We can point out, quite legitimately, that TQ’s particular implementation of copy protection was less than ideal. But we should also remember that it ONLY mattered because piracy was rampant.
Sticking our heads in the sand and constructing hypothetical reasons why piracy isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be is getting PC gaming nowhere. It’s bad. It’s really bad. The publishers all know it, most of the developers know it.
The fact of the matter is that anti-piracy solutions on the PC are crap. They don’t stop pirates, and they cause problems for legit customers. They’re usually middleware solutions, and it looks to me more like snake-oil than anything else.
Someone needs to really step up to the plate, here. Someone named Microsoft. They have low-level access to the OS. They need to build MUCH harder-to-crack hooks into the OS to allow legit software to run and provide graceful error messages when it won’t. They need to build access to this into an easy-to-implement API that is flexible enough for developers to do piracy checks in different ways (disc check, online check/activation, checks during gameplay, or any combination). DirectSecurity or something. Give it away for free, but of course shipping a game with it would require a license (so the pirates couldn’t just fake API calls and returns). Make the license fee nominal - a real no-brainer.
Charles - yes, it’s a tar pit of shit in many ways. :( It’s also great in many ways. A mouse and keyboard isn’t going to fly in the majority of living rooms in the world, though. Nobody wants that crap on the their coffee table. I’m not sure I’d say it’s never going to get better… but it certainly won’t if the developers and publishers don’t demand it.
Publishers and developers meet with Microsoft on a regular basis to discuss all kinds of business shit, but I somehow doubt they’re saying, with one loud unified voice, “look, I don’t give a shit about the next DirectX or the GFW tag on my box. Do something about my piracy and QA problems.”
There’s a lot than CAN be done about this, but it all takes time and money that the publishers and developers don’t want to spend. Hell, even the anti-piracy middleware guys don’t want to spend the time and money. Microsoft has a platform to protect, and deeper access into it’s low-level systems than anyone. They can fix this. They SHOULD fix this. They AREN’T fixing this, and that’s what needs to change.