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Why is the digital marketplace so corrupt?

Slime_Punk

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I just got off the 'line' with Corel's customer service; it essentially went like this:

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Me: Hey, I have a bunch of licenses in my account for your (outdated) products, but you don't seem to have any way to download them. Where do I go to download them so I can use the software I've purchased from you guys years ago?

Corel: Oh, we need a proof of purchase for your downloads. Something like an invoice so that we know you didn't obtain these illegally.

Me: Yeah, I mean, they're registered on your site. You can see that I bought them from you guys when you sold them through third parties (Amazon, Humble Bundle). I don't have emails from 3-5 years ago, because I don't hoard things like that. Actually, most people probably don't.

Corel: Oh, so you obtained these illegally?

Me: Again, your own website knows for a fact that I bought these from you. I can't just go in and tamper with your website to make it look like I own something when I don't. Why is Corel intentionally making this difficult, so that people get fed up and just buy the new version?

Corel: Just find these email invoices, it's not hard to do.

Me: Wow, you guys are scumbags.

Corel: We don't tolerate swear words. *disconnect*





Honestly, I wish I could say this is the first time I've dealt with something like this, but it's pretty much the norm. Even if you bought something with DRM on it from about a year ago and didn't back up the installation file, you're basically on your own. Nearly everybody wants you to give up and just buy the current version when you don't even need or care about the new features (or, worse -- you're just paying for bug fixes that should've been free).

Also, activations are another pitfall; if you reformat your computer or buy a new one (god forbid you change something), the watchful eyes of the corporation are always on your back -- "You registered this 3 times, does that mean you gave it to all of your friends?". God forbid you buy a new laptop and feel like installing some old (or even new) software that you paid for without running it by King Corel (like some kind of winged snake villain waiting to snap at you if you make a wrong move). I've even heard of VPN companies banning people after signing up for one-year packages because, simply put, "they can". If you're paying monthly, you're a first-class citizen, but if you pay upfront, they can just take the money and run without serving you what you paid for. And they do.

News flash, even if I had friends, they're not going to say, "Pleeeeeeease give me your Paintshop password! I'll do anything!". They're going to say, "Hey, can you make me look slimmer in this picture? You're the photo-wizard".

(Or my favorite true story: "Can you make it look like I'm not giving the cameraman the finger? I want to show this picture to my grandma but she can't handle the old F-bomb")



Also, I'm a recovering high-seas, plundering fella myself (with a parrot on my shoulder and all of that) and TBH, companies like this aren't making things any easier. While I'm still against all of that swashbuckling malarkey because I feel that it would be stooping to their level, and I'd rather boycott outright, I totally understand why some people choose the more nefarious route. Because sometimes, the only alternative is to pay the ransom every time something updates or changes even when the terms outright give you a license to use the software that you already paid for until you're dead (or the company ceases to exist, which definitely isn't the case here).

I don't know. Are things getting worse? I feel like they are.
 
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Clearly they have to be careful - for most software products, the general assumption of piracy is justified.

The rudeness may not be reasonable (hard to tell from a one-sided description :) but it's consistent with, e.g., old software that's been replaced by something else, and has been put into "permanent cash-cow status". If there's very little new money coming in, the cost of losing old customers is negligible, and there's no motivation to pay for an admin process to keep a specific old license working.

There are technical solutions to maintaining a relationship like this though. It's actually one of the few areas where something like (but not exactly) "blockchain" / NFT technology would be useful.
Similarly, an anonymous internationally valid digital id would be handy, and could be done much the same way.

They won't exist until some large Government (IMO the only realistic candidates are the US and the EU) makes it possible, and it becomes a general standard.

The US government won't because they like gathering identifiable information themselves, and they are ok with US corporations doing the same.

In the EU, I think it's still true to say that only Germany really understands the downside risks of uncontrolled /unconstrained information collection. But not all - they seem to think Social Media is, and will remain, harmless.
GDPR is a first tiny step though, and while true implementation is going very slowly, and it very limited. it seems to be working.

So the pre-reqs for building the infrastructure for establishing small-scale anonymous, effective trust relationships haven't been met yet. And they may never be. Governments aren't comfortable with anonymity even though they know they can't avoid the "bad guys" achieving it.

If the infrastructure was there, companies could offer realistic license forms like actual purchase, and open/transparent leasing models.
Without it, they'll keep trying to push people to leasing, and due to the lack of infrastructure, it will always be more efficient for them to cut off difficult customers rather than identify and deal with justified support requests.
 
Clearly they have to be careful - for most software products, the general assumption of piracy is justified.

Typically with that, though, the company doesn't have an official record that you bought the software that way. And technically if someone is pirating, they'd have everything they already needed and definitely wouldn't have to contact the company (I'm not saying I've done it, but I've done it). Their logic is just redundant at best imho

Honestly, a good portion of the people doing things like that are just trying to reclaim old purchases. Ironic as it is. I can't tell you how many times I did this as an act of, "Give me back my lunch money, you bully".

If the infrastructure was there, companies could offer realistic license forms like actual purchase, and open/transparent leasing models.
Without it, they'll keep trying to push people to leasing, and due to the lack of infrastructure, it will always be more efficient for them to cut off difficult customers rather than identify and deal with justified support requests.

I think this is probably why everyone is drifting closer to subscription models -- no doubt, it's the security of having paying customers forever without even having to worry about the smaller details. But it seems like at some point, they're just going to get slimier about this, too, when it's not making them rich enough. Because when you think about it, that means bug fixes need to get pushed out all the time for currently-paying customers and no additional marketing hype, and I can think of a handful of companies who would shudder at that idea.

On the plus side, though, old servers for games could still be paid to be maintained and maybe everyone could get their wish. The downside? I don't think most of us have the kind of money for that many simultaneous subscriptions, so it might be more of a pipe dream than anything else.

I also don't think I'm the only one who sees subscriptions as death by a thousand cuts. I'd rather use lackluster software (which is why I wanted to us Paintshop as opposed to Photoshop), but here we are. No dice.
 
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You're looking for them to be interested in a commercial relationship where they have no way to make more money from the transaction.
Support is by far the largest discretionary cost for old software. Keeping it down is natural and universal.

"Cash-cow" means: stop development, update only where necessary to maintain the cash flow, spend as little as possible on support, and spend on sales only when you're getting new money, paid immediately.

There are things that can affect this, some (but not all) of which I covered earlier. None if it is easy though.

Microsoft, Apple, and big Android phone suppliers have a different environment, and other options.
Corel used to be a small/medium player - unless that's changed (these days I wouldn't notice) they don't have that kind of power.
 
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The problem is a lot of Silicon Valley software, is the new versions are downgrades, then you are stuck with the new version that is either missing features or is more bloated than before. Because there is a trend in "modern tech" to make software more accessible to normies, so they remove features.
 
The problem is a lot of Silicon Valley software, is the new versions are downgrades, then you are stuck with the new version that is either missing features or is more bloated than before. Because there is a trend in "modern tech" to make software more accessible to normies, so they remove features.

Sometimes I have nightmares of a world where everything is just mobile app ports. I've been seeing trends like this, even with taglines like, "Who needs fancy feature X?" as if it's a selling point.

It's also weird when they split common tools among tiers, so you have to start paying more for something you used to have for less. Having to calculate 'feature math' is my working definition of hell, especially when the 'everything' tier is just disproportionately overpriced.

That's another strange point for piracy (even though I definitely don't condone it), sometimes being able to use a particular version right before it went way down the tubes (especially when you already own it) is a valid concern sometimes, even when you own a newer version that they just botched.
 
All the best things in life are free. :)

Back in the 90s a group of corporations including Microsoft and Sonycorp sent a team of more than 200 private investigators in to Australia. The worked in all areas of life with the instructions to gather information only but take no actions. This was because at the time Australia was the pirate software capital of the world.

They investigated for 5 years and I thought their final report was quite amusing. They identified 2 key issues:

1) many of the perpetrators are under the age of 16 and can't be prosecuted
2) it's a cultural thing with Australians that we don't see any problem in making a couple of extra copies for our mates.

As for me, I always pay for software if I believe it's worth it, but I always try before I buy, especially with games. Try a pirate copy first and if you decide you like it then pay for a legitimate copy. Always keep a backup copy of the version of the software you downloaded in case it accidentally gets upgraded. Also keep backup copies of any mods or plugins that you use with that version because they're not always available again later.
 
As for me, I always pay for software if I believe it's worth it, but I always try before I buy, especially with games. Try a pirate copy first and if you decide you like it then pay for a legitimate copy. Always keep a backup copy of the version of the software you downloaded in case it accidentally gets upgraded. Also keep backup copies of any mods or plugins that you use with that version because they're not always available again later.

You know what's so crazy about this? Shareware and very lengthy demos used to exist and nowadays you can't even tell if something will run on your system without getting a five-finger preview. Sometimes I just need to verify that it's actually going to run on my hardware because their minimum requirements are so ambiguous (and usually way overqualified for the reality of the matter).

There are definitely more perks to actually paying immediately after if it's Steam or something (cloud saves are always a great way to ensure data doesn't go missing!), but having to go in blind is so ridiculous. I wish devs would just start making good demos again and close the gap.
 
I never play online so I don't use Steam, I also had an unfortunate experience a few years back when I was living in the bush. I bought the new (at the time) Shogun Total War game, it said it needed an internet connection in order to play, fair enough.

When I got home with it and installed Steam and tried to install my game it wanted to do a 43 Gb download before I could play. I was living in the bush and had a metered satellite connection for internet with a 1 Gb per month download limit.

I complianed to Sega and they did send me a set of custom made disks that only needed to download 16 Mb, and after I went through all of that the game was crap, not even close to as good as the original 1990s version.
 
Wow, that sucks. I've only had experiences like that with EA (I think the old c&c games are all online now which doesn't make any logical sense), but admittedly all of the indies that I play don't even touch the internet unless you give them explicit permission or actually require it yourself for some reason.

I forgot that Sega uses denuvo though, and that 'always-online' type of DRM is the absolute worst of all. They're definitely their own worst enemy in a world where the consumers know they deserve better.
 
Bethesda are far worse, a mate living in the same region as I was had exactly the same trouble but when he complained to Bethesda their response was "tough luck".

[Edit] The lesson here is Try before you buy.

When I first tried No Man's Sky, v3.52, they used screen shaking to simulate vibrations. This drove me mental, I found it very disturbing and for me it made the game unplayable. I tried again with v3.72 because I really liked the game but it was still the same trouble, within a few minutes of playing I'd be too angry and frustrated to enjoy it.

Then I read the release notes for v3.75, you could now turn the screen shaking off. I bought it.
 
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This is part of the rentier economy where corporations charge rents for everything. With the computers on wheels now, the enshittification of what we supposedly own is expanding. If you want a fully functional gas pedal in a Mercedes, you rent it from them for $1,600 a year. Manufacturers have the capability of remotely bricking your car if you miss a payment. Don'cha just love end stage capitalism.
 
Bethesda are far worse, a mate living in the same region as I was had exactly the same trouble but when he complained to Bethesda their response was "tough luck".

[Edit] The lesson here is Try before you buy.

When I first tried No Man's Sky, v3.52, they used screen shaking to simulate vibrations. This drove me mental, I found it very disturbing and for me it made the game unplayable. I tried again with v3.72 because I really liked the game but it was still the same trouble, within a few minutes of playing I'd be too angry and frustrated to enjoy it.

Then I read the release notes for v3.75, you could now turn the screen shaking off. I bought it.
To be fair, No Man's Sky was so buggy, particularly in the first year, the screen shaking would probably been amongst the more tolerable things!

I got it a week after release and it crashed 6 times before I was even able to leave the first planet. I had never before seen anything crash on my PS4. On one occasion it crashed so hard, the screen went blank and I thought it had bricked the console until the boot logo appeared and then I got a load of messages saying I had to go into safe mode and restore everything.

Things seemed better when I finally got into space, but inevitably I'd spend hours mining a planets materials, go to hop back in the ship, the "enter ship" animation sequence would start, then ERROR message appears on-screen. I'd then try again and respawn on the same planet without anything in my inventory. I gave up on it after that.
 
I got it a week after release and it crashed 6 times before I was even able to leave the first planet.
Admittedly the game was a few years old before I tried it and the only crashes I had were on my other computer with a weaker graphics card, sometimes the game would crash while using the terrain manipulator to mine ore.

New computer with a much better graphics card and no more crashes. I play in Linux by the way.
 
Admittedly the game was a few years old before I tried it and the only crashes I had were on my other computer with a weaker graphics card, sometimes the game would crash while using the terrain manipulator to mine ore.

New computer with a much better graphics card and no more crashes. I play in Linux by the way.
From what I understand, there were so many updates done over the course of just a few years that it's debatable if it's even the same game.
 
Just give me shareware, l am happy. Actually l just want to run my very old software titles of games (EA). And l want my older computers back too. Second thought, l want to ditch my android and go back to my old school land phone. Better yet, l want to go back to the seventies. Lol
 
Go into YouTube and see how many presentations there are condemning Nvidia these days.

They got creative in introducing new models (4000 series) with performance less than some of the old models (3000 series). With the public calling their sham. With video card sales at a low.

EVGA even stopped doing business with them. Fed up with Nvidia underselling their own video cards leaving their vendors high and dry, even though they were supposed to have an amicable contractual relationship.

Guess they're running out of excuses to explain a lack of revenue to their shareholders. But then you have some of the streaming media outfits like Paramount who have solved their problem with "cut-and-run" subscribers by simply raising their monthly fees for everyone!

Across the board, it seems the whole tech sector is at a new low in so many ways.
 
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Honestly I have never really bought any digital things (arr matey!)

And can only speak from hardware more than software which falls under the same problem.

Apple being the biggest culprit here, outdating machines so, instead of being able to use an old computer you have to buy a new one because the OSx is near impossible to install. Only real apple product I own (I only have 3 products) is my ipod classic that still works like a charm lol
 
Accountants have a concept called the "rational actor." They assume a single goal - to maximize wealth in the near future. The bargain-price analyses easily ignore the risks of bad maintenance, loss of reputation, obsolescence, and so on. In real life, the only people who do behave like that are psychopaths, but it is becoming very normal for corporations. I went four years without a telephone, just getting the run-around from "customer service" but they did extract more money, and kept asking for a bit more to make things work. Mail order has also been almost destroyed.
I think we need to add another qualification to a business license - no gouging. Healthy competition is supposed to minimize that, but that has become very rare. One example is Grammarly - I'm dunned with warnings to send in my prose and pay a fee per page for machine editing. Never mind the security factor - back in the dark ages of DOS, I had a single-disk program called Grammatik that wouldn't just check spelling, but also check for the correct usage of to, too, and two, etc. It caught every kind of grammar mistake, and even had useful tips on style. Those were often ignored for artistic reasons, but they also flagged a lot of too-long sentences for me.
 
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