LGR - History of DRM & Copy Protection in Computer Games

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Shared October 26, 2012

An overview of copy protection and DRM schemes used in computer gaming, covering the most notable and interesting methods from the late 70's on up through today!

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Bingo Bob

Metal Gear Solid: "The frequency is on the back of the CD case." You spend ages looking through your inventory or running around trying to find a CD case before realising they meant the actual game case.

5 months ago | [YT] | 48

Jake Reason

>Or you're board as balls and simply want something to watch while you eat lunch...

*gasp* Oh LGR, you know me too well!

3 years ago | [YT] | 1,323

Bokebo Ward

Here's my DRM horror story: I had bought SPORE and installed it on my computer, but was unable to play it because I had to do homework. My brother ended up playing it first, and it bound to his EA account. I was stuck with a broken game that did not let me upload or download things from online servers, which was a huge feature of SPORE. I played the game a little, but basically quit after a while because I was reminded of it every time I played. Oh! and here's the kicker, I contacted EA, and they said I couldn't' do anything about the fact that I legitimately bought it and it bound to my brother's account. To this day, I am apprehensive to buy ANYTHING made by EA.

8 months ago | [YT] | 71

T Duke Perry

The one thing that bugs me about all this DRM is simple: What happens when the game goes out of print? I want to play Commander Keen 6. Where can I get it? Nowhere legitimately. My mother threw out the floppies I once had because she's smart. That particular game is actually pretty easy to pirate because the DRM was just manual look up. But in 20 years, I want to play Batman: Arkham Asylum. However company has since gone bust, the authentication servers are down. How can I play it? I can't.

The problem with all DRM is people not really thinking about the future of art and culture. They just assume no one will want to play their games in 20 years. I cannot think of anything more laughable.

3 years ago | [YT] | 107

Danny Vásconez

Gabe Newel even said "The way to beat pirates to make your service beter than the pirates."

3 years ago | [YT] | 370

Mathy Don

If drm worked well that would be one thing ... Seems drm only stops the people who bought the software.

3 years ago | [YT] | 63

Elliander Eldridge

As a consumer and a developer I dislike DRM and consider it to be largely pointless. Not only will pirates get around it, but at the point that a legitimate customer is adversely impacted by it that can lead to loss of future sales. I know many DRM companies list the number of pirates copies and try to say that it represent such and so losses, but that's assuming 100% of pirates would actually have paid for it, and really, I think that it's a minority of uses who are actually discouraged from buying when piracy is available. Unless of course the pirates have a better experience with the DRM removed, in which case users will be more likely to pirate even if they could otherwise buy it.

Even in cases like Starcraft 3, where it took more than a year to pirate, I would still call that a failure because people generally don't want to buy software that can destroy their computer's basic functionality. This of course is why Starforce threatened to sue CNET. The more that people are aware of what it will actually do, the less they will want to buy it, and you can't exactly return a game once opened.

For online examples, my primary issue stems around the loss of "First Sale Doctrine" and, imho, the first platform that can successfully sell used virtual copies alongside new copies and otherwise allow people to transfer their content will gain a competitive advantage over literally every other online platform. Although, I am still more likely to to purchase a DRM free version.

The issue with DRM that's based around a particular hardware configuration is that upgrading your computer can invalidate the install. I once had a case where upgrading the graphics card required me to buy a game a second time, because it also had limited install. Instead I didn't buy it a second time and I never bought another product from that company since.

With the exception of an MMO, where online play is to be expected, I outright refuse to buy any game that requires an always on internet connection. Only the pirates get to play without issue. When you create a situation that rewards piracy and punishes customers you pretty much deserve to be pirated. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of people who bought those games later on pirated it just to stop the headaches.

3 years ago (edited) | [YT] | 118

theglasskat

This was just recommended for me and i thought it was a new video right up until you mentioned the "upcoming" SimCity nightmare. Lol

2 years ago | [YT] | 279

geek

On a side note; DRM is also known as "Digital Restrictions Management", mostly by those who oppose it.

2 years ago | [YT] | 65

mkaali

One of the funniest ones is "Game Dev Tycoon". The developers themselves released a cracked version in the pirate scene. But if you played it, you would at some point get a message saying that your sales are going down due to pirates downloading your games illegally. And this of course made your company eventually go bankrupt. People of course got fooled and started asking in the forums why their 10/10 rated games wouldn't make any profit if all copies were pirated. Quite ironic.

3 years ago | [YT] | 1,804

Viper magi

"...a library full of unplayable bits and bytes."

I'm not a fan of extremes, so I settle for the middle ground and format my computer in nibbles.

3 years ago | [YT] | 18

DasAntiNaziBroetchen

"Not gonna condone or condemn any of it"
Proceeds to condemn all of it.

7 months ago | [YT] | 31

Trevor Smith

DRM: Draconian Revenue Monitoring

4 months ago | [YT] | 11

pgj1997

4:49 Manual? This game is like a billion years old. I don't have the manual!

Then thou art screwed.

2 years ago | [YT] | 18

Lady Brightcynder

When you said "oversized CDs", I was so confused because I thought you meant a physically oversized CD and I was wondering how on earth that would work. I'm an idiot. XD

2 years ago | [YT] | 15

SiJamz NZ

3:59 - who the hell was feeding their disks to crocodiles?

2 years ago | [YT] | 52

Chris Gower

Oh Dial-a-Pirate, how you delayed my ability to play Monkey Island for months. I remember my mum told me to draw each individual combination and I got about 3 spins drawn before I got bored, which meant inevitably 9 times out of 10 I loaded the game I couldn't play it... but oh my when a combination I had drawn came up.... oh the joy...

1 year ago | [YT] | 22

saemikneu

I liked the one of "Red Alert 2" where your base blew up after a few second when using a pirated version. But sometimes also when the CD could not be read properly.

6 months ago | [YT] | 12

Rope Setä

Thank you GOG for not using DRM!

5 years ago | [YT] | 892

Chortov Gucker

I realised that this video came out in the 2012 ONLY when he said "simcity is coming out in 2013"
Damn, i thought it's a new video...

4 months ago | [YT] | 7