Stardock throws GOO on DRM

Stardock announced today that the forthcoming update to its digital distribution platform, Impulse, will include a new technology aimed to pave the way to solving some of the common complaints of digital distribution.

The new technology, known as Game Object Obfuscation (Goo), is a tool that allows developers to encapsulate their game executable into a container that includes the original executable plus Impulse Reactor, Stardock's virtual platform, into a single encrypted file.

When a player runs the game for the first time, the Goo'd program lets the user enter in their email address and serial number which associates their game to that person as opposed to a piece of hardware like most activation systems do. Once validated, the game never needs to connect to the Internet again.

Goo has a number of unique advantages that developer Stardock believes both gamers and developers will appreciate:

  1. There is no third-party client required. This means a developer can use this as a universal solution since it is not tied to any particular digital distributor.
  2. It paves the way to letting users validate their game on any digital distribution service that supports that game. One common concern of gamers is if the company they purchased a game from exits the market, their game library may disappear too. Games that use Goo would be able to be validated anywhere.
  3. It opens the door to gamers being able to resell their games because users can voluntarily disable their game access and transfer their license ownership to another user.
"One of our primary goals for Impulse Reactor is to create a solution that will appeal to game developers while adhering to the Gamers Bill of Rights," said Brad Wardell, president & CEO of Stardock. "Publishers want to be able to sell their games in as many channels as possible but don't want to have to implement a half-dozen 'copy protection' schemes. Game Object Obfuscation lets the developer have a single game build that can be distributed everywhere while letting gamers potentially be able to re-download their game later from any digital service. Plus, it finally makes possible a way for gamers and publishers to transfer game licenses to players in a secure and reliable fashion."

Because Goo ties the game to a user's account instead of the hardware, gamers can install their game to multiple computers without hassle.

Goo will be released on April 7 as part of the upcoming Impulse: Phase 3 release. Stardock also expects to be able to announce multiple major publishers making use of Goo in April as well as adding their libraries to Impulse.

Impulse is poised to exceed one million customers in the next week despite only being launched nine months ago. View: www.impulsedriven.com

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

R.U.S.E. - New RTS coming from Ubisoft

Next Story

Microsoft gives students up to 91% off Office Ultimate

33 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

It opens the door to gamers being able to resell their games because users can voluntarily disable their game access and transfer their license ownership to another user.

Wow! I bet developers can't wait to have that feature in their games, they'll be over the moon at second hand sales in shops getting all the profit while they get none, just imagine how soon they'll be going out of buisness as people wait for the cheaper second hand version to show up in their high street stores.

Do I need to put it? /s

This is what most game developers fear and lose more sales from than Piracy now. We may want this feature but they sure as hell don't.

PS. Locking your game into your console coming soon in a next generation as well, or do you think the big 3 like losing money too?

kravex said,
It opens the door to gamers being able to resell their games because users can voluntarily disable their game access and transfer their license ownership to another user.

Wow! I bet developers can't wait to have that feature in their games, they'll be over the moon at second hand sales in shops getting all the profit while they get none, just imagine how soon they'll be going out of buisness as people wait for the cheaper second hand version to show up in their high street stores.

Maybe they don't.

But i can sell my car when i want. Should be the same for my games.

If a game can't keep me entertained for more than a weekend then it's extremely sad.

The entertainment market is a very profitable one. There's no need to shed a tear for the *cough* poor *cough* artists. There's people who work hard for lot less.

LaP said,
Maybe they don't.

But i can sell my car when i want. Should be the same for my games.


But a second hand car has a finite life to it; As long as the media survives, when you load up a game it is 'new' if you've never played it before so it could be resold forever unlike a car.

The "second hand war" has already started; Dawn of War 2 was not stocked by some stores because of its integration with Steam, meaning it had no second hand value to the shops. It's going to be interesting to see how they get over this as both sides need each other to survive for now.

Don't get me wrong I've sold games on eBay in the past as I don't want a house full of plastic DVD cases, but I can understand that I'm not helping retail sales.

If I invented a product that was selling well and someone came along and said 'add this, and then it will last forever people can pass it around and never need a new one', "f%&k off" would be my reply.

it's going to be riddiculously easy to broke, just keep a copy of executable file before email is written inside it (or whatever other file is edited by this protection)

All copy protection ends up getting cracked at some point in time, but the aim of this system is to provide something that doesn't harm legitimate consumers. I can't see why people are gunning for it to be cracked anyway, I applaud any companies trying to make copy protection mechanisms less painful and more transparent. Software manufacturers have every right to protect their intellectual property

Frank Fontaine said,
All copy protection ends up getting cracked at some point in time, but the aim of this system is to provide something that doesn't harm legitimate consumers. I can't see why people are gunning for it to be cracked anyway, I applaud any companies trying to make copy protection mechanisms less painful and more transparent. Software manufacturers have every right to protect their intellectual property

The copy protection SHOULD NOT be transparent.

The end user should know when and how a copy protection is installed on his computer. Every time you install a game using copy protection software there should be a confirmation window telling you the installer is about to install copy protection software on your PC and asking you if you want to continue with the game installation process or not.

Copy protection software SHOULD NEVER hide themself from the end users. It should appear on the install/uninstall software section of window and you should be able to completly unistall it from there reverting back your system to it's previous state (and of course making the game not playable anymore).

This should be clear on the game package that the installation of copy protection software is required to play the game.

What i said should be required by laws. The consumers have right too and installing software on my computer without warning me before and making the software hiding himself from me is imo as illegal as hacking into my system or infecting me with a trojan horse.

As for if the copy protection software should be as unobstructive as possible for the end-user i don't care. If they want to make obstructive copy protection software that's up to them. I mean if they like to shot themselves in the foot then good for them.

But what i do not accept is going into the device manager of windows, checking the "show hidden device drivers" options (which is un-checked by default) and seeing some copy protection softwares hiding themselves as fake device drivers. This should IMO be illegal to do that and Microsoft should not let game publishers do this. A device drivers is not for copy protection. Even less an hidden device driver which generally is supposed to be required for the system to be usable.

Hmm I like the concept. That's really my biggest fear about Steam, if they take something off the service or god forbid go out of business, all the software that you bought is pretty much null and void, whereas if you had a physical copy of it you could otherwise play the game for the next 20+ years.

I would imagine that they have a contingency for any games that require online activation... As for games you own, guess the only simple answer is in the golden nugget of sensible computer use, Always back your critical data up

Frank Fontaine said,
I would imagine that they have a contingency for any games that require online activation... As for games you own, guess the only simple answer is in the golden nugget of sensible computer use, Always back your critical data up

by it's nature all steam games require online activation, yes?

Frank Fontaine said,
I would imagine that they have a contingency for any games that require online activation... As for games you own, guess the only simple answer is in the golden nugget of sensible computer use, Always back your critical data up

Correct, Steam does have contingency plans - however, you would likely need to download and keep backups of all your copies.

Indeed. I'd probably need a couple of blank blu-ray disks for all my steam games. Probably wouldn't be fun backing them up so I hope valve doesn' go under xD

Don't speak too soon lets wait and see when the hackers get their hands on it how secure/smart of a move it really is.

Hackers will crack EVERYTHING anyway, however, what's important here is that a scheme is found that allows security, without penalizing the honest consumer who legitimately buys the product.

Not smartest idea. Doesn't matter how you want it to sound different it's still same crap different basket and corporate software against consumers. Gamers should have full rights to view modify and manage all files included in a game along with the chance to play it and install it as many times and however they like wherever they like.

As for bill of rights ?

Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won't install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their express consent.

So we can opt out of this DRM should we not give consent ?

Frogboy said,
There are no drivers or harmful software involved.

Depends how you define that really which should be up to the individual consumer to select whether they wish to partake in the DRM program or not.

Digix said,
Depends how you define that really which should be up to the individual consumer to select whether they wish to partake in the DRM program or not.

You sure can opt out and decide if you want to partake in the DRM or not. It's called don't buy the game. You may not like the DRM, as I don't, but you'd be sorely mistaken to think you are OWED anything from the developer. If you don't think the model or game deserves your money, by all means, do not purchase the product. But to think you should be required to have the choice of DRM or not is absurd. You SHOULD, but the notion is still absurd.

ronchie02 said,
You sure can opt out and decide if you want to partake in the DRM or not. It's called don't buy the game. You may not like the DRM, as I don't, but you'd be sorely mistaken to think you are OWED anything from the developer. If you don't think the model or game deserves your money, by all means, do not purchase the product. But to think you should be required to have the choice of DRM or not is absurd. You SHOULD, but the notion is still absurd.

You know that's exactly what people are doing right now. They pirate the games instead of buying them. problem is it's not legal.

The fact is it's never written that a game will install **** on your PC. So you never really know unless you are doing some research online before buying a game which you should not have to do at all. It should be clearly written on the front of the package of a game that the game will install hidden device drivers that could potentially screw your PC and force you to re-install Windows to make your DVD drive work again.