beltorak’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Game Life cycle and security tech....

    I think some of these concerns are out of bounds. Protecting legitimate users from griefers, for instance, is not in the problem space of preventing piracy. The problem with employing DRM is that it's the old "when all you have is a hammer" approach.

    As for #1 (How do you assure your marketing partners ... that piracy won't affect the game sales?), we have many studies (and hear about them frequently here at TD) that piracy actually helps sales. That is, it helps sales if the game is actually worth a damn. So there's the rub in the eyes of the publisher. The publisher doesn't want to take the risk that the market will decide not to pay for a shit game, so I feel they employ DRM to ensure that people will pay for it before they find out it's shit. There are, after all, no refunds.

    There's a lot of connected things involved in this that need to get disentangled. In the world of physical goods for example, there's often an exchange or refund policy. But the trade-off is obvious in the world of physical goods; the customer loses access to a physical item in order to reclaim currency. Such is obviously not possible with digital media. How to effectively work in this type of market is well beyond what I want to cover here (not that I am in any way an expert in this problem domain), but other options are emerging.

    2 (How do you protect the user community during pre-launch in such a way to build excitement for the game?) I sorta touched on, but I'll expound a bit. Publishers should stop blindly charging a premium price for shit games. If the initial leak sours the public opinion on the game, maybe they should take the hint and drop the price to what the market will bear. Again I'll go back to the studies that assert that piracy actually helps sales of good games and that many who pirate simply would not have bought or played the game if piracy wasn't an option. And this is where it becomes hard to override the natural human reaction of "well if you won't pay me for it then you don't deserve to have it, I'll sell it to someone else". This reaction works in the realm of physical goods, but it is literally meaningless in a world where one or one million extra copies has no effect on the paid-for copies.

    And this is where DRM actively harms the paying customers. If I pay a premium price for a game, I lose all the advantages of the digital nature of what I paid for. If I lose or damage the disk I have to pay another premium price to regain a copy. If it's an always-online style of DRM, once the company is no longer interested in maintaining servers, I can no longer play the game no matter how much I am willing to pay. Games that are built on a multi-player social experience don't escape criticism here - there should be no reason I cannot run my own private server if the company is no longer willing to run theirs. But this attitude of "well if you aren't willing to pay me for it then you don't deserve to have it" is so toxic to reason, the situation devolves into the fable of the dog guarding a stack of hay. That old game has ceased to be profitable for them so they shut it down, but heaven forbid someone else might make a buck breathing life into what they have discarded in the trash heap.

    The simple reality is that the market has fundamentally changed. Reality has fundamentally changed. And it is not my job to solve the publisher's business problems that stem from them not willing to accept reality.

  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re:

    Agreed, those are all valid points. I am not seeking to make an argument based on this alone, just in adding to a data set. Because with enough comparisons, we should be able to draw out some meaningful interpretations.

    Marketing, over/under-pricing, game quality, bugs, and everything else you mentioned can in some sense be quantified. The quantification might be a bit fuzzy, that's why I just want to add to the data set for now.

    But even with an extremely limited data set, we can see if there are any correlations that seem to be connected, and do more research to see if there is a causal link. With other sets of data that already exist we might even be able to start taking into account those correlating factors to limit their impact on the study of the link between DRM and sales.

  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Serious Questions...

    The Constitution doesn't grant rights to the citizens of the US. To an extent it recognizes rights all people are considered to have ..., but primarily it specifies and limits the powers of the federal government.

    This really should be taught and emphasized more. Some might think it's a pointless distinction of philosophical navel-gazing, but it really is an important philosophical underpinning of the US Constitution and how the founding fathers envisioned the role of the government in the lives of the citizenry.

    I just realized, reading your's and another's comments, that I have also fallen into the fallacy of thinking in terms of the US Constitution granting me rights. But it is really specifying the relationship the other way around. It is a statement recognizing that I as a human being have unalienable rights, and a limit on the government's authority in how far and under what circumstances it may infringe on those rights.

  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re: US Border Crossing 101

    Don't forget that not appearing suspicious is highly suspicious. Must be specifically trained to look that not-suspicious.

  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Re: US Border Crossing 101

    Just like a car that does a U-Turn instead of driving through a police checkpoint. Obviously hiding something.

  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Choices are hard

    This is great for you consumers! Instead being forced to muddle through making such a difficult choice, we, the great corporations, can now decide for you! Such a savings in time and effort!

    This is such a great value! We have the best, state of the art technologies and highly skilled personnel specifically trained in how to decide which arm of our great corporation (ahem) *serves* you.

    And the best news is you don't have to do a thing! Because our extremely efficient processes and procedures can give you this value at extremely competitive rates! For the low low price of 6.94 a month you automatically take advantage of this great value whenever you get any of our most popular packages! All the choice of our many many copies of seriously underrated programming packages without any of the hassle of actual choice!

    What a great time to be alive!!

  • Dec 1st, 2016 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: How pavlovian

    While you are not entirely wrong, the Title does say "Under Trump" which carries the connotation that Hillary might not do the same.

    No. It implies nothing of the sort. If "Under Trump" is to be contrasted with anything, it is in contrast to "under the current administration" or "under Obama".

    Despite what many seem to present, the "republican vs. democrat" distinction does not apply to everything.

    Just because this article expresses disagreement with what the market seems to be predicting for Trump's future actions does not mean there is any implied connection to what Hillary might have done.

  • Nov 30th, 2016 @ 4:51pm

    (untitled comment)

    I wonder if we can get some comparative sales and piracy numbers and see if Denuvo had any effect on sales. Would be interesting.

  • Nov 30th, 2016 @ 4:50pm


    That’s what makes the latest update to side-scrolling puzzle game Inside so unusual


    Playdead did not give a reason for the removal of Denuvo in the short patch-notes

    Hard to spot, had to reread it a couple of times. The game is "Inside"; the developer "Playdead".

  • Nov 10th, 2016 @ 10:10am

    (untitled comment)

    Perhaps there's some value in the symbolic gesture

    No, actually there's negative value in that. It would merely grant the outgoing administration the illusion of standing up for privacy without actually doing anything. You think the NSA could could just "stop collecting" for 100 days? They already claimed they couldn't shut it down in any time frame shorter than 6 months, and that was without the expectation of being able to turn it back on. But that wouldn't stop the administration from claiming to care.

    It would be "privacy theater". And all this theater does have a cost.

  • Nov 4th, 2016 @ 9:33am

    (untitled comment)

    > But the fact that a rather unfunny joke was able to throw a spanner in the works even at this late stage shows that ...

    I think it shows rather clearly what children we humans tend to elect into positions of responsibility.

  • Oct 13th, 2016 @ 8:48pm

    Re: Gun bans for people on watchlists

    > Perhaps this might (initially) be a good thing. It would make a constitutional challenge to the watchlist processes much easier.

    No it wouldn't. You would try to buy a gun and get denied because "reasons". You would have to sue to find out why and get "sealed because national security". You would sue and argue you do not belong on a watch list and get "can neither confirm nor deny". You would sue again and get "lack standing". You would sue yet again and the response would come back "ok, I think you're off; try to purchase a gun again - if you are still denied then you must be on some other watchlist". Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Ad infinitum.

    Nothing short of explicitly opening up the process to review and challenge will make constitutional challenges any easier; and it's arguable whether even that would be enough.

  • Oct 13th, 2016 @ 8:14pm

    Re: You're looking at it all wrong

    This is exactly right. It has never been about content; it has always been about control.

  • Sep 7th, 2016 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: National Write-In Campaign

    Unfortunately you'll have to get a constitutional amendment passed beforehand. Snowden's only 33.

  • Sep 7th, 2016 @ 10:58am


    Posse Comititus is a moot point when you can just get the ATF, SWAT team, or your local war-geared-up police department to start launching the mortars.

  • Sep 7th, 2016 @ 10:55am


    well you know, when you can't respond like an adult and learn to safeguard your property because it is beyond your mental grasp, the next best thing is to act like a child and smash everyone else's toys to bits.

  • Sep 1st, 2016 @ 7:40pm


    This could be an argument for that, except that it's still a pretty dumb argument. The government would just infect the home server with malware, which the secret warrant signed by a secret court would allow, and then the person would be in the same boat with regards to not knowing about the warrant, but a much worse situation regarding an advanced persistent threat touching every other machine on the home network. Given people's reluctance to update their machines even when nagged with a reminder every hour, how often do you think the forgotten about email server would receive its patches? Big brother likely wouldn't even have to dig out any 0-days for the occasion.

    If you are willing to religiously track security postings, immediately stay up to date on patches, and routinely monitor traffic logs looking for anomalies, then sure, running your own email server is a great idea. If you are hoping for a fire-and-forget appliance you can just plug into your home router, then you are much better off paying someone else to do that work. Otherwise some bored asshat with shodan is likely to pwn your ass.

  • Aug 29th, 2016 @ 7:42pm

    Re: "My privacy and security is important, yours not so much."

    > On the other hand if she's only pro-encryption when it comes to encryption she's using then it's not a change of position at all, she's still anti-encryption in general she just realizes the value of it when it comes to her stuff, while continuing to believe that the public at large shouldn't be able to have the same level of privacy and security.

    Oh she understands the value of encryption no matter whose information it protects, make no mistake about that. There's a subtler motive at work here: she doesn't think you deserve to avail yourself of that value. It's that pervasive attitude permeating throughout the DNC that leads me to see them all, and Hillary more than most, as psychopathic snakes. It is that snide, barely obscured mentality underpinning the actions they take that is corroding the foundational philosophies of our republic. How dare you think you should have the same rights and protections as your betters. How dare you think your betters should have to follow the same laws as you.

  • Aug 27th, 2016 @ 10:19am

    Re: UAC

    That's not a hard and fast rule. When UAC was first introduced, everyone had to ask how to turn it off.

    And I too turned it off for a few limited times. When setting up my family's computers, I'd have to perform dozens of administrator actions, and each one caused one to three UAC prompts. Ever had to create a new folder in Program Files? That caused 2 that I remember - one to create the folder, and then one to rename it :-/ Even just looking at your own environment variables required administrator permissions. So I would enable the hidden administrator (which isn't bothered by the UAC), set it up, then disable the administrator and reboot.

    Eventually MS moved the UAC boundaries to make it much less onerous, and I haven't needed to do that for a while now.

  • Jul 22nd, 2016 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Homeland insecurity

    They already have tried. It was about to be foisted on us all. I think the only reason no one has bothered to fully break it was because nobody was insane enough to mandate its use. If it had been required on all telecommunications, you bet there would be cracks against the implementations (and possibly the algorithm itself) by now. Of course it's also quite likely that only criminals would know about it.

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