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It was bound to happen sooner or later. Valve's online gaming distribution website Steam has removed what appears to be the very first game from user libraries. Many games have been removed from the Steam store, but have remained in user libraries. Individuals have had games removed for various reasons as well, but this appears to be the first game, in its entirety, removed from every user library.

Square Enix shut down the servers for Order of War: Challenge and instead of merely removing the game from the storefront, Valve erased its existence altogether. For customers who purchased - and I'm tempted to write this as "purchased" - it's like a game that never was.

To be fair, with the servers shutdown, the game would have been impossible to play anyways. This isn't simply because it's an online-only game. In face, Order of War: Challenge has 18 single-player missions as well. But due to always-online DRM, even the single-player portion of the game requires the servers to be up and running.

It's actually quite fitting that on Steam we have a "library" of games as opposed to, say, a digital shelf. The games purchased online have no physical copy and are, in effect, simply leased to us rather than actually owned by us. So if Steam decided to pull a game from our libraries, that's well within Valve's right (and all of this is, of course, in the Terms of Service, or TOS.)

But this somewhat risky proposition is hedged against by the face that Valve has absolutely no reason to pull games from our libraries whatsoever. The incentives to keep games in user libraries, on the other hand, are clear: it keeps customers happy and paying.

Always-online DRM throws a wrench into the gears. Here Steam, or any other distribution outfit, has no choice in the matter. They could, theoretically, leave games broken by server shutdowns in user libraries, if only out of principle. But the games wouldn't function and customers would still have no way to play them. At least by pulling the game there is some way for customers to theoretically request a refund.

So while digital ownership, or the lack thereof, is a real concern that hasn't been properly addressed in our legal system yet, the much bigger story here, to me at least, is the problem with always-online DRM. The two are related to a degree. If Valve went out of business tomorrow, what would happen to all of our games? If Steam shuts down, will we have some way to access our libraries? Would we simply lose our collection?

 

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Posted

is the DRM server upkeep cost are becoming so unprofitable, that prompt their decision to kill it altogether?

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On the one hand I can't blame them since the developer (Square Enix) made a crippled game that is unable to function at all without online DRM, I'm interested to see how much negativity this gets in the gaming press and forums in general since Steam went so far as to pull it from users libraries although they purhas...leased it.  I have no doubt if Microsoft did this same thing on Xbox 360/One people with pitchforks would be outside Redmond HQ.

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Posted

On the one hand I can't blame them since the developer (Square Enix) made a crippled game that is unable to function at all without online DRM, I'm interested to see how much negativity this gets in the gaming press and forums in general since Steam went so far as to pull it from users libraries although they purhas...leased it.  I have no doubt if Microsoft did this same thing on Xbox 360/One people with pitchforks would be outside Redmond HQ.

well, i kinda hoped it happens .. the pitchforks i mean.
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Posted

The only thing necessary was some kind of a warning or a message about what exactly they will be doing (and when exactly) for those who had the game a reasonable time before the plug was pulled. If they did have it then there can be no argument. If they didn't, well... we have just another display of certain arrogance, although they were fully within their rights do it.

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Posted

I think the main issue here is that the singleplayer aspect of the game is now unplayable because of the DRM in place. Sure, shut the servers down when they are not needed anymore, but you should really introduce some sort of patch that will then remove or circumvent the DRM for those people that still want to play singleplayer.

Steam removing the title from libraries isn't really the problem as the game is completely unplayable. The problem (as usual) is DRM.

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Posted

I think the main issue here is that the singleplayer aspect of the game is now unplayable because of the DRM in place. Sure, shut the servers down when they are not needed anymore, but you should really introduce some sort of patch that will then remove or circumvent the DRM for those people that still want to play singleplayer.

Steam removing the title from libraries isn't really the problem as the game is completely unplayable. The problem (as usual) is DRM.

That's one way to look at it.  But should it have been removed from your library without your permission?  Did you not buy the game?  If you had the disc based version would you have been forced to mail your copy back to Square?  Granted the chances of Steam removing a game thats still playable but people need to be aware of what Steam can do with "your" library of games.

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Posted

Googled it and found this from September 2013

http://store.steampowered.com/news/11428/

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i can see a lot of people freak out about this but the fact comes down to, if you read before you buy anything on steam. they never guarantee that a game will be available forever. so if you buy a game that is not popular and you do not install it but keep it in your library, eventually you just will not be able to download that game anymore because they cannot afford to keep it around as it does not generate revenue.

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Posted

Googled it and found this from September 2013

http://store.steampowered.com/news/11428/

exactly, everyone who has this game in their list was sent this link to the news announcement fully explaining the problem. This is a non issue and was handled with the utmost professionalism from Valve/Steam's side. Both SP and MP is offline and locked to server bound DRM, so if you bought the game you've been had by SquareEnix. 

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Posted

Well, if it has single player, and I have bought it.

 

I would just download a crack and play the single player aspect.

 

-1 for both companies.

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Posted

The problem with keeping the game on users' libraries is that Valve would also have to keep the actual game on their servers for users to be able to download it, which would be weird for a game that doesn't actually work at all.

 

Maybe they should have warned users beforehand to give them time to download it before the removal, just in case they wanted to keep it for whatever reason.

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Posted

Did they reverse this, because I can buy it.

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Posted

Did they reverse this, because I can buy it.

 

Order of War: Challenge was like a DLC to the game (the MP version)

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Did they reverse this, because I can buy it.

 

Order of War != Order of War: Challenge

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Order of War != Order of War: Challenge

 

 

Order of War: Challenge was like a DLC to the game (the MP version)

 

 

 

The link goes to the Order Of War page, not Challenge... It's actually on sale right now as part of the Winter Sale.

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Posted

I think even if a game is removed from steam the page in your library should remain.

 

I know a game that should be removed, war inc: battlefield, development has been dead since 2012 you can download the game on steam but it has an external updater but the update server is offline so you can not play.

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Posted

You'd think that SquareEnix would have just removed the DRM from the build and let users play single player without it.

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The problem with keeping the game on users' libraries is that Valve would also have to keep the actual game on their servers for users to be able to download it, which would be weird for a game that doesn't actually work at all.

 

Maybe they should have warned users beforehand to give them time to download it before the removal, just in case they wanted to keep it for whatever reason.

Umm, no they wouldn't, and even if they did I'm sure they have room. They have removed games from the servers without removing from user libraries before.

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The link goes to the Order Of War page, not Challenge... It's actually on sale right now as part of the Winter Sale.

Yup, that's what I see, except the price is in euro.

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That's one way to look at it.  But should it have been removed from your library without your permission?  Did you not buy the game?  If you had the disc based version would you have been forced to mail your copy back to Square?  Granted the chances of Steam removing a game thats still playable but people need to be aware of what Steam can do with "your" library of games.

 

You do not buy the game. you buy a licence to play it.

 

So essentially we are renting the games. Like we always have. It even applies to disc based versions as well. They just introduced the internet authentication to enforce the fact that you don't own the game, just merely a licence (right) to play it.

 

People complained because they have the conception that they own the games,

 

It's the same as pay TV, you don't even own the decoder and dish even if it is inside your home. You merely pay to have paytv delivered to your home. Heck Telstra owns the phone line that is connected right to my home phone even though I pay a renting fee monthly for it. Mobile phone is different is rightly stated in the agreement that you outright own it after you finish a contract with the telco.

 

This isn't new. It has been around. People just don't read and expect paying means to own it.

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You do not buy the game. you buy a licence to play it.

 

So essentially we are renting the games. Like we always have. It even applies to disc based versions as well. They just introduced the internet authentication to enforce the fact that you don't own the game, just merely a licence (right) to play it.

 

People complained because they have the conception that they own the games,

 

It's the same as pay TV, you don't even own the decoder and dish even if it is inside your home. You merely pay to have paytv delivered to your home. Heck Telstra owns the phone line that is connected right to my home phone even though I pay a renting fee monthly for it. Mobile phone is different is rightly stated in the agreement that you outright own it after you finish a contract with the telco.

 

This isn't new. It has been around. People just don't read and expect paying means to own it.

 

This is more hairy than you are making it out to be. EULAs haven't constantly been found to be enforceable in all cases. And certainly in the case of disc based media you own the physical media on which the game resides even if you are only licensed the right to play the game. In such cases it would be hard to enforce termination of the license even if the publisher wanted to because they don't have a right to take your physical copy of software. Digital distribution simply skirts this issue because you don't actually have a physical copy. If however you use a digital distribution service with downloadable installers(gog for example), the case holds. Publishers, can't demand that you delete copies of the game you currently have.

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Publishers, can't demand that you delete copies of the game you currently have.

while they might not able to demand, but they can do the 'kill switch' if that was designed in first place.

The famous 'offense' was what happened with Amazon Kindle, and it seems other publishers loves what they see,

Apple have it, Google also implement and use it, and even Microsoft implementing that capability too (no report that its being activated, yet).

 

Steam probably looking to have the kill switch in their steam console as well.

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The same is going to happen with SimCity. We won't be able to play the game in 10 years for nostalgia.

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while they might not able to demand, but they can do the 'kill switch' if that was designed in first place.

The famous 'offense' was what happened with Amazon Kindle, and it seems other publishers loves what they see,

Apple have it, Google also implement and use it, and even Microsoft implementing that capability too (no report that its being activated, yet).

 

Steam probably looking to have the kill switch in their steam console as well.

 

Steam doesn't really need a kill switch since removing the online copy effectively renders future installs useless. But, in the case of installers or physical copies, kill switches don't really work because those things will always be breakable on open platforms (not so much when you are running on a locked down platform since code signing becomes an issue there). Steam OS is just Linux with a steam client at its base, so it's not effectively different than running Steam on Windows.

 

 

The same is going to happen with SimCity. We won't be able to play the game in 10 years for nostalgia.

 

 

I'm pretty sure the always on DRM was broken long ago for that. IIRC, news reports said that aspect was broken in like a day. Don't quote me on that, I never actually played the game. I just read how it sucked and that the publisher was lying about the single player aspects requiring remote computations, etc.

 

Ah, source: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/03/hackers-open-up-offline-play-modding-tools-for-simcity/ (I thought it was ars)

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