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GOG Gets Vulgar in Fight for Gamers' Rights

Video game distribution platform GOG has always been pretty up-front about its stance on digital rights management (DRM) in games. The store was created specifically for DRM-free games that should theoretically be playable in perpetuity. Just in case the message about the dangers of DRM's ubiquity in digital games wasn't clear, however, the company started the FCK DRM Initiative to explain to gamers why they should care.

DRM is supposed to make it harder to pirate games. Most DRM tools accomplish this by checking in with a central server when a game is launched, but as they've grown increasingly complicated, they can end up taking up a surprising amount of a system's resources. Some of the stricter DRM tools also make it impossible to play a game without an internet connection, even if the game is mostly or entirely single-player focused.

When DRM tools aren't working properly, they can lead to performance issues for otherwise well-optimized titles, or restrict someone's access to a game even if they bought it and have an internet connection. And that's just when the DRM is malfunctioning; sometimes a company shutting down can make it all-but-impossible to play a game that was purchased on the up-and-up.

FCK DRM's website makes these dangers quite clear to interested gamers. Here's its answer to why people should care about DRM:

"Because there is a killswitch built into your games. Sure, DRM might not affect you right now, but corporations hold the key and they'll only let you in as long as you can repeatedly prove ownership. As long as you're connected to the internet. As long as their DRM works without fault. As long [as] they're still around. So should the burden of proof be on you? Do you place your trust in someone who doesn't trust you?"

Lest you think all this is merely a marketing ploy to convince people to shop via GOG instead of DRM-friendly stores like Steam--though it certainly doesn't hurt--the site also offers resources for other DRM-free media. The problem isn't exclusive to games; DRM is used to secure digital music, videos and books too (sellers of DRM-free media are encouraged to contact GOG via the "iwantto@fckdrm.com" email address).

FCK DRM is most likely preaching to the choir. Many gamers have pooled their resources to "crack" the DRM on popular games so gamers can play without restriction. This enables piracy, to be sure, but at least some of the people who download these cracked games purchase them first. They simply believe they are buying a digital game, not paying for restricted and potentially temporary access to it. The distinction is vital.

  • Druidsmark
    Some times drm can even trigger a persons anti virus software, as I recently bought Y's Memories of Celceta from Steam. After playing for an hour Kapersky Internet security 2018 suddenly detected what ever drm is used for this game as a trojan and uninstalled and removed all traces of the game from my drive and force a system restart. This is the first time I have ever experienced dirty drm such as this being included with a game. As a result I will never by another game from Falcom with drm included. Thankfully Falcom all so releases most if not all there games on GoG drm free, so from now I on I will only buy there games from GoG. I normally don't care whether a game comes with drm or not as I have never found it to be much of problem before now. How ever after this experience I may start shopping more at GoG to avoid the risks of this kind drm complication in the future.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    21252569 said:
    Some times drm can even trigger a persons anti virus software, as I recently bought Y's Memories of Celceta from Steam. After playing for an hour Kapersky Internet security 2018 suddenly detected what ever drm is used for this game as a trojan and uninstalled and removed all traces of the game from my drive and force a system restart. This is the first time I have ever experienced dirty drm such as this being included with a game. As a result I will never by another game from Falcom with drm included. Thankfully Falcom all so releases most if not all there games on GoG drm free, so from now I on I will only buy there games from GoG. I normally don't care whether a game comes with drm or not as I have never found it to be much of problem before now. How ever after this experience I may start shopping more at GoG to avoid the risks of this kind drm complication in the future.

    Thats called a false positive. When an anti-virus sees a otherwise benign application as a virus. It can happen on anything depending on the AV and how it scans stuff.

    Although I have NEVER seen an AV delete everything for a game or application. Normally its the offending file of which you should notify Kasperky and add it to the white listed files.

    I have nothing against GoG. However I feel its every game developers right to protect their IP. I have no issues with light weight DRMs like Steamworks. Sure if, that's a very big if, Steam ever went down it would be a huge problem, although lets be realistic if Steam ever got into that big of trouble it would be either A. the end of the world or B would get bought out by a major vendor.

    So long as GoG doesn't disappear its a valid game source.
    Reply
  • mwryder55
    There is also the problem where a DRM may quit working due to an OS upgrade. I had to get a cracked version of one of my games that I had purchased as the DRM, and henceforth the game, would not work after the OS was upgraded from XP to 7. The publisher said they knew of the problem but had no desire to correct it.
    Reply
  • Zaporro
    I remember that one time, due to steam own DRM, people who paid for game and got it legally could not play it for 24 hours after global launch because steam still thought "the game wasn't released yet".
    At the same time people who got cracked version could play it day one.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    21253462 said:
    There is also the problem where a DRM may quit working due to an OS upgrade. I had to get a cracked version of one of my games that I had purchased as the DRM, and henceforth the game, would not work after the OS was upgraded from XP to 7. The publisher said they knew of the problem but had no desire to correct it.
    So what, the pirates patched it to run on windows 7? If so then obviously you would also be able to get the fan patch only without the crack.
    Reply
  • canadianvice
    @terrylaze: the drm was the broken component. The crack was the patch, as it removed the drm.

    I've never had issues with drm, myself, but I will say needing 45 different "( )play" clients due to exclusive distributions and such is getting really old. I don't want nor need tons of different launchers - the only thing that should be involved in a game is its own code and a shortcut in your start menu.

    I'll take steam as an acceptable alternative, but I honestly prefer bare titles.
    Reply
  • thub
    I've had quite a few problems with DRM over the years, to the point where in the early 2000's I would crack every DRM-laden game I installed as a matter of course.

    Most memorably, I installed Microsoft Games for Windows so I could play Batman: Arkham Asylum and several of the other games already installed on my computer stopped working. So I played straight through to the finish, then immediately uninstalled the game and GfW. Somehow the other games started working again. After that, I swore off these glorified DRM-as-a-service systems (I'm looking at you, Uplay and EA Origin) especially when they require a login. It has definitely limited my gaming options, but I'm honestly not that bothered about losing out on many AAA games, but services like gog.com and humblebundle.com have a lot alternatives on offer as long as you're vigilant about checking for the DRM-free games on the latter. It turns out there is still a ton of indie stuff out there that I have really enjoyed now that I'm paying more attention to that space.

    When Steam started I actually did the work of reading the EULA and privacy policy, reading up on the limitations of offline mode and on Valve's promise to make the content available after Steam one day dies, and ultimately made the decision to trust Valve's platform and DRM. The alternative at the time would have meant giving up on Counter Strike and Day of Defeat, so that influenced my decision in no small part. In the end though, I have to say that while I'm not always cool with what Valve does, I trust the other publishers with their own combination digital storefront/DRM services far less.
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  • canadianvice
    Actually, I forgot some notorious drm... Games For Windows Live.

    It still plagues my GTA IV experience, and it's complete bs that they find the time to patch out music and not remove a dead drm platform.

    I had to hack it myself to remove the component.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    21256157 said:
    Actually, I forgot some notorious drm... Games For Windows Live.

    It still plagues my GTA IV experience, and it's complete bs that they find the time to patch out music and not remove a dead drm platform.

    I had to hack it myself to remove the component.

    I do have GTA IV on steam with Games For Windows Live and it doesn't make any difference,other then seeing it pop up at the beginning,as long as you have a Microsoft/xbox account it will log you in and not bother you.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    21256157 said:
    Actually, I forgot some notorious drm... Games For Windows Live.

    It still plagues my GTA IV experience, and it's complete bs that they find the time to patch out music and not remove a dead drm platform.

    I had to hack it myself to remove the component.

    Never had to do anything with it after GFWL died.

    However I do agree they should have patched it out like Rocksteady did to Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
    Reply