Posted tagged ‘DRM’

OnLive is the Future

January 15, 2011

OnLive1

This is the future. Not so much now, but in the future.

  I believe that, within the next five years, OnLive will be the premiere way to purchase PC games. Within the next ten years it may be the ONLY way to purchase any PC games that aren’t indie productions. This will seem crazy to almost anyone out there, but just hang in there while I explain my reasoning.

PC gaming has seriously been hurt by piracy. Now I won’t go so far as to say that piracy is taking so much money away from PC game developers that they don’t feel it’s worth it to release PC games, but instead I imagine it’s the fear of piracy that permeates the business of video games. This fear causes most publishers to demand that any game they publish be heavily DRM’d, which costs a ton of money and does literally nothing. In fact, the best DRM they’ve come up with, Ubisoft’s “always need an internet connection” DRM, was cracked pretty quickly.

Publishers and developers aren’t the only problem either. It’s not just pirates that are costing the publishers and developers money, it’s the average user. How so? How much money do you suppose Ubisoft spent on their DRM service, including development, implementation, and server costs? Probably a lot more than they should have. How did the average gamer react? With fear, hate and distrust. I was one of these people, so I can’t exactly say it was an uncalled for action, but it did cost the publisher tons of money. More importantly it added to their belief that PC gaming was not a lucrative market. I mean hell, if they even try and prevent piracy their regular users will damn near riot.

So where does OnLive come into all this? OnLive is the PERFECT DRM service. If PC game publishers were smart they would be supporting OnLive with every ounce of their advertising money. Why? Think about the way OnLive works. Not only do you have to download a program, but you have to open OnLive to do anything. How is this different than Steam? I have Steam up and in the background at almost all times, but with OnLive I have to commit. The program opens full screen and immerses you in the experience a lot more than other PC game stores. Of course that’s a small part of it. Consider also the fact that it’s almost impossible to pirate a game if it was released only on OnLive. This isn’t a “you need an always on internet connection” DRM that you can hack and turn off. In fact, you have no files of the game on your PC and you never will. You would need to hack into their servers, change the files there, and somehow make sure they didn’t find out and just change it back. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t see a way to pirate this on a large scale.

So we’ve effectively stopped PC piracy, given players an Always On DRM that they can’t really get mad about, and provided a great way to market a PC game, due to OnLives amazing “spectator” mode. So what’s the problem? Well first of all, no matter how good your computer is you can’t turn up the graphics. Given a big push from publishers and developers though people could learn to forgive this flaw. Would hardcore PC gamers be upset? Yes. Does any company care about hardcore gamers, let alone hardcore PC gamers? Probably not. The other problem is the lag. Now I’ve been playing OnLives free week of games (not all of them, just the ones available from there subscription service. That means mostly ‘meh’ ones right now) and I’ve rarely noticed any lag. When I do it’s usually a little choppy for a few seconds, and then I’m back to gaming. Of course I am limited as to what I can do in the background while I play. I mean I won’t be running torrents (another win for every industry), but I also won’t be downloading anything at all, which can be a serious pain.

In closing I think that, in the future, we will see OnLive or a service much like it rise up to take over mainstream PC gaming. Almost every company out there has given up on PC games in retail unless it’s a Blizzard game, so brick and mortar stores aren’t going to care. Within five years, if the industry is smart, OnLive will become the new console, turning the pain in the ass of developing for literally billions of different machines into a simple, one stop shop console experience that is almost impossible to pirate. Of course, to really kick this off they might have to work with the internet providers to possibly provide a “gamers tier” internet option where, for an extra $20 a month, you have a much better internet connection.

What’s the biggest problem with OnLive as I see it now though? Prices and selection. Their selection is alright and getting better, but their prices keep me from buying anything. They sell old games for full price, and they almost never have a sale. Even when they do it doesn’t come close to Steam’s sales. I know they don’t have the user base to be able to work those deals yet, but it really is a deal breaker for me. I mean I’m giving up my ability to play the game offline, or to change the graphics settings, and I’m ok with that. But if I’m paying full price for it, I might as well buy it from Steam with a huge discount and the ability to play offline.

What do you think? Have you tried OnLive at all? Now is the perfect time, as they are having a ‘free play’ week. Hop online and give it a shot, then tell me what you think in the comments.

Humble Indie Bundle Update

May 9, 2010

I’m going to copy-paste part of an email sent to me this morning.

Dear Humble Bundle supporter,
I have a small announcement you might be interested in. This morning, I was talking to fellow indie studio Amanita Design. They wanted to donate to the Humble Indie Bundle too — but in a unique way. They decided to donate their award-winning, cross-platform game, Samorost 2, to the bundle! It is really a great game, and I encourage you to go download it on your updated Humble Bundle key page.

Just like that, I get a game added for free. This is what video game development should be about, trying to create awesome games for the sake of creating fun games, and treating your customers like human beings.

My hats off to all the people behind this Humble Indie Bundle. Simply amazing.

No Demo?

March 19, 2010

achievement

I can’t be the only gamer who has noticed a serious decline in the amount of PC game demo’s being released. Sure PC gaming has taken a hit in recent years due to companies thinking Pirates are customers, but it doesn’t make any sense for the games coming out to not have demos.

In fact, the only reason I can see for not having a demo is knowing that your game is: 1) a terrible game, 2) lacking content and a twenty minute demo would be most of the game, or 3) repetitive to the point of being boring. If your game is actually good, then the only thing you are accomplishing by not putting out a demo is to limit the amount of people that buy your game.

For instance, I’m interested in Command and Conquer 4, but I’m not going to pick it up until I play it and decide I like it, since I’ve gone back and forth with previous C&Cs. The problem is that there is no demo for Command & Conquer 4, at least not that I could find. This of course is probably because they secretly took the Ubisoft route and an internet connection is apparently required to play the game, according to an article on Kotaku.

So are companies not putting out demos because they know their games are subpar crapware or a major letdown in some way? It’s tempting to only buy games that have demos, since I have a chance to try them out and decide if they actually are shitware. With that in mind I foresee fewer and fewer games putting out demos as more and more great studios are bought out by the EAs and the Activisions so that their games can become a yearly middle finger directed at gamers, who of course will continue to purchase them in record numbers.

RUSE: Amusing, but Ubifailure.

March 12, 2010

ruse

Amazing game, ruined by Publisher DRM.

I’ve been playing the RUSE beta on steam this week and I’m in love with it. The unique take on Real Time Strategy is something that is very refreshing. I’m not sure what I can say about it right now, but suffice it to say that it may be one of the better games of the year.

That said, I hope it fails utterly. I’m sorry to the developers, I know you guys worked hard on it and you had to do what you had to do. Nevertheless I truly hope everything tied to Ubisoft’s failure machine tanks like a toilet.

If they drop the over-the-top DRM then I WILL buy this when it comes out. If they don’t then I can’t buy it, which is really sad. I wait with baited breath.

Is preventing piracy worth killing a market?

March 8, 2010

20090410-assassin_creed_02

Congratulations are due to Ubisoft. As of today I haven’t heard of any confirmed cracks for Assassin’s Creed II (There are rumors, and there are counter rumors, and there are rumors that it is out there but is gimped in some way). Of course there was that small hiccup that prevented people from playing the game for over 12 hours, but that is a small price to pay to prevent piracy.

I had planned for this blog post to slam Ubisoft’s DRM, talk about how worthless it is and how even if it works people will boycott the games that have it and we will show Ubisoft that we won’t suffer broken products! Sadly I don’t think that this is the case at all.

I don’t believe that their addition of ridiculous DRM has hurt the games sales on the PC in any way. I also don’t believe that it has helped the sales, after all pirates probably aren’t going to buy your game anyway.

We won’t know for sure until sales figures come out but my guess is that the public has spoken. We may rail against all things DRM but it hasn’t stopped us from purchasing these games (I sadly bought it on the 360 long before I heard about the DRM included in the PC version. If I had known I never would have bought any copy). And don’t think that hearing about the PC’s DRM and deciding to get it on a console is going to “show” Ubisoft anything. They still got your money, and the money of thousands of other irate gamers.

We like to think that we stick to our guns and if a company does something terrible we won’t suffer their crap, but the truth of the matter is that Ubisoft games will continue to sell on PC and console, Activision games like Modern Warfare 3, 4, 5 and 6 (all coming in 2011 probably) will sell, and there is nothing we WILL do about it.

They called our bluff, smacked us in the face, and we will still come crawling back throwing money at them when the time comes. Well played Ubisoft, well played.

I’m going to go take a hot shower and debate changing my hobby from gaming to wood carving.