No DRM for Prince of Persia PC

A post over on the Ubisoft forums states that the PC version of Prince of Persia 2008 shipped without DRM protection.

"You're right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games," says Ubisoft's Community Developer going by the alias "UbiRazz" in a recent forum post.  His reply echoes the current battle between software pirates, and the developers and publishers they rob. Recently PC games using anti-piracy software have come under fire, more so than usual thanks to the quirky sim game Spore launched months ago.

But as forum members have pointed out, the piracy issue is a vicious circle: pirates crack DRM protection because they're against the imposed restrictions; publishers include DRM with their software to protect the overall investment and revenue, to prevent their property from falling into the hands of thieves. Many consumers understand both sides of the struggle, especially in the case of Spore: it secretly installs SecuRom without the consent of the end-user, and the software not only causes instability issues, but cannot be removed without reformatting the hard drive.

"A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games," UbiRazz said.

There's no question that piracy is a bad thing, leeching off the industry and eventually hurting the legitimate consumer. DRM implications are certainly understandable; developers and publishers have bills to pay and mouths to feed. But when the industry steps over the line of absurdity, violating the rights of the end-user, it only re-invests the determination of software pirates.

So what's the answer? Many believe in taking a different approach. A handful of publishers think that removing the DRM will actually lower the percentage of pirated software. "{But as} PoP PC has no DRM, we'll see how truthful people actually are (in regards to pirating the game). Not very, I imagine," UbiRazz added. "Console piracy is something else entirely and I'm sure we'll see more steps in {the} future to try to combat that."

While developers and publishers of PC games complain that piracy is killing that portion of the industry (and ignoring the fact that perhaps gamers just don't want to spend $1,500 on a new system every few years), console piracy is certainly just as evil, if not worse. Recently a playable demo of Resident Evil 5 hit the Torrent scene, apparently coming from Japan and playable on North American Xbox 360 consoles without modding the hardware. In October, the industry experienced a surprise attack by insiders, as Fallout 3, Fable 2 and Far Cry 2 found their way into the pirating scene before the games were even published (story).

"Everything gets pirated, so it's not limited to PC gaming," said CD Projekt's Tom Ohle in a recent interview. "But really, you just want to put out a game that's solid for your platform. If you're making a PC game, make a great PC game and people will buy it. I don't know of any pirates that buy games. They all seem to be pirates for life, y'know? So why fight it? Just make a good game that people want to pay for." He goes on to say that services like Steam and Gamer's Gate help fight piracy of PC games to some extent, but wants to see some evidence that piracy really has an effect on the industry. Consumers who download the demos are more than willing to purchase the game; they don't pirate games to check them out. Rather, Ohle says that it's the career pirates who make an impact on overall sales.

"So the key here, I guess, is to make kick-ass games that people want to pay for," he added. "Stardock's getting a lot of goodwill from fans who just buy their games because they don't use any intrusive copy protection. The games are good, so that helps."

Ubisoft has not spoken out on its reason for not including DRM with the latest Prince of Persia release on PC. It's quite possible that the company finally sees that it's a battle not worth fighting, that DRM software only causes legit consumers more headaches than the price of the game. Will DRM-free software be the way to go in the future? Probably not, but apparently Ubisoft is testing the waters to determine the ratio between pirating the game, and honest consumers shelling out the cash and credit cards.

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  • Pei-chen
    I thought PoP re-imagining didn't get favorable review compares with Sands of Time.
  • Tyellock
    I have never been a fan of the PoP series, but I will be purchasing this game to support the "No DRM" release, and hopefully other game releases follow
  • Anonymous
    I will probably get this game today just because it is DRM free. I was going to get Spore, but they messed that up for me with the DRM crap. When you reload your PC on a 3 month basis like I do, DRM is not a good feature to have.