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Game Making Software's DRM Unintentionally Damage Paid User's Projects

Posted by: , 20:11 AEDT, Thu November 29, 2012

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Game making software adds new DRM that replaces images in people's game projects with pirate related imagee. As expected, DRM backfires and affects paid users
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Another week, another story about the "effectiveness" of DRM - not on pirates, but on legitimate users!

Game making software GameMaker, a multi-platform tool that allows games to be made for PC, Mac, iOS and Android, all in a drag-and-drop and scripting environment, has been the target of piracy for sometime now. This is most likely due to the high price of the full package, which sells at $499. While a free version of the game making software is available, it is also limited in functionality, and does not support exports to popular platforms such as Android and iOS.

To combat piracy, a recent update to GameMaker added an unique way to thwart potential pirates - by replacing their game sprites (images and animations within the game) with pirate related images. 

Unfortunately, the DRM backfired and instead of only affecting pirates, it also started affecting paid users. Even those using the free edition of GameMaker reported seeing the same thing.

YoYo Games, the company behind GameMaker, quickly released a patch (on 27 November) to remove the DRM and fix the issue for affected users, but not before many users had seen their projects vandalized, potentially permanently (if the user edited the sprites and saved the changes), but in most cases only temporarily (updating to the latest version returns the correct sprites).

YoYo Game's Mike Dailly was the first YoYo employee that found something wasn't quite right with the DRM. Dailly noted that the DRM was introduced because GameMaker is "one of the most pirated programs around". But Dailly also explained that the aim of the DRM was never to prevent piracy, something he acknowledges as impossible. "We simply don’t care about them, but if I can piss them off, I will," posted Dailly.

Unfortunately, this time, it seems that the pirates weren't the only ones pissed off.


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