flyforever

Piracy protection and common sense

Recommended Posts

The other day I lost my ssd. "No problem", I said. I have all my sims on a separate drive, and all the data files on another separate drive. So I cloned a new SSD from an older backup hard drive and, after a few tweaks to the boot file, my new ssd was up and running.

I loaded P3d and checked my payware programs and aircrafts to see if any needed re-validation.

Sure enough, most of them required that I log on to my various accounts on their site and go through the recommended  reactivation or re-downloading procedures. I was happy. Things were moving along smoothly---taking minutes,not hours or days.

When I got to my last aircraft, I received an "authentication" error when loading it in P3d.. When I went to my account, I saw that this particular aircraft requires  that everything be done through an add on which is first  installed in the pc before being able to download and install the aircraft. Furthermore, I suspect that when loading the aircraft from P3d, it checks for validation through a server. With this smart front end, you download, install, upgrade, and customize anything that has to do with that particular aircraft. It's convenient and simple. Right? Except for when something goes wrong.

This time no matter what I did, the "authentication" error message still popped up. I am fairly experienced with installs, so I tried every conceivable trick, including deleting all references in the registry and checking the various paths.

My communication with the developer has been excellent, except that after a week, their suggestions became  essentially the same and useless:

Day 1. *you've exceeded your downloads. We've reset your account. Try again.( Interestingly, their downloads limit must be in the single digits. And there's no counter to tell you. Only they can tell you if you exceed your downloads.)

Me: " Sorry, but still have "authentication" error.

Day 2. * we reset your account on our server. Try again.

Me: "sorry, but still have same problem"

Day3. "Remove this file and that file from x and y folder, and try again.

Me: Removed files as suggested, problem not gone away".

Day4. Uninstall and reinstall, and make sure virus protection is off.

Me. Did what you suggested. Problem has not gone away.

Day 5. "you've exceeded your download limits. We reset your account. Try again.

Me. "Sorry. Problem is still there.

Anyway, after a week of trying different things, I am still where I started. Their one liners failed to provide context for me to figure out what was wrong.

The odd part was that through the entire installation process, there is no indication that things are not right. Everything appears to install properly. Only when I would try to start the aircraft within P3d that the "authentication" issue popped up. But, according to their "smart" front end, everything is fine.

How can a software protection scheme be so bad or complicated that a developer can't figure out how to fix it in a matter of a few emails with a customer?

I am not naming the product, because they are a great bunch of guys and I have nothing against their product. In fact, I love their product, and it worked great before the ssd crash.

It may very well be that the problem is in my system.  But, if it weren't for the fact that all my other programs were authenticated seamlessly within minutes, I would not be writing this. Xplane,too, saw that it was a new drive, and automatically entered the serial numbers. In minutes, I was up and running with it as well.

It is only this single program, and that's why I am ranting.

A glance at their forum has a number of unhappy customers who experienced the same issue, with no clue as to how it gets resolved. The only solution is to call Support.

I  think that in an attempt to make some programs "smart", things at times get a bit out of hand. In this case, they are trying to achieve 100% fool proof piracy protection. I remember some utility company having a voice mail that asked for my account number before switching to a live rep. I had called because I could not find my account number ...dah!

It's too bad that this experience left me with a bad after taste. They are great developers,  a great aircraft, but very poor piracy protection handling or troubleshooting procedure.

In my last email to the developer, I expressed my frustration with their validation system.  I was not angry; just frustrated with the whole process.This was on a Friday. They never answered me back. Maybe we'll pick up again on Monday. Maybe not. I don't know, and I am not sure if I wish to pursue it further. I care about my time and sanity.

I see this mostly as a lesson learned.  Interaction between customer and vendor should be fairly easy and straight forward when a problem occurs. I left one of my host providers when my calls for support became so difficult that what should have been a reasonable waiting  time became a day full of anxiety and frustration. My current host( and I do not necessarily pay more for it) makes support so pleasant whenever I have a problem. The wait time is short, and the support has a real person behind it. They don't need to worry about losing me as a customer.

I know that in our hobby many developers are part timers or are multitasking way beyond their capacity. Still, I remember when FSlabs had decided to install a piracy protection into customers computers that went beyond what customers considered legitimate. They swallow hard, and backtracked. They no longer installed this(monitoring) program with the aircraft installation.

So my point with this piece is that there's a need for common sense in business dealings. If things get a little too wacky, it can lead to disappointment on both sides.

In the meantime,I will simply move on.  Now, where did I leave that wonderful cup of coffee? Oh, and isn't that view outside my window  beautiful? I think I'll go out for some fresh air and forget simming for a while.

tc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by flyforever
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

I think you should name them as a salutory warning to anyone considering buying their products.

Whether they’re a nice bunch of lads is immaterial. They cannot provide a suitable level of customer service. To go through all you have and still not have it working is scandalous.

  • Like 7
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
7 minutes ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

I think you should name them as a salutory warning to anyone considering buying their products.

Whether they’re a nice bunch of lads is immaterial. They cannot provide a suitable level of customer service. To go through all you have and still not have it working is scandalous.

Absolutely +1

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Yeah, and it's not often, but I'm with Ray on this one. OP, I wouldn't, couldn't and don't give ah #$@ about your cup of coffee and what the weather is like out your window while reading in this forum ....name the ##@@ developer! so that others are advised. And when understanding of said issue is reached then so are we informed ....of the do's and don't s   🙂

Edited by FunknNasty

Share this post


Link to post

I disagree.

tc has decided not to name them and with all due respect, there is only one side of a story here.

Kangaroo courts operated on the sort of principle that you are suggesting, condemning without

first hearing both sides.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

As someone who has been around for a long time in industry, I try to be very careful about naming people when I am unhappy with something or someone.

It's tempting, but in my description of the events, careful simmers will figure out who is the developer. And since I've stated that things worked well before my ssd crash, my point is more general, that is, to alert developers who read these forums about my experience regarding piracy protection schemes vis-a-vis customer reasonable expectations, and to generate further  discussion among  forum readers. I believe that constructive discussions can lead to good, permanent change for our hobby.

Moreover, before naming anyone, I always give the vendor an opportunity to inform me whether he or she cares if I post their name on a public forum.

It's tempting to think, when we seek customer support , that we're are at the center of the  universe and everyone needs to jump according to our needs.

My point is that with customer support there needs to be reasonable expectations from both sides, or else things start going downhill and everyone suffers. A developer should not assume that one week--for whatever reason-- is good customer support.

In my case, it would have been a lot easier if they had devoted 30 minutes of full attention to my issue. Instead, they chose to let one day pass between replies, ending with one week of no solution.

I want these folks to succeed--not fail. The fact that they did not reply after my final " reply of frustration" to them tells me that either it was late in the day, or they decided to not reply because of it. We'll see.

At this point time more time is needed.

tc

  • Like 2
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post

In my opinion, if a developer apparently displays lousy support for users trying to overcome their unreasonable licensing and copy protection, they do not deserve to stay in business, regardless of the quality of their products.  Hardware failures happen.  It they can't assist, then they are useless and their products should be relegated to the bit buckets of history;  i.e., Novell, Supercalc, Word Perfect, Lotus, etc.

 

Jim Driskell   

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, nolonger said:

I disagree.

tc has decided not to name them and with all due respect, there is only one side of a story here.

Kangaroo courts operated on the sort of principle that you are suggesting, condemning without

first hearing both sides.

Why would he go to such lengths describing what he has gone through if it wasn’t true? He has stated facts and very little subjective comment.

There has to be a fair balance when protecting products from piracy but this is skewed far too much in the developer’s favour.

The only way the consumer can fight back is with their wallets which means they need to know which company has this attitude to their customers.

The company involved are hardly likely to engage in a debate here.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Sometimes developers are very helpfull at first and then they switch to not responding anymore.

I have bought Greece PR + custom AG from RWS ; the southern part ( 6 different packages ) about a year ago and the northern part ) again 6 packages ) last december.

With the southern part I had a question and within a few hours I got an answer.

Last week I was making a flight from Amsterdam to Bodrum ( Turkey ) and over the Adriatic Sea a CTD...

Tried the same 4h flight the next day and again a CTD near the same spot. 

First I thought that the scenery was to heavy for 3 4K displays. RWS Greece disabled : no CTD.

To make a long story short : I disabled all northern packages and started adding them one after the other. With package 2.4 I got a CTD at the same spot. Then I tool out all V2.4 bgl files and started adding them one after the other. Finally I found the faulty bgl file.

To be sure I downloaded part 2.4 3 times but that bgl files always caused an issue.

I have sent the developer my findings and he doesn’t bother to respond..

In december when I asked a question about purchasing I got a reply very fast....

And my experience is the same with several developers . If the addon has been sold by S.mm.rket I then simply sent them a ticket with my issue and that the developer does not respond and within a day the developer responds...

After sales is also important ...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Sellers too, like simMarket. They sell Drzewiecki Design products, then DD publish that their product has been Upgraded/Updated and simMarket's own advertising spiel states that previous buyers can get a discount but when one contacts simMarket's Support to find out and verify that discount offer before hitting the  Checkout button.........................ooops. they just vanished into thin air! Which is why I will  never ever buy from them again.

So, Gerard, and the OP, I share your disappointments.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

Why would he go to such lengths describing what he has gone through if it wasn’t true? He has stated facts and very little subjective comment.

 

I did not write that I doubted the veracity of any of the post.

It is a very well expressed and balanced observation about something that is clearly not satisfactory.

These forums are notorious for torrents of criticism of products just because they are by such and such a developer

or because of a one sided tale of woe from a few past customers who have had a bad experience that may or may not have

been due to the attitude of the developer, or indeed the attitude of the customer.

Refreshingly, this is not the case here and I await an update with interest.

Share this post


Link to post

I support your not making them until you are sure of the outcome. That's a refreshingly rational attitude to found on the internet.

But should the outcome be that you can no longer use the plane because their authentication system is broken, I'd encourage you to let us know who it is. Some of us spend more than we should on add-ons, and aren't interested in wasting that money on addons that may suddenly become unavailable to use. We'd like to know.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post

I think there is a good clue to what this aircraft is guys you just need to look .(or read inbetween the lines)

To the OP, I hope it all gets sorted to your satisfaction.

Edited by Nyxx

Share this post


Link to post

flyforever:

I think it's been established, not only in flight sim, but for other companies/corporations, that one way to get them to change policy is to publicly put their name out there for scrutiny: A possibly warning to consumers just to beware of their products or services.  

But I think naming the developer in this case will not really affect them to any great degree. Yours is probably an isolated incident which could be easily remedied by them... 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Last year I informed the developers of some aircraft that it would be helpful if they removed the requirement to use another developer's addon manager in order to use their product.  I received no reply.

Therefore, I will not be buying any more products from them until they change this unwieldy software authentication/installation requirement.

I have no problem with online authentication, i.e. checking your info and license or serial# against their database of legitimate users, or simply requiring the input of a code for the installer/wrapper, but I find it amusing how some of these software developers go out of their way to protect their products from piracy by implementing annoying anti-piracy schemes like the one these amateurs are using.  All they do is make it more difficult for legitimate owners to install their products.  They do not protect it from piracy at all.  Almost any software can be illegally downloaded and "cracked", i.e. the authentication process bypassed or tricked.

Amateurs, pure and simple.

 

Dave 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
5 minutes ago, dave2013 said:

All they do is make it more difficult for legitimate owners to install their products.

And the trouble there is that it *encourages* piracy, because if someone's not worried about the ethics, and buying the product means they have to jump through a lot of annoying hoops to use the product whereas stealing the product means they can use it without effort...

Some companies don't seem to be aware that harassing their legitimate customers isn't the best way to combat theft.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

After my first post, the developer contacted me, offering to help me bring things to normal via Teamview. This was Saturday, a day in which most developers do not provide support.

I kindly explained to him that I did not want to use TeamView. I preferred to do it via written communication, since I am quite capable of navigating folders and files, especially if the problem is in my computer.

This morning I received written instructions on how to reset a number of items in my folders. Sure enough, the aircraft started right up. It took a total of 5 minutes, and I was up and running again.

In my happy reply to the developer, I suggested that perhaps providing the customer the option to either follow written instructions or use TeamView might be helpful when they first receive the support notice. All they had to do is ask the customer.

I am sure that, in my case, this issue would have been solved on day one.

I don't know why the developer prefers this method or perhaps it will change in the future.

I stand by my initial decision to keep the names out and in my belief that serious developers pay attention to what customers say. The fact that I had been operating the aircraft trouble free, even when getting updates, told me that they stand behind their product.

As to whether this incident changes their piracy protection practices remains to be seen. A lot of time was wasted.

In sum, I'd like to think that several lessons were learned by all participants, and from this our hobby moves forward in a positive manner.

tc

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Glad it has worked out for you. I suspect I know which company you're referring to now as the main man there has also used TeamViewer to assist me with a problem some years ago.

I hope they take your complaint onboard and think about how they handled it. There is room for improvement certainly.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now