Piracy avoidance

I was reading this and this part caught my attention:

Do you know why the Chinese game market right now is completely dominated by online games that feature micro transactions? Because there’s no way to pirate an MMO, when you rely on persistent connection for your game play.

This could be a very naive thought but… why exactly can’t a game like TWP use this technique to avoid piracy? Force you to play online, I mean. Put some part of the logic on the server, so there’s no way to pirate it, because what you install is not the complete game. What am I missing?

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I assume you mean the part about ‘relying on a persistent connection’ not adding microtransactions :slight_smile:

I think TWP certainly could be designed that way, but it’s audience would largely dislike it, and would probably affect sales more negatively than the benefit by avoiding piracy, in my opinion. The MMO audience/market is a much different makeup than the oldschool adventure game market.

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both statement don’t look so obvious to me… for example, would the steam audience even notice you need to be online? (Doesn’t the steam audience need to be online often anyway? who would notice? laptop players?)

Even if it notices, and you lose some customers for this, would you lose more customers than you’d gain? This seems far from obvious to me…

There are multiple issues with the idea, the first of which has already been explained by besmaller.

A second issue is that requiring a persistent connection means ongoing server costs for the developer in order to keep the the necessary game content continuously available, which in turn often means requiring a subscription and/or some form of microtransactions to maintain a revenue stream to pay those ongoing costs.

And a third issue is that it doesn’t actually guarantee putting a stop to piracy. As an example, World of Warcraft has in fact been pirated a great many times, because there are developers who reverse-engineered the servers and are able to create customized private servers that people can play on. The population on some of those private servers can be quite large, and the private servers can come in a great many forms, offering either special customizations, or approximated snapshots of older versions of World of Warcraft. For instance, it’s possible to find vanilla servers that replicate the WoW experience just prior to the release of the first expansion for the game. Private servers as a whole actually provide a whole lot more options than Blizzard’s own servers do, since there are so many customized and recreated versions of WoW to choose from.

If a huge company like Blizzard can’t keep people from pirating something as big as World of Warcraft, what hope does a small developer have of ensuring that a person can’t figure out a way to copy/reproduce a 2D single-player game?


This is just based on the reactions I’ve seen from people to the Analytics. Also, I’ve seen lots of push back in various forums from gamers on various forms of ‘privacy-impacting’ DRM. You are correct, Steam users are probably more flexible with persistent connections than GOG users, for example. In fact, I think if your only release platform was Steam, this would largely reduce or eliminate piracy. This game chose to be available on GOG to address those who have concerns with using Steam’s DRM, as I see it. This is why GOG can exist in parallel to Steam, in my opinion, because of it’s DRM-free policy. (there are other reasons besides the DRM that people might not like Steam, but I think the overall concern is, people want to play their game without being tied to an account, or internet connection - and I think this is largely a freedom/privacy issue).

I found this interesting article on how Steam DRM works, targeted to game developers. I found it pretty informative. I also like the padlock closeup photo, looks a little familiar, you can almost hear in clinking as it swings in the breeze…


are they going to rewrite the game logic as well? creating an unofficial server would mean to rewrite many of the scripts that david wrote. I don’t see how they would do that.

Denuvo, Uplay, et al are systems that uses the approach you suggest - an all these copy protections were broken.

Beside that: Why the hell should I play a single player adventure online? If it’s just for the copy protection I wouldn’t buy it since I never buy a game with a online copy protection. (In my life I made only one exception and that was “The Cave”).

You don’t always have an (stable) Internet connection, especially on mobile devices like laptops, tablets and later also phones when they release Android and iOS ports. Depending on the type of Internet connection playing the game could also mean additional costs.

Also everyone who hates DRM will notice and won’t buy it.
Did you know I can still play The Secret of Monkey Island? Try this with those modern games with said features in several years…

Beside actual benefits like community features such servers are used to serve assets (e.g. graphical assets but also client-side scripts) and can also contain game logic e.g. via server-side scripts.


Also… Once the servers are down, say goodbye to the game forever. And they will be down once the game stops being profitable. Imagine we had this sort of protection for old LA games.

In Steam’s case, there is a flatfee of $100 to be published on the platform, which then takes 70% of the profits. Meanwhile, GOG does not charge a submission fee, but it also takes 70% of profits, unless you choose to get an advance on royalties. [/quote]

This is wrong. The developers get 70%, Steam and GOG take 30%.

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Yeah, I thought that looked weird when I read that page. Because I remember you mentioning earlier that they only took 30% in one of the other topic threads. I think I will send them some feedback on that.

The second I’d learn about this, I’d never ever ever again buy a game from that developer.
As far as I can see, people pirate games for two reasons:

  • for “demo” purposes: pirate the game, see if you like it, then buy it. I’d like to think that people who do this are decent enough to actually pay for the game, if they like it.
  • due to poorness: People would like to buy the game, but don’t have enough money.

In both cases the copy protection won’t lead to people buying the game. they just will play other games instead.
“always online” reeks of arrogance and distrust, at least to me.
I mean, we used to get along without such draconic copy protections in the past. I wished developers would trust the gamers more (like Terrible Toybox, releasing TWP DRM-free!), and that gamers who pirate games actually buy them, when they are able to.

There is a third reason:

  • I’m a cheap-ass and think everything should be free.

Yes, these people do exist. Piracy is mostly for the two reason you mention, but the third does exist, and they are the most frustrating.


You’re right. I even had that on my list and deleted it again, because it didn’t fit to the argument following (shame on me).

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“With their latest game, The Talos Principle, Croteam has introduced yet another progress-halting feature, and have taken to shaming those who label it a bug on forums.”

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When I started following the TWP development blog, it was my comeback to games after a long time. There has been all the internet era meanwhile.
I didn’t have the slightest idea of what DRM meant, nor DRM-free obviously.
When I got my DRM-free backer copy from GOG, I did it because it meant to me “I don’t have to install any other big program or such things to play the game”. It was the thing that in my mind was more similar to my original experience with the classic titles.
But soon I discovered that DRM-free copies are really easy to give away.
When I started following the blog the decision of doing a DRM-free version was already made. And probably back then I would have agreed.
Now that I understand better the whole thing, I’m not so sure about the thing.

I’m maybe misremembering this, but didn’t Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade also have some game limiting feature like that (apart from the grail diary)?

I remember that I bought some kind of lucasfilm adventure anthology edition as kid, and that the grail diary was not included. Kinda sucked. :smiley:

I am somewhat optimistic, that at some point people will recognize that if you don’t pay the developer, there won’t be any new games, or the quality will decline.
On the other hand, when you have to rely on a copy protection to break even or profit, then maybe your game just was not good enough.

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Allow me to make an analogy because I sense something wrong with this.

In this world you can’t pirate bread. But the poor find bread for sale at a price they can afford. Why?
because it’s in the interest of producers to sell stuff at a price people can afford.

Maybe the poor can’t afford pate de fois gras, but they can afford bread. (except in north korea and venezuela, I mean). For the same reason, in a world totally without piracy, the poor would be able to afford some games. Not any game of course. But some. So where’s the problem? Must the poor be able to afford anything? Should I be able to afford a Ferrari?

They’ve corrected the article. (Wow, that was fast!)