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Lesan

What if games were uncrackable?

28 posts in this topic

Hypothetically,
if someone invented a way to physically prevent PC applications from being cracked so no pirated copies could be made, do you think it would be a big change or that it wouldn't matter much?

Probably less people would play computer games, but would more or less of them be produced?
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I would imagine that publisher confidence in the platform would increase, though they would still prefer a console title; there would be a small boost to sales (from the pirates of laziness and not 'necessity'), though no real change in market scale; and larger developers wouldn't shift what they're doing too much, except for not bothering with other DRM methods. Indie developers would bounce around with glee for a while and possibly make some more money.

That is my uninformed opinion.
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I'd see game and software sales going down a bit - many folks like the "try before you buy" approach.
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Unicorn and leprechaun populations would explode. The PC market would look more like the console market in terms of whatever distorting effect piracy has on PC game sales. Other changes I think would depend on how much more it costs to produce a physically uncrackable disc, and if there were any effects for consumers other than the uncrackability.
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[quote name='Shippou' timestamp='1351961825' post='4996899']
I'd see game and software sales going down a bit - many folks like the "try before you buy" approach.
[/quote]
Free trials just don't cut it anymore, huh?
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[quote name='Alpha_ProgDes' timestamp='1351966651' post='4996928']
[quote name='Shippou' timestamp='1351961825' post='4996899']
I'd see game and software sales going down a bit - many folks like the "try before you buy" approach.
[/quote]
Free trials just don't cut it anymore, huh?
[/quote]
Unfortunately no. There are so many "fly by night" programs out there .... demos tend to hide the flaws.
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There is little doubt that the value of the industry would increase, game-developers would probably make more money, and therefore, more games and better games could be made. Also, game devs could spend less on protection in software, hardware and on the legal front, which would free up more money to actually make the games. But I don't know by how much the market would shift. I think there are dynamics that can't be easily forecast. Game devs might like us to think that it's all bad, but they don't actually know for sure do they ?

There does seem to me to be an intrinsic fact that human nature will lead us to simply take what is available for free. And if there is a cost, then we balance that cost and pay it if we can afford it. It doesn't matter how much noise the authorities and developers make to stop us taking apples from the 'free' basket or threaten us with possible consequences if we do so, some people will always and other people will occasionally take apples from the 'free' basket. It's kind of a simple equation like that in terms of the current situation.

But consider the following possibility ... The only people that are downloading the cracked games are not even in the market for buying games because they are poor, are children, students or the unemployed, or can't/won't justify the expense even if they can afford them. What I'm suggesting with this scenario is that if cracking were banished, all you might achieve is reduce the distribution of cracked software, ie the overall consumption of games but not really improve the market, ie the games actually purchased. I think there are a lot of people out there who might relate to Scenario A in that they feel like they can't afford it, when they actually can, and they would just rather steal the software because it's easy and use their money for other things. But the industry is so focused on it being just 'Piracy' and simply wrong that it's hard to get real information about how people feel about spending money on games and how much they can actually afford it. There are actually 'shades of gray' that people don't want to talk about because the courts would have us believe in the black and white nature of justice. But the truth is never that simple.

Also, just counting up how many downloads a title has on a torrent site isn't a realistic way of assessing the cost of piracy. Until the industry confronts this reality and admits it, I'm afraid they're just blowing hot air about the real cost of piracy. Because I can absolutely promise you that every cracked title downloaded is not going to translate to a purchase in a piracy-free world. Maybe the industry takes this into account in their figures, but I doubt it. Someone present some evidence that they do please.

Besides any discussion of piracy. Isn't the game industry bigger than Hollywood now ? I'd say that sounds pretty good doesn't it. If I look at what games I've bought in the last year or so compared to what movies I've watched at the cinema, Here's how it tallies out : (and this doesnt include games that have been bought for me, there have been a couple)

Games

Battlefield 3 $78
Diablo 3 $110
ElderScrolls : Skyrim $70
Braid $10
Age of Mythology $12
Assassin's Creed 2 $18
Dungeon Defenders $15
Legend of Grimrock $15
Plants vs Zombies $10
Total $338

Movies :

John Carter $12
The hunger games $12
The avengers $12
Snow White and the Huntsman $12
Prometheus $12
Savages $12
The dark night rises $12
Total $84

I think I have missed one or two in each category, but what is clear is that in the past 12 months or so I have spent significantly more on games than on films. And I haven't pirated any movies from 2012, nor any games from 2012. So from this perspective the games industry shouldn't be doing too badly. I'm a student ! Friends who are earning a lot more than me spend a lot more on games. I have 19 titles on steam, while my friend who has been working during the time I have been studying has 42 titles on steam. Yes there is some piracy but I haven't pirated a game for a while. I have friends who probably still pirate but they also spend a LOT on games. Definitely a lot more than me, and when I say a lot more, I mean they probably spend 3 to 5 times more than me on games. See, some of those people that are pirating are still spending a bucketload on games. So the figures we are getting out of the industry are all screwed up because they don't want to just look at the reality of the situation, it's quite hard to see what's really happening. That's just from my perspective.

I've also read that piracy is particularly high here in Australia, but then we also have en enquiry at the moment about the cost of computer technology/software here compared to the US. Apparently some costs here are outrageously out of sync with US prices. I've known that for a long time, but it's now official ;P That would certainly have an effect on piracy rates.

The only way the industry can be sure about the effect of piracy is to actually make it impossible and see what happens. But I'd say there would be a prohibitive cost with rolling out such protection. I guess it depends how serious or innovative they are. It could be that cooperation between OS vendors and hardware vendors is the only way to combat piracy. But it just seems like they aren't taking it seriously enough. Laws may be influencing their descisions there, or lack there-of.
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Speaking for myself, 95% of the time I purchase my music. I have a HUGE collection on amazon mp3, but honestly If my friend gives me a copy of the album I won't buy it so alot of the try before you buy is non-sense to me except for the very uncommon occasion where I think the album is such a master piece that I feel obliged to support the band. Edited by The_Neverending_Loop
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[quote name='Lesan' timestamp='1351954058' post='4996864']
Hypothetically,
if someone invented a way to physically prevent PC applications from being cracked so no pirated copies could be made, do you think it would be a big change or that it wouldn't matter much?
Probably less people would play computer games, but would more or less of them be produced?
[/quote]
OnLive and Gaikai did this with streamed content. Works well, but publishers really don't support them at all really so they've had difficulties staying afloat. That and they don't have exclusive titles. If they did have exclusive titles and the network was there they'd probably thrive as they are truly uncrackable. The problem is that solution requires a lot of capital to create and a lot of cooperation from software creators that want to join into that model of business.
[quote name='Shippou' timestamp='1351961825' post='4996899']
I'd see game and software sales going down a bit - many folks like the "try before you buy" approach.
[/quote]
Yeah this is where OnLive excelled. They'd just let you open the game for 30 minutes with the full version on a timer. That kind of mentality was unseen in the gaming market and really gives people the try before you buy.

I don't think it would change how people play games in the slightest. People are already familiar with not owning physical copies of games since we all use Steam and other services now where updates are more important than a disk with an old version. What this does help is indie game developers to quickly release updates and get their game out there.
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I don't want a world where software cannot be cracked anymore than a world where a car cannot be opened up, repaired, rebuilt, and customized. Software is not a tangible thing, and even tangible things usually need to be cracked open.
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[quote name='Heath' timestamp='1352000785' post='4997073']
I don't want a world where software cannot be cracked anymore than a world where a car cannot be opened up, repaired, rebuilt, and customized. Software is not a tangible thing, and even tangible things usually need to be cracked open.
[/quote]
You're not a normal user. I imagine you're talking about mods? That was one of the biggest issues people brought up about OnLive. I agree that kind of separation from a developer is a problem; however, this also means it's easier for developers to restrict who can mod their games giving them more control over quality and their IP.
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[quote]but what is clear is that in the past 12 months or so I have spent significantly more on games than on films.[/quote]how much per how of watching/playing?
i.e. Im guessing Total $338 = 100s of hours vs Total $84 ~20 hours

OP question -
price of games maybe go down ~5-10% (not much) everyone will make a lot more money. Game sales would at least double
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Apart from the people that pirate stuff, multiplayer games would become more complex as there would be no need to do all the important stuff on the server anymore.
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The problem, in my opinion, isn't with piracy because its always been there - its the customer experience of trying to play a game on the PC...

1. Trying to play most games on a PC will most likely involve some hassle in getting the damn game to run - if not the installation, then crashes and speed issues lead to disappointment. A console solves this problem immediately.

2. A Keyboard is not the most beginner-friendly controller. Now, lets be clear here - the set up is bloody awesome if you have the patience, but for most, a controller is a lot simpler to figure out, nicer to look at and screams "game".

3. Hardware requirements...oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! The customer needs to know about CPU, Memory, harddisk space....BORING! Seriously, there is a reason why the Wii won the console war with MS and Sony fucking their customers about with hardware add-ons such as the Kinect, PSMove...don't even get me started on the different models with varying Hard Disk sizes. Nintendo have always kept things simple and emerged successful on all their major consoles(yeah, we won't mention the Virtual-Boy thingy). The average gamer is only interested in the games themselves - not having to bugger about with what's underneath the hood...

4. The PC is a development nightmare compared to developing for a console with a standard spec. All the different versions of windows, graphic drivers etc...you might as well throw your hands up in the air and surrender.

5. PC games are now mostly created with consoles in mind - not PCs. Games like FPS, RTS, Space Combat Sims, Fantasy games that can be expanded...they belong on the PC. Oh, wait - Space Combat Sims? Where did they run off to? Of course, silly me - they just don't work well on a console so the whole genre disappeared over night...

6. Whats this? Games companies not supporting mobile chipsets in laptops? Are they serious? Come on, be honest, what is the number of desktop users compared to laptop users? Even still, how one can ignore the laptop user base is beyond me. Most people do have a laptop these days!

So, beating piracy alone isn't going to do much for the PC games market because the PC suffers from so many other problems. Some can be considered "part of the territory", but some can be fixed with a bit of common sense - such as making games exclusive to the PC. The attitude now needs to be: "you want state of the art visuals and sound with game play options you simply cannot get on the consoles? Want to write your own games? Then get a PC: the ultimate games machine.".

The PC market needs a kick up the bum!
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[quote name='Anri' timestamp='1352033856' post='4997151']
1. Trying to play most games on a PC will most likely involve some hassle in getting the damn game to run - if not the installation, then crashes and speed issues lead to disappointment. A console solves this problem immediately.
[/quote]
Yes, well, games had few installation problems until game publishers starting pissing everyone off with intrusive DRM and "authentication" and "game registration" and "oh my CD key has already been used". I'm pretty sure most cracked torrents out there are actually easier to install and fire up than their genuine counterparts, and that fact alone indicates something has gone terribly wrong. Edited by Bacterius
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On the subject of modding a game - were would MineCraft be today if the .jar could not be cracked ?

I remember back in the day, I had to mod every game I had. Quake 2, Monster Truck Madness, Motocross Madness .... It was a fun time when I had lots of free time on my hands.
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Cracking and modding are two separate things. You could mod an uncrackable game if you were given permission.

For instance, I have modded Skyrim, but it's not cracked.

And I dont think minecrafts success is due to the jar being cracked. Edited by Gavin Williams
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[quote name='Shippou' timestamp='1351961825' post='4996899']I'd see game and software sales going down a bit - many folks like the "try before you buy" approach.[/quote]That's an often used argument (or allow me to call it "excuse"). I don't think that it is really valid.

Back in the old days before the internet, when I was 10 or 11, every boy in my school (including me) was a pirate. Everybody had every game, especially the ones that were on the "index" (i.e. illegal because of alleged damaging effects to minors). We had them all, we played them all, and none of us ever paid a single cent or intended to do so, ever. My only excuse is that I was a stupid child/teen, and luckily for me there is something like the statue of limitation, which has put me at safety regarding civil action about 15 years ago.

Either way, while I'm only using free software or am paying for the software that I use ever since I started working, I know people who went to school with me, some of them even having families (in some cases, that's truly surprising), and they [i]still [/i]pirate software (and movies, and songs). None of them even seems to think that they're doing anything wrong, and of course none of them intends to ever pay a cent for what they stole.

It is thus my firm belief that in general people who pirate (say, 99% of them) your stuff [b]don't[/b] do so for trying and buying later. They pirate for no other reason than because it doesn't cost them money.

Having said that, I could imagine that if there was somewhat less greed among software/music/movie companies and prices were a bit more reasonable, people would pirate less, with or without copy protection. When I was a teen, a typical CD or a program would cost a fortune, of which maybe 2-3% was due to attribution to the artist and material cost, another 5% was for logistics, and the rest was [i]greed[/i].
This hasn't changed much. If you were to buy some software like Office or Photoshop, it costs you somewhere between 500 and 2000 Euros, for no justifiable reason. If a program like Photoshop was sold for 50 Euros, I would immediately buy a copy for at home. As it is, I'm using OpenOffice and Gimp instead, which isn't quite the same, and in particularly OO makes me shout and hit the monitor with my keyboard regularly, but it doesn't have the same smell of greed.
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[quote name='Bacterius' timestamp='1352036769' post='4997165']
[quote name='Anri' timestamp='1352033856' post='4997151']
1. Trying to play most games on a PC will most likely involve some hassle in getting the damn game to run - if not the installation, then crashes and speed issues lead to disappointment. A console solves this problem immediately.
[/quote]
Yes, well, games had few installation problems until game publishers starting pissing everyone off with intrusive DRM and "authentication" and "game registration" and "oh my CD key has already been used". I'm pretty sure most cracked torrents out there are actually easier to install and fire up than their genuine counterparts, and that fact alone indicates something has gone terribly wrong.
[/quote]

Not arff! I remember buying Knights of the Old Republic and trying to install it on my laptop - there was CD-security thing going on...did my head in! Another one that makes me cheesed off is Force Unleashed, where one needs to set the game to administrator mode, other wise it plays choppy and super-slow.
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Funny, I've never had any of these issues. DRM seems to be invisible to me, I couldn't even tell you what the big deal is with DRM because it honestly hasn't impacted me. Authenticating a purchased product isn't the slightest concern for me. Installation has always been straight forward. Performance issues are to be expected for a moving target, and when those issues are resolved with patching which is usually automatic these days, you end up with a game that that looks and plays better than any current gen console could hope to match.

I'm not saying that there aren't people out there that have had problems. But many of us don't have these problems. So you can't talk like these problems are universal, because they aren't !
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[quote name='Shippou' timestamp='1351974289' post='4996964']
[quote name='Alpha_ProgDes' timestamp='1351966651' post='4996928']
[quote name='Shippou' timestamp='1351961825' post='4996899']
I'd see game and software sales going down a bit - many folks like the "try before you buy" approach.
[/quote]
Free trials just don't cut it anymore, huh?
[/quote]
Unfortunately no. There are so many "fly by night" programs out there ....[b] demos tend to hide the flaws[/b].
[/quote]

This. And sadly, sometimes, the thing that "must be paid" in order to use is the most problematic lot. There was a game engine that pulls this one before, but now it mostly dead, so good riddance. Not dead yet, and there was changes, but too little too late.
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[quote name='Gavin Williams' timestamp='1352069846' post='4997324']
Funny, I've never had any of these issues. DRM seems to be invisible to me, I couldn't even tell you what the big deal is with DRM because it honestly hasn't impacted me. Authenticating a purchased product isn't the slightest concern for me. Installation has always been straight forward. Performance issues are to be expected for a moving target, and when those issues are resolved with patching which is usually automatic these days, you end up with a game that that looks and plays better than any current gen console could hope to match.

I'm not saying that there aren't people out there that have had problems. But many of us don't have these problems. So you can't talk like these problems are universal, because they aren't !
[/quote]

Gavin, in the same token, you can't dismiss a problem as not being universal just because you have not had that problem. The fact is that such issues do enough damage to PC game sales that customers switch to a console because they don't have to put up with buying a game that doesn't work, even though it meets the required specs.

Seriously, try selling PC games and it won't be long before you get your first cheesed off customer. Trust me, it ain't pretty...
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[quote name='Sirisian' timestamp='1352004428' post='4997081']
[quote name='Heath' timestamp='1352000785' post='4997073']
I don't want a world where software cannot be cracked anymore than a world where a car cannot be opened up, repaired, rebuilt, and customized. Software is not a tangible thing, and even tangible things usually need to be cracked open.
[/quote]
You're not a normal user. I imagine you're talking about mods? That was one of the biggest issues people brought up about OnLive. I agree that kind of separation from a developer is a problem; however, this also means it's easier for developers to restrict who can mod their games giving them more control over quality and their IP.
[/quote]

But the thread is asking this to game developers, not to normal users.
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[quote name='Anri' timestamp='1352120809' post='4997556']
Gavin, in the same token, you can't dismiss a problem as not being universal just because you have not had that problem. The fact is that such issues do enough damage to PC game sales that customers switch to a console because they don't have to put up with buying a game that doesn't work, even though it meets the required specs.[/quote]

Agreed that I can't dismiss that there is a problem, but I don't think issues with pc-gaming is what's driving the console numbers. Talking about myself and my pc-gamer friends - there is some bitching on occasion about issues, but no one's ditching their pc's for consoles. Although they are buying consoles in addition to their pc's. I think we need to remember that there are more gamers now compared to 10-20 years ago, so it's not just an issue of conversion, a lot of the numbers we are seeing are new gamers. Maybe PC gamers are as numerous as ever, and it's just that there are more gamers overall because consoles created a new market. I think that even if I'm not spot on with this, that it is definitely true to a degree. It is the case that the numbers of computers per household are way up, looking at figures I see about an 80-100% increase in computers per household over the past decade. And console numbers are way up too. Neither of these facts is surprising. And they are not contradictory.

Many people will buy a console because of cost, ease of use, and the casual nature of the equipment, how it's installed, where it's used and what it looks like. And I can see that you are saying that yourself about ease of use. So we agree on that, I just don't agree that the issues with pc games are so bad that they are what is driving console growth.

[img]http://i49.tinypic.com/28vuerp.png[/img]

Edit : And I think getting access to exclusive titles may be a big factor in console ownership. Edited by Gavin Williams
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