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…