A New, Unpopular Philosophy

Stop me when you’ve heard this before: Gamers are up in arms over the copy protection scheme of a major publisher.

The tumult from the latest skirmish between warring gamers and publishers involves Spore, which limits the number of installs permitted to 3 before the user must contact EA to extend their license. Immediately gamers lined up their rhetorical catapults and fired salvo after salvo of familiar, flaming linguistic ballistics, rolling out all the hits: treating customers like criminals, it doesn’t do anything against piracy, boycott EA and so on.

Call it apathy. Call it selling out. Call it whatever you want, but try as I might, I simply can not find any enthusiasm for bubbling up my once white-hot animus. It’s not just that I don’t necessarily see anything extraordinarily troubling about EA’s security measures; it’s also that I just can’t muster the same gamer-rage that once seemed to come so easily. Feeling victimized by every perceived slight just isn't as appealing to me as it used to be.

Let me stress that I don’t fault those who experience trouble with restrictive DRM for speaking up. I just wonder how many of the people expressing outrage saw fire on the horizon and went running toward it with lighter fluid?

I appreciate the basic sentiment of gamers, misguided as I think it may be. But, when I think about my personal experience with recent anti-piracy efforts, I find it hard to recall it actually causing me any trouble. Oh, it’s not hard to imagine circumstances under which I could be inconvenienced, but when I measure that against the instances in which it actually happened, I come up blank.

I can count on one hand the number of games I’ve actually installed more than three times. So, if I look at how the Spore issue relates to me practically, then I am forced to concede that the likelihood of my having to ever extend my installations is extraordinarily small. And, should I ever have to make that call, I wonder how difficult a process that really is? I once had to do something similar for Windows. The process was painless and lasted a few minutes. So, I ask myself: is this a price I’m willing to pay if EA’s investors feel like the company is making meaningful anti-piracy efforts and by extension is willing to greenlight even more high-budget PC titles?

The more I release myself from the chains of hysterical hypotheticals, the more I find myself not really having a problem with it.

And, I think about the options that EA and other major publishers have. Piracy is a problem that companies can’t choose not to address. Arguments over the number of lost sales any degree of piracy represent or the effectiveness of anti-piracy efforts aren’t really the point. The real issue is that the company would be criminally negligent if it didn't make measurable efforts to protect the multi-million dollar investment they have in Spore.

You’re absolutely right; those who stand the largest likelihood of being inconvenienced are the legitimate consumers — saying nothing of how often that will actually happen or how difficult a problem that is to fix. Just once, though, I wouldn’t mind seeing the hivemind of gamer rage aimed at the people who actually put us in this position, the pirates. How likely that is to happen, I don't know. I suspect that most publishers have lost a good deal of faith on that question, which is perhaps why the PC has become such a diminished platform. Again, I think I’ll choose to not get worked up about things that are beyond my control.

It's not that I’m not trying to flip the blame on the self-labeled victims. I don’t believe that approach is any more productive than bombing EA with negative Amazon.com reviews. Those who want to get in a schoolyard brawl with the publishing giant are welcome to their dirty fights. Maybe they’ll even get the company to back down on Spore, winning a minor skirmish in the losing war against the inevitable. The problem is that gamers don't have much of a track record on the 'being practical about the realities of business' front. Beside the fact that our ability to participate in the industry debate has been completely dilluted as a result of our tacit approval of piracy, there are very few demonstrable instances where concessions to gamers haven't just resulted in further outrage. We aren't known for meeting in the middle.

So, I’m going to reserve what dry fumes of gamer rage I have left for problems that, for me, are actual rather than hypothetical. I’ll save my victimization for when Spore of Mass Effect actually leave me with no access to the content I paid for rather than suffering the many imagined ways such a thing might happen. I suspect that by the time the installation limitation is likely to be an issue, I will have no shortage of options on the table for either extending my license or circumventing EA’s anti-piracy measures.

These days I’m willing to spend hours re-installing my favorite old games. I’ll waste time scouring the internet for updated texture packs, old patches and homemade mods. If my time and $60 is so precious that I can’t accept that corporations have legal obligations to shareholders and a necessary interest in making efforts to limit the theft of their property, then I am comfortable with my choices of supporting different companies or finding a new past time.

That's the whole point. I have a choice. I can either wash myself in the venomous bath of voluntary outrage for a problem I will likely never have, or I can accept that the circumstances of the industry simply do not permit a major publisher the luxury of being lackadaisical with their investment. I can make the industry the villain for trying to protect its property, or I can make the thieves the villain for massive excesses and creating the combative climate. I can be furious about the vague problems of some unknown number of people, or I can realize that for me I will likely buy Spore, install it and play it without incident.

For me, the choice isn’t particularly complicated. It may make me a patsy, a sellout or an apologist. Fair enough, I can’t control those labels, but I can control the fact that while thousands of outraged gamers have signed petitions, fired off angry emails, posted furiously on message boards and drowned Spore with negative reviews, I was having a fun and hassle free experience playing the actual game.

In the immortal words of Miracle Max, “have fun stormin’ da castle.”

Comments

It's all very simple. Some games install invasive copy protection on driver level that remains on your system and/or decreases the stability of the game and/or said system.

Gears of War for Windows, for instance, crashed randomly until I figured out that it used a copy protection method that for some reason felt it prudent to poke inside other processes, including Kaspersky Antivirus. Unfortunately for GoW, KAV actually prevents other programs for interfering with its services, so GoW kept crashing until I had to sacrifice KAV's self-defense to GoW's random copy protection checks.

I don't mind DRM when it is done like Steam. I do mind DRM when it is done like Securom and similar methods. sh*t that installs more sh*t on your machine, in stealth virus-like fashion, on driver level, some of which self-updates, and some of which can compromise machine's functionality, such as break the DVD burning process.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
The fact is that a EA using poorly devised DRM is not the equivalent of Ford pushing production of cars with dangerous gas tanks, or with the brownshirts coming for Jews in the night, or even Microsoft pushing XBox 360s out the door in spite of poor production yields (I'll save my gamer rage for that, thank you very much).

It's not the equivalent of having locks on your car either. Seems a bit unfair to throw up a bad analogy and then criticize other people for theirs.

Doubtingthomas, aside from the fact that your car theft analogy is as flawed in relation to this as any of the other arguments we "self-congratulating" people are making, protesting something you think is wrong doesn't make you a self-congratulating snob. In fact, I've seen no such attitude from anyone who is against EA's practices in this thread. I'm sure there's plenty of that elsewhere but welcome to the Internet. If you disagree with the stance we're taking and want to debate it, I'm all for that but the snarky generalization of those who are trying to vocalize the position rather than just not buying Spore and hoping EA will figure out why really irks me. We are not the same people as the trolls vandalizing Amazon.

It's all very simple. Some games install invasive copy protection on driver level that remains on your system and/or decreases the stability of the game and/or said system.

To be very clear, I am not in support of this kind of DRM. In fact, this is one of the reasons I'm comfortable with EA's solution. The decision is not taken out of my hands.

Irongut wrote:
Unless the EA Customer Service is much better over a call to say, Microsoft's 18004MYXBOX, the notion that when needed "You can call and request another activation" is ultimately going to be a hassle, hoop jumping, time-wasting and hair pulling experience.

You know, that's exactly one of the things that irks me about this issue too. I'd not be nearly as annoyed if I had ANY faith at all in that this would be well-executed.

I actually have to deal with this exact same issue on a daily basis at work. I work at a rather high-security place (not elaborating on it, I can't - sounds fancier than it is though), where we do tech support and part of it is also account management. People who locked their account call in, they have to ID themselves, answer 2 or 3 questions until we are reasonably assured it's them, then we unlock them and/or give them a new password.
Simple, logical procedure.
But that's possible because we have their data. We have their ID, we can be sure it's them, it can literally be a 1-minute procedure, and above all, we're REALLY easy to call. We're also not accusing them of anything, it's just procedure and they know it.

It wasn't always like that though. For some systems we didn't have the authorization, and we had to register the call and get someone to go over there and reset passwords for them (stand-alone machines, etc).
This annoyed the crap out of people, and it really wasn't working. Not because it couldn't be done securely (it's possible now), but because the system wasn't set up right.

But there's a problem with this for games. You're not registering yourself, passport ID no. and picture included, for Spore.. I'm not even comfortable with them knowing more than my address - why should they anyway, I payed them for their software, right?

If they built in a system similar to Steam, with an online account and one, two, maybe even 3 questions that you'd need to answer and you could unlock it again, I'd be.. well, maybe not satisfied, but at least a lot less annoyed about the whole deal.

Heck, they can also just give me an option to enter a MAC address on my online account to enable the validation or something - it's fairly unique, you can set it up easily, and it will allow me to install it on this dual boot AND my laptop, the way I have WoW, the WAR beta (which is awesome, btw), Sins and various Steam games installed.

See, there's much more sensible options... It doesn't need to be this way, and I have a hard time believing that the various big publishers couldn't figure out a similar system.

You know, voting with your dollar is not the only thing people can do. You can also educate others who are unaware of what they might be spending their money on. And this is what people are doing and they're getting criticized for it.

Elysium wrote:

Exactly, which means it was left entirely to the companies to create solutions to deter shoplifting. Everytime you walk through a scanner at the front of a store, you're walking through the retail equivalent of DRM. Aren't you being treated like a criminal when you're being scanned at the Wal-Mart doorway?

Yeah, but there's a difference between walking through a scanner and being taken aside by security to empty your pockets. Though I dislike this metaphor. My solution is simple: if I don't like the Fair Use Rights that come with a particular purchase, I don't buy it. That is to say, if I don't like their contractual terms for how much product I receive and when, I don't enter into a transaction with that business entity. They don't get my business, I don't have to put up with their sh*t, seems pretty simple to me.

I can't remember the last time I bought a game published by EA, anyway, in my experience they make cookie-cutter games from tired and repetitive franchises. If they throw in restrictions on their largely inferior products as well, there's no way they can shove that tripe down my throat. Not while my budget for $60 games is limited, and selections many. If someone with more money than god doesn't want my $49.99 for Spore, then hell, who am I to judge?

Edit: I wasn't sure that was factually accurate when I first wrote it, but I just went through the 22 console games I bought since June (The only ones I keep the boxes of.), and not one of them lists EA as a publisher. This also means that EA shouldn't have to listen to anything I say, because I willfully acknowledge that I am not now nor am I likely ever to be, their customer.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
Car lock analogy

First off, you have total control over the locking of your car. You can even, entirely legally if you wanted to, get the starter replaced so you don't have to use that coded key. You don't have to lock your car, and the car manufacturer doesn't come along and lock your doors after three trips and say, "You have to call us to run your car again, so we can be certain you haven't stolen it." In addition, you KNOW your car comes with locks and security devices. In fact, that's seen as an advantage, and advertised. DRM, like Spore's was snuck in under the radar, and the outrage didn't hit until sometime around the day of or day after release (not sure when the first story really popped up on it, but it was either Sunday or Monday).

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
stolen copy == lost sale argument

First of all, that's a pirated copy, not stolen, and there is a difference (you also seem to be under the impression somewhere that because I'm saying there's a difference between theft and piracy, that I'm somehow implying that piracy is not as bad as theft. I'm not, because piracy is arguably worse than theft). Theft is the act of removing a scarce good from someone's possession. They no longer have it, and as such, have lost it entirely. Piracy, in this context, is the act of copying the original to the point that it is indistinguishable from the original, and making it available for less than retail cost, or free. As such, when the originals still exist on store shelves, their value goes down significantly, to the point that the seller may have to take a loss on the ENTIRE INVENTORY of the product, rather than suffer a loss on one stolen item. That's a big difference.

Second, it's not an absolute that a pirated copy != a lost sale. Sure, there are folks who pirate because it's free, and if it wasn't there, they'd buck up and buy it. But considering the piracy numbers, people get things that way because there's no risk, and as such, take a lot more than they would ever have bought. That's the principle behind it.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
self-congratulating rhetoric used by critics of DRM.

You either actually seriously believe that DRM opponents think of themselves as fighting a fight that goes beyond consumer rights and reasonable expectations consumers have of developers and publishers, or you're getting bitter about having to argue so much. Calm down, none of us thinks we're Patrick Henry. Every time you ask a question or pose a position, you're asking for a rebuttal, so if you don't want one, stop posting.

I still find it interesting that no one has tackled what DRM does to Fair Use or Right of First Purchase.

These are consumer RIGHTS, not a sense of entitlement.

Piracy is not stopped, consumers have less rights than they did before, and we get lower quality software.

Hey, guess what? I am voting with my dollars.

However, I GREATLY resent any implication that I am being condescending to anyone else. I don't appreciate the sheeple remark anymore than the folks who like to drag out the "brown people" argument whenever someone has a problem with illegal immigration or terrorism. Implied prejuidice is just an ugly tactic to use and I would expect better outside of the P&C forum.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
You know, voting with your dollar is not the only thing people can do. You can also educate others who are unaware of what they might be spending their money on. And this is what people are doing and they're getting criticized for it.

EDIT - Indeed. This also pisses me off because I'm not exactly frothing at the mouth or engaging in spittle producing rants. I have tried to calmly debate the problems with DRM but it seems like anyone who is against it gets lumped into the same category.

If DRM doesn't bother someone else, I don't really have a problem with that. What I don't understand is how someone cannot appreciate the point of view that some of us don't like the idea that a product WE PAID FOR may very well not work because of the guilty until proven innocent tactics that companies are adopting for PC games.

Botswana wrote:
I still find it interesting that no one has tackled what DRM does to Fair Use or Right of First Purchase.

These are consumer RIGHTS, not a sense of entitlement.

Piracy is not stopped, consumers have less rights than they did before, and we get lower quality software.

Hey, guess what? I am voting with my dollars.

However, I GREATLY resent any implication that I am being condescending to anyone else. I don't appreciate the sheeple remark anymore than the folks who like to drag out the "brown people" argument whenever someone has a problem with illegal immigration or terrorism. Implied prejuidice is just an ugly tactic to use and I would expect better outside of the P&C forum.

Err... Right of First Purchase is real estate. You're thinking of the First-Sale Doctrine of 1908. And that is completely obliterated where PC games are concerned.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

If the DRM is enough to keep you from playing Spore, then good for you; you're a principled critic of DRM. But no fair whining about the "sheeple" who bought it in spite of the DRM. They're not single handedly ruining the industry, any more than you're single-handedly saving it.

Good Luck, Mr. Sands. From the looks of this forum, you'll need it. I eagerly await next weeks podcast.


But is it only a question of principle? Elysium makes that assumption too. Do we start from the assumption that we must buy every game, and not buying one is an act of boycott? Do we need a reason not to buy a game or is it the opposite?

To pursue the car analogy (which like all analogies is flawed), a friend once bought an expensive car. The car had a draconian security system, because the insurance company requested it for a car of that price range. When you forgot to disable it, not only the alarm would trigger, but the engine would stop (great on the speedway). After 2 years this was too stressful and inconvenient for him, he sold the car and bought a cheaper one.

I find irrelevant whether the insurance company in this example is right or wrong or whether it is the thieves fault. If I find something inconvenient, I'll buy another product.

So, while I'm in an airport for a short time, and thus can't read all of the long, and I'm sure well reasoned discussion on this (no tongue in cheek, the fact that this thread isn't locked is emblematic of why I love this place) I do want to do one thing, in a classic drive-by fashion.

I hereby decree that Sean "Elysium" Sands shall heretofore be known as "Iron Balls McGee."

Sigh... this thread is giving me such a headache. Elysium is right-- part of the problem is that whenever this discussion comes up, it's always focused on how to prevent DRM, rather than on how to prevent piracy; and it's impossible to steer the thread back in the other direction. Try as you might, you can't get people on any message board to admit that piracy is a bigger and more immediate problem than DRM. Gamers will mobilize like crazy to act in any way possible against not being able to install a game on more than three computers, but you'll never in your entire life see a single thread on this or any other forum entitled "The Pirate Bay is kind of bad for the industry". And even now, as you're reading this, you're already formulating a response intended to tell me how full of sh*t I am. Between piracy and DRM, you're defending the former, and what benefit is it to me to even attempt having a conversation with people of such a mindset? There's no point.

Err... Right of First Purchase is real estate. You're thinking of the First-Sale Doctrine of 1908. And that is completely obliterated where PC games are concerned.

It's obliterated in illegally worded EULAs. Courts have often found in favor of the First Sale Doctrine when challenging EULAs, although the legal precedent is not a stable one, as other courts have come to other, convoluted findings.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
...stuff...

Put much more elegantly than I ever could. That is the nice thing about this site, wait long enough and somebody with a better head for words will say what you wanted to.

DRM is not going away anytime soon, if anything it's going to get more intrusive before it goes away. The problem is the average consumer isn't going to vote with his/her wallet until the issue negatively affects a large percentage of that group. We as gamers take this issue very passionately but we are the minority in the big scheme of things. Nasty letters from a hundred people just doesn't garner the same attention as a million sales.

Sigh... this thread is giving me such a headache. {snip} Between piracy and DRM, you're defending the former, and what benefit is it to me to even attempt having a conversation with people of such a mindset? There's no point.

Okay then, bye.

Seriously, you're not playing by the rules of fair discussion, here. For one, not everyone has to agree outright with your position. Two, this is the first time you've even brought up the idea of discussing how bad piracy is for the industry, and while it seems like an obvious connection to you, the fact that it hasn't come up in the discussion yet shows that we're not really thinking about it. It's a good point to bring up, so bring it up, don't throw accusations of bias around without telling us what we're not seeing in the first place.

I'm going to back out of this debate now because it's starting to look too much like a P&C thread and I stopped coming to GWJ for awhile because P&C made me lose respect for people in the community because it seems like politics can simply not be discussed civilly on the Internet.

I'm a little saddened that it seems like DRM opponents are being villified all of a sudden when the people discussing it on the community have been fairly level-headed and have not made a habit of attacking those of an opposing viewpoints. Most of it has been in spirited debate and the discourse has been on the level most of the time between both sides. There are not many communities (actually ZERO) that I would even dare talk about this stuff because you know how it would end up.

I would ask that some of you step back yourselves and look at who the people are that are anti-DRM here though. This is not like [name withheld] discussing George W. Bush on the P&C forum. Possibly excluding myself, many of the anti-DRM folks are some of our more reasonable posters.

I get the point of the original post of this thread. Hey, some people don't care. That's fine, never asked you to care. It's the follow on sentiment that anti-DRM folks are somehow being unreasonable that irks me the most.

It's not that I don't sympathize with companies who make products I enjoy or that I don't despise the pirates who have a negative impact on my hobby.

Nijhazer wrote:
Duoae wrote:

If you go to the pirates cove, don't be surprised when the pirates show up for dinner.

Then you can add Engadget, 1Up.com, the Something Awful Forums, NeoGAF, and the entire TWiT podcast network to your "pirates' cove". Universally, stories about pirate rings being shut down are met with scorn and disdain; "Why bother?", they say, followed by a recommendation for another site where pirated content can be found.

Engadget i might expect more from but the 1UP, SA and NeoGAF are known 'rough' areas of the internet... some IGN boards etc. I would not expect much from the majority of users in those places. They are (at the expense of generalising everyone there) immature and tend to have an 'against the man' mentality. If their moderators do not remove their posts and curtail that line of thought then the sites themselves condone their thoughts and actions. I've never heard of TWiT though so i can't comment on that place.


Duoae wrote:
Most net-savvy gamers' allegiances lie with their best interests. Not with the best interests of a publisher or a band of pirate code-breakers. It's when and where those interests converge that is important.

Yes; and as I've said, most of these folks are primarily interested in price. There is no price lower than zero. Personally, I'm more interested in getting more great games, which can't happen if developers can't get a sufficient return on their investment. But I've been in the minority on that in other areas of the entertainment industry before, and it won't surprise me at all if the same is true for gaming.

Are you talking about pirates or people who are net savvy here? I'd argue that there are a lot of net savvy people who are not pirates. My reasoning goes like this:

1. Is game good (from reviews, users etc)
2. Is acquisition of game on acceptable terms to me? (e.g. price, DRM, law etc.)
If 1 and 2 are met then i buy the game. 2 can affect 1 for me and thus i can buy games that are less well endorsed by various outlets if they are cheap enough.



A 'better product' does not necessarily imply that more content or added features need be applied. Removing what the consumer considers harsh restrictions also fulfils that term.

What a surprise that your idea of a better way to prevent piracy is to stop trying to prevent it.

I think you're presuming too much here. I did not say stop trying to prevent it completely. I'm perfectly okay with CD/DVD checks. I'm partially okay to one-time online authentication (more so if a patch it promised to remove that) as i do use steam. I do buy games and i do support games developers and publishers if i think they deserve my support. These people are not gods, i should not support them unconditionally.... no one should.

Please don't assume things about me - especially when i've stated these things in the other thread. Perhaps you didn't read those posts though.

Elysium wrote:
I don't pirate games and I tell those that try to justify it that they're wrong.

*ding*

You win. Seriously, you're off the hook. You're part of the solution.

Unfortunately, the industry can't treat people like you one way and every other consumer another way. I suspect if there were more attitudes like yours, we'd be having a different discussion.

So wait, just because he stated that he tells people that they shouldn't pirate games his attitude is different/better than others here? Or was this sarcasm that's gone over my head? Elysium, maybe you think the points i brought up are some attempt to troll you or something - they are not.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
If you disagree with the stance we're taking and want to debate it, I'm all for that but the snarky generalization of those who are trying to vocalize the position rather than just not buying Spore and hoping EA will figure out why really irks me. We are not the same people as the trolls vandalizing Amazon.

I've found for a long time that because we take a stance against DRM we are instantly labelled as condoning piracy of being against the publisher and developers. It's funny... it's as if history has shown us that corporations and governments will not take advantage of the people they are supposed to be serving (yes, i'm paying for a game therefore i expect a service in return). Blind belief is not belief at all.

I've never heard of TWiT though so i can't comment on that place.

"TWiT" is "This Week in Tech," which is like Meet the Press for the tech industry, essentially. It's a good show and features a number of folks that are big in the current tech and new media scene (including many former Tech TV "stars") such as Leo Laporte, John Dvorak, Kevin Rose, Jason Calacanis, etc.

nsmike wrote:
"TWiT" is "This Week in Tech," which is like Meet the Press for the tech industry, essentially. It's a good show and features a number of folks that are big in the current tech and new media scene (including many former Tech TV "stars") such as Leo Laporte, John Dvorak, Kevin Rose, Jason Calacanis, etc.

They also take a similar position to DRM that I do which is that piracy is wrong but punishing legitimate consumers is not the answer. They do talk about Pirate Bay and the like but usually only because of some dumb stunt they've pulled (like when they tried to buy an abandoned oil rig) and only because they know their audience already knows who they are. The majority of the time they talk about piracy issues is to decry some of the Big Brother tactics the RIAA is using.

Nijhazer wrote:
Gamers will mobilize like crazy to act in any way possible against not being able to install a game on more than three computers, but you'll never in your entire life see a single thread on this or any other forum entitled "The Pirate Bay is kind of bad for the industry". And even now, as you're reading this, you're already formulating a response intended to tell me how full of sh*t I am. Between piracy and DRM, you're defending the former, and what benefit is it to me to even attempt having a conversation with people of such a mindset? There's no point.

You know why though, don't you? It's because piracy doesn't directly affect gamers who act legally. Why would we work out a way to stop piracy? We're not militant mobs - doling out justice on the internet. We can't go around taking down piracy sites by hacking them to bits. It doesn't work and is illegal in many countries. The only way for us to stop piracy is by buying games and setting a good example and hope that other people follow that.

The reason why there are no threads on the subject is because we are bombarded with the anti-pirate message every day through developer rants, CEOs of publishers during interviews.... studio closures and game's financial failiures. We all know what is going on and we all agree that it is bad. There is no need to debate on a topic where everyone is going to reply, 'Yep. I agree.'

I've said this before but not wanting DRM does not immediately put us in the opposite camp of defending piracy. It's not a black and white situation we're dealing with.

nsmike wrote:
I've never heard of TWiT though so i can't comment on that place.

"TWiT" is "This Week in Tech," which is like Meet the Press for the tech industry, essentially. It's a good show and features a number of folks that are big in the current tech and new media scene (including many former Tech TV "stars") such as Leo Laporte, John Dvorak, Kevin Rose, Jason Calacanis, etc.

Hehe, i don't know any of them. I'm guessing it's a US-centric place? John Dvorak sound familiar though....
Thanks for letting me know though

Elysium wrote:
Here's a question: what have gamers done to curb or even appear to curb piracy? Do you really think that there will be less DRM as long as gamers tacitly approve of piracy?

Elysium,

Long time reader/listener, but have never registered here until now, and I did so specifically for this comment. I respect you a lot, but I can't fathom how you could possibly suggest that gamers who are not actively (somehow) fighting piracy or endorsing aggressive DRM measures are tacitly approving of piracy. This is beyond absurd, sir.

I am staunchly against piracy, and I think pirates do ruin things for the rest of us by even creating the perception among developers and publishers that it is making the PC an non-viable platform to develop for from a business standpoint. I loathe pirates, I do not excuse their behavior in any form, and I do not pirate software in any form. There's NO excuse. I consider it, morally, to be equivalent to stealing. Frankly, I find quite insulting your and others' suggestions that by opposing aggressive DRM, I'm some sort of a piracy sympathizer.

Yet, I am not buying Spore because of it's DRM. I am not overly excited about the game, and knowing that I have many, many other games that I cycle on and off my HDD (some more than 3 times since I've owned them... IL-2 comes immediately to mind as being on of them), I really don't feel like I should be subjected to calling EA somewhere down the line to ask them, pretty please, if they'll give me another activation.

I am not sure gamers have a "right" not to be sold games with DRM, but I have the choice to decide whether or not it's worth it to me, and in this case, it's not.

While I'm here, I might as well address another pet peeve of mine you have brought up in your debate in the thread:

Elysium wrote:
Exactly, which means it was left entirely to the companies to create solutions to deter shoplifting. Everytime you walk through a scanner at the front of a store, you're walking through the retail equivalent of DRM. Aren't you being treated like a criminal when you're being scanned at the Wal-Mart doorway?

As someone else has already pointed out, this is not a valid means of arguing in favor of DRM. When you walk through the scanners, your obligation to the store ends. When you buy a DRM protected product such as Spore, your obligation to EA continues through the life of the product. Which could be many, many years, as evidenced in my case by the many MS-DOS 3.5" discs I still have! You are being treated as a criminal because even after you purchase the product and take it home (notice, I said purchase), you are given artificial restrictions on how you may use it. The analogy of the scanners at a store are a strawman argument in favor of a much, much more intrusive form of security. I think you're doing yourself a disservice by pressing that point.

Yes, yes, I know you agree to the EULA when you open the box and install it. Don't get me started on EULAs, because I think their time has come too, but please don't tell me I'm being hysterical because I find it unreasonable that I can only install a piece of software 3 times, even if it's on the same machine each time.

I'm not up in arms over Spore's DRM. I'm simply just going to "pass" on this one because I find it to be potentially more inconvenient to me than the value of the game. I have enough hassles in my life, why should I subject myself to another for the sake of a game?

Nijhazer wrote:
What a surprise that your idea of a better way to prevent piracy is to stop trying to prevent it.

Ah, if I were only a zealot. Then everything could be black and white.

On a more serious note, I think what the person you quoted meant was that there a much less invasive ways to prevent piracy while being customer friendly. As a consumer... I really do not care about pirates! I am not a pirate, I don't like pirates, and I don't feel like pirates should affect my consumer experience in a noticeable way. DRM schemes like Spore's provide a very tangible obstacle to the legitimate buyer. The publisher becomes so focused on the pirate that it takes it's paying customer's experience for granted in its zeal to stop piracy or sharing. Mind you, this does NOT legitimize pirating the game.

Elysium wrote:
We can either be a part of a solution toward ending piracy, OR
we can leave the piracy issue to companies to solve.

The problem here is, I can't see any meaningful way to help "end" piracy. The technology isn't moving in that direction either. All forms of copy protection to this point in time have failed to even come close, and even though I qualify by your terms as someone who is trying to solve the problem, I doubt the impact of people like me is consequential at all to the huge piracy movement.

Furthermore, this is an issue for the publishers and developers to work out, not the consumer! It may feel like such a noble cause to you that gamers should rise up against pirates, but it's not going to make any difference. What you're asking for, in my opinion, would further contribute to the decay of PC gaming: Not only must you jump through DRM hoops, you need to preach against piracy every where you go in order to continue enjoying high-quality PC gaming!

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
nsmike wrote:
"TWiT" is "This Week in Tech," which is like Meet the Press for the tech industry, essentially. It's a good show and features a number of folks that are big in the current tech and new media scene (including many former Tech TV "stars") such as Leo Laporte, John Dvorak, Kevin Rose, Jason Calacanis, etc.

They also take a similar position to DRM that I do which is that piracy is wrong but punishing legitimate consumers is not the answer. They do talk about Pirate Bay and the like but usually only because of some dumb stunt they've pulled (like when they tried to buy an abandoned oil rig) and only because they know their audience already knows who they are. The majority of the time they talk about piracy issues is to decry some of the Big Brother tactics the RIAA is using.

To make it clearer, piracy is by no means the only thing they talk about. They talk about everything affecting the tech industry, from Microsoft's decisions with Windows 7, to the iPhone.

Hehe, i don't know any of them. I'm guessing it's a US-centric place? John Dvorak sound familiar though....
Thanks for letting me know though

TWiT's site and numerous podcasts. I believe that Leo Laporte and John Dvorak are both Canadian...

Evo wrote:
{snip}

Sorry to just quote your name there, but may I say, excellent first post and welcome.

Perhaps my point of view is not that staunch towards piracy, but that's partially linked to my past and I'd feel that much more hypocritical about it if I were.
Either way though, well put. It's hard sometimes to word things well without ending up with a 2-page post, especially further into topics.

I respect you a lot, but I can't fathom how you could possibly suggest that gamers who are not actively (somehow) fighting piracy or endorsing aggressive DRM measures are tacitly approving of piracy.

The problem with this debate is that it's so loaded and gets, frankly, so twisted that saying one thing carries a lot of assumptions. Let me be more clear.

My main point: There's very little I can or have the impetus to do, so I'm going to focus on enjoying games.
Additional points: I understand why people who have trouble because of DRM get upset, and I think that is legitimate
- I believe that in the overall gaming population the prevailing winds build excuses for piracy while railing against the tyranny of DRM.
- I don't believe everyone who argues against DRM is in favor of piracy. However, it is an awfully convenient justification for those that do.
- I do believe that most tactics used by gamers frustrated by DRM are ineffective and often childish.
- I do believe that piracy is a serious problem, and that it does equal _some_ lost sales.
- I do believe that companies have every right to combat against theft.
- I don't feel like I'm being treated like a criminal.
- I do believe that while this forum tends to be more civilized, there's a lot of people out there who are doing the virtual equivalent of overturning cop cars in the street.
- I do believe that an effective solution would be a wide change of attitude among gamers, and might go a long way to repairing the faith of companies in our market.

The analogy of the scanners at a store are a strawman argument in favor of a much, much more intrusive form of security. I think you're doing yourself a disservice by pressing that point.

It's a woefully flawed analogy. In fact, we've seen a ton of woefully flawed analogies, because that's exactly part of the problem. There is no analogy, no clear method that will accomplish the goal, no set of rules that can be followed by gamers or companies to curb the problem. I really don't like being the guy who is "in favor of DRM," because that wasn't my point.

I am however the guy who recognizes that the companies have to do _something_ and I'm willing to put up with this and similar methods. They make sense to me.

Irongut wrote:
Unless the EA Customer Service is much better over a call to say, Microsoft's 18004MYXBOX, the notion that when needed "You can call and request another activation" is ultimately going to be a hassle, hoop jumping, time-wasting and hair pulling experience.

Number of minutes I spent on hold with EA opening a trouble ticket: 45 minutes in 2 calls.

Number of hours in which EA promises resolution to trouble tickets: 24.

Number of hours since the ticket was opened, and is still unresolved: 72+.

Number of times I have been able to play Spore online: 0.

Number of times my store-bought copy of Spore has, in not so many words, said, "You're a damned thief": 20, every time I run it.

I understand the "works for me!" attitude but I am compelled to emphasize, over and over, that the problem is not that EA's DRM might inconvenience paying customer. The problem is that EA's DRM is right now inconveniencing paying customers.

Evo wrote:
great stuff

...And the rookie hits one out of the park. Nice post.

Now I'm off to my local Junior Anti-Piracy League meeting!

My main point: There's very little I can or have the impetus to do, so I'm going to focus on enjoying games.
Additional points: I understand why people who have trouble because of DRM get upset, and I think that is legitimate
- I believe that in the overall gaming population the prevailing winds build excuses for piracy while railing against the tyranny of DRM.
- I don't believe everyone who argues against DRM is in favor of piracy. However, it is an awfully convenient justification for those that do.
- I do believe that most tactics used by gamers frustrated by DRM are ineffective and often childish.
- I do believe that piracy is a serious problem, and that it does equal _some_ lost sales.
- I do believe that companies have every right to combat against theft.
- I don't feel like I'm being treated like a criminal.
- I do believe that while this forum tends to be more civilized, there's a lot of people out there who are doing the virtual equivalent of overturning cop cars in the street.
- I do believe that an effective solution would be a wide change of attitude among gamers, and might go a long way to repairing the faith of companies in our market.

Oh. Well, hell, I guess that leaves us with very little to argue about then.

Though I don't understand this statement:
"I do believe that most tactics used by gamers frustrated by DRM are ineffective and often childish."

It may have been mentioned already but there is an easy reason for Elysium's change of heart. Getting Old. As you get older you get more and more OK with the status quo of sh*t because you just want to relax and not deal with any bs. This post is just another symptom of that. I've seen it the past with older friends and as I have passed the 30 mark I feel it in myself.

I don't think anyone here is actually in favor or condones piracy. I don't think anyone in this conversation who is opposed to DRM is a pirate. My thoughts fall in line with Elysium. After gaming on the PC for many years I'm tired of getting up in arms over something that seems trivial to me. DRM is a fact of life to me now. The fight over certain things has been passed down to the next generation of users that want to advocate their position. Just as long as they aren't advocating anything illegal (such as piracy).

I do believe disclosure of how a particular DRM system works should be easily obtainable prior to purchase (I believe the online activation part of Spore made the news a while ago but the 3 installation limit didn't). I also feel that way about the EULA but there isn't any incentive for the publisher to put these anywhere that a consumer can readily obtain these.

The problem with DRM and the excuse to the shareholders makes sense in our legal environment. If the company doesn't prove due diligence (some kind of copyright system) then shareholders could use that against the company if losses could be proven due to easy piracy. I'm not a lawyer so I could be wrong on this but I've worked for some publicly traded companies and some of the things we did were a giant waste of resources just to CYA.