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glhf

Idea to prevent people from torrenting your singleplayer game

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glhf    585

I don't know the statistics for either aa rpgs or indie ones for how much money they lose from players torrenting their games for free.
But it has to have a big impact at least.

I only know that it's very hard for them to make a torrent for your game if they want to play multiplayer/online..
such as a coop mode for or a versus mode.

So if you want to enjoy the coop aspect of that rpg you need to buy it.
But still most rpg's are still torrented because it is essence a singleplayer game.. sure they miss out on the coop mode but it's not what they game is about anyway.


My idea is that you must have an internet connection to be able to play singleplayer.
You still play it on your computer... not on any hosted servers.

But every now and then there's secret checkpoints the player don't know about...
They must be frequent enough and important for the game.. making the game suck without a internet connection.
When you enter this checkpoint it checks if your logged in on your account that you must have bought..
Connects you to a server or maybe starts your own (i'm not a networker so I'm not sure what is best or works).
And that checkpoint has to be played online..

Like i said im not expert at this stuff so that's why I made the thread with this idea and expert programmers and networkers can try to make this idea work somehow.

I'm not sure if this can be cracked because I'm guessing that even if that checkpoint is played online then things still get downloaded to your computer..
Is there something you can do at these checkpoints that will stop hackers making cracked complete versions of your game?

Maybe entire game is played online? even though its singleplayer.

Can this idea with internet connection and checkpoints somehow be made to prevent people torrenting your complete singleplayer games?

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arthurviolence    1621
I think that the most important thing to think about is: at what point you're hurting the user experience to avoid piracy. Those who download the game for free and don't buy, are most likely not going to buy. Some people will download for free and buy just to support you. Unless you are a big studio, it seems, IMHO, that working really hard to prevent this will end up being bad to you and your players.

But this is just the way I feel about it. People were not really happy that they had to be online all the time to play Diablo. And even then, they would just emulate the servers.

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GeneralQuery    1263
If your business strategy in this day and age relies on thwarting piracy, you're gonna have a bad time. Granted, the likes of Steam have given legitimate sales a shot in the arm but having obtrusive and irritating "features" such as a single player game that needs to be connected to the internet just to play only serves to alienate your legitimate customers because it [b]will[/b] be cracked in time, period. For example, my internet connection is slow and unreliable. How do the likes of me play your game?

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Tobl    364
The general idea of online-verification has already been done by some AAA-publishers. And it was criticized big time by most of the players.
One of the main reasons for that was that it is always possible to crack software. In this case it consisted, very simplified, of changing where the game checks for the authentity away from the official publishers site to a localhost. The result was, that pirated versions of those games actually had a higher value than legally bought ones, since the pirated versions, contrary to the official ones, could be played without a internet connection.

bw,
Tobl

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Haps    1331
If it was that simple, it'd be done already.

For starters, the main reason I like long, involved single player games like RPGs is that I can load it onto my laptop for long periods when I might not have internet. That DRM cripples my expected use of it.

Multi-million dollar companies haven't come up with a DRM scheme that's 1)effective, 2)feasible, and 3)un-intrusive yet. The problem is it usually inconveniences a portion of your paid demographic and discourages only a tiny slice of people who weren't going to buy it anyways. And since someone, somewhere, will crack your game within the first week, is a huge waste of resources. If your DRM is annoying enough, you may even be giving indirect support to the crackers as there will be more of a demand to be freed from it, even amongst your paid customers who only want to play the game without the inconvenience.

Plus, a determined troublemaker could potentially knock your servers offline, as supposedly happened to UbiSoft. Now, instead of preventing one person from pirating it, that one person might prevent every one of your users from playing the game they paid for.

So far, the situation seems to be: Make your game worth paying for, and more convenient to get than from a torrent. And you'll have to accept the fact that a portion of people will always want your game without paying for it - They never would have in the first place.

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Ravyne    14300
Not at all a new idea, and for the most part being tethered to an internet connection for a single-player game is met with scorn by gamers. This is sometimes called "phoning home". Sooner than later, someone out there in torrent-land will release a version that doesn't phone home, and then all you have is a broken anti-piracy mechanism that doesn't affect pirates (who play the "cracked" version), and limits legitimate, paying customers to not be able to play the game they payed for while they're away from an internet connection. It's literally worse than doing nothing, because the pirates still don't pay, and you spend plenty of effort and money policing only the players who were honest to begin with, and even penalize them for it.

Here's the deal. Even if 90% of your user base are pirates, 99% percent of those people aren't going to pay for your game, period. If it weren't available on the torrent sites, they might not ever play it, and you might feel less cheated out of a payday, but in the end its no revenue either way. Not to give this behavior a pass, but having all that free word-of-mouth and visibility would probably do you more good than any anti-piracy measure ever could. Say someone sees your game being played by their friend who pirated it, and buys a legitimate copy, or that the reputation of the game, whether from pirates or not, causes it to be noticed by review sites. In a multi-player game, it might even be that the pirate's keep the active user numbers high enough for the experience to be enjoyable by the paying customers (presuming you aren't paying to run all the servers yourself). You can even monetize on pirates in other ways with only an optional internet connection (thereby sparing legit customers), by selling them services like character slots, expansions, or micro-transaction goods -- though, if that's your main revenue stream, you should just make the game free2play anyhow (In fact, free2play is popular in part precisely because it removes the piracy concerns from the equation).

Anti-piracy measures make essentially no sense for an indie, because the bulk of an indie's sales tend to come from the "long tail", after any anti-piracy measure will be cracked, and pirates will have unfettered access anyhow. For AAA titles, who make 90% of their money in the first month of sales, advanced piracy countermeasures make sense because they only have to delay crackers that first month to protect the bulk of their profits (which come from gamers who are too anxious to wait for a crack, or who have pre-ordered).

Therefore, the best thing you can do to actually increase revenue is not to thwart pirates, but to increase the number of people who will enjoy your game, and the amount of which they enjoy it. More happy customers turning their friends into happy customers. You do that by spending every ounce of effort you have available towards making the best game you can -- a week or even a day spent building some doomed anti-piracy system is wasted potential -- a week or day spent *not* making your game better; a week or day spent *not* making more and happier customers. Edited by Ravyne

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glhf    585
okey, It was just an idea that I put out there.. just wanted to know if it could be worked to be a succussful prevention or not.

but i don't agree that people who are torrenting games wouldnt buy them if it was possible to torrent.
I know quite a lot of people who says they would probably of bought many of the games they torrented if they had no other way to get it for free.

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Cornstalks    7030
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1348690954' post='4984094']
Can this idea with internet connection and checkpoints somehow be made to prevent people torrenting your complete singleplayer games?
[/quote]
Yeah, for about an hour. Don't expect it to provide you any protection longer than an hour after release though. Honestly, a good hacker will be able to crack that in no time. It's been done before (both your idea, and hacking it, and it's been done several times).

If a major company can produce a AAA game that gets pirated like crazy despite their millions-of-dollars budget, don't get your hopes up too high that you'll be able to thwart the pirates with your very, very limited resources.

I don't have a whole lot of suggestions about your DRM, other than this: [b]focus on making your legal customers happy[/b]. Don't annoy them; that's not what you want to do.

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SimonForsman    7642
[quote name='Ravyne' timestamp='1348693880' post='4984115']
Anti-piracy measures make essentially no sense for an indie, because the bulk of an indie's sales tend to come from the "long tail", after any anti-piracy measure will be cracked, and pirates will have unfettered access anyhow. For AAA titles, who make 90% of their money in the first month of sales, advanced piracy countermeasures make sense because they only have to delay crackers that first month to protect the bulk of their profits (which come from gamers who are too anxious to wait for a crack, or who have pre-ordered).
[/quote]

and despite this Ubisoft have backed away from their always online DRM since it caused too much problems and most likely cost them sales and ruined their reputation, DRM is fine if it is done right, always online DRM however is a very bad solution unless you have the resources to keep your DRM servers online at all times. (Users might accept that they can't play when their connection is down but they sure as hell don't accept that they can't play because a group of annoyed pirates decided to DDOS your DRM servers or because your servers can't handle the load, have to reboot for an update or you simply couldn't afford to keep things running anymore. (I personally wouldn't buy a game from an indie developer or financially unstable publisher if it used a DRM system that would cause the game to stop working if the company went out of business or had to cut costs) Edited by SimonForsman

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Ravyne    14300
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1348694042' post='4984117']
but i don't agree that people who are torrenting games wouldnt buy them if it was possible to torrent.
I know quite a lot of people who says they would probably of bought many of the games they torrented if they had no other way to get it for free.
[/quote]

You may not agree, but most experts say otherwise. Your evidence is anecdotal at best, and it certainly seems to not consider the bigger picture. I wish I had the source, but I read statistics on android piracy that showed that something like a 2/3rds of pirates don't play the game longer than a few minutes -- about [i]half of them didn't even play it at all[/i]. This means that, of all pirates, only about 1/3rd are giving your game a second look. Many of those pirate because they are too poor or cheap to pay for a legit copy at any price, and still some more outright object to the notion of paying money for any software at all. In the end, you have perhaps 5 or 10 percent of pirates who are even on the fence over paying you. Who you still have to convince that your game is worth your price... Hence, you cannot think in terms of "X people pirate my game, my game sells for Y, therefore pirates have cost me X * Y dollars." Even with perfect (read: impossible) piracy prevention and perfect (100%) conversion to paying customers, its more like (X/20) * Y -- best-case-scenario. DRM and anti-piracy task-forces are not the crushing theft/would-be-windfall that the MPAA, RIAA and other industry groups would have you believe.

Seriously, the best thing an indie can spend his time on is making his game better. DRM and anti-piracy measures do him exactly no good, and will do harm to his reputation.

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glhf    585
[quote name='Ravyne' timestamp='1348696392' post='4984136']
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1348694042' post='4984117']
but i don't agree that people who are torrenting games wouldnt buy them if it was possible to torrent.
I know quite a lot of people who says they would probably of bought many of the games they torrented if they had no other way to get it for free.
[/quote]

You may not agree, but most experts say otherwise. Your evidence is anecdotal at best, and it certainly seems to not consider the bigger picture. I wish I had the source, but I read statistics on android piracy that showed that something like a 2/3rds of pirates don't play the game longer than a few minutes -- about [i]half of them didn't even play it at all[/i]. This means that, of all pirates, only about 1/3rd are giving your game a second look. Many of those pirate because they are too poor or cheap to pay for a legit copy at any price, and still some more outright object to the notion of paying money for any software at all. In the end, you have perhaps 5 or 10 percent of pirates who are even on the fence over paying you. Who you still have to convince that your game is worth your price... Hence, you cannot think in terms of "X people pirate my game, my game sells for Y, therefore pirates have cost me X * Y dollars." Even with perfect (read: impossible) piracy prevention and perfect (100%) conversion to paying customers, its more like (X/20) * Y -- best-case-scenario. DRM and anti-piracy task-forces are not the crushing theft/would-be-windfall that the MPAA, RIAA and other industry groups would have you believe.

Seriously, the best thing an indie can spend his time on is making his game better. DRM and anti-piracy measures do him exactly no good, and will do harm to his reputation.
[/quote]

I understand this kind of prevention is bad now.

I would like to see the souce very much indeed that you mentioned.

but about 2/3 dont play more than a few minutes doesnt matter really.

I've bought games and only played it a few mins then stopped because it wasnt that fun.
But I still bought it because they made it look really fun in description, pics and trailer.

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Ravyne    14300
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1348696757' post='4984137']
I've bought games and only played it a few mins then stopped because it wasnt that fun.
But I still bought it because they made it look really fun in description, pics and trailer.
[/quote]

So, then you advocate being essentially lied to and stolen from? That you should gain sales by keeping people fooled, rather than happy? I'd certainly be pretty cheesed off if I paid even a dollar for a game I only enjoyed (or tolerated, more accurately) for only a handful of minutes. And I certainly won't come back to that developer's other games in the future -- not without some excellent reviews and a free demo, anyway.

I mean, I don't want to seem hostile, but this attitude would be poor business and ultimately a near-sighted and self-defeating maneuver. I'm not even arguing with *you* here, I'm just making sure that these short-sighted counterpoints of yours don't stand unopposed in this thread for eternity and derail someone into thinking this whole DRM thing might be worthwhile after-all. If this at all comes across as personal, its not, I'm just very heated about this topic and convinced that no DRM at all is the best DRM for indies.

I know I sound like a hippy when I say it, but let me repeat again: Making your game better is the most effective thing you can do to increase revenue, DRM and anti-piracy is an anti-customer act.

Seriously, worry about making happier customers, not more money. Money will follow happy customers, but not the other way around.

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jefferytitan    2523
Yeah, DRM generally doesn't achieve much long term apart from annoying your own customers. I could see it being somewhat useful in limited circumstances, such as if you could sufficiently raise the social value of having an upgrade/content pack first and people wouldn't want to wait for it to be cracked.

One thing I have wondered about (if it's download only) is digitally fingerprinting each copy so you know which customer to blame for the leak when it happens. Depends how litigious you are.

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There already was similiar DRM in Assasin's Creed. It was easier to play the game on cracked version then original. Anyway, what if I'd like to play the game somewhere where I DON'T have an internet connection ? If you want to make a game that requires constant connection then first make worldwide internet available for your customers, which will be enough to send and recieve data from server. Ubisoft learned it in a hard way that DRM's aren't really cool.

There is only one way to make your game sell. Make a good game.

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3Ddreamer    3826
For years I have wondered how a game could be made to self-destruct, delete, and empty game related memory if tampered.[img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/ohmy.png[/img]

[img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.png[/img]


Clinton Edited by 3Ddreamer

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mrheisenberg    362
IMHO it's better to have piracy than to have that fas*ist SOPA thing.I'd rather have a small revenue loss and a huge popularity increase from piracy(it's pretty much free advertisement for your game).For instance look at Terraria.It sold millions.At first a friend sent to me and the rest of the mates the first version of the game to check it out.Then all 4 of us purchased it to get the wall of flesh and hallow update.The point is - most people who pirate weren't gonna buy it anyway,so it's no much of a loss.Piracy is very beneficial to the producer in many cases and can actualy get more people to buy it.I mean it's not even piracy,they're not stealing the copy from you and they're definately not selling it to make a profit out of your work.

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Cornstalks    7030
[quote name='Heath' timestamp='1348711813' post='4984197']
I wonder, is it ever a demand from investors that a publisher should release its games with DRM to try and protect sales?
[/quote]
AFAIK, it can be. Also, I've heard that some licenses for assets (audio/art/whatever) will require some form of DRM/encryption/protection for the assets so they don't get ripped so easily.

I've never worked on a AAA game though, so take what I've said with a (large) grain of salt.

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3Ddreamer    3826
Another area which got me thinking is dynamic encryption where the game is reencrypted - or at least most important parts - between play sessions. I even read a couple years ago about dynamic encryption which ciphers parts of the game while being played so that the state is never the same from moment to moment. Decoy false memory and dynamically encrypted memory will probably become practical in a few years, too, which will make it much harder to pirate.

I believe that technology advances will eventually make games secure from all but the insider security breaches.


Clinton

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Heath    357
I'd rather see the code open source. To advance in the game, you either buy a CD (or why not a flash drive at this point in history?) or pay online and activate over email, and the game then "belongs" to your email address or a user profile. And then the game downloads the new files. It isn't limited to one machine or user, and those who were going to pay for the game will do so.

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Haps    1331
[quote name='3Ddreamer' timestamp='1348713806' post='4984207']
Another area which got me thinking is dynamic encryption where the game is reencrypted - or at least most important parts - between play sessions. I even read a couple years ago about dynamic encryption which ciphers parts of the game while being played so that the state is never the same from moment to moment. Decoy false memory and dynamically encrypted memory will probably become practical in a few years, too, which will make it much harder to pirate.

I believe that technology advances will eventually make games secure from all but the insider security breaches.


Clinton
[/quote]

Personally, I doubt it. As computers get more powerful, breaking security becomes even quicker and easier too.

Even if your suggestion worked, you're once again saddling your users with potentially severe issues and DRM shouldn't step on the toes of the people supporting your product. Changed computers? Your saves are probably not transferable, unless key encryption information is stored along with it, potentially giving crackers the information they need. Abrupt termination? Your game might be scuttled completely, and your save data irrevocably lost. You might even lose the game you paid for if you've used up all your installs, and a ruined copy can no longer phone it's deactivation home. Plus there's always the possibility they can simply spoof or bypass the encryption altogether.

You already hit the nail on the head, anyways: Quite a few breaches are zero-day, from first run pressings and internal leaks. A few cracking groups offer compensation for anyone that can get a pre-release to them and there's many opportunities along the chain for an underpaid, uncaring, or disgruntled employee to slip a copy into the wild.

As wiser folks than me have pointed out, that effort should be spent on delivering quality content consumers are willing to pay for, not erecting a feeble barrier to slow down people who wouldn't give you a bottle of water if you were on fire.

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Ashaman73    13715
I don't think that getting pirated is really that bad, I would even say, that it is good.

The AAA industry have years of experiences and one of it is: [i]it is unlikely that you make money with your first title. [/i]

I know of games which sold more addons (which requires the base game) than the game itself, and that was back in the '90 ! But this only shows the effect, that piracy is some kind of free advertising. So, for a indie developer it [i]could [/i]be better to make a game and use the [i]free advertising [/i]and make a sequel to actually earn money with it or make a name of yourself. A pirated first game is just a kind of demo version, but if you have a good game, the sequel will sell better, because people want to support you.

Once you have reached myriades of sold games (AAA segment), have the Xth sequel out , you can think about DRM to optimize your statistics, but this will only happen when people really want to own your game, not only if they want to test it out.

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