GSC Mulls Always-On DRM for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

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GSC Mulls Always-On DRM for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

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GSC Game World is considering always-on DRM for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series is one of the most distinctly PC game franchises in existence. It's deeply weird, punishingly difficult, buggy, quirky and, for those who see that sort of thing as "character," one of the most intense and memorable shooter experiences of all time. But now it seems that Ukrainian studio GSC Game World is thinking about implementing another, far less welcome PC-centric feature: always-on DRM.

"Part of the content will be located on the server and downloaded as the game progresses," Studio Director Sergey Grigorovich told Ukrainian site KP.ua [via Kotaku Australia]. "Permanent internet access is required. Text information, code and quests will be loaded through that connection."

Combine the inherent issues with always-on DRM [hello, Ubisoft] with the notoriously twitchy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and you can imagine how well this idea went over with a good many fans. That led to a quick semi-about-face from GSC, which clarified on Twitter that the DRM plan is a "possibility, not a choice."

"The idea of implementing DRM came in as a possible anti-piracy solution," a rep explained to Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "You know the severe level of commercial piracy we have here in ex-USSR region. This said however, there is no firm decision to go for DRM with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 as of now. Be assured, we do realize how uncomfortable this solution is for the players, so we'll continue looking for most effective, yet acceptable for all, way of protecting the game by the time of its release."

The new S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is actually being developed for consoles as well as PC and is expected to come out sometime in 2012. Here's hoping GSC comes up with a better idea by then.

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Rule 1 of pc anti-piracy, don't make the pirated version of your game better then the version you have for sale.

...AAAAANd there goes my interest in buying it!

Fuck DRM. I don't care if this is the best game of all time, I'm not giving one cent to them if they actually implement this shit.

They've already been backpedaling like crazy on their facebook page actually. People have already screamed at them about this on their twitter too.

The brutal truth of this is that there is no effective way to prevent piracy.

The best you can do is win over the revolutionaries who support games on principle. And by adding this kind of DRM, you are effectively losing this entire audience who won't pay a dime to the game if it feels like it is screwing over the customer.

Worgen:
Rule 1 of pc anti-piracy, don't make the pirated version of your game better then the version you have for sale.

Exactly. If you don't have DRM that can 100% stop pirates, it's probably best to not include DRM at all since you'll only be punishing customers.

I'm against piracy and everything, and while the "always on" approach really doesn't affect me that doesn't mean it is in any way, shape, or form a good solution.

This is one of the few cases that having a properly organised boycott would actually help. Why? STALKER is, pretty much, GSC Game World's sole source of income these days. It's also a series that isn't really widely popular, depending mostly on a hardcore group of fans.

So if those fans, me being one of them, clearly say; guys, we don't take shit like this, it could send a powerful message through the industry. I know I won't be getting STALKER 2 if they really are going to use this.

TestECull:
...AAAAANd there goes my interest in buying it!

Take it easy, it hasn't been implemented yet. It's good to be wary and on your toes, but rushing it doesn't do you any good either.

Does GSC really think that they can make a STALKER game that would be bug free?
Because if they implement that system I would think the game would be unmoddable and who did you think fixed the last 3 STALKERs.

(I've always wanted to ask this)

Am I the only one, who has never had a problem with always on DRM?

EDIT: Glad to hear some other people don't mind. I've never known anyone who has these internet problems people complain about with always on DRM.

Rule 1 of pc anti-piracy, don't make the pirated version of your game better then the version you have for sale.

Indeed.

If this is true, then STALKER 2 can go on the list of game I won't be buying. I'm prepared to spend hours fixing the bug in STALKER games for the fun they provide, but if I'm going to be treated as a criminal for my troubles then they can forget it.

I consider these always on systems one step from openly asking people to pirate the game illegally.
You can spend money that you had to earn on a product that monitors you 100% of the time and can be taken away at any moment for any reason the publisher dreams up.
Or you can steal it and have to deal with none of these things, whilst keeping your money in your pocket and playing the game.

It's a strange world where the best way to access a product is to steal it.

Unless of course, these DRM systems have nothing to do with piracy. They effectively enforce a rental policy on store bought games, which is mighty convienient when the sequel comes out...

Allow me to express my articulate and well laid-out opinion about this:
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
NO! NO! DONT F*CKING DO THAT!
All this will do is chase away potential customers, or bum off new ones who buy the damn thing and aren't able to playn it due to draconian DRM.

Well, I bought all 3 previous STALKER games... if they're going to reward that commitment and treat me like a pirate with an always-on DRM system, they can be certain I'll never buy one of their games again.

Worgen:
Rule 1 of pc anti-piracy, don't make the pirated version of your game better then the version you have for sale.

Exactly.

I'd say put EXTRA CONTENT pinned to the always-online version. Not enough that pirates will be desperate to crack it, but enough that owning the legit version (and connecting online) is worth it.

Something like Left 4 Dead 2's "mutations" where every week the developer change the game in some way and it is change via having the online-connection and you have to discover how the universe's rules have changed.

BENEFITS of staying online:
-cloud backup of saves
-seamless backup of demo-records, screenshots and videos
-Integrated tweaks, mods, keybinds and skins to share seamlessly via official servers vetted for stability
-DETAILED stat tracking like every kill, every death, hours played, % of items found, accuracy etc.
-earn achievements and unlocks while connected online: unlocks like skins THAT ARE NOT ON DISK, actual downloads!
-Easy Drop-in co-op in some capacity
-Demons' Souls style "massively single-player" interaction with other players
-Access you personal game stats from any web-browser and your login. Things like adjusting your loadout or planning a future quest on the overworld map.
-Extra content online mode like access to developer diaries through various nodes you can access.

But you can still PLAY the game while offline, it's just not as good.

And if there is "constant" online give us all the benefits of that. Auto-save our progress so even if the game crashes we can load again from the precise point we left off. So if something causes a loss in connection the game doesn't crash, have it go into a suspension like in MW2 when the Host leaves.

Just do what a few others have done, and ensure that any pirated version will have a glaring and unpassable flaw built into its design. For instance... no jumping/gliding/anything in Batman: Arkham Asylum? Or a few games that will freeze up at a certain point if its pirated, then deletes all of your saves?

Why is the best ideas always considered last by these people it seems?

Meh . . . whatever they've got to do . . .

we EU and NA players should all be glad, our copies of the original 3 STALKER titles didn't have anywhere near as draconian DRM as the RUS versions did.

Either way, I don't see a point in complaining about the DRM - IMHO most of the complaining stems
from users who're just jumping on the bandwagon without any real evidence.

Sober Thal:
(I've always wanted to ask this)

Am I the only one, who has never had a problem with always on DRM?

Nope. I've never had a problem, either. Neither have any of my friends, nor the vast majority of users I associate with online.

I'd still like someone to actually find some hardcore evidence of where draconian DRM actually does so quickly fubar their setup.

Cowabungaa:
This is one of the few cases that having a properly organised boycott would actually help. Why? STALKER is, pretty much, GSC Game World's sole source of income these days. It's also a series that isn't really widely popular, depending mostly on a hardcore group of fans.

So if those fans, me being one of them, clearly say; guys, we don't take shit like this, it could send a powerful message through the industry. I know I won't be getting STALKER 2 if they really are going to use this.

TestECull:
...AAAAANd there goes my interest in buying it!

Take it easy, it hasn't been implemented yet. It's good to be wary and on your toes, but rushing it doesn't do you any good either.

Agreed, this has certainly made me think twice about buying it if they actually go through with this and I'm certainly all for the boycott, especially if it has your aforementioned knock-on effect.

Anyone playing a pirated copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum found themselves playing a Batman unable to do leaping attacks or something to that effect, which basically made the game unplayable for them. That's the way to do it; actually punish the pirates! I can think of loads of ways this could be done in S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2:

1) When you throw a grenade, it flies back in your face
2) You start off with the worst possible - irredeemable - reputation with the NPC's, you scum!
3) You don't get to use any guns, or they spontaneously disintegrate as soon as you pick them up, or they simply can't hit anything; turn a classic series bug/design flaw into a punishment
4) You get no emission warnings and they hit instantly
5) Lock all the graphics settings at the absolute minimum but also cap the frame rate at 10
6) Leave in the crash-to-desktop Bug Trap duet
7) Your PDA only displays a middle finger
8) Remove the crouch/slightly-lower-crouch controls

I could go on but you get the idea and I invite everyone to see how many you can come up with.

Cowabungaa:
This is one of the few cases that having a properly organised boycott would actually help. Why? STALKER is, pretty much, GSC Game World's sole source of income these days. It's also a series that isn't really widely popular, depending mostly on a hardcore group of fans.

So if those fans, me being one of them, clearly say; guys, we don't take shit like this, it could send a powerful message through the industry. I know I won't be getting STALKER 2 if they really are going to use this.

TestECull:
...AAAAANd there goes my interest in buying it!

Take it easy, it hasn't been implemented yet. It's good to be wary and on your toes, but rushing it doesn't do you any good either.

Agreed, this has certainly made me think twice about buying it if they actually go through with this and I'm certainly all for the boycott, especially if it has your aforementioned knock-on effect.

Anyone playing a pirated copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum found themselves playing a Batman unable to do leaping attacks or something to that effect, which basically made the game unplayable for them. That's the way to do it; actually punish the pirates! I can think of loads of ways this could be done in S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2:

1) When you throw a grenade, it flies back in your face
2) You start off with the worst possible - irredeemable - reputation with the NPC's, you scum!
3) You don't get to use any guns, or they spontaneously disintegrate as soon as you pick them up, or they simply can't hit anything; turn a classic series bug/design flaw into a punishment
4) You get no emission warnings and they hit instantly
5) Lock all the graphics settings at the absolute minimum but also cap the frame rate at 10
6) Leave in the crash-to-desktop Bug Trap duet
7) Your PDA only displays a middle finger
8) Remove the crouch/slightly-lower-crouch controls

I could go on but you get the idea and I invite everyone to see how many you can come up with.

Edit: Sorry for the double-post, my browser briefly slowed to a crawl as soon as I clicked Post so I clicked back and tried again, not realising it actually did post the first one.

And so, hope is rekindled.

I love STALKER, but after the last couple of STALKER titles, I don't really have a problem with boycotting them, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.
I hope for both their and my sake than they do not use always on DRM and that they fire the moron who suggested it.

I think it's best to make a trick like "pirating the games makes the game run at 1fps after two months" so that no-one catches it.

Sober Thal:
(I've always wanted to ask this)

Am I the only one, who has never had a problem with always on DRM?

Maybe not but you're part of a minority, at least. And fair play to you for having a rock-steady connection with which AODRM is no issue but it's the principle of the thing; loyal fans and customers being treated like criminals while the actual pirates are no worse off.

Worgen:
Rule 1 of pc anti-piracy, don't make the pirated version of your game better then the version you have for sale.

The pirated versions are free, which means that even if the game was DRM-less then by that logic they'd win anyway.

I think the Stalker series is one of the best FPS games of all time, but i will NOT buy a single player game that requires me to be online to play it after completing the installation process. EVER.

Well, this isn't very good at all. DRM, damn you to hell!
Still, seems to me they aren't 100% sure about implementing it, so we'll see.

Il buy the game.

But I will also download the pirated version to get around the DRM.

The reason piracy is so widespread in post-communist countries is because the industry has refused to adapt to OUR economic possibilities. Since the minimum income here is somewhere around 150 euros/month, selling your games at even 20 a pop is unfeasible. Internet usage in post-communist countries is also low (somewhere around 35%) and reliable connections, while not unheard of, are not that widespread. If GSC wants to lower piracy rates in post communist countries then they should adapt its prices to the economic possibilities of the citizens living there rather than enforce arbitrary DRM schemes that more often than not encourages piracy rather than discourage it.

I'm getting it on PS3, so I don't need to worry about DRM, but finally a topic where I can bitch about getting the series full cost and none of the games working on my computer despite meeting the requirements! Yay! *bitterness*

This is a stupid idea. If you want to play the game on the go, you can't. If your internet goes out, you can't, if you have slow internet, you have age-long loading times that renders the game nearly unplayable, if you don't have internet (for which I will say neiner neiner neiner, because you can't read this) you can't play the game. Who in their right mind thought this would be a GOOD idea?

I bought 3 copies of the original STALKER, and another of Call of Pirpyat AFTER playing the russian version.

If it has always on DRM it will be NO SALE. And this is one of the few games I would even consider pre-ordering to.

STALKER 1 was a huge success in Russia and Eastern Europe despite that area being notorious for piracy.

GSC DO NOT screw your fans like that. Blizzard probably won' get away with it in D3, and your fanbase is a bunch of Russian hackers and also /v/ so you will likely lose even harder.

OMG I will never buy this game EVER because of THIS THING I never have any trouble with!
...
No, I am gonna buy it.
Also, if the game downloads stuff on progression than...you need internet anyhow! So DRM doesn't mean shit then.

I guess that they were living under a rock in Pripyat for the past 3 years. Don't they know how well this worked out for Ubisoft?

While I'm glad to hear that this DRM isn't guaranteed to be in the product, and that there might be a chance that I buy it a year or two after release when the game will actually be in a playable condition. :)

imperialreign:
Meh . . . whatever they've got to do . . .

we EU and NA players should all be glad, our copies of the original 3 STALKER titles didn't have anywhere near as draconian DRM as the RUS versions did.

Either way, I don't see a point in complaining about the DRM - IMHO most of the complaining stems
from users who're just jumping on the bandwagon without any real evidence.

Sober Thal:
(I've always wanted to ask this)

Am I the only one, who has never had a problem with always on DRM?

Nope. I've never had a problem, either. Neither have any of my friends, nor the vast majority of users I associate with online.

I'd still like someone to actually find some hardcore evidence of where draconian DRM actually does so quickly fubar their setup.

Eh, my internet goes down at least once a month, lately its been weekly. It'd suck if it kicked me out of the game or wouldn't let me boot it up while that happened. And I live in a rather populated area, its not like i'm in a farm in nowhereofcourseyouhavenofuckinginternet's ville.

So yeah, it'd be an inconvenience, not that I couldn't do anything else, but i'd rather not have to go "Hey, lets play some stalker while my internet is down... shit".

Treating your dedicated, small fan base like that isn't going to help you GSC Game World. It's probably a good idea that you publicized this before you implemented it to see the fan response. And it's probably not happy.

So now this type of DRM is starting to spread, my thoughts turn to what DRM mechanism they will dream up next when this one does not work....

How about when you want to play the game someone from the company has to come around to your house with a PC which you can play it on while they watch and make sure you don't do anything untoward. Then when you finish they take the PC away again.

I think we all know where it is going though. To on-line services where you rent the game and never have a local copy, so there is zero possibility of you copying it. And of course to rent the game for as long as you need to finish it will cost more that it used to cost to just buy a copy....

gunner1905:
Does GSC really think that they can make a STALKER game that would be bug free?
Because if they implement that system I would think the game would be unmoddable and who did you think fixed the last 3 STALKERs.

CoP was pretty bug free it crashed only like 2 or 3 times and I got stuck a few times because the game physics fucked up something although CoP world is the smallest of the 3.

Worgen:
Rule 1 of pc anti-piracy, don't make the pirated version of your game better then the version you have for sale.

Very well said! Considering how much I love playing current STALKER title with modifications, (read: I wouldn't play them without mods) I would much rather pirate the game.

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