Thursday, July 22, 2010

The one about software piracy

I will give you a couple of examples of things that annoy me and then rant about what should be done differently in my view. Because that's what I always do, right? Also, I will start a sentence with because if I want to because as I've said before I make no apologies for poor grammar (as I was never actually taught grammar), only poor spelling.

1) Ubisoft's new copy protection system requires that you have an active connection to the internet at all times. This is because their games sync to their server while you are playing in order to make sure that you're playing a legal copy. While a clever copy protection technique, this creates some problems. Firstly, you must be connected to the internet at all times. What if the internet is down? What if you don't have internet. What if you're traveling and you want to play on your laptop on the road? Sorry guys, no game for your. What if you're connected to the internet and the internet disconnects for a second, as is typical of many broadband connections? The game shuts down automatically and you lose all unsaved progress up to that state. Really, this is a very crappy form of DRM. It is very inconvenient to a customer who has already PAID to buy the product.

2) Digidesign, makers of Pro Tools 8, have a system where you need a special USB key inserted in the computer the whole time that you want to run your software. It's called an iLok, and it stores all your "licenses" to the software that you've bought. This is extremely inconvenient! If you lose the USB key, you can't run the software at all (which is why sadly, there will be no EP in July as promised - August will be the release month). Also, it takes up a USB slot the whole time it's plugged in, which means that after my iLok and my M-Audio USB recording interface, I'm left with only one USB port on my laptop. I can either choose to plug in a mouse or my MIDI controller... lame.

Key takeaway from these examples?

This copy protection is making me feel like I should have pirated the software:

1) Pirated Ubisoft games are free, and you can play them whenever you want. In that sense, the pirated game is a better product than the actual game. Why would anyone even buy it then? Because of Ubisoft's new system, I have yet to purchase Assassin's Creed 2 (or as Yahtzee calls it, Ass Creed) or the new Prince of Persia title. These are two games that are part of my two favorite game franchises, yet I will not be buying them, Ubisoft. That's what I have to say about your system. (For the record, I will also not be pirating the games. Instead, I will simply not play them as a way to boycott Ubisoft. I know that's dumb and idealistic, but if everyone did it, it would work.)

2) Pirated Pro Tools 8 M-Audio would have saved me $235 AND I would have finished my EP on time. Because I lost my iLock, not only can I not use the software that I paid for, but I am also way behind on my recording. Also, if I had pirated the software, I would have been able to use a mouse to do my editing, instead of a touchpad, because of the free USB slot. In this case, the pirated product is also more convenient to use than the paid product, and is MUCH cheaper ($235 cheaper).

The point is that software makers need to focus on providing their paying customers a better experience than people pirating it. No amount of copy protection will stop piracy - any code that can be written will eventually be broken. These types of anti-piracy measures are often leaked within days of release, and sometimes even before the product is launched (Ubi's system was cracked in under 24 hours).

I'm goign to say it nice and clearly now in case someone doesn't get the hint:

DRM SOFTWARE DOESNT WORK! Why? Because only the version that you buy in stores has the DRM on it. This is both redundant and RETARDED because those people have already paid for the software! The versions that you download online (pirated versions) have been cracked by professionals, who are increasingly better and faster at cracking software.

This is kind of like Costco, where if you hide something under your shirt and walk out you're fine, but if you've paid and have a receipt, someone stops you at the door and checks every item in your cart to make sure you haven't stolen anything. It's fucking dumb!

Ultimately the best piracy protection is to increase the quality of the product you are providing. Rather than adding tons of obtrusive DRM, make the game/software convenient to use and easy to access. Offer free bonus downloads for people who bought the title. Offer some fucking customer support that doesn't expire within 15 days of purchase!

There will always be pirates. Somalia is proof. These people don't have morals and are okay with stealing. Some people though, choose to buy products. These people deserve to be treated as paying customers, not as pirates. Ubisoft, Digidesign... you better get your act together before Mo (a loyal, paying customer) reaches for his eye patch.

I'm getting very close.

Mo out.

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