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Cyanic

Analysis: Why Steam isn't DRM

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If you're trying to imply that EA and Ubisoft using clients on their games is not fine, then the same should apply to Steam and all companies that force its use. You can't have it both ways. Either an installed client is DRM, or it's not.

I'm not trying to imply anything.

But if you are using such services whilst Steam is the biggest scam of the century for you, then they must have something different, which I really can't spot.

 

"Is there something that gets screwed with it?" - "You may cease use of a Subscription at any time or, if you choose, you may request that we terminate your access to a Subscription. However, Subscriptions are not transferable, and even if your access to a Subscription for a particular game or application is terminated, the original activation key will not be able to be registered to any other account, even if the game or application was purchased in a retail store." I would say this part of the ToS would apply pretty well, seeing as the deletion of keys/games from your account means even the physical disks are useless post-sale.

I just read that if I wanted to give up the right to use the subscriptions that could not be reused again.

If I had to close even my GOG, EA, desura, uplay account the same would probably apply.

 

Anyway, for the third time, could you please try one of those DRM-free games on Steam I already mentioned lots of times?

Because I'd like your direct experience of the -pretty biased imo- claim:

"What Steam, like Origin and uPlay, can do is block you from playing games installed on your hard drive without the client running and your account accessed."

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Anyway, for the third time, could you please try one of those DRM-free games on Steam I already mentioned lots of times?

Because I'd like your direct experience of the -pretty biased imo- claim:

<snip>

 

Why would AgentBJ bother trying one of those games when they are statistical outliers - that is to say, so far from the rule as to be ignorable exceptions? To use a statistical metaphor, when less than 1% of your data is counter to the remaining 99+% of your data, you ignore the minority.

 

 

But if you are using such services whilst Steam is the biggest scam of the century for you, then they must have something different, which I really can't spot.

 

Let AgentBJ speak - and for goodness sakes, listen! He might be a hypocrite, or he might not (i.e. he bought the games on those services before he came to his current beliefs on the matter). Seriously, if you think Cyanic is somehow missing the point of this whole argument when he's been mostly in agreement with you, I think you need a meme.

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Ok, after this edit (and 3 months) I believe it's now time to resume the discussion.

 

The question is as always: 

is a (one time) client for downloading a vehicle for rights restrictions?

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Well if you download game trough any service digitally you always need some kind of account or key to access the download. Humble doesn't require account but even that gives you download URL to email with unique key to download DRM-Free stuff. Only difference in Steam is that they download that stuff with client to dedicated folder and they want you to open the game with that client of course. 

 

Now with availability of course if someone sees steam on the list they can assume they need steam to download the game. It would just help to see that if they decide to buy trough steam that those files would work even without steam running. 

 

So I stay with my first post that in most cases steam is indeed DRM, but if game can be ran without it afterwards it's DRM-Free and that's why there's that list of DRM-Free titles on steam here.

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Ok, after this edit (and 3 months) I believe it's now time to resume the discussion.

 

The question is as always:

is a (one time) client for downloading a vehicle for rights restrictions?

Easy answer: Do you have the option to use it or not in order to get the same data you could get with a direct download/DRM-free option? With Steam, no. Desura, GOG and Humble? Yes, yes, and sometimes.

 

Secondary answer: Is it required to be running at all times, even for single-player only games that would have no use for the online functionality the client offers? It's becoming more common, so yes, Steam is DRM in that sense too.

 

Now, if Valve made it so you can get DRM-free downloads without using the client, you'd have a case for it not being DRM, and for that DRM type change on the San Andreas page. (It's misleading if you ask me.)

 

EDIT: By the way, to answer that challenge you put forward months ago that I never got to, Expack already said why it would be a waste of time for me to bother with those few DRM-free games on Steam. They're ignorable exceptions, and beyond that, none of them, when bought through Steam, can be direct downloaded without the client. As such, it's an irrelevant argument that ignores the existence and nescessity of the client.

 

What's more, I've refused to use Steam for three years, and I won't do otherwise until Valve gives me reason to use their service without fear of loss, or reclamation, of my legal purchases by the devs and publishers who use that service. (They can call them licenses all they want, but unless I have to give those games back within a certain timeframe of purchase, like a rental, I own that data post-sale.)

 

You also want to know why I use Origin but not Steam? Think about their current collective library sizes, and then think about how difficult it would be to refuse to use such a service if they did something you hated, yet were the distant gatekeepers of hundreds or thousands of dollars of your legal purchases. (Origin has 11 of my games. Steam, when I stepped away, had 20.) I don't have this problem with GOG, even though I've spent well over a grand with them, since they sell data packets that work like disk installers and don't require any extra software to obtain in the first place. The downloadable extras are a bonus.

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Easy answer: Do you have the option to use it or not in order to get the same data you could get with a direct download/DRM-free option? With Steam, no. Desura, GOG and Humble? Yes, yes, and sometimes.

 

Secondary answer: Is it required to be running at all times, even for single-player only games that would have no use for the online functionality the client offers? It's becoming more common, so yes, Steam is DRM in that sense too.

That's pretty much where it boils down to: does requirement of client application for download count as DRM? 

And I would still say that method of getting game files doesn't effect on does game have DRM in itself - they are seperate issues. I can download Sims 2 Complete collection with Origin, easily play it trough steam as non-steam game or put it on USB and play at friends house, at that point it definitely doesn't use Origin as DRM, but I still required Origin to download those files in first place. If game refuses to launch if that client isn't running and logged in with right account at that point it becomes DRM. 

 

I can understand perfectly dealing againts Valve as they basically have monopoly on PC gaming at the moment and with direct downloadable installers you do have bit more control over your purchares, but like I said, download method doesn't mean that downloaded product magically has DRM because it was downloaded or installed differently. 

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EDIT: By the way, to answer that challenge you put forward months ago that I never got to, Expack already said why it would be a waste of time for me to bother with those few DRM-free games on Steam. They're ignorable exceptions, and beyond that, none of them, when bought through Steam, can be direct downloaded without the client. As such, it's an irrelevant argument that ignores the existence and nescessity of the client.

 

What's more, I've refused to use Steam for three years, and I won't do otherwise until Valve gives me reason to use their service without fear of loss, or reclamation, of my legal purchases by the devs and publishers who use that service. (They can call them licenses all they want, but unless I have to give those games back within a certain timeframe of purchase, like a rental, I own that data post-sale.)

 

You also want to know why I use Origin but not Steam? Think about their current collective library sizes, and then think about how difficult it would be to refuse to use such a service if they did something you hated, yet were the distant gatekeepers of hundreds or thousands of dollars of your legal purchases. (Origin has 11 of my games. Steam, when I stepped away, had 20.) I don't have this problem with GOG, even though I've spent well over a grand with them, since they sell data packets that work like disk installers and don't require any extra software to obtain in the first place. The downloadable extras are a bonus.

And this is exactly the point where I always wanted to bring you.

 

You dig in yours heels and you seem only able to see Valve's wickedness.

Ok you need to use their client and they have definitively the power to prevent you from downloading your games.

Correct?

 

Now, supposing that they would do that.... could you explain how in the world this should be different from GOG disabling your account download your games ? And why in the first place they should (admitted that out of hundreds of thousands of accounts it ever happened once)

 

 

And for the love of everything that's holy.

Electronics Arts is the king of moneygrabbing. They don't even have the decency to try to hide that.

I'm still waiting since.. 2010 I guess? the Mass Effect 2 dlcs to cost less than 24€ (which today is more than the price of the whole trilogy -that stupidly still doesn't include them-).

And I don't know if you have seen this trend where everything EA touches become an incredibly enormous cow to milk.

You know, it's not really like they removed mod and dedicated servers support from battlefield games because it was technically difficult.

 

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That's pretty much where it boils down to: does requirement of client application for download count as DRM? 

And I would still say that method of getting game files doesn't effect on does game have DRM in itself - they are seperate issues. I can download Sims 2 Complete collection with Origin, easily play it trough steam as non-steam game or put it on USB and play at friends house, at that point it definitely doesn't use Origin as DRM, but I still required Origin to download those files in first place. If game refuses to launch if that client isn't running and logged in with right account at that point it becomes DRM. 

 

I can understand perfectly dealing againts Valve as they basically have monopoly on PC gaming at the moment and with direct downloadable installers you do have bit more control over your purchares, but like I said, download method doesn't mean that downloaded product magically has DRM because it was downloaded or installed differently. 

 

I would say it does. Remember, DRM is third-party software that restricts access and usage of software, irrespective of other benefits and outliers. Steam is exactly that by how it operates with digital sales, and how if you chose to buy physical disks in stores these days, odds are you must use Steam in some fashion before any installation takes place.

 

Now, if Steam worked the same way GOG's Galaxy service and website do now, and if by buying disks you had the option to get around using it, I'd agree with you that it's not DRM.

 

And this is exactly the point where I always wanted to bring you.

 

You dig in yours heels and you seem only able to see Valve's wickedness.

Ok you need to use their client and they have definitively the power to prevent you from downloading your games.

Correct?

 

Now, supposing that they would do that.... could you explain how in the world this should be different from GOG disabling your account download your games ? And why in the first place they should (admitted that out of hundreds of thousands of accounts it ever happened once)

 

 

And for the love of everything that's holy.

Electronics Arts is the king of moneygrabbing. They don't even have the decency to try to hide that.

I'm still waiting since.. 2010 I guess? the Mass Effect 2 dlcs to cost less than 24€ (which today is more than the price of the whole trilogy -that stupidly still doesn't include them-).

And I don't know if you have seen this trend where everything EA touches become an incredibly enormous cow to milk.

You know, it's not really like they removed mod and dedicated servers support from battlefield games because it was technically difficult.

 

 

If Valve's the one with the most distribution power, they deserve the most scrutiny about their client, as does any other company who chooses to use them and only them. After all, what they do, others in the industry tend to mimic. (Although, after that BBB F rating, we may see some improvements where it counts.)

 

I will say I'm disappointed, but not surprised, at how you're trying to spin my views from my last post. If I'm only seeing Valve's evils versus EA's, then I would have no qualms about buying everything I could through them where it wasn't possible with GOG, wouldn't I? Unless this went past you before: "Think about their current collective library sizes, and then think about how difficult it would be to refuse to use such a service if they did something you hated, yet were the distant gatekeepers of hundreds or thousands of dollars of your legal purchases. (Origin has 11 of my games. Steam, when I stepped away, had 20.)"

 

As for GOG, and Humble and Desura, I'll end up repeating myself unto oblivion if I go into a full reply, so I won't bother beyond this: One complete download goes everywhere easily, no questions asked, and even after an account shut-down.

 

While we're at this though, would you mind not using the publisher as a scapegoat when it comes to explaining bad business and DLC practices, especially with EA? Beyond that, I'd like to know how you can say, with 100% certainty, that it's always EA making these companies do what they are, versus EA only approving their choices and then getting the flack from it?

 

If you remember Greg Z's statement upon leaving Bioware, about how much rope EA gave them to hang themselves, you'll get why I see devs and publishers as separate problem-makers, not solely the publisher.

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As for GOG, and Humble and Desura, I'll end up repeating myself unto oblivion if I go into a full reply, so I won't bother beyond this: One complete download goes everywhere easily, no questions asked, and even after an account shut-down.

And this is what happens with Steam DRM-free games as well.

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I would say it does. Remember, DRM is third-party software that restricts access and usage of software, irrespective of other benefits and outliers. Steam is exactly that by how it operates with digital sales, and how if you chose to buy physical disks in stores these days, odds are you must use Steam in some fashion before any installation takes place.

 

Now, if Steam worked the same way GOG's Galaxy service and website do now, and if by buying disks you had the option to get around using it, I'd agree with you that it's not DRM.

When it comes down to physical disks, I know most games do come with steam key and files that require steam to be installed onto machine to begin installation. At that point I can agree that steam is acting like DRM for physical game version, but I was talking about game that has been downloaded trough steam and it's files are in your hard drive. If at that point I can run the game without any extra restrictions steam isn't acting like DRM anymore. 

 

I don't have interest to dig up, but almost every game that has physical copy tied to steam, uses steamworks as primary DRM. At least that makes most sense, otherwise they would simply print versions without steam keys so they won't have to pay to valve and risk getting them sold in grey market. Some games like COD also use it as multiplayer component, which I agree that GOG galaxy sounds interesting, but that's whole another topic. 

 

I still agree GOGs way is much more open and consumer friendly as all their stuff is without DRM and with neat installers that doesn't require anything extra, but with steam it's up to developer and/or publisher do they decide to or even can they use any form of DRM (e.g. flash/adobe air can't) in their games and they are downloaded trough steam client in all cases. It just comes down to wheter or not some users mistake note game being without any form of drm to that there would be directly downloadable installer or zipped package. 

 

This does however also bring up good question that does GMGs Capsule/Playfire/Vulcan/whateveritscalled a DRM either? I have few games in my library but I couldn't get anything to load so can't test right now, but I remember it just loaded regular .exe installer and I could play the game even after uninstallation of that piece of s. 

 

E: Got confirmation at IRC, that even all gamersgate stuff needs you to download DRM-Free games trough their dedicated client. Still most of those games are listed as DRM-free in articles. 

 

One complete download goes everywhere easily, no questions asked, and even after an account shut-down.

We came around full circle didn't we? If I have for example Fairy Bloom Freesia installed and suddenly Valve decides to shut down my account for some stupid reason, I can still play the game and copy it elsewhere because it only uses steam to gain achievements but is playable without them - same way GOG galaxy is supposed to work basically?

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And this is what happens with Steam DRM-free games as well.

 

And, in turn, here's the rub: What's the ratio of those to the ones that require Steam to be running at all times? Only two of my Steam bought games allowed it versus the 18 that didn't.

 

Again, outliers that are the exception to the rule.

 

When it comes down to physical disks, I know most games do come with steam key and files that require steam to be installed onto machine to begin installation. At that point I can agree that steam is acting like DRM for physical game version, but I was talking about game that has been downloaded trough steam and it's files are in your hard drive. If at that point I can run the game without any extra restrictions steam isn't acting like DRM anymore.

 

That said, this thread is about whether Steam, as a whole, not as parts, is DRM. It is, by your own explanation just now. Looking for exceptions is fine, but don't excuse the whole service because of them.

 

I don't have interest to dig up, but almost every game that has physical copy tied to steam, uses steamworks as primary DRM. At least that makes most sense, otherwise they would simply print versions without steam keys so they won't have to pay to valve and risk getting them sold in grey market. Some games like COD also use it as multiplayer component, which I agree that GOG galaxy sounds interesting, but that's whole another topic.

 

It only makes sense for multiplayer-centric games. Not single-player only ones, like Fallout: New Vegas, Skyrim, or Mass Effect. A dogmatic insistence on Steam for any game like those is a red flag to me.

 

I still agree GOGs way is much more open and consumer friendly as all their stuff is without DRM and with neat installers that doesn't require anything extra, but with steam it's up to developer and/or publisher do they decide to or even can they use any form of DRM (e.g. flash/adobe air can't) in their games and they are downloaded trough steam client in all cases. It just comes down to wheter or not some users mistake note game being without any form of drm to that there would be directly downloadable installer or zipped package.

 

And here we come to the most detested part of the 'Steam is not DRM' argument for me: "Devs can choose to make it act like that, so it's not DRM by itself." That's laying blame where it doesn't fully belong, and willfully ignoring aspects of the service in favor of exceptions. After all, which development studio programmed Steam, and its partner software, to be functional as DRM, regardless of the whims of third-parties? 

 

This does however also bring up good question that does GMGs Capsule/Playfire/Vulcan/whateveritscalled a DRM either? I have few games in my library but I couldn't get anything to load so can't test right now, but I remember it just loaded regular .exe installer and I could play the game even after uninstallation of that piece of s.

 

Never used Green Man Gaming, and I don't plan to until they offer more DRM-free alternatives to all the Steam keys they sell.

 

E: Got confirmation at IRC, that even all gamersgate stuff needs you to download DRM-Free games trough their dedicated client. Still most of those games are listed as DRM-free in articles.

 

No, GamersGate uses downloader .exes that require a log-in after running the file to access the data it is tied to. They don't use a dedicated client.

 

We came around full circle didn't we? If I have for example Fairy Bloom Freesia installed and suddenly Valve decides to shut down my account for some stupid reason, I can still play the game and copy it elsewhere because it only uses steam to gain achievements but is playable without them - same way GOG galaxy is supposed to work basically?

Not quite. Galaxy is built into some games with multiplayer, not a stand-alone service. At least not yet. If this happened with a Steam game, you'd have to find some other netcode/LAN handler, like Hamachi.

 

And I'd be more concerned about the sellers of such a game taking away your ownership rights via an active account instead of Valve shutting your account down. (Let's just say I've been on the receiving end of this with Creative Assembly, and Paradox is steadily climbing my most hated dev/publisher list for taking away DRM-free access rights for some of their games from legal buyers on GamersGate.)

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So you are looking at steam as an complete package, completely black and white state and hating it really really bad. We aren't talking about download method, we aren't talking what ratio of games require steam as DRM, we aren't talking wheter or not dev/pub can take away your ownership to the game: we are talking about wheter game has DRM in it after it's being downloaded and useable on your machine. Yeah, thread started as wheter or not steam in itself is DRM and conclusion to that already is that sometimes as most games do require it running and logged in. 

 

So how does these two scenarios differenciate: 

- I see that Fairy Bloom Freesia doesn't feature DRM on Steam. I buy it, download it indirectly via use of their software which requires logging in, afterwards just playing the game without need of their client ever again unless I need to redownload or want achievements, cards or sync my save files. 

- I see that Fairy Bloom Freesia is DRM-Free on GamersGate. I buy it, download it indirectly via use of their software which requires logging in, afterwards just playing the game without need of their client ever again unless I need to redownload. 

 

I can relate to almost every point you have made, but they are your own subjective things not related to the matter. 

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we are talking about wheter game has DRM in it after it's being downloaded and useable on your machine.

Requiring the installation of a software to download a game is DRM (that's why GOG, the Humble Store, etc... don't enforce one). DRM doesn't have to be tied to the files themselves, although that's the most common (and worst) case.

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And, in turn, here's the rub: What's the ratio of those to the ones that require Steam to be running at all times? Only two of my Steam bought games allowed it versus the 18 that didn't.

 

Again, outliers that are the exception to the rule.

That's insane. We should consider the ratio?

Why other games status should influence judgment?

There's a reason if we are rating games on a case by case basis...

 

Requiring the installation of a software to download a game is DRM (that's why GOG, the Humble Store, etc... don't enforce one). DRM doesn't have to be tied to the files themselves, although that's the most common (and worst) case.

Oh, finally. This already starts to be a good point.

We may definitively argue what rights a mandatory client break. And you might say that having to use something you didn't choose is already the actual limitation.

After I gave a read to mr Ricahard "Freedom" Stallman and after I adapted one of his sentence and I think I may summarize your idea with: one requisite for freedom is not having or running nonfree unnecessary (thus unwanted) programs on your computer. All the way down to the OS (and excluding libraries) I guess

 

Now, albeit of course that would be my ideal definition of DRM-free, I can't stop to think that what we are actually trying to distinguish are the game that you can transfer just with a plain USB pen whatever you want and that don't need an internet connection to be activated or whatever.

 

Yes, I'm practically mentioning the requirements a game has to satisfy to be able to run on school computers..

 

We may even call this under another name, but imo this is what people are really interested to know

 

I hope you'll see my point too.

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We may even call this under another name, but imo this is what people are really interested to know

 

I hope you'll see my point too.

So the plan would be to say that 'game X' is DRM-free, except you have to install and login with Steam if you buy from there? Seems to be a bit contradictory and redundant... When someone checks the availability table and sees DRM-free, he or she is not expecting to have to download and install anything other than the game itself.

 

People who are interested in DRM, like myself and many others, give some importance to what you have to install when you buy from a certain place. If the Steam client was not mandatory, we wouldn't be having this conversation. The Steam client is DRM. Steamworks is an even worse form of DRM.

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