Author Topic: DRM for online functions  (Read 26744 times)

Offline zespri

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DRM for online functions
« on: June 26, 2012, 05:06:08 PM »
Sorry, for bringing up beaten and dead topic again, but I'm wondering why AI Wars and AVWW do not have DRM for online functionality. This one seems like a no brainer, everyone is doing this and it does not seem to be harmful for legitimate customers. What I mean here is that Online Updater can refused to work (server side check) if a correct serial is not provided. Currently you can update even demo/unregistered version just fine, I'm assuming you'll be able to do this with a fake key too. It's easy auto-ban a serial on the server if it starts to be using for downloading updates from zillion IPs over and over again. This check won't prevent normal game functionality, it will still work like it is now, but since new versions are not published anywhere else but via the update, it will deter pirates. Who wants to be N versions behind?

I'm guessing that the answer to this question is that for developers the effort is not worth the benefit AND saying that the game has no DRM is a good selling point. However I'd like to know why the extra sales generated from pirates who wants to keep their game updated is not worth it?

Offline tigersfan

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2012, 05:12:02 PM »
I won't speak for Chris here, this is my take. But, IMO, there are basically two types of PC game players, there are paying gamers and there are pirates. Pirates don't normally become paying gamers, and the people paying typically don't pirate (some may grab a game off of a torrent site to try it out, then buy it if they like it.) So, why bother the folks that pay with the potential for issues and problems for what is likely to be very little return?

Yeah, I know my view is an oversimplification, but, really most people that go out of their way to pirate a game really aren't likely to come back and buy a game. Especially when the game has an extensive demo like ours.

Offline x4000

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 05:12:49 PM »
Being able to demo the latest beta is a useful sales tool.

Banning keygenned serials from updates would catch legitimate consumers (see what happened on that score with steam registrations -- that's not an idle fear).

And that's pretty much it.
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Offline doctorfrog

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 05:17:42 PM »
OP, your argument assumes that it would stop piracy. The questions here are:

- would it really stop piracy? (no)
- would a significant number of pirates actually become paying customers at that point? Or would they just move on to some other video game they could easily pirate?
- how many paying customers would even a moderate stance on DRM alienate? (Esp. given that Arcen's reputation as being simple-serial-only has been established for years now.)

IMO, the act of taking a "stolen" serial and using it to activate a game you haven't paid for is about as weighty on a conscience as using just about any other anti-DRM measure.

Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 05:25:24 PM »
All you really need to do is link an account / email / pw to a serial and just base updates on the requirement to login, allow offline playing when the account was logged in and authorized at least once. Like.. basically all the big games do it just more lenient.

That way, pirates get offline game and no updates unless they pirate them as well (and believe me, they will)
Customers get updates and can play online or offline however much they want. If the account/email/pw is made so that it "remembers" properly this would be 0 hassle. But it would be DRM.

Imo this is an acceptable trade-off... I guess some would disagree, but it would save you a lot of bandwidth because pirates would need to download the updates elsewhere ;p

Obviously Steam would subvert that idea though, most cracked games and all cracked updates come straight from steam.

It would also require you to at least keep logs how many computers/ip's log in  serial bound account.. and some servers are needed too ;P
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:27:53 PM by eRe4s3r »
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Offline zespri

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 05:26:17 PM »
OP, your argument assumes that it would stop piracy.

Nope, it does not assume that.

Offline zespri

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 05:28:27 PM »
All you really need to do is link an account / email / pw to a serial and just base updates on the requirement to login, allow offline playing when the account was logged in and authorized at least once. Like.. basically all the big games do it just more lenient.

That way, pirates get offline game and no updates unless they pirate them as well (and believe me, they will)
Customers get updates and can play online or offline however much they want. If the account/email/pw is made so that it "remembers" properly this would be 0 hassle. But it would be DRM.

Imo this is an acceptable trade-off... I guess some would disagree, but it would save you a lot of bandwidth because pirates would need to download the updates elsewhere ;p

That's exactly what I was getting at. I basically just want to know if this is implemented in a game, where it can bite back.

Offline zespri

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2012, 05:30:19 PM »
Being able to demo the latest beta is a useful sales tool.

Banning keygenned serials from updates would catch legitimate consumers (see what happened on that score with steam registrations -- that's not an idle fear).

And that's pretty much it.

Thank you for getting back to me on this. I'd like to clarify this is a little bit. Surely if I only ban if someone try to download from 20 ip addresses within a few days it won't affect legitimate customers? I'm sorry if this discussion is boring, I'm just trying to understand. You don't have to make your key key-genable. You can just store valid ones on the server in a db. This way it's almost impossible to obtain someone else's key without their knowledge, unlike the situation with AI Wars no one would be able to generate a key that would be a real key for someone else and thus hurt a legitimate customer.

By the way my AI Wars key IS registered on steam by someone else, so I can't register it, so I know that this is a real problem.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 05:36:28 PM by zespri »

Offline x4000

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2012, 06:37:37 PM »
It's not boring, but I am writing from my phone and it's well-trodden.

Put another way: there is no system of drm that I could implement that I could not think of a way to crack. So I put my resources to better use than futilely chasing the pirates while annoying real customers. I don't pretend to like that situation -- pirates are being jerks -- but there you go.

The system you suggest would make for more work for the pirates, because they would have to download and distribute updates and crack them each time rather than using a keygen. But that's all that would change, except to add extra work for myself and extra cost of maintaining a server to do all those key checks. While pissing off the anti-drm crowd.

It's a classic no-win situation. At least for small businesses. This will be fought out between big businesses, politicians, pirates, and consumers. In that order, for better or for worse. I'm more interested in making games than getting involved in ideological battles, as much as it bothers me that people steal my stuff.
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Offline zespri

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2012, 08:09:15 PM »
The system you suggest would make for more work for the pirates, because they would have to download and distribute updates and crack them each time rather than using a keygen. But that's all that would change, except to add extra work for myself and extra cost of maintaining a server to do all those key checks. While pissing off the anti-drm crowd.
I think this is the crux of it. In my opinion, if pirating is made more difficult - which this will - less people will be inclined to overcome hurdles of it. No one is going to keep uploading each and every update because it's quite a bit of work. And if I sway a part of people in to buying because they no longer can get their update reliably, this might be worth it. And as for anti-drm people, I don't see how this particular scheme hampers legitimate customers.

Also I would like to clarify, that I'm in no way proposing changes for Arcen games, I'm exploring the viability of the idea above for indie games in general.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 08:10:48 PM by zespri »

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2012, 08:22:20 PM »
DRM: more work than it's worth.
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Offline KingIsaacLinksr

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2012, 09:58:52 PM »
The system you suggest would make for more work for the pirates, because they would have to download and distribute updates and crack them each time rather than using a keygen. But that's all that would change, except to add extra work for myself and extra cost of maintaining a server to do all those key checks. While pissing off the anti-drm crowd.
I think this is the crux of it. In my opinion, if pirating is made more difficult - which this will - less people will be inclined to overcome hurdles of it. No one is going to keep uploading each and every update because it's quite a bit of work. And if I sway a part of people in to buying because they no longer can get their update reliably, this might be worth it. And as for anti-drm people, I don't see how this particular scheme hampers legitimate customers.

Also I would like to clarify, that I'm in no way proposing changes for Arcen games, I'm exploring the viability of the idea above for indie games in general.

Making pirate's jobs more difficult will not likely stop them from pirating. You can't beat the price of free really. Plus, pirates seem to thrive off of challenges. According to the devs behind the Witcher 2 series, they found that their Disc (with DRM) was pirated far more often than the digital copy (without DRM). So this seems to suggest that pirates live off breaking DRM schemes.

And there's nothing stopping pirates from just getting BETA updates once in a while, rather than every patch. If I were pirating this game, and I can't imagine how I ever could, I would simply scale back how many times I got updates and enjoy the game for free. Its not like I'm missing a ton and eventually I'll get the content.

I can't see atm how this system would hamper legitimate customers, but if DRM has taught me anything, if its tied to a server, its more than likely going to break in some form or fashion.

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Offline zespri

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2012, 12:26:32 AM »
Making pirate's jobs more difficult will not likely stop them from pirating.
Of course not. Why are you all keep repeating this?  :) I understand it perfectly.

But sure as hell if you are not a cracker, but just garden variety pirate that just downloads game cracked by others, sure as hell, that if you want consistent updates and can't have consistent updates if you have not paid, you'll go ahead and pay.  It seems to me that quite a lot of people would fall into this category. And when I say consistent updates, this is just for arguments sake - because we all know and love Arcen's consistent updates. Other games can have some other online functionality, even if it is not prominent for it's frequent updates. Leaderboards, levels uploaded by players, whatever online functionality the game provides. If you are a player and being a pirate cuts you off I think it's reasonable to say that there is a good chance you come bringing the dev the money.

And to be honest it does not looks like it is THAT difficult to implement. There is a certain work involved, sure, but my feeling that in the end the gain would be more. And I'm trying to understand why I'm wrong =)

Offline KingIsaacLinksr

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2012, 12:46:56 AM »
Well, in this case its just that Arcen believes in no-DRM. That right there is why. But for the sake of argument, well, I guess the downside would be the higher costs associated with the system, I mean, there are costs regardless. Time, money, technical support, etc. It would also get Arcen some bad PR for using DRM. Maybe not a giant amount of bad-PR, but they would get some. And then there is any potential server problems that would crop up due to the DRM.

I think I'm repeating the same thing, but at the end of the day, the general expectation of Indie-developed games is that they do not include DRM period. End of story. I have that same expectation too but I'm anti-DRM regardless of who develops it. So I guess its not so much that its just technical reasons not to do it, but social reasons not to do this particular DRM your talking about. And if you tick off the legitimate buyers, well, that's bad.

King
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 12:49:04 AM by KingIsaacLinksr »
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: DRM for online functions
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2012, 01:55:28 AM »
DRM: more work than it's worth.

No, lots of Indy games use this system and it reduces piracy rates noticeable, it does not stop piracy, but it at least makes people who really want to play it updated consider buying it who don't like the hassle of hunting down the latest cracked patch. The account/serial check works.

You shouldn't forget that buying customers WANT BETTER SERVICE than pirates. Yet they don't get that. Pirates and Customers are identical in terms of support quality. And that is imo the WORST possible situation. Why should we pay money if you don't differentiate between customer and pirate?
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