EA Continues Draconian DRM Policies - General DRM Discussion (Thread Title Change)

WiredAsylum wrote:

I am a member of this community and a gamer. Because my investment portfolio contains ERTS I am no longer entitled to an opinion?

You are entitled to your opinion, yes. But it comes with a caveat each time you put it forth on a subject you have direct interest in. Do you take each game developer's words on their own games to be unbiased?

I'm not trying to be offensive here and i'm sorry if i'm being abrasive - i do recognise that later on in your posting you reveal that you have an interest in this particular case.

WiredAsylum wrote:

Is there any way to stop or diminish day 1 piracy and turn those people in customers?

I, making an assumption, understand that to be ultimate goal.

I think that assumption is valid. Day 1 piracy can be mostly eliminated by providing better service than the pirates, by doing these things:

1) Providing digital downloads from fast, well-provisioned servers, without the trojans and viruses that plague pirate servers
2) Providing the best installation and initial gameplay experience possible, which means no DRM or annoying activations, or codes, or anything.
3) Make it easy for the purchaser to install the game wherever and whenever they want, because this is what they want.
4) Spend the money they would have spent on DRM on QA and more time for bug fixes, to improve the game experience.

Will this reduce piracy? Yes. Think about it - wouldn't you rather get your game from a nice website with a company and customer service behind it? A company that will provide you with updates, matchmaking services, gameplay video recording, and all kinds of additional stuff because you paid them? The pirates no longer have any moral ground or justification for what they are doing - they are just giving things away for free, no longer sticking it to the man. There's no challenge in pirating a game that doesn't have any DRM - it's just copying. Anyone can do that. For pirates, the DRM is the game - don't play their game, play yours.

Turning pirates into customers will only happen by reducing prices and providing better service than the pirates ever can. There will always be those who would prefer to get something for free. The only way you will bring them into the fold is to provide something they want enough to pay for it, something they can't get simply by copying code. Make your company easy to deal with. Support gamercards like Xbox Live, so kids can buy stuff legitimately, without having to pirate because they don't have a credit card to buy online. Make it easier to be legit than to pirate, and you'll get everyone who can be gotten.

Duoae wrote:
WiredAsylum wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

Am I the only one who really doesn't have a problem with DRM unless it has some negative effect on my machine? They have to protect their IP, and really, how often do you uninstall a game or put i on a 5 unique machines?

No you are not the only one. I honestly do not give a sh*t. It would be irresponsible for any company to not include DRM.

Excuse me if i find that completely unsurprising. You have a conflict of interests in stating the above. That's like saying you disagree with lowering oil prices because you're a stakeholder in the oil cartels. Your opinion in this case is void - just as it is for employees of GWJ to enter the prize draw on the front page - because of your involvement. There is no loss to you for the inclusion of DRM. You have your apple and eat it, let the rest of the world eat s***t.

If anything, I'd say Wired opinion would count more because of his position. He has a vested interest in EA making more money. If adding DRM constitutes lost sales in the game, which many people seem to be arguing, then he would want it gone. If it doesn't, if adding DRM stops more pirating of the game than sales lost due to its inclusion, he should want it to remain.

You, me and nearly everyone else on these boards are the ones with biased views. We don't care about EA making money. All we care about is have our cake and eating it too. Whether using DRM is the correct financial move for EA or not, we still are not going to want it in the game.

Is there any way to stop or diminish day 1 piracy and turn those people in customers?

I, making an assumption, understand that to be ultimate goal.

As with everything, I'm sure this can be achieved to SOME degree. People interested in getting the game for free, though, will wait beyond day 1 to whenever the protection is totally cracked open. Preventing leaks is very difficult, though. Stores get retail copies early, and it doesn't take much for one of these copies to get into the hands of someone that can crack it. Stores like K-Mart often willingly break street dates to make sales where other retailers can't (primarily due to their financial situation), making getting the game early easy. Other stores just need a willing employee to lift a copy. The only answer there is to do digital distribution reminiscent of Steam's system BEFORE the physical copies hit the street, likely making distributors and retailers very unhappy.

1) Providing digital downloads from fast, well-provisioned servers, without the trojans and viruses that plague pirate servers
2) Providing the best installation and initial gameplay experience possible, which means no DRM or annoying activations, or codes, or anything.
3) Make it easy for the purchaser to install the game wherever and whenever they want, because this is what they want.
4) Spend the money they would have spent on DRM on QA and more time for bug fixes, to improve the game experience.

I can see this having a better return then the costs of the DRM.

I edited my post to remove this discussion from this thread.

I am open to discussing being a shareholder in gaming companies in another thread or via pms.

NSmike has a good discussion going on this topic and i do not want to derail it by my habit of buying stocks in companies I think I know something about so I feel like an informed investor.

WiredAsylum wrote:

I edited my post to remove this discussion from this thread.

I am open to discussing being a shareholder in gaming companies in another thread or via pms.

NSmike has a good discussion going on this topic and i do not want to derail it by my habit of buying stocks in companies I think I know something about so I feel like an informed investor.

Thank you

WiredAsylum wrote:

You said my opinion was void.

Owning 200 shares in ERTs hardly makes me a developer. Or puts enough skin in the game for me alter my views of their practices.

I have the same stance on DRM practices for any other company that I currently do not hold shares in.

Yes, void in the sense that it's nullified by the conflict of interest from your situation. If you're telling me that your rights as a consumer who has bought this game override(have more importance than) the reason you placed those shares (i'm presuming acruing money to allow a better/more stable standard of living) - then it would be the opposite way around, though either way the conflict still exists.

Tkyl wrote:

If anything, I'd say Wired opinion would count more because of his position. He has a vested interest in EA making more money. If adding DRM constitutes lost sales in the game, which many people seem to be arguing, then he would want it gone.

My argument is not about sales, lost or otherwise. Sure, if this DRM set a precedent for losing sales (which is not yet established due to the relative newness of this technique and thus cannot be argued either way) then he would want to remove this DRM type from the games that affected his investment. If they are increasing sales then he would advocate its inclusion. His opinion counts more on making money in this situation - but only after the evidence has been collected - i.e. not yet: he has no informed opinion on the effect of trends for sales of games with this particular type of DRM. Neither does anyone else to the contrary and therefore i did not and would not argue on this issue.

You, me and nearly everyone else on these boards are the ones with biased views. We don't care about EA making money. All we care about is have our cake and eating it too. Whether using DRM is the correct financial move for EA or not, we still are not going to want it in the game.

Actually, i do care about EA making money. You know why? Because they bankroll all the games in the future that i want to play. They have bankrolled games in the past that i played. I hold little to no animosity to the entity that is EA because on the whole my experience with them has been benign. Their recent and continued use of ever-increasing draconian DRM however is a trend that i do not wish to see continue and will not support. It's like saying that i don't care that some bank almost went under (as NorthernRock almost did this year) - i do care, it has an effect on the economy and thus everyone and everything i care about. EA losing money has a similar effect (though to a much lesser extent, i'm not that sad ;)).

I'd also argue that the position of 'having your cake and eating it too' is of the pirates. They get the games and play them. Both legitimate consumers and EA want the same thing - they just want respect from both sides. At the moment EA is not respecting its customers.

[edit]
Oh and i forgot to address your last point about not wanting DRM. You're right, i ideally would like no DRM to be present in a game. However, i'm a realist and i accept that some level of DRM is needed to stop casual copying etc (i do not believe that pirating and cracking can be stopped by these methods). I do not agree 100% with methods such as Steam and one-time online authentication but i do buy games on Steam and some with online activation because i'm willing to be met half way. I, however, do like to champion consumer protection (in an area where we have precious little) and that is what i use to decide whether i spend my money and complain or not spend my money and complain. Hmmm. I complain a little too much... though i think that without someone doing that, without the vocal minority, then there will be an errosion of rights... whether it's to do with gaming or more serious matters.

I think the best DRM can hope for is a week. I believe that's what they got in Bioshock's case. They probably would've had the same result here, but a retail copy leaked about a week early.

I don't care if it wants to phones home every now and then, but I would like something similar to iTunes. Where I can revoke all the authorized uses once a year (just in case you have a machine crash or forget to uninstall before you rebuild your PC). I don't want to have to get on the phone. I've had to do it with Microsoft and I always feel like a thief asking "Mother may I?" even when it's 100% legit.

Figured I'd throw my pennies into the change jar, so here it goes. I'm going to make a correlation here. Go with me for a minute. Read from it what you will.

Does anybody remember reading about the bandwidth limit that Comcast is going to be putting in? 250GB is a lot of bandwidth for most people. There are a few of those that will go beyond this limit, and they are angry about it. There are also those that do not like it because they feel that, over time, they could go beyond this limit, and are angry about it. What was being promised to people was 'unlimited' use of their service, and now it is being hampered. True, most people won't notice it, but for the few that run into the limit without realizing that there is a limit ( through no fault of their own ) will feel very cheated, and this I think is the major problem with this limit.

5 installs is a lot for most people. There are a few of those that will go beyond this limit, and they are angry about it. There are also those that do not like it because they feel that, over time, they could go beyond this limit, and are angry about it. What was being promised to people was 'unlimited' use of their service, and now it is being hampered. True, most people won't notice it, but for the few that run into the limit without realizing that there is a limit ( through no fault of their own ) will feel very cheated, and this I think is the major problem with this limit.

Imposing 'hidden' limits on people's service that they purchase is wrong, no way around it. Is there a warning when you install the game that it could have the problem? Not from what I've read, as people aren't aware of the DRM even after installing it. If they went public ( and no, the internet is not public, we're talking about the casual consumer here ), then I wouldn't have such a problem with it except for my own personal thoughts on the subject. The way that they don't let the user know exactly what they are getting though ( and legal EULAs don't count, plain *insert native language here* please ) is what really makes me not like where companies in multiple industries are going. The fact that people get behind these companies and support hidden DRM frightens me.

Myself, Spore isn't an issue as the game doesn't interest me and I've never really been a fan of Will Wright's games. Now, Red Alert 3 on the other hand I'm going to wait until they remove the DRM until I buy it ( 3-4 months people are saying? ). Hopefully, the day they remove it, there is a big sales spike, they realize that they stopped people from purchasing their game, and they stop the shenanigans.

I have a really, really hard time feeling any sympathy for the consumers that are irritated by Spore's DRM. On the one hand, I agree that this is not an optimal solution, especially when compared with more elegant DRM solutions available elsewhere on the same platform. But it's difficult to maintain this position when the folks with whom I've discussed this have responded to the DRM as follows:

  • Find news sites reporting stories about the Amazon reviews and post links to The Pirate Bay in their comments section.
  • Distribute pirated copies of the game to friends.
  • Make a point of telling me that the reason the DRM scheme is a problem for them is because they were planning to install their single copy of the game on every computer at the office.

There are other examples, but I think these speak for themselves. Among all these people complaining about the DRM are, I'm sure, plenty of PC gamers who really do love the platform and want to support it with their dollars; but I'm seeing far, far more who never intended to buy the game and are simply jumping on the current bandwagon. And when I see that, it just reinforces for me the necessity of the DRM. Whether or not SecuROM is the best solution, something needs to be done in order to help move the expectations of these consumers back into a realm where developers can continue to justify making games like Spore. If you feel that SecuROM is not the way to go, or even that DRM in general is not the way to go, then we can have a discussion about that; but I hope you guys have a better solution than "stop attempting to prevent piracy because it's inevitable".

but I hope you guys have a better solution than "stop attempting to prevent piracy because it's inevitable".

People have, both on this thread and in many, many other occasions. It boils down to, provide a better customer experience than you can get from a pirated copy. That includes elimination of DRM.

1) Providing digital downloads from fast, well-provisioned servers, without the trojans and viruses that plague pirate servers
2) Providing the best installation and initial gameplay experience possible, which means no DRM or annoying activations, or codes, or anything.
3) Make it easy for the purchaser to install the game wherever and whenever they want, because this is what they want.
4) Spend the money they would have spent on DRM on QA and more time for bug fixes, to improve the game experience.

Steampowered.com

=P

It also solves the "Reseller market" problem for the publishers.

I wanted to buy Spore online and they wouldn't let me because of a region lock or something.

What ever happened to voting with your wallet?

EA hasn't seen a dime of my money since they decided to make ads part of BF 2142. They won't see any of my money for Spore, a title I was kind of interested in, because of DRM.

Based on what I've read in this discussion, I'd like to throw a couple of ideas out there for people to chew on:

1. I'm more often hearing this argument that DRM like this is necessary because these public companies are legally required to do whatever they can to stop potential revenue from bleeding away. My questions for that point are: Why is EA currently the only major PC publisher using this method if that's the case and since Spore was available before release, isn't there an argument to be made that EA is doing wrong by their shareholders by spending the money on the licensing, servers and support infrastructure to maintain a DRM method that clearly failed? If the game was available to pirates beforehand anyway, that money was completely wasted.

2. I keep hearing the argument that this is about protecting week one sales (which I don't buy but let's assume that's the case.) Why is the activation required for any longer than a week then? If this is really about getting the people who have to have the game at launch buying it rather than downloading it, then why not just write a routine into the DRM server that tells clients that query it after a certain date to deactivate and let the game run freely? This isn't a perfect solution as it still requires that the servers be maintained (which EA has demonstrated in the past that they are not good at doing) but it would eliminate much of the hassle for consumers while still focusing on the core launch window that they insist this is all about.

3. What do people suggest we as PC gamers do if a game like Spore or Red Alert 3 fails to sell because of a DRM boycott and the publishers continue to use that as evidence that PC gaming is dead? As has been demonstrated by many people like Cevat Yerli already, a game failing is never the developer's or publisher's fault, it only because of either piracy or because the PC gaming market is dying. I don't think them making these excuses are a reason to buy DRM laden titles like these but if consumer pushback really does cause a loss in sales for these titles, a response needs to be ready when companies use that as a reason to drop PC gaming entirely. I'm not sure what the answer is there.

I haven't bought Spore and I was really excited for Red Alert 3 because of the co-op campaign but I will be avoiding both until the DRM is removed. Sorry but you don't get to take my money and then slap me in the face with your other hand. I buy all my games, I won't be treated like I don't.

nsmike wrote:
but I hope you guys have a better solution than "stop attempting to prevent piracy because it's inevitable".

People have, both on this thread and in many, many other occasions. It boils down to, provide a better customer experience than you can get from a pirated copy. That includes elimination of DRM.

That's far too vague, sir. It's not enough to say "get rid of DRM"-- you also need to determine how the publisher can continue making enough money from sales to continue producing games as big as Spore. Steam seems to be working, both in terms of providing a better customer experience and in preventing large-scale piracy; but the biggest flaw in DRM is not the customer experience, it's that the customers are working hard to find ways to ensure the publisher can't get any return on its investment. If someone completely breaks Steam, that solution will be out the window as well.

I'd hate to think that the only solution is to move all new PC games to a WoW-like client-server model. That would eliminate some of the genres that have traditionally thrived on PC. Personally, I really love Steam and would love to see everything go that route-- it offers real benefits over traditional retail, and not just in terms of instant gratification. But right now, that's not going to happen.

That's far too vague, sir.

It's not my job to read the thread for you. Other folks have detailed this.

nsmike wrote:
That's far too vague, sir.

It's not my job to read the thread for you. Other folks have detailed this.

I'm sorry, I had been under the impression that this forum was populated with people more intelligent and less belligerent than the areas where I've had this discussion with others over the past few days. It seems I was mistaken.

Nijhazer wrote:

I'd hate to think that the only solution is to move all new PC games to a WoW-like client-server model. That would eliminate some of the genres that have traditionally thrived on PC. Personally, I really love Steam and would love to see everything go that route-- it offers real benefits over traditional retail, and not just in terms of instant gratification. But right now, that's not going to happen.

Why's that not going to happen? that would prevent backwards DRM from EA and other developers and I bet it would also make a difference in sales as well but I would have like to get spore from EA's downloader but im not mainly because I want the disc and not to worry about it in 6 months that I will have to rebuy the game because I refuse to pay the extra 5 dollar fee to allow me to download it for 2 years.

Steam is the way to go but EA refuses to see it and continues to be backwards on the PC

3. What do people suggest we as PC gamers do if a game like Spore or Red Alert 3 fails to sell because of a DRM boycott and the publishers continue to use that as evidence that PC gaming is dead? As has been demonstrated by many people like Cevat Yerli already, a game failing is never the developer's or publisher's fault, it only because of either piracy or because the PC gaming market is dying. I don't think them making these excuses are a reason to buy DRM laden titles like these but if consumer pushback really does cause a loss in sales for these titles, a response needs to be ready when companies use that as a reason to drop PC gaming entirely. I'm not sure what the answer is there.

Not much you can do about that.. if the publishers feel that they spend to much trying to protect their product on the PC side and do not see the returns to continue making it worth their while then they will abandon the PC Market. It wont matter a hill of beans if their conclusions are unfounded. It's a catch-22 for sure.

What concerns me is that when EA stops supporting the game's further activation, and you've used all yours up, you're SOL. There are games I have installed that many times over the years, like Fallout and Starcraft. UT2k4 and Quake 3 as well. "Extra" activations will not be supported perpetually. At whatever point the game publisher (and this is even more concerning with smaller publishers) stops answering the phone, you no longer "own" the game.

I believe EA has already done something similar several times by shutting down the servers for games they want you to replace, particularly their sports games. Realistically, few people still want to play Madden 2005 online, but what about Mercenaries 2? You have to connect to EA's server for no apparent reason in order to play co-op. What happens in a few years when EA takes that server down? Once again, you're SOL.

This has also already happened with different online media (mp3, etc.) outlets who use a particular type of DRM and then go out of business. I believe Atrac3 is an example. As soon as no one supports it, what you thought you owned is now worthless.

Nijhazer wrote:
nsmike wrote:
That's far too vague, sir.

It's not my job to read the thread for you. Other folks have detailed this.

I'm sorry, I had been under the impression that this forum was populated with people more intelligent and less belligerent than the areas where I've had this discussion with others over the past few days. It seems I was mistaken.

You can play the victim if you want, but when there's a list of these suggestions on the same page as your post, I have a hard time sympathizing.

If you really want some more examples of how alternative business models can work, I'd suggest following Techdirt, as they tend to cover a lot of things that come up for the music industry's battle with piracy, and a lot of these models can work for PC gaming too.

nsmike wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:

This is a great topic, but what does it have to do with the title (of the thread)?

Just meant to imply that EA is shooting themselves in the foot and possibly condemning themselves to poor sales.

Let's look at the current UK PC sales numbers and the DRM associated with them (source Chart Track and Daemon Tools).

1 SPORE (SecuROM w/ Online Activation)
2 THE SIMS 2: APARTMENT LIFE (SecuROM)
3 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. CLEAR SKY (StarForce)
4 THE SIMS 2: DOUBLE DELUXE (SafeDisc)
5 CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE (SafeDisc)
6 WORLD OF WARCRAFT: BATTLE CHEST (Blizzard Online servers)
7 THE SIMS 2: FREETIME (SecuROM)
8 MERCENARIES 2: WORLD IN FLAMES (SecuROM w/ Online Activation)
9 SINS OF A SOLAR EMPIRE (None)
10 COMMAND & CONQUER 3: TIBERIUM WARS (SecuROM)
11 EURO TRUCK SIMULATOR (SafeDisc)
12 CIVILIZATION IV COMPLETE (SafeDisc)
13 THE SIMS 2: BON VOYAGE (SecuROM
14 CRYSIS (SecuROM)
15 MASS EFFECT (SecuROM w/ Online activation + permanent three activation limit)

So whether or not DRM is ethical is arguable, but really don't see DRM, especially SecuROM and online activation, being pivotal in terms of sales.

Did SOASE do great in sales because it was DRM free or because it was a great game? I somehow doubt the game would have sold a lot less if it had DRM, but that's just an guess.

Did SOASE do great in sales because it was DRM free or because it was a great game? I somehow doubt the game would have sold a lot less if it had DRM, but that's just an guess.

A better question to ask is, next to a good seller like SOASE with no DRM, did any of these other titles benefit from the DRM they employed? And just because Spore is at #1 three days after release doesn't mean it's going to be a great seller overall.

And hell, Crysis is #14 on your list, and I thought that game was suffering greatly from piracy. *shrug*

nsmike wrote:
Did SOASE do great in sales because it was DRM free or because it was a great game? I somehow doubt the game would have sold a lot less if it had DRM, but that's just an guess.

A better question to ask is, next to a good seller like SOASE with no DRM, did any of these other titles benefit from the DRM they employed?

The problem is that is a question that can not be answered.

The problem is that is a question that can not be answered.

In some cases maybe, but in Spore's case, it's almost an emphatic "No." I really don't think the prevention of casual piracy (a.k.a. tossing off the discs to a bunch of other folks) is really going to generate an abundance of sales, surely not enough to cover the cost both in overhead and reputation. And if the Spore boycott really exists to any degree, it's actually hurt sales. And direct piracy was obviously nowhere near prevented, since the game was available a week before the street date. As it stands, Spore would've done better all around without the DRM.

nsmike wrote:
The problem is that is a question that can not be answered.

In some cases maybe, but in Spore's case, it's almost an emphatic "No." I really don't think the prevention of casual piracy (a.k.a. tossing off the discs to a bunch of other folks) is really going to generate an abundance of sales, surely not enough to cover the cost both in overhead and reputation. And if the Spore boycott really exists to any degree, it's actually hurt sales. And direct piracy was obviously nowhere near prevented, since the game was available a week before the street date. As it stands, Spore would've done better all around without the DRM.

Sorry meant how well would have COD4 with no drm sold.

Sorry meant how well would have COD4 with no drm sold.

I don't know, but do you honestly think it would've done worse? The folks who want to pay for the game will, and those that don't, won't. Regardless of whether or not the DRM was there, the game was cracked and available on torrent sites. As I understand it, even with DRM, COD4 was widely pirated, and still is. If a prevention measure is not preventing what it's supposed to at all, what is it really there for?

Farscry wrote:
EvilDead wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

Am I the only one who really doesn't have a problem with DRM unless it has some negative effect on my machine? They have to protect their IP, and really, how often do you uninstall a game or put i on a 5 unique machines?

I uninstall games that I haven't played for a couple months. I try to keep at least 30% free space on my HD to keep its speed optimal.

Ditto.

And as for the "put up or shut up" comments about those who complain and buy anyway, I'm not buying the game specifically due to the DRM. This is one of the few times that DRM is keeping me away from a game I'm genuinely interested in. I had to stop reading the catch-all thread because I don't need to know what I'm missing. :P

Unfortunately some of us bought the game before we realized this was the case. And honestly, I don't buy the argument that customers have no right to complain just because they have money in the game. If anything, it gives them more right to complain.

Unfortunately some of us bought the game before we realized this was the case. And honestly, I don't buy the argument that customers have no right to complain just because they have money in the game. If anything, it gives them more right to complain.

This is exactly what happened to me. Amazon had shipped it before I found out. I could return it, but that would cost me money to ship since this was no fault of Amazon's. And besides, I want to play the game.