BioWare Weighs in on Video Game Piracy

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I think that we can all agree that piracy sucks. The worst aspect of this type of digital high seas shenanigans is that companies are forced to punish legitimate customers to make sure that their games are harder to pirate. Most recently, EA tried to regulate piracy by forcing all copies of their games to include SecuROM, possibly the most draconian form of copy-protection currently available (with the notable exception of the Sony BMG CD copyright scandal).

The most infamous of the SecuROM stories was that of EA’s Spore, Will Wright’s procedurally-generated creature creator simulator from last year. The digital lock-down on Spore enforced a three-install limit upon the game, much to the lament of the internet savvy. As a result of this heavy-handed maneuver, Spore ended up being the most pirated game of 2008 with over 1.7 million downloads.

So, what did the games industry take away from this horrendous back-fire?

Well, not much has changed. SecuROM is still present though its code is a little less invasive (it still remains installed on your system unless you use a special tool to remove it), but there are some companies who are starting to look for different ways to curb piracy.

BioWare, creators of such eminent games as Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect and the upcoming Dragon Age have changed their stance on piracy, despite being an EA partner. Far from trying to stamp out piracy, BioWare simply accepts that there will always be those who feel that paying for products is beneath them. Instead of trying to incur the wrath of those who might be tempted to grift their games, BioWare has adopted some gentler methods of copy-protection. Players who purchase authentic copies of their games will be treated to extra content at launch through limited editions, and any DLC released post-launch will contain software that will check if your game is a legitimate copy.

While I agree that games piracy will be an on-going problem, I think that treating actual paying customers with a little respect instead of engaging in collective punishment is a step in the right direction. I’ve personally never had a problem with copyright enforcement on games (except for being unable to use one copy for LAN gaming), but I’m interested if any of you have had problems with copy-protection software, and what you think are the right steps towards solving piracy.

Source: Destructoid

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

11 thoughts on “BioWare Weighs in on Video Game Piracy”

  1. The DRM on GTAIV was just ridiculous, a total of 4 programs running at once just to play one game. Because it already was a complete resource hog by itself I could literally only play it if I shut down everything apart from those 4 programs.

    The worse thing about crazy DRM methods is I can’t recall ever seeing a game not available to download within a week of it coming out, whatever they are doing it isn’t working. To my knowledge the longest ever time a game has gone without being pirate-able was 10 days for Mass Effect.

  2. I think that Valve’s got the best stance on piracy. Just use steam. Yes, there are steam cracks, but they’re relatively difficult to use, so they can enjoy a pretty low level of piracy. We wouldn’t have to put up with this damn malware DRM if more companies would take a similar approach.

  3. Well, aslong as games remain $60 and don’t have playable Demos, there’s no way in hell I’m going to pay for something I haven’t put my hands on yet. If I end up loving it, I’ll pay for it.

    Same goes for movies, music, and any form of media. I have had issues with copyright protection and the truth is, no matter how well they think they’re punishing everyone, we the pirates always find a way around.

    This is why I think the cheap, downloadable games have been doing so well. Indie developers are finaly getting the awareness they deserve.

  4. For my money, Gas Powered Games actually has the best stance on DRM…they don’t use any. All of their games ship DRM free. Of course, all of their games are huge strategy titles, but I like me a four hour Sins of the Solar Empire match.

    The GTA IV log-in was completely ridiculous. I bought it on Steam, so I had to open that, GFW LIVE, the Social Club to play online…then I couldn’t find any servers because no one was playing!

  5. I don’t have the PC required to be a PC gamer, so this doesn’t effect me, but logically, I like the softer direction they are going in. Eventually these companies are going to have to find a better business model. Games are ONLY going to get more expensive, and I don’t know if I’m willing to pay 100 dollars for a single game of the far-off future.

  6. I really don’t know of a way to stop the plague of pirating, but if the developers are more fair and respectful to their players (like Steam is, in that they don’t have an DRM or whathaveyou) then the pirates won’t be as prevalent. Include demos, and also make it simple to buy and play the game. I think that having a special code that tells you if the copy of the game is official is the best way right now. You can have a simple download a la Steam and have DLC and updates and whatnot only available if the person has an actual copy. So in a sense your pirated copy is a demo, and you must pay for the real thing. That’s fair.

  7. for anyone who is interested, chronicles of riddik:AOBB went 3 week’s without being pirated, forcing the more impatient to just buy the game, it used an innovative new way to encrypt the password, because it used your computer specific’s to generate a key, but alas, the swashbuckler’s discovered a way to pass that check, and the thing about pirate’s are, they never forget, so you cant really reuse the same tactic twice.

  8. I just heard that if your playing a pirated version of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the all important glide abiltity is disabled. Rolled

  9. [quote comment=”8357″]I just heard that if your playing a pirated version of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the all important glide abiltity is disabled. Rolled[/quote]

    Unfortunately I dont think that really makes sense. If that is somehow the case, it was just a bad rip/crack. It will be fixed in time I’m sure, they always are.

  10. Oh, it’s a real problem, alright. Here’s a little snippet from Eidos’s forum:

    Cheshirec_the_cat (The Pirate)

    Hi!
    I’ve got a problem when it’s time to use Batman’s glide in the game. When I hold , like it’s said to jump from one platform to another, Batman tries to open his wings again and again instead of gliding. So he fels down in a poisoning gas. If somebody could tel me, what should I do there.

    Keir (Eidos)

    The problem you have encountered is a hook in the copy protection, to catch out people who try and download cracked versions of the game for free.

    It’s not a bug in the game’s code, it’s a bug in your moral code.

    +1 Zing!

  11. LOL, the poor kid. Private trackers already have glide and save fixes, but they are bugged releases apparently. Soon the real teams will crack the game.

    This is a very interesting way to prevent piracy though, I really like what they’re doing. Much better than the crazy shit in GTAIV, that’s forsure.

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