It’s generally known that GameMaker 7 and 8 use a DRM technology called SoftWrap to manage license and product activation. Today, YoYoGames released the following announcement, regarding this technology:
We want to inform all GameMaker 7 and 8 customers that Softwrap, our exclusive technology provider for GameMaker 7 and 8, has announced a change to its business. By August 31, it will no longer be possible for GameMaker 7 and 8 customers to install or reactivate their licenses. After August 31, if you are having issues reactivating GameMaker 7 or 8, please register a ticket that includes your Softwrap license code via the YoYo Games Support Center and our agents should be able to help you.
In reaction to this news we would like to help migrate users to GameMaker: Studio. “Studio” is the current version of GameMaker and the only version where we offer regular updates and support. We’re therefore offering customers of GameMaker 7, 8 and 8.1 an upgrade to GameMaker: Studio Standard for only $9.99., which is a $40 saving on the regular price.
To upgrade to GameMaker: Studio Standard, simply click here and enter your Softwrap license number to purchase a license for GameMaker: Studio Standard.
For more information on how to migrate games from GameMaker 7 and 8 to GameMaker: Studio Standard, please read our Wiki entry “Porting GameMaker 7 and GameMaker 8 to GameMaker: Studio.”
We apologize for this inconvenience but hope you find our offer to upgrade to GameMaker: Studio compelling enough to take advantage of it.
Thank you for your continued support of YoYo Games.
The YoYo Games Team
It’s not entirely clear from this what the help YYG plans to offer GM7 and GM8 users will consist of, or how long they’ll continue to offer this help.
A consumer friendly failsafe for the contingency of the DRM license servers going offline should be to unlock the product for all users. Not doing so can present a great inconvenience. If YYG and Softwrap goes out of business, or simply change their policy, that’s it for your GameMaker license. Short of hacking around its product activation, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to use it again.
That’s for a product that you paid for. This changes the nature of purchases into something more akin to a subscription or rental — only, your continued right to access that which you have paid for is contingent upon the continued existence and goodwill of the business entity who provided it to you.
Imagine having a tool chest filled with expensive tools that you paid for, but then finding one day that the chest has become permanently locked as a result of the manufacturer going out of business. That’s what it’s like to use DRM-encumbered tools.
Offering a discounted upgrade path to developers who haven’t yet adopted Studio is better than nothing, but it’s likely that developers who are still on these old versions have not upgraded yet not because of financial reasons, but because of legacy projects that are not easily ported to Studio due to a dependency on now-deprecated functions that are no longer supported in Studio. For any such developers, migrating their codebase from GM7 and 8 to Studio could involve substantial re-engineering.
YYG no longer use SoftWrap DRM with GM:Studio, but does continue to use a DRM solution, and YYG have stated in the past that they will likely never abandon DRM. I disagree with their stance on the matter, but I recognize that it is their decision to make. I continue to recommend that they abandon DRM in the future, and figure out a business model that allows them to do so.
I also encourage them to release a non-DRM encumbered version of GM7 and 8 for existing licensees who wish to continue supporting legacy codebases that they are unable to port to Studio. When a business elects to cease support for a product that they released, the most ethical thing to me would be to release the source code for the product, so that those who wish to continue using it can develop their own patches and updates. Failing that, at the very least they should unlock any DRM that would prevent customers from being able to use what they’ve paid for.