Ryukouki Discusses! Digital Rights Management

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Ryukouki, Feb 20, 2014.

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Can DRM be justified?

  1. Yes

    60.4%
  2. No

    39.6%
  1. Ryukouki
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    Ryukouki See you later, guys.

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    'Tis a joyous time on GBATemp, with our team welcoming new blood, and with the community wanting to hit the big dance on a raffle. What better way to celebrate than with a written work from one of your reporters? Today's topic of discussion is about digital rights management. I am going to cover what this concept is, and what occasions where DRM is encouraged and discouraged, and asking for user input at the end.​
    What is Digital Rights Management?
    To put it simply, DRM is technology that attempts to control what you can and cannot do with the stuff you have purchased. The term came about with the passing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or as we affectionately call it, the DMCA. Ever look for some anime to watch on Google? Scroll down, the DMCA has restricted access to some of the search results! We as gamers like to call it copyright protection. With the movement to cloud gaming, while it offers other opportunities to enjoy media, at the same time it could be argued that the methods of accessing said media are often given other restrictions.​
    Examples of DRM
    We can look at Diablo III. The franchise has always been a single player game that can be played offline. With the release of Diablo III, however, the franchise went in a different direction and made the user constantly stay online. As a result, the flood of users at launch attempting to get online resulted in the infamous Error 37, which was an error that resulted from many players trying to access the game at once. A single player game that requires constant online interaction just did not bode well for this title.​
    There is also the Steam gaming platform, where people tend to look at as being an example of DRM being done well. The system enforces an always online infrastructure but in the process does cloud updating, consolidating all available systems in one location, and modding for games in one easy to build area. Most call this an idea of DRM being done well enough so it benefits the customer. Look at the massive successes of the Humble Indie Bundle.​
    Another example? Look at SimCity that EA recently published, with DRM prevalent in forcing the player to be constantly online. Both the media and consumer base lashed out at EA Games, demanding their head and the removal of the always-online requirement. EA ended up acquiescing. It still did not stop the initial splurge of negative feedback that hit Amazon so hard the game had to be removed from the store temporarily.​
    A fourth example could be the old days of anti-piracy on Nintendo DS titles, mechanisms that prevent player advancement if a pirated copy is detected. I could go into many more examples but that would probably bore you to death and I am not here to do that (though some of you may disagree).​
    Arguing About DRM
    Arguing Against DRM
    Looking at DRM, we as consumers are usually against such an idea. We see DRM as a hindrance. We purchase the media, we should theoretically "own it," correct? In this day and age, "owning" something is an incorrect term and instead, we are paying for the right to "access" a piece of media, or renting it. When one buys music on the iTunes store, they don't own the music. It is not a possession that you can bequeath on others after you die. Look at Bruce Willis, there were rumors he wanted to fight Apple in court over the rights to bequeath his music collection to his children once he passed away. Please don't die anytime soon, Mr. Willis.​
    According to an article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lot of times the legitimate consumer does not know that they have bought a license. I quote their piece with:​
    That is something that worries me. When I purchase something, I should be able to say that it is mine, technically. The thing is, people are paying to access it, and don't really want to resort to only using it. They want to explore the media in different contexts. With rights and management, though, it is shoehorning itself into hardware now, with companies restricting the user's ability to "tinker" or modify the item. Doing so will void a warranty.​
    The EFF piece I linked above declared that the end result shows the user is crippled. We as consumers are consumed by fear and instead of donating these items for reuse, we let them dust and die, at the same time shutting out repair facilities and third-party service centers. With DRM, there is just no suitable reason as a consumer to endorse it. There are some cases where people are actually supportive of digital rights management, though. At this point, is what I have said fair? Are my claims valid? Do we as consumers need to support the idea of DRM?​
    Arguments Supporting DRM
    People that tend to support DRM are the developers. I see where they are arguing from; they spend their lives dedicating themselves to a piece of media, often creating whole worlds and stories that are incredibly immersive; and often times getting hit by entitled gamers crying that the game was not the way they wanted it. I'm not going to go into that idea again, don't worry. I'll leave this here if you are interested. I know a few indie developers in real life who make a game that has moderate success, but then they lose out on the profits gained as people start downloading the .APK files that appear on the internet. I see the viewpoint on why they support DRM; they want to see their hard work go to fruition, and we as consumers cannot deny that possibility. It's a definite gray area again. On one hand I completely abhor DRM, but on the other hand, I have to accept that for some people, DRM is completely necessary.​
    I opened a discussion on the True Gaming subreddit, and asked the community to find instances where DRM might actually be beneficial, or encouraged, and a lot of people brought up the Steam gaming platform as a very solid model that DRM could be based around; management, ease of access, and cloud updating all in one packaged interface. That is what the subreddit community was interested in arguing; I myself cannot verify the validity of these claims quite yet and will conduct a bit more research into the matter. When I was going through the comments, it seemed split down the middle. Other comments involved saying that DRM could be justifiable in the instance that the developer wishes to see it happen. It is their product, and they should be able to see fit.​
    Ryu, Where Do You Stand?
    That is a good question. I like writing articles where the issue is not clearly black or white, but a a shade or fifty of gray. DRM is a love-hate relationship. On one hand, I see DRM as a model that needs to be abolished for a lot of different things, like hardware tinkering, forcing players to play online constantly, restricting access to certain portions of the media. All DRM does is hinder those who want to access the content, pirate or not. We all know how easy it is to find a crack or a bypass somewhere; there are many locations where copies of games are uploaded with the necessary crack to play it without paying a dime, while still being able to utilize the full features of the media.​
    But, on the other hand, I have to acquiesce and acknowledge that DRM is justifiable mainly because it is the developer's byproduct. They put their own hard time into it, and they deserve the fruits of their labor, which comes in the form of venomous gaming communities and excess complaints. As a consumer, what right do I have to ask to ask them to change their ways with their software? Do I have that right as a consumer? Do you? What about in mass protest?​
    And You, Where Do You Stand?
    Just tuning in? You missed out. But I do not blame you, this was a long piece. I'll sum it briefly. I argued that DRM is both justifiable (from a dev standpoint) yet reprehensible (in the consumer standpoint). Can you merge the two together and create instances where DRM would benefit the consumer and the developer simultaneously? How do you feel about DRM as a whole? Do you agree with my claims? Do you disagree with my claims? Do you have more information that could be added? Shoot me your feedback below! Keep it clean though!​
    And hmm... food for future thought. I'm thinking of discussing censorship next! ;) Stay tuned to the portal for that!​
     
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  2. xxNathanxx

    xxNathanxx GBAtemp Regular

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  3. DinohScene

    DinohScene Feed Dino to the Sharks

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    As long as the DRM doesn't force me to have an always on connection (shitty internet here)
    I'm fine with it.

    One thing I do not like about DRM is what Bioshock 1 had, that you had a max of 5 installs per disc.
    Things like that is wrong DRM in my point of view.
    That and DRM that is practically a rootkit.
     
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  4. Pedeadstrian

    Pedeadstrian GBAtemp's Official frill-necked lizard.

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    Examples of good DRM: Steam and Diablo 3. Steam has been mentioned in this article so I won't comment, but in regards to Diablo 3, the whole duping thing is not nearly as bad/even there as opposed to Diablo 3. Considering you could legally sell your duped items for cash, it'd be a huge motivation for hackers to exploit the game and/or its servers. But, because Diablo 3 stayed online, I think it's helped curb that. Whether or not it's worth it, I can't really say. I've never been in a situation where I wanted to play Diablo 3 but have been without internet.

    Examples of bad DRM: Sim City, Gateway, and anything Square Enix, EA, or other big companies use. Everyone remembers the whole debacle with Sim City, so I don't really need to say anything more than that EA lied and the always-online architecture wasn't necessary for the game as they made an offline patch later. Everyone also knows about the whole Brickgate thing, so I won't delve into that either. I mentioned EA already, but big companies have been known to use DRM, sometimes to the detriment of the player and their experience. Final Fantasy 7 on the PC (the re-release) requires the player to always be connected to the internet, or at least connected when the launcher starts, I can't remember which. I can understand an online game requiring the player always be connected, but... Final Fantasy 7, seriously?
     
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  5. Ryukouki
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    Ryukouki See you later, guys.

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    Huh, interesting piece. :P I will do further research with this in mind.



    Oh God, Final Fantasy VII would be the last title to throw DRM into. :(
     
  6. Hop2089

    Hop2089 Cute>Hot

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    I don't like Starforce whatsoever, it can do serious damage to your computer and I especially hate always online for anything but a multiplayer only game, games like Titanfall that are online only can use this, but in games with a single player mode, no because if your net goes down or a lag spike happens, your game is nearly unplayable or useless.
     
  7. LEDAHGRIM

    LEDAHGRIM RPG Dreamer

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    I can see why it would be necessary for smaller developers like indie groups, The real problems here
    is that most developers outside indie and small companies most of the time use DRM the wrong way
    or to give themselves unfair advantage over the customer.

    Long ago I had a friend who was totally supportive of DRM almost like a politician lol, While I always
    just downloaded games and played what I wanted without paying a cent. Then my friend started
    telling me that I should support the developers and should buy the games.

    Naturally I told him "You're right, But 80 or 90 USD for just one game?... You crazy?", That's just how
    overpriced gaming media is over here, Told him that I preferred to use that kind of money on my home
    and basic needs like food and payment bills.

    Unfortunately he was a one trick pony and started bashing me and labeling me a pirate (I didn't care)
    and I told him "If you're going to be like that then we're done here, Old friend.", Plus I always hated
    how when I payed for a few pc games on the discount bin I still had to hop trough all those DRM holes...

    Not to mention I once even bought a game that required a connection to get validated online once installed
    and the servers had been closed along with the company some years prior... That was the last straw for
    me and decided to not buy anymore games ever until this DRM scam disappears or significantly improves
    instead or worsening even more the gamer experience...

    EDIT:
    Another tidbit people remembered me about, I totally despise always online DRM on
    games that clearly can be played offline or are single player only...
     
  8. Vercalos

    Vercalos Member

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    Basically, the only DRM I really take issue with are the ones that limit your installations by a certain amount, or REQUIRE a constant internet connection. I remember buying a game(it wasn't Diablo) off of Steam, and being unable to play it single player, due to the fact that it required a connection to the producer's servers, and their servers were down. Hell, I'll openly admit to pirating certain games simply for little things like not having to have the CD/DVD in my drive to play it.

    One case has very little to do with DRM, and I actually ended up pirating the game, because I bought a digital copy, the copy went corrupt, and the site I bought it from was defunct. It was The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and I bought that one at least three times. First on the 360, then twice or three times for the PC(once as DVD, twice as Digital Download). Finally, I pirated it because I was no longer able to download it form the sites I purchased it at and had issues with the DVD version.

    I've been tempted to pirate Diablo III, despite owning a legitimate copy, simply because their servers can be utterly terrible, and if you lose your connection, you cannot play.

    ...

    ...


    Man this was a directionless rambling post.

    <EDIT>
    One thing I do like to add is that Steam mostly does it right. So far as I can tell, you don't actually need to be online to play games you bought with Steam. There have been times where my gameplay went uninterrupted, despite my connection fluctuating badly

    <EDIT 2>
    I suppose my opinion amounts to this: If your DRM hinders the people who purchased your product more than it hinders those attempting to pirate it, you're doing it wrong.
     
  9. LEDAHGRIM

    LEDAHGRIM RPG Dreamer

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    ^ Basically what I just said
     
  10. Ryukouki
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    Ryukouki See you later, guys.

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    Eh, it's no biggie. ;) Everyone has the right to speak in here, even if it may be a duplicate opinion. :)
     
  11. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    People don't usually realize this, but there isn't such a thing as a fully "DRM-Free" game. We equate "not having annoying features that check for the game's legality" as DRM-Free, but that's not the case. Digital Rights Management has been around since the dawn of computing - games and programs used and still use custom encryption schemes to prevent file modification, some require serial numbers, I'm not sure if people around here will remember it but some real oldies were bundled with code wheels - all sorts of funky stuff. Metal Gear Solid actually used an interesting one - one of the codec numbers was printed on the box and was not available in-game, this impeded progress when you had a pirate copy, at least until you got the code from somewhere (and the Internet wasn't as widely available then as it is now, so this worked).

    Digital Rights Management is required. Digital or not, intellectual property deserved to be protected. The problem is that DRM can be executed poorly or executed well, in a way that does not annoy lawful owners of software, music or other media. The frontline between protecting intellectual property and lawful use can be pretty blurry at points though - for example, you're entitled to backup your software, but with certain DRM, your backed up copy simply won't work so it's worthless. It's a very delicate balance and every disturbance of it echoes loudly.

    To summarize, yes, DRM is justifiable, but at the same time it cannot infringe upon your rights as an owner. If you have a license for a given piece of software, there's no reason why you should only be able to install it a couple times or only be able to play it when you're Online. DRM can't get in the way of actually using the software, it shouldn't be an inconvenience, it should be a device that protects content from unlawful use only.
     
  12. grossaffe

    grossaffe GBAtemp Addict

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    I never had code wheels, but I do remember games with code grids (5.25" floppy games). And then there was Star Trek 25th Anniversary and Judgment Rites that had a Star Map that you needed to navigate to mission locations; going to the wrong star would result in a battle with Klingons, Romulans, or Elasi Pirates.
     
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  13. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    That's what I'm talking about! That Star Trek one actually enhances the game more than anything since you have a physical peripheral that you actively use to play the game and any pirated copy is useless without it. You can have zillion quadrillion backup copies of the game if you so deem fit, but only the person who has that map can effectively play, great stuff! Of course in the age of the Internet someone would immediately scan that sort of thing and bundle it with the release, but as times change, so does the DRM.
     
  14. Hop2089

    Hop2089 Cute>Hot

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    I remember the feelies all too well, it's usually some book or pamphlet and you always had to type in a code or a word from the manual to start the game. The worst DRM of old is lenslok, while I haven't had a game with this, I heard the horror stories over the years especially when the wrong lens was shipped with the game.
     
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  15. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    That's fascinating, I've never heard about that one - good stuff right there, for the books! :yay:
     
  16. LEDAHGRIM

    LEDAHGRIM RPG Dreamer

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    This may be DRM unrelated, But last week I remember wanting to play Ragnarok online 2, Then after
    download and installation I had to create an account called "users" to even get the installer working
    then I had to set permission for said group to access the install directory since by default I had no
    right to enter the folder...

    All ended in pure nerd rage and a broken bird statue decoration on my room... So I was like "This is pure
    madness... Worse that DRM!".
     
  17. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Not DRM-related indeed, rather "poorly programmed, oh my god, why didn't you use a standard installer framework, please stahp" kind of an affair. :P
     
  18. Gahars

    Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

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    DRM is absolutely justified. I appreciate what CD Projekt Red's been doing, but that's not realistic for every developer out there. Plus, you can't really blame devs for not wanting people to take their shit without paying.

    Shitty DRM, on the other hand, isn't, especially in this day and age.

    You bring up Steam, and there's a good lesson to be learned there. Pirates can download a game and start playing it immediately. When you're selling your product, that's what you have to compete with. Sure, super restrictive DRM might block some pirates in the short term, but they're a resilient, patient bunch. It's not a game you can win in the long run. Valve realized, "If you can't beat them, make them join you." Steam is both DRM and a service, and it's effective while being incredibly more convenient and versatile than what piracy has to offer. They treat their customers with respect and people have responded in kind; Steam continues to grow every year and it shows no sign of stopping.

    In the wrong hands, DRM is an obstacle. In the right hands, though, it can be an opportunity.
     
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  19. LEDAHGRIM

    LEDAHGRIM RPG Dreamer

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    I remember the case where the pokemon games for DS starting with Heart Gold and Soul Silver had a no exp
    DRM, Then a emulator was updated that corrected that and I was like "Isn't an emulator just supposed to emulate
    and not to break DRM?".
     
  20. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    If DRM is done right, then I have no problem, but then I think back to when Chaos Theory used the infamous Starforce DRM which is a rootkit of sorts and created numerous instabilities. The problem is the game didn't work on Windows 7 and the user was asked to update Starforce to work with Windows 7. The patch never worked and the user was stuck in an endless loop. I felt that I, a legit user, should not have to suffer such restrictions in a game I legally obtained. With that said, I admit that I cracked the my legally obtained game to work with Windows 7 with a DRM removal patch. Legit users often suffer from poorly implemented DRM.