Just As Valve Shows That You Can Compete With Piracy In Russia, Russia Starts Cracking Down On Piracy

from the so-that's-how-it-works dept

Bill Bliss was the first of a whole bunch of you to write in with a version on the story of how Valve has continued to show how to compete with free. This alone, isn’t new. We’ve been covering these kinds of stories concerning Valve and its CEO, Gabe Newell, for years. There’s a lot in this latest talk by Newell that repeats what he’s said for years, but there are also some new experiments in there as well. Such as the following:

Newell: The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It?s by giving those people a service that?s better than what they?re receiving from the pirates. For example, Russia. You say, oh, we?re going to enter Russia, people say, you?re doomed, they?ll pirate everything in Russia. Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market.

Ed Fries: That?s incredible. That?s in dollars?

Newell: That?s in dollars, yes. Whenever I talk about how much money we make it?s always dollar-denominated. All of our products are sold in local currency. But the point was, the people who are telling you that Russians pirate everything are the people who wait six months to localize their product into Russia. ? So that, as far as we?re concerned, is asked and answered. It doesn?t take much in terms of providing a better service to make pirates a non-issue.

Now that’s doubly interesting, because at the same time as we got this story, we also got another submission (anonymously) about how Russia has finally started cracking down on infringement by arresting a Russian couple who was caught distributing movies online. Assuming they’re guilty, they certainly don’t deserve any sympathy, but it does seem intriguing to see these two stories juxtaposed.

The entertainment industry has been pushing hard for Russia to crack down on infringement, insisting that there’s no way they can make money in the Russian market. And yet, Valve is proving that’s false. It’s just that these other companies are incompetent, don’t know how to adapt, and don’t know how to provide a good service. If you do that, you can make a ton of money even if the products are available in unauthorized ways.

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Comments on “Just As Valve Shows That You Can Compete With Piracy In Russia, Russia Starts Cracking Down On Piracy”

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49 Comments
bob (profile) says:

Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall!

Wow! A story celebrating DRM. I’m happy to welcome Mr. Masnick to my coat tails. It’s funny how people get used to something once they aren’t getting agitprop astroturfing stuffed down their throat by the creator haters.

http://www.teleread.com/drm/valves-steam-is-game-drm-done-rightis-there-an-equivalent-for-e-book-drm/

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall!

Technically, Steam is DRM. Or at least, the Steamworks part is.

http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/publishingservices.php

The part that Bob misses is that Valve games are still available early if not day one ready for unauthorised sharing, but Valve doesn’t appear to care. Particularly when you don’t do fall into the trap that Bob does and look at the fact that Valve’s success in Russia has nothing to do with DRM when their games are likely already available in those countries free of DRM and free of charge (or cheap).

Greg says:

Re: Re: Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall!

It’s DRM in that you need to be signed in to Steam to play the games. If you log into the same Steam account from a different computer it will log you out in the first, as I found out recently when I tried it. Not sure of the details if you’re in an actual game, but I think it will exit. I think it’s fool-able if you disconnect the network cable, but most of their games are multiplayer, so not a lot of point in that.

Anyways, it’s the least intrusive DRM-like system I’ve experienced and it adds some great features in that you can access and install your games from any computer, given the above restrictions.

Also, they provide plenty of demos and freebies such as TF2 becoming free to play recently. They even have a business model for that, with the in-game store, which is generating revenue from the long tail. Valve is an awesome company.

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall!

It’s DRM in that you need to be signed in to Steam to play the games. If you log into the same Steam account from a different computer it will log you out in the first, as I found out recently when I tried it. Not sure of the details if you’re in an actual game, but I think it will exit. I think it’s fool-able if you disconnect the network cable, but most of their games are multiplayer, so not a lot of point in that.

This isn’t correct. Steamworks requires initial online authentication when you buy the game from retail, and will likely force you to update the game before you can play too. After that you can play offline as much as you want. If the connection goes while you’re logged in, you’re not kicked out, it’ll keep working as normal.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall!

Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall – Another troll that demonstrates they have no understanding of Steam/DRM, and should not comment without further research on the subject at hand. Did you even fucking read the link? Just a quick google search and spew the best looking result, huh? Typical trolldom.

BeeAitch (profile) says:

Re: Valve Steam is a DRM-powered paywall!

“I’m happy to welcome Mr. Masnick to my coat tails”

Yeah, because your blog is doing so much better…wait, who are you?

Oh yeah, you’re the guy who makes up names like BigContent and BigMedia and goes on to show that…what?

Lemme try again: You’re the guy whose blog promotes creators and independent artists through innovative sites like Techdirt and Step2 and…

No, wait, you’re bob, another unregistered poster who gives small businessmen and creators a platform for…

I give up: WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?

out_of_the_blue says:

"We don?t understand what?s going on."

Newell: “We don?t understand what?s going on. All we know is we?re going to keep running these experiments to try and understand better what it is that our customers are telling us. And there are clearly things that we don?t understand because a simple analysis of these statistics implies very contradictory yet reproducible results. So clearly there are things that we don?t understand, and we?re trying to develop theories for them.”

Not exactly a clear plan, Mike. Come back when you can say do X and you’ll get Y. — My guess is it’s more plain old advertising mojo, AND even more importantly for items under consideration, it’s “disposable” income, with a whole heap of kids in the mix who don’t actually work for the money.

There’s a skeptic on the Valve site!:
Commenter Gavin Courtney:
“Here?s a pricing experiment ? how about lowering your prices in the UK to match Amazon. Currently games on Steam are generally 50% to 300% more than they are Amazon, and even when games are 50% off on Steam they?re often still more expensive than Amazon. I never buy anything from Steam because of the high prices, and I expect that?s the same for many people in the UK and Europe.”

Greg says:

Re: "We don?t understand what?s going on."

…and yet they’re making money and not complaining about piracy. And people still use their services even though they’re more expensive. Why? Because it’s a great service. They are meeting their customers needs. I can’t understand why you would think that there’s a problem there.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: "We don?t understand what?s going on."

“Here?s a pricing experiment ? how about lowering your prices in the UK to match Amazon. Currently games on Steam are generally 50% to 300% more than they are Amazon, and even when games are 50% off on Steam they?re often still more expensive than Amazon. I never buy anything from Steam because of the high prices, and I expect that?s the same for many people in the UK and Europe.”

You don’t realize that the games on Steam go on sale, every day, do you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’ve never had to set it to offline mode before the internet went down. Once the game is authenticated once that is usually the end of it. Of course some games require things beyond the standard steamworks DRM. Just because steam sells the game that doesn’t mean they are using steamworks as their DRM or as their only DRM for that matter.

Certainly if you bought it and brought it home to a pc with no connection I could see you having problems but I have never had issues with losing a connection mid-game or prior to launching an installed game.

Overcast (profile) says:

After that you can play offline as much as you want. If the connection goes while you’re logged in, you’re not kicked out, it’ll keep working as normal.

Just don’t come home on a Friday after traveling for work – with dead internet and the next available tech will be on Tuesday – Steam not in offline mode..

So I went and bought an EA game.

Overcast (profile) says:

Good luck with the Origin system from ea now…

Hey – after working a week 900 miles away, 12 hours a day or so and a 10 hour drive home – I just plain wanted it to WORK.

Steam didn’t. EA did.

From my point of view as a PAYING customer – that was all that mattered, period.

Since then – I haven’t added anymore games to my existing 15 on Steam. It let me down when I most needed the relaxation. That’s all that matters – the bang for my buck and the ability to use the stuff I purchase as I want to.

And I had zero problems with the EA game, it worked just fine, with no internet.

Overcast (profile) says:

That’s what he said… once installed and authenticated once, you can play offline.

Assuming… you have set it to ‘offline mode’ – if it catches you by surprise, you can’t.

I have 50 other games I could play – but I had JUST bought the DVD for the game at the store, but then it required Steam (Fallout NV). Grabbed it on the way home, and was kinda hyped to play – but then… internet was dead – cable modem went out.

I kinda felt cheated – I mean.. I HAD THE physical DVD, but I couldn’t play the game??? Is that how you treat the paying customers?

If I would have grabbed it from Torrent – I wouldn’t have had the problem now, would I?

I lost interest in even playing it after that. I understand a fully online game, like a MMO or such NEEDS internet – but *NOT* Fallout NV.

It’s in the closet now, gathering dust…. never have played it or even watched the intro. I kinda forgot about it after getting the other game.

It’s DRM still – doesn’t matter how you spin it. Because of a lack of service on my end; the game I PAID for was unplayable.

Unplayable – why? Because I didn’t buy it? No, because of DRM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Assuming… you have set it to ‘offline mode’ – if it catches you by surprise, you can’t.”

When you lose connection it switches to offline mode. I don’t lose my connection often buy anytime I have no games have given me problems launching. You don’t have to predict the future and know you wont have connection later.

Oh i found an article on it. You have to set it to remember your password, once, while its online. Then you can use offline mode after a sudden unexpected internet failure.
https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=3160-AGCB-2555

So it has to have save info stuff checked while its online. The game has to have been launched once while online and it can’t be mid update when the connection drops.

What EA game did you buy, just out of curiosity. Most games require some kind of at least one time internet connection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Meh, just because the Dev choose steam’s DRM doesnt mean steam’s DRM isn’t what prevented him from playing his game.

I think the reaction is a little strong. If I discounted every publisher that distributed a game I had problems playing at some point do to, drm mishap, or bugs, or bad patches, or hardware incompatibility or any of the many ways my plans for a relaxing evening have failed I would be out of people to buy games from.

But being a gamer I empathize.

Overcast (profile) says:

When you lose connection it switches to offline mode. I don’t lose my connection often buy anytime I have no games have given me problems launching. You don’t have to predict the future and know you wont have connection later.

Well, perhaps it just doesn’t work right then – that’s the other problem I’ve had time and again with steam.. lol

I’m not ‘mad’ at Steam, per se – it’s a good concept, but poorly implemented – and by the way, I just tried that EA ‘origin’ this weekend, as my original SIM3 DVD is toast. It worked perfectly. Just for kicks, after loading up the SIM 3 – I disabled my NIC and rebooted – it worked just fine.

But I’m not a ‘Steam hater’ so much – it just has continually pissed me off over the years. I’ve learned to detest it because of the time it’s wasted for me. Both my kids have accounts, we have 20+ steam games, but frankly it’s too restrictive. If it doesn’t work right, neither do any of your games – and that stupid cache setup downright annoys me. I prefer a normal game installation, not something buried under 14 directories in a big cache file. If that ends up corrupt, it’s an hour re-downloading the game, deleting cache files and other voodoo to get it to work.

That’s what I’m talking about – something that JUST PLAIN WORKS for paying customers.

Thanks for the suggestion on Origin.

And indeed, that adds value. I have too much to do between work, maintaining a house, bringing up teenagers, etc to hassle with DRM.

I’m not going to hassle with it – plain and simple. I pay for the games, I expect them to work internet or no internet. If they don’t do that, I’ll avoid them.

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