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DRM

An industry that needs Xbox One DRM is a failed industry

Jun 20 // Jim Sterling
One need only look at the PC and its dominant digital market to see how far major publishers can be trusted. Steam is its own DRM. When you buy a game from Steam, it's about as protected from piracy as it can get. That didn't stop companies like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft from sticking their own DRM in on top of Steam's protection. Be it SecuROM or constant Internet connections, these publishers were so paranoid and desperate for a sense of control they crammed extra restrictions on top of existing ones.  And to linger further on Electronic Arts, this is the same company that said, five years ago, games need to stop all coming out at $60. CEO John Riccitiello said companies need to explore cheaper games and flexible pricing. Did EA lead the charge? Did it fuck! Instead, it produced Origin, its own digital service where it could handle distribution and do away with physical production ... and still charges $60 per game.  People could argue that EA still relies on retail and can't afford to tread on its toes. What, exactly, was Xbox One doing to change that? Retail was still a massive part of Microsoft's plans. GameStop, the pretend villain of the game industry, was going to be looked after, because the game industry is in league with it.  Some suggest we'll see an increase in pre-order bonuses, but again, such things are still all over the fucking PC market. Going all-digital doesn't change that. Companies will still use these things to try and desperately entice gamers, with exclusive pre-order DLC on various online store fronts, and "digital deluxe" editions that allow a company to charge $80 for a bunch of virtual goods. This is shit already happening in the increasingly digital PC market, and the idea that companies would suddenly stop a gravy train in full motion is almost child-like. That we all could believe in faeries! And let's take a whimsical trip to the world of mobile gaming. No retail to worry about there, right? It's all digital distribution by default, so surely our beloved major publishers are being reasonable. Oh ... but what's this I see? Is that Square Enix charging $30 for iOS games, and releasing one of the most vile money-grabbing non-games of all time? Is that Electronic Arts turning Theme Park into a gigantic free-to-play scam?  Why ... it's almost as if major publishers aren't looking for ways to make games cheaper for us, and instead will squeeze as much money out of us as they can get away with, simply because they can. But how could that be? Surely Square Enix and Electronic Arts are misrepresented heroes, who only want to break free from GameStop's shackles and look after us. No. Only in the picture books. In the real world, they've demonstrated a consistent willingness to turn any freedom they have into new methods of pulling egregious bullshit. Above all, this glittering ideal of digital distribution as a cure-all magic potion for the industry's problems is the product of remedial fantasy. A digital market won't free publishers from their obligations to clueless investors who demand all of the money at all times. It won't stop companies focus testing the shit out of their games as more and more products appeal to audiences spread thin by such saturation. It won't stop ludicrously excessive development and marketing budgets. I'm a big believer in digital distribution, but I don't believe in sorcery, and as such I don't think digital's going to solve everything rotten in the game industry. The big budget market is too far gone for that.  Xbox One tried to leap to step five without doing steps one, two, three, and four. It wanted to rush us from physical media to digital media, without clearly communicating its goals, or producing a console that gave direct and tangible benefits to the consumer, or proving it could withstand the demands of a product so reliant on the Internet, or without even ensuring there was a big enough audience for it. You can ask Sony how well that worked with the PSPgo (it didn't work very well). The PC proved it was ready for digital distribution, but it took years to do so. You can't just get up and start running when you're not even crawling properly, and in the years since Steam and GOG rose to become justifiable alternatives to physical media, home consoles languished with slow interfaces, clunky storefronts, and expensive games without any of the benefits we've come to expect from PC games. No mods. No quick option for patching content. No user fixes. None of that. Consoles need to work to earn their digital future. They can't just wake up one day and have it presented to them on a velvet pillow.  And if that's what consoles need, if they so require magic and wishes to avoid drowning in their own mess, then what good are they? Why should they survive? My God, do these companies love the fuck out of capitalism, but it seems that when capitalism comes to collect, when the flip-side of the system's benefits come to bite them on the ass, they try their best to run away from it. Even if the very worst of dooms befalls the so-called "AAA" console industry, I'm not worried. If this past E3 of buzz words and brown games taught me anything, it's that old companies and shriveled executives need to be cut down to make way for new blood. We need a new generation of game producers, not game consoles, and when the big trees fall, the smaller ones can finally get some sunlight. Good games will always be around, they just won't need the Old Guard to tell them what to do, to buy them up and spit them out. The death of a convoluted and broken market doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. Not if, according to some, the only way for them to survive is to directly fuck with their own audience.  What is it people like Cliff Bleszinski always say to gamers? Oh right, it's a business! Yeah, it's a business alright. You know what businesses are very good at doing? Failing. And if companies fail because they needed a console that inconvenienced consumers and imposed restrictions on other markets, well ... that's business for you.  Prove you deserve to survive. It's a business ... and that means you're not fucking entitled to your existence.
Xbox DRM controversy photo
Some things deserve to die
It looks like we're going to do this dance again. So soon. In the wake of Microsoft reversing its Xbox One DRM policies, brave corporate warrior Cliff Bleszinski wasted little time in telling us how this would be a bad thing ...

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Xbox One got dat no DRM!
Xbox One Eighty more like HA HA HA HA HA! Jimquisition rushes to bring a half-baked opinion in the afterfall of Microsoft reversing its DRM policy on Xbox One.

Xbox One patch photo
Xbox One patch

Day-one patch needed for Xbox One DRM policy changes


A few online-centric features are out
Jun 19
// Jordan Devore
Sony went in a different direction than Microsoft with respect to always-on requirements and used games, and the latter company didn't hear the end of it. We certainly weren't buying the explanations. But that's in the past, ...
Xbox One drops DRM photo
Changes come 'as a result of feedback from the Xbox community'
[Update: It's true. Microsoft has reversed its policies. There's only a one-time system setup that requires an Internet connection -- no daily check-ins. Discs work like they have in the past -- they'll need to be in your con...

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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Sony created a magic moment this past week at E3, declaring for the world that PS4 would not restrict used games or utilize DRM. Power to the people! Of course, it can be said Sony didn't actually do anything, yet is being l...

Xbox One has 'single handedly alienated the military'

Jun 17 // Jim Sterling
"Even when the Xbox One is in sleep mode, its built-in microphone can always listen in," explains the article. "It’s a feature developers say will provide quick voice-command access to games and apps -- but that could spook commanders who might worry the always-connected device could also capture more than just idle chit-chat among troops." Videogames have become a big part of military downtime, and the Xbox 360 was undoubtedly a hugely popular choice. Don Mattrick has expressed his belief that anybody unable to use the Xbox One (basically the entire armed forces) can just keep using the 360, but I have a feeling service members will instead just migrate to the PS4. According to a local air force buddy of mine, that's already being seen as the best option by some folks.  Now we just need Jack Tretton to appear naked, wearing only the American flag and claiming PS4 is the only console to support the troops, and I'd say this generation is over. Well ... maybe without the flag bit.  No ... no, do the flag bit. New Xbox 'a sin against all service members' [Navy Times]
Xbox One military photo
Armed forces thoroughly unimpressed with Microsoft's DRM
Regular gamers have expressed quite a bit of upset at Xbox One's ridiculous DRM policies, but nowhere is the disdain more keenly felt -- nor more justified -- than that coming from America's armed services. Considering the tr...

Sony and PS4 photo
Sony and PS4

Sony: We're going to treat the PS4 like the PS3


Shuhei Yoshida speaks
Jun 12
// Chris Carter
It was rumored that Sony came to the decision to oppose DRM-laden policies very late in the game in response to Microsoft, but that's not so, according to Sony. At a Sony Roundtable today, President of Sony's Worldwide Studio...
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Did Sony confirm DRM on PS4 after all? Not quite!


PS4 retains all the policies PS3 had, basically
Jun 11
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Sony has outright confirmed my initial interpretation. As reported by GameFront, Sony has stated that Tretton's use of the term "DRM" referred only to playing used games online. Essentially, they're talking about let...
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Sony details EXACTLY how to share games on PS4


Also, nails Microsoft's ass to three separate walls
Jun 10
// Jim Sterling
Riding high off its announcement that the PlayStation 4 will have no DRM, no anti-used game policy, and will support game ownership, Sony has released a video detailing its incredibly deep and nuanced system for sharing physical copies of games.  This, right here, is the great video of E3 so far. Bar none.  Oh my GOD, is this stuff glorious.  Xbox Owned. 
PS4 supports used games photo
Sony calls out the Xbox's bullshit
Sony confirmed that they won't be putting any restrictions on used games. They stated that they believe people have the right to do what they want with the games they buy. Gamers will be able to sell, trade, lend, and rent vi...

Xbox One kills game ownership, here's what Xbox fans say

Jun 07 // Jim Sterling
"So essentially if my internet goes out for more than 24 hours I've got a $400+ shiny brick." - Matthew. "Pretty much! A shiny liquid black blu-ray player that won't be able to play games once they turn off the servers. I can still play my Playstation, 3DO Saturn, Dreamcast, Xbox, and older consoles no problem, but retro Xbox One is not going to happen. Essentially, they sell you a expensive box that allows you to play the games you "licensed" but not own, a box that needs MS to run or do anything, Forces you to use their service for a yearly or monthly fee, to get the most features out of the box, without the sales or prices of Steam on PC, and unlike steam, wont allow you to play offline for longer than 24 hours."It's essentially a very corporate hardware version of Steam, without the benefits Steam offers, or the sales. It's a corporate publisher dream come true, and its a consumer nightmare." - Fear Monkey. "This is a great day for corporate America and a terrible day for consumers. Guess we know who Microsoft's "real" customers are. "Microsoft... You. Never. Learn." - BrandonL. "One thing I'm confused about, is why Major Nelson and Microsoft acted like what Phil Harrison said in the interviews on May 21st were incorrect and all the rumors were misrepresenting the truth. In reality, it was all true and accurate. Why even bother lying just to admit it two weeks later?" - UNSCleric. "If you rent games, XBOX one is not for you.If you trade games with your friends , XBOX one is not for you.If you don't have a good connection, XBOX one is not for you.And if you don't want to support these kind of policies and restrictions because you love games and you know the impact that this will have to the future of gaming, then XBOX one is definitely not for you" - Costas. "Would have been so easy to fix with a small alteration: online check not needed if the user inserts the disk. "As it stands, no way. I have suffered with SimCity enough to know that this is a terrible platform." - arrow22. "There will be a lot of lost business from those in the military. When you are forward deployed, either boots on ground or on a ship, one of the most common things to do with your free time is play video games. You can't expect soldiers and sailors to buy this system if they aren't even going to be able to play it. There is no way for them to be able to connect it to a network." - Seth Simmons. "So absolutely no benefits to me as a consumer, a chart just to know when and how I can play, destruction of personal sale, tear down of physical media preservation, AND a requirement to authenticate. Good job." - Matt Paprocki. "The more I read about the Xbox One, the less I want one." - CyberSkull. "1. Thank you for compiling this overview of the points that were woefully unclear during the Reveal Conference, it is greatly appreciated. "2. I no longer see myself purchasing your console in the future "To those making cute excuses about the 24hr. sign in requirement: It is not only a matter of solidarity with those who don't have a stable connection, just imagine that Microsoft has just informed |every hacker group out there| that to piss off |all| of their customers all they need to do is hit MS's servers for 48hrs. "If the powers that be at Microsoft can't understand how bad an idea this is then words cannot describe how myopic they are." - R Moss.  "What truly blows my mind is MS willingness to shift the balance of power so completely from themselves to these major publishers. Publishers that have already more than proven their disdain for their own customers." - Adam Stamos. "So MS is saying if my internet is broken for longer the 24 hrs than my XBox One just becomes a fking TV remote ?! WHAT THE FK!!" - h2h. "Hey, thanks for making this decision much easier for me, Major. Since I'm going to be screwed by anti-consumerism and the destruction of the First Sale Doctrine either way, I'll be leaving the Xbox Brand behind in favor of PC. "At least on PC I can get games on mega sale, deploy developer sanctioned game extending mods, and have better graphics and data management. I've been an Xbox owner since day one of the first console (ah, memories of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee) but no longer." - Captiosus. "I can't believe there are people brainwashed enough by Microsoft to be fine with this news lmao. This is one of the shadiest and most money-hungry / power-hungry things I've ever seen a corporation try and do in this industry...this is absolutely pathetic and disgusting." - Johnathan. "What I hate the most is this constant pushing of Kinect that none of us really want. They say we can turn of all of the features and not be required to use it, great! So why the hell do I have to have it plugged in then? It makes NO sense. I don't want it, I don't like it and I never will. And I really don't trust MS to not sell my data, so their word means nothing to me. I feel this is being overlooked and it shouldn't be, it's a disgrace." - LittleSaintGopher. "You know what will be hilarious? When this console gets hacked and its your paying customers that are inconvenienced." - Hein. "Why do you allow used blu rays Microsoft?! Please think of the movie industry families living in dirt houses! Fix this!!" - NoBullet. "I thought I would never say this, but I'm sony playstation." - Some guy called Sony PlayStation, I think.
Fans on Xbox One policy photo
Gamers react to Microsoft's robbery of consumer rights
Microsoft finally clarified much of its policy on used games and online restrictions with the Xbox One, and the news is grim for those who actually believe in consumer rights. With its new system, Microsoft will take the fina...

Xbox One games require online verification every 24 hours

Jun 06 // Jordan Devore
Continuing with the "Ugh, really?" news, to the surprise of no one: "In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners." This is, sadly, right in line with what many of us were expecting from Microsoft. Now I have to wonder how Xbox Live Gold subscriptions will play into all of this. Not liking where this is headed. Lastly, for Kinect, "The system will navigate you through key privacy options, like automatic or manual sign in, privacy settings, and clear notifications about how data is used," according to Microsoft. "When Xbox One is on and you’re simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded." "If you don’t want the Kinect sensor on while playing games or enjoying your entertainment, you can pause Kinect. To turn off your Xbox One, just say 'Xbox Off.' When the system is off, it’s only listening for the single voice command -- 'Xbox On,' and you can even turn that feature off too. Some apps and games may require Kinect functionality to operate, so you’ll need to turn it back on for these experiences."
Xbox One answers photo
'Every Xbox One owner has a broadband connection'
Spread across multiple blog posts, Microsoft has finally clarified some of its policies regarding online connection requirements and trading in used games. Describing the system as being "designed from the ground up to be rea...

eBay Germany <3 Wii U photo
eBay Germany <3 Wii U

eBay Germany supports Wii U's lack of restrictions


It's a deep burn
May 27
// Tony Ponce
Whoever manages eBay Germany's Facebook page must be a huge Nintendo fan -- or at least is a master at capitalizing on current gamer worries and frustrations. It's apparent that Xbox One is charting a dark path, and the jury'...
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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
The Xbox One will kill used games and control second-hand sales, and some people think that's great. Jim Sterling is not among them. While members of the gaming media attempt to see the positive side of murdering the used ga...

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Gamers make it clear to Sony they want a DRM-free PS4


#PS4noDRM
May 27
// Jim Sterling
While Microsoft continues to flop around following the revelation of its Xbox One user restrictions, gamers have sensed an opportunity to suggest Sony steal some free PR points, campaigning for a DRM-free PlayStation 4. ...
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Former EA CEO: Gamers will learn to love always-on DRM


John Riccitiello says awful things from beyond the grave
May 23
// Jim Sterling
Former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitello has responded to the outcry of gamers worried about an always-online future. The recently resigned executive believes that, given time, we will all march in step with the industry an...
Xbox One  photo
Xbox One

Microsoft: Xbox One will need to go online eventually


System for online game trades also planned
May 21
// Jordan Devore
With all of the talk of always-online requirements and the like leading up to today's event, this is the story I've been waiting to hit all day. Speaking to Kotaku about the newly-announced Xbox One, Microsoft Studios corpora...
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Sony 'didn't consider' always-online PS4 restrictions


Worldwide Studios boss claims the topic never came up
May 08
// Jim Sterling
Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida claims the topic of a PlayStation 4 locked down by always-on DRM restrictions never came up. While rumors of such things surround talk of the Next Xbox, Yoshida's sure to put so...
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Game Dev Tycoon turns piracy back on the pirates


Interesting anti-piracy measure aims to inspire empathy
Apr 29
// Jim Sterling
Game Dev Tycoon has implemented an interesting little method for combating piracy. Anybody who runs a cracked version of the game will, in turn, have their virtual product pirated so they can see what it feels like. Well play...
Next Xbox Achievements photo
Next Xbox Achievements

Rumor: Next Xbox DRM is up to the individual publisher


Microsoft is also expected to expand the scope of Achievements
Apr 26
// Jordan Devore
Following yesterday's talk of price points and a potential November launch for the next Xbox, Polygon has compiled the latest it's heard about the console. Sources say that yes, there will be an always-online requirement pres...
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Rhymedown Spectacular: Quoth The Gamer


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Apr 24
// Jim Sterling
Your ol' pals Jim and Yahtzee are back with some more poetic justice. This week, your ears can be teased with the tale of Always John and Fear's Farewell. They are poems, you see. About videogames.  Enjoy!
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Jim & Yahtzee's Rhymedown Spectacular!


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Apr 17
// Jim Sterling
A few months back, I was chatting with Susan Arendt over at The Escapist about doing some sort of videogame poetry. It was a very vulgar idea. Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation was also mulling over a poetry-themed produ...
Ready for always-on? photo
Company suspects we'll be fine with DRM-locked systems
Despite the massive outrage sparked by ex-Microsoft employee Adam Orth and his suggestions we'll have to "deal" with an always-online console, Ubisoft thinks the game buying public will be just fine with it. Responding to que...

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Jimquisition: Why An Always-On DRM Console Is Dumb


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Apr 08
// Jim Sterling
Just talking about an "always-on" Xbox is a really dumb idea. Hopefully not even Microsoft would be so stupid, but just in case any of the platform holders are seriously considering this awful, nasty little idea, let Jimquisition lay out the many good reasons as to why an always-on console would be utterly ludicrous. Seriously, it's ... it's terrible. Deal with it!
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Microsoft apologizes for 'Deal With It' statements


Refuses to confirm or deny any Xbox rumors
Apr 05
// Jim Sterling
Following an earlier controversy of stunning proportions, Microsoft has issued an official statement concerning employee Adam Orth's public sentiment that always-on DRM haters need to just "Deal with it." The company apologiz...

Microsoft man on always-online consoles: 'Deal with it'

Apr 05 // Jim Sterling
When his comments were taken to task by BioWare's Manveer Heir, who pointed out the embarrassing issues faced by Diablo III and SimCity at launch, Orth got even more derisive. Heir mentioned America's less-than-consistent broadband coverage, and how users in areas such as Janesville, WI or Backsburg, VA would have a rough time dealing with a console that required a constant connection. His response?  "Why on Earth would I live there?" Wow. His comments were seized upon by NeoGAF commenters, who took him to task in their usual merciless way. Aside from making comments on things Microsoft has been staunchly refusing to comment on, he was taken to task for his general snotty attitude and derogatory comments toward those who don't live in cities blessed with non-shit broadband. Some have taken his combative defense of the idea as a strong hint that Microsoft will, indeed, force Next Xbox users to stay online -- an absolutely absurd hypothetical plan that banks on broadband infrastructures around the world improving immeasurably in an incredibly short time.  Detective-GAF also found a comment from an experienced developer following the issue, posting a line from Nikolai Mohilchock, who said: "Given that legally I cannot confirm or deny if this information is true, nor can I comment on rumor or speculation, all I can say is be sure to pay your ISP bills." In response to the online battering, both Orth (who likes to be called Sweet Billy) and Heir downplayed the nature of their discussion, the latter saying: "Don't read too much into our back & forth ... All those tweets you are seeing about the city being superior. That's him just trolling me. And I fell for it. Don't bust his balls on that." Unfortunately for Orth, it was way too late for that, and his comments were damning even without the "trolling" about cities.  In the wake of the shitstorm started by his statements, Orth has now protected his Twitter account, hiding further commentary from public view. Once again, this is little more than a case of locking the door after the horse has bolted, but there you go.  A number of industry members, most notably David Jaffe, have rallied to Orth's defense, asking members of NeoGAF and other communities to stop giving Orth a pummeling and insisting he's "one of the good guys." While that might be true (unconfirmed), and while he's probably suffering some disproportionate retribution, what he said to begin with was impressively, jaw-droppingly ignorant, and he does deserve to have such poisonous, anti-consumer rhetoric counteracted. He's going to have to "deal with it" for a while. The privileged attitude of "deal with it," seems to be one held by many members of the mainstream publishing industry, and more and more customers are getting sick of it. As the console market spirals ever haphazardly toward a crash, I feel people like Orth will learn exactly what happens when consumers en masse begin to learn they don't actually have to deal with any of this bullshit, and go looking for entertainment elsewhere. When the major companies fall to their knees after trying to shave the sheep one too many times, I wonder if they'll be able to "deal with it." On the subject of an always-online, DRM-gated console, I think Michael Hartman of Frogdice Inc. sums it up perfectly: "I hope the entire next gen is 'always on DRM.' I love anything AAA does to make it easier for us indies to sell our games." Deal with it.
Next Xbox always online? photo
Director spews bullshit about DRM-locked system
[Update: Microsoft has since apologized for Orth's statements. Deal with it.] Rumors that the Next Xbox will be restricted by the same always-online requirement that has crippled several major PC releases of late has not exac...

Jimquisition photo
Jimquisition

Jimquisition: Bullshit In Sheep's Clothing


Jimquisition is a thing that happens!
Apr 02
// Jim Sterling
Join Jim as he celebrates the 100th episode of Jimquisition ... and complains about EA. Again. Companies (mostly EA) have started to learn they can get away with pulling their familiar stunts by giving them a new coat of pai...

EA: DRM is a failed, dead-end strategy

Mar 28 // Jim Sterling
Call me a cynic, but when I see games presented as online services -- especially when those services fail to serve us -- I see little more than DRM dressed in a shiny new suit. It strikes me as convenient that these "services" also serve the exact same purpose as DRM -- controlling how the end user behaves, shutting down if failing to meet requirements, and providing extra hassle for paying customers.  I find it hard to believe anything said about SimCity lately, given the general air of distrust EA Maxis' claims about the game's online demands have fostered.  If SimCity can do it, I expect to see a fair few other games calling themselves MMOs for little other reason than to get away with an always-online requirement. It seems to be quite a popular thing in the industry right now, to dress up old bullshit business tactics as new things. You'll notice how EA's been calling games with online passes special editions now, downplaying the fact it's gated off the online portion to let us know we can get maybe an extra weapon at the same time. Sheep's clothing at its best.  So yeah, games don't have DRM anymore. They're just special types of MMO! EA: "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy" [GI.biz]
EA: DRM a failed strategy photo
Games boss swears EA Maxis decided on the SimCity online stuff
Electronic Arts may have been one of the last big wielders of SecuROM, and SimCity's online woes reek of it, but EA Labels president Frank Gibeau claims to hate DRM. According to him, such anti-piracy measures have failed, an...

Meat Boy dev on DRM photo
Meat Boy dev on DRM

Super Meat Boy dev says DRM is more dangerous than piracy


Refenes weighs in on the SimCity fiasco
Mar 19
// Brett Makedonski
Tommy Refenes has shown no problem speaking his mind in the past. With the SimCity situation fresh on everyone's minds, he seemed eager to share his opinion once again. Refenes wrote a well thought-out post on his person...
SimCity photo
SimCity

Subset offline mode didn't fit Maxis' vision for SimCity


Developer responds to SimCity backlash
Mar 15
// Jordan Devore
After a rather eventful day of people tinkering with SimCity in order to play offline, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw has written a "straight answers" blog post addressing the game's always-on design. Those hoping for a ...

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