Infographic: buying games vs pirating them

Originally published at:


(looking at my games folder, which contains nearly no titles published since the early 00’s).

GOG is your friend in this realm. Added bonus: your computer is virtually guaranteed to be able to play any and all the games you might want to play, without having to buy a new graphics card/new laptop.


Most importantly games obtained from GOG or gog-like services are basically assured to not contain malware.

You can’t say the same about torrented games, keygens, NOCD cracks, etc. Unless of course you roll your own NOCD or something. (I’ve been meaning to do this just for the practice…)


Which is why you should run them in a VM. Just like MS software.

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I would say that some of the things in that flowchart aren’t DRM-related. Or at the very least, have a broad view of what constitutes DRM.

Very few, if any, multiplayer online games will work without a server mediating the interaction between the players. Even if its something like IGS, where the client API is well-documented and there are many open-source clients, if the servers go down, the lack of DRM isn’t going to magically let you play today.


I’ve been playing two games for about 15 years now. SimCity4 just has lovely graphics, and the 2013 version took pains to ruin the game. I like it enough that I paid for it again to get it on Steam, because who has a CD drive any more?

Likewise, Civilization V has been fun for years and years. The newer version has, IMO, terrible cartoony graphics. Attila should look like a Hun, not a teddy bear!

It makes me happy GOG is there, but I’ve perused their catalog and haven’t found anything I miss very badly. I wouldn’t mind paying again, if I did.


SimCity4 is currently 75% off at GoG. No Civ V though, but they do have Civ IV, also at 75% off.

But I don’t want to buy it again! :tired_face:

Sorry, I misunderstood when you said

I thought you meant that you would pay for it again. I have bought DRM free versions of games I have bought on Steam before (partly as a backup copy in the unlikely situation that Steam disappears, partly to support DRM free gaming)

Steam’s family sharing system sucks. Often either me or my s.o. have to go offline just to play different games at the same time. GOG is the way to go if you can find the game there.

“Download game -> Install game -> Play game” ignores the possibility that the game you download might be tremendously incomplete and/or buggy, requiring a day-zero patch or some such, of which you may be completely ignorant if the game did not have some means of connecting to the Internet.

“If publishers deliberately release something that’s buggy or incomplete, we shouldn’t buy their products!” you may say. And yet people are still rushing out to pay full price for things on launch day. (And it’s all the more baffling when there’s plenty of fun to be had with quality products that are free or practically free.)

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I’ve experienced all of these roadblocks and more. How about:

Online service no longer interested in supporting your 2-year-old video card. Game will no longer run at a playable speed, if at all.

Windows updates: Your game no longer runs. “Compatibility Mode” is just a fraud.

You and your significant other (or roommate) use the same laptop to play a game. The admins decide that if two accounts come from the same IP address, they both need to be banned.

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Windows AppCompat is actually pretty amazing. Unfortunately, they don’t include shims for a lot of older software (but they are trying–IIRC Win7 shipped with 8000 shims).

The other problem with Windows AppCompat is to fully understand and make use of the options it gives you (at least in ACT), you basically have to be a game developer. If you’re technical, I would definitely suggest taking a whack with ACT to see if you can get your games running again.

While Steam has gotten a bit better about it, I remember shortly after caving and making an account around 2011 or so, being completely galled by the fact that I couldn’t be logged into Steam on two different computers at once. Which meant that if I was waiting while Steam took hours to drip-download a large, graphically intensive game on my desktop, I was effectively locked out of my entire Steam library on my laptop for all of those hours.

Basically, my attitude toward Steam is that I’ll only buy stuff on it if it’s under $10, as that’s not far off (counting in inflation) from what we paid to rent games in the 90s. So I’m okay spending that little money on a game I can’t actually own. Otherwise, I use GOG for everything, even if it means sometimes paying a bit of a premium.

I actually considered putting in “You get to try to run the game” instead of “Play game”, but it seemed somewhat overly wordy, would have screwed up the formatting, and given that both drm and drm-free games can be tremendously incomplete and/or buggy, I thought it was unnecessary to point out something that applies equally to both. A bit like how I neglected to point out whether the game met the hardware requirements, if the computer had power running to it, if there even is a computer and not a cardboard box with buttons painted on, etc.

About letting a customer know that a patch is available does show promise, but I tend to worry that sooner or later, the error message would be “Unable to connect to patch server, shutting down game.” and there is another server to fail.
Personally for me if a game does not work, or is very buggy, I tend to go on the internet to check for patches (assuming that my internet is up, of course). (Assuming, of course that it has ever been fixed. Quite a few game companies tend to be slow to fix problems, if at all, if it doesn’t quite affect enough people.) I especially like that on GOG it shows which games have been updated and gives a changelog to show whether a problem that has affected me has been fixed, or if it is something like a new localization for a language that I do not speak, and I get to decide when and how I apply the patch.

And if someone wants to buy a buggy or incomplete game at full price, that’s no business of mine. Their money, their lives. I think things would improve if people were to decide what’s important to them, wait for reviews or sales, and buy accordingly, but if they don’t want to, they get what they want.

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