Article About 'The Menace Of The Software Pirates' From 1985

from the and-that's-why-there's-no-UK-software-industry dept

ChurchHatesTucker points us to an article from Electronic Games Magazine from 1985, available via Archive.org, entitled Menace of the Software Pirates. You might notice that much of the article sounds familiar.
My favorite part is where they explain that there's no software coming out of the UK, because of the fact that "piracy has flourished unchecked" in the UK and now "no company wants to spend time and money creating an innovative program knowing full well that the better it turns out, the greater the likelihood that the vultures will rip it off." Uh huh. In the meantime, special thanks to the folks who violated certain copyrights to help preserve this article for posterity...

This kind of article really does demonstrate the old adage, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Though it's also quite noteworthy that the article highlights some software companies who believe that there are better ways to fight infringement than using DRM. It highlights two alternative strategies: the first is adding additional bells and whistles to the packaging, including various scarcities. The second is by being nice: actively resisting DRM, letting consumers know that, having a really strong replacement policy and keeping prices reasonable. Of course, these are the kinds of strategies that folks are suggesting again today, but which most software firms still seem resistant to embrace. Those who don't understand history may be condemned to repeat it... and without a little copyright infringement to preserve this piece, perhaps we wouldn't even know about that history.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    Can the ACs please start calling us 'muggers' instead of 'freetards'? Mugger sounds sooo much more badass!

     

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  2.  
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    crade (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    heh, another thing that is history repeating from the next page:
    "the closer one looks at the situation, the more clearly one group stands out as being culpable: the producers of disk duplication software"

    heh, typical asses blaming the hammer manufacturers for their broken window. If they had just never made computers able to copy files and hammers able to break windows, everything would be dandy :)

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Re:

    agreed, infringement isn't theft, you are mugging the ip holder. Also I love the penguin, why he has a shovel though idk, unless he is just a rip off of smokey the bear, in which case the publishers of this article are lazy bloodsucking fucks.

     

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  4.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    I thought it was Tardians. Because piracy is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly...timey-wimey...stuff.

     

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  5.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    "Without a little copyright infringement to preserve this piece, perhaps we wouldn't even know about that history."


    Youtube has demonstrated just how much culture has been locked away in corporate coffers and would never see the light of day without people uploading their old VHS recordings for the world. It demonstrates the whole problem with copyright.

    If a company can't make money on it, then they have no incentive to digitize it and make it available to anyone, and the culture suffers, even though there are lots of people out there that would do that work for free if it weren't illegal.

    What's the point of copyright if there's no monetary incentive for the copyright holder? Who is benefiting?

     

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  6.  
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    HothMonster, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re:

    damn got to the paragraph about penguin publishing after that comment.....so they are the lazy blah blah blah

     

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  7.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    Was that a callback? Very nice.

     

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  8.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Now done through credit cards and online servers. The industry simply moved on to better methods but have NOT given up on limiting theft. Games such as "World of Warfare" bill monthly. Now, that's REAL DRM. -- But since credit cards became ubiquitous, I'm not sure that you kids even notice that you ARE in the grip of DRM.

     

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  9.  
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    HothMonster, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    One thing that hasn't changed, making customers wait a ridiculous amount of time for a product they want for no reason other than they are afraid people will take it, even though they are standing around demanding the ability to buy it(only these days people would have just ported it themselves and shared it w/o waiting for EA). I wonder how sales were for that game when it finally did come out for atari. I hope people had for gotten all about it by then, sales blew and EA blamed it on piracy.

     

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  10.  
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    AJ, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    BAH!

    "If they had just never made computers able to copy files and hammers able to break windows, everything would be dandy :)"

    But what they wont tell you is; They are making millions and millions on the hammers, but it's never enough.

    If they managed to stop file sharing in it's tracks, they would just redirect their fire towards those evil radio stations. Once they got rid of the radio stations, or have them taxed beyond the possibility of making money, they would just go after cloud computing, then they will go after our blank media.... and on and on ......

    They have sued stroke victims, people with no computers, people that don't know how to use a computer, dead people... etc etc..

    I have no sympathy for these greedy bastards.. none! They have declared war on an entire culture, they get what they fucking deserve.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/riaa-sues-radio-stations-for-giving-away-free-musi,48/

    http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/05/riaa-goes-after-cloud-computing-boxnet.html

    http://torr entfreak.com/where-the-riaa-gets-its-money/

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/05/riaa_sues_the _dead/

     

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  11.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Warfare?

    "Oh, you damn kids, with your World of Warfare, and your diddy-bopping music, and your roadsters with the rumble seats, and the YouTube, and the Google..."

     

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  12.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    You seem to be confused about the difference between DRM and offering a paid service. One is artificially limiting something infinite - the other is providing access to something scarce.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    This is just marvellous I was just testing Tesseract(OCR)+GImageReader(GUI)+unpaper(post-processing)

     

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  14.  
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    MrWilson, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    It's World of Warcraft.

    And if you think DRM is much of a problem for WOW players, google, "world of warcraft private server."

    DRM will continue to be used and it may well prevent piracy in some instances, but pissing on a cake so that no one will steal a piece ruins the purpose of baking the cake.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Sorry, I'll get off your lawn.

     

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  16.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    Re:

    It goes a step further than this even, in that if companies were to spend even a modest amount of money on releasing their analogue catalogues into the wild it would be anti-shareholder and potentially illegal.

    This is the real problem, that they exist because of Adam Smith's term 'enlightened self interest' meaning that its assumed that if people join together it is for a common benefit. Unfortunately Smith didn't take into account that short term interest and long term interest would come into conflict here. Now that we know for a fact it does, we need to re-image the corporation to require 10 year goals or something. In that situation, suing customers for a stronger quarter and using financial wizardry to create short term profits out of incredible risk would be unimaginable.

     

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  17.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Be honest: You've never touched a boobie, have you?

     

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  18.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Oh, you damn kids, with your World of Warfare...

    I tried playing "The World of Welfare" the other day, but I didn't like it.

    It was way to easy get gold and you didn't even have to do anything to earn it.

     

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  19.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re:

    No - what Smith missed was mankind's tendency to cut off its own nose to spite its face.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    Re:

    Mugtard?

     

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  21.  
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    Lisa Westveld (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Love the penguin in the top of the article. :-)

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    http://happypenguin.org/show?FooBillard

    Here go play some free pool online.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    Re: BAH!

    While I do not disagree with you... linking to the onion to support you position is probably not a good idea.

     

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  24.  
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    HothMonster, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: BAH!

    it might help win an argument with these people

    http://literallyunbelievable.org/

     

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  25.  
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    AJ, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: BAH!

    Whats wrong with the Onion! Onions have layers! ... That's why I posted a few different links lol.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Now the irony is that in WoW the player is encouraged to do a lot of looting.

    In EVE Online even cheating and destroying the economies of others factions is A-ok.

    Movies all tell the stories of people who don't give a fock about the law or face serious troubles to achieve something that mostly is against the law, music is all about the rebels.

     

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  27.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    He didn't miss it, he just assumed they would bleed to death from the wound before they banded together into the Republican/Democractic (interchangeable) party...

     

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  28.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Games such as "World of Warfare" bill monthly. Now, that's REAL DRM.

    NO IT ISN'T!

    It IS adding real scarcities - namely you pay NOT for a copy of the game - but rather for access to WoW servers. Those servers cost money to maintain so it is payment for services rendered - not a monopoly rent.

    It is the game equivalent of going to a live concert.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    I will just point out that EA is still around making games, but Infocom and Penguin Software are not.

     

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  30.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    This is a VERY important point to consider. This is the same reason that XBL is worth the money while the PSN is worthless even though its free....

     

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  31.  
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    Digitari, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    yes, he has touched himself; I bet, quite often

     

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  32.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    This simply won't work - who the hell gives away those invaluable shiny plastic disks! They are literally worth their weight in gold - if you doubt this to be the case, you haven't seen some of the "damages" awards that the paytards like to wave around like like a hooker with a negative pregnancy test!

     

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  33.  
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    DCL, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Sounds like it it was derived from "Muggle" inferring a lack of magic... and fodder for a lawsuit from the Harry Potter franchise.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Re:

    Well infocom were bought by activision in 1986, soooo, not sure what you're saying?
    If a company is bought out by another then it failed?

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re:

    According to wikipedia,fwiw

    Penguin Software was confronted by Penguin Books in regard of infringement of their name. Fearing that the legal costs of a lawsuit could have decimated his company, even in the case of an eventual victory, Pelczarski renamed his company Polarware in 1986, ending the "Penguin Software" brand.

     

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  36.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 5:16pm

    Re:

    Heh. I pointed that out in my submission. It's a bit boggling, since presumably these guys were familiar with computers.

     

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  37.  
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    The Logician (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    I would just like to point out that Guild Wars has been successful for over 6 years despite not relying on a subscription model. And Guild Wars 2 is going to follow the same approach with no subscription fees. Therefore, one does not need such fees to create a game of this nature and sustain it. There are other ways.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 7:38pm

    Re: BAH!

    Europe did already go after blank media and Canada has been proposing it for a while:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061018/233322.shtml

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles /20100314/1739258553.shtml

     

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  39.  
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    Rekrul, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 11:33pm

    Re:

    Youtube has demonstrated just how much culture has been locked away in corporate coffers and would never see the light of day without people uploading their old VHS recordings for the world. It demonstrates the whole problem with copyright.

    If a company can't make money on it, then they have no incentive to digitize it and make it available to anyone, and the culture suffers, even though there are lots of people out there that would do that work for free if it weren't illegal.


    It's even worse than that. Not only will the company not release something if they don't think that they can make money on it, they will fight tooth and nail to keep anyone else from having it, even though it's completely worthless to them.

     

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  40.  
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    Rekrul, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 11:36pm

    I have that issue! Electronic Games was always one of my favorite magazines (the original, not the 1990s revival!). I wish someone was able to put the entire run of the magazine on the net, I'd love to have a copy of all the issues.

     

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  41.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 3:03am

    Interestingly without "Software Piracy" organisations like Microsoft, EA, Sega, etc would NOT exist! Everyone was copying everyone else (especially within the cartridge games industry)

    not to mention that the Shareware Industry (remember Walnut Creek), the GNU project, or the OEM CD-ROM (Yellow book) business method (which I was a part of way back in 1991) would not of been necessary and we would not have the diverse range of publishers and software both Professional and Edutainment that we have today.

    In Fact 1This article of 1985 is nothing, way back in 1975 Bill Gates penned a letter [found here] stating that Software Copying was wrong and was hurting him personally (Some people might get the irony of Gates actually saying this when looking at where MS-DOS and Windows 1.0 to 3.0 actually came from)

    A quote by Jim Warren, co-editor of Dr Dobbs magazine to Gate's letter [SIGPLAN Notices (ACM) 11 (7): pp. 12.] states what is still today the problem.
    "There is a viable alternative to the problems raised by Bill Gates in his irate letter to computer hobbyists concerning "ripping off" software. When software is free, or so inexpensive that it's easier to pay for it than to duplicate it, then it won't be "stolen".

     

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  42.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 3:07am

    Hmmm... work is blocking the actual document so I can't read it, but I can safely say that the following is complete bull, especially as the source appears to be focussing on gaming:

    "there's no software coming out of the UK, because of the fact that "piracy has flourished unchecked" in the UK"

    Great British games companies active in the 80s: Ultimate Play The Game, Psygnosis, Ocean, Sensible Software, Llamasoft, Mastertronic, Core Design, Codemasters, the Bitmap Brothers, Bullfrog (among many others).

    If the output of those alone could be considered "no software", then I for one hope for a return to the days of free piracy.

     

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  43.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 3:48am

    Re:

    So is Codemasters. Point?

     

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  44.  
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    pjcamp, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    why

    is an article about software pirates illustrated by a picture of Smokey the Penguin?

     

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  45.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    Still seems to be a mechanism where, at root - you pay for server access - although once you have bought in to a "level" your use of that level is unlimited.

    So it isn't really that different to WoW - although the payment model seems a little more friendly.

     

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  46.  
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    The Logician (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    You pay for the game once, and that is it. There are other campaigns you can buy, as well as smaller nonessentials in the online store like makover credits, unlock packs, extra character slots, costumes, and more, none of which convey any gameplay advantage or necessary function but are merely extras to make your playing experience more fun.

    A most effective approach, although unfortunately, Arenanet (who makes the Guild Wars games) is still of the belief that copyright is necessary and that they can't create without it. I have often wondered how one would make an MMO without copyright. I do believe it's possible, I'm just uncertain as to the methodology.

     

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  47.  
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    Jay (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    And yet, Steam works for PSN but doesn't work for XBL...

     

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  48.  
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    Rich, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Re: why

    Only you can prevent pretend fires.

     

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  49.  
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    Jay (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yet "DRM" enforcement is stronger than ever!

    I'll have to disagree. There's a ton of Free to Play games that have progressed by simply having people buy in game items.

    The likes of Dungeon Fighter Online, Dungeons and Dragons, and even Team Fortress 2 now progress without having to pay one fee for anything.

    You have to ask yourself, what is it that most game developers want? It's eyeballs and a person's attention. Yes, they want your money, but even WoW has had to give up the fact that people are not willing to pay for the first 20 levels of their game.

    " I have often wondered how one would make an MMO without copyright. I do believe it's possible, I'm just uncertain as to the methodology"

    Honestly, copyright has little to do with game creation. I've seen the assertion that a game is created with copyright, but it's an automatic clause. You're automatically given copyright.

    The only time it's an issue is when it's enforced such as fan sites, fan projects or as a carrot on a stick when you're dealing with the publisher/developer relationship. Some are trying something new, so it should be understood that the endeavor has merits. Copyright won't be an issue and that's a good thing.

     

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  50.  
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    Alex Austin (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    One of my favorite forms of DRM is on an old copy of Sim Earth I have. Occasionally, the game will ask you to open the user manual to page x and type the y-th word off line-z and enter it.

    It doesn't interfere with anything, the discs are still copyable, and if I wanted to I could copy the manual, but that would probably cost more than the game.

    BTW, to date this, I think the game required at least Windows 3.0.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:29pm

    Sometimes, the story is real.

    I was an Atari computer enthusiast in the mid 80s, and can say from experience, that everyone I knew pirated the games, and spent less purchasing them than they paid to the San Leandro computer hacker group, which hired professional programmers to crack the games. I met a few games programmers at the time, and they told the same story - that they'd program for other platforms, but never again for Atari. I don't remember the number, but the estimate was that there were 10 or more pirated copies for each purchased copy, and I don't think that was too far out of line. Probably way too low.

    I was an Atari pirate, and helped kill the platform. :(

    The owners of Atari committed worse damages, though.

     

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

  52.  
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    Rekrul, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 2:50am

    Re:

    nterestingly without "Software Piracy" organisations like Microsoft, EA, Sega, etc would NOT exist!

    This is just my opinion, but without software piracy, I don't think computers would be anywhere near as commonplace as they are today.

    I know from personal experience that one of the factors that influenced quite a few people to buy computers was the fact that the software for them could be easily copied. When someone is considering spending several hundred dollars on a computer system, telling them that they'll need to buy all their software at $30-50 a pop isn't too encouraging. But tell them that they can get a whole library of software for just the cost of blank disks and it suddenly looks like a much better deal.

     

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  53.  
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    Jay (profile), Sep 14th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re:

    You ever play ET?

    Fuck Atari.

     

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


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