Now This Is How Copy Protection Should be Done, People

In their attempts to thwart pirates, most PC publishers end up pissing off paying customers with intrusive or bothersome DRM. All, that is, except for Bohemia Interactive, who the likes of EA and Ubisoft could learn a thing or two from.

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Bohemia's games have long used a copy protection system called FADE, which is part-security device, part wonderful troll.

You see, most forms of DRM, or digital rights management, try to cut the user off at the source. Prevent them from ever booting their game up. This may sound good on paper, but once pirates get past the gates—and they always get past the gates—they're free to play the game.

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But FADE lets pirates download a game and start playing. Start enjoying the title, seeing what all the fuss is about. It's only a few hours in that things start to go a little wrong. In Bohemia's ArmA, for example, your aim starts to get a little wonky. You'll notice the AI getting erratic. These glitches start to slowly increase in size and occurrence until, bam, you've been turned into a bird, or the screen looks like it's suddenly underwater.

Sometimes the pirate knows what this is and admits the defeat, but other times it gets even better. They take to official forums to complain, where they're revealed as pirates. Other times, because they've got a taste for the game, they'll do the right thing and go and buy a copy.

Once FADE hits this point there's no recovery, and to this day, a decade after it was first used, from Operation Flashpoint through to Bohemia's recent Take On Helicopters, there's yet to be a widespread means for pirates to circumvent the system.

If it works for Bohemia, and can even encourage sales instead of punishing legitimate customers, surely other publishers could give something similar a shot?

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TAKE ON HELICOPTERS: Security for us secures the future for gamers [Gamasutra (Press Release)]


You can contact Luke Plunkett, the author of this post, at plunkett@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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DISCUSSION

Sorry to be that guy... But this is actually poor DRM. The pirates usually find a fix to this really quickly, and the fact that this is about all the company has really put into DRM, they usually get away with playing the whole game.

I'm just waiting for the sympathizers to start saying "piracy does not take away from sales"... Actually it does. The fact some of the most hyped and sought after AAA games get pirated over a hundred to two hundred thousand times, is quite a significant chunk.

Games are not necessities, they are luxuries. If you can't afford them, you don't buy them and wait till you can. Games are also not bound to offer demo's so you have to no right to "try before you buy" etc.

Another comment you usually hear is that studios charge too much. They make the games, movies. They can charge whatever they want. If prices were indeed too high, there would not be enough sales and games/movies would be cheaper. The fact that people buy them, means that the price matches what people can and are willing to pay.

I know, it's just another rant against piracy, and it's not going to change much, but you still have to speak out against the rampant piracy that has crippled the pc games industry and is now also going a number on the xbox 360.

I like the internet-connection required DRM. My computer has been connected to the internet constantly for the past 7 years, I still don't buy those who say it's restrictive. If you game on your desktop or laptop, there is no reason you cannot connect to the internet when you play.