Coming to Terms With UbiSoft

I have an insane theory about the airline industry — I think they genuinely want me to stop flying on their airplanes.

I think that when major air-carriers tuck into their silk sheets at night, they dream of a hyper-efficient fleet filled with steely-eyed business class flyers with practiced methods of travel and corporate expense accounts. Never again would they be burdened with a bunch of pesky amateur flyers with screaming kids and an over-inflated sense of entitlement just because the family managed to scrounge up a few hundred dollars to fly to Omaha.

Were I to write to Delta airlines and tell them of how I chose to spend three days driving across the country with my two boys rather than endure ten hours under their thumb, would the response be a curt but genuine, “Thank you?”

Sometimes it very much seems like certain companies are entirely comfortable with the idea of just annoying a certain segment of consumers away. You know, companies like Ubisoft.

Is it insanity to imagine that a game company would seed the foundation for catastrophic PC numbers so they can justify ending support for a customer base they neither like nor trust? Is that nutjob conspiracy theory territory, because every time I look at the evidence the slippery slope gets greased just a little more.

I had been looking forward to buying Assassin’s Creed 2 for the PC. As friends raved about the experience on the consoles, I decided to hold off for a release on my platform of choice: the trusty Personal Computer. But as Ubisoft slowly revealed worse terms than Lando Calrissian got from Vader in Empire, I realized that for me, a line had been crossed.

Historically my reaction would have been histrionics, but for a lot of reasons that I don’t want to explore right now, I have been thinking hard about learning to accept the things I can not change. It is a distressingly voluminous list, to which I must now grudgingly add the schemes and machinations of multi-national game publishing companies. Unless I’m willing to become a mid-80’s Sally Field movie, the only question left is how mad I am willing to let the whole thing get me.

Rather than take this to the next level of a broad and meaningless call to social action — Boycott Ubi, yo! — I have chosen instead to realize this is a very personal choice where no available option seems particularly desirable. Do I reward Ubi with my money in the hope that they might be grudgingly forced to create more PC games with even tighter restrictions? Do I deny myself the experience of playing a game I had been looking forward to? Do I build flimsy self-justifications for piracy, choosing to contribute to the problem out of an overwhelming sense of self-entitlement and convenient moral flexibility?

Ok, obviously not that last one. Whatever moral subjectivity it is that endows people with the latitude to pretend like rules don’t apply if they are sufficiently mad at the victim just doesn’t work for me. So, for me, the choice is only one of buy or sit out.

Why is this such an emotionally charged dichotomy for me and for that matter so many other people? Ubi and its ilk have presented a product and presented their terms. I can either take part, or I can abstain. That I am disgusted by the terms offered should be the point where I get the luxury of keeping my $50. I mean, it’s not like when some guy comes to the door asking if I’d like to let him fertilize my lawn for a hundred bucks, I suddenly have the urge to punch him in the face.

I recognize in a very rational way that the internet’s response to Ubisoft’s decision to make all PC gamers maintain constant internet connectivity to play their games is one of breathless hysterics. Three Stooges movies show more moderated self-control than message board discussions in response to this issue, and yet I am drawn to the furious debate like a moth drawn to a flame if that flame were the burning singularity of a super-massive black hole.

I hate the corporate policy of Ubisoft for this. I hate the precedent it entrenches for PC games, and I hate that I have no recourse to protest save a few hundred futile words and a well practiced glower. Therein lies my real problem, and the point this all draws back to.

I don’t get a vote, not even with my dollar. Choose to buy and I am supporting something I believe undermines the rights that should be afforded to PC gamers. Choose not to buy and Ubisoft is free to interpret diminished sales as evidence of the impact of piracy and the antipathy of the consumer base. Check and mate.

I must learn to accept that which can not be changed. It is a bitter lesson.

I choose not to buy, and I choose not to pirate if for no other reason than it would provide publishers with one drop of additional proof that PC games aren’t worth the trouble.

Now I must choose to accept my own decision, and that, so far, has been the hardest choice of all.

Comments

LarryC wrote:

There is nothing wrong with DRM that does what a DRM is supposed to be doing.

I would rephrase this to say there is nothing wrong with DRM that doesn't do what DRM is not supposed to be doing.

Had I not already purchased ACII for 360, I would have certainly reconsidered purchasing it altogether. I am strongly against giving my money to companies who take ridiculous decisions such as this. Unless Ubisoft changes their policy on DRM for pc games, I will not buy their games on console either.

They will not force me to buy console versions of their games just to avoid having to put up with their DRM schemes. Until they go back to regular, old fashioned DRM, they've lost a customer.

interstate78 wrote:

Had I not already purchased ACII for 360, I would have certainly reconsidered purchasing it altogether.

I agree. I would've waited a good while and purchased it used, at least, had I known this was what they planned.

How very Daoist of you, Mr. Chairman.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
AcidCat wrote:
Elysium wrote:

I don't think the "what is the big deal" angle is anything but noise, at this point.

Well, maybe I'm retarded - I see a lot of folks upset, but I don't really get the why of it all. I don't see how having to be online affects me in any way if I choose to play their games, because I have an always-on broadband connection, like I would assume most gamers would have.

Maybe someone would explain why they feel this is such a "line in the sand" issue, because most discussion about it, like this article and the comments, seems to take the outrage as a given.

Because when I'm paying $60 for a game, I want to be the one in control of when and how I play it, not a greedy publisher who's interest is in getting me to buy more games, not continuing to enjoy old ones possibly years down the road. I don't like the idea of Ubisoft being able to one day pull the plug on their server (which they will) and turning my $60 investment into a coaster.

Well, you must be selective with that feeling then because there are lots of games out there that will become coasters for lots of reasons. I'm thinking of WoW right now. You buy the game, and updates, but still have to pay monthly fees to play it, if you don't your "investment" is worthless and you can't play the game at all. Same goes for any primarily multiplayer game (L4D, Team Fortress...). Your network is gone, the game is nothing. AC is sort of like that, the content comes off the network. And, hey, they're not making you pay extra to access that either.

And then there's phones. You can pay whatever you want for your phone, but it's a useless piece of plastic without a subscription to a carrier which you pay monthly for. Why are games different?

Thing is all you're paying for is access to content. You are not buying the content. Publisher owns that. The publisher puts out the terms clearly and you can buy into it or not, but don't think you are in a position to demand free services.

So, Elysium's stand is a good one. Don't buy it, don't pirate it, don't play it. Simple. I applaud his stance on this issue and his slight on pirates and the entitlement attitude that encourages piracy.

Gaming community does seem to be full of people with an inflated sense of priviledge and entitlement.

LarryC wrote:

It appears that Mr. Sands has always considered the question of piracy a moral one rather than an economic one. It makes no sense

I fail to understand how it could be anything but a moral question. There is no right to have a game, so there can be no justification to pirate on some economic basis.

LarryC wrote:

To me, it makes no sense for a great company with a great game to limit exposure to their game.

If they wanted everyone to see how great their game was, by this argument, they should give it away for free, so there would be no impediment to people wanting to play.

LarryC wrote:

You don't want the gamers finding out how much of a lemon your game is until they've gotten on the EULA and it's too late to get their cash back.

I agree on this point. In the good old days, when I were but a lad in short trousers, demo versions were the way they did this. Sadly these days demos, when they are made, come out months later as part of the phase two marketing push, rather than something to get the gaming juices going for a title that will be available soon. I have bought many games over the years based on a demo.

ruinate wrote:

Well, you must be selective with that feeling then because there are lots of games out there that will become coasters for lots of reasons. I'm thinking of WoW right now. You buy the game, and updates, but still have to pay monthly fees to play it, if you don't your "investment" is worthless and you can't play the game at all. Same goes for any primarily multiplayer game (L4D, Team Fortress...). Your network is gone, the game is nothing. AC is sort of like that, the content comes off the network. And, hey, they're not making you pay extra to access that either.

I don't play MMOs because I don't care for them but for them or other multiplayer only games, I know what I'm buying beforehand because it's a multiplayer only game. In addition, the majority of multiplayer PC games have freely available servers which people can run indefinitely (starting to change I admit) or if the publisher does have control, they don't generally remove the game's online capabilities until the community has dried up for a long period in which case, I don't care that I can't play it anymore. Comparing that with having to be online just for the purposes of satisfying the publisher's paranoia and inherent distrust of their own customers is an apples to oranges argument. Single player games don't have any implicit requirement to be online, none. And since it is in the publisher's interests to make that DRM unavailable sooner rather than later in order to try and get you to buy more content, I don't believe it's a sacrifice I should have to make. This DRM provides absolutely no benefit to anyone but Ubisoft but we're the ones being asked to pay for it.

ruinate wrote:

And then there's phones. You can pay whatever you want for your phone, but it's a useless piece of plastic without a subscription to a carrier which you pay monthly for. Why are games different?

Apples to some other fruit once again. You know when you buy a phone that you need service to use it. It's part of the concept of how phones work and everyone knows this. No one reasonably expects for their phone to continue to be able to make calls, even after they've canceled service. It also isn't in the cell carrier's interests to render my phone bricked after a couple of years in order to force me to buy a newer model I didn't need or want, even though it runs on the same network that I'm paying to help maintain. Requiring me to constantly be online in order to play a game with no online component just so that I can prove I'm not a thief of the product I already paid for is ridiculous.

ruinate wrote:

Thing is all you're paying for is access to content. You are not buying the content. Publisher owns that. The publisher puts out the terms clearly and you can buy into it or not, but don't think you are in a position to demand free services.

If this is the argument you drew from what I wrote, I'd love to know how you figured that is what I was saying. And can you show me where I'm able to view the Assassin's Creed II terms in advance of buying their product and opening it, thus rendering me unable to get a refund if I don't agree? The terms are not clearly laid out if you have to buy in before you know what they are. I don't believe in piracy, I think pirates are scumbags and thieves. But I also don't believe Ubisoft has the right to treat me like a pirate in hiding when I've given them my money willingly.

This DRM doesn't stop the pirates (it is well on its way to being cracked already and will be fully soon enough) and causes nothing but headaches for legit customers, particularly the ones who live in places where Internet is neither cheap nor reliable. For multiple days already, people have been unable to access AC2 due to the servers being down. That they were being attacked isn't my problem as a customer, it's Ubisoft's but they already had their money and the customers didn't have their games. I have spoken with my wallet and will not buy any PC game from anyone that uses this DRM or something similar. If they put this type of system in place on the consoles, I wouldn't buy those games either. I'm not demanding anything for free, I'm demanding that the people who actually paid be treated with better respect than the piece of sh*t thieves. That I choose not to buy into Ubisoft's nonsense doesn't mean I or anyone else doesn't have a right to call them on being anti-customer. If people don't speak up, they'll never know.

ruinate wrote:

Gaming community does seem to be full of people with an inflated sense of priviledge and entitlement.

I'm sorry, I didn't realise disagreement automatically meant I had an inflated sense of entitlement. Last I checked, companies who sell product exist to serve the customers, not the other way around. If you're cool with buying a product that will be rendered inert in a couple of years (my prediction), enjoy. But some of us don't believe in paying $60 for a product with an unknown expiry date when we can buy the same thing in a physical form that will become useless when we say, not some company who doesn't care about anything beyond the next quarter. And we'll call it when we see it, thanks very much.

Yeah, it's like living in an alternate universe. Demos used to be mandatory for every game. Now they are treated as some sort of uber bonus/feature that you only get once you've paid for the game. If you get one at all. Weird.

AManCalledBob, check out this piece which made a splash a few years ago about how to consider piracy from an economic point of view and not a moral one:

http://draginol.joeuser.com/article/...

It's from Brad Wardell of Stardock--it's not some random joker on the internet, even if it perfectly captures what some of us random jokers on the internet had been saying for years.

CheezePavilion wrote:

AManCalledBob, check out this piece which made a splash a few years ago about how to consider piracy from an economic point of view and not a moral one:

http://draginol.joeuser.com/article/...

It's from Brad Wardell of Stardock--it's not some random joker on the internet, even if it perfectly captures what some of us random jokers on the internet had been saying for years.

Nice link. This is the side of Brad Wardell I like.

would Elysium even believe anything I say at this point?

I'm sure if we were talking about anything besides piracy, we'd have a lovely and pleasant dialogue.

On the topic of piracy, I think you weave an elegant and many-colored tapestry of bullsh*t, and I commend you for the artistry of your misdirection and obfuscation.

I do, however, operate from the assumption that you are debating in good faith, and that you genuinely believe your stated theories. Despite how much I disagree with the very core of your comments, I at least appreciate your desire to operate from that position of good faith.

AManCalledBob:

Brad Wardell is a smart man, and he's making millions making little-known PC game top sellers because he makes sense. EXCEPT in one case: pirates count.

The object of DRM should be to maximize profit for a company. It is an economic structure with an economic aim. Limiting the number of people who are familiar with your product by instituting powerful DRM works like anti-advertising. Less people know how awesome your product is, less people talk about it.

The ultimate aim of DRM should be obvious, but for some reason it's not. It functions not to prevent pirates from accessing a game, but to induce them to pay for it! In other words, DRM should not be preventing piracy, but turning pirates into customers.

Limiting pirate access to a game only turns a pirate into a customer if he was someone who was going to buy the game, except that he can access the content through pirate torrents. If he has other reasons for being a pirate, the measure fails.

Moreover, thinking about DRM and piracy in economic terms allows you to think more broadly. If real DRM's real aim was to hit pirates, then why is it on legal copies? Shouldn't it be on torrented copies instead? A legal customer would never torrent a copy of his game because he already has it, so he'll never be inconvenienced by measures aimed at torrented copies.

A lot of people around here make the understandable mistake of thinking that I am for piracy in the sense that I'm a morally bankrupt thief. Whether or not I am can't really be confirmed (would Elysium even believe anything I say at this point?) but what I am saying is that if you want piracy to stop, then you need to stop thinking about it in terms of whether it's right or wrong, but instead think about whether it's economically significant or not.

Unlike many gamers, I don't think that Ubisoft or EA are stupid companies with stupid CEOs. As a matter of fact, I rather think that they're quite savvy and sophisticated. They just don't always do what they say they're doing. Ubisoft says that this DRM is made to prevent piracy, but viewing it from a dispassionate economic perspective, it's quite obvious that it's something else entirely.

LarryC wrote:

In order to understand what I am saying you MUST undergo a paradgim shift: assume that piracy is morally correct. I know it's abhorrent to some of you, but that is precisely the reason why I'm giving up on asking you to simply ignore the moral question of piracy. As insane as it may be, many Americans have been morally indoctrinated to view piracy as a sin, when it's not morally coded for by any known large religious or moral denomination. Most are incapable of seeing beyond it, so the only way they'll see past it if they (in this case, you), take the opposite stance perforce.

I'm going to have to ask you to do the work of arguing that intellectual property is not property as such and therefore does not fall under rights to property and prohibitions against violations of others' property that are found in most if not all common moral and religious codes.

wordsmythe wrote:

I'm going to have to ask you to do the work of arguing that intellectual property is not property as such and therefore does not fall under rights to property and prohibitions against violations of others' property that are found in most if not all common moral and religious codes.

It doesn't address the moral side of things, but check out this book. That is, if you like very dense economic reading. It is at the very least interesting. Of course, it's free for download, as it would be intellectually dishonest to not offer it as such. (You can buy a printed version if you prefer.)

LarryC wrote:

Ubisoft says that this DRM is made to prevent piracy, but viewing it from a dispassionate economic perspective, it's quite obvious that it's something else entirely.

I actually have to agree with you here, especially in the case of this kind of DRM. This seems even less about piracy than most, and more about creating a sustainable system that makes legitimate customers even more beholden to content providers. For what, I'm not exactly sure, but it may be as simple as getting people ready to pay for subscriptions to single-player games.

I seriously doubt a delay in making a perfect crack is making pirates (that is, the theoretical "pirate who would pay if given no choice") throw up their hands in resignation and say, "Well, I guess I have to go buy it." There is tremendous confidence in the abilities of the game crackers to split these things wide open. Even Ubisoft admitted this system would probably be cracked eventually. I'd say that the pirates are definitely willing to wait. Keep in mind, the early days of piracy when broadband penetration was even more pitiful already required a few days for viable cracks, and then long downloads. Pirates are used to waiting. Reintroducing a waiting period is not a means to stopping piracy.

Elysium:

I'm getting mixed signals here. On the one hand, you think I'm weaving a tapestry of misdirection, and on the other hand, you think I'm discussing the topic from a position of good faith. I don't understand.

I'll attempt to explain my point from another POV.

If you want to stop piracy, then what you want to do is behavior modification. You are not out to philosophize on what's right or wrong, nor are you out to tell people they're evil and that they deserve hell. The only thing that does is alienate them, and that is, at best, peripheral to the stated aim of stopping piracy.

The only way to stop pirates is to compete with them directly. Make their offerings more expensive, make legal copies cheaper.

This approach works because it's designed to work. We have no ulterior motives. We don't muddy the process with questions of morality. All we do is make one product better, the other worse, and the natural course of events takes place.

Examined dispassionately, Ubisoft's DRM delays the availability of the pirate copy, but it doesn't do anything beyond that to make the pirate copy less desirable. It is therefore, a weak attempt at curbing piracy activities, at best. What it does well is stop second-hand market sales. That's something it does much better. There are other aspects of control it does as well, and also familiarizes gamers with the notion that Ubisoft can and will demand more continuous online requirements and such.

It does a lot of things quite well, in fact. Just not stopping piracy.

LarryC wrote:

Elysium:

I'm getting mixed signals here. On the one hand, you think I'm weaving a tapestry of misdirection, and on the other hand, you think I'm discussing the topic from a position of good faith. I don't understand.

I'll attempt to explain my point from another POV.

If you want to stop piracy, then what you want to do is behavior modification. You are not out to philosophize on what's right or wrong, nor are you out to tell people they're evil and that they deserve hell. The only thing that does is alienate them, and that is, at best, peripheral to the stated aim of stopping piracy.

The only way to stop pirates is to compete with them directly. Make their offerings more expensive, make legal copies cheaper.

This approach works because it's designed to work. We have no ulterior motives. We don't muddy the process with questions of morality. All we do is make one product better, the other worse, and the natural course of events takes place.

Examined dispassionately, Ubisoft's DRM delays the availability of the pirate copy, but it doesn't do anything beyond that to make the pirate copy less desirable. It is therefore, a weak attempt at curbing piracy activities, at best. What it does well is stop second-hand market sales. That's something it does much better. There are other aspects of control it does as well, and also familiarizes gamers with the notion that Ubisoft can and will demand more continuous online requirements and such.

It does a lot of things quite well, in fact. Just not stopping piracy.

He believes you believe what you are saying, and are trying to convince others to believe - but that you are wrong:)

LarryC wrote:

The ultimate aim of DRM should be obvious, but for some reason it's not. It functions not to prevent pirates from accessing a game, but to induce them to pay for it! In other words, DRM should not be preventing piracy, but turning pirates into customers.

Heh--pirates aren't like pirates: they're like Vikings. When conditions are right, they become peaceful members of the economic system. When conditions are wrong, they become brigands.

NSMike wrote:

I seriously doubt a delay in making a perfect crack is making pirates (that is, the theoretical "pirate who would pay if given no choice") throw up their hands in resignation and say, "Well, I guess I have to go buy it." There is tremendous confidence in the abilities of the game crackers to split these things wide open. Even Ubisoft admitted this system would probably be cracked eventually. I'd say that the pirates are definitely willing to wait. Keep in mind, the early days of piracy when broadband penetration was even more pitiful already required a few days for viable cracks, and then long downloads. Pirates are used to waiting. Reintroducing a waiting period is not a means to stopping piracy.

I don't think 'pirates' are as homogeneous a group as they are made out to be. Sure you might have your hardcore pirates (and even a lot of those people I have a feeling are doing it more out of a sense of OCD than entitlement--I don't have enough time to play the games I've bought let alone pirate games, so I can't imagine these people are actually playing these games as much as 'collecting' them) but I imagine a lot of them aren't willing to wait.

It's like...Rapture. Not everyone was as hardcore a criminal as

Spoiler:

Frank Fontaine: most of them were willing to work, they just fell on hard times and the only person providing a social safety net was Fontaine's Home for the Poor.

Just because a person can turn into a 'looter' under one circumstance doesn't mean they will loot in *all* circumstances. Same with most pirates I think.

+++++

Oh, and thanks Bullion Cube--that's the side of him I like too.

CheezePavilion wrote:

AManCalledBob, check out this piece which made a splash a few years ago about how to consider piracy from an economic point of view and not a moral one:

http://draginol.joeuser.com/article/...

It's from Brad Wardell of Stardock--it's not some random joker on the internet, even if it perfectly captures what some of us random jokers on the internet had been saying for years.

A very nice article indeed. What I was trying to say, and perhaps made a pigs ear of, was a comment on LarryC's line that piracy is an economic decision. I read this to be an economic decision on an individual basis; i.e. the games is too expensive, therefore I was never going to buy it, so I may as well pirate it as there is no loss to the developer. I do not agree with that view at all. It always annoys is when people say that Pirates cost the industry x million pounds each year; assuming that every pirated game would have been a full price retail sale.

LarryC wrote:

AManCalledBob:
Brad Wardell is a smart man, and he's making millions making little-known PC game top sellers because he makes sense. EXCEPT in one case: pirates count.

No they do not count, as he says, they don't get a vote.

The object of DRM should be to maximize profit for a company. It is an economic structure with an economic aim.

Agreed.

Limiting the number of people who are familiar with your product by instituting powerful DRM works like anti-advertising. Less people know how awesome your product is, less people talk about it.

No; that argument is wrong in almost every way. To follow your argument to its illogical conclusion; to maximise the number of people who are familiar with your product you should not only give it away for free (removing the barrier to entry), but you should go around and install it for them, in case they are not able to do it themselves.

It functions not to prevent pirates from accessing a game, but to induce them to pay for it!

By preventing pirates from accessing the game, it forces them to buy it if they want to access the content. This is the same as the rest of us who have a moral compass; if we want something we buy it, we don't steal it just because it is technically possible.

Limiting pirate access to a game only turns a pirate into a customer if he was someone who was going to buy the game, except that he can access the content through pirate torrents. If he has other reasons for being a pirate, the measure fails.

I agree! DRM/copy protection impacts "casual" piracy, it always has, rather than "hardcore" pirates. The systems have, almost without exception, been broken by one method or another. With the rise of torrents it has just made it so easy for people to access piratated games that the bar to entry is almost non-existent. However, that does not mean that the software should not be protected against casual piracy. By way of analogy, laptops these days have tether points so that people cannot steal them. These stop the "casual" theft by a cleaner dropping it in their bag when cleaning the desk, but would not stop the "hardcore" cleaner-thief who arrives with a set of bolt cutters. Just because the system is not 100% effective, it does not mean that it is without value.

Moreover, thinking about DRM and piracy in economic terms allows you to think more broadly. If real DRM's real aim was to hit pirates, then why is it on legal copies? Shouldn't it be on torrented copies instead? A legal customer would never torrent a copy of his game because he already has it, so he'll never be inconvenienced by measures aimed at torrented copies.

How the chuff would you do that?

if you want piracy to stop, then you need to stop thinking about it in terms of whether it's right or wrong, but instead think about whether it's economically significant or not.

If I follow your logic, which I admit I am having difficulty with, you are saying that if it is decided that piracy is not economically significant it would just stop, or is it that is if it is economically significant it will stop - either makes no sense.

Ubisoft says that this DRM is made to prevent piracy, but viewing it from a dispassionate economic perspective, it's quite obvious that it's something else entirely.

What exactly? If there was no piracy, there would be no need for DRM. What purpose are you proposing that is it being made for if it is not to prevent piracy?

No they do not count, as he says, they don't get a vote.

This is a bit of a hard line that can't be justified. As Gabe Newell himself says, most pirates are underserved customers.

I think it's astute to point out that the decision to pirate or not pirate a digital artifact is primarly an economic one. In addition, I think it's correct to say that DRM systems that work (Steam, iTunes before iTunes+, etc) make the "legal" avenues to the content the path of least resistance.

I don't think it's all that rational, however, to extrapolate from there to saying that there is no reason to project a sense of moral outrage at people who decide to pirate content. People who pirate content are making a choice to do so and that choice has consequences on the people who created the content, and ultimately the decision to pirate is equivalent to saying that you think your desire to have the content is more important than those consequences.

NSMike wrote:
No they do not count, as he says, they don't get a vote.

This is a bit of a hard line that can't be justified. As Gabe Newell himself says, most pirates are underserved customers.

If you are referring to Jason Holtman's comments, and specifically his remarks about Russian pirates, then I disagree. He says that they pirate games because publishers are not allowing the games to be sold in their region. Valve make the game available for purchase and, surprise, surprise, honest people buy it.
So, prefacing my original statement, and re-wording slightly I would say "In areas where a game is available for purchase, pirates do not count, they don't get a vote."

psu_13 wrote:

I think it's correct to say that DRM systems that work (Steam, iTunes before iTunes+, etc) make the "legal" avenues to the content the path of least resistance.

I agree, especially with respect to Steam. The use of Steam brings benefits to the user with respect to convienence, auto-updates, community etc, and benfits to the game producer with protecting their product from piracy via DRM. To me, as a customer, this is a good thing. The problem comes with DRM that does not have that ballance; ACII would fall into that category.

psu_13 wrote:

People who pirate content are making a choice to do so and that choice has consequences on the people who created the content, and ultimately the decision to pirate is equivalent to saying that you think your desire to have the content is more important than those consequences.

I would say that most people who pirate, don't look at the impact on the creator of the content, but rather the risk to themselves of doing it. As the risk of being caught is as low as it is, the consequences are felt to be trivial.

NSMike wrote:
No they do not count, as he says, they don't get a vote.

This is a bit of a hard line that can't be justified. As Gabe Newell himself says, most pirates are underserved customers.

Yeah, I think the key line from Wardell that puts him closer to Newell is this one: "Piracy isn't evenly distributed in the PC gaming market. And there are far more effective ways of getting people who might buy your product to buy it without inconveniencing them."

In other words, stop looking on pirates as people who you want to stop from playing your game, and start looking at them as potential consumers if you change the way you offer your product for sale.

Or rather, look at DRM/criminal prosecution/civil suits/changed business practices as a spectrum of tools you use not to combat pirates, but to maximize sales.

AManCalledBob wrote:
LarryC wrote:

Limiting the number of people who are familiar with your product by instituting powerful DRM works like anti-advertising. Less people know how awesome your product is, less people talk about it.

No; that argument is wrong in almost every way. To follow your argument to its illogical conclusion; to maximise the number of people who are familiar with your product you should not only give it away for free (removing the barrier to entry), but you should go around and install it for them, in case they are not able to do it themselves.

That is what Microsoft does with IE!

I realize that doesn't settle the case, but if we remember that Microsoft has fought legal battles for years to do exactly that--"not only give it away for free (removing the barrier to entry), but you should go around and install it for them"--it does help disrupt the logic that we carry over from a scarcity model of property.

It functions not to prevent pirates from accessing a game, but to induce them to pay for it!

By preventing pirates from accessing the game, it forces them to buy it if they want to access the content. This is the same as the rest of us who have a moral compass; if we want something we buy it, we don't steal it just because it is technically possible.

Thing is, that's not what companies want. Companies--the publicly held ones, at least--don't care about your moral compass: they don't make their decisions to enforce their property rights out of moral considerations, they make those decisions--or at least, are supposed to--based on what will net them the biggest reward for their shareholders.

Ubisoft says that this DRM is made to prevent piracy, but viewing it from a dispassionate economic perspective, it's quite obvious that it's something else entirely.

What exactly? If there was no piracy, there would be no need for DRM. What purpose are you proposing that is it being made for if it is not to prevent piracy?

To control your experience. Piracy is the red herring of DRM debates: it's not about piracy, it's about having control over what the user can do with your product. They don't want to get caught in a situation like they did with mp3s where people can just rip their old CDs and now they've got digital music to go on their players.

psu_13 wrote:

I don't think it's all that rational, however, to extrapolate from there to saying that there is no reason to project a sense of moral outrage at people who decide to pirate content. People who pirate content are making a choice to do so and that choice has consequences on the people who created the content, and ultimately the decision to pirate is equivalent to saying that you think your desire to have the content is more important than those consequences.

I wouldn't say it has consequences on the people who created the content. It has consequences on the people who *own* the content, who usually are not the same people. The person who creates a game normally loses ownership of their game to the company they work for as they create it.

I think it's more a question of *why* software pirates get the moral outrage they do, but people who TiVo past commercials don't.

I know several pirates of music, games and other software. They absolutely claim that their reasons for pirating are entirely economical. Interestingly enough, they make good money but apparently feel that the price points on these things should be pennies and not dollars.

CheezePavilion wrote:

pirates aren't like pirates: they're like Vikings. When conditions are right, they become peaceful members of the economic system. When conditions are wrong, they become brigands.

Lovely line.

NSMike wrote:

I can't imagine these people are actually playing these games as much as 'collecting' them

Agreed. When I was a kid, it was all about the size of the collection. Games were swapped/traded/exchanged; the going rate being one 48K game = 2x16k games (it was a long time ago). Somewhere in the loft there is no doubt a c60 with a whole load of games on it, most of which were never played, and never will be.

AManCalledBob wrote:
NSMike wrote:
No they do not count, as he says, they don't get a vote.

This is a bit of a hard line that can't be justified. As Gabe Newell himself says, most pirates are underserved customers.

If you are referring to Jason Holtman's comments, and specifically his remarks about Russian pirates, then I disagree. He says that they pirate games because publishers are not allowing the games to be sold in their region. Valve make the game available for purchase and, surprise, surprise, honest people buy it.
So, prefacing my original statement, and re-wording slightly I would say "In areas where a game is available for purchase, pirates do not count, they don't get a vote."

I believe the quote was Newell, but that's not really important. It was referring to the fact that in Russia, along with availability pirates were improving the game along with cracking it. Often the Russian version of a western game has sloppy localisation, and the pirates would 'patch' this aspect of the game to a higher standard. What valve saw was that when they shipped a game with great localisation out of the box then more people bought it. The pirates were giving people what they wanted, when valve gave people what they wanted they were only too happy to pay for it.

And let's not forget the success of this:

IMAGE(http://zoecarnate.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/pet-rock.jpg)

when discussing the economic choices of human beings.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Heh--pirates aren't like pirates: they're like Vikings. When conditions are right, they become peaceful members of the economic system. When conditions are wrong, they become brigands.

Allow me to misconstrue your metaphor in the name of my Scandinavian forefathers:
Conditions are wrong: I'm drunk.
Conditions are right: I've been kicked out of my home and need a new place to crash.