Fighting Piracy by Shipping Unfinished Games?

Recently, the CEO of Codemasters (publishers and developers of such titles as Dirt, Grid, and others) recently stated a unique and somewhat strange approach to fighting piracy in games...don't finish them. The idea may seem convoluted, but it works in a pretty simple (if drawn out) sort of way.
 
Let's say Developer A ships a game out to stores. You, the savvy consumer, picks up the game from the store and takes it home. At that point you would have to download many of the core assets of the game to play it. The game would be sold for less at retail, because the 'full' cost would be made up with the many micro-transactions to actually 'finish' the game to make it playable and enjoyable. The reasoning for this way of doing things is because, to quote CEO Rod Cousens, "...DRM is not the answer to piracy." 
 
I know many gamers hate DRM, but what about this idea? Does it seem worse to you as the consumer? For me, it sounds like this would be a method used on the PC more than anything, of course game piracy is rising on all platforms...so it could happen across the board. It reminds me a bit of what EA is doing with their online access codes, of course that is for slowing used game sales and this is against piracy. I think the idea is an interesting one, but it may end up causing too much confusion for the consumer and turn people off from buying certain games.  I personally support it, as long as I am only paying for what I need to play the game and not miscellaneous junk.
 
I'm interested to hear what people think about this...here is the link to  the article.

41 Comments
42 Comments
Posted by SourMillennia

Recently, the CEO of Codemasters (publishers and developers of such titles as Dirt, Grid, and others) recently stated a unique and somewhat strange approach to fighting piracy in games...don't finish them. The idea may seem convoluted, but it works in a pretty simple (if drawn out) sort of way.
 
Let's say Developer A ships a game out to stores. You, the savvy consumer, picks up the game from the store and takes it home. At that point you would have to download many of the core assets of the game to play it. The game would be sold for less at retail, because the 'full' cost would be made up with the many micro-transactions to actually 'finish' the game to make it playable and enjoyable. The reasoning for this way of doing things is because, to quote CEO Rod Cousens, "...DRM is not the answer to piracy." 
 
I know many gamers hate DRM, but what about this idea? Does it seem worse to you as the consumer? For me, it sounds like this would be a method used on the PC more than anything, of course game piracy is rising on all platforms...so it could happen across the board. It reminds me a bit of what EA is doing with their online access codes, of course that is for slowing used game sales and this is against piracy. I think the idea is an interesting one, but it may end up causing too much confusion for the consumer and turn people off from buying certain games.  I personally support it, as long as I am only paying for what I need to play the game and not miscellaneous junk.
 
I'm interested to hear what people think about this...here is the link to  the article.

Posted by Zidd

This is a stupid idea. What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game?

Posted by Interfect

Um. As someone who hardly buys a game used and doesn't pirate. I gotta say this fucking sucks. But I understand why they should do this. And I don't have a credit card. But I'll buy a PSN card if I feel I need to get some DLC for a certain game. If it adds a lot to the game and makes it more enjoyable.

Posted by Jazz

They've been doing that for ages by just shipping buggy games constantly.
That's why most games require an update when you get them...nothing to do with Piracy of course...just pressurised working conditions, financial years and shoddy Q&A. 

Posted by Binman88

How would this fight piracy on a platform like the PC? All it would take is someone to buy the game, buy the extra stuff to complete the game, then upload the completed package to the internets for sharing.

Posted by Semition

Someone just buys the game, download all the updates, compress it to a stupidly low size and upload it. Crackers have been doing this for a long time.
 
The only thing that it will stop is the piracy on the first few days.

Posted by BeachThunder

The article actually talks about "optional additional" content, rather than "many of the core assets" ( here's the actual link for people who don't want to copy/paste the text from the OP). In other words, you could play it perfectly well if you pirate it, but you wouldn't get all parts of the game; so, for example, you might only have some of the available vehicles. Essentially they would just be selling a demo of the game at retail, which you could later add extra parts to; to me this just seems a bit awkward and convoluted. Also, what I'd like to know is, what's stopping people from also pirating the additional assets?

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Semition said:
" Someone just buys the game, download all the updates, compress it to a stupidly low size and upload it. Crackers have been doing this for a long time.  The only thing that it will stop is the piracy on the first few days. "
Damn it! Somebody beat me to it.
Posted by gamb1t

Never ending cycle.

Posted by PenguinDust

What if you aren't connected to the internet?  There are lots of people who still play games but since their only interest is in single player games, don't bother to hook it up to the internet.  Hell, broadband still isn't available everywhere in this country (US) so are game publishers just going to cut out that potential revenue stream?  What if you don't have a credit card or what if you're a kid and not allowed to buy things online?  What happens when an inexperienced gamer buys the game and doesn't realize they need to download more stuff to play it?  This "solution" seems to create more problems than it solves.  Sure, if everyone had good broadband and a credit card, then this might work, but all gamers are not equal in either access or online expertise. 

Online
Posted by gosukiller
@Semition said:
" Someone just buys the game, download all the updates, compress it to a stupidly low size and upload it. Crackers have been doing this for a long time.  The only thing that it will stop is the piracy on the first few days. "
Exactly this, any kind of DRM or piracy countermeasures usualy impact LEGAL copies more than pirated copies. 
 
In my opinion, the only way to solve piracy is by making the online compelling enough to warrant a purchase. Either that, or make your format (like Blu Ray games on PS3) unattractive to try to pirate.
Posted by SourMillennia
@BeachThunder: Good call, I misread that part of it when I looked over the article, appreciate the catch!
Posted by Jeust
@Zidd said:
" This is a stupid idea. What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game? "
Or people without a paypal account? 
  
I won't buy games in those conditions, no matter how good it is. That sounds like a ripoff. 
Online
Posted by TwoLines

Pirates would find a way to crack that system. They always do, even if it takes some time.

Posted by Zidd

Publishers arguably ship unfinished games already. Shipping them in even poorer shape does no good at all.

Posted by ch13696

Hhhmmmm. They may be on to something. I know that Stardock sort of did that. They released a complete game but in order for you to get patches, you have to be on Impulse. I'm sorry to say, but now n days a majority of people have the internet. How many subscribers did Microsoft say they have for Xbox Live? 20 million? Or that could be the amount of systems sold. I don't know. Well, what about World of Warcraft? How many subscribers there? I know it's 15 million. 
 
@Jeust said:

" @Zidd said:
" This is a stupid idea. What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game? "
Or people without a paypal account?   I won't buy games in those conditions, no matter how good it is. That sounds like a ripoff.  "
Does everyone need credit cards or paypal accounts for everything? Last I checked I don't have any of that and I still manage to buy things on PSN and Xbox Live, hell even Steam. It's called Xbox Live, PSN, and debit prepaid cards. They sell them everywhere.
Edited by wolf_blitzer85

At this point I think the best way to combat piracy would be to just straight up shut down the internet.
 
Until that happens, no matter what preemptive measures companies take to protect their games, the pirates will always find a way to circumvent it and distribute it.

Posted by zonerover
@Zidd said:
" What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game? "
Unfortunately that's the biggest limitation with the idea. Pushing that aside though, if a game was meant to be a $60 game but they offered it for $50 and adequately informed consumers that they would need to download the rest of the game for $10 to finish it (or alternatively spend $10 online to get it working at all), I guess that would be a fair way of stamping out piracy while limiting the amount of DRM. However...
 
@TwoLines said:
" Pirates would find a way to crack that system. They always do, even if it takes some time. "
Somehow I just don't see this as being practical, although I appreciate the attempt by Codemasters of voicing out a potential alternative to DRM-laden games - I'm thinking about you Ubisoft!
Edited by Jeust
@ch13696 said:

" Hhhmmmm. They may be on to something. I know that Stardock sort of did that. They released a complete game but in order for you to get patches, you have to be on Impulse. I'm sorry to say, but now n days a majority of people have the internet. How many subscribers did Microsoft say they have for Xbox Live? 20 million? Or that could be the amount of systems sold. I don't know. Well, what about World of Warcraft? How many subscribers there? I know it's 15 million. 
 
@Jeust said:

" @Zidd said:
" This is a stupid idea. What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game? "
Or people without a paypal account?   I won't buy games in those conditions, no matter how good it is. That sounds like a ripoff.  "
Does everyone need credit cards or paypal accounts for everything? Last I checked I don't have any of that and I still manage to buy things on PSN and Xbox Live, hell even Steam. It's called Xbox Live, PSN, and debit prepaid cards. They sell them everywhere. "
True, still i don't want to have to buy addons/dlcs to experience the complete game.  And if i have don't have xbox live or psn? How will i play those extra features that should be in the game but are downloadable? 
 
That's not something i want to support.
Online
Posted by Coltaine22

It's a terrible idea for a number of reasons. The developer would make less money if they sold the game at a reduced cost. A huge percentage of people don't finish games, so they would be perfectly happy with receiving only part of the game. The other reason this would suck is because the game would end up costing the consumer more. DLC is incredibly over priced. You would pay 30 for the boxed product and then another 100 dollars to complete the game. I find it funny to hear this coming from Codemasters, they need all the goodwill they can get, since most of their games suck. This idea is already being practiced to some degree, only difference is that we pay full price now for unfinished games.

Posted by alternate

You get hacked patches for PC games all the time and you can even add title updates to 360 without xbox live if you go to a little hassle with a PC and a memory stick.

Online
Posted by TaliciaDragonsong

Believe me, people will get around this too.
I, on the other hand, have the ultimate solution for piracy.
 
MAKE SOME BLOODY GAMES WHICH ARE WORTH BUYING

Posted by ch13696
@Jeust said:
" @ch13696 said:

" Hhhmmmm. They may be on to something. I know that Stardock sort of did that. They released a complete game but in order for you to get patches, you have to be on Impulse. I'm sorry to say, but now n days a majority of people have the internet. How many subscribers did Microsoft say they have for Xbox Live? 20 million? Or that could be the amount of systems sold. I don't know. Well, what about World of Warcraft? How many subscribers there? I know it's 15 million. 
 
@Jeust said:

" @Zidd said:
" This is a stupid idea. What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game? "
Or people without a paypal account?   I won't buy games in those conditions, no matter how good it is. That sounds like a ripoff.  "
Does everyone need credit cards or paypal accounts for everything? Last I checked I don't have any of that and I still manage to buy things on PSN and Xbox Live, hell even Steam. It's called Xbox Live, PSN, and debit prepaid cards. They sell them everywhere. "
True, still i don't want to have to buy addons/dlcs to experience the complete game.  And if i have don't have xbox live or psn? How will i play those extra features that should be in the game but are downloadable?  That's not something i want to support. "
Well, I doubt they would make the game completely unplayable. Think of those Monkey Island. How it's episodic. They'll probably end up doing that. 
Edited by Kung_Fu_Viking

I don't see what would stop someone getting the full game and then creating copies of it and putting it on the internets. 
This seems like a case of it only makes th whole process more time consuming and annoying the the legitimate customers. 
 
The answer to piracy on the PC is simple: Steam sales all the time. Forever.

Posted by Jeust
@ch13696: Yeah, still it isn't something I'm looking forward to in a retail game. 
Online
Posted by buzz_killington

Then people can just as easily pirate those ``core assets``, couldn`t they?

Posted by wefwefasdf

When will they realize that they can't beat pirates? Wait... They should call in the ninjas!

Posted by Jimbo

EA already do this.

Posted by Osaladin

The biggest hindrance to anti piracy is steam sales. You have to not be human to not buy a blockbuster game for like 75% off.

Edited by ProfessorEss
@TaliciaDragonsong said:

MAKE SOME BLOODY GAMES WHICH ARE WORTH BUYING "

They just don't seem to grasp this concept.
Any game I consider worth anywhere near full price I will buy new, no questions asked.
But if that game is mediocre, I'm not gonna buy it new regardless of what they do.
 
So go ahead, crush the used games market (not to mention the "borrow from friends market"), I think they'll be surprised how little extra profit it actually ends up netting them.
Posted by Gaff

I can't be the only one who is old enough to remember things like Shareware, right? It just seems to me that they're going back to old practices. 
 
Then again, the chances of this proposal actually working are slim: retail will throw another tantrum and cause everything to grind to a halt before it has taken off.

Posted by AhmadMetallic

cant the release group (pirates) buy the game, download the rest of it, put it together and share it online ? 

Posted by Ryax

shitty idea is shitty

Posted by BeachThunder
@TaliciaDragonsong said: 

MAKE SOME BLOODY GAMES WHICH ARE WORTH BUYING "

Pretty much this.
 
Also, here's a Gabe:
 
Fast forward to 3:34.
Posted by Ferginator4k
@Video_Game_King said:
" @Semition said:
" Someone just buys the game, download all the updates, compress it to a stupidly low size and upload it. Crackers have been doing this for a long time.  The only thing that it will stop is the piracy on the first few days. "
Damn it! Somebody beat me to it. "
Damn some one beat me at saying someone beat me to it.
Edited by divito

Piracy exists due to market imbalance. One of the best ways to combat piracy is not technologically-based, but business-based. Piracy should be a welcome invitation for all companies to not only review their costs, as to strive for a more efficient process, but also to really evaluate their product quality and profit margins. 
 
Companies such as game development companies, music artists, and movie studios have to realize that their products are luxuries that are not required to be consumed. Alienating your core audience through poor quality, high prices, DRM, and other issues is generally not worth sacrificing your existence. Some companies have slowly started to realize this, but there are a lot of rich, stubborn people in this world.

Posted by iam3green

this sounds like a horrible idea. it would make some more DRM being DRM. hackers would find a way to make it to be pirated. it might take a few days for the game to be hacked and piracy would still happen. i do not think this would work all that great either. there are also people that do not have internet that play games. they could not play the game to the fullest.

Edited by AndrewB

Man, anti-piracy measures are making video games a joke. Why not just stop selling at retail altogether and make the whole thing digital? They're already saying that they don't value used gamers nor retail gamers. They're already imposing a mandatory high-speed 'net connection limitation, so why not take one quick leap over to all-digital, tied directly to their servers and push out a major marketing campaign to get the word out to the "casual" gamer.
 
Yes, that's a stupid idea that will negatively affect sales, but since it also happens to be the inevitability of the future, you might as well get people used to it now and take the hit in sales rather than just take the sales hit in piracy and make no progress. That's assuming, of course, that any of this tied to the 'net stuff can't be cracked, which it sadly can and will be.

Posted by DuhQbnSiLo

LMAO....  this wasn't such a problem when games were $40-50 and came with everything. Developers are the ones that started charging $60 for unfinished games and continue to feed us half-assed games and the want to charge us for DLC too... LOL
 
Pirates > Ninjas

Posted by BraveToaster
@Zidd said:
" This is a stupid idea. What about people with no Xbox Live? People with no credit cards to finish buying the game? "
this
Posted by mrfizzy

i get the idea but it ignores consumers who have slow internet or low download limits. 

Posted by zyn

There is NO WAY I am buying an unfinished game.
 
Fuck you Codemasters.