Going Down Forces Hundreds of Gamers from Their Games

What happens when goes down? Several users found out yesterday that they end up being no better off than those that snagged pirated versions of games like StarCraft 2.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

“How do I play when Battle.Net is down?” Asked one user. The answer came from another, “you don’t”

That was just a small sampling from a thread off of the forums. It is the latest example of how copy protection hurts legitimate users.

Amusingly, this happened just shortly after PCPro said how StarCraft 2 was pirate free (which is not if you know about the release group “Reloaded” as well as razor1911)

Still, this centralization did not happen by accident. Blizzard has been fighting against unauthorized gaming servers for years. In World of Warcraft’s terms of service, it explicitly states:

2. Additional License Limitations.

The license granted to you in Section 1 is subject to the limitations set forth in Sections 1 and 2 (collectively, the “License Limitations”). Any use of the Service or the Game Client in violation of the License Limitations will be regarded as an infringement of Blizzard’s copyrights in and to the Game. You agree that you will not, under any circumstances:

A. use cheats, automation software (bots), hacks, mods or any other unauthorized third-party software designed to modify the World of Warcraft experience;

In 2008, Blizzard shut down several unauthorized gaming servers saying that it was a DMCA violation. Actions such as this has even sparked a petition which came close to collecting 3000 signatures.

So now we have a situation where if one server service goes down, many cannot play their games they more than likely legally paid for as far as StarCraft 2 is concerned (since the cracked versions cannot play multiplayer yet). When goes down like what happened yesterday, users are no better off than those that have cracked versions of their games. Why doesn’t Blizzard allow for private servers then? If it is possible to make multiplayer service more reliable, then why not allow for private servers? If it’s cheating that is a concern, then maybe Blizzard needs to put some server-side software that would stop such things from happening. It’s clear people are more than happy to run these servers without charging Blizzard for service fees.

Ultimately, there is only two possible outcomes for DRM – either it screws over legitimate customers or it is completely useless. I’ve yet to see a case where it is neither and you can bet I’ve seen a fair share where it is both.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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