Three Finger Salute

I have a question regarding the “Casual Piracy” Salute column.
Did you get a lot of comments from developers or publishers about the statements you made in the article, Tom? If so, what was the general gist of their sentiment?

Joe, Tom’s out of town so he may not see this. I’m not sure when he’s returning.

Ah well. If he does then he does. Thanks for the heads-up, tho.

The thing I would be really intetrested to know would be how happy the game companies are about disk-checking protection. Certainly, they have poured the capital and creativity into their intellectual properties and deserve the fair fruits of their labors, but are they happy with the current form of protection or do they crave a better type? Something that checks the installed game, perhaps, instead of requiring a CD? How happy can they really be with any mechanism that slows or frustrates the audience they are trying to reach and make money from?

Ah well. If he does then he does. Thanks for the heads-up, tho.

The thing I would be really intetrested to know would be how happy the game companies are about disk-checking protection. Certainly, they have poured the capital and creativity into their intellectual properties and deserve the fair fruits of their labors, but are they happy with the current form of protection or do they crave a better type? Something that checks the installed game, perhaps, instead of requiring a CD? How happy can they really be with any mechanism that slows or frustrates the audience they are trying to reach and make money from?

I agreed w/ the column, but for different reasons. My home desk and game collection is pretty neat. But if I want to bring along a game to use w/ my laptop when traveling, I have to lug around the bottom half of it that contains the CD drive. It doubles the weight of an otherwise-light and small computer.

Frankly, I would much prefer that publishers adopt an activation method similar to Microsoft’s [ducks down, expecting to be pelted with rotting fruit and vegetables]. Seriously, though, as a copy protection scheme, online activation seems a lot less abusable than CD-based copy protection. There are so many utilities out there for cracking CD copy protection that it ultimately gives the average user a lot more trouble than it gives the average pirate. An installation-based activation scheme would make piracy more difficult for everyone, and would eliminate the need for CD checks, thus allowing us to reap all the benefits of a full installation.

But… Ben? What about multiple computers and laptops. If I buy a game, I want to be able to play it on any machine I own.

An activation system would be really annoying for me. Due to hard drive space constraints, I have to occasionally swap out games from time to time. Also, imagine that some time in the future I want to go back and install a “classic” game requiring an activation code? How obnoxious would that be?

  • Alan

Activation schemes are easily bypassed. Once again you will get a system that will hurt the people who pay for things and won’t really phase anyone else. The activation will be hacked out or fake personal authentication servers will be setup. You can fake a program into thinking your computer is www.miscrosoft.com with one line in a hosts file. I say go to no copy protection at all, saves money for creating the disks with a special process. This means software can be cheaper and more accesable. The people who are going to copy things are going to copy them … no matter what. There is no way to stop them, all you do is piss off paying customers. The only reasonable activation is for a multiplayer server type situation it won’t work for single player.

– Xaroc

I have to say if games were designed with product activation this would turn me to piracy.

This is from someone who has purchased his games all his life.

Product activation is also another reason why I have not touched Windows XP.

Well legally you’re not allowed to do that under the current scheme. Software licenses are “install on one machine only” now. Not just that you can only PLAY them on one at a time, but even having it INSTALLED on multiple machines is a violation of the EULA.

Anyway, I like the idea of an installation-based activation scheme that would ALSO dial home when you uninstall a program to free up that key. That way you could re-install at a later date or on a different computer. That would effectively force the “one install at a time” rule of the modern EULA and at the same time let you swap games onto and off of your hard drive, go back to play old games on your new computer, sell your game on eBay, etc.

There are lots of problems to be overcome with the whole activation scheme in respect to games, though. What happens if you want to play a game that’s five years old? Will the company still be running the activation server for that game? What if the publisher goes out of business, is your CD a coaster now?

In the meantime, just to kill disc swapping, I’d prefer that all games give me an either-or option of checking a CD key with an authentication server (ala playing Quake 3 online) when it starts up OR checking for the CD in the drive. This isn’t an effective piracy deterrant, but it does let the companies keep their casual CD duplication prevention schemes (Safedisc et all) while not inconvienancing me with looking for the CD every time I want to play.

That would never stand up in court though. It’s unenforceable. License…blah-blah-blah… I’m sure they feel my copy of Warcraft III is just like my copy of Word. But I don’t think it would be hard to argue that a game is more like a music CD or a video. It’s not a tool, it’s an entertainment. Can they demand I only play a CD in one stereo in my house?

“Can they demand I only play a CD in one stereo in my house?”

The current roadmap for digital TV includes plans to block the ability to watch video taped from TV on any other TV set. So, yes, that’s the new legal paradigm supported by our campaign finance-bribed politicians, working for the media conglomerates.

“In the meantime, just to kill disc swapping…”

It’s funny how console gamers never complain about disk swapping.

I don’t really mind the CD checks. It doesn’t seem onerous to me. I just hate that cdilla-ish stuff that sometimes causes problems.

It’s funny how console gamers never complain about disk swapping.

Their disks are being used. When you do a full install to your hard drive to improve load times, it gets to be rather annoying when you have to locate a disk, when you know everything the game needs is on your hard drive…Except for that darn CD check.

Console gamers have no choice, as the data is on the CD. They don’t have a hard drive to install the games onto. (Well, okay…I suppose Xbox owners do, but they still can’t install the whole game.)

I am with you Murph. I have argued this many times. I tend to hack anything I purchase so it doesn’t look for the CD if possible. Usually speeds up loading a ton as well.

Console gamers have no choice, as the data is on the CD.

Exactly.

They don’t have a hard drive to install the games onto. (Well, okay…I suppose Xbox owners do, but they still can’t install the whole game.)

The Xbox harddrive can store saves and MP3s but I don’t think there is an option to actually install portions of games to it except the portion it caches itself.

– Xaroc