Yuck. It's one thing to give the spotlight over to piracy and other dirty deeds on a bi-daily basis, but after seeing it all culminate, well, we're going to need to lie down for a little while.
Torrent-tracking blog TorrentFreak recently scoured the undersides of gaming's most illicit tables, putting together a list of piracy's greatest hits. The bottom line: Spore, as expected, took home the golden failboat ticket, while three of EA's other titles made the top five.
Meanwhile, big names like Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2 also felt significant disturbances in their sales. Check out the full list below:
Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008
Remember kids, only you can prevent PC game piracy. Otherwise, we'll light you on fire. Don't mess with us. We're crazy.
Newsflash - consumers hate DRM! Could it be that Apple finally got the message? Apparently so, according to a rumor at AppleInsider. Apple has yet to make an announcement, but AppleInsider claims iTunes may be dropping DRM completely starting tomorrow.
"A report from last week brought to AppleInsider's attention by French technology site ElectronLibre asserts that it's now 'clear' Apple will spark new interest in its music store by removing DRM from tracks published by Sony, Universal and Warner on December 9th,"AppleInsider writes.
Apple's iTunes Store, which claims 70 percent of the online digital music market, already offers DRM-free tracks from EMI and indie content. If all tracks moved to the same format, it could deal a blow to the competition, such as Amazon and Walmart, both of which offer DRM-free tracks from all major studios.
Throwing a wet blanket on the rumor is Cnet, who says that come tomorrow, don't expect any big changes. Cnet acknowledges that Apple is in negotiations with Universal, Sony, and Warner, but warned that none of the deals are final, with at least one source saying "it's unlikely Apple will have anything to announce regarding DRM-free music from the top labels before the end of the year."
In other words, cross your fingers but remain skeptical.
Joining Peter Molyneux, Good Old Games, and Stardock in a swelling anti-DRM chorus, Valve president Gabe Newell has voiced his concerns about DRM's diabolical rule. The big G-man's opinion? Most DRM (ahem) is "just dumb."
"As far as DRM goes, most DRM strategies are just dumb. The goal should be to create greater value for customers through service value (make it easy for me to play my games whenever and wherever I want to), not by decreasing the value of a product (maybe I'll be able to play my game and maybe I won't)," Newell said in an email to a fan named Paul Reisinger (who promptly posted the response on his Live Journal page).
"We really, really discourage other developers and publishers from using the broken DRM offerings, and in general there is a groundswell to abandon those approaches," he added.
Of course, this is a huge about-face for Valve, whose Steam platform once coated games in a jawbreaker-esque, nigh-impenetrable DRM shell. Luckily, Newell and co. had the sense to mash that particular padlock with a crowbar, rendering its DRM far more tolerable.
Nice preaching on Newell's part, though. Choir, do you have anything to add?
Electronic Arts couldn't have predicted the unprecedented backlash from outraged gamers following Spore's release, or at least not the extent that they would take the anti-DRM crusade. Protests ran the gamut from blasting the title with thousands of negative user reviews on Amazon to not just making the game available on warez sites, but actively encouraging consumers to pirate the title. If you thought it might be awhile before SecuROM saddled another high profile release, think again.
Despite all the recent raucous, Rockstar has decided to implement the DRM scheme on GTA IV for the PC. But before you cry foul and grab the pitchforks and torches, Rockstar says its version will be much more user friendly than the one found on EA's Spore.
Hit the jump to see what makes GTA IV's DRM different than Spore's.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
The re-launched music store will offer top-25 tracks for $0.74 each, less than the standard 94 cents per track. They’re also offering a free track every week from lesser-known artists and albums. Every physical or digital CD sold by Walmart will include a waver for a free digital track of the customer’s choice. Additionally, the retail giant is offering exclusive “Soundcheck” content, including performances by acts like Nickelback and Beyonce.
Walmart is also touting integration with social networking sites, and a reworked music search engine. With 3 million tracks available right now and growing, it seems like Walmart is looking to take back its title as the nation’s biggest music-seller.
What are your thoughts on the Walmart online music store? How does it measure up to the iTunes store? Let us know after the jump.
With all the recent hubbub about DRM (seriously, we're getting tired of using that link), it was only a matter of time until some brave soul stepped forward to behead the "draconian" menace*. Fittingly, that someone is Stardock, whose handiwork birthed the Gamer's Bill of Rights.
"While Stardock doesn't put copy protection on its retail games, the fact is that most publishers are never going to agree to do that," Stardock CEO Brad Wardell said of one sticky stipulation in the Bill.
"So the publishers are telling us, 'Put your money where your mouth is. Why don't you guys develop something that you think is suitable that would protect our IP, but would be more acceptable to users?'"
"We're investigating what would make users happy to protect their needs, but also provide some security for the publishers. ... We're actually developing a technology that would do that."
Although Wardell's plan still has all four limps planted safely in the cradle, he does have one concrete idea. "We want that license to be yours, not per machine. ... It's not your machine buying the game. It's you," he said, voicing his hope for unlimited downloads of a purchased game.
When asked if his solution could be defined as DRM, however, Wardell was hesitant to slap the newborn plan with gaming's three scarlet letters.
"The problem with 'DRM' is that it's so loosely defined. ... Stardock's products use activation, and I wouldn't say that it's DRM," he emphasized. "We're just verifying if you're real customer."
All told, though, we think Wardell is really onto something. Now, with time out of the way, it's just a matter of how many bricks we'll have to chuck through John Riccitiello's window until he actually listens.
In a joint collaboration with Universal Music Group (UMG), Dell has begun offering preloaded MP3 bundles on new systems. The move, according to Dell, is to give consumers a "simple, economical way to jump-start a digital music library."
For $25, users can select a 50-song bundle devoid of DRM, or $45 for a 100-song bundle. Song bundles are broken up into several categories, such as Rock Titans, which includes tracks like Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kryptonite by Three Doors Down, or Afternoon Delight represented with tracks like On Bended Knee by Boyz II Men and Crazy by Patsy Cline. Sadly users aren't allowed to create their own bundle, but then again, who doesn't have both Patsy Cline and Boyz II Men in a single playlist?
Music packs are available now on both laptops and desktops, sans XPS ONE, Inspiron Mini 9, and operating systems XP, Vista 64-bit, and Linux.
Much has been made in the media over Spore's DRM scheme, which now limits gamers to five activations (recently pushed up from three activations amid an intense internet backlash). By and large, Electronic Arts has caught most of the criticism for saddling Spore with a modified version of SecuROM, arguably the most hated form of DRM in the gaming community. But should some of the ire be directed at Will Wright as well?
"It was something I probably should have tuned into more," Wright told Jim Reilly from Kotaku.com. "It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we're allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate, which makes it more in line with iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it's not an issue, it's a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later."
Take from that what you will. While it sounds like Wright has been drinking some of John Riccitiello's Kool-Aid, who recently downplayed DRM with claims that it's only an issue for 0.2 percent of gamers, at least Wright acknowledges the other side of the coin, which is that gamers tend to be enthusiasts who frequently change around their system.
Does EA deserve all the blame on this one? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
If you're a game publisher, what do you do when one of your most anticipated titles sparks an internet backlash over its DRM scheme resulting in thousands of Amazon user 'reviews' contributing to an abysmal 1.5 star rating with mostly vile comments, a cracked copy being made available since day 1, and encouragement from some to pirate the game as a form of protest? If you're EA, you rub salt in the wound while it's still fresh.
During an Q&A session at the Dow Jones/Nielson Media and Money Conference, EA Games CEO John Riccitiello downplayed all of the above with claims that the majority of gamers aren't bothered by DRM.
"We implemented a form of DRM and it's something that 99.8 percent of users wouldn't notice," Riccitiello said. "But for the other 0.2 percent, it became an issue and a number of them launched a cabal online to protest against it."
To be fair, EA didn't cast a completely deaf ear to the outcries and increased the number of allowable activations from three to five PCs. But that makes it all the more curious why Riccitiello would seemingly taunt gamers after throwing them bone.
Do you agree with Riccitiello in that the majority of gamers wouldn't have noticed the DRM scheme had a minority not protested so loudly, or do you view this as a slap in face? Hit the jump and sound off.