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CAGcast #189: DRM Free!

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#31 chililili



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Posted 25 February 2010 - 08:38 PM

I think Cd-Keys or the Steam system are the way to go. People will ALWAYS pirate and break through but these are measures that serve to keep the average idiot from copying the game and are not cumbersome to the paying customer
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#32 AriesDog



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Posted 25 February 2010 - 08:49 PM

That is not what happened. You need to go back and follow the timeline with that game. I have been on the Stardock forums for awhile. Brad, that's the CEO of Stardock by the way, has said there was a fundamental flaw in the P2P nature of the online multiplayer GPG, the developer, used. He has also said, REPEATEDLY, that it would have been easy and WRONG to blame the problems Demigod had on pirates.

As for Ubisoft, screw them, i won't buy their games. EA, maybe later when they are done milking the die-hard fans.

"Sadly, most of the ~120,000 connections are not customers but via warez," writes Wardell. "About 18,000 are legitimate."

"Our stress tests had counted on having maybe 50,000 people playing at once at peak and that wouldn’t be reached for a few weeks," he adds, "by which time we would have slowly seen things becoming problematic."


#33 louiedog


    20 minutes into the future

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 08:55 PM

On the DRM thing. WTF is Wombat talking about? You blame the pirates, but don't realize they're not the ones who are being hurt by it. Yes, the people who pirate games shouldn't be doing it. Yes, it's their fault. But they won't be punished for it. Legitimate customers are being punished. People will pirate it and have a BETTER experience than paying customers. Yes, you have to be online to play WoW, but that's an online experience. AC2 is a single player game, the reliability of your internet connection shouldn't factor into it.

There's no easy solution to piracy, but this isn't the answer. People who were going to pirate this game will now do it anyway. This isn't going to stop piracy. People who aren't pirating the game will get fed up with the connection thing and may be driven to find a crack to play it offline. And then in the future they'll say, "Why would I want to pay for this bullshit again? I'm going to pirate the next Ubisoft game." That's the problem.

#34 Walt Jay

Walt Jay

    Gamerscore Whore

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:14 PM

There is no simple answer to the PC piracy issue, and unfortunately, I think at some point, publishers won't bother porting any console-centric games. Whether a publisher puts DRM in their game or not, they still get burned, so you have to wonder how long they're going to bother.
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#35 blucadet3


    You know who has a good title...MY MOM!!!

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:15 PM

Wombat loses 16 nerd xp for that horrible mangling of the labyrinth magic dance lyrics. Minus 8 more for the bad Bowie too!

#36 Nesrie



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Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:24 PM

"Sadly, most of the ~120,000 connections are not customers but via warez," writes Wardell. "About 18,000 are legitimate."

"Our stress tests had counted on having maybe 50,000 people playing at once at peak and that wouldn’t be reached for a few weeks," he adds, "by which time we would have slowly seen things becoming problematic."


Go to the source. Always a good idea. here you. I've highlighted some of the more important parts.


<H2>Demigod: So what the hell happened?

By Frogboy Posted May 18, 2009 7:30:13 PM
I’ll be writing a lot more on this particular issue in the coming weeks as I’ve had more time to review internal reports.
For those of you just joining us let me bring you up to speed.
Our story so far…
Demigod, a high profile, AAA action-strategy-role playing game was released on April 14th. Well, it was supposed to be released on April 14th but actually got released at Gamestop stores early due to a…miscommunication between their corporate HQ and their brick and mortar outlets. This wouldn’t normally have been that big of a deal except this happened to be over Easter weekend and the release servers for the game weren’t yet up. Moreover, it also caused the “warez” version (i.e. there’s no copy protection on the game so the warez version meant someone bravely zipping it up and putting it up on a torrent) resulting in over 100,000 people using it – at once – before we were even back from Easter break. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a pretty picture.
For the first few days, we struggled to migrate people to a different set of servers that only legitimate users had access to. This took about 48 hours. But during this brief window, the game was basically unplayable because you couldn’t even get online – at all. We got whacked with some pretty negative first week reviews not surprisingly.
But our woes weren’t over yet. It became pretty clear that the NAT servers (the servers that negotiate the connection between player A and player Posted Image couldn’t handle the # of users on the game resulting in a horrible online experience. As other people have pointed out, this sort of thing isn’t unique to Demigod (i.e. plenty of other games have had rough online launches) but the big difference is that those other games had a lot more single player content whereas Demigod relies more on its multiplayer experience than most games so it was a much bigger problem.
Like most games, Demigod uses a lot of licensed code. Demigod’s awesome 3D models are powered party by Granny 3D. The videos in the game are powered by Bink. The sound is powered by Fmod. And the network connectivity was powered by Raknet. These are all very good libraries and used by major publishers.
But Demigod’s network requirements are somewhat unusual and demanding. First, Demigod is peer-to-peer and not client server. Everyone connects to everyone. Second, the number of people playing is unusual. Yes, some people do play 4 on 4 games of Supreme Commander or Company of Heroes but typically they’re 1 on 1 or 2 on 2. The more connections, the more complex.
The result was that it was a nightmare to get games going online.
The problems
Demigod’s connectivity problems have basically boiled down to 1 bad design decision and 1 architectural limitation. The bad design decision was made in December of 2008 when it was decided to have the network library hand off sockets to Demigod proper. In most games, the connection between players is handled purely by one source. For instance, in Supreme Commander, GPGNet handled the entire connection.
So in Demigod, on launch day, Alice would host a game. Tom would be connected to Alice by the network library and then that socket would be handed to Demigod. Then, Alice and Tom would open a new socket to listen for more players to join in. As a result, a user might end up using a half dozen ports and sockets which some routers didn’t like and it just made things incredibly complex to connect people and put a lot of strain on the servers to manage all those connections.
Now, the architectural limitation came from the way the network library’s database handled things. We still don’t have a clear idea on why it was so limited but this was the overwhelming problem that only got resolved late last week. Here’s how it works:
Alice hosts a game. In doing so, she sends a message to the NAT server (as well as our servers). Tom wants to join so Tom clicks join and it tells the NAT server to begin connecting them. But, it turned out that a relatively small number of people online at once would quickly result in a huge delay in messages being sent back and forth. For instance, when Tom clicks join it sends a message to the server to tell it to start connecting Tom and Alice. But Alice might not get that message for 30 or 40 seconds. That means, for that entire time, Tom and Alice are “attempting to connect” but haven’t even really started because Alice hasn’t even gotten the message. As more people tried to join the game, that delay could get worse and worse. If someone left the game, it could take that amount of time for the server to realize that player had left (meanwhile it was trying to connect them).

</H2><DIV id=_PostBody class=text sdproto="1">
And the rest, again, from the actual source not a gaming news site that likes to summarize things, sometimes incorrectly.


Demigod: So much for piracy

By Frogboy Posted April 29, 2009 12:15:08 PM
<DIV id=_PostBody class=text sdproto="1">If I wrote a post saying that Demigod sales were far below what we had hoped for and I said that the reason was due to piracy and that the answer was that we should have put some nasty copy protection on those DVDs to have prevented early piracy what do you think people would say?
I know what my answer to that would be. I would say that Stardock couldn’t blame poor sales on piracy but rather the fact that the game’s built-in multiplayer match-making was totally broken for the first day of release due to its underestimation of network resources that a mainstream game would take and even when that got addressed, the multiplayer match-making for two weeks and counting has been incredibly flakey which affected reviews and word of mouth. That’s what I would say.
And yet…

#37 eberm72492



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Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:26 PM

I have to disagree with wombat, i dont believe the 360 version of Final
Fantasy 13 is going to outsell the PS3 version.

#38 Sgt Barone

Sgt Barone

Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:37 PM

yay I was a shoutout!!

Here's to a great year of gaming in 2014   :beer:

#39 johnnypark


    Farewell My Viking!

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 10:04 PM

Based on what was said on the 'cast, I don't think AC2 using internet verification is a big deal. It's much, MUCH better than limiting the # of installs, the BS Starforce which could cripple systems, or anything else that seems to punish the user. If you have a computer that can run AC2 odds are you're connected to the internet pretty much constantly. For the people who have gaming laptops to play games on the go, it could be another story.

I'll agree it's obnoxious. To the person who said there would be an equal # of complaints on consoles, it would actually be exponentially more, since there are still plenty of people with consoles that don't take them online frequently or at all. Consoles are just more catered to single-player games, whereas PCs are have tons of functionality dependent on the internet (though I admit the line between the 2 gets narrower every day).

I agree with Wombat that the people who were/are going to pirate the game were going to do that before any of the DRM was even announced. It could be DRM-free and people would still do it. In highschool, I recall a friend criticizing me for buying Doom 3 when it came out, saying, "Games are free, you should spend your money on hardware to upgrade your computer instead." Between that and music, we have an entire generation being raised on piracy being the norm, so long as you aren't actually shoplifting it's regarded as a totally separate thing to most people.

Regarding the concerns that the servers could go offline in 10 years, I know in the past games that have limited installs or online verification get patched X years later when it doesn't really matter any more from a profit standpoint. I'd like to think this would happen to AC2.

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 11:00 PM

As co-host of the show it is your duty to add insightful analysis and commentary, no matter the circumstances, whether it be adding a game to the conversation or ignoring game specs.

You're absolutely right! Wombat has a DUTY to bring up as many Nintendo products that he can for the show that he does in his personal time for free!


There are several other podcasts that focus on things that the CAGcast don't pick up on. You can be a fan of more than one podcast at a time, you know. I'm sure RawMeatCowboy and his gang will be all over it.

Listen up, Francis.

Edited by MIGGO, 25 February 2010 - 11:17 PM.

#41 CaptainJoel


    Church of Falcon

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 11:09 PM

I agree with Shipwreck wholeheartedly, I really don't like Zaeed in ME2. The character was ass (not Miranda's fine ass, though) and (besides Jacob) my least favorite character in the game.

And really great show, guys! Listened to it twice, even!

#42 bickle



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Posted 25 February 2010 - 11:48 PM

Yeah, I hated Zaeed from the first second. I resented having to put him in my team at all. A paragon Shepard would've shot him out of an airlock.

#43 Matedawg11



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Posted 26 February 2010 - 12:58 AM

Great show guys, i love listening to these they crack me up. Keep it up :D

#44 ChernobylCow


Posted 26 February 2010 - 12:58 AM

Good show guys, nice return to the regular form with bearable audio and the fun trio.

CheapyD: Although the $10 Campaign might not be a winner I could imagine if I was on the board trying to come up with some idea to make more money I think I'd feel A-OK with having come up with that idea. In the end it's going to make me buy Mass Effect 2 brand new when I have time.

Wombat: It might not have been what you meant but you pretty much called the PC gamer community all a bunch of pirates. Wow, thanks alot, asshole. In the end, customers should not be punished with DRM because other people are pirates.

You are right about one thing. Spider-man: Web of Shadows has the worst Peter Parker ever. "Have you seen Mary Jane? Mary Jane! She's the girl with the shotgun!"

Shipwreck: Thanks for the comments and reviews of Divinity 2. It's eating up all my free time right now. Loving it. Not a bad little RPG.

Thanks for doing the show guys. Brightens my day to see a new CAGcast on the front page.

#45 shafnitz


    G100,000 - 5/16/2014!

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 01:14 AM

Wombat's thoughts on the Ubisoft DRM are completely wrong. Sorry, but you're just not getting it.

The only people this DRM hurts is the paying customers. The game will still be cracked and the people who weren't going to pay for it still won't pay for it. There would not be more people pirating the game if it came out with no DRM whatsoever. The only effect this will have is pissing off the people that pay for the game. I don't really play PC games anymore, but I definitely wouldn't be buying AC2 on the PC with these kinds of restrictions.

People have a right to be angry about it if they end up getting screwed. Maybe you won't want to play AC2 on your PC in a few years, but I guarantee you someone will. And when the servers are offline in two years (see EA) and they can't play the game at all, they have a right to be upset.


#46 Gigan22


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Posted 26 February 2010 - 01:34 AM

The pirating of PC games is a sad deal for sure, but it's unavoidable. No matter what measures companies take there will always be a copy somebody can download somewhere. Eventually somebody will crack it and it usually doesn't take that long; days at most. Ubisoft may require everybody to be online to play AC2, but I guarentee you there will be a crack available that bypasses that need. It's only a matter of time. As for the backlash from legit gamers, you can look at EA's Spore as an example. They placed a heavy drm on it and tons of people downloaded it out of spite. Unfortunately as the CAG group said, if it's not bringing a profit for Ubisoft, they'll eventually drop support for the PC. Consoles take a little more effort to pirate games for so it's not quite as rampant, but still a problem. Yet Microsoft has been trying to curb that with their console banning.

However, as I said before, the downloading will not stop. It's far too widespread and may only increase with advancement of technology. Good example is the illegal downloading of music. Try as the music industry might, the downloading does not and will not stop. A few years ago, I think it was Sony, put out a statistic that nearly 700,000 songs were downloaded illegally every 4 minutes(the length of the presentation video) and that number is only growing. A good example of the music industry trying but not succeeding is The Pirate Bay. The place has been around for many years and they can't touch them. The police have even taken their servers straight off the server rack and the site was running as normal only a day later. Once in awhile the RIAA will make an example of somebody, but on the whole they have failed spectacularly at trying to contain the problem.

It won't stop, and it can't without drastic measures.

Edited by Gigan22, 26 February 2010 - 07:37 AM.


#47 BigBizzee


    I feel asleep....

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 02:10 AM

Can somebody show me where there is any indication Ubisoft needs a "server" for this DRM thing? In other words - how does anyone know if the games won't play in years to come? Was it posted somewhere?

Serious question.

Also, there is one EASY solution to this. The DRM lock thing can be REMOVED a few years down the road. Ubisoft could update the game so that you don't HAVE to be online (once sales of new copies of the game have dropped to near nothing). That way, the servers don't need to stay online, people don't have to be connected, and we can still play AC2 10 years from now.

Also, Cheapy - I can't believe one of your arguments against DRM is that a kid could be behind your computer and trip on the ethernet cable. This argument is SO bad for many reasons:

1. Don't let kids behind your computer
2. If a kid IS behind your computer while you are playing, isn't it possible he could trip over the power cord instead? In which case, you lose either way.
3. Same power cord problem with consoles...but does it ever happen to you? no.

Terrubull. Simply terrubull.

Edit: Sorry !! Great show :)

#48 Curufinwe



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Posted 26 February 2010 - 03:46 AM


What happens if Ubisoft take the DRM servers offline for maintenance, or suffer a technical breakdown?

In the case of a server failure their games will be taken offline, and you'll be unable to play them. "The idea is to avoid that point as much as possible, but we have been clear from the beginning that the game does need an internet connection for you to play. So if it goes down for real for a little while, then yeah, you can't play.


Curufinwe5503.png? Curufinwe.jpg

#49 Jackovasaurus


    And ya say Chi-City

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 04:00 AM

Whats worse than Wombat actually condoning Ubisoft's DRM strategy, is that he comes off like an arrogant prick about it. The WoW comparison was totally irrelevant, the whole, "if you wanna play it so badly, go play it on a console" reasoning is bullshit. I have a pc that can run this, therefore I MUST have internet..take your head out of your ass...don't make these obtuse fucking ridiculous assumptions. How about this? I DO own both 360/PS3, I also own a PC that can run AC2. Why on earth would I buy it for PC? Uhhh I don't know, maybe because it,
1. looks better(provided you have the hardware)
2. mouse+KB (those who perfer it)
I love listening to Wombat, but sometimes you can be a fucking douche.

P.S. Great show, and as said before in the replies above me, Ubisoft is hurting the consumer. Its not the consumers fault that there are pirates out there. I will NOT be buying nor pirating AC2.


#50 Earmuffin585


    Modding Addict

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 05:06 AM

Good show and good sound quality ,too. I not pissed at the DRM because piracy on the pc is Crazy but I don't think any DRM have even worked good . I disagree with wombat about assassin creed 2 being better for the console ,because Pc offers better graphics faster frame rates ,and higher resolutions ,and you can connect ps3 or 360 controller to it, but I haven't seen this port ,I am just showing pc is very versatile.
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#51 Nesrie



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Posted 26 February 2010 - 06:08 AM

Good show and good sound quality ,too. I not pissed at the DRM because piracy on the pc is Crazy but I don't think any DRM have even worked good . I disagree with wombat about assassin creed 2 being better for the console ,because Pc offers better graphics faster frame rates ,and higher resolutions ,and you can connect ps3 or 360 controller to it, but I haven't seen this port ,I am just showing pc is very versatile.

Games made for the PC look, play and perform better on the PC. Games made for consoles and sloppily ported to the PC don't do so well but that is not the PC's fault so much as lazy developers and/or pushy publishers.

Yeah Wombat calling all PC gamers a bunch pirates... right, that's why the PC game market is a multi-billion dollar market and two of the most successful franchises ever are on... the PC.

#52 BigBizzee


    I feel asleep....

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 06:10 AM



Well, to be honest still - I don't see it as a big deal. Servers rarely go down (how often do you go to sites that are down????)....and as I mentioned, all they have to do is patch a game later on with a no-DRM patch, and it would eliminate the need for the online connection (which could be done later on if they choose to shut down any servers for older games). By that time, sales would have dropped enough to not worry about it.

#53 JadedJedi


Posted 26 February 2010 - 07:47 AM

Thanks for another great show guys! I'm glad you guys mentioned how bad Risen was, because I went right to my Gamefly q and removed it. I will be buying the PS3 version of Final Fantasy 13 because of a problem I had with Lost Odyssey: Disc 4 was defective. I want it on 1 disc not 3, so I won't have to wait for Square Enix to ship a replacement for any defective discs.
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#54 udabenshen


    Almost Revolutionary...

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 10:46 AM

I don't expect someone who is a console-only gamer like Wombat to understand the issues concerning PC gamers like myself, but his contempt for the idea of a PC version of AC2 is absurd. Does he realize that you can plug in a 360 controller and enjoy the same experience on games like AC2 that are built around the gamepad? Maybe some of us enjoy playing games at 60 fps and high resolutions.

Piracy is an issue with PC games, no shit, but it doesn't mean the platform shouldn't be supported or that people don't buy and play PC games legit. Look at my Steam folder and I can prove that.

#55 Kezmer


    Disgruntled Gamer

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 12:14 PM


#56 Energy Penguin

Energy Penguin


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Posted 26 February 2010 - 01:26 PM

Wow, the cagcast thread is turning into a heated argument about PC DRM issues? Isn't this a console podcast? I have never heard any of the hosts discuss PC gaming. Anyway, as said on the cagcast, its AC2 on PC, who really cares? You shouldn't be playing AC on the PC anyway, play a strategy game,
there's a ton of good ones coming out this year.
In 10 years if ubisoft wants to take down the servers for PC AC2, they can just patch the game to work w/o connection, problem solved. By that time they won't care about pirating of AC2, hell it will probably be free to download and play.

#57 Leggo



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Posted 26 February 2010 - 01:53 PM

Gonna have to agree with Wombat about this one for a simple reason. People, while bitching about how mean Ubisoft is, forgot about this.


It wasn't just Prince of Persia though, every game they dropped for three full months were DRM free as a test to see if consumers would support such efforts. So how did it fair? Over 5 million torrent downloads and less than 200K sold across retail and Steam for the first full year.

So everyone thinking Ubisoft is being unreasonable? Screw you. When they TRUSTED the PC users, they received the single highest pirated game they ever released. If PC gamers want games, they NEED to quit stealing them because, as Shipwreck said, when this doesn't work, support for the platform dies. No ifs,ands,or buts. This is their line in the sand, if it's compromised... well let's just say you've lost yet another developer pulling support for the much more profitable PS360 sales. Want to keep your industry intact, how about you actually start BUYING the games.

Wait, Ubisoft had a non-DRM trial period? I had been avoiding their PC stuff since they started using Starforce, and I just assumed I should go for the pirated version of anything they put out to avoid the hassle.

Here's the deal: There are two types of pirates out there. First are the ones who wouldn't or couldn't purchase the game anyway. These aren't lost sales. They might even convert to real sales one day if they get enough brand loyalty during the free plays (Kind of like considering listening to a song on the radio "stealing".)

The second type are the ones that publishers create. Real world analogy, imagine if they raised movie prices to offset the lost income due to people sneaking into the theater mid-movie. On top of that though, imagine they stopped the movie every 20 minutes and turned up the lights so ushers could go through the aisles checking IDs and ticket stubs. An alternative is available though: Go home and click a button, and then watch the whole thing uninterrupted on your television. Oh, and it's free.

I'm as honest of a person as the next guy, but I don't particularly like paying to be treated like a potential criminal. The PC game industry especially has been breeding their own pirates for years, training people to look for these things. One of their most basic forms of anti-piracy is the CD check, and that just resulted in everyone learning about cracks and patches that negate that requirement. After that, it's very honestly about the path of least resistance.

It's very simple: If you want people to do something, you have to make it preferable. You don't make the option you want them to take the least appealing and then rely on the moral distinction. Steam figured this out, it's more hassle to pirate Valve games than it is to just buy them on Steam, and then have them available to install anywhere, for free. I've got a 14 hour flight coming up. Know what I'll be playing? Steam games. Know what I won't be playing? Assassin's Creed 2. At least not a legitimate version.

Final note though: Wombat, "who is going to be playing a game 10 years from now?" is a horrible rationalization for DRM. The number is arbitrary, the main problem is you really don't know how long those servers will be up. Again, which is the more tempting option, paying for uncertainty, or just downloading something that, much like Apple fans tout about the Mac, "Just works"? No caveats, no fine print.

#58 shieryda


    Opus Eponymous

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 02:10 PM

Cheapy, I play Borderlands almost every Thursday. You're always welcome to join our game between 8 and 10PM Central.

#59 Earmuffin585


    Modding Addict

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 03:41 PM

Wow, the cagcast thread is turning into a heated argument about PC DRM issues? Isn't this a console podcast? I have never heard any of the hosts discuss PC gaming. Anyway, as said on the cagcast, its AC2 on PC, who really cares? You shouldn't be playing AC on the PC anyway, play a strategy game,
there's a ton of good ones coming out this year.
In 10 years if ubisoft wants to take down the servers for PC AC2, they can just patch the game to work w/o connection, problem solved. By that time they won't care about pirating of AC2, hell it will probably be free to download and play.

If its a console podcast why are they talking about PC DRM?
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#60 BlaineFromMaine



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Posted 26 February 2010 - 03:51 PM

Loved the show!

A few comments on the DRM discussion. I'm pretty sure we all know that the DRM restrictions really only affect the legitimate consumers in the long run. Pirates will always end up with the more superior (meaning less restricted) version of the game. There are plenty of servers out there dedicated for illegitimate copies of WoW, and many other games (modded servers for COD:MW2, etc.). DRM is not going to deter pirates, it hasn't, and it won't. If it's made, it will be cracked. I'm not condoning it, but unfortunately it's the reality of the situation and the DRM will not stop it, as it will just be cracked. There will always be a way around it.

For a legitimate customer, this really sucks for several reasons. Piracy aside, you bought the game. I don't like "renting" the game from a company only to have them take away my ability to play it whenever they want to. They may not even want to. Things happen, they could go out of business, and BAM, no support, no game.

Any time i want I can break out my old NES or any other system, pop in a game and play no problem. Unfortunately this will not be the case in years to come for some people with some games. I don't want the risk of that happening to me, so I don't support the companies/games that do this. I vote with my wallet, as all consumers do. The business strategy needs to be adapted. We saw the same thing happen with the music industry. DRM only hurt it as it moved into the digital era. Now you can get all your music from iTunes/Amazon completely DRM free, and has it hurt the sales? No. Again, it's the business model that needs to adapt to the new digital era. You can't stop piracy, but there are ways to make it so that the legitimate product is more appealing. Limiting the "rights" someone has to their own purchased merchandise is not that way to do it.