Games Marketing/Business Politics/Government

Inconvenient Copy Protection or Inconvenient Copy Protection?

I just got the latest issue of PC Gamer, and I was reading the letters to the editor when I came across the complaint of Jon Ferrell. Jon wrote about the annoyance and pain involved in needing to have a CD in the drive for no other reason but copy protection. Besides being inconvenient to have all of your game CDs available if you ever want to play any of them, if any of them break due to constantly being on the move, guess who replaces them? Not the manufacturer!

His letter continues, pointing out that the advent of hard drives eliminated the need for floppies to run all of your software, but then we regressed for the sake of copy protection. In fact, it got worse as we now have automatic, online checks for compliance.

So what is the PC Gamer response? “As much as digital rights management inconveniences paying customers, we find it difficult to criticize game makers for taking reasonable steps to protect themselves from widespread piracy.”

The editor goes on to say that now with systems like Steam, online checks make your CD-swapping days a memory…of course, some people don’t appreciate the fact that their limited bandwidth or their privacy are compromised in the name of copy protection. My favorite quote:

“If only someone would come up with an either/or scheme, where you could insert the disk or check in online, then we’d get the best of both worlds.”

WTF? Best of both worlds? Both worlds are pretty messed up, if you ask me, and it is pretty messed up to think that they are reasonable measures to take. It wasn’t too long ago when Stardock made the news for not using copy protection in Galactic Civilizations 2, and I seem to remember reading about it in PC Gamer, too. In fact, around that time, PC Gamer had an entire article dedicated to the problems with Starforce and rootkits. Best of both worlds? I’ll take the world of Stardock’s creation over draconian measures to protect companies from their paying customers , thank you very much.

One reply on “Inconvenient Copy Protection or Inconvenient Copy Protection?”

As much as I do concur with how much piracy is a problem, I’m also leaning more and more to Stardock’s way of thinking.

Stardock HAS copy protection. Don’t misunderstand that. But they chose the carrot over the stick. If you want the updates and support, you’ll need to enter your license key (as I understand it – I haven’t had time to try out Gal Civ 2 yet, but it’s on my list, though I loved Gal Civ 1).

I had an experience a few months ago where I was trying to reinstall the expansion to Rise of Nations (Thrones and Patriots), and I could not find the original CD-Key. Talk about frustration! By losing either the original media OR the envelope it came in, your purchase could be rendered null and void.

Many years ago, I couldn’t find the documentation I needed to look up the copy protection questions for Wing Commander. I eventually found it again, but in the meantime I found myself visiting pirate sites to find a “crack” for Wing Commander. When I found it and installed it (shuddering the whole way), I was amazed at how much easier it was to play the game. I was astounded that the pirates could just jump right in and enjoy the game, but honest customers had to jump through all kinds of hoops before being allowed to enjoy their own purchase.

There’s something fundamentally wrong here.

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