Friendly DRM Is An Oxymoron

from the nothing-friendly-about-it dept

While the era of DRM on music may finally be ending, it appears that some other industries still haven't quite come to terms with the three simple facts that a few industries are finally realizing: (1) DRM does not work (2) DRM diminishes the value of your product (3) DRM pisses off your users. Despite these universal truths, every digital industry seems to go through this phase where they think that they can figure out how to do DRM right. A bunch of consumer electronics makers and movie studios are apparently working together on yet another DRM standard that they swear (this time, for real!!) will actually work and will be "friendly." We've heard it before, and the end result is the same (see numbers 1 through 3 above). As per usual, they're claiming that this system will be even better than non-DRM'd content, but fail to explain how that's actually true. At best, they say it'll be more convenient, but it's difficult to see how any limitation adds convenience rather than takes it away.


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  1.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Hay, if the DRM industry is dying, will they ask for litigation to prop up their crappy business model like the RIAA and MPAA?

     

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    Anon, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    "two simple facts that a few industries are finally realizing: (1) DRM does not work (2) DRM diminishes the value of your product (3) DRM pisses off your users"

    two facts...three points?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Steam?

    I ask only because Valve has already promised to "free" the games if it becomes clear the Steam servers have to go down. Beyond that, the value Steam adds seems to far outweigh the minor DRM they have (a check in for the first time you play a game/install) especially given 'Net penetration.

     

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    Joel Coehoorn, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    it is possible

    Valve Software's Steam product effectively amounts to DRM, and it manages to be more convenient than not having it, mainly because it provides a simpler way to get keep up with your content than is otherwise available. It's also a sort of digital locker, where you can re-download the content as many times as needed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Steam?

    look at stardok games. they have Impulse, a program much like steam, except that when you buy the game in a store you can install it off the CD without ever going online, if you DO register you game however you give them an email address (and I didn't realize this the first time I bought one of their games) and when you register a impulse account with that email address all the games you registered appear there for download.

    Impulse also allows for archiving your games onto CD or DVD whenever you want.

     

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    of course is friendly, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:58pm

    simon

    the DRM is friendly for only one group... the one who makes-it... as for the rest, end user or company who embed-it in their product... not quite...

     

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  7.  
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    Evil Mike, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Steam?

    These are examples of "value added."

    Impulse does not use DRM--but you must register your game in order to get updates and patches. (A much better system, in my opinion--the first game of theirs with I played got me hooked into buying it.)

     

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    Logo, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Steam?

    I wanted to second the AC's post above me. While I generally am against DRM I find the Steam's DRM to be quite fair.

    'Friendly' DRM to me is a situation that's a give and take by both parties. I submit myself to an online game verification check when playing Steam games but in return I get several services:

    -Steam Community and support. I love being able to chat with people in game (with a simple shift+tab) and see when friends log on and what games they log on to.
    -Automatic updates. No need to go download a patch from a website or patch from within the game. I believe Steam will even patch your game when your computer is idle meaning your game may be up to date when you first get to it.
    -Ease of purchase. Purchasing games through steam is a breeze and comes with a fast download to boot.
    -Reformat your computer or buy a new one and you can easily get access to all your steam games again.

    I wouldn't fully call this friendly as there's an issue regarding what happens if steam isn't around anymore (or not available).

    To me there's definitely friendly DRM though. Any video game that you play online and is restricted by CD key is the perfect DRM.

    You'd be crazy to 'pirate' a copy of World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, or Warcraft 3. The games are almost entirely useless to you if you can't take good advantage of the online multiplayer aspect (playing LAN, Hamachi-LAN, or on a cracked server is a rather substandard solution). It's something that's unobtrusive to a legit user (other than entering the key) but restricts would-be-buyers from pirating it. It won't stop dedicated pirates but we all know that they aren't going to pay for your software no matter the DRM anyways.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    DRM

    The problem is they're thinking to far in absolutes, DRM shutting down something isn't that effective as then people will just bypass it and your genuine users get pissed off.

    Value added thing, like what Impulse does is good, even Steam, as much as some people don't like it, are quite successful by giving management software for your games, allowing you to install them at will without disks. I have many friends who use steam because of the convience.

    They need to encourage people to buy their product, not dis wade people by locking up their purchase

     

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    Rizwan, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    I'd love to see them try.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    What does Microsoft have to offer? Quit fucking with Steam.

    MICROSOFT LOST. You played the game, and good job, but your late, ill-prepared, and not dressed correctly. Get over it because you L-O-S-T.

    As Jeremy Clarkson would say:

    "LLLLLOOOZER."

     

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    TSO, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    STEAM

    Just wait till Steam shuts down its servers. I'll be sitting on my pile of game CDs and have a hearty laugh while watching you.

    P.S. needless to say I'll make sure I have NoCDs for all of those games.

     

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    Yakko Warner, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    Re:

    Their execution model is based on two things: (1) fear, (2) surprise, and (3) ruthless efficiency.

     

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    Yakko Warner, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Steam?

    Can you resell a game? Can you borrow it, or loan it to a friend for the weekend? Can another family member take the game to another computer in the same house and play it while you play something else?

    Steam does offer some nice advanced features, but it's those losses of the very basic features about having a physical disc over which they don't have absolute electronic control that still bothers me.

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    DRM is also a massive security hole

    DRM is designed to vest part of the control of YOUR system in THEIR hands, for various pairs of "your, their". This has several unpleasant consequences. First, this surrender of control violates basic security principles. Second, you have no guarantee that it won't be abused -- surely nobody reading this site is so naive as to think that any/all data that can be WILL be harvested, stored, analyzed, and, if feasible, packaged for sale? And third, granting such control effectively also transitively grants control to any third parties authorized by the DRM controller...or to any third parties clever enough to subvert the DRM controller's security. This is why I refer to any system utilizing DRM as "pre-compromised at the factory". It is, of course, quite impossible to plug this hole except by replacing the system.

     

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    chris (profile), Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Steam?

    the value Steam adds seems to far outweigh the minor DRM they have (a check in for the first time you play a game/install)

    ever tried to play a steam game right after you install it?

    ever had steam crash and decide it needs to download all of it's updates at 21kb/sec?

    ever had to re-install steam and had it need to re-validate all 12 of your games?

    in every case you will be locked out of your games until steam deems you worthy.

    steam is also perpetually out of date. i got left4dead 5 days after release and ended up locked out of it for most of a day while it and steam updated. how can a game be out of date 5 days after release?

    steam is the best implementation of game DRM in history of DRM and it still sucks ass. as long as there is chance that a user can get locked out of or otherwise denied access to media/applications that were legitimately purchased, then you are pissing off your users (3) adding value to pirated versions (2), end of story.

    also, left4dead had already been cracked and is on the public trackers, so clearly even steams DRM doesn't work (1).

    if valve can't get it right, i am fairly confident that no one can.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Steam?

    'Friendly' DRM to me is a situation that's a give and take by both parties. I submit myself to an online game verification check when playing Steam games but in return I get several services:
    So just exactly how is it better to have these "services" with DRM than it would be to have them without DRM?

     

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  18.  
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    Phillip Vector, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    I should point out that yes, you can play a game on one computer and play another at the same time.

    Just use "Offline Mode". True, you both can't play TF2 or a multiplayer game together using one account, but that is fair.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Steam?

    I ask only because Valve has already promised to "free" the games if it becomes clear the Steam servers have to go down.
    Is that legally enforceable? If not, then what good are empty promises except for their marketing value?

     

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    Phillip Vector, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:07pm

    Re: STEAM

    Valve has went on record that they will unlock all the games you own if something happens to the servers.

    I.e. That is a non-issue.

     

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  21.  
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    Sergio Le Roux, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:07pm

    I think DRM can be summed as any other copy protection scheme:
    1)It inconveniences legit users.
    2)It doesn't inconvenience pirates/hackers/thieves.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re: STEAM

    Valve has went on record that they will unlock all the games you own if something happens to the servers.
    I.e. That is a non-issue.


    As I understand, the servers have already had problems and have gone down more than once. Yet, the games remain locked. So much for "on record". Seems like an issue to me.

     

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  23.  
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    Mischa, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: STEAM

    I'm fairly certain Valve means permantly shut down, not temporarily shut down due to glitches.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    I should point out that yes, you can play a game on one computer and play another at the same time.
    But that doesn't answer the questions asked. So, would the answers to the actual questions be "no, no, no and no?"

     

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  25.  
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    Bazil, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Steam?

    Steam has the following Problems:

    1. Speed, downloading an entire game usually takes hours (depending on your internet connection) no matter how you slice it, the data transfer rate of your DVD/CD-ROM to your motherboard will ALWAYS be faster than your internet speed.

    2. Crashed Hard-Drive, will force you to re-download everything. (kudos that unlike itunes at leas steam remembers your account and what you've already paid for)

    3. Ad pop ups, steam is not just a DRM, it's also a STORE with an incentive to show you as many new games and games on sale as possible. So you will be annoyed with annoying special deals on a regular basis.

    4. Adds a layer of complexity, many of the games I've gotten through steam have not worked properly or crashed my system. With steam technical support being pretty absent, it forced me in every case to try to find out if it was my hardware, drivers, OS, or STEAM that was causing the crash, when you're frustrated and trying to eliminate problems, the less factors the better.

    5. Steam is a background application, and despite their official statements it DOES occasionally minimize your game, and it does use resources sporadically.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re: Steam?

    Steam allows you to archive your games to CD/DVD whenever you want. It also allows you to save custom settings and (coming soon) saved games "in the cloud" so they are there are any PC with steam.

    The ONLY DRM steam has is the online check, which you can ignore after you've dnoe it once by going to "Offline" mode.

    Stardock has no games I want to play. Steam has a TON I want to play, and just got EA.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Steam?

    Except for it takes away our rights as granted in the first sale doctrine.

    Or have you found a way to sell your steam games?

     

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  28.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 5:36pm

    Re: STEAM

    Mischa wrote:

    I'm fairly certain Valve means perman[en]tly shut down, not temporarily shut down due to glitches.

    So who decides what is “temporary” and what is “permanent”?

    Suppose the company gets into financial trouble, and the servers are down for 3 months. The users clamour for the protection to be turned off. But the company says “hang on, we’re in buyout talks, give us time to sort this out”. And so you wait and wait. Then the new owners say they’re still trying to decide whether to revive the company as a going concern, or shut it down. So the servers are down for 6 months, 9 months, a year, two years. Who gets to decide, and when?

     

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  29.  
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    Chris Weiss, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    Re: simon

    I can't imagine DRM is particularly friendly for those people who produce content for it either. They've got to deal with development, customer support, vendor support, production, and a whole host of other things. It comes down to whether they feel the cost of implementing DRM is less than the profit generated by said DRM driving people to pay for your content who wouldn't if it weren't in place.

    What companies are realizing that the cost of DRM is outweighing the returns: DRM is not driving enough customers who are not paying for their product to turn around and pay for it.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re: STEAM

    New games are created all the time, after even a few weeks, steam would have to realize that they need to retain customers to exist, and would therefore unlock the current games. If they didn't, everyone would use sites like the pirate bay to get "unlocked versions", and steam would cease to exist anyway. The sale of games like halflife and tf2 are low now, after most games who want them already have them. It would not significantly affect steam to unlock games say, more than 6 months old.

     

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  31.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 8:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Don't forget an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

     

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  32.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 8:05pm

    Re: it is possible

    You're mistaking Steam's useful features for Steam's DRM. Take away the DRM and you could still have all the useful features, which leaves the question: what is the DRM good for? The answer of course being "nothing".

     

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  33.  
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    nasch, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: STEAM

    So what you're saying is you trust a company that as it's going bankrupt it will make sure to prioritize taking care of its customers? So they can be repeat custo... wait, no... Why would they care about their customers when they have creditors demanding they liquidate their assets?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 9:17pm

    Re:

    Criticizing his numbering? Lay off, man. He didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    Stardock has some pretty sweet games (Sins of a Solar Empire was truly Epic, and Demigod looks good,) and you can get other Stardock products through Impulse too. It doesn't have as many choices, but it's nice.

     

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  36.  
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    Cardinal Fang, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    "The ONLY DRM steam has is the online check..."

    Unless the publisher demands additional DRM. Bioshock on Steam initially also employed Securom v7 (whether it's been removed by now is something no one can seem to determine), and I believe Crysis Warhead also uses Securom on top of Steam's DRM.

    Activation limitations were recently added to Steam product descriptions.

     

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  37.  
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    Nick, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 10:02pm

    Re: Re: Steam?

    Not all promises are empty, and some companies can act civil without court of law. Valve fought microsoft over TF2's DLC on the 360. Valve wanted add-ons to be free. M$ said "our servers, we want money. As such, Left 4 dead is hosted on Valve's servers, so all update will be free. there are many companies that burn their fans, and other than making them wait forever for games, valve isn't one of them.

     

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  38.  
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    Tom, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:36am

    Re: simon

    BANG! got it in one! I think you managed to sum the entire thing up in so much as a single sentence. A system like this is bound to go wrong.

     

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  39.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 14th, 2009 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re: Steam?

    I would call the automatic forced updates a very bad thing. Take for instance Half Life 2.
    My friend not so recently bought the Orange Box.
    Steam, a couple months ago, patched Half Life 2. One problem, the patch 100% broke the 64-bit version of Half Life 2 on Windows. He hasn't been able to play for quite some time now. You would think, maybe, just maybe they would've tested it out on a 64 bit computer before releasing the patch? Apparently that is too tough for the Steam gang. It shouldn't be that tough to fix, but they still have not fixed it. And, thanks to being on Steam, there is no access to use an old patch. Yay Steam! They can go eff themselves. They have created many more problems than they have fixed. Anything Steam offers can be gained from other programs. And those other programs usually use up way less resources too. Only good feature about it is to just "join game" of a friend without having to find them. Even then, xfire offers that without being as intrusive.
    That still doesn't ignore the fact that the DRM they use is pointless. They could keep the rest of their "features" without the DRM. But in the case of my friend and the forced updates, auto updates are bad.

     

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  40.  
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    Cardinal Fang, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re:

    NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

     

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  41.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 14th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    Once again, I'll just repeat what I've said before:

    I'm a rabid movie, music and games fan. I spend at least $50 on each type of entertainment per month. However, I've gotten to be much smarter over the last decade as to where my money goes to. Let me be clear: I *want* digital formats. I live a relatively nomadic lifestyle, rarely staying in the same apartment for more than 6 months - partly due the general lifestyle where I currently live in the south of Spain, partly due to my personal needs. Taking my collection of CDs, DVDs, etc., wherever I go is a pain and I'd rather buy a digital file instead of a physical object.

    However, the content industry constant conspires against me. From the fact that I still need CDs to play the PC and 360 games I have installed on my hard drives to the fact that I'm simply not permitted to buy MP3s through Amazon (though I can buy CDs through the same site), I'm being stopped from buying the products I want.

    This new DRM is more of the same. A long time ago, I rejected DRM and buy most of my music through DRM-free outlets. Since Amazon can't sell to me and iTunes has been a no-go until recently, that meant buying through eMusic, AmieStreet, Warp and other independent sites. So, by "protecting" their content with DRM, the RIAA have actually been refusing to take my money.

    This appears to be more of the same for movies. Apart from the physical bulk, DVDs are great. they're cheap, they contain far more content than a VHS ever could and they're easily accessible - even the idiotic regional restrictions are relatively easily overcome. With movies.... well, I don't have a choice. My 360 can't use Netflix because I'm not in the US. My UK 360 refuses to sell me rentals because I'm living in Spain at the moment. Hulu refuses me for the same reasons. I can buy from iTunes, but it costs more than double the cost of DVDs in many cases, and I'm yet to get a straight answer as to whether the English soundtrack is included where I am. Even if I did take the plunge, DRM would prevent me from playing on most of the devices I own.

    I would happily buy digital files if they were as versatile as the MP3s I buy - if I could play the same file through my Linux desktop, XBox 360, iPod and MP3 player, I'd be happy to pay 2/3 of the price of a DVD. I say 2/3 because most digital movies at the moment do not include the extra features present on a DVD. Yet, I'm apparently expected to buy a far less complete and versatile product for significantly more than the price of a DVD? Screw that. The problem is, I rarely buy DVDs at the retail price, usually waiting for sales that often take the price of the DVD well below the 2/3 mark to begin with.

    The movie business needs to come to the same realisation as the music industry has - DRM does not work. Remove DRM and I will be happy to pay. Until then, they're actively refusing my money. What's sad is that these movie companies are parts of the same corporations that the RIAA labels belong to. Why they feel the need to spend the next decade learning the same lessons the record labels did during the previous decade is beyond me.

    There is *no such thing* as a friendly DRM. DRM exisits to stop me from doing what i want with the product I have bought. this makes it less valuable, and this lowers the price I am willing to pay. these people only have themselves to blame if the end result is that I don't pay them. I'm not talking about piracy, btw, just that I would rather wait for cable/TV/borrowing a DVD than pay for a movie with DRM.

     

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  42.  
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    Phillip Vector, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    *sigh*

    Yes, it answers it (all 3 questions even though you answered 5 for some reason).

    Here. I'll break it down for you..

    Can you resell a game?

    The legality is in question, but no. Not according to the user agreement (which again, is in question as to how legal it is).

    Can you borrow it, or loan it to a friend for the weekend?

    Yes. As long as you do not play it. Just like a CD.

    Can another family member take the game to another computer in the same house and play it while you play something else?

    Yes. See my above post about Offline Mode.

    So my answers are Maybe, Yes and Yes.

     

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  43.  
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    Phillip Vector, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: STEAM

    Priorities have already been established. The patch is all set to go, it just needs to be run. I'm sure someone would, if faced with being bankrupt, would take 30 seconds to activate the patch. It's not that big of a deal at that point.

     

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    Fuzz, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    i find that in most cases, steam is as flexible as physical media, if not more.

    In my case, me and my extended family have 5 desktops and 3 laptops that are capable of playing left 4 dead. I recently bought a "4-pack" of the game. Steam and left 4 dead is installed on all 8 systems and whoever sits in front of a PC logs in with their ID's and goes about their merry way.

    Recently we got a new system and right after installing windows i downloaded Left 4 Dead, which took about 1 hour. then we continued on our fragging ways.

    And on the question of whether Valve would "unlock" their games if they ever went bankrupt. Historically Valve has been one of the most consumer friendly companies out there, and while it is not their obligation, if anyone out there would unlock their games in such a situation, I believe it would be valve.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    no real DRM either, you don't have to pay more more (if at all) to get hard copy games in addition to your download game.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    Yes. As long as you do not play it. Just like a CD.
    The full product? On-line play an all? I don't think so. Oh sure, you can transfer most any DRM'd product to another person, as long as they never try to play it. But do you really think that's what the question meant? Good luck with your vanishing credibility.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Steam?

    Yes, it answers it (all 3 questions even though you answered 5 for some reason).
    Let's see, the first sentence contained one question, the second contained two, and the third contained one again. One plus two plus one seems to add up to four to me. As to the answers, "no, no, no and no" look like to four to me also. I don't know where you come up with three and five. Why does it matter? Because your counting demonstrates the same twisted logic you applied in your answers, that's all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: STEAM

    Priorities have already been established.
    I don't know how you're privy to Steam's internal business priorities, but in any case: Priorities change.
    The patch is all set to go, it just needs to be run. I'm sure someone would, if faced with being bankrupt, would take 30 seconds to activate the patch.
    In the event of bankruptcy and in the absence of any legal obligations to the contrary a bankruptcy court would likely not allow them to give away assets like that. It fact, it might even considered criminal. You're saying that Steam's management would be willing to face criminal charges in order to ensure that their ex-customers wouldn't be inconvenienced? Excuse me while I laugh out loud at that one.

    You don't happen to work in the game industry do you, Phillip? You sure sound like it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Kenneth, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    About the Oxymoron

    The DRM is constructed in network model,since everyone is using that,Also the service is 80% online. I guess.

    Whatever it is,There is one more thing about The HollyWood, I think we have lots of work to do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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