LGP Introduces Linux Game Copy Protection
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 23 June 2008. Page 3 of 3. 284 Comments

With this security system, it's fortunate that Linux Game Publishing allows a single key to be used on multiple systems, permitting the key and password used by the customer matches. It's unfortunate though that for each LGP game you'll have another key and password to remember. While most users have access to an always-on Internet connection, this will be a requirement for all future LGP titles due to their copy protection system. It would have been ideal if LGP would have incorporated a design like Valve's Steam for having a single log-in path and then from there one can launch their LGP games, purchase games, etc. If they would have taken a Steam-like approach, they could have also integrated their LGP Update Utility into this area as well. Perhaps though they may improve this piracy-prevention system in the future, as right now their GTK interfaces are rather simplistic.

When this game copy protection system became known with LGP's closed testing community, it had enraged some users. In response, the CEO of Linux Game Publishing, Michael Simms, had a few things to say. "Trust me, I don't like it, I'm not happy about it, but we HAVE to do this. I've fought for 6 years against the need for any kind of protection system and all that's happened is that for every legitimate copy of an LGP game out there, there are probably 3-4 pirated copies. That's the difference between success and failure." Michael had added:

I've spent 2 years planning the key system to make sure it is not restrictive to legitimate users while providing a good level of security. No system is perfect, and we don't expect to be able to beat the hex editor experts who can compile code in their head, the goal is to reduce the amount of casual copying. The system works hard to avoid locking out legitimate users, at the expense of keeping the game more secure.

I've avoided the key system for 6 years, but we have to face reality in that many many people buy games and put them online for people to download. Hell, we even get people asking for tech support on games we KNOW are pirated. Point of example, we deliberately uploaded a broken version of one game onto a filesharing system where the full game was already present, in an attempt to dilute the number of users downloading the game for free. This was some time after the game's peak sales, but in the first few weeks after doing this, we sold about 30 copies of the game and had about 20 people email us with crash reports based on the bug we had deliberately installed into the game.

Assuming even if EVERYONE that downloaded the game reported the bug (and that is HIGHLY unlikely), then almost as many downloads as sales happened - just from this ONE system. It is more likely that many people didn't report it, and more people downloaded from the dozens of other filesharing systems, and that means more people downloaded than buying.

I agree, if some people wouldn't buy anyway, then this wont persuade them to, but you know what, I place a value on the work LGP does, and if the people want to take our work for nothing, I have no problem in denying them from doing that. I can't afford, and nor can my [development team], to have it continue.

I can say, we aren't doing this to pillage the last few pounds we can from a game, I'm saying this is being done to try and ensure we can make games into the future.

For those with limited Internet access, the copy-protection scheme "makes allowances if you have no [Internet] connection, but after a while you must have a [Internet] connection once in a while to allow the game to keep playing."

What happens if Linux Game Publishing happens to go the same way as Loki Software and dies? Michael Simms shared "If LGP dies, the last thing I will do, and all of my [development team] are authorized to do the same if for some reason I am unable, will be the creation of patches to remove the key system."

So there you have it, all future titles from Linux Game Publishing will ship with game copy protection. What do you think of this new piracy-prevention system for Linux and the comments by Michael Simms? Tell us in the Phoronix Forums.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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