and a reason I prefer to buy a physical copy of everything when I can.

Mean Red Worms wrote:

But that isn't true because the games themselves will always exist on your hard drive. So even if Steam isn't there you can find a way to make them work. People who don't like to pay money for entertainment already do.

And if someone wanted to explore the history of games they very much can do that now whether they have a PC or even the console to play old games. Again this might not always be legal, but if those games are out of print and the companies who made them no longer exist sometimes there isn't another option. They certainly aren't going to come get you for having an Atari 2600 emulator.

So ... DRM is ok because it's possible to illegally break it? How is that a convincing argument? Why should I have to break the law to play a game when the game producer is out of business?

Mean Red Worms wrote:

Those companies that are offering DRM free games are either private or selling old games or both.

How is a publicly traded publisher supposed to go to it's shareholders and say, "We don't believe in DRM so we're not going to do anything to try to counteract piracy?"

They're not. They go to their shareholders and say, "This DRM technology is fundamentally broken. We need to do other things to combat piracy."

You can't do that. I know in the fantasy world we all wish we lived in the big bad corporations would just trust us, but in this time on this planet it's an impossibility.

It just happened, as we've been talking in this thread. Apple announced DRM-free versions of all of the music on iTunes. Your argument is provably false.

People steal games. As long as people continue to steal games (and they will) a publisher has a responsibility to try to stop them. As long as it doesn't hurt their bottom line.

EA probably sold less copies of some games this year because of DRM uproar. They're selling games on Steam now.

I guess it just affected their bottom line, then, didn't it? Not to mention how much they actually spent on the DRM itself ...

verzechuan wrote:

I think expecting server based DRM purchased on a game now to function in 10 years is naive. That said, I also think that if your planning to install and run a 10 year old game, DRM is probably the least of your concerns. :)

Considering that I just bought Fallout, which is an 11-year old game, from GOG.com to play it, DRM was a big issue - I didn't know what was on the original game, and the company that made the game is long gone.

I dont see how Valve could implement gifting of games that arent wanted anymore from one Steam account to another would be a wise business decision. This feature would immediately result in trading groups that just transfer the same game purchase again and again and again. Even here, there would be an immediate thread to help organize the trading. Imagine the banter at sites like cheapassgamer or slickdeals as folks just erode away the very reason Valve is in business. People who wouldnt 'pirate' would have less problem, swapping and sharing with their fellow gamers, so this is a case where there would be a valid argument for lost sales. Re-gifting would definitely hurt their bottom line and cost them money, as their servers have to stream and patch the same purchase again and again with no revenue being generated. This is one feature where I think they are smart to avoid setting any precedent.

Where Steam gets it right and say XBOX Live gets it wrong, is that DRM should represent a household. I, my son, my wife, whoever can sit at my pc, logged into our Steam account and play a game purchased for the family through STEAM. XBOX Live on the otherhand, locks multiplayer access and digital purchases to one user. Sure that XBLA game is open to all to play, until your system fails, but once it does, only the purchaser has full access to the game, and only when they are on the original console it was purchased from.(outside of the once a year license transfer) So, when the poop hits the fan, an XBOX digital purchase is not a family purchase. Multiplayer is a non-issue for now, but someday my boys will be teenagers and then... there is no way I'm paying for multiple LIVE accounts. I have trouble faulting MS because their DRM is an extension of their policy around LIVE accounts. To me though, there is a clear disconnect between this policies and how they are trying to expand their market into the family space. I get the sense they are learning, i.e. the 1 transfer of licenses per year, but they have a ways to go.

I don't think that's a fair business transaction. In fact, it's so unfair that when people buy other, physical objects, they wouldn't even think of tolerating such a situation. It would be preposterous to phone Ford for a startup code every time you wanted to start your car, or fill it with gas. Why is it ok in this situation? Because the product can be infinitely copied and given to your friends? But isn't that already illegal, just like stealing cars?

Cell phones and land line phone accounts do this every time you make a call. Your Internet connection is dependent upon payment of a monthly bill and yet you still have to have a password to get into your email. We do in fact put up with this model in many of our daily transactions.

Where's the campaign against cell phone activation?

rabbit wrote:
1Dgaf wrote:

"A violation of the Steam terms of service? No doubt, but as long as only one user is actively playing on the account at a time it's hard to see a real problem."

I think if you're going to argue on Steam's behalf, you should do so within the confines of the terms of service.

Technically all mods that use anything not found in the SDK are against the TOS. Most PS3 games now have a license which makes resale a no-no. Technically if you allow a friend to sit down at your machine to play portal for 10 seconds, you've violated the TOS regardless of the fact that it's your machine and your game, and you're not charging anyone for it. Since Michael called me out on it (thanks Michael) I invite Valve to cancel my account for allowing my friend to play through portal on my Steam account.

Technically if I pirate a game I never intended to buy, the company doesn't lose any money. (I bat your facile answer back at you, sir.)

Maybe companies' licences need to be appraised by an independent adjudicator, like adverts in the UK. Be based on being reasonable, rather than the kind of blanket nonsense that most people ignore.

Anyway, it's a slippery slope, rabbit. A slippery slope. Who knows where you'll end up?

IMAGE(http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r200/missk186/yarrabbit.jpg)

1) Deal with DRM and support companies like Valve who find reasonable methods of implementation.
2) Play far fewer video games.

I choose 1. Your mileage may vary.

Aetius wrote:

Considering that I just bought Fallout, which is an 11-year old game, from GOG.com to play it, DRM was a big issue - I didn't know what was on the original game, and the company that made the game is long gone.

Seriously, a big $5 issue right? five dollars. What's that, maybe half a lunch?

Elysium wrote:

1) Deal with DRM and support companies like Valve who find reasonable methods of implementation.
2) Play far fewer video games.

I choose 1. Your mileage may vary.

Certis wrote:

I think Elysium has the right of it.

Irongut wrote:
Aetius wrote:

Considering that I just bought Fallout, which is an 11-year old game, from GOG.com to play it, DRM was a big issue - I didn't know what was on the original game, and the company that made the game is long gone.

Seriously, a big $5 issue right? five dollars. What's that, maybe half a lunch?

A big issue with actually being able to play the game, yeah. The $5 was a payment to GOG.com for their convenience and help with removing the DRM and dealing with the issues of getting it running on a modern system. Their whole business model is removing old DRM and getting games to run on modern systems.

Elysium wrote:

1) Deal with DRM and support companies like Valve who find reasonable methods of implementation.
2) Play far fewer video games.

I choose 1. Your mileage may vary.

3) Support people who make good games that are DRM-free, so that they succeed and the jerks don't.

I choose 3.

Aetius wrote:
Elysium wrote:

1) Deal with DRM and support companies like Valve who find reasonable methods of implementation.
2) Play far fewer video games.

I choose 1. Your mileage may vary.

3) Support people who make good games that are DRM-free, so that they succeed and the jerks don't.

I choose 3.

You realize 3) is actually 2), right? You just added a hint of righteous indignation to sell your view.