DRM Damages a Game's Value, Says Valve Boss

Those who have been keeping abreast on the events surrounding newly released Ubisoft games, such as Assassin's Creed II, know that the games are protected by a very controversial DRM that requires a constant connection to the internet.

While there's little argument that developers and publishers have a right to protect their investments, gamers aren't appreciative of DRM schemes that make playing a rightfully owned game difficult.

Valve Software co-founder Gabe Newell has a good reason to protect his company's work from being stolen, but he's also got the gamer in mind. Speaking at Game Developers Choice awards, where he picked up the Pioneer Award, Newell shared what he felt was a problem with PC game DRM.

"One thing that you hear us talk a lot about is entertainment as a service," he said. "It’s an attitude that says ‘what have I done for my customers today?'"

"It informs all the decisions we make, and once you get into that mindset it helps you avoid things like some of the Digital Rights Management problems that actually make your entertainment products worth less by wrapping those negatives around them," Newell added.

According to Develop, Newell's comments were greeted by cheers in a room filled with other developers and industry workers. Of course, Valve has its own DRM system that ties games right into its Steam service, but it's one that so far appears to balance protection of the artists as well as the consumer.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • megamanx00
    Agree 100%
  • restatement3dofted
    As far as I'm concerned, Steam has demonstrated a perfectly appropriate way of incorporating DRM into its titles. Ubisoft has not.
  • Ciuy
    drm is a constant spike in your side whenever its involved .
  • hot74rod2003
    if there wasnt so much pirating going on they wouldnt have to do it. steam is great and they should do away with disks.. the only people that are gonna cry about it are ones that want it the illegal way and not buy it.
  • tinmann
    Let say you get laid off and have to really cut back. Okay I can have lights and pay the rent but I can't have lights pay the rent and have a high speed internet connection for the time being. Now that game you bought with DMR seems like the most stupid purchase you ever made. At least with a steam powered game you can still play it in offline mode. Don't laugh because it happened to me. I'd go to the local library to use the internet and at home I just played COD, Crysis, etc. single player until my economic situation improved. I'd never buy a game that required a constant internet connection because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
  • Steam may be better than Ubisoft's DRM, but it still doesn't beat a simple disk check - or nothing at all. Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 only require disc checks. Oblivion and Civilization IV are two games that did quite well, and they don't require a disc to play* or even a product key!

    *Civ IV Complete Edition doesn't require a disc, but the original does
    Valve has nothing on Stardock. Brad Wardell is blunt, to the point, and transparent about his company. He is the best thing for PC gamers.

    I hope Impulse dethrones Steam.
  • thegreathuntingdolphin
    I do like steam a lot, and I think it is the best form of DRM except for one problem: You can't resell steam games.
  • herniter
    I am personally annoyed by both disk checks and DRM. When I want to play a game I haven't played in a few months I don't want to have to deal with the hassle of trying to find a disk to play it. It is even slightly bothersome to have to open up your disk drive every time you want to play a new game and while that isn't a deal breaker it is annoying.

    There is also the issue of wanting to game while you're away from home and an internet connection, people that travel constantly or the soldiers deployed over seas quite often are left without an internet connection. Pirates are always going to pirate games, people the purchase them legit will probably continue to purchase them in a legal fashion.

    The ideal situation for me would be to limit online activity via a CD key and move on. Leave single player alone, you're never going to be able to stop pirates, save money by moving away from DRM and hopefully the gaming community will continue to support the developers by buying games legit.
  • cloakster
    My biggest concern is what if you try to play the game 8-10 years from now? Will it work?