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Old 07-08-2014, 08:40 AM
Hoggy110 Hoggy110 is offline
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Default A Thread To Discuss Always-Online In Mobile Gaming

I think a lot of us know that there is starting to be a load of talk about Always-Online DRM with mobile gaming. Last week, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was confirmed to be ditching always-online DRM. Earlier today, Tales Of Phantasia was confirmed to shut down it's servers at the end of August rendering the game pretty much useless (and wasting the money of those who had chose to purchase stuff in it). If you see a load of Modern Combat 5 discussions, you will easily know about all of the people complaining about the game needing a constant connection. But should Always-Online DRM be so prevalant in the world of iOS gaming?

Basically, this thread is so we can all civilly (let's hope) discuss Always-Online DRM, it's pros and cons, whether it's effective or not, and whether it should be used in iOS gaming or not. Remember, not everyone in here is going to share the exact opinion as you, but that doesn't necessarily mean their entire opinion is invalid. Read people's arguments, learn from them and improve your opinion on Always-Online DRM. Everyone has a different perspective on this issue, and knowing a load of these perspectives will help you get a better picture about the impact of Always-Online DRM in iOS gaming
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  #2  
Old 07-08-2014, 08:43 AM
Hoggy110 Hoggy110 is offline
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I probably should apologise for my forthcoming rambling...sorry

First, to cross the Modern Combat 5 front, that is a game which is trying to do a unified system with both multiplayer and single player. For that kind of system to work, it's easier for Gameloft to use always-online to keep track of player statistics. Should there really be such a hassle for that? Be honest, how many people out there actually care that much about the single-player mode of an FPS set around modern-times (exception being Spec Ops: The Line)? A lot of you guys are probably going to spending a hell of a lot of time within the multiplayer mode, which if you haven't bothered to check recently, kind of already needs a constant internet connection (unless you're doing multiplayer locally, I guess). There's nothing really wrong with the game needing a connection the whole time if you are going to spend a lot of that time in something which already requires a connection, right? However, there is something which is bugging me in the back of my mind. Think about Asphalt 8. Would you say that game has a unified progression system with it's single player and multiplayer modes? The cars you purchase get used in both modes, coins in both modes are shared, it seems qualifying. That game also based rooms off of the players skill levels. That game keeps on racing on without any Always-Online DRM. Granted, the Modern Combat 5 unified progress system could be doing improvements on that system which do require a constant connection.

But to be fair, Modern Combat 5 is probably the only thing I can think of where always-online DRM is likely to not completely ruin the experience, unless Gameloft doesn't have enough servers to handle the players. What about in a game like Amazing Spider-Man 2? Should that require Always-Online DRM? Well, think about how much of that game is needed for multiplayer? That type of game, at least to me, is more of a solo experience than a social experience. Mysterio's Arena is pretty much the only noteworthy thing in that game which needs any online functionality, and that is something which is easily avoided. Also, the original Amazing Spider-Man didn't have any always-online DRM system to it. Every other version of the game didn't have any always-online DRM to it. Was there something special about the mobile version of the game which needed a constant connection which I wasn't aware of? Well, obviously not, seeing as it is being removed. There's one real reason that it was put in the first place to me, and that's to combat piracy.

The only reason Always-Online DRM is being used is to stop people pirating stuff basically. Does this work though? I mean, can't someone just take the game's code and take out the part which makes the game not function when offline, and then put that online? For example, someone managed to make SimCity not require any Always-Online DRM an year before EA decided to officially patch the game to remove Always-Online DRM. But that is only really a problem if there is someone who is more than willing to do something like that, which there probably isn't. You could just look at it and go "Well, that system clearly works well then." But that's completely wrong. There are a number of reasons why it is a bad system.

One big reason is that there are a load of consumers who don't like it. I'm not just talking about us people who see gaming as a major hobby. If you look at the App Store reviews for Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you can see a number of reviews asking the developers to make the game work offline. This isn't just a issue with a small group of people, it's causing a negative effect on a load of consumers, and yes, whilst there is a lot of consumers who may be perfectly fine with living through Always-Online DRM pop-ups, there are still more who see them and get a negative opinion. What about the people who don't have a Wi-Fi connection? What about the people who have reached a data-cap and they can't use the Internet? What about people who aren't in a place they can establish a connection? They can't enjoy a game which they've spent money on, and is that perfectly fine? Is gaming becoming a type of thing where you are expected to have a constant internet connection available, which still isn't possible to a large crowd?

Another big reason is with the servers. What if the game doesn't have enough servers to cover all of the people wanting to play the game? Take Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper, released onto the App Store this past January. Players weren't able to connect to the servers, notable enough that the game was pulled from the App Store so the issues could be fixed. It was a release where people who bought the game couldn't even play it, pretty much wasting their money. You've got to have some form of view I'm unfamiliar with to see that is a good thing. Secondly, once the developers decide to shut down the game servers, if it's like Tales Of Phantasia, you're going to have people who have spent money on something they can never use. Gameloft may have the decency to get rid of Always-Online DRM with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but where is the offline patch for Tales Of Phantasia? That's just going "I don't care about you, I just care about your money" to consumers (and hell, they are still selling stuff with Tales Of Phantasia which has a expiration date to it). The way that I see this is that you've gone out and purchased a game, but to discover that the people who you bought it from have decided to have a mass recall of the game which means forcefully taking it from you, and they give you absolutely nothing in return. There is no caring about whether you were trying to get to 100%, whether you were only partway through the game, or whether it's a game you religously play. There doesn't seem to be any caring to the player whatsoever. That's what it feels like to me, and that is not how someone should feel about a game and it's developer.

Another thing to point out, is it even going to be needed? Yes, some people may completely scoff at me saying that, but here me out. I'm not a developer so I can't properly tell specific statistics, but think about it. Minecraft PE has got to be heavily pirated, right? Minecraft is a massive IP, which means people will want to check it out, and $6.99 is a big price-tag in App Store terms, right? Wouldn't it be easy to pirate it? If so, why had it sold 21 million copies back in April, even more than the PC version. To add on, Card Wars - Adventure Time has consistently remained around the top of the App Store charts ever since it's release. The amount of people who would be buying those big-name games compared to those pirating it are probably a substantial number. And it's not like anything Gameloft makes is relatively low-key. Those games have and will instantly go to the top of the App Store charts and still remains success. Maybe I'm seriously underestimating the amount of people who pirate stuff on the App Store, but if you consider the amount of consumers you are losing and alienating in order to stop those pirates, is the pain worth the price? To be fair, a lot of piracy issues end up being with little coverage towards a game, so there isn't a wide enough paying audience to the game. That would just encourage a developer to either quit doing the thing he wants to do or go back on personal promises (to be fair, we could all go around promoting more of these games so they can find this audience).

Finally, let's go back to basics and think about what exactly makes a mobile game. A mobile game is a game you can play at any point at any time, right? If you require people to need to connect to the Internet in order to play these games, then isn't that kind of making the point of a mobile game mute? If you have to be connected to the Internet to play a game, why don't you connect it to a plug-point instead? If you are putting Always-Online DRM in a game, then the game isn't going to be mobile any more, as it needs to be connected to something in order to play it now. I mean, it is nice that developers are aiming for the console experience, but they aren't exactly doing it in the right way, let's be honest.

If you consider all of that, do you reckon it's easy to agree that Always-Online DRM isn't really a right choice for mobile gaming? I do agree that piracy is a bad thing and that developers should be trying to stop it, but there should be a better way to do this than forcing people to need to connect to the Internet at all times and losing a sizeable chunk of the potential audience. Maybe Apple can work with developers and they can give people who purchase a game a single use code which can permanently attach a copy of a game to a single iTunes account and it can only work on devices which have been authorised to run that account. A max of ten devices for each account, you looking at thousands downloading one copy of a game down to less than 10. This could have no effect on a games code, it could all be done on Apple's end, meaning the developer won't have to spend time getting this to all work and instead spend time working on the actual game. That's one potential solution to stopping piracy, and there is a lot more out there which aren't well known, which haven't been publicly shared, or which just don't exist yet.

So yeah...where are the obvious flaws in my argument that you all just skipped over? Don't quote the entire thing, just little bits
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:12 AM
Anonomation Anonomation is offline
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Another point needed to be made, I see a lot of people saying it only makes hackers easier to stop. That doesn't necessarily end hacking and piracy, as The always find a way. Look at the Amazing Spider-Man 2, you could pirate the game on release even with the always online feature.
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:15 AM
psj3809 psj3809 is offline
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I've never liked games which need a net connection as for many years i had an ipod touch so i wouldnt have been able to play these games if i wasnt at home.

But on the other hand vote with your wallet. If companies get lots of negative reviews or poor sales they'll look into why. Perhaps the vast majority dont mind this and we're just a minority ?
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:21 AM
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Eli Eli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anonomation View Post
Another point needed to be made, I see a lot of people saying it only makes hackers easier to stop. That doesn't necessarily end hacking and piracy, as The always find a way. Look at the Amazing Spider-Man 2, you could pirate the game on release even with the always online feature.
I look at this sort of thing as the digital equivalent of putting a lock on my door. Is any determined thief going to be dissuaded by a lock? Hell no, they can kick my door in or break a window. All the lock is doing is keeping otherwise honest people who might be tempted to steal my things from doing it.

Similarly, while these online requirements might do little to dissuade determined thieves from stealing these games, it makes a massive difference when it comes to preventing the more casual, less savvy players from stealing your stuff. TouchArcade is a very hardcore tech savvy audience, so for determined pirates around here, looking for a crack is the real-world equivalent of those speed humps they put on some roads to keep you from going over 30 MPH. You might tap your brakes, but, you know the speed hump isn't really going to do anything.

But, for a lot of people, those speed humps make them slow down... Just like online requirements either force casual thieves to actually buy the game or move on to an easier target. The large developers/publishers are using online DRM because for them, with the download numbers they get, even a small percentage of people who decide to buy the game instead of steal it makes a massive difference in revenue just because of the scale they operate on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psj3809 View Post
Perhaps the vast majority dont mind this and we're just a minority ?
Judging by The Amazing Spider-Man 2's performance (particularly at a $5 price point) on the charts, it's pretty clear people who have an issue with this are a minority. I mean, Apple's #1 device they sells is the iPhone, which is always connected. Because of that, the vast, overwhelming majority of players out there are playing the game and don't even know/care that it's phoning home once in a while.

Last edited by Eli; 07-08-2014 at 09:25 AM..
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:55 PM
dancj dancj is offline
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My issue here is that for anyone with a mind to work around any given security in an app it's generally pretty easy (because someone else has done the hacking and made it public) so the only people inconvenienced by these kind of measures are the ones who are going to be honest anyway.

Introducing security like this winds up just punishing the honest people and doing nothing about the dishonest ones - and that's just wrong.
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:59 PM
sweetdiss sweetdiss is online now
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Tip: Play MC5 at home with wifi, play one of the billion other iOS games while out and about.
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:42 PM
Topherunhinged Topherunhinged is offline
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There's nothing to discuss. Always-on DRM is an automatic non-purchase.
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Old 07-08-2014, 05:51 PM
twenty6868 twenty6868 is offline
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Originally Posted by Topherunhinged View Post
There's nothing to discuss. Always-on DRM is an automatic non-purchase.
There better be no hackers or pirates if they do this!
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:13 AM
psj3809 psj3809 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dancj View Post
My issue here is that for anyone with a mind to work around any given security in an app it's generally pretty easy (because someone else has done the hacking and made it public) so the only people inconvenienced by these kind of measures are the ones who are going to be honest anyway.

Introducing security like this winds up just punishing the honest people and doing nothing about the dishonest ones - and that's just wrong.
That reminds me of those annoying anti-piracy adverts you couldnt skip past on dvds. Talking about dvd piracy is theft etc, i know it is, but i have the original dvd and i'm trying to watch my film !! Anyone who downloads the film never has those annoying non-skippable adverts at the beginning.

You buy legal dvds and still have that crap to sit through !
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