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Thoughts about copy protection and what should be done

posted by Anonymous on - last edited - Viewed by 2.2K users
We live in a time where the internet is very fast and downloading a pirated game takes very little time.. and people sure know how to take advantage of that.
So naturally, gaming companies must do what they can to protect themselves from theft.
This would not be so bad if there was a guarantee that when we bought a game, we would be able to play it for as long as we wanted to.. even after the company dies (and is no longer around to unlock your downloaded game) or after your CD/DVD (with copy protection which renders it impossible to make backups) wear out due to age (those things don't last forever).

Gaming companies are very keen to limit the consumers rights in the EULAs but they certainly don't like to give the consumers any rights or guarantees that demand some kind of effort on their part.
I think they should add a section giving the user a guarantee that if they've bought the game, they will be able to play it for as long as they want (even in 30 years from now) on the systems the games were developed for.
For example, Telltale could add this to their EULA -
"Telltale gives you (the user) the guarantee that should for any reason the authentication system seize to exist, Telltale will create a solution to remove the authentication requirement." (I'm not a good EULA writer but you get my point :D).

The same thing could be done with CD/DVDs -
"[Insert company name here] gives you (the user) the guarantee that should your CD/DVD wear out due to old age, we (the company name) will provide you with a new CD/DVD.
Should (company name) ever go out of business and the IP ownership has not been bought up or anything like that, (company name) will release a patch that removes the copy protection from the CD/DVDs in order to allow you (the user) to make backups (for personal use only).
(Company name) also guarantees never to sell the IP to any company not giving the user the same guarantee".

Now if THAT was in the binding EULAs the games come with, then I would feel much safer buying games and old classics wouldn't disappear because the company went under or the storage media stopped working due to old age.

I know I'm a terrible EULA writer but you get my point so don't start talking my lacking EULA writing skills :D
37 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
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    I agree with the company life points, but I'm not sure any of that disc replacement stuff is possible. Mainly cost reasons, but it could also be abused.

    However I'm heavily against restrictive copy protection that hinders my enjoyment of the game, or that restrcts use of it years from now.

    The real problem is that people only think in the here and now, which is why things like Starforce exist in the first place. At least they are being attacked though, it shows there are at least a few people out there who think clearly.
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    Well but if a company makes it impossible to make backups and the disc fails even though you treat it perfectly, then they should provide you with a new one.
  • A lot of companies do... for a price.

    Which would you prefer, free (online) activation whenever you want it, or a $10 fee for a replacement disk (even if the disk is faulty out of the box)? The Adventure Company charges a fee for replacement disks, and they're the biggest publisher of adventure games out there... should we all be following their model?

    I understand the concern that ten, fifteen years down the line a company might not be supporting its products anymore (we've all had to deal with that with the Sierra and LucasArts games), but if a company goes out of business that's going to be a problem whether you're trying to activate your game or trying to get a replacement disk. There is no 100% guarantee that a company will still be around to support your game when you need it... look at Microids, that went out of business simultaneously with the release of Still Life. And frankly, I think it's counterproductive to worry about what could happen ten years from now with every purchase decision. If you're so worried that you won't be able to play the game in ten years that you don't play it today, how is that helping you at all? ;)

    Not being involved in every gaming company's day to day business decisions, I have to trust that they're using the method of copy protection that makes the most sense for their business, and then decide if it's worth it to me. I can say, though, that Telltale uses the copy protection they use because they truly think it's the best way to protect themselves from piracy, while being as flexible and open for the player as possible. I can't think of another company out there that provides this level of personal support if you have trouble getting your game running.
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    Well, but the old Lucasarts games don't require authentication and you can make images of them easily and keep them for as long as you want :)
    So I can still play Monkey Island 1&2 even if my CD (or floppies) are broke (which they fortunately are not, I have 67 adventure games in my collection and backups of most of them.. but all the originals still work fortunately).

    So I prefer discs as I can make images of them (it may not be perfectly legal, but they're for personal use ONLY and it's just to not have to use my original CDs and thus keep them in mint condition).
  • Well, sure, but you're not considering those games in their historical context. They originally came out on floppy disks and did have copy protection (it was manual-based, back then, as was most copy protection). Many people who still have their games have since lost the manuals, resulting in the very same type of problem y'all are suggesting is unacceptable with today's copy protection methods. ;)

    When games started being released on CDs, developers often didn't include the same copy protection as their disk-based counterparts because back in the early 90s, no one could imagine a home user being able to make a pirated copy of that much content. That's why the old LucasArts games don't require authentication -- it's a result of the time in which they were created, not of a different attitude toward software protection and piracy.
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    If people lose their manuals, that's their fault.
    If the authentication server goes down, that's not their fault :)

    Also, it's fully possible to make images of many copy protected games too without using any kinds of cracks.
    If you only use an image yourself and never let anyone else copy them, then that doesn't do any harm at all and helps preserve the games :) That's what I do.
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    The Adventure Company charges a fee for replacement disks, and they're the biggest publisher of adventure games out there... should we all be following their model?
    Personaly I would have prefered if Telltale games used a standard "serial number" activation method ;)

    I bought both Bones games together, and even if the first one is ultra short, I enjoy them a lot. But if I had knew before hand about the hardware fingerprint copy protection method, then I most probably wouldn't have bought them :( .

    I understand that you need to protect your game against piracy (Even thought I am 99% sure that Bones best copy protection is it's "genre" rather than some activation method ;) ) but I realy hate all kind of online activation method like Steam or hardware fingerprinting.

    But if you realy want to use such a method then you could do something like that :

    When the game is first released, it use the fingerprinting method like it does today, but after 6 month or so (if you think 6 month is too short then you can say one year or more), you release a patch or a new version that change the fingerprinting protection to a more standard serial number based one.

    After 6 month, the copy protection is no longer "protecting" anything, and after 6 months, peoples that were interested in the game either; bought it, downloaded a cracked version of it, or just forget about it.

    But by doing that, it will allow peoples who, like me, want to buy the game but don't like hardware fingerprinting or similar method, to buy the game anyway without too much worries.

    If I ask that that's because I am a big fan for old-school Sierra/Lucasarts Adventure Games, I enjoyed a lot playing the Bones games (Haven't finished the second one yet though), and I would be very sad not being able to support a company like Telltale just because of the copy protection.

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    Jake Telltale Alumni
    Well, but the old Lucasarts games don't require authentication and you can make images of them easily and keep them for as long as you want :)
    So I can still play Monkey Island 1&2 even if my CD (or floppies) are broke
    Except of course since LucasArts hasn't maintained any of their games in years (despite still being in business with paid employees and everything), you have to play the games with scummvm, a fan made tool (which incedentally bypasses all the codewheel and manual-based copy protection which used to be such a hassle with those games when they were new - you know, you had to go and photocopy them from your friend and stuff).
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    But that is not the point. If those games had used some sort of activation and Lucasarts no longer provided the activation service, then we would have to deal with both what you mentioned AND the activation issue.

    And you can hardly expect a company to keep updating their fifteen year old games to work on modern systems either.. and I'm sure there will always be fans creating ports like that.
  • The problem with copy protection is that (and on this I'm sure we can all agree. Unless some of you are filthy pirate types) it is totally necessary. But you can't really have a type of copy protection which not only allows you to play the game on different computers but also stops people from pirating. It's just not possible (at least not as far as I can see. And I'm super cool awesome supreme, so if I can't who can?).

    On the subject of activation service not working in 10 years or so, why not just make the games abandonware by that time? If you're not going to support the game then you may as well let people play it anyway. Say goodbye to copy protection and let the game run free, hither and thither over the great rolling fields of 'the internet-web-computer-machine-thingy'. If you host them on your own site then it'll gather a lot more visitors as well so you can try to make them buy whatever you're trying to sell at that time.
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