• Arcania: Gothic 4

    When we were asked to have a look at a couple of JoWood titles implemented with ByteShield we went with a certain level of expectation that they would continue that same path. Then one of their representatives responded when asked about the DRM implemented in Arcania: Gothic 4:

    "SecuROM is the perfect solution for us because it offers the necessary security and at the same time it fulfills our high expectations concerning costumer-friendliness."

    Our response was this: They didn't.

    Feel free to download our one-page evaluation of Arcania: Gothic 4

    You may want to visit DRMDatabase if you need more information on Arcania: Gothic 4 and its sunset patch.

    1. DRM and Publisher ratings
    2. General concerns for consumers
    3. Our thoughts
    4. Concluding assessment
    5. Related reading
    6. How we evaluated Arcania: Gothic 4
    7. An invitation for the PC Gaming Industry
    8. Update history
    9. Care to comment?

    DRM | Publisher ratings

    Note: Yellow Cogs denote DRM Vendor; Joystick denotes Publisher. These ratings represent the level of care these companies/departments have for this PC Game. The greater the rating, the more care they have for this PC Game, for PC Gaming and for PC Gamers.

    We suggest you visit your favourite gaming news sites if you’re interested solely in the gameplay of Arcania: Gothic 4 Here, we review Arcania: Gothic 4 as a product and on the merits of its consumer friendliness and consumer satisfaction.

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    General concerns for consumers
    • Prior to the sunset patch SecuROM was implemented as a hardware-based online-centric DRM service. Expect the usual: Release Date Check, Auto DRM patching service, Serial-Key Authentication and hardware-binding features.
    • We found that Arcania: Gothic 4 had issues playing on minimum PC specifications.

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    Our thoughts

    Before you read on you might want to read our thoughts on sunset patches when we looked at Alpha Protocol. While the DRMs are removed in a sense, we feel that if the right decision was made at the time to use a specific DRM strategy, then developers and publishers should back that up with their faith in their decision...

    Let me ask you this: Would you go ahead and buy an $80 game that didn’t tell you what and how this DRM will affect your system?

    Would you still go and buy this game that wasn’t properly tested by their teams to ensure it plays at optimum levels on your PC?

    What if they slapped on two legal agreements from two different companies that stated, in specific terms, that what you’re buying isn’t yours at all – that it’s theirs and that they have the (legal) right to modify your PC system as they see fit. Would you still purchase it then?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that how much would you sacrifice just to have some fun with a PC Game? How much of their lack of disclosure and poor user experience would you tolerate before you’d start having fun?

    How much control would you relinquish just to play this game?

    The funniest thing about all of this is that this one-handed transaction is an industry standard. Or, rather, it serves as a baseline of how games are made and dictated to its consumers and fans. And it’s something we want to change.

    As you can see, it’s more than just a DRM thing.

    In fact, anything that prohibits or limits the freedom of use of any PC game is, in fact, a DRM strategy.

    DRM. Digital Rights Management. Digital Rights. Personally, DRMs as a definition and as a strategy should be limited to the sorts of technologies or the sorts of copyright laws available today. This sort of thing is all about our consumer rights in the digital realm. Every question I’ve asked to you so far has been asked in respect of those digital rights.

    You can then figure out if Arcania is a product that respects the values and the feelings of any consumer and gamer that has installed and played the game.

    Personally, I believe JoWood or Dreamcatcher wouldn’t notice or care as much as we do as I’m sure they’re moving onto bigger and better things. But, Arcania, just like any other AAA game we’ve evaluated, serves as a stark reminder that this is where the industry is and where it can be headed.

    If we had it our way we’re certain that all those questions would be answered with thought and designed with care. Believe me, PC Games, nowadays, seems like they’re designed in a vacuum. They’re appealing to a specific audience that cares little about things we care about. Now that may be a positive thing for our critics and detractors. But we know that our potential clients, no matter how many times we berate them for their misdeeds, can do A LOT better if they were given the right guidance and direction.

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    Concluding assessment

    Making a great game, like building a great company, takes time, patience and guidance. I wondered if JoWood was thinking about that when they slapped on a silly DRM like SecuROM along with their cryptic legalese and nonchalant attitude to user experience design.

    Feel free to download our one-page evaluation of Arcania: Gothic 4

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    Related evaluation reports:

    Thank you for taking the time to read our analysis of Arcania: Gothic 4. Perhaps you may be interested in reading our assessments on other games:
    1. Crysis (Implemented with SecuROM DRM)
    2. Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Implemented with SecuROM DRM and later patched out)

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    How we evaluated Arcania: Gothic 4

    We evaluate all PC Games on computer systems running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems and bearing both minimum and recommended system specifications. Internet Connections simulated range from 512kb/128kb ADSL to 24000kb/1000kb ADSL2+.

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    An invitation to the PC Gaming Industry

    We love PC Gaming and we are passionate about improving how PC games are made and presented to the consumers. If you’re as committed, passionate and serious as we are, then please give us a call. We’re always interested in new work!

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    Update History:

    8 January 2011. First Publication
    26 June 2012. Republication

    Care to comment?

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