Stardock, creator of Galactic Civilizations 2, released a news item recently about the reasoning behind the lack of copy protection on its latest game. In it, Avatar Frogboy writes about better ways to combat piracy, namely by making it more attractive to be a paying customer than to download a copy illegally. It’s a refreshing viewpoint since most developers these days seem to believe that copy protection is a “vital” part of game development.
We realize that some people or companies might feel threatened at any evidence that implies that draconian DRM schemes or CD copy protection may not make that big of a difference in sales.
For example, we were quite disturbed to discover that the company that makes Starforce provided a working URL to a list of pirated GalCiv II torrents. I’m not sure whether what they did was illegal or not, but it’s troubling nevertheless and was totally unnecessary
Way to go, Starforce. Not only do you have a bad reputation for leaving behind junk on PCs when a person installs a game, but you go ahead and make yourself into quite a nuisance for companies that don’t fall for your marketing. Good job! You will continue to earn the scorn of gamers. Stardock should be commended for doing right by its customers and for keeping the moral high ground on this issue.
And look at the responses on that news item!
I bought the game for the sole reason you dont treat me like a criminal.
If anything knowing you can easily create a working backup of your games is what made me become a devout follower of Stardock in the first place.
Well Stardock I can tell you that ‘not’ putting DRM on your product is the reason I bought this game. I didnt buy ‘just’ because there is no copy protection, I also enjoy 4x games and GC2 is a good game. There are alot of games to choose from and I can only buy a few, so when it came time to decide what my next game was going to be I saw no copy protection for GC2 and my decisoin was made.
looks like I have to take might and magic 5 off my list too, I didn’t buy silent hunter 3 and X3 either just because
of that dreaded starforce
In some cases, the lack of draconian copy protection on a game made the purchasing decision easier for people. If you have a choice between buying two great games, one with DRM and one without, which would you choose? And isn’t it eye-opening that people are refusing to completely buy some games because of the type of DRM being used? If you want to increase sales, you make your product more valuable than a competitor’s offering. I haven never bought much music, but I have bought music at Audio Lunch Box because they promise me .ogg or .mp3 files without DRM. I don’t have to worry about copying my music to a second machine and having my music player accuse me of piracy. Why would I use anything with the misnamed FairPlay on it?
One poster referenced Rip Rowan of ProRec.com who wrote about the frustrations of so-called Digital Rights Management in Waves Native Gold Bundle 3.2 Featuring PACE Interlok. It’s sad how common a practice it is to purchase licenses and then use cracked versions for convenience.
In the best case, copy protection can be a mild annoyance for the customer. He also documents some worst case issues with PACE Interlok, including instances where uninstalling one “protected” package on a machine can invalidate the authorization to use another unrelated package, or installation reboots the system spontaneously, or the inability to use software due to downtime with the company you need to “phone home” to.
But the very worst part:
Within weeks of the commercial release of Native Gold Bundle 3.0, pirated versions of the software were available everywhere!
So all of my pain and suffering was for NOTHING! NOTHING! Thatâ€™s what makes me so unbelievably ANGRY! It was all for NOTHING!
Now, why would you want your paying customers to feel this way? Why force them to jump through hoops, making cracked copies of your game all the more attractive? When you release your second game, or your fifth, what could you possibly offer to your customer to make him/her deal with your DRM crap rather than download a copy that can be played without effort? Why should I buy a music CD and risk having it ruin my computer when I can download the MP3s and know that they will just play?
I don’t like this sentiment, however:
Finally, I implore everyone who reads this article: do not steal software. That is why we are in this mess in the first place.
I’ve already written about how copyright infringement isn’t stealing, but that last sentence is what bothers me the most. Are you really supposed to believe that it isn’t the company putting you through painful copy protection? You’re supposed to just assume that it is the person who infringes the copyright that is at fault? Let’s take some responsibility here. Stardock isn’t forcing draconian copy protection on its customers. It’s game is not always legally acquired. If those darn pirates are the reason we’re “in this mess”, how does Stardock manage to take the high road?
Let’s put the blame for overbearing copy protection where it belongs. Yes, someone “stole” your game. That person shouldn’t do it, but he/she did it. At the same time, we already know that two wrongs don’t make a right, so don’t tell me that copy protection that punishes the paying customer is out of your hands. You have a choice, so when your customers complain, you can’t just say, “Well, if it weren’t for those pirates, we would make it easier for you, but we can’t.” Aren’t you supposed to please your customer? You know, the person who actually buys your projects? Increases your sales numbers? Improves your cash flow situation? If not, then who are you trying to please?