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Why does the PC gaming industry make it so hard to be honest?

Last response: in Video Games
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October 1, 2007 5:28:34 PM

With the recent Bioshock fiasco where I can only install the game 5 times on the same computer, I am so steamed about this that I just have to share my personal story to get this off my chest. Please understand I am not advocating piracy. (Hopefully that will be very clear if you read my entire personal account.) But I want to make it clear that it was the PC game sellers themselves who introduced me to piracy!

I like to think I’m an honest guy who does not steal and who purchases what I own. I lived by this philosophy for years, purchasing my PC games in stores and online. Then I bought a Ubisoft title which had Starforce on it. The fact that the developers of Starforce were very adamant their copy protection would not damage my optical drive was rather unconvincing when there were so many personal accounts to the contrary.

So I started Googling to see if there was a workaround. And then I discovered it: no-CD cracks. So now I could install and play the game without the disk or ever activating Starforce. (Well that was easy, I thought.) So I started using no-CD cracks for other games I legitimately owned as well.

Then I bought a used game off Ebay. I don’t like buying games off Ebay because I routinely receive bootlegs. I therefore typically email the seller before I purchase one and ask a few questions so I’m confident the game is for real. This time, the seller proclaimed the game to be in like new condition. The one I received was the most scratched disk I’ve ever seen – it wouldn’t even install.

That’s it, I thought. I’m not buying anymore used games off Ebay. So since I had been enlightened by the world of no-CD cracks, I had become aware of other ways to download games. (I won’t share any details, but I’m sure a lot of you know what I mean.) So I started downloading games that you could no longer find except on Ebay. (Seemed fairly innocent since they were no longer available new.)

Just to be clear - if the game was still available somewhere on a legitimate site as a purchased download, I used that instead. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with these results. One download off Dell’s site was so slow that I wondered if I was using dialup. Then, an eternity later, the actual download finished with no game manual. In addition, it came with strict rules on how many times I could install and play the game – restrictions that did not come with the retail version. In fact, the retail version could even be played without the CD! I paid for one more download from a different site, and when it came with similar restrictions, I decided I had enough. (Gosh, I thought. Why would I purchase a download when I can get better service from a “free” download?) Actually, I ended up downloading both of those games I legitimately purchased again (for free!) to avoid the idiotic install restrictions.

Next thing you know, I’m downloading all sorts of games for free since I now know how to do it. In fact, I start going into stores and noticing games on the retail shelf (which I had assumed were no longer available as they were a few years old) are the very games I had downloaded. (So I think to myself, hmmm – that’s not really fair to anyone that I should download this stuff. I’m contributing to piracy, and piracy as a whole is hurting the PC gaming industry. Then I just end up hurting myself when consoles get titles like Call of Duty 3, etc. which never get released to the PC. Maybe I need to be more conscious of this before I start searching around the internet for a download.)

So I purchase a THQ game along with about five others. Not realizing it, I purchased the CD-ROM version instead of the DVD version. (Dang, I thought. Oh well, installing six disks won’t kill me.) Well, when I got to disk 5, a serious installation error prevented me from continuing. After a little Google search, I discovered that this was an unfixable problem with some copies of the game. The only way people were able to fix it was by returning the CD-ROM version for the DVD version.

Just one problem with that – I purchased the game online (not exactly as easy to return as driving down to Best Buy) and I had just exceeded 30 days since I bought it. (I had been busy with the other games I bought, and only just now had time to install this one.) Now I’m really annoyed. So I email THQ’s tech support explaining the problem. The response I get is a grocery list of unhelpful feel-good checks (like make sure my disk isn’t scratched – even though I already told them it wasn’t; and make sure I have the latest version of Direct X!) So here’s a game where I know there’s a legitimate problem on some copies of disk 5, and even the game’s developer won’t help me. So guess what I then decide to do? I was not happy that I had to download another game that I had legitimately bought (especially after deciding not to do it anymore!), but I felt like I had no other alternative.

But to be truthful, I eventually realized that the whole concept of downloading pirated games was ridiculous. I was spending more time searching for downloads, the serial keys, the no-CD cracks, the online manuals, and printing off CD covers then I was actually spending playing the games! Online, I was reading comments rationalizing it all, and it all boiled down to these people being whiny cheapskates. I decided I had enough of it.

And then… Bioshock came out where you are basically paying $50 to rent it five times! So I’m asking myself, what exactly is my incentive for being honest???
October 1, 2007 6:03:09 PM

peace of mind :) 


The one thing that bugs me about games is you spend $50.00-$60.00 on a game and it may last you 10-15 hrs DOH.
Unlike most RPG'S they can go on for up to 200hrs so i tend to only buy those ones, but thats me. Good thing im a rpg fan. :o 
October 1, 2007 6:43:35 PM

Blame it all on SONY! IT's their CRAP!

http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/33991/118/

DRM is a small part of the problem.

Steam ain't bad, when I installed it on my new rig, I just needed to download the games (I have the boxes/dvds, didnt feel like going through that process of installing).
Related resources
October 1, 2007 7:38:48 PM

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand...

breathe.....

Theres no real way to respond to that post; you have far too many points in support of your main premise: in restricting the use and availability of their products inter-alia to protect their profits, they have instead created a situation whereby the only ones who are punished are the legitimate users.

This has several parallells with other issues - road use, for example (at what point does restrictive measures on roads to increase safety begin to infringe civil liberties e.g. use of CCTV to indescriminately punish speeding; prohibition of certain narcotics despite dubious medical "evidence" and criminalisation of a large part of the population) - the fact is that in order to "combat" a "problem" we the public - "free consumers" in a "free society" are ever more restricted.

The problem lies in the balance between personal and social liberties vs. the need to keep societal institutions stable. Companies need profits to survive; the rule of law is what keeps us from reverting to the hobbesian State of Nature.

The issue is at what point do these needs infringe on our freedoms as individuals. To what extent should a company restrict our usage of a freely bought product; at what point does a government restrict what goes into our body; at what point does a religion enforce its morality on non-practicing entities?

At present, we're just testing the limits of what a post-modern, post-cold-war Western Society can stand in acheiving that balance... quite which way it will fall isn't something I want to predict. On the positive side, throughout history, if you try and force people into a rigidly defined system, they will rebel. However, rebellions are violent, convulsive events, and generally only cause more suffering for everyone.

I'll offer this: those most interested in rigidly defining the limits of your freedom - which is no freedom at all - are the ones with the most to lose in seeing control slip away. Conversely, they have the most to gain, and the biggest stake in todays society. Big business, big government (including the police and army), the church (ALL religions), pressure groups - they are the ones who control, and they are the ones with the most money...

...and the ones with the most money generally win. Unless we destroy it all and start again. Then we all lose.

Have fun... you're watching the beginning. It'll get worse from here.
October 1, 2007 8:51:16 PM

well that was depressing :lol:  in short what vincio_filiarum said was
the people who want to rule, should, on no account whatsoever be allowed to do so, the people that don't, won't, and so in short
"people are a problem" (douglas adams, the restaurant at the end of the universe)
October 2, 2007 9:55:13 AM

Sorry to deviate from the main topic a bit but can I just ask about the Starforce breaking optical drives thing. I noticed that ever since I install Heroes of Might and Magic 5, which used Starforce (right?), I can no longer burn DVD's on my DVD burner or CD's on my CD burner. They read ok but won't write, even after moving to a new HHD with a fresh copy of Vista on it. Whenever I burn it gets about half way then brings up some 4300 error and stops. Are my drives dead?
October 2, 2007 1:20:20 PM

You can try manually removing the Starforce. (Uninstalling the game will not do this for you. Convenient!) Here's the step-by-step instructions I used which I found on the web:

DO IT YOURSELF STARFORCE REMOVAL
Even if you uninstall a a StarForce-dependent game, the Starforce device driver stays on the system. Here is a handy 3 step guide to removing all traces of the Starforce software(special thanks to the astute folks at the glop.org forum for documenting this procedure).

1. REMOVE THE DEVICE DRIVERS
Select the System Icon in your windows Control Panel. Click on the Device Manager in the hardware tab and then select "SHOW HIDDEN DEVICES" from the view menu. Now click on the NON-PLUG AND PLAY DRIVERS DEVICE TREE. You should find a few STARFORCE ENTRIES. Uninstall these and reboot your PC.

2. DELETE THE SYSTEM FILES.
Browse to your C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS FOLDER and look for
a trio of files called sfdrv01.system, sfhlp02.sys, sfsync02( the actual number on the files maybe different for you). DELETE THEM.
Note: Mine were just like the ones indicated in the sytem32 files.

3. CLEAN YOUR REGISTRY.
While this isn't a very difficult step, it does involve some tinkering with your Windows Registry--So be careful here, as damaging your Registry could cause serious system problems. Now that you have properly warned, type in regedit in the run box from Your Start Menu. Once the registry is opens, select the FIND option from the EDIT menu. Now search your registry for all instances of "sfdrv," "sfhlp", "sfsync", deleting the offending registry keys as they turn up. Once that is done, close the Registry Editor and reboot your PC--which should now be STARFORCE FREE.


Hopefully after that, your DVD burner will be fixed. As long as you never put the disc back into your optical drive when starting a game, Starforce will never get added back onto your PC. Starforce was how it all began for my slow conversion to the dark side. :) 

By the way - I just did a quick check and it looks like HoMM5 was one of the first Ubisoft titles to drop Starforce. Maybe you installed it from a different Ubisoft game?
October 2, 2007 10:40:06 PM

Rennervision, I can think on one compelling reason to stay on the light side: The people who made the game in the first place. If they don't get paid, we don't get more games of that kind, type and quality.

On a related note, it may be time for Dupre to make another visit. We're having some issues here.

--

Ghostwalker, assuming you moved your drives to a new computer with a fresh install of vista, with up to date drivers, it's a bad sign for your drives. I would reflash the bios/and firmware on the controller card, and or drive, if possible.

HOMM 5 uses securom v7 not starforce. Securom requires securom compatible drivers, particular for burners.


October 3, 2007 12:00:09 AM

Sengoku said:
Rennervision, I can think on one compelling reason to stay on the light side: The people who made the game in the first place. If they don't get paid, we don't get more games of that kind, type and quality.

On a related note, it may be time for Dupre to make another visit. We're having some issues here.

--

Ghostwalker, assuming you moved your drives to a new computer with a fresh install of vista, with up to date drivers, it's a bad sign for your drives. I would reflash the bios/and firmware on the controller card, and or drive, if possible.

HOMM 5 uses securom v7 not starforce. Securom requires securom compatible drivers, particular for burners.


Sengoku has discovered some rather odd DRM scheme with Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, which is actually a stand-alone expansion pack, requires that you UNINSTALL Company of Heroes (if you choose to install Opposing Fronts on the same computer as the original CoH, which, ironically, you don't have to do). So fine, whatever, I install Opposing Fronts, which unistalls the original CoH but keeps your save files, and then try to re-install CoH.But it doesn't work. I play some Opposing Fronts for a while (good expansion, BTW) and then try to re-install CoH, but I get the same error message about a version of the software already being on the machine. Weak. I'll try again tomorrow, but it could be hammer time....
October 3, 2007 1:29:07 AM

I'm in the same boat as a lot of you. I have access to "free" games or I can easily afford to purchase them. As a tech and amateur programmer I prefer to pay for games out of respect but I don't like being punished for doing so. I'm not too upset with Bioshock because after working a few bugs out the game played good and it was really fun. Having to use the DVD is a pain so I always use a no CD/DVD crack for games I've purchased or I mount them with Alcohol. I've not had any luck doing this with BioShock so far but I'm still not too upset with them. In spite of not being able to get the game to work without the DVD I think BioShock is fairly balanced between security and convenience. I'll buy from 2K again (after the first bugfix/update/patch comes out).

OTOH Steam and Valve pissed me off royal with HL2. I had some bad luck so it took me days of research and hours and hours of high speed internet time to get HL2 working. I'll never, ever have anything to do with Valve/Steam ever again. They crossed a line.

TurboTax crossed the same line a few years back. In 2002 they locked TurboTax down so it would only print from one computer. Idiots! I started using TurboTax after a friend gave me a "free" copy back about 10 years ago. I paid for genuine retail copies of TT for each year until 2002. Starting in 2003 TaxCut has been my tax software of choice. Way to screw yourself Intuit!

As an example of how things could/should be Call of Duty 2 installed perfectly in about 10 minutes from DVD. The game has worked perfectly on 3 differerent video cards (from 2 different brands) and 2 different OSes. I'll buy COD4 sight unseen at full retail based on my awesome experience with COD 1 and 2. Least I can do to reward InfinityWard for putting out such a complete product that has no "honesty penality".

Gonna go "pre-order" COD4 from Amazon right now......
!