Download vs Serial vs.... Remote Activation

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by Robert Cummings, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Robert Cummings

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    Been thinking about the various methods. I do not discuss peer to peer piracy as that exists on all distribution models.

    Download Full Version
    ---------------------
    No development time
    Guaranteed to deliver product
    Lowers serial/crack piracy
    Very little support required

    License Key sent to your email
    -----------------------------
    Some development time
    Guaranteed to deliver product
    Higher support requred in the case of missing keys/problems entering keys
    Crack/Keygen/Serial piracy problem

    Remote Activation
    ------------------
    Some development time
    Not guaranteed to deliver product due to firewalls
    Less support requred than license key but still some
    Crack but not keygen/serial problem




    So judging by the basic outlines above I'd say delivering the full version is still absolutely the way to go. 56k is dwindling, people get satisfaction of knowing they're getting something big and bad and you eliminate all casual piracy through crack sites (I believe these and peer to peer to be the biggest problems today).

    Peer to peer isn't really a problem for us as I don't believe casual users are familiar with the techniques required, whereas a serial can just be passed on from just about any site.

    Remote activation requires a crack to be applied which is a lot more twitchy than a key, so there's more protection there. With remote, you can tell which ones are getting registered too often and block it, or use other schemes.

    Ultimately for the solo developer I cannot see how serials make any sense whatsoever. They are something a casual user can really get into where I don't think peer to peer will have anywhere near the same level of availability.

    So, full-download it is.
     
  2. ERoberts

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    The best copy protection scheme is the one that don' cause ANY inconvenience to your paying customers. In my book, that rules out anything to do with serials, remote activation etc. Downloading a full version which just runs straight away, with no hassle, gets my vote every time. So what if it increase piracy compared to some other scheme, it's not the pirates you're making your products for, it's the paying customers, so focus on improving THEIR experience.
     
  3. Savant

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    I agree. I'm of the opinion that focusing on making the purchase/buy solution better/easier/smoother for the end user is a much better use of time than trying to figure out ways to thwart pirates.
     
  4. ManuelFLara

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    Well, then that'd depend on who your customers are. If I buy a game, I prefer it to be unlocked by a serial, since I can play it right now. If it's a separate full version download, I have to:
    1- Download it again, possibly a bigger file
    2- Uninstall demo
    3- Install full version
    4- THEN, play

    IMHO, an in-game built in unlocking system like Reflexive's is the best approach, since you don't have to enter any serial or download any additional file, although of course is also the hardest method to implement, but I think it pays off in the long run.
     
  5. joe

    joe
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    @ERoberts: i fully agree. i hate it when i buy a AAA pc game install it and each time i want to play a few minutes i have to search the original cd and put it in the cd-drive while my "friends" who didn't buy these games play them directly from harddisk beacuse they have all those cracks.
     
  6. revve

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    I agree with ERoberts when he said that the best way is whichever way doesn't cause any inconvenience, but I don't agree that a full download is the easiest. I would preffer to simply have to download a single serial number (less than 1K most likely), not the entire game again (20MB?). The only time I would agree to downloading the entire game is where the demo is small, with a huge download for the full version (at least 5 times the size of the demo).

    There are just so many more steps to take for a separate full version, I don't really see how it can be easier to use a separate file than a serial.
     
  7. Savant

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    The troubles that I see with serial numbers is typos and people not getting the email (because they mis-typed their email during the purchase process).

    A full version download is very simple to use. If they downloaded the demo and installed it successfully, they already possess the skills necessary to download and install the full version.

    Having said that, I will agree that Reflexive's system is, hands down, the best but we don't all have that level of automation available to us.
     
  8. simonh

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    I don't think the full version method cuts down on piracy that much. That's the method I use for my game, and there are still thousands of copied versions being played. I know because the full version contains a 'What's New' link that gets hundreds of hits each month, despite it not being linked from anywhere else :(
     
  9. Hamumu

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    You're leaving out the extended remix of Remote Activation, which is 100% uncrackable (okay, virtually): server-based gameplay. If players actually need data from your server in order to play the game (like an MMO or matchmaking thing), then there can't be any crack for that, other than someone running their own server somehow.

    Of course, that's very fundamental to how the game operates, not just a choice on delivery method. But the others are not entirely last-minute wahoos either. There are reasons to use serials and reasons to use full versions, and many of them depend on the nature of your game (and of course also on the nature of your demo... which depends on the nature of your game!).
     
  10. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    But you don't know how many you'd get if you didn't do the full version. ie. a serial key version might have hundreds of thousands of copies out there.
     
  11. Pogacha

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    I never bought a game online.
    How the full-version re-download works?
    A different link must be given to every user ... or changed day by day or something like this.
    What is the method?
    How do you be sure that the user download all the file?
    Thanks
     
  12. Raptisoft

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    :mad: REMOOOOOTEEEE AAAAACTIVATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!! :mad:
     
  13. joe

    joe
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    Exactly. These links are active for a few days. This is all done automatically from oure partner ShareIt, I'm sure other registration services will also allow that.

    When a user loses a game or he/she has a hardware crash, I will provide the full version to them manually, which means I have to upload it and send the link to the user.
     
  14. Abscissa

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    What about giving them a serial or download, AND then mailing out an installation disc. There is, of course, the hassle of finding a place to get them printed up, and paying them to do so in advance of the sales (or the hassle and cost of doing it yourself), but it would solve some of the problems of bad emails, mistyped serials, lost downloads (even if the game's no longer being supported), etc. A customer *could* just take the download on burn it to disc themselves, but people can also do regular backups and they never do anyway.

    Hamumu, you've done physical CD mailings, what do you think of it?
     
  15. KNau

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    I wonder if it's safe to assume that the user will still have the demo installed on their computer when they order the full version?

    If so, you could alleviate some of the "hassle" of downloading the full version by having them download a patch instead. The patch would just contain all the extra level data and files to upgrade to the full version of the game so the user wouldn't be re-downloading files they already have.

    Of course, you would still need the patch to be a significant enough size (> 3MB) to prevent it from being easily hosted on a crack site or shared via free e-mail accounts.
     
  16. revve

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    A patch is good, but not practical. Patching binary data (especially binary data that has been compressed in some way), will more than likely cause the patch to be the same size (at least) as the original, and even as much as double, depending on the patching technology.
     
  17. Omega

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    I vote for 1, 2, 3, and 4 (the fourth option being sending them a CD as well) at the same time.
     
  18. Pogacha

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    Ok, but if I call all my friends and tell them to download the game with that link?
    It's almost the same of share the full-version, I download it and them I share it with all the people I can sending it by mail ... how this is stoped? I think it can't be stopped without creating a problem to the user ... there are too many things to have in main. I'm still confused.
     
  19. papillon

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    There's nothing particularly stopping them, other than most people not being complete jerks.

    I mean, when you walk down the street, what stops every person you pass from shoving you in front of traffic? Nothing actually *stops* them, but most people wouldn't *do* it. :)

    I assume all of us who give out direct download links keep a discreet eye on the transfer stats and would quietly rename the file if it started getting an unusual level of traffic.
     
  20. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    ...or make the link expire after N days... or make the link expire after M uses...
     

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