GOG Connect, remove DRM from select Steam games

I am not sure how I stumbled upon it, but GOG has a new thing called Connect, which checks for the existence of certain games in your Steam account and adds them to your GOG library. The result is that it essentially gives you a DRM-free version of those games. Well, it lets you have a copy of a game in another library, which means a lot of things, but the DRM removal is the exciting part! ^_^

Currently only a handful of games can be copied (or unlocked, or de-DRM-ed? What are we calling this?). And they are only available for a couple more days, so hurry up and check it out, and see if you have them. They say more games will be coming, and implies it is dependent on the game publishers, which of course makes sense.

I am surprised Steam did this, though I don’t think GOG is technically doing anything to take money away from Steam. They are essentially working with publishers to give free copies of their games by proving prior purchase. But it all feels really weird, ne? I mean, at least for me; I don’t know how to talk about it. But we’ll talk about it, a lot!

Immature by design

I signed a petition opposing DRM as part of HTML. That is a no-brainer. But I am embarrassed by the other activities the Defective By Design campaign is doing. Specifically, giving the W3C a mock award for supporting “Hollyweb” (a dumb moniker, by the way).

My hunch is this display feeds into a type of catharsis for frustrated people who are trying to deal with capitalism in general, and “big” media specifically. But I am struck by how immature the campaign’s actions are. I didn’t sign the petition as a punitive gesture towards the W3C; I wanted to lend my voice to a chorus that should be heard louder than the corporate seats at their table.

I am going to be suspect of future campaigns run by Defective By Design. I think that the ongoing work the FSF does with licensing and stewarding the GNU project is vital to our current state of open computing, but their advocacy work is pushing me away.

Books, and how I read them

A friend asked me how I preferred books that are bought for me. My reply was:

DRM-free ePub. Paper book. I can also read PDF, but it isn’t that great. Oh, I guess I should mention HTML, just in case. ^_^

Yeah, I put use that smiley everywhere.

Eir reply was simple enough, “how does one find a DRM-free ePub?”

That is an excellent question! If you haven’t read it, Mako posted about how publishers show the DRM status of an ebook, which is to say, they don’t. And while there are publishers like Smashwords that do not use DRM, they are mostly an indie publisher, so one wouldn’t expect to pick up the digital version of a recent bestseller there.

The short answer is, I don’t know. At this point, the digital book scene is obscure on the few points that we would all agree are easy features, like informing a person if their purchase is going to be locked. It is ironic that one of the ubiquitous practices of avid readers is sharing books, which is easy with physical items, but now require additional information from the receiver, such as their platform, devices and/or principals. Way to encourage buying digital books as gifts, mainstream publishers.

Of course, we always have the fallback of The Pirate Bay.

Consoles suck

Every time I hear about Sony or Nintendo I get a sick feeling in my stomach. For the first time in my life I feel like an aspect of my childhood that I actually enjoyed is being trampled upon.

I got an e-mail from Sony a couple of days ago:

Thanks for your patience and continued support during
our service outage. To show you how much we value that,
we want to let you know about our “Welcome Back”
appreciation program:

Two Free PS3 Games
Select two PS3(TM) games from the following list:
(yours to keep*)
– Dead Nation(TM)
– LittleBigPlanet(TM)
– Super Stardust(TM) HD
– WipEout(R) HD Bundle

Two Free PSP Games
Download two PSP(R) games from the following list:
(yours to keep*)
– Killzone(R): Liberation
– ModNation(TM) Racers
– LittleBigPlanet(TM)
– Pursuit Force(TM)

PlayStation(R)Plus–30 days free**
A premium subscription service that gets you access
to free games, huge discounts and great exclusives.

100 Free Virtual Items
To welcome users Home, PlayStation(R)Home will be
offering 100 free virtual items.

This is our way of saying thank you for being a loyal fan.
And once again, welcome back to PlayStation(R)Network.

The PlayStation(R)Network Team

The thing that disappoints me the most about this message is that I have a feeling it is going to work. Millions of customers will decide to trust a company with their private information, for no apparent reason. A company that will sue them if they try to modify the device they thought they owned. People are going to see these “gifts” and will forgive, but even worse, they will also forget.

A little over a month ago I was planning on buying Portal 2 for the PS3. Instead, I sold my PS3 and bought a 3DS. My hope was that Nintendo, which doesn’t sell devices at a loss, would be more sane in their business practices.

Apparently someone hit me in the head with a brick.

I like the 3DS. I liked my PS3 (despite it not being able to play all my PS2 games, which I also liked). But I can’t stand Digital Restrictions Management, or companies claiming copyright over my creative works, or companies using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to stifle expression and tinkering.

So, now I am selling my 3DS (because I am not monetarily well-off enough to destroy the device). I will use the money I recover from it to start a laptop fund, so I can get rid of my other broken computing device (a 15″ MacBook Pro, ugh).

I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t identify as a video gamer, because video gamers give up so much for so little in return. There has to be a better way.