DRM Ruining the PC Gaming Industry

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?

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you (takk) Øyvind for a great blog article on DRM/Copy Protection.
    My name is Christian Olsson and I work for ByteShield, Inc., a PC game/PC application software copy protection company.

    Would you have a different view if copy protection didn’t negatively impact honest users and actually gave them more benefits?

    The main issue is that current DRM/Copy Protection solutions for PC games and PC applications lock the game/software to one computer and make it difficult to move it. End users should be able to install the game/software on an unlimited number of computers and keep on adding installations, as hardware changes or system crashes etc. occur. The real item to control is not the number of installations; it is how many of these installations can be used, at the same time.

    For more information see the whitepaper ”Is Anti-Piracy/DRM the Cure or the Disease for PC Games?” which can be downloaded at http://www.byteshield.net/byteshield_whitepaper_0005.pdf.

  2. I found this article which discusses some of the same things as I do. Unfortunately it is in Norwegian. The bottom line is however that DRM is bad for the business because piracy provides ‘better’ products (not infected with DRM).

  3. I suspect the commet by Christian Olsson to be spam but I let it pass to allow anyone to read about ByteShields plans to take over the copy protection world.

    Personally I think copy protection is a waste of money and I wish companies like ByteShield didn’t have to exist. I prefer making the customers wanting to pay for something rather than preventing them from using it. I am maybe naive but at least try to provide the customers with some bang for their bucks,

    I do not hope the future involves copy protection which needs more CPU and GPU power than the games themselves. However, I do not encourage piracy, so stop that download right away and give them game developers which make great games their hard earned money.

  4. I am in wholehearted agreement, and I have literally just had enough. I’ve stopped buying games from now on, and I’ve written an open letter to the gaming industry (or more specifically the games publishers) so that if there are anyone accusing me of not buying games, that I’m just a pirate.

    http://invasive_drm.mindriot.as/open_letter_to_the_gaming_industry.html

    I don’t expect this to have any effect whatsoever, but I suggest that we all do this if we seriously do not appreciate having drivers installed into our OSes behind our backs, limits put upon how we can use our legally purchased software etc. Otherwise they’ll just keep on making it worse and worse to be a legal customer.

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