DRM, You're Doing it Wrong

Before I get started, no, I don’t support piracy. I think its despicable, and those who pirate are doing more harm to the industry (like, I don’t know, giving companies a reason for all this DRM) than good. If you pirate, shame on you.

That out of the way, let’s get started.

I’m primarily a PC gamer. As a PC gamer, I’ve had to deal with quite a bit of crap: troubleshooting vague issues, buying and upgrading hardware without knowing if I really need it, bad ports, no ports, seeing the games I usually play, mainly RPG’s, being “simplified” by developers/publishers for no decent reason, and seeing features that used to be standard with PC games like dedicated servers being cut. But none, NONE of them are worse than DRM. With Capcom’s recent announcement that the Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition will have a restrictions on character selection and save features, then subsequent backing off of these restrictions of fan outrage, and the PSN outage causing other Capcom games to stop working it got me thinking of DRM.

DRM, put simply, is Digital Rights Management. Most use the acronym, DRM, as a noun to mean Copy Protection, which is what I’ll be doing here, since its easier to type. DRM is used by publishers/developers to try and try to protect their games from pirates. These schemes can range from horrible to not that bad, but most fall into the former category. I’ll be explaining how it doesn’t combat piracy, and how it screws over paying customers. Piracy was actually pretty big in the music industry quite a few years ago, but the music industry stopped using it when they found out it didn’t do anything but piss off paying customers.

The main reason DRM is pointless and stupid is because it fails 100% of the time, all the time. At best it’ll stop pirates for a week or so. At worst the game’ll be out on the torrents a few weeks before release. Either way, the end result is the same. Pirates pirate, and paying customers have to deal with stupid, intrusive, and pointless DRM. Before all this crap, things were much simpler. You bought your game, put in a code, and played. You could do that as many times as you wanted, whenever you wanted. Now, you buy a game, ask for permission to install, and then play, though sometimes you’ll have to ask for permission to do that as well, and make an account with the Publisher of the game.  Again, pirates don’t have to do this. They just download, install, and play, laughing at all of us for putting up with this bullshit.  Probably the most famous example of DRM failing is Spore, which is also the featured image. The game’s essentially synonymous with DRM nowadays. The DRM was so bad, it caused people to mercilessly savage it on Amazon, caused a class action lawsuit, and caused Spore to become the most pirated game of 2008, one of the most pirated ever at the time. This is in direct contrast to, say, Stardock and their philosophy, and it seems to have worked out quite well for them.

On top of DRM being ineffective, it’s also a pointless money sink. Publishers have to pay to license the DRM, pay for the hardware to keep the authentication servers on, pay for maintenance of these servers, pay for support staff to deal with people having issues with the DRM, pay to keep it all active for a long length of time, and possibly pay for a building to house all this stuff. Any money you might wring out of pirates, which I’m willing to bet will be around zero dollars, would just go to supporting this protection system that will end up failing. And again, the only ones who will be the most screwed over are the paying customers.

It’s stupid, hurtful to PC gaming as a whole, pisses off paying customers, most likely pushes some to piracy to escape DRM, and is just a pointless arms race that the Publishers will never win. Every time they come out with a new “unbreakable” system, the pirates/hackers break it, and then Publishers have to come up with another system. Eventually they’ll run out of ideas, and probably just leave, which is saddening since there are better ways to deal with piracy.

Publishers/Developers are treating piracy as a technical issue. It is not. And besides, that’s the hacker’s home turf, so it’s pointless to try and fight them with stuff they crack all the damn time. No, piracy is more of a social and economic issue and must be treated as such. I have a few ideas for Publishers to implement, and the best part is most will cost no money to implement or maintain. I’m mainly referring to Publishers with this, since they’re the ones with the money, but this is to developers as well.

First step is to accept something. If your going to put out a game on the PC, anyone can get it for free, and you won’t be able to do a thing to stop them. You will NEVER erase piracy, but what you can do is try to convert some pirates, and not with DRM.

Don’t let pirates offer a better product
Basically, don’t put DRM on your game. This should be glaringly obvious, but I can’t emphasize it enough. DRM adds nothing, and it lowers the quality of the game. The pirated version doesn’t have DRM and as a result is of higher quality. Pirated copies already start at free, so the last thing you want to do is make the legit version worse by saddling it with DRM.

If a pirate doesn’t have to deal with it, a paying customer shouldn’t have to deal with it.

Get the focus off of yourselves, and onto the developers
Right now, who do people say they pirate from? EA, Ubisoft, Activision, 2K, Microsoft, and all the other publishers. They see themselves as taking from faceless companies, not hundreds of people who put in years of work into a product. In fact, people react to others pirating from those publishers much like how someone would react to another person beating up an email-spammer. How many people say they pirate from Bioware, DICE, Bungie, CD Projekt Red, Rare, Bethesda, and other developers? Quite a bit less, and some who say these things would probably be met with mild hostility from others, depending where they said it. Let’s go one step further; how many people say they pirate from Warren Spector, Ken Levine, Sid Meier, John Carmack, Tim Schafer, Will Wright, or Shigeru Miyamoto? Very, very few people would dare say they pirated from them. If they did, they would be met with a lot of hostility.

Point is, get out of the limelight. For trailers and whatnot, show the developer’s logo first instead of your own. Instead of trotting out PR/Marketing people for conventions, send out people from the actual development team. Don’t put your logo on the front of the box and put the developer’s logo there. Let your development teams create an identity to do all of this. Make the general public see the people actually making the game, not the people selling it. People are more likely to sympathize and not steal from people that seem like them, than they are from a salesman. This is related to the next point…

Let developers get close to their fans
You know those things you have, called forums? Yeah, use those. This may seem blindingly obvious, but most seem to be more like walls between the developers/publishers and fans, instead of a bridge that should connect the two. Let developers interact with the community. Let them talk with people, talk about their game with everyone. They may end up saying something you don’t want them to, but it’ll humanize them. I know you don’t want devs doing this, since you are afraid they’ll say something that makes them, and you, look like jackasses. But it’s better than what currently happens, where neither you or the developer says anything when confronted about something. Or when you do say something, it’s vague double-speak, which funnily enough, makes you both look like jackasses.

Let developers interact with their communities. Let them talk, discuss stuff. Yes they may say things you won’t like, but it’ll make them seem human, and not part of some faceless, monolithic corporation, which is what people see you as now, and as a result see themselves pirating from.

Make pirates see themselves as pirating from people just like them, people who like games and are truly passionate about them, and something tells me quite a bit of pirates will be less likely to hit that “download” button.

Offer valuable updates with an easy-to-use delivery system
Pirates are really good at cracking games at launch. They’re less good at supporting those cracks. Offer good updates fairly regularly. I’m not saying to release a buggy-ass game, then patch it with lots of updates. I’m saying release a relatively bug-free game, then patch it with updates that add new content. This is also known as what I like to call the Valve technique. You can see it most in action with Team Fortress 2.

Legit users would be able to, say, click something in a launcher to check for updates, and have the game update right there. Easy. Pirates would have to search around for the update, and sift through the downloads full of viruses and whatnot before they find one with the actual content.

Again, your rewarding customers for buying the legit copy.

Release a demo
Developing for the PC is rough. Every machine is different. Each has different hardware, is running different software, which has different versions of different patches… basically it’s a big pile of shifting sand.

As a result, a demo is crucial for many to make sure the game works on their particular configuration. The fact that so few devs offer demo’s is just appalling. One of the biggest reasons I hear for pirating is because of a lack of a demo, so release a damn demo already. And not one of those 1.5 gigs for 15 minutes of gameplay demo’s. No, I’m talking about a Crysis 1-sized demo. It wouldn’t even cost that much more to do. You know those preview copies you keep sending to gaming sites? I’d bet that those would make pretty good demo’s.

And if people end up finding out that the game isn’t for them through the demo, then you never lost a sale since they weren’t sure on buying it in the first place. And those who like the demo, will now buy the game instead of just saying they will when they have the pirated copy, then conveniently finding excuses not to buy it.

Recently, a preview build of Deus Ex 3 was leaked. Instead of banning any sort of discussion on it, Eidos actually encouraged discussion on it, and asked for links to people’s thoughts on blogs and stuff. This action seems to have netted them some sales, sales they probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. If they would have offered it as a full demo for all platforms, they may get more sales.

If you don’t plan on releasing a demo, then be prepared to accept the fact that people will pirate it to use as a demo, and they most likely won’t find time to buy the game.

Keep an eye on things before launch
Quite a few games are leaked before launch. There are 3 explanations, and none are caused by the pirates. Either A) someone internally leaked it, B) a reviewer leaked the review copy, or C) the leak happened through a distributor(Wal-Mart, Target, Gamestop, ect.).

For A, it shouldn’t be too hard to find where the leak originated from. Most likely suspects are those who take the games home for take-home testing. Do some investigating to root out who did it.

For B, secretly mark each review copy. For example, insert some identification code for a copy you send to Gamespot(or whoever) into the review copy’s code. A different code for IGN, for Gamespot, and so on. That way when you check the pirated copy, you can see where the leak originated, and do something about it. You might not be able to engage in any legal action, but I think you could deny them “first access” and “exclusive” news. Do that, and I think they’ll fix the problem rather quickly.

For C, well this is a bit harder to do. I’d suggest a variant of the solution for B. Give a different code for a different retailer, and try to get the code to be different by region. A good idea is to take those CD codes, and have a set of numbers be set to a specific region. It would be tedious, but you’ll be able to figure out where the leak is happening, and take the necessary steps to stop future leaks. You may ask why should a store like Wal-Mart care. Well if one of their employees is giving out copies early, and those copies end up on the net, that means less copies being bought from Wal-Mart. So I think they’d be willing to co-operate. Not to mention it’s also against company policy to distribute games before launch, so there’s that as well.

Price by region
Another big reason for piracy is price. Tell me, why do games cost $60 in the US, but $20-$40 more in other English speaking nations? $1 does not equal €1, or whatever your currency is, so take note of it and price by whats best for the region. In some nations, a game costs way more than most would be able to pay. Charge less in those regions.  The only companies I see doing this are CD Projekt Red and GoG.com. And they’re universally praised.

Lowering the price would go a long way to boost sales and build goodwill, especially in places where the prices are horribly inflated. To use Australia as an example, the Australian Dollar is VERY close to the US Dollar according to this chart. Essentially, 1 USD = .94 AUD. I’m just going to round up a bit more to make them equal for the purpose of this article. So, why does the average game costs $120 plus one functional kidney in Australia? Or Eastern Europe, where people earn far less than the US, according to this? Expecting people in poorer nations who don’t have the same amount of money to spend to pay as much as US customers do is foolhardy. I’d say you should lower the price of games everywhere, but since game budgets keep rising, I can see why you don’t want to do that. I’d also say that people who can’t afford games should simply go without until they get the money, but life is rarely so gloriously simple. This may be the hardest thing to do, since different nations would have different laws about the distribution/taxation of games. But if you can reduce prices of games overseas, it could go a ways to reducing piracy.

Again, none of these will truly eradicate piracy, but you’ll never be able to do that, so it’s not the goal. The goal is to try to convert as many pirates as you can and stop others from turning into pirates. With things the way they are, it’ll be a long and hard process, but I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Remember when Crysis 2 was leaked? Remember how the PC community rallied to show their support for Crytek and vowed to not download the leak and to buy the game? Publishers/developers who truly care about the PC are few and far between, and the number is shrinking. We want to support the few that are left, we really do, but you really need to stop giving us more reasons to hate you. While PC gamers are a really fickle bunch, removing DRM would be a good start at showing support, and I’m sure that all of us would support the move.

And besides, even if none of these work, then they’ll be just as effective as current DRM methods. With the added benefit of being cheaper to implement/maintain, and not pissing off your paying customers.

So it’ll be a net gain no matter what if you ditch DRM for any and/or all of the above solutions.


  1. McBeeferton

    I couldn’t agree more with this article.

  2. So many things to say. I’ll start with the obvious. Superb article. Thank you so much.

    First, questions, if responses are normal here. I wonder how old you are as a gamer. How many years you’ve been gaming. I, for example, am 34 and have been gaming for… holy crap… nearly 30 years. Anywayz… so I have a longer memory than most gamers. DRM is just the digital form of copy protection. Non-digital copy protection was often just as annoying then as DRM is now. It ranged from the kind-of cool (The King’s Proclomation is Announcement XXXIV in your book) to utterly stupid (code wheels anyone?). Today’s DRM *can* be completely non-intrusive. Technically speaking… WoW and TF2 are full of DRM. Try playing a pirated version of TF2 on the Valve servers. Sure, they’re online-only games, and people don’t find that form of DRM annoying. I’m just pointing out a technicality here.

    People have varying definitions of DRM. I know one pirate, for example, who despises Stardock because of the simple fact that patches are only handed out via Impulse (this was before Gamestop took it over) and thus, you had to register to get patches. From a purely functional point-of-view, that pretty much worked the same as DRM. Sure, you could pirate the code and then manually change the registry, but the point remains the same. Personally, I loved buying stuff from Stardock for two main reasons: Their games rocked (always #1 reason) and their views on DRM (MY definition of DRM, which is the same as yours I believe).

    You mention a lot of great points, like closeness with developers. Unfortunately the “updates” are often used as a form of copy protection. People are starting to learn to hate “Day 1 patches” (or Day 0). But that’s a whole other discussion. One thing you *DID* mention is the demo. To be thoroughly blunt… feeling cheated by a horrible game that you paid 60 bucks for (lookin at you Masters of Orion 3!) is one of the most common reasons people start pirating (that and being poor and/or cheap, obviously). Due to my experience with game development, I can appreciate a tiny company not releasing a demo. I didn’t expect Dungeon Siege to have a demo. I’ll never expect a demo from Paradox. But, dammit, EA should release a demo with 100% of their games (yes, I know that’s a publisher and not a developer, but publishers are where the money comes from).

    And hardly ANYONE mentions the price-by-region thing. You seem only to talk about overpriced games tho. How bout games in Russia? Based on the Russian economy… a game that costs 60 bucks in the US should, to be blunt, cost 20 US dollars in Russia. If they *DID* have 60 bucks they sure wouldn’t pay it. Russia is one of the most pirate-intense regions out there for this specific reason. Just think of it as something along the lines of charging more for a shirt in Washington DC then you do in rural Arkansas.

    One thing I didn’t see, however, was non-DRM ways to ensure/encourage legit purchases. And I don’t mean the codewheels mentioned above. How about, you know, friggin manuals? Remember those? Most young gamers these days don’t. EA has pretty much officially written off manuals. But let me tell you… a game (think stuff from Sid Meier) that’s 100 pages long and has a ton of interesting stuff in it that probably cost the publisher 5 bucks at most to put together… that’ll definitely encourage me to buy their game. Maybe it’s because of the time frame I grew up as a gamer, but I *LOVE* manuals. I’m not sure, but I think “Special Editions” are the current version of “include an awesome manual”. Yes, I’m looking at you Duke Nukem, Balls of Steel!!!

    Anywayz, great article. Thank you so much for not minimizing things (such as the demo problem). Very well-written and -presented piece!

    • Tyler Clark

      I’m 19 years old(going to be 20 in July). And I’m aware of that form of DRM. Though to be honest, I didn’t believe it was real at first. It just sounds so… ridiculous. I haven’t run into it myself, thankfully, but there’s a still a difference between those forms of DRM, and digital forms, you can still play those older games. What if they required internet authentication? Chances are, they’d be dead and gone and there would be no way to play them.

      I’m still young, but I still have plenty of older games I start up and play from time to time. DOOM, Alpha Centauri, Civ 3, MDK2, Fallout 2, the Unreal games(both Tournament and the story-based ones), Quake 1, 2, and 3, Freelancer, Descent, Masters of Orion 2, American McGee’s Alice, Planescape: Torment, Baldur’s Gate 1/2, Deus Ex(probably the most uninstalled/re-installed game ever if gamers on the internet are any indication)… and that’s just off the top of my head. All those I can still install and play whenever I want(provided I can get them to work on Vista… easier said then done), but if they needed online authentication, I wouldn’t be able to play them since their servers would have been shut down long ago for a myriad of reasons. The code wheels and such are ridiculous, but you can still install/play the game whenever you want. Provided you get it to work on the hardware at least, which is why I have nothing but love for Good Old Games, who optimize old games for current hardware. I’ve actually bought many games I already own from them. Because 1) the price is low, 2) they treat me like a person, 3) the games are optimized for current hardware, so no faffing about with it to get the games to work, and 3) because they pack in lots of extras.

      And speaking of extra’s(and your last point of using non-DRM methods to get customers), packing your physical version with tons of neat extras certainly won’t hurt. Like The Witcher 2. Base game comes with a game guide, papercraft stuff, soundtrack, dev diaries, map of the game world, and a neat letter hinting at what goes on in the game’s world. I really wish more devs did this. Or at least had a beefy manual.

      As for pricing by region… my idea is to get the markets where piracy isn’t the norm under control first, and then focus on the areas where piracy is more widespread. You mention Russia, perhaps asking Russian game developers how they deal with piracy could help. Or see if Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 model is working over there.

      About the day 1 updates… as I said, day 1 updates are NOT the right thing to do. Well, releasing day 1 bug-fix patches aren’t at least. Instead, updates that routinely add new content is the right thing to do. Day 1 could be fine, provided they’re free.

      As for your pirate friend, yeah, people have their lines. It’s perfectly understandable and you’ll never please everyone at once. But by putting all updates in one place, it’d make it easier for most to just sign up and get them. Re-installing Battlefield 2142 is a pain in the ass since patches for the things are all over the place. And some require others, while others contain all the previous ones… and it’s just a pain in the ass. I can understand not wanting to give your personal info to publishers/developers(especially ones that treat you like criminals), but that’s more of a trust issue. Assuming that’s what your pirate friend dislikes about the whole thing anyway. It does tie in with DRM though. Why should I trust a publisher/developer with my personal info if they don’t seem to trust me to not pirate the game even though I already bought the damn thing?

      • yonderTheGreat

        First, I hope this doesn’t quote you or we’ll have a 3-layer novel. I apologize to anyone who has to see that.

        Just a few things.

        Russian developers know how to price their products for the Russian market. They get pirated much less because of it (and I’d like to THINK some hometown love, but who knows). There’s some damned good games coming from the former Soviets. Sure, STALKER is Ukranian, but are we going to split hairs on that? Russia is a fairly unique situation. They not only have the infrastructure and economy to support game development, but their economy is so weak (relatively) that their games are dirt cheap. Americans coming in and asking 60 US dollars for a game is laughable. Of course, the instant Americans see their games being sold for 60 bucks here and 10 bucks in Moscow then guess what happens 🙂

        As for the reverse situation… games costing nearly twice as much… publishers need to quantify where the money goes if they want any sort of acceptance of prices. A 60 dollar game in the US should *NOT* go for the equivalent of 60 bucks in the UK. Give publishers the same profit margin and I promise you, if you quantify taxes, it’ll cost 80 or 90 USD. Now… I’m certain they pad this and take advantage of it. Same thing goes for hardware. PS3s costing the equivalent of $2000 in Brazil. It’s ridiculous.

        Anywayz… BF2142 was when I gave up on Battlefield… it was *WAY* to EA-ified in my mind. I’m still not sold on BF3. But that’s 20-some year of either being leery of or just straight up despising EA as a publisher talkin.

        And yeah, I *LOVE* GOG. I had a friend who was involved in GOG from the beginning and I was giddy from the outset about GOG. Friggin love it.

        As for code wheels, just for the record… they didn’t last. It was when printers were starting to get home-affordable and people were printing out entire manuals, thus destroying the effectiveness of “Enter the code found on page 72” type of copy protection.

        Yes, DRM is an *ENTIRELY* new beast, but the evolution of copy protection is a pretty interesting topic.

        Anywayz… great article. And I hope you keep writing, you do a damned good job. It’s annoyingly uncommon to run into someone on the internet who has a grasp of grammar and composition.


  3. yonderTheGreat

    Oh, and btw… meant to include the fact that code wheels didn’t last long because they were pointless as soon as CD ROMS hit. We’re talking 1988-1992 at the most. Personally, I thought some games were very creative in the “read this from the manual” type of protection. But putting elven and dwarven runes on a code wheel did appeal to my inner RPG geek! 🙂

    Also: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/9/26/

  4. David

    “The main reason DRM is pointless and stupid is because it fails 100% of the time, all the time.”

    Actually, the biggest success story in PC gaming right now involves some pretty restrictive DRM, yet gets praised to the sky.

    It’s called Steam.

    • Tyler Clark

      This is true. It’s the only DRM system that gives you decent reasons to use it. Amazing deals, integrated friends lists, IM platform, achievements, auto-patching(though that gets annoying when it download 3 patches at once…), and plenty of other things.

      But while it is the best form of DRM out there, it’s still crack-able.

      • yonderTheGreat

        See, exactly. Definitions vary. While I know it’s used *AS* copy protection, and it’s digital, I don’t consider it the same category as, say, SecuRom. I consider it digital delivery. I refer to my above pirate friend and their hatred for Stardock and Impulse. Now… when Steam first came out, it was pure DRM (anyone remember Steam crashing and Half-Life 2 Single Player suddenly being unplayable?)… but it’s evolved much since then.
        And, as TC says… it’s still pointless as copy protection because it’s crackable.

        • Jarenth

          The thing about Steam is that it doesn’t feel like DRM. For people who have the good luck of having Steam work perfectly, it’s just a combination convenient list of installed game, store and integrated chat service. This makes it so that

          a) Steam adds something instead of just being annoying. Multiple things, even.


          b) Steam is quite unobtrusive and relatively lightweight.

          Now, of course, it has plenty of issues; the ‘I can’t Play Offline’ issues spring to mind. Still, the whole reason I think it’s become so succesful is that it’s added value first and DRM, like, fourth.

  5. Jarenth

    Interesting write-up you have here. However, have you considered DRM from an economical perspective?

    I’ve been told (citation needed) that the relative succes of a newly launched game is judged in the first few weeks of sales. When the game is newly released, when it’s still abuzz with hype, and when people are at their most interested: that’s the time the vast majority of people who are interested will either buy the game or pirate it.

    It could be that the main function of DRM is not to protect the game from pirates from here to infinity, but to just keep it safe during those first few crucial weeks. If you can ward off the interested-gamers-incidental-pirates long enough, they might decide to just buy the game instead. And the people who don’t buy the game during this early period… they were most likely never going to buy it (at full price, first-hand) anyway.

    Remember PC-Assassin’s Creed 2? It had DRM that was nigh-uncrackable for the first few weeks, and the game sold really well. I’m not saying these two are related per se, but think about it.

    • David

      CD Projekt certainly took this view with both Witcher games. Both games released with DRM for the disc versions (Witcher 2 was DRM-free if purchased directly through GOG), but within about a month (IIRC), the company released a patch to remove the DRM.

    • Tyler Clark

      Interesting. Though I question why anyone would want to buy from a company that has no qualms in screwing you over for a few weeks just so it can get more sales.

      Also, I haven’t seen Ubisoft release any sales figures for the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2. I’d love a link.

      • yonderTheGreat

        It doesn’t do a damned thing for sales. DRM is so hated right now that most people either investigate it before-hand, or make that mistake a grand total of once. And I’m talking about non-gamers like my parents and grandparents. They say the equivalent of “fuck this” the instant they have one DRM-related issue with a game.
        The entire industry suffers.
        And there’s been MANY cases of completely DRM-free games doing incredibly well.
        Sins of a Solar Empire is a famous example. Tiny studio (okay, small). Virtually no marketing. No DRM. 200,000 sales the first few weeks.
        That’s another problem… DRM-loving publishers pretend that every single pirated copy of a game equates to a lost sale. That’s insultingly idiotic. I’d wager 5% of pirated games are lost sales, at most. The vast majority of pirates fall into one of three categories:

        1)Refuses to pay for a game (i.e. an actual pirate)
        2)Can’t afford, thus, it doesn’t matter if they’re willing.
        3)Someone who either will eventually or has already bought the game (ever lose a game disc? Do you want to buy it again?) *OR* Dl’ing for demo.

        Publishers are notorious for not wanting to release a specific breakdown of sales. AssCreed 2 sold 9 million so far (might be 10 million now) with 1.6 million in the first week (again confirming, just like movies, that the very beginning is *CRUCIAL* to most games). I’d wager the overwhelming majority of sales are consoles for 2 main reasons.

        1)Hateful, consumer-punishing DRM (seriously… UbiSoft has earned a multi-year ban from me and I tell everyone I can not to buy their games, which is a shame, they publish some good stuff).

        2)Seriously… it’s a console game. It’s a jumper. I don’t want to start the PC vs console debate (tho, I’m a PC elitist whose XB gamerscore is above 40K, I consider myself balanced… tho a PC elitist at heart), but who wants to play AssCreed w/ k&m on a small screen? 🙂

        Also… I don’t accept the “we’ll release a patch to remove the DRM” as acceptable. Now… I know that things pretty much exist forever now on the internet, but what happens after a publisher/dev goes down and I want to re-install Spore (no, that won’t happen)? I’m pretty much screwed, unless I pirate it. But then again, if the companies are gone, no one is there to get the revenue, so my rhetoric is fairly pointless…

      • yonderTheGreat

        Forgot one point (as always, sorry).

        “just so it can get more sales”

        Sorry, going to have to alter your phrase choice there. Weeks 1 and 2 are *VITAL* to a game’s success and, thusly, a studio’s survival. With the exception of the self-supporting mega-studios (I miss you BioWare) like Blizzard and Valve, a studio will often look at week 1 and 2 as the make-or-break of the studio itself. USUALLY it’s a make, of course. It’s quite similar to movies.

        Look at good old Spiderman. 820 million at the box office total. The first weekend (which, mind you, is much shorter than a week) the revenue was 115 million. It made 5% of its revene the first 24 hours and 25% the first ten days.

        That’s pretty damned important.

        Now, imagine if movies were available for home consumption immediately (an idea I FULLY support, but that’s a whole other discussion) and easily stealable.

        Now… I apologize for getting near the “defending DRM” area, but I just want to stress the important of weeks 1 and 2 (i.e. the allegedly DRM-important time period). Most publishers consider a game that is not cracked for 2 weeks to be a MAJOR success in copy protection (I believe AssCreed2 fell into that category).

      • Tyler Clark

        A major success in copy protection yes, but unless it increases actual sales by a significant amount, it still does absolutely nothing for you but piss people off.

        I think that if you need to make millions in the first few weeks to be successful, you need to change your business model. I’d suggest go from a short term “make or break” model, to a long-term “sell cheap, increase value and sales over time with DLC and expansions”. Like Team Fortress 2, a game kept alive by frequent(for Valve at least) updates.

        It also makes sense what with the whole “games as a service” thing that most Publishers are saying. Services aren’t successful or failures in the first couple of week, but over a greater length of time.

        • yonderTheGreat

          Odd timing… TF2 just went F2P a few hours ago. 🙂

          There’s only TWO game models out there that are long-term moneymakers. DLC (expansions AND microtransactions). I love expansions and I have “mixed feelings” on microtransactions. Mind you… I happily bought Horse Armor cuz, dammit, Bethesda deserves my money (literally, that’s it).

          And I think you’re thinking too much with your heart and not enough with your brain. Games often *ARE* a failure early on. Many a dev studio has folded after a few weeks of sales. That’s simply the industry. Has been that way since we left the age of “This game made by Steve & Bob”.

          Mind you, with the re-emergence of tiny games (Droid and other platforms) we will (are) return(ing) to the olden days, and as an old fogie… I LOVE IT.

          For the industry that is.

          Example… PopCap just got sold for over a billion dollars. I’ll let that sink for a moment or two.

          Also… 🙂

        • Jarenth

          Another thing to keep in mind here is that there’s nothing more unreliable than DRM-angry nerds. Rare is the gamer who promises to not buy from a given studio and then actually follows through on that promise.

          So ‘pissing off your userbase’ might be less of a lethal offense, and more of an acceptable — dare I say, calculated — risk.

  6. Chris

    “I’m just going to round up a bit more to make them equal for the purpose of this article. So, why does the average game costs $120 plus one functional kidney in Australia?”

    Shhhh! If they fix this, I won’t have any more excuses!

  7. Pingback: Ubisoft “changes” Driver: San Francisco DRM. | Nightmare Mode