Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Paranoia of Gaming Corporatism

While looking at different game torrents (looking, not downloading of course), I found this except of a description from a Prince of Persia ISO:

Release Notes:
A little statement about the work involved:
To clear the minds of the individuals who think: "Game x was
done fast and this one taking ages" etc. The way the Ubisoft
DRM works, makes it so that every game is like a brand new
challenge. What it does do, is offload certain parts of the
game to a server, game then requests those things at runtime.
These parts can be anything that the developer wants. In the
case with Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, those things
- Levers logic
- Door timing
- Upgrades
- Abilities
- XP & Levels
- Area codes
Every time you step on a button "in game", it sends a request
to server asking what to do. Server then sends the door code
to open, including how much time it stays open. Levers work
similarly, every time you press the "TAB" button to display
skills, game asks again server: "What skills do player have",
and so on and on.
All that stuff takes a lot of time to implement right and we
do implement it like the original do. All our doors open and
close with exact same time factors as the retail do. We just
wanted to clarify a little how the Ubisoft DRM really does
work, because a lot of those individuals we mentioned in the
beginning of this statement didn't seem to understand, yet
what kind of monster this is. It's not some simply "Values"
going around like it were with Assassin's Creed II.

The only thing more amazing to me than the painstaking efforts that pirate groups go through to deliver an authentic game to the thieving public is the ridiculous amount of effort UBISoft went through to “ensure” copy-protection of their game.  Of course, the end result is that it was pointless, and all it really did was help a bunch of game-rippers display their incredible hacking skills.

But is any of that really necessary?  As an old-school PC gamer, needing a live internet connection while playing a single-player game is ridiculous and far too intrusive.  I understand the desperation in their efforts, but when it comes to such ludicrous means, doesn’t that really just show that the financial models of computer games is archaic and ineffective?

Personally, I abhor any game company that manipulates the consumer so much, just to secure their profit.  In my mind, the problem isn’t that people pirate games.  A lot of game piracy comes from experienced gamers knowing that most games released are buggy, have major compatibility issues, or is only done by people who couldn’t/wouldn’t buy the game anyway.  Quality games that are made with passion are usually bought, regardless of how easy it is to pirate, because consumers actually enjoy supporting the developer.  All of the paranoia here comes from the publisher, not the developer.  In my opinion, game publishers are obsolete and unnecessary, just like recording labels.  They aren’t needed to market products like they once were, and the means of marketing a game or CD is much different (and much easier) with the internet.  Also, it is due to the exponential inflation of the costs that go into creating a game that make companies so obsessed with protecting their profits – after all, they spent millions of dollars creating the game.

Hopefully, the trend with games will be that they will become cheaper and easier to create, market, and distribute.  All of this is already possible, but because of the entrenched monopolies involved, it hasn’t really caught on in full force.  When publishers are knocked down a few pegs, and developers have more freedom and power, then maybe games will be created for the art and joy of it – instead of the possible profits of selling a “product”.

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