Every time there is a major PC release on the market there is also speculation of whether the product will feature a DRM protection scheme. It has gotten to the point where any announced plans to include such safety precautions are being boycotted by the community in fear of… well, in fear of what, exactly?

There seems to be two opposite camps to this idea. Some claim that it is a necessary step in order to fight gaming piracy. In some circumstances, recently published games are being illegally distributed in millions of copies. That is a huge problem for developers as it means losses of hundreds of millions of dollars. On the other hand, DRM doesn’t fully stop piracy and some claim it only makes the paying costumer go through lots of trouble with installation and use of the product. Some of those security measures require online installation and very often they limit the amount of time you can install the game on your machine. That might sound quite bad at first – why should I register my game if its content is only offline based, and why would someone limit the amount of times I can use my game if I purchased it? Even worse, sometimes it is required to have a constant connection to the internet to play the game.

Some of these features can be quite painful at times, but we need to understand why they are there in the first place. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of gamers at some point of their “career” went on and pirated some kind of software. And that just shows the scale of the problem. But my point here is not really to defend developers. Most of the DRM is not really so “in your face”. It’s more subtle and much better designed not to interfere so much.  I don’t think it makes much sense to whine about online installation and complain about it, as ¾ of players have internet access (yes, I just made it up and there are ways to get around this. You can perform the registration at your friends place, an internet café etc. Furthermore the aspect of limited installation is not as bad as it sounds. I understand you paid your money for something and you can demand to be allowed to use it as frequently as you like, but most people who bring this issue up won’t probably even install the games more than twice. Why make it such a fuss about it then? Go do something with your time instead.

It really seems to me that the only people who would complain about DRM are those who won’t buy the game anyway, so why should we listen to them? Would you complain that your bank keeps the money in a safe? Or that you can only pay money out from ATM machines in selected places? It sounds like pointless paranoia. I believe developers should be allowed to go ahead and install any kind of protection that will save them money, because that is the ultimate goal of this. And if you’re a gamer you should respect that.

Recently CD Project announced during the release of Witcher 2 they would not include DRM protection, which for strange reasons pleased the fans. I don’t think it changed anything. People who wanted to buy the game did it regardless to what was on it. In most cases DRM doesn’t affect your experience with the game, it is the stupid attitude that does. Go ahead and get over it. And developers, – well, they could learn a big deal of what copy protection means from Steam…

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8 Comments

  1. DRM is not working, you can go to any torrent site and find every game you want cracked. DRM is just something to piss off and annoy the real customers by limiting the use of the product. 

    Is like in my country (island?) where as of late the police has been attacking criminality head on yet things has become even worse than before. Way worse (250 murders in 3 months in Puerto Rico). New laws have been established like: you can't drink alcohol after 12AM (nor sell it), nightclubs and stuff have to close down by 12AM, if you're under 16 you can't be out of your house after 9PM, etc. Who are the ones being annoyed by all these new laws? Not the criminals because they are still around selling drugs and killing each other… Well, Piracy is like that, it can't be eradicated. You block 1 way, they find another… In the meantime "we", the ones paying and buying the stuff legally are the ones being punished.

    1.  You mean Iceland? I thought that was most peaceful place on earth ?

    2. Fair points. Piracy will always be there, but I think Simon was trying to argue that the limitations that most DRM's force on you aren't that bad. Now I haven't looked at any stats or anything, but if DRM reduces the piracy from 1 million illegal downloads to  900 000, it just might be a worthy sacrifice.

      Except the installing thing… I've had to install games more than twice on multiple occasions… getting a new computer / screwing up my computer and having to format / feeling nostalgic and installing an old game again… etc.

  2. You are wrong, just wrong. As a hardcore PC gamer with a Steam library worth well over 1.2k (haven't pirated anything in 2 years). I despise DRM. One time online activation, fine… but limited to 3-5 times? Why? I paid a license for the game, a personal license. It means that I as a person am allow to play the game, so why should a game stop working if I play it on my PC, laptop and after that change a part from my PC? That's 3 activations right there. After that I am FORCED to "pirate" it, and I will. I paid for this stupid game, I'm gonna play it whenever the hell I want, good luck in court if you want to sue me.

    Always on DRM? If you are unable to connect to the servers, the game stops working. This means that when either your internet glitches (which it does every one in a while, for everyone) OR when the servers go down, you just cannot play. Imagine the PSN drama, offline for over a month etc. If PS3 games had always-on DRM that means NOBODY would have been able to play ANY PS3 game for over a month. -NOTHING-.

    And you should know the people complaining about DRM are the ones who actually buy it. If you pirate a game you just install the crack within a minute and you can play the game until the end of time without worries. THIS is the problem: The pirates offer a better service for free. Of course people don't bother buying the games if they can get playing in a few hours for free without hassle.

    This is why Valve, Blizzard, Mojang, Riot Games and a lot of other PC developers have said that they don't worry about piracy. PC-ONLY developers that DO NOT worry about piracy. In contrary, Minecraft got big thanks to piracy… everyone pirated Minecraft first. Still a stupid PC-only block game sold more than most multiplatform AAA titles last year. Valve got valued at 3bn$, Riot Games' League of Legends surpassed the popularity of WoW and Blizzard is redefining e-sports all over the world with SC2. These companies are almost drowning in cash.

    Now for the big question? How do they do that? Well, I've said it before: SERVICE. Steam makes it a lot easier to buy games, install them and play them without having to worry about DRM. All you need to do is log in with your account and you can play your games. Blizzard offers probably the best only MP matchmaking and ranking system in the world, they spread their games for free and again, all you need to do is log in and you're ready to go on any PC. It also, just like Steam, keeps your progress and save games in sync. Minecraft gets updated so regularly it is annoying to keep finding a new download every 2 weeks. For just 15 euros you can buy it and get all the updates for free automatically. That's service. They offer stuff the pirates cannot, they make you _want_ to pay, not force you to. Don't believe me?

    Valve and Riot are making a sh!tload of money from F2P games. League of Legends and TF2 are F2P. How is that possible? They sell ingame items. Those items are either cosmetic (in LoL) or are also unlock-able through just playing the game (TF2). Especially the cosmetic items are odd. I know people who have spent over 200 on skins for LoL. It does not give them ANY advantage other than looking cooler. Riot just said: LoL will be F2P forever, but we also need money to survive. You can buy skins to show your appreciation…. Guess what? People don't mind paying money for a good product. They can decide how much they want to spend on their hobby and suprise suprise, suddenly they're making more money from LoL than Blizzard does from WoW.

    THIS is why DRM is evil. DRM is a stick, while all you need is a carrot to make people pay. It has been proven over and over again over the past few years. It is time for developers to stop whining and telling it's impossible and to actually just get on with it and deliver a product I'm proud to pay for.

    Don't take this personal, but your article is rubbish. As the community we should speak up against this unlawful nonsense. I seriously recommend you to look up some of the reactions from the companies that drive the PC market forward, instead of listening to the excuses from companies that put out a lazy PC port and blame it on piracy when it doesn't sell. I don't know, but I'm more inclined to believe the company that makes more profit per employee than Google and Apple, which would be Valve.

  3. DRM actually slowed down Witcher 2, hence why they removed it with their first or second patch.  DRM can be annoying at times, but I dont think its as annoying as people claim it to be.

  4. Have you ever come in contact with Ubisoft DRM? I hope you have, or else you really should not have written such and elitist article. When Ubisoft was changing servers for their pc games certain games could not be played even though they were single player games because the DRM required a constant connection to their servers. What a waste of time.

  5. Pretty much all DRM gets bypassed. It might not be a worthy investment for publishers. Then again, I also feel that having DRM does not "ruin" a game's sales. If people want the game, they'll get it.

    I used to have a problem against DRM systems requiring a persistent internet connection to play – not all countries had stable internet services (although that's changed).The issues? One, DMCA seems vague about consumer rights. Is it illegal to resell a used DRM-protected game? Probably. It depends. That's stupid. Two, it's anti-competitive. Indie developers cannot afford to use it(many spend a substantial chunk of their budget to add it, thus affecting game quality), and have to suffer the brunt of piracy.
    In conclusion, your argument is perfectly right for the "ideal" form of DRM. Such a thing does not exist. Yet.

  6. Becasue it causes trouble to you and not included at all at pirated copies. They could spend time and money fixing the pc version not trying to protect what cannot be protected.

    Take witcher 2 for example, 

    2 versions of the game one with drm and one without, you would think the pirates will just use the non drm version. NO they cracked the drm one and distrubited around.

    Its FREAKING pointless to use drm.

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