I’m a hardcore Fallout nerd and I’d like to play Fallout New Vegas. But I have a problem. Fallout New Vegas it relies on a program called Steam. Steam is basically a digitial shop and integrated social networking for games. It’s probably okay if you are interested in its features, but they’re only really of use for multi-player games. In the case of many games that depend on it, Steam is merely a means of enforcing entirely artificial limitations on what the user can do while providing no benefit whatsoever to the user, AKA DRM, digital ‘rights’ (restrictions) management. Steam is a particularly obnoxious form of DRM because at its core, what’s going on is: you buy a game from a shop, you take it home, install it, and then you have to install and open Steam which asks a server in America whether you are allowed to play the game you bought. Imagine if you bought a car then had to phone up the showroom every time you wanted to drive it. It’s a wholly unacceptable way to do things.
The developers will happily offend their customers because they think it will reduce piracy. So the pivotal question is: does it work? Is it effective enough to make it worth reducing the value of your product? Does it turn more pirates into customers than it does customers into non-customers? Well let’s see, New Vegas was released in the US on the 19th and Europe on the 22nd, and, a torrent to the cracked version was uploaded to The Pirate Bay on the 19th at 19:25GMT, or about 14:25EST. So there you have it, it was cracked 14 hours after its release date in the US and 2 days before its release date in Europe. Currently there are about 18,000 people downloading it. Even better, the cracked version doesn’t require Steam at all, so the pirates offer a better product!
I bought the collectors’ edition of Fallout 3. I paid full price for the game on release and then I paid a bit more for the bonus DVD, the lunch-box, the vault boy bobble-head, and the art book. I love Fallout. It turned out F3 wasn’t exactly the second coming of Christ, but it was entertaining. I would love to buy New Vegas, but any game that depends on Steam or in any way implements artificial constraints and controls over how the user is allowed to use the software has a value to me of precisely £0.00. Unfortunately my connection is too slow for me to be bothered with downloading it, so I won’t be playing it until either they release an official non-Steam version or I get a faster connection.
Similar story for Civ V.