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Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports

Computer and Video Games has some thoughts on piracy and DRM from Christofer Sundberg, founder of Swedish developer Avalanche Studios. He admits piracy is as worrisome to them as it is to all other developers, but that 50% of his employees come from hacking background. He also once again explains his distain for DRM. "The DRM does not stop piracy," he said, "it just punishes the people who have actually paid for the game. It's completely useless. Forcing people to be online all the time and so on doesn't show respect to the people who actually buy PC games." To some degree he also blames PC piracy on bad PC games and console ports, saying: "I think piracy wouldn't be as much of an issue if there were better PC games out there. We could just scrap the whole concept of stupid DRM." Here's more:

I've always been of the opinion that we should design PC games for the PC players. PC players and console players are completely two different types of consumer. It's always unfair to not design the game for the consumer you're targeting. The PC version is always a second thought [for publishers], like: 'Oh, and we need a PC version too.'

You end up just doing a port, so there's not a lot of time, budget or creative thinking going into using the PC. I think that's quite sad. We [as an industry] should take the PC platform more seriously. Everyone is just complaining about piracy on the PC, but when it comes to in-game DLC or social connectivity, the options on PC compared to console are endless. I would like at some point to do a really good PC game designed specifically for PC players.

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56 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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56. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 21:46 Sepharo
 
nin wrote on Mar 28, 2011, 08:42:
Slashman wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 19:59:
Jerykk wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 19:32:

Spoken like dirty pirate scum. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's digital or physical. If I stole your car and then drove it directly into your living room, running over your cat in the process, that's EXACTLY the same as downloading a game from the internet. Anyone who says otherwise is just a thief. Period.

But what if you did me a favor by running over my wife at the same time?


Wait wait wait...JeryKKK, who used to advertise here about how much he stole games, just called someone pirate scum?

Oh, the irony.

Are you reverse trolling / is this post-post-sarcasm?
 
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55. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 12:24 Jerykk
 
Wait wait wait...JeryKKK, who used to advertise here about how much he stole games, just called someone pirate scum?

Oh, the irony.

Actually, it was sarcasm. I guess the whole "driving into your living room and running over your cat" part was too subtle for you.
 
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54. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 09:05 Verno
 
Yeah putting KKK in his name surely makes you appear more mature and reasonable than he is. Moron.  
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Playing: Alien Isolation, 7 Days to Die, Dragon Age Origins
Watching: The Canal, Brazil, The Town That Dreaded Sundown
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53. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 08:42 nin
 
Slashman wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 19:59:
Jerykk wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 19:32:

Spoken like dirty pirate scum. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's digital or physical. If I stole your car and then drove it directly into your living room, running over your cat in the process, that's EXACTLY the same as downloading a game from the internet. Anyone who says otherwise is just a thief. Period.

But what if you did me a favor by running over my wife at the same time?


Wait wait wait...JeryKKK, who used to advertise here about how much he stole games, just called someone pirate scum?

Oh, the irony.
 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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52. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 08:36 Slashman
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 28, 2011, 02:53:
The only piracy DRM slows is the "give a friend the cd" kinda thing.

In the age of torrents, that method probably accounts for less than 1% of all piracy. If someone is so technically inept that they can't even copy and paste a crack, there's really no need for online activations, limited installs or any other elaborate DRM scheme. A rudimentary disc-check would be just as effective.

And yet those people exist. They just call their friends to do it for them when they can't get the crack to work.
 
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51. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 02:53 Jerykk
 
The only piracy DRM slows is the "give a friend the cd" kinda thing.

In the age of torrents, that method probably accounts for less than 1% of all piracy. If someone is so technically inept that they can't even copy and paste a crack, there's really no need for online activations, limited installs or any other elaborate DRM scheme. A rudimentary disc-check would be just as effective.
 
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50. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 28, 2011, 00:58 Dev
 
Wow, someone who actually gets it.

The only piracy DRM slows is the "give a friend the cd" kinda thing.
 
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49. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 19:59 Slashman
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 19:32:

Spoken like dirty pirate scum. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's digital or physical. If I stole your car and then drove it directly into your living room, running over your cat in the process, that's EXACTLY the same as downloading a game from the internet. Anyone who says otherwise is just a thief. Period.

But what if you did me a favor by running over my wife at the same time?
 
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48. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 19:32 Jerykk
 
In the end, you cannot compare copyright infringement with physical theft. One is the removal of a physical resource which is not infinitely renewable and the other is the duplication of an intellectual property which is infinitely renewable. Not even the courts call it theft...but we have people who calmly ignore that fact and choose to call it something other than what it is...copyright infringement. They are not legally the same thing.

Spoken like dirty pirate scum. Stealing is stealing. It doesn't matter if it's digital or physical. If I stole your car and then drove it directly into your living room, running over your cat in the process, that's EXACTLY the same as downloading a game from the internet. Anyone who says otherwise is just a thief. Period.

As opposed to forcing people to go online often to activate and reactivate their game, as required by Steamworks. Mr. Sundberg absolutely has a point that DRM like Steamworks punishes paying customers, while not stopping piracy. The only question left is why he thinks we deserve to be punished.

DRM is a publisher decision. He very likely had no say in the matter. Square also used Steamworks for K&L2, Front Mission Evolved and pretty much every game they've published in recent memory. It's certainly not ideal but it's better than alternatives like limited install Securom or always-online UbiDRM.

This comment was edited on Mar 27, 2011, 19:41.
 
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47. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 14:51 entr0py
 
"Forcing people to be online all the time and so on doesn't show respect to the people who actually buy PC games."

As opposed to forcing people to go online often to activate and reactivate their game, as required by Steamworks. Mr. Sundberg absolutely has a point that DRM like Steamworks punishes paying customers, while not stopping piracy. The only question left is why he thinks we deserve to be punished.
 
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46. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 14:48 StingingVelvet
 
Ravenger wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 14:34:
Batman AA, but I refuse to by any game on Steam that limits installs.

Retail disc version of Batman AA is just a disc check. Just make an offline profile on GFWL and off you go.

The fact that this rarely happens leads me to believe that second hand sales are the target for the DRM, rather than piracy.

Yeah, that was kind of an unwritten follow-up to my post. The fact that downright ancient games are still DRM'd up tells me they want to kill the second-hand market more than anything else. I bet all the big publishers are pushing for a Steam-like system on the next consoles for the same reason.
 
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45. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 14:34 Ravenger
 
The Steam versions of Mass Effect and Dead Space don't have limited activations, and I rebought them on Steam because of that. The original versions still have the original Securom limited activations.

There are whole bunch of games that keep coming up in Steam sales that I would re-buy if they didn't have insane limited activations - Crysis and Warhead, Riddick, Batman AA, but I refuse to by any game on Steam that limits installs.

As has been said here, I wouldn't have a problem with DRM if it were patched out after a few months when peak sales had passed. The fact that this rarely happens leads me to believe that second hand sales are the target for the DRM, rather than piracy.
 
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44. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 14:15 Slashman
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 13:56:
Honestly I would be fine with DRM on a game at launch that actually delayed some piracy as long as they patched it out when it was cracked. What possible function does the DRM on a game like Mass Effect serve today?

You know they actually patched it out. I realized this the other day after I had to reinstall my OS. There was no reference to the limited activation stuff or the documentation that tells you how to revoke activation.

This was on the Steam version. No idea if other versions had the same treatment.
 
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43. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 14:08 reisub
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 13:56:
Honestly I would be fine with DRM on a game at launch that actually delayed some piracy as long as they patched it out when it was cracked. What possible function does the DRM on a game like Mass Effect serve today?
+1

Would publishers bother to put in any effort to remove DRM from a game they no longer care about though? I know it wouldn't take much but even so...
 
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42. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 14:07 Kajetan
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 13:56:
Honestly I would be fine with DRM on a game at launch that actually delayed some piracy as long as they patched it out when it was cracked.
To achieve that publishers have to introduce a complete new DRM scheme for EVERY new game they release. Which is possible theoretically, but too costly for the publishers to implement. So they dont do it. The actual cost for better protecting their games is actually higher than any potential losses they might suffer from piracy.

Which is kind of funny
 
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41. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 13:56 StingingVelvet
 
Honestly I would be fine with DRM on a game at launch that actually delayed some piracy as long as they patched it out when it was cracked. What possible function does the DRM on a game like Mass Effect serve today?  
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40. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 13:14 Slashman
 
Dades wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 12:45:
Stormsinger wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 12:23:
So when are we going to start a campaign to get rid of locks on cars and houses?

A lock typically doesn't prevent a user from accessing their property nor does a lock make entry take longer than it should or otherwise inconvenience you like DRM does. I'm far from pro-piracy but the comparisons between physical goods and intellectual property are inherently flawed and do not move the discussion in a productive direction.

DRM as a concept is fine but unfortunately implementation is often backwards. Inconveniencing customers while unaffected pirates get a better experience is not how these things are supposed to go.

That's the part people who blindly shout their pro-DRM stance seem to miss.

A lock interferes with theft because the thief has to stop to either pick it, break it or otherwise circumvent it. It takes some time and effort to do that each time you want to break into a place.

The DRM lock doesn't get circumvented by pirates, a totally different individual takes the time to crack the code ONCE and then releases a lock-free version into the wild for ANYONE to download and use. Pirates don't even see the lock. They don't know its nature or its benefits/downsides. All that is for the paying customer to deal with.

I'm pretty sure that if your house had a lock that arbitrarily prevented you from gaining access to your home depending on certain conditions you had to meet which did not include you having the key(which you have because you purchased it), you'd be pretty unsatisfied with it.

As it stands, that is what DRM like Ubisoft's does.

In the end, you cannot compare copyright infringement with physical theft. One is the removal of a physical resource which is not infinitely renewable and the other is the duplication of an intellectual property which is infinitely renewable. Not even the courts call it theft...but we have people who calmly ignore that fact and choose to call it something other than what it is...copyright infringement. They are not legally the same thing.

I'm not pro-piracy. But I am not going to lie about its effects or attempt to blow them out of proportion so that we can all sit back and gasp in surprise every time the words 'software piracy' are spoken.

The same goes for most DRM. I can live just fine with Steam DRM because it allows me to do the things that I value most with my games(infinite installs, offline play and backups). The DRM people mostly protest is the kind which insists on limited activations and always online play while offering no added value to the consumer.

 
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39. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 12:45 Dades
 
Stormsinger wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 12:23:
So when are we going to start a campaign to get rid of locks on cars and houses?

A lock typically doesn't prevent a user from accessing their property nor does a lock make entry take longer than it should or otherwise inconvenience you like DRM does. I'm far from pro-piracy but the comparisons between physical goods and intellectual property are inherently flawed and do not move the discussion in a productive direction.

DRM as a concept is fine but unfortunately implementation is often backwards. Inconveniencing customers while unaffected pirates get a better experience is not how these things are supposed to go.
 
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38. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 12:23 Stormsinger
 
Cutter wrote on Mar 26, 2011, 15:58:
Distain? You mean disdain.

Anyway, DRM is useless. It doesn't stop theft. Anymore than anti-theft devices on cars do. If someone really wants to steal something they're going to do it regardless.

I was just coming here to make the same point, from the other side (if your post was sarcasm, then I guess it was the same side).

DRM, precisely like locks, was never intended nor expected to prevent all theft. If locks prevent some noticeable percentage of theft (and I doubt you'll find many who believe otherwise), or if DRM prevents some noticeable percentage of piracy, then they certainly have served a legitimate purpose.

The hypocrisy on this subject from the pro-piracy crowd is mind-boggling. I think we need a new rule...if you want DRM done away with on software you did not write, first you need to remove all your locks from things you did not build.

So when are we going to start a campaign to get rid of locks on cars and houses?
 
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37. Re: Avalanche on Piracy, DRM, and Ports Mar 27, 2011, 10:55 Slashman
 
TheVocalMinority wrote on Mar 27, 2011, 00:19:
I must not have any common sense then. Sorry if but you want me to buy your came don't use steam or any of it's ilk.

With this statement I'm inclined to agree because you totally misread my quote. I specifically said that anyone with common sense would not argue that Steamworks isn't a DRM.

The fact that you choose not to buy games which use Steamworks is probably completely irrelevant to the bigger picture because its not stopping the majority of other gamers. And as the number of titles which choose to go this route increase, your options become more and more limited(unless you choose to pirate anyway).

At this point, I can honestly say it doesn't bother me very much. And so far, Steamworks has worked pretty well and Valve continues to add new features to Steam which keep it relevant and useful to run.

As someone who lives in a country where shipping in games is extremely costly and there are no real decent local game retailers, Steam has allowed me to vastly grow my game library.

I'm not so much singing its praises as just being practical when I consider that I've never had a problem with it and don't really forsee one in the near or distant future.
 
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