DRM (Digital Rights Management) is about to ruin the PC gaming industry. I am not the first to state this and probably not the last either. The discussion about DRM and PC games has reached new heights with EA’s release of Spore. Ben and Rob over at Tom’s Games discuss this here and here in their weekly episodes of Second Take.
Personally I really do not understand why EA and others are using SecuRom and similar products to “protect” their games. I assume the intention is to either (1) stop piracy or (2) stop people from selling used games. For me, the only thing they achieve is stopping me from buying their games.
Piracy is clearly a problem on the PC platform. It is a shame that people does not pay for the games they play and it is understandable that the industry tries to stop this. However, there does not exist any effective copy protection (yet) and I do not think DRM is the right way to stop piracy. DRM is only making it harder for the customers.
I have a stronger beliefe in digital distribution of quality games which are updated after their initial release to a reasonable price. Much like what the guys at Stardock intends to do with their “Gamers Bill of Rights”. This is of course a PR trick but I agree with them in most of what they say.
Back to DRM, copy protections like SecuRom are just creating problems for the people who pay for the products, not stopping piracy. Pirated versions of Spore and NoCD-cracks sirculated, probably even before Spore was released. I want to play the games I buy anywhere, at any time and I want to be able to install them as many times as I like. I payed for the bloody game didn’t I? I wouldn’t buy a bike which I could only use four times, within the city limits on Sundays!
Spore is unfortunately not the first game which incorporates such DRM solutions. Both Bioshock and Mass Effect have received massive amounts of flack for their DRM solutions which created a lot of problems for a large number of users.
So why? Dear gaming, record and movie industry. Why do you use DRM when it creates problems for the paying users, does not effectively stop piracy, increases the price of your products and give you a lot of negative media coverage? Some of the vendors have got it and they are pulling the plug on DRM as we speak. But Walmart, what about the customers who were unfortunate enough to by DRM (infested) music who are not able to play their music any longer?