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05.08.2011 15:00 [Risen 2 Misc (english)] Risen 2 copy protection FAQ

Risen 2 Copy Protection FAQ

What copy protection will be used for Risen 2?

We diligently reviewed many solutions in the last couple of years and in the case of Risen 2 we decided to use the Steam-Plattform from Valve on a worldwide basis.1
Risen 2 will be using Steam, respectively Steamworks as copy protection.

This applies to all PC versions, including the boxed version available in retail stores. The decision is on a world wide basis, it will be the same everywhere on the planet. Local distributors will not be allowed to offer Steam-free versions with alternative copy protection systems.

What is Steam?

Screenshot of the Steam software - the control center for all Steam games
Screenshot of the Steam software - the control center for all Steam games
Steam is a product of the Valve Corporation from Bellevue, Washington. Core of the product is the eponymous software which must be installed on the computer. It serves both as copy protection module and as a sales and distribution platform that allows purchase and download of games online. The software currently supports all major Windows version beginning with XP.

How does Steam work?

Schematic of how an installation of a Steam game works
Schematic of how an installation of a Steam game works
The very first thing you have to do is to install the Steam software and create an account on Valve's server. When you want to install a retail version of Risen 2, the Steam software will ask Valve's server whether or not you already paid for this game. To do that, the server looks into your account in the customer database which contains a record of all games you bought and/or registered on Steam. If it finds the game, it sends a go ahead permission to the client. If not, it will ask you for the serial number for that game. You have to enter it. The number will be sent to the server which then checks if it is valid and not already in use by someone else. If everything checks out, the server sends a permission and adds the game and the serial you used to unlock it into your customer account. With games that you purchased directly via Steam, there is no serial number request, of course. Those games are directly put into your account.

Is Steam a form of DRM2?

Yes. Games that were bought via Steam are bound to your customer account there. That means it is linked irrevocably to your person. Hence, it is DRM.

Do I have to insert DVD to play?

No, this will not be necessary. Steam checks during the installation against your account on their servers. Inserting the original medium as proof of purchase is not required.

Do I need an internet connection to play?

Offline Mode allows you to play games through Steam without reconnecting to the Steam Network every time you wish to play[...]3
No, you can run the Steam software in the so called Offline-Modus. In this mode, you can run your installed games without internet connection. But this only applies to games that are already installed (see following FAQ). To use the Offline Mode, you need to update your Steam software.

Can I install the game on a computer without internet connection?

No. Steam demands an internet connection during the installation. On systems without internet access, Steam cannot connect to Valve's server and verify your account. You will not be able to install Risen 2 on computers without internet connection.

Does that mean I have to download the entire game from Valve?

You don't have to, but you can, if you want to. You can also just buy a boxed version of Risen 2 in a retail store. It will contain a DVD with all the necessary data. You can then install from that DVD.

However, there will still be a online activation and account binding via the internet. Even the boxed retail version will not install without internet connection.

Will I be able to use the game if I only have a low-bandwidth internet connection (e.g. analogue modem or ISDN)?

Yes – but probably only with considerable restrictions. Obviously, you won’t be able to download the game. But you can buy the retail version (see above). Still, most likely the Steam client will want to update itself during the first installation which will already take one or two hours. And you are unlucky, Steam might decide to pull a gigabyte or two from the internet right after the installation. It is also likely that you won’t be able to get patches, updates or DLCs. Because those are typically several dozen or hundred MB and you can only get them via Steam on the very PC you a playing with. It is not like in the old days where you could download stuff at friend’s house or in an internet café. Or buy it on a DVD attached to a gaming magazine for little money.

Will there be a version of Risen 2 without Steam?

Deep Silver has not announced any plans yet. In the first time, most probably not. Even later, it's rather unlikely. While it is theoretically possible, experience shows that the binding to Steam is meant for a product's life-time. Classical copy protections are usually discarded at some point in later issues of a game - if only just for cost reduction purposes. But removing a game from Steam is the exception, not the rule.

How good is Steam as copy protection?

You can argue about that quite a lot. The author's opinion is that the protection against Leaks (the game appearing in illegal sources before the official start of sales) is quite good. At least up to one day before the release date. But it should be added that this is no exclusive advantage of Steam. You could have that without DRM. This particular function does not depend on DRM, it's only an encryption of the data on the DVD.

Once the game has been released (due to different time zones this will be one day before it becomes officially available in Europe) bypassing Steam should be easier than other classical copy protection systems with DVD checks.

Can I sell a used copy of Risen 2 again?

You may not sell or charge others for the right to use your Account, or otherwise transfer your Account.4
Practically not, no. The game will be permanently linked to your account during the first installation. Nobody you sell it to could install it without access to your account. Without account, the game is more of less useless.

There are reports on the internet that you could sell your account together with the game. But you need to have planned ahead for this: Risen 2 must be the only game in that account. And using different accounts for different games is a bit bothersome because Valve neither supports nor wants it. Another - and more severe - problem is this constitutes a violation of Valve's terms of use. Legally speaking5, you enter a contract with Valve when you sign up on Steam. Not giving away your account is a clause in that contract. If you give the account to someone else nonetheless and Valve finds out about it, they can terminate your account for breach of contract. That would render the game un-installable. The buyer would be left without account, without money and without the game. His problem? Partially. By juristical means, he could make it your problem (and an expensive one at that).

Can I lend Risen 2 to someone else?

No. For the same reasons you cannot sell it (see above). You are not allowed to give your account to someone else. And without your account, no one can install the game.

I bought a second-hand version of Risen 2. How can I register it to my account?

We don't know of any method to do that. You could contact Valve's customer support and hope for a goodwill gesture. On the other hand, you might just be waking sleeping dogs.

Can I remove the Steam software once the game is installed?

No, the Steam software will still be required. The best you can do is to switch into Offline Mode.

Are there hidden triggers in the game that activate if Steam thinks that the version is pirated?

We have currently no knowledge as to whether or not Risen 2 will have such hidden traps

Does Steam have a black list of software that I am not allowed to use?

No, Steam does not make such restrictions. It should work together with all other Windows application. With the possible exception of security programs (virus protection or so called firewalls) which might trigger an alert when Steam starts to update itself or tries to access the internet. However, that would not be a problem of Steam but of the respective security software. And it should be easily solved by adding an exception rule.

What problems can theoretically arise with Steam?

DRM introduces a dependence on factors outside your own sphere of influence
DRM introduces a dependence on factors outside your own sphere of influence
Contrary to classical methods, the weakness is not the verification attempt of the original medium but the verification attempt against your account on Valve's servers. If your PC cannot connect to Valve - for whatever reasons - you will not be able to install the game. Possible reasons are: General failure in your internet connection, technical problems at Valve, network overload, problems with provider changes, etc.

A general disadvantage of all DRM system is the shift in power. If there is a disagreement between you and the DRM provider (or publisher), for instance because of different legal opinions regarding second-hand trade of games, then Valve can always enforce their own position by simply disabling or terminating your account. Even though you formally bought the game, others still have control over it. Then it is up to you to either accept that or go the long and arduous way through the courts. With classical systems, it was exactly the other way around: No one could stop you from using the product you bought. You could do what you felt was right and if the publisher had a problem with that, it was up to him to go to court.

What is the privacy situation with Steam?

The Steam Privacy Statement is part of the contract via the reference in the terms of use, at least from Valve's point of view. In that statement, you allow Valve among other things:
  • Use of your contact data for advertising
  • Giving your personal information to third parties (you can opt-out but it might prevent you from using the product or service in question)
  • Keeping a protocol of how and when you used your account
  • Automatically collecting bug reports from your PC, including hardware and software information
  • Collecting hardware and software information for statistical purposes
All in all, Valve distinguishes three kinds of data: personal, individual and aggregated. The latter is statistical data that cannot be traced back to you. The other two make a somewhat problematic differentiation. Personal information according to Valve is any information that can directly identify you: Your name, your e-mail address, your postal address, etc. Only for these, Valve promises not to give them to others. The other kind, the individual information is defined by Valve as information that cannot identify you but it is still distinguishable from data of other users. This of course, makes no sense. The German data privacy law, for instance, does not recognise such a differentiation. Both personal and individual information are the same and called personal-related information. Because any information that is sufficiently unique can be used to identify you personally. Things like your fingerprint, your bank account or credit card number, your license plate number or your IP address are considered personal-related information. Not because one can directly read out the owner of that data from it or because any random stranger can make an identification with them. But because there are at least certain people who can identify you as a person with those informations. And the total sum of all the information that Valve has on you (hard- and software, games collection, usage frequency, etc.) can be just as unique as a fingerprint.

Furthermore, the servers of Valve are located in the United States of America. Hence, they fall under the jurisdiction of US law (e.g. the controversial PATRIOT act) which does not always coincide with the sense of justice of European or other citizens. Data privacy as a part of the state's tasks (like the commissioners for data protection in Germany) is practically unknown in the US. Of course, they also know a right to privacy but it usually ends there where people give up their information out of their own free will - for example, when using Steam. What companies like Valve do with that information, that is - according to American philosophy - a matter for the free market. Companies can completely voluntarily define a privacy statement which they can phrase as they like. And if customers really care about their privacy, then they should go to a company with a good privacy statement. This can also be seen by the fact that violations of these privacy statement fall in the jurisdiction of the FTC (federal trade commission) - the American guardians of competition. Disregarding your own privacy statement is not so much a violation of the rights of the persons whose data was involved but first and foremost a violation of the fair competition between market participants.

Break-ins into the Steam customer database have already occurred in the past, however6.

1 Excerpt from the information post by Daniel Oberlerchner, band manager at Deep Silver, regarding the copy protection of Risen 2. Complete post: http://forum.worldofplayers.de/forum/showthread.php?t=1030435
2 DRM, abbreviation for digital rights management: The binding of a digital product to a specific person or specific computer by technical means.
3 Excerpt from the Steam Knowledge Base regarding the Offline Mode, complete article: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=3160-agcb-2555
4 Excerpt of the terms of use for Steam from 3rd of August, 2011. Current complete version available under: http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/english/
5 The author is not a lawyer and describes his personal interpretation of the law. It is meant as a expression of opinion and not as legal consulting.
6 News about compromised Steam security on H-Online, complete report: http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/Steam-compromised-by-hackers-1377240.html

  written by foobar