Main Copy Protection Discussion

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01:09:38 PM Jul 11th 2013
So I finally got around to rewriting the entire page as I promised several months back - to be frank, it was a right fucking mess.

Tons of duplicated examples, lots of discussions on how everyone felt offended by a company's copy protection usage, tons of natter and no understanding of where examples should be placed. I've segmented company-specific examples into subpages, and organized everything cleanly.

Pulled these because they aren't really copy protection, but more glitches causing game read errors:

  • Not strictly Copy Protection, but more like incredibly failtastic programming: Capcom's Megaman Battle Network 4: Blue Moon has issues the Red Sun version doesn't exhibit, which make the game virtually unplayable on anything except the original Gameboy Advance hardware. One unavoidable section of the game causes the entire game to slow to a near halt (the music remains normal, however) if you open the menu or encounter enemies. The game will eventually bring itself back to normal speed, but this glitch turns what should easily be a 15 minute at most scenario into something that can take up to an entire day to complete.
  • There was a Super NES game that accidentally implemented copy protection: the game program had a bug which, by sheer dumb luck, caused it to depend on extremely precise timing of the SNES cartridge — play it on a copier or emulator, and the slight timing change would crash the game.

I also removed the following because it needs more context and/or its own example.

There are also a few odds and ends I'm going to cobble together in a "General" section when I have some more time this week.
11:59:04 PM Mar 6th 2013
Removed: * Mortal Kombat: Armageddon had copy protection which caused the game to boot up and then go into Cabela's Big Game Hunter.

A Google search returns no references whatsoever to such a copy protection... except for this TV Tropes page. I'm going to assume it's fake.
08:35:13 AM Jan 8th 2013
For some reason, my comment about the line I removed from the Batman: Arkham Asylum entry didn't make it in. Just for the record, it was as follows:

"I have no clue what that link was supposed to be referring to, but I don't think it was a 'fuck you pirates' misfiring so much as 'install media is bad and will not actually install'."
06:11:32 AM Feb 10th 2012
Either I forgot about it or missed it, but I never got the stuff from FRLG.
08:30:03 PM Oct 10th 2011
edited by GreenMachine
Hello. I'm (relatively) new here, so please bear me out. While reading this (excellent) article, 3 things came to mind.

1. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the page quote (currently the infamous "buy this game or die" line from Pokemon Fire Red and Pokemon Leaf Green) is not actually in any physical (or even every illegal) copy of the game, leading people to believe that it was inserted by the...what's the term again? ROM Dumpers?

2. I believe the Microprose game Covert Action has copy protection in it. At least, I saw it on a play through by Frankomatic. I also remember him saying it was broken...but I don't own the game, so I can't check.

3. As an programmer in training (in college) with dreams about developing video games and other software, this page makes me feel sick to my stomach. I've always felt that copy protection only really hurts legitimate consumers, and this page cements that feeling. As long as I have a choice (and admittedly, I may never have one), I will refuse to use DRM. It's just...evil. :(
12:54:14 PM Mar 2nd 2011
I want to find a way to integrate certain info from this article:

Since I think this has a lot of very good info on Piracy in general (or at least as applied to PC gaming). Thing is, I don't want to pick something that would inadvertently lead into some edit war or something drastic.
10:10:15 AM Mar 2nd 2011
"Which then creates entirely new problems - you can only hook four computers up to most cable modems, so unless you live alone, you're taking up half the slots with just your computer and your console. It's not even a bandwidth issue - cable providers design the modems to those limitations, so if you're 133+ enough to hack around it, they can't even prosecute."

Are you kidding me? 24 port networking switches are dirt cheap. Here's a 16 port networking switch for $40 USD: You don't need to be a hacker to hook up a switch to a router.

Step 1: Plug in router, plug in switch Step 2: Connect switch to router with networking cable Step 3: There is no step 3
06:05:12 PM Jul 26th 2010
"A more reliable (but also more intrusive) method was to require some piece of information from the game's manual to play. This could (intrusively) require the player to look up a code (or look up "the third word on page seven of the manual"), or, much better, solve a puzzle using clues from the Feelies."

What exactly is meant by "intrusive" here? Does it need to be mentioned twice?
11:31:36 PM Sep 23rd 2010
It is "intrusive" in that using the game when this copy protection is in place requires additional tasks from the user.

In this context, Steam is non-intrusive, as is the infamous Secu ROM - Starforce, howver, IS intrusive as you have to install it separately.
06:29:01 AM Jan 7th 2011
edited by XFile

You don't install it seperately.

In fact, most of the time the user is not aware of ever having installed that piece of crap.

It's installed for you, without you making so much of a concious decision (read: clicking through installshield windows without reading the UELA etc.). Only to find that half your system is slowly going to hell over the next couple of weeks.

Luckily, Star Force has been pulled and no credible publisher would ship their games with it ever again. Too bad that some games I really like (X3 for example) is bogged down by that crap. But workarounds exist luckily.

The fact that there is a pretty easy workaround kinda defeats the whole purpose of Star Force. Especially since the workaround was freely available while publishers were still resorting to it.

  • insert Picard facepalm here plx*
09:16:00 AM Jul 1st 2010
edited by Caswin
Two things. First:
"These tended to either be prone to locking a player out of playing a legal copy (which the software makers didn't care so much about)..."

Even if we assume that people who make games don't care about the people who are going to play them, which sounds like a shaky assumption, wouldn't this drive down sales?

Second, and I'm having even more trouble following this one: How is using the contents of the manual as a failsafe "intrusive"? I'll grant you frustrating, especially if something happened to the manual, but what's intrusive about it?
06:23:08 AM Jan 7th 2011
edited by XFile
That sentence does not make a whole heap of sense, I agree. Usually, the inclusion of a specific type of CP is not the decision of the developer, but usually instigated by the publisher.

I don't think many a developer would like to endorse Star Force or DRM, but more often than not the choice is not theirs.

The second one on having the manual being intrusive... chalk that one up to people sometimes being pretty careless about where they leave their booklets. I myself leave it in the case the game resides in, and with the older (pre DVD-case containers), I got a bookshelf full with manuals. Then again, a friend of mine bought the Half-Life: Blue Shift complete set 3 times because he lost his CD-keys and could not find the manual. Granted, Half-Life is a fine game, but having the game on 4 seperate sets (yes, not only the 3 complete sets!) because of missing manuals is a bit stupid.

Perhaps better for a IJBM entry, but I think that those who complain the loudest about CP at all, are those not bothering with an original copy anyway. Aside from Star Force (breaks down your system) and DRM (treats me, the purchaser of the product as a criminal, while pretty much not hindering anyone with a cracked pirated version), pretty much every other form of CP I don't have issues with. I like the manuals, I like the extras, I never had an issue with Steam (got HL 2 on launch day as well, took a bit longer than expected but still) or equivalent tools. To date, I have no illegal/pirated games in my game collection. A collection which I started to build at age 8, and which contains over 600 unique titles over a wide range of systems at age 27.

So aside from the legitemate complaints, much of these measures were necessary from day one. Back in the floppy era (a wee bit before my time PC wise, I started PC'ing when the CD-rom era came around, '94/'95-ish) I never knew one person with an original copy of a game, but everyone had everything that was popular.

Still, I think copy protection is pretty much unncessary for a lot of games. Those games which are genuinly good, usually end up in everybody's possession as a legal copy. Think about (new IP) Sins of a Solar Empire, no protection at all but one of the best selling games of the year it came out. Compare that to any DRM protected games from the same time (long running IP Red Alert 3) and you start to wonder.

Well, this response is getting a bit longwinded. There are many facets to this subject. I endorse CP to a degree, until it becomes too much restrictive (I have no clue how many activations I've got left for Spore or Red Alert 3, which I thouroughly hate!) or invasive. But "forcing" me to pick up a manual? So what?

|*I only lament the fact that manuals are not as interesting as they used to be. Manuals for games like Starcraft, Homeworld, Mechwarrior... interesting read, gave you a lot of background material and in-universe views. How many games still have that?
01:36:22 PM Apr 13th 2010

I don't get it. How is this copy protection?
02:11:24 PM Apr 15th 2010
Here's the thing about SC 2's multiplayer: every game has to go through Blizzard's servers. Every. Last. One. (this will probably have the side effect of KILLING any chance for a tournament scene close to what StarCraft I had.)

There is no spawn installation, there is no LAN play, there is no direct connect option, you have to go through Blizzard to play multiplayer, and they WILL be checking for illegal copies. Blizzard's explanation for doing this is, as noted, complete bullshit, as they're doing it to force people to buy 2nd and 3rd and 4th copies of the game to play multiplayer in the same building on the same network (in addition to detecting pirated copies of the game).
06:36:24 AM Jan 7th 2011
Well, either they force people to buy multiple copies or, you know... people bring their own gaming laptop/desktop with their own copy to the party. Which makes a lot more sense and most likely happens anyway, what with people having personal preferences and all.

Yes, it is sad to see spawned multiplay go (nice feature back in the day), Then again, you might ask yourself the following: how many of those who got a spawned copy to play, didn't buy the full product in the end anyway? Starcraft / Diablo etc. was just that good.

And if Starcraft is pre-installed, you can pretty much login with your own account so you have access to your personal (online) progress. So I don't see the big problem. In fact, tournament wise I think this is the better solution.

Also, I don't see shutting down anytime soon, and there is a lively community always eager to offer a solution.

04:36:09 AM Jul 5th 2011
If you make a private "not-LAN" party, you now would have to have a really fast internet connection because all the people in the party will connect trough your internet provider to the only to receive the data the other players in the same room uploaded to it. As you can guess, this WILL destroy LAN parties because not everyone can afford such a tube, esp. not for bigger parties.

Secondly, people still play Starcraft (and older games). They'll probably want to play SC 2 ten years from now, too. Can you guarantee that will still exist ten years in the future?
01:44:42 PM Mar 31st 2010
Removed: * Geopolitical Simulator was also another game with the same DRM as Spore and Mass Effect, yet strangely enough, the DRM worked

For one thing, it doesn't elaborate in what way the DRM worked. Remains uncracked? No, found a probably working crack after one minute on That Torrent Site. Which DOES qualify as "strangly enough" because the name of the game itself brings up less then 100k hits on Google. Note: Games with uncracked DRM usually didn't need DRM in the first place.
07:02:46 AM Jan 7th 2011
Perhaps it worked because the targeted demographic was entirely different.

Spore is marketed towards a more casual, mainstream audience.

Mass Effect is marketed towards the sci-fi/rpg/action segment of the market.

Geopolitical Simulator is aimed at a highly specific niche in what already is becoming a niche market: the simulation genre. Most likely, those who were looking out for GPS were already into the subject and everything, more than likely to buy the full product regardless of DRM -perhaps even unaware of the implications of DRM.

The fact that the DRM code was cracked at all can be called a bit wondrous in that regards. In fact, you might in fact wonder if the offered DRM pirated version isn't basically a scam to install trojans on your PC.
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