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Capcom DRM Follow-up

A new Ask Capcom Forum Thread started by Christian Svensson indicates that a positive outcome may be possible after the negative backlash to the recent announcement that the upcoming Windows edition of Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition would use one of those DRM schemes that requires a constant internet connection (thanks Joao). Following much outcry, he is soliciting "a constructive dialog" on the topic of DRM, offering a Christian take on the four questions:

Question 1: Without using a secure network authentication mechanism of some kind (SSA, Steam CEG, Impulse GOO, SecuROAM, etc.) how can we validate that a copy is legitimate versus pirated?

Question 2: If it isn't what we've proposed, what form of limitations would be acceptable in the event that there in a "non trusted" mode, assuming that it can be secured?

Question 3: If there were a network validated install and we put in an offline mode that would allow you to have funtionality for some period of time, but require revalidation on a frequent interval, would that be acceptable?

Question 4: There seems to be a lot of supposition that the pirates will instantly crack whatever protections we put in place. One never knows, that could well be true. Personally, I'm not quite as defeatist. One at least has to try. Now, if we promised to "sunset" those protections in the event of a crack being created so that legitimate users don't have a substandard experience to pirates, is that an acceptable solution?

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31 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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31. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 27, 2011, 19:54 Jerykk
 
There seems to be a lot of supposition that the pirates will instantly crack whatever protections we put in place. One never knows, that could well be true. Personally, I'm not quite as defeatist. One at least has to try.

I think one should try to focus on making legitimate customers happy rather than stopping pirates. In the extremely unlikely event that the game doesn't get cracked, how many more sales will that gain them? 5? 10? 20? 100? There's no way to tell. Conversely, how many sales will they lose because of the DRM? That's much easier to predict given people's reactions thus far.

If you make a game that people want to buy, they will buy it. The copy-protection is irrelevant. The best-selling PC games use very basic copy-protection in the form of disc-checks and CD-keys.
 
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30. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 27, 2011, 11:32 Droniac
 
There seems to be a lot of supposition that the pirates will instantly crack whatever protections we put in place. One never knows, that could well be true. Personally, I'm not quite as defeatist. One at least has to try.

He should have replaced defeatist with realistic.

One can try, but will almost certainly fail to stop game piracy with DRM. I can only think of two DRM implementations that effectively secured their respective games for longer than a week. Those are BioShock's SecuROM and the first few games using UPlay. Both implementations gathered a great deal of flack from the PC community and likely those games lost far more sales from such harsh DRM implementations than they 'gained' from stopping day one piracy.

What irks me about this emphasis on day-one piracy is that such a matter really isn't vital to the PC games industry. Most sales for PC games do not occur until after the first month, when sales start to pick up (if it's a good game and getting reasonable positive reviews / word-of-mouth). This is a fact that has been demonstrated time and time again with every single successful PC game to date... and it directly contradicts the use of strict DRM measures aimed at day-one piracy. In the short-term such measures might gain a few additional sales during the first week, if you're successful at combating day-one piracy, which almost every DRM system is not. In the long-term such measures hurt your sales due to overwhelmingly negative feedback that actively discourages users from buying your games in the period when they're most profitable: after the first month of release.

The fact that PC games ramp up in sales after the initial weeks is well documented and can be illustrated with virtually every successful PC game. That includes Crysis, Unreal Tournament series, StarCraft series, Dawn of War series, Half Life series, Company of Heroes, The Orange Box, Left 4 Dead, The Witcher, Guild Wars, World of WarCraft, Titan Quest, Sacred, Team Fortress 2, Recettear, F.E.A.R., MineCraft, The Sims, and so on. All of these games shifted far more copies in subsequent months than the first few weeks. For reference you can look up Crysis and UT3 for instance, which went from 30K in 2 weeks to 1+ million in 3 months.

I understand that publishers want to secure their investments and that securing the product is the most obvious, but not very effective, solution. In the short-term it might increase revenue very slightly, although that's never been proven, but in the long-term harsh DRM systems always hurt sales, especially during the most profitable period of a successful PC game. It's much better to stick to CD-key checks to prevent mass-consumer piracy, and active checking for multiplayer only. Those systems are proven to work and aren't particularly intrusive for the paying customer.

I'll still buy a game if it's of good quality and merely suffers from restrictive DRM, but quite a few PC gamers I know won't (they won't pirate it either, a game pirate is not a PC gamer in my book). I have Settlers 7, Assassin's Creed 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, BioShock, and Anno 1404. I love those games, but their respective DRM implementations are inexcusable and testify of utterly atrocious customer service. The DRM also prevents me from recommending those games to my friends, because many of them refuse to purchase such half-functional products.

The worst thing is that such restrictive DRM systems have only ever proven to not work. Harsh DRM does not prevent piracy in the slightest, at best - in a few rare cases - it marginally postpones piracy. Harsh DRM also does not appear to increase sales figures, all such games have shown relatively disappointing PC sales figures, presumably due to the massive consumer backlash against strict DRM. As such there's no actual reason to implement such measures beyond satisfying ill-informed shareholders.

Note that I don't claim a lack of strict DRM will attract any pirates to start purchasing games. Instead it will attract the fence-sitters who would otherwise spend their money on other games that don't actively punish the paying customer. Most PC game pirates are habitual liars who will realistically never spend money on a PC game in their life unless it's strictly necessary for multiplayer access. They'll claim the contrary all the way to their grave, but that doesn't make it any less a lie. There's no hope for these individuals and they shouldn't be counted as lost sales, because even if piracy were to be made completely impossible most of them still wouldn't spend money on games. Or at least that's the impression I've been left with after interacting with the several hundreds of PC game pirates I've met over the years.
 
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29. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 23:05 Dades
 

bunch of stuff about GFWL and whatever. If someone asks for your opinion and you simply spit out "DRM SUCKS" then really you have contributed less than zero to the conversation.

If that was an actual concern they could have gone to established third party vendors with actual anti-cheat solutions. I'll give you three guesses who has no such thing.
 
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28. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 22:35 Sepharo
 
Satoru wrote on May 26, 2011, 22:04:
The irony is that people like you complain about hacks and cheats in PC games, yet SCREAM bloody murder if a company tries to protect their game from it.

Please DRM save us from the singleplayer hacks!
 
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27. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 22:04 Satoru
 
Wow your ignorance is astounding. As indicated GFWL is already part of the development stream. They can't change it now. It's not THAT arduous a requirement, though I am the first to say I am not a huge fan of it. He's defending it from people LIKE YOU who dismiss it out of hand without really understanding what's going on.

The irony is that people like you complain about hacks and cheats in PC games, yet SCREAM bloody murder if a company tries to protect their game from it. If you use DRM in a way that complements your anti-cheat strategy as WoW does, then isn't that what you want. Especially in a online competitive games such as SSF4?

I want a level playing field for onilne competition in SSF4. If DRM is part of that strategy and is integrated in a good long term plan to maintain the game's integrity for legitimate users, then I'm all for it.

If someone asks for your opinion and you simply spit out "DRM SUCKS" then really you have contributed less than zero to the conversation.
 
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26. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 21:58 ViRGE
 
ASeven wrote on May 26, 2011, 19:43:
To add some context into why this DRM was done this way, not that I'm defending it in any way or form, it's horrible:

The high-end market, the one that rakes the higher amount of revenue for Capcom is the arcade market, as unbelievable as it sounds. PCBs of SSFIVAE sell for $10K or more so Capcom rakes in a lot of revenue by this. Lately there has been reports, mainly in China, of arcade cabinets that are simply PCs running SFIV. This may be the reason why Capcom went with such stupid DRM, not to protect it from PC piracy but to protect it from arcade piracy.
I get where you're coming from, but that doesn't make much sense. When the goal is to save $10K by not paying for a real arcade machine, what's $40? The Chinese arcades would just use legit copies of SSFIVAE; they're still saving $9960. I don't see how this kind of DRM would stop that.

In any case, I echo what everyone else has said: you may as well skip the DRM on the SP game and focus on MP. Use CD keys to make sure each client is a paid copy, and anti-cheating technology (e.g. Punkbuster) to try to keep jackasses from cheating their way to the top.
 
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25. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 21:44 Hyatus
 
I'm always weary when I see questions like these from the suits. No matter what answer is given, whether sensible or not, the people who have the decision-making power try to please the shareholders who are mostly stupid sheep.

It's too bad Capcom can't please the consumers who decide to give the shareholders their money.
 
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24. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 20:50 Vazz
 
Kajetan wrote on May 26, 2011, 19:26:
Vazz wrote on May 26, 2011, 16:50:
You simply cannot protect single player portions of a game from pirates.
You cannot even protect any multi player portions, as private servers for popular games like Counterstrike, L4D or even MMOs like WoW demonstrate.

This is not completely true, I can think of some games that pirates can't play multi-player. Although most of them are just because they aren't popular and so the crackers don't care enough to crack them. But one popular game that comes to mind is Battlefield Bad Company 2(which I bought day 1 btw). It didn't have private servers because only trusted companies got the server files and there's no lan support, so programs like hamachi wouldn't work. This came at the expensive of the customer of course. Can't host our own servers, no mod tools, no co-op, etc.. I'm not sure if people managed to crack it now though. But even if they did, it took months.
 
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23. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 20:34 Dades
 
I surely won't act like an asshole whenever somewhen tries to safe his IP

One guy acted like an asshole here, one guy. Direct your preaching to him. Fucking your legit customers to safeguard an IP is not ok and people have offered reasonable solutions both here and on their forums already.
 
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22. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 20:21 Golwar
 
Dades wrote on May 26, 2011, 20:02:
CD Project drops their DRM after it protected them from pre-release piracy and everyone cheers

No, it didn't protect them from anything and they didn't use it on their versions of the game. They are dropping it from the versions they were forced to put it on by their publisher.

In your transparent and failed rush to pass judgement on the PC community you forgot to actually examine the context of both situations properly.

Ahem? I said that I knew very well that it isn't identical, but that I've seen worse. And I added that they'd grant some basic demands.
So thx for telling me what I already confirmed myself previously.

By the way, I wonder how people would act if every company acted like CD Project does. Shall we believe that people would buy directly from the developer, full price and sometimes even twice, just to reward them for being so friendly? Yeah sure, I'd like to see people do that for any good and unprotected game out there.

As long as even the Humble Indie Bundles are pirated, I surely won't act like an asshole whenever somewhen tries to safe his IP. Not if they act that open minded and are willed to meet basic requests.
 
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21. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 20:02 Dades
 
CD Project drops their DRM after it protected them from pre-release piracy and everyone cheers

No, it didn't protect them from anything and they didn't use it on their versions of the game. They are dropping it from the versions they were forced to put it on by their publisher.

In your transparent and failed rush to pass judgement on the PC community you forgot to actually examine the context of both situations properly.
 
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20. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 19:49 Golwar
 
Odd. CD Project drops their DRM after it protected them from pre-release piracy and everyone cheers. Capcom discusses droping DRM in case that the pirates crack it and they are "assholes".

I know very well that those 2 approaches aren't identical, but I've really seen worse. The usual demand is that lawful customers shouldn't be treated worse than pirates. He offers exactly that and is very open minded with the whole concept. It really wouldn't hurt some of you guys to show a little respect.

If I'd receive such bullshit replies, I'd either drop PC support completly or ignore all complains and use whatever DRM my boss or any "security" company would propose.
 
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19. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 19:43 ASeven
 
To add some context into why this DRM was done this way, not that I'm defending it in any way or form, it's horrible:

The high-end market, the one that rakes the higher amount of revenue for Capcom is the arcade market, as unbelievable as it sounds. PCBs of SSFIVAE sell for $10K or more so Capcom rakes in a lot of revenue by this. Lately there has been reports, mainly in China, of arcade cabinets that are simply PCs running SFIV. This may be the reason why Capcom went with such stupid DRM, not to protect it from PC piracy but to protect it from arcade piracy.
 
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18. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 19:26 Prez
 
They need to accept that their game will be cracked, will be pirated, and cannot be secured. When they come to peace with that, they will begin to focus on making the game better for paying customers, and in turn will gain more customers.

On the subject of re-authorizations - not just no, but HELL FREAKIN' NO! It's a stupid idea and it sucks. Drop it and never speak of it again.

I hate the sunset provision because it is saying that it is worth screwing paying customers as long as in the process of doing so we stop some pirates, and that is just flat-out wrong. It is NEVER acceptable to screw paying customers, regardless of what may be gained.

Since they asked: Single Player should be DRM-free, tie the multiplayer account to a unique serial code and stop worrying about people who would most likely never become customers anyway. And someone WILL crack your game, and it will be extremely fast, especially now that you basically dared them.

 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
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17. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 19:26 Kajetan
 
Vazz wrote on May 26, 2011, 16:50:
You simply cannot protect single player portions of a game from pirates.
You cannot even protect any multi player portions, as private servers for popular games like Counterstrike, L4D or even MMOs like WoW demonstrate. In fact, you cannot protect shit, so stop it already, dear industry. There isn't even any proof, that casual software "piracy" harms revenue enough to justify such methods, only assumptions from paranoid and scared publishers.
 
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16. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 19:04 Dades
 
Nameless Again wrote on May 26, 2011, 16:53:
What an asshole.

Were you looking in a mirror again? People beg and plead for companies to have this kind of transparency. He's not asking you to do his job, he's asking for a reasonable compromise that suits everyone. As usual it's the people flinging insults around that have no solutions to offer, they just want everything fixed without even specifying what that means.

For my part I'd like them to remove Games for Windows Live and build a battle.net like multiplayer platform. They could use it for multiple titles and preserve all of the statistics. It would give gamers an incentive to upgrade to newer versions of their games while offering matchmaking and other functionality. A functional and feature filled multiplayer component is the strongest defense against piracy.
 
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15. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 18:47 nin
 


Intentionally set the bar high, wait for flack, lower it slightly, watch everyone cheer.

Done.

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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14. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 17:55 eRe4s3r
 
You do realize though that this gives people an incentive to crack the game? If you reward piracy and punish your customers until pirates win by defeating your protection then that isn't just a bad but also ... criminally stupid.

You realize that by this logic a potential buyer could decide to just wait till the cracked version is out, so that the DRM is removed before he buys it, only to then realize "Mhh, wait a minute, this warez version is 0$ and offers the same thing as the legal game" ?

Not to mention that i am not gonna buy a game that has always on checks, i've seen them not work in Assassins Creed and SH5
 
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13. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 17:36 Kosumo
 
Nameless Again wrote on May 26, 2011, 16:53:
What an asshole. It's not our job as gamers to fix YOUR problems. Our job is to pay for and play your games. If we don't like what you do for DRM, then it's YOUR job to fix it, not turn around and say "Fine, you fix it."

Gee, you look at every thing in life with such a bitter view?

The guy is opening a dialog to talk about these issue and you call him an asshole.

Must be funny being in a relationship with you.

I support them doing what ever they wish to do to protect their software from illeagal use, just like how I support you in not having to buy their software if you don't like the DRM. It's not like they are hiding it until after you have brought a copy and goto install it.

I don't get what the big deal is with some people here and any kind of DRM - like it is some great evil - the reason they may look at PC users as crimanils maybe because there is a shit ton of piracy that has been going on on PC for decades - this 'oh they treat me like a crimanil' do you feel the same way when you are driving your can and get stopped at a drink driving checkpoint?
 
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12. Re: Capcom DRM Follow-up May 26, 2011, 17:33 coldcut
 
Hey Christian Svensson of CAPCOM, how about a conspiratorial chat with Adam Badowski from CD Projekt RED? This could lead to a very "constructive dialog" ...  
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