Stardock Copy Protection Follow-up

The Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords Website has a follow-up on the recent dust-up about the non-inclusion of any copy protection in Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords (story). The blurb points the way to a story on GameSpot where Stardock's Brad Wardell answers questions about all this, and here's a bit from the statement:
We received email from StarForce today apologizing for the incident. We appreciated them taking down the link. It also gave us the opportunity to request the various meta-torrent sites to remove links to illegal torrents.

In every case, the torrent list site in question responded quickly to our request. One might make the argument that a simple polite email to a meta-torrent search site is as effective as copy protection.

There is probably some irony that this whole thing occurred just before last week's EBGames.com top selling games list got posted on their site. They list Galactic Civilizations II as the top telling PC title and the #2 overall (all platforms). And that was before this incident.

I don't want us to come out like we're on some sort of anti-copy protection crusade. We just don't think CD copy protection is an effective means to increase sales.
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57 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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57.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 16, 2006, 12:13
57.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 16, 2006, 12:13
Mar 16, 2006, 12:13
 
So are you saying there are no pirates who pirate just because they can, and that they wouldn't buy games were piracy impossible?
You need to look up the word "negligible" in the dictionary. Second, using an unauthorized copy of at least some games has always been possible. So long as that is the case and so long as freeware games exist, those who don't want to pay for games will have something to play. If a particular game ever became too difficult to play a free copy, the overwhelming majority of those seeking a free copy would just turn to another game. Any increase in sales would be negligible.
This comment was edited on Mar 16, 12:54.
56.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 16, 2006, 07:18
56.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 16, 2006, 07:18
Mar 16, 2006, 07:18
 
First my reply is based upon what you posted. I can't respond to something I haven't actually read. Second, even if he was interested in the game, the fact that he wrote "single-player only" is a very clear indication that he doesn't think such games are worth paying for and wouldn't purchase the game on that basis. There is also a great difference between being interested in something and being interested in something enough to pull out your wallet and buy it.
He didn't say "single-player only" - I added that as a reason he would be more prone to pirate, as with multiplayer games you have the CD-key/log-in to contend with.

So are you saying there are no pirates who pirate just because they can, and that they wouldn't buy games were piracy impossible?

I don't like copy protection any more than the next person, but the average gamer's view on piracy is just as unrealistic as the game industry's, just in a different sense. There is some truth to each side's claims.

55.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 15, 2006, 15:28
55.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 15, 2006, 15:28
Mar 15, 2006, 15:28
 
There are other copy protection suites. I don't like them, I've spoken out against them, but I hate them less. At the same time, I recognize that when a company puts millions of dollars into a game, they want to put in that speed bump for the hax0rz. All we're asking is that publishers distance themselves from a company that has shown such contempt for their industry.
I disagree with this totally. Overwhelming public pressure caused Sony to totally remove the copy-protection from the affected music CD's NOT replace it with a less hostile version or someone else's copy-protection. The problem with a boycott of Starforce is not the means but the numbers. If the message amongst the majority of game consumers is "anything BUT Starforce" then that is what we will get. We will just end up with an equivalent under another name.

This comment was edited on Mar 15, 15:30.
54.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 15, 2006, 15:10
54.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 15, 2006, 15:10
Mar 15, 2006, 15:10
 

Tycho made a great post about this whole debacle on PA this morning afternoon:

There's only one possibility of getting our way on this, and boycotting won't work, nor will calls to simply remove StarForce. Neither of those represent good faith efforts: they're naive, and they don't refer to reality. We need to communicate that their image is tarnished when they associate with StarForce, and I don't just mean the ISO. The idea that their company is decreased in value, lowered in esteem and stature with gamers who buy every major release. That the brands they've worked to build aren't served by these schemes - they're diminished.

There are other copy protection suites. I don't like them, I've spoken out against them, but I hate them less. At the same time, I recognize that when a company puts millions of dollars into a game, they want to put in that speed bump for the hax0rz. All we're asking is that publishers distance themselves from a company that has shown such contempt for their industry.

I completely agree. The only sensible thing to do in protesting StarForce is to take your complaints directly to the publishers and explain precisely how you feel about their decision.

Refusing to buy a SF infected game is a start, but far too ambiguous to be effective unless they know why.

-----
GW: Tashen Boke [R/Me]; Rosti The Ninja [Mo/R]; Gort Grimley [W/Ne]
-----
I'm not even angry. I'm being so sincere right now, even though you broke my heart and killed me.
53.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 15, 2006, 14:45
53.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 15, 2006, 14:45
Mar 15, 2006, 14:45
 
He was clearly interested in the game (judging from the other things he said)
First my reply is based upon what you posted. I can't respond to something I haven't actually read. Second, even if he was interested in the game, the fact that he wrote "single-player only" is a very clear indication that he doesn't think such games are worth paying for and wouldn't purchase the game on that basis. There is also a great difference between being interested in something and being interested in something enough to pull out your wallet and buy it.

However, this doesn't constitute 100% of piracy, something that many gamers claim.
I have a feeling that the percentage of the remainder is negligible. At the end of the day we are talking about a product which is not a necessity. If forced to do without, the overwhelming majority of those who normally acquire unauthorized copies of games would do just that and get a free copy of some other game instead including the many freeware games available.

If we want to have any hope of changing that, we will have to come up with a really good reason to switch.
The really good reason is to punish them with poor sales if they don't.

This comment was edited on Mar 16, 12:16.
52.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 15, 2006, 12:59
52.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 15, 2006, 12:59
Mar 15, 2006, 12:59
 
Actually given the fact that he wrote it was "single-player only" strongly suggests he would NOT have bought the game since he feels that such a game is not worth his money. If the ability to obtain an unauthorized copy was the sole reason for his not buying the game, he would have stated just that one reason.
You're missing the point. He was clearly interested in the game (judging from the other things he said) and didn't think the game was a waste of money - he was saying "why pay when I can get it for free?"

I agree that a lot of piracy doesn't necessarily cost the publisher anything, since the gamer in question wouldn't have bought the game were piracy not available. However, this doesn't constitute 100% of piracy, something that many gamers claim. I was merely trying to point out there are people without any concern for the game developers getting compensated for their efforts. Do I think the way publishers view CP is wrong? Absolutely, but most gamers also have an unrealistic view of it. Do I think there is anything wrong with people buying a game and downloading a crack to bypass the CP? No.

More importantly what that quote demonstrates is that the "stick" of copy-protection has not and does not work, and it is time for game developers and publishers to try the "carrot" instead. Give customers a reward for purchasing your game (as Stardock does) instead of using the specious notion that incorporating copy-protection is going to keep people from playing unauthorized copies when it clearly has not and does not.
I agree with you completely on this. Rewarding the player for having a licensed copy - or crippling the game if it's unlicensed - is a much better way to do things. It seems only the smaller companies are interested in pursuing this method though. All the publishers are stuck in "CP mode" because that's what they've grown accustomed to. If we want to have any hope of changing that, we will have to come up with a really good reason to switch.

This comment was edited on Mar 15, 13:03.
51.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 15, 2006, 12:48
51.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 15, 2006, 12:48
Mar 15, 2006, 12:48
 
"why should I buy it when I can download it, and it's single-player only?" That gamer most likely would have bought it were piracy not so easy.
Actually given the fact that he wrote it was "single-player only" strongly suggests he would NOT have bought the game since he feels that such a game is not worth his money. If the ability to obtain an unauthorized copy was the sole reason for his not buying the game, he would have stated just that one reason.

More importantly what that quote demonstrates is that the "stick" of copy-protection has not and does not work, and it is time for game developers and publishers to try the "carrot" instead. Give customers a reward for purchasing your game (as Stardock does) instead of using the specious notion that incorporating copy-protection is going to keep people from playing unauthorized copies when it clearly has not and does not.

This comment was edited on Mar 15, 12:49.
50.
 
Re: An apology is not sufficient.
Mar 15, 2006, 07:03
50.
Re: An apology is not sufficient. Mar 15, 2006, 07:03
Mar 15, 2006, 07:03
 
"That statment that the prices for games are "artificially raised by publishers" is bullshit"

So it's a good thing I didn't make that statement. I meant it exactly as Brhuic stated: do you think copyprotection comes for free?
How much does CP actually cost developers?

"a game with no copy protection (besides the old "look up the code in the manual"), and guess what?"

What, you think that manual gets digitised by itself and that the lookup/question code codes itself? OK, it's trivial, but it still has to be coded.
I'm not sure what you're saying about the price of copy protection in a game's development - if you're saying it takes away from the budget that they could have spent elsewhere, the conclusion would be that we would get higher quality and longer games without CP. I don't think anyone would say X-Wing was missing something or was too short.

"but I see you quietly ignored this part, which he is quite correct about. "

He might be correct, but it's entirely besides the point. Moreover, I did adress it; people who pirate are not lost sales; they wouldn't have bought the game anyway.
This is part of why we are all assumed to be pirates by the games industry. There's no way we can verify your statement. There are most likely many people that might have paid for a game if they weren't able to pirate it. Not all gamers have noble intentions like you and I. I just recently saw a post on another gaming site, where someone was encouraging people to buy Oblivion, and one gamer replied along the lines of "why should I buy it when I can download it, and it's single-player only?" That gamer most likely would have bought it were piracy not so easy.

Also, I would like to distance myself from dsmart. Even though I think he was partially right with that one statement, I didn't realize then that he was an asshole and made personal attacks.

" Now, I won't argue that game quality and length has largely gone down over the years, but that can hardly be blamed on copy protection. It's probably due to "sequelitis" and lack of creativity. "

WTF does this have to do with anything much less with the argument at hand?
I made this statement because I thought you were saying the increased cost of development (due to adding CP) was responsible for the decrease in game quality. Since you've said you DON'T mean games are more expensive at retail and you've indicated you were talking about increased cost of development, that seems to be the logical argument. What are you trying to say about increased costs, anyway?

"Copy protection may be useless, but its not going away any time soon. "

I dunno...publishers might take note of the cost savings that Stardock are making by not using it, and the fact that that doesn't seem to have cut into sales.

I hope you are right, but I seriously doubt it. The games publishing industry has not shown that it is any more forward-thinking than the music publishing industry.

I'm not trying to say CP is the answer, but I don't think people should take this Stardock vs. Starforce issue for more than it's worth, either. Yes, a small company has struck a blow for the gamer, but so far it's a very small blow. Now if EA or Ubisoft does away with CP, I'll change my tune.


This comment was edited on Mar 15, 07:06.
49.
 
btw
Mar 14, 2006, 23:35
49.
btw Mar 14, 2006, 23:35
Mar 14, 2006, 23:35
 
this phenomenon we're witnessing is called Grass Roots Action,
people spontaneously rising up to effect Change.

Brad Wardell for president!

48.
 
lol they're too popular!
Mar 14, 2006, 23:28
48.
lol they're too popular! Mar 14, 2006, 23:28
Mar 14, 2006, 23:28
 
with it's Sunday date this may have been reported already,
but when you start the game the News section has this:
We've temporarily had to take down a couple of our sites, WinCustomize.com and JoeUser.com due to massive database bandwidth use on GalCiv2.com. We managed to get slashdotted, digged, Neowin'ed and more all at the same time and while our bandwidth is fine, our databases are having trouble keeping up with demand. At the time of this writing, well over 200 websites are linking to just one particular article on GalCiv2.com.

We have more servers on order so that we can address this in the future. But for now, availability is going to be a bit spotty.


47.
 
Re: GalCivII is like
Mar 14, 2006, 22:59
47.
Re: GalCivII is like Mar 14, 2006, 22:59
Mar 14, 2006, 22:59
 
Ratty writ:
I kind of want to buy this Galactic Civilizations II now. Is it any good?
if you like highly strategic, 100% turn-based games like Civilization then yes, it has the same very addictive quality of "just one more turn, just one more turn", and then you look up and it's 4:00 AM.

Be forewarned it has NO 'action' element at all.

And combat is not tactical, meaning, when you attack a ship or planet you don't move each ship around every turn and fire different weapons - when you attack it just plays out automatically like a little movie, based on the stats and research level of your ships and troops vs. the enemy units.

Maybe they could add tactical, unit level, turn-based combat at some point. would make it a whole different game i spose.

one thing i'd like to see (or maybe it's available and i just haven't found it yet) is a sandbox mode, where you could design different ships and then test them in combat vs. other types of ships from different races. Again that might be a whole new game in itself.

This comment was edited on Mar 14, 23:24.
46.
 
Re: Copy Protection
Mar 14, 2006, 19:11
46.
Re: Copy Protection Mar 14, 2006, 19:11
Mar 14, 2006, 19:11
 
Prez:

That was wonderfully put. Best post in this thread so far imo. Publishers/developers take note.

45.
 
Copy Protection
Mar 14, 2006, 19:02
Prez
 
45.
Copy Protection Mar 14, 2006, 19:02
Mar 14, 2006, 19:02
 Prez
 
What makes a title a retail success? Is it copy protection? The fact that Call of Duty, Diablo, Baldur's Gate, Battlefield 1942, Doom, or Half-Life were pirated to some extent is indisputable. And yet they were successful. The inheritant quality of these games is clear, but that is NOT what made them successful. The variables that go into determining a title's success are many, but I tried to boil it down to a few important ones.

1) Innovation of concept. Example: Doom. It heralded in a new way of playing through perfected 3D deathmatch.

2) Popular Culture Relevance. Example: Any WW2 title made even remotely well. After 'Saving Private Ryan' and "Band of Brothers' ushered in an era of rememberance of WW2 history, and 'Medal of Honor:AA' capitilzed brilliantly on this, as well as 'Call of Duty'.

3) Market Readiness: Remember when RPG's were dead? Remember when Baldur's Gate came out and everyone went nuts? The market has to be primed for the title you release. The "right game at the right time" concept.

4) Technological Advancement. Doom 3. Sure it wasn't a particularly innovative title, but it sure looked pretty.

5) Brand/Franchise Recognition. Hence the industry's love affair with 'sequelitis'.

6) Effective Marketing. Not just spending money on ads, but marketing it to the actual target audience. Hopefully there actually IS a target audience, and the developer is not just making a game for an imaginary group of fans that doesn't exists. See "Psychonauts" for an example of a great game with no market to sell it to.

7) Cater to the Hardcore Fan. Most recently, Gal Civ 2 is an awesome example of this done to perfection. The hardcore are the ones who spend time on message boards singing the praises of the game, creating the ever elusive "Buzz".

8) Have a 'Twist'. 'Tribes' gave us teamplay with jetpacks and massive outdoor environments. God bless Dynamix for that gem. NOTE: See 'Tribes Vengeance' as an example of how to fail miserably at #7.

There are probably more, and in truth most successful games combine many of these. Ultimately, though, copy protection has NOTHING to do with a title's success, unless you want to count the sales you lose by treating every consumer like a potential thief. This is not rocket science. Worry about making a game that resonates with your potential buyers, and stop worrying about people who never would have bought your game in the first place.

This comment was edited on Mar 14, 20:22.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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44.
 
Re: No subject
Mar 14, 2006, 18:53
44.
Re: No subject Mar 14, 2006, 18:53
Mar 14, 2006, 18:53
 
loved Starcraft. And Dungeon Keeper. Those had building things and resource management and that kind of thing. Is GC like that?

Some say GalCiv 2 is what Masters of Orion III should have been. Starcraft and DK are real time strategy, while this is turn based and not as combat centric.

43.
 
Re: Space Rangers 2
Mar 14, 2006, 18:43
43.
Re: Space Rangers 2 Mar 14, 2006, 18:43
Mar 14, 2006, 18:43
 
Ugh. Just followed the link posted in another comment and saw that "Space Rangers 2" had Starforce. Just sent an e-mail to Gamestop cancelling my pre-order.

I pretty sure the US version will not have it. I have the UK version, I simply grabbed the No-CD .exe and then uninstalled Starforce (as well as I could, anyway). Funny part is, I really don't care about Starforce, but I was sick of having to pull the disc out of my DVD drive.


As for Gal Civ 2, I haven't played a whole lot yet....but from what I have played it is really good. Even better, they are adding in a bunch of new options/tweaks, etc in the 1.1 patch that's coming in a few weeks.

Even if you're only curious, these guys deserve the money. They've been busting their asses getting fixes, tweaks, and new options out the door while at the same time maintaining an incredible forum presence. Oh, and let's not forget the fact that it's a damn good game without any protection and a really generous user agreement.

Edit: @Ratty: It's a 4X game. It's not something I can explain easily....best bet is to hit www.galciv2.com and check out some of the reviews they have posted.
---
Xfire: GreySpire
GW: Alia Arjel Mo/Me
This comment was edited on Mar 14, 18:45.
42.
 
Re: No subject
Mar 14, 2006, 18:28
42.
Re: No subject Mar 14, 2006, 18:28
Mar 14, 2006, 18:28
 
Its very good. But unless you're into that kind of game, don't bother. You might want to read some reviews first, in order to get a better idea of what kind of game it is.
I loved Starcraft. And Dungeon Keeper. Those had building things and resource management and that kind of thing. Is GC like that? I haven't played one of those kinds of games in a looong time. I'm in an FPS rut. Or is it more of a space combat sim? I've never cared for those.

This comment was edited on Mar 14, 18:29.
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41.
 
Re: Space Rangers 2
Mar 14, 2006, 17:33
41.
Re: Space Rangers 2 Mar 14, 2006, 17:33
Mar 14, 2006, 17:33
 
Yeah, I don't think it has been confirmed that the SR2 North American release has SF (euro does). It's a different publisher, Cinemaware Marquee, so the CP may be different. It's been said that they're going to have box digital and retail box distribution though, so you can theoretically wait to find out what they're using and download it if it's SF free.

40.
 
Re: Space Rangers 2
Mar 14, 2006, 17:25
nin
40.
Re: Space Rangers 2 Mar 14, 2006, 17:25
Mar 14, 2006, 17:25
nin
 
Ugh. Just followed the link posted in another comment and saw that "Space Rangers 2" had Starforce. Just sent an e-mail to Gamestop cancelling my pre-order.

The UK version had it. I haven't seen anything noting what CP the US version has...

--------------------------------------------------------------
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http://www.placeboworld.co.uk
39.
 
Space Rangers 2
Mar 14, 2006, 17:12
39.
Space Rangers 2 Mar 14, 2006, 17:12
Mar 14, 2006, 17:12
 
Ugh. Just followed the link posted in another comment and saw that "Space Rangers 2" had Starforce. Just sent an e-mail to Gamestop cancelling my pre-order.

The Starforce on "X3 (DVD)" screwed up my HD's RAID-0 array, forcing me to wipe it and re-install Windows. Twice. (I reinstalled "X3" before learning what Starforce was.)

Don't start anything you can't finish. Preferably to component atoms.
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38.
 
Re: BO vs VG
Mar 14, 2006, 16:17
38.
Re: BO vs VG Mar 14, 2006, 16:17
Mar 14, 2006, 16:17
 
Hey, it's non-linked sales figure snippets of the day!

Major studios are loving their home video departments right about now. Variety reports DVD and VHS sales and rentals reached an all-time high of $20.3 billion in 2002--$12.1 billion sold, $8.2 billion rented. Warner Home Video (which also includes New Line Home Video) came in first, taking about 23.5 percent of home entertainment sales and rentals ($4.4 billion), with Disney Home Video (which includes Miramax and Dimension), coming in at No. 2 with 18.2 percent ($3.7 billion). Disney claimed top title in 2002, however, with Monsters, Inc. bringing in $384.8 million in DVD and VHS sales, with New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring coming in second at $380.1 million and Sony Pictures' Spider-Man third with $348 million. Combined with box office grosses, movie lovers spent more than $30 billion in entertainment in 2002, making the movie biz one of the only growth industries in an otherwise slow economy.

And that's old news. What's newer?


The 2004 domestic Video and Computer Game Industry is estimated to be around $10B. This is a slightly misleading figure because it includes the sales of the console machines, in addition to the sales of the software, but we'll go with it.

The domestic US box office is estimated to be around $9B for 2004, and this is where the myth starts to take life. The problem is the movie industry is a lot bigger then just the U.S. box office. DVD sales and rentals for 2003 topped $16B. VHS sales and rentals for 2003 was $6.4B. VHS sales are declining fast, but most of that will just shift over to DVDs, which brings the grand total for non-box office movie sales to over $20B, twice the figure for the entire game industry.

Things only get worse when you start to look at the amount of licensing revenue the movie industry makes compared to the game industry, which mostly licensees in, rather than out.

Other things that should be obvious, even without the figures, is if the Game Industry is larger then Hollywood, where is all the wealth? Why aren't game designers, writer, programmers and artist floating in money like some people in Hollywood are. Where are all the limousines, the fast parties, the tabloids tracking our falls in and out of rehab. Where is all the money?

The notion of the Game Industry being bigger then Hollywood is also ridiculous when you look at budgets. A big budget game cost from $15M to $20M to make, double that for marketing. A big budget movie cost $80M to $100M. Something doesn't make sense, and it should only take an ounce of curiosity to realize that the myth just can't be true, or that the economics of the two businesses are so different that it's silly to compare them.

I would also venture that everyone in the U.S watches movies, either in the theater or on DVD or HBO. Can the same be said for games? This alone should give the preachers of this myth pause. Think about it.


http://grumpygamer.com/5378171

Was DS trying to say the game industry was larger than the movie industry? Some day that might be true. Not yet though from what I see. I wish the game industry would price their DVDs the same as the movie industry... BTW: that's one reason why those box office numbers are dropping. Why go to the movies when you can wait a couple months (it's getting to be that soon between release to DVD) and buy it at walmart for $10.

57 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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