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Game Developers Speaking Out Against DRM

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 52 comments

As any legit PC gamer will tell you, copy protection can sometimes really suck. And now, game developers are starting to agree.

With any digital intellectual property, those who hold the rights will always want to protect their investment. Given the digital nature of the works, however, it’s often easy for pirates to copy and illegally redistribute.

Last year saw a broad spectrum of DRM usage from games publishers. Spore released with some of the most infamously infuriating DRM for gamers, leading some to speculate that gamers purposely pirated the game to send a message Electronic Arts.

"Spore was the final straw that broke the camel's back," recalls Brad Wardell, president and CEO of Stardock, in a Gamasutra report. "Someone who buys software does not want to be made to feel like a chump for buying it. Much of the outcry came from legitimate customers who said that they shouldn't be restricted by DRM, especially since people with pirated versions weren't."

On the other hand, Ubisoft decided to release Prince of Persia on PC last year without any DRM whatsoever. Independent game developer 2D Boy also released its critically acclaimed World of Goo game without any protection. 2D Boy figures that only 10 percent of the copies of World of Goo are legitimate.

Ron Carmel, co-founder of 2D Boy, said, "…we found 10 times more player IDs and 10 times more IPs out there than there were legitimate licenses sold," later adding that he still made money off of World of Goo.

"I'm convinced that we lost very few customers because of piracy," he says. "People who pirate the game are people who wouldn't have bought it anyway. I don't know anyone who would try to find a cracked version and, if they can't locate one, they say, ‘OK, since I can't find it for free, I'm going to go out and buy it.' I just don't think that happens."

Carmel actually argues that DRM isn’t just for stopping piracy, but another facet of game sales that publishers are trying to stomp out – the used games market. "Publishers aren't stupid. They know that DRM doesn't work against piracy," he explains. "What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets. If DRM permits only a few installs, that minimizes the number of times a game can be resold."

Of course, most games stores only sell used console games, not PC games.

Might we be seeing a shift in attitude for game DRM this year? EA has said that it will be releasing Sims 3 with just serial key protection. BioWare has also said that its Dragon Age will be free of online authentication DRM.

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Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    LATTEH , May 14, 2009 12:26 AM
  • 23 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , May 14, 2009 12:17 AM
    Thank god. I'm so sick of being locked out of my games after a reformat.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , May 14, 2009 12:17 AM
    Thank god. I'm so sick of being locked out of my games after a reformat.
  • 31 Hide
    LATTEH , May 14, 2009 12:26 AM
  • 8 Hide
    brother shrike , May 14, 2009 12:32 AM
    Thank freaking god. Very interesting to hear that developer's opinion.
  • 7 Hide
    kingnoobe , May 14, 2009 12:38 AM
    I think their starting to get the hint, and I completely agree with him. It's not to stop piracy their simply trying to stop the games from being resold. Not to mention he used the same arguement I used.

    If I couldn't download games I know I wouldn't buy them. I've been suckered to much by all the hype on some games. Were know I will download play the single player if I like it I'll buy the game just for the multiplayer (90% of the games I play are multiplayer games, and they have made it very hard, and some simply impossible to play multiplayer online except for pirated servers. That crap is just to much of a hassle).
  • 1 Hide
    deltatux , May 14, 2009 12:45 AM
    I guess their brains work afterall. Online activation DRM was always a stupid idea. DRM is fine as long as it's not invasive to the end user. With these invasive DRMs, it's a lose-lose situation for publishers ... pirates will defeat it and legitimate users will protest against it as shown in Spore's case.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , May 14, 2009 12:47 AM
    Really guys, I mean what is going on here? PC games have been outcasted. I remember when the local game store even used to sell used PC games; even they won't touch them now, mostly because of DRM's like SECUROM and Starforce. I can't even play my copy of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory on Windows 7 RC1 because of the Starforce drivers (and their website says Windows 7 drivers will NOT be made available). And SECUROM, limiting my ability to install my own programs on my own PCs?! I can't understand why publishers would want the condemn their own business like this...
  • 3 Hide
    apache_lives , May 14, 2009 12:53 AM
    heh i buy games like Unreal Tournament 3 because the game is well written and fun and because the protection is next to none (i can install it across my lan without a crack and with the same cd key and it works) - i support and buy games like that.
  • 8 Hide
    doomtomb , May 14, 2009 1:14 AM
    Thank you!! Let us hope that EA gets the message about this DRM nonsense.
  • 8 Hide
    sdgamer , May 14, 2009 1:32 AM
    DRM doesn't work and never will. Why? Because hackers will always find a way around it. Publishers stop punishing your customers and wake up. Your DRM only makes things difficult for the average consumer. Those PC savvy folks aren't stopped by DRM. Follow in the footsteps of Apple and take the chains OFF of PC games and let the industry flourish (we already know the hardware is far superior to consoles!!!)
  • 7 Hide
    dafin0 , May 14, 2009 1:43 AM
    I really wish they went back to the simple form of DRM the CD Key, that im cool with and it still helps slowdown pirates because its harder for them to play the game online.
  • 1 Hide
    jsloan , May 14, 2009 2:08 AM
    i knew it.
  • 4 Hide
    xsamitt , May 14, 2009 3:13 AM
    Limit my installs and say goodbye to my money.
    Also we prefer our avatars back.
  • 1 Hide
    solymnar , May 14, 2009 3:42 AM
    Didn't they say they were going to restore avatars soon? (tm)

    On a more serious note, doing the experiment of releasing a game sans DRM back to back with a game loaded down with it probably drilled the main points home to the company. (one can hope)

    In terms of used games...the used console market is MUCH more dominant than used PC game market. I think I may have purchased one used PC game in my entire life. But many many used console titles. The companies will never stop trying to find ways to make more money, but at least they are starting to wise up a little on how not to dick over their legit customers and live in a pipe dream world where all pirates will pay for games if they can somehow be "forced to".
  • 0 Hide
    Gazz , May 14, 2009 4:00 AM
    Well at last there starting to think about the game players that buy the game to own and play
    but I will still boycot EA games untill they take DRM of C&C and Red Alert I was always a big fan I even bought Some time 2 and three copies just to network them at home I even ran and went to som mediim to small network nights which was a real past
    You know they never releast a multy computer pack for mre then 5 to 10 computers Something like windows for multiple computers That would have come in handy now you download the copies off the net
    So I pick and choose witch games i buy by checking out these sites
    No 1 is thankyou people ( Dragon Age
    No 2 is Prince of Pursure
    what else is there that does not have DRM of anykind
    Thanks nice artile
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 14, 2009 4:07 AM
    I think the message they get is: Very few would pay $50 for a legit new copy of Crysis Warhead, have it myself even $25 can be argued to be too much, this game is good but overhyped, way so then it deserves. With all that is going on around, Used Game is not as detrimental to their cut as used to be, especially the legitimacy and virtue of that compare to piracy.

    I would buy World of Goo if it is available here. But had it been DRM'd with this going online hassle I would just fetch a pirated copy. The only DRM that is quite legit hassle-free is simple offline disc-check, it is one I whole-heartedly agree with. Steam is working itself but it feels like digital version of Fascist with all used are killed when the actual titles are not worth of being new all the time and would wish to get rid off.
  • 0 Hide
    Mathos , May 14, 2009 4:09 AM
    To add to Solymnar, hell I don't think I've ever bought a used pc game unless it was from a friend that had got bored of it. Oh I take that back, I bought a used copy of Baldur's Gate 2 off amazon about a year ago. But in that case, good luck trying to find it new, and I didn't feel like hassling with virus's and other stuff with torrents. At the same token, I've eventually bought games that I'd been using pirated copies to play after a while, didn't feel like dealing with the game cracks anymore on some of em.

    Anyone else remember the DRM Diablo had? You didn't think it did other than the cd validation, but you couldn't use chars created on one computer on another unless you knew how to find them and move em.
  • 1 Hide
    JubalHarshaw , May 14, 2009 4:38 AM
    It seems that they are starting to see the truth, these DRMs are pure nonsense. If you buy every game that evokes your interest, you’ll have to work only to buy games. On the other hand, much of the games that even the main games publishers release every year are, at least, lame. The P2P shop is the better way to try games and see if they worth your money or even if they match your taste. And that’s it, period. If I like the game, online or not, I buy it even if I’ll not play it again and recommend it to my friends (yes, more games sold, cause like every every other known game addicted I’m the person who a lot of people asks If they should or not buy a game), if I don’t, just uninstall it and no one was harmed. They can talk about demos, but everybody knows that they aren’t (when they work, most of all are unplayable) exactly what the real game will be. A good demo is a completely playable game. A funny thing in all this protection stuff is that cracked games are normally more stable than non cracked games. This SECUROM crap crashes rigs more than virus and is very easy to crack. I don’t know if the game publishers pays for include that in their games, but if they are doing this, they are suckers that are being cheated. :p 
    On the other hand, this stop people from selling used games or just lend or give it to a friend stuff is, in my humble opinion, pure knavery and exaggerated greediness from the game publishers, happy imitators of MS model.
    So, if they really want to sell games, they must start producing better games, stop including protections (serials are enough), stop using piracy as justification for their own incompetence and hush to show results (like the owners or share owners believe in that excuses…), and most of all start to believe, that us gamers, are really interested that they continue to produce games and when we like a game, most of us buy it.
    To finish this yadda yadda, not releasing Gears of War 2 for PC was one of the stupidest things I saw in all my 54 years of life and more than 40 years of gamer (yes, I started playing games at seven at game shops with sloping boards pinballs and arcades).
  • 1 Hide
    SAL-e , May 14, 2009 6:16 AM
    Wow. I was losing hope that I am going to see this development. No more DRM!? The hell has frozen. Now is the time for gamers to show real support. If I am game publisher I would allow all users to see who has purchased a copy and I would encourage users to refuse to play with people that not purchased the game. So if you a dishonest and you have not payed for the game very soon you will find you self sitting alone in the corner.
  • 2 Hide
    belardo , May 14, 2009 7:42 AM
    Heavy DRM has always been stupid, a waste of money and time for the developer and pissess off the legit customers. The stupdity of restricting re-sale of used games HURTS as well.

    Resell issues:
    1 - The Org. would be buyer MAY not buy the game because he won't be able to get $5~10 on it. The publisher would have made their money for their original sale.

    2 - A person who buys used games (which many of us do) - so what? better than piracy. The game has been sold. Its still one user playing the game. What is better on servers, less players because the original player got bored?

    Anti-Piracy / DRM
    1 - It doesn't EVER work. SPORE, Bioshock, Crysis Warfare, Mirrors Edge with SecuROM are pirated. No install issues. I was going to buy some of those games, but I DON'T buy DRM games like SecuROM.

    2 - I tried the demo of Bioshock and guess what? It crashed, why? DRM kicked in on the DEMO, rendering it useless and worse - SecuROM was on my computer! So I didn't buy Bioshock or anything else since thing. I am completely boycotting ALL EA games because they said most, if not all of their games have SecuROM. Easier to just block the whole company.

    3 - Most traders never play the game. And pirates would never buy it anyways.

    The customer
    1 - Unreal / UT has always had basic protection. It doesn't require a Disc in the drive or call home. I've bought every copy of Unreal/UT since 1999. I've bought H.A.W.Xs. Supreme Commander, etc. Brand new.

    2 - I don't mind the CD-KEY, its fine and should be the way to allow people to get online for server play. I still don't care for the disc-in drive requirement... as it actually reduces me PLAYING the game.

    3 - I know someone who pirates games... he has even offered me Bioshock (I didn't take the offer). Even with that, he does ACTUALLY buys games he loves. Flight sims and some UT games.

    4 - MMORG games like WOW hurt other game sales. People who play WOW or those games like that spend hours / days / months playing the game and nothing else. Nothing much can be done about that... WOW has the right to the market, but it does hurt.

    5 - Buggy software hurts sales. I think GTA4 may finally be stable, but problems and DRM has meant that its the first time GTA didn't end up on my computer. I still have GTA3/VC/SA on my PC.

    Microsoft Hurts PC Games.
    HALO 2 (not even a good game), howabout HALO 3? GOW2? (Gears of War) I bought GOW1 for PC... I don't own an Xbox360 and won't ever. But I'd buy GOW2 and HALO3... but MS wants people to buy X360s instead.

    MS is dumb. If there are no games for PC, and all it does for most people is browse the web, check email and sometimes write a paper - ANY basic computer can do that. Liunix and Mac does these things... and so why buy a Windows PC if there are no games? I can just get a PS3 and use that for my gaming needs.
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