Friday, November 20, 2009

A perfect example of DRM

I’ve been reading a lot of twenty sided lately because I have a lot of free time during the day, his blog makes it past my web filter, and he’s got-dang fantastic. (He also writes heavily on the subject of DRM which is why I mention him here) Moving on, I was at the game store last night deciding whether or not to get mercenaries 2 for the PC when something very interesting caught my eye and I decided not to buy the game. Now, don’t get me wrong the idea of an open world third person shooter based on blowing things up seemed like a great idea and I was going pick the game up for $10 so I was on board.

But while looking at the back of the box to find the system specs I noticed a statement which read something like “This game is supported by a website that may not be active in the future and is subject to be shut down anytime.”

My first thought was; So? Games have websites and websites for old games go down all the time. I guess maybe there’s a small part of the game that requires I do something on the site and now I can’t do that, that’s cool I suppose.

Then I saw the FRONT of the box which read thusly: THIS GAME REQUIERS ONLINE ACTIVATION TO PLAY

Just to spell it out for you, The game requires that I go online in order to play it offline, the site that I have to register this product through is subject to go down at anytime and may be down already.

Finally to make excessive use of my capslock button to drive the point all the way home: I’M GOING TO PAY FOR A GAME NEW, OFF THE SHELF, A GAME THAT I MAY NOT EVEN BE ABLE TO PLAY.

This is DRM failing at its worst. You can talk all you want about how you’re technically renting a game and that at any moment you may not be able to install it and play anymore, but buying a game new and having that happen? WHAT. THE. FUCK. This is the equivalent of buying a car that’s a year or two old still new from the dealership, but finding out AFTER you buy it that they no longer have keys for it anymore. Oh, and you can’t return it. Can you imagine that? This means that it’s technically possible for someone, a few years from now, to buy a new (but forgotten) copy of Spore, or Bioshock, or any other game that requires online activation to play, and NOT BE ABLE TO PLAY IT. I will accept being treated like a pirate if the game is good enough (the game better be got damn fantastic or cheap as hell), but to DENY paying customers the right to use a product that they PAID for just because you put DRM on a game and stopped supporting it? What the hell is wrong with you people? As of right now, I am no longer buying ANY game that requires online activation, unless the game is online only (I. E. a MMO).

I do have another thought while writing this, by Valve’s, 2kgames’, and EA’s terms, any game retailer that resells used console games are pirates, and console gamers that lend games to each other (see: friends) are also dirty, nasty, rotten pirates. Now that I think about it by these standards someone should sue the crap out of GameStop for piracy. I don’t know how many people play one copy of the orange box for the Xbox360 that gets resold through GameStop but if I tried that on a PC? Lawsuit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Update Schedule

If you read the intro to 9 hours you know that I have very little to do at work, so I should update on time. The thing is I have to write these a day before I update them. This means that the Monday update needs to be written on Sunday, etc. Seeing as how I don’t like to write when I’m not at work, I usually don’t get around to writing a Monday update, and since I don’t have to load an update on Tuesday, I just wait until Wednesday after work to load one.

But by then it’s 5pm when I get home so I figure it’s too late to post and it gets worse from there. I guess to summarize, I’m going to still do three updates a week. Just sporadically. Again, three updates a week, at random!

Digital Distribution

Why do digitally distributed items cost the same as their hard copy counterparts? Anyone who knows a bit about basic economics knows what I’m saying, but for those not in the know it goes like this.

Let’s say Game Guy Games releases Blood Shooter for a retail price of $50. When you buy a copy at the store the cost breakdown goes something like this.

$10: Developer profit

$10: Cost of printing the game (Data, CD, Case, labor, ink paper etc.)

$1: Cost of shipping

This means that the wholesaler/distributor is buying them for $21 a piece (maybe).

$13: Distributor mark-up/profit

$1: Cost of distribution

Now we arrive at the retailer who is purchasing them for $35 per unit

$20: Retailer Markup.

Keep in mind these aren’t hard numbers but its here to give you an idea of how much this process costs and where the money is going. But with digital distribution the cost breakdown works one of two ways. Either 1) The game is purchased through a second party (D2D, Steam, etc.) or 2) The game is purchased through the developer’s own servers and website ( for our example). And the cost breakdown for a $50 game looks like this.

Method 1

$25: Developer Profit

$25: Second party server maintenance costs & Profit

Method 2

$50: Developer Server maintenance costs & Profit

Again, keep in mind I don’t know how much costs what, but I can guaran-god damn-tee you that the profit margins are almost criminal because you don’t have to pay a distributor, you don’t have to print a copy of the game, you don’t have you ship shit, AND you don’t have retailer markup (unless we’re discussing method 1). So why in the blue hell does a $50 game cost the EXACT SAME if I download the bastard? It just doesn’t make any sense. I know for a fact that you can cut the retailer markup off the cost without hurting the profit margins, and entice me to buy through digital distribution (also I heard that general retail markup is something like 40% so you’re looking at about 10% - 15% price cut, if not more.).

Will I still buy games? Yes. I just try to avoid buying through digital distribution unless the savings are considerable.

An Introduction

What’s 9 hours you may be asking? Well, it goes like this; my day job is terribly undemanding. I work a 9 hour shift that basically requires me to be pleasant to visitors, and answer phones. This isn’t so bad except that I have 2-6 visitors a day and get a phone call about every 10 minutes. So essentially, my job gives me 9 hours a day to kill. I’d find a better way to kill time but my work computer can’t have any games on it, and the web browser blocks pretty much anything interesting. So now, I’m going to spend my time telling you jerks what I think about random topics.