Avalanche On DRM: “Does Nothing Useful”

By John Walker on September 6th, 2011 at 5:04 pm.

You can always trust a Swede.

Like an angelic voice of reason amongst the grunting lunacy comes Christofer Sundberg, founder of Avalanche Studios. The Just Cause developer has told EDGE that “always-on DRM only says: ‘Thank you for buying our game, we trust you as far as we can throw you.’” Responding to the utterly unfounded and unevidenced defence of Driver SF’s always-on DRM from Martin Edmonson last week, Sundberg told the Edgeborg that treating customers with respect would be a far more effective means of dealing with piracy.

As well as making the obvious point that DRM simply doesn’t do anything useful, Sundberg explains that the whole concept sends exactly the wrong message.

“If a DRM system constantly needs to be defended, something must be wrong. As a developer you will never win over any fans if you constantly let everyone know how much it costs to develop a game and how much money you lose. I don’t like always-on DRM solutions at all, since they offer nothing to the consumer. If you continuously give something extra for registering and being online, and award them for actually paying for and playing your game, it’d be different, but always-on DRM only says: ‘Thank you for buying our game, we trust you as far as we can throw you.”

So what’s the solution? The Avalanche honcho believes, as RPS has long argued, that the correct route is to treat PC gamers with respect.

“My solution to the problem is to start designing games for the PC player, and award PC players for being part of the community of your game and for staying connected to you – not forcing them. If you continuously tell the player that you care about their opinions, and appreciate their investment, you will lower the amount of bootleg copies.”

Of course, such claims are equally as unproven and without published figures as Ubisoft’s fervent claims that their DRM is tackling piracy. Common sense would rather suggest that Sundberg’s version of events is more realistic, but it’s important to remember that neither side is offering any proof.

You can read the rest of the interview here. Meanwhile, Ubisoft’s attempt to force players to pay for DRM on the 360 version of Driver SF has somewhat backfired.

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102 Comments »

  1. jokomul says:

    It’s ruining PC gaming (along with a few other current trends of course).

    • Calneon says:

      No, it isn’t.

      Just ignore the minority of games which use terrible DRM and enjoy the other hundreds of fantastic games on the PC.

    • chrisjr says:

      @Calneon The problem is when big developers like Blizzard start doing it (diablo 3) and get away with it could potential push other developers to go ahead and do the same.

  2. westyfield says:

    It took a re-read for me to realise that Edgeborg is a joke and not a Swedish name.

  3. unangbangkay says:

    But what about the Illuminati and the implication that we must support this sort of DRM if we choose that ending? Avalanche is clearly more of a Sarif guy.

  4. metalangel says:

    Serves them right.

    EDIT: Some proof that DRM is bad and showing some respect to your fans is better, from the music industry:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14536664

    “Lady Gaga’s Born This Way was one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year. Prior to its release in May, Web Sheriff took to Twitter and fan forums.

    “We would kindly ask you not to post pirated copies of Born This Way on your site,” the message read.

    “The label, management and artist would greatly appreciate your co-operation… Thank you for respecting the artist’s and label’s wishes.”

    The album did leak a week early. But Mr Giacobbi says a more gentle approach does pay off.

    He adds that fans were offered approved Lady Gaga material such as taster tracks, videos and video blogs in return.

    “If you treat fans like fans, instead of treating them like criminals, it tends to work,” he says.

    “We set up a mailbox where all the fans globally could report the leaked files. It was amazing – we had literally thousands if not tens of thousands of fans sending in links.

    “They were co-operating because they love Lady Gaga. She has a very close bond with her fanbase and they actually wanted to help.”

  5. sneetch says:

    We’ve heard this before from other devs but it’s nice to hear it again.

    “If you continuously give something extra for registering and being online, and award them for actually paying for and playing your game, it’d be different”

    Yes, yes it would, unfortunately a lot of devs seem to think that saving your game “in the cloud” is enough of a benefit to justify forcing you to be online (Ubisoft and Blizzard, I’m looking at you, but I’m also not forgetting the problems people have had with Steam’s offline mode.)

    I’m hoping more people find ways to encourage us to be online while we play but still allow for the fact that we want to be capable of playing while offline. If nothing else, when the zombie outbreak hits and I’m in my dank shelter I’d like to be able to fire up the ol’ diesel generator and play a game or two. Living in a dank hellhole, mindless hordes roaring outside the window, living on a diet of canned beans and playing games: it’ll be just like university again!

  6. Paul says:

    Witcher 2 already sold more than a million copies. No DRM on GOG version and on retail versions it was removed in first patch.

    There is your proof.

    • Urthman says:

      The problem there is that The Witcher 2 is a fantastic game that’s obviously worth paying for.

      If you’re saying that Ubisoft and similar publishers need to publish fantastic games that are actually worth the asking price before they can turn off the DRM, well that’s just crazy talk.

      Sure the Witcher 2 can make money without DRM, but Driver SF?

    • Silverel says:

      Making excellent games seems to be a noble endeavor. I support this version of DRM. Games that are so good, you feel like a total DB for stealing them.

      No other DRM is needed.

    • Burning Man says:

      On a related note, I did buy DX: HR, but I played the freely available version and every time they thanked me for pre-ordering I died a little inside.

      I truly wouldn’t mind missing the silly DLC mission, the sniper rifle and shotgun if I didn’t have to see that message.

    • mad monkey says:

      reply fail …

    • slpk says:

      @Urthman
      You assume that DRM actually reduces the number of bought games. That’s wrong.

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      @slpk: I’ve avoided buying games because of DRM. There goes your theory.

    • Kadayi says:

      The irony is that the word on the Street is that the game grossly under performed Vs CD Projekts expectations. 1 Million units sounds like a lot, and certainly pays for the development (just), but doesn’t actually leave them with a lot of money for future investment. If the game under performs on the 360 they might well be in some serious trouble.

    • Urthman says:

      You assume that DRM actually reduces the number of bought games. That’s wrong.

      I agree that it would be wrong for me to assume it, since there’s no way of knowing one way or the other.

      I was suggesting it might also be wrong to just assume that mediocre games like Driver SF can make money without DRM just because the Witcher 2 did it. Maybe they can. Maybe DRM makes no difference.

      Ubisoft tried it with Prince of Persia 2008, a game that I enjoyed and was happy to have paid for, but that many people thought was mediocre. Would it have sold better with DRM? No one knows. But Ubisoft knows whether it made money or not.

      Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands was about equal in quality to PoP 2008, I thought. But it had the worst version of Ubisoft’s DRM. I wonder if it made more or less money? (Personally, I waited and didn’t buy it until the DRM had been cracked and the price had dropped. But anecdotes aren’t data.)

  7. ResonanceCascade says:

    If Valve is to be believed, DRM that comes packaged with enough great service to make it into a positive experience seems to be the best approach. Then you’re eliminating the casual “I’ll burn you a copy of my game” pirates (which there seem to be a lot more of than people realize) while winning over some of the more technically savvy ones.

    • John Walker says:

      You mean “sharing”.

    • diamondmx says:

      @john A thing that used to be encouraged…

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      The id/Apogee shareware stuff is quite a bit different, if that’s what you’re referring to. I don’t remember a publisher ever seriously encouraging people to burn complete copies of their games for their friends. There’s no difference between that and file sharing except for how the data is transmitted.

    • cliffski says:

      Oh FFS John, don’t be silly. ‘Sharing’ is when you lend someone a book, and you NO LONGER HAVE THE BOOK. Copying a game that cost 5 million dollars and 100 people 3 years to make and giving a copy to a friend is not ‘sharing’ any more than sticking a £50 note in a photocopier is ‘sharing’.

      I’m sure you won’t mind if I just scrape the RPS RSS feed and pass it off as my own blog. it’s just me ‘sharing’ after all right?

      I don’t support or agree with DRM either, but lets not kid ourselves that piracy is no different to lending someone a book. The whole concept of sharing is that something is divided between people, not replicated so everyone has the full thing.

    • Jimbo says:

      He’s right, that was a bit silly.

    • Balobam says:

      Not really, those comparisons are all horrible.

      Photocopying £50 will result in a person somewhere being £50 down when they try to buy something from someone who notices it’s fake. You have removed a physical product from a shop that somebody else could have purchased, and that person has now lost money as a result.

      Claiming intellectual property as your own IS illegal, which is why no ‘pirate’ ever claims they invented the game you are now playing, you don’t go on TPB and see half the uploads where they said it was they who invented the GTA series and now presents to you GTA IV.

      And what if I want to photocopy the book? It’s my book and I can do what I want with it, I pay for the ink and the paper and the electricity required to photocopy, I then give it to someone else. I am then out of pocket whilst the recipient has received something they wouldn’t have otherwise bought.

      And if they would buy it, then they should, it is at that point, where you are enjoying said product and yet have spent no money on it (unless it was a gift) that it’s piracy as they have now lost a sale.

    • Hindenburg says:

      Quit quite. Just look at what happened with the movie industry when VHS’s hit the scene.

    • MCM says:

      Cliffski, I don’t think it’s as simply as you seem to think.

      What if I copy the game and give it to someone and also delete my copy? I no longer have it in that case, either.

      What if my friend and I can only afford 1 copy between the two of us, so we each pay half the cost and then have 1 copy between us? What if I never play it because I forget about it?

      I don’t agree with the “sharing” analogy either, but your explanations and analogies are equally bad. Face it, humans – and particularly, modern society and economy – aren’t prepared to deal with any product that has virtually 0 cost to replicate and disseminate, despite its high creation cost (as you rightly point out).

      The “putting 50 pounds on the copier” analogy is at least as ridiculous – and probably more ridiculous – than John Walker’s “sharing” analogy. If I created 50 pounds out of thin air, then, at least in theory, everyone else’s money is worth a little less.*

      (*Offtopic but let’s keep in mind that this might actually be a good thing.)

    • Mctittles says:

      An argument that is continually brought up with digital piracy is that the maker of the game does not loose money because it is not a physical thing that is lost. I wonder though, how far this argument can go when everyone thinks that way. If 80%, 90%, or 100% of the people playing your game downloaded it illegally, are you still not loosing because it wasn’t a physical copy? If all people think hey if I download they don’t loose any money so you make ZERO sales, do you not loose money in development costs. Would you bother making any more games?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      “And what if I want to photocopy the book? It’s my book and I can do what I want with it, I pay for the ink and the paper and the electricity required to photocopy, I then give it to someone else. I am then out of pocket whilst the recipient has received something they wouldn’t have otherwise bought.”

      I don’t get what you’re on about. The entire concept of COPYRIGHT relates to the dissemination of copies of a work. It doesn’t matter if you photocopy a book you own and give it someone; if you don’t have permission from the copyright holder, it is illegal. Straight from the UK copyright service’s official website:

      “It is an offence to perform any of the following acts without the consent of the owner:

      Copy the work.

      Rent, lend or issue copies of the work to the public.

      Perform, broadcast or show the work in public.

      Adapt the work.”

      That’s pretty much identical to most developed countries. You can lend someone a book, you can lend someone a game. You can’t make a copy of either and give it away, even without monetary gain.

    • Balobam says:

      McTittles – I agree with that, which is where I draw the line with piracy, if the person is enjoying the game, they should by all rights purchase the product as otherwise that may aswell be theft. However, I only pirate due to the strange lack of PC game demos. And I did it a lot when I was younger and had no money, as I couldn’t have bought them even if I loved them.

      ResonanceCascade – In the exact same block of text you just quoted, it plainly says you can’t even lend the item in question. So no, if you were to follow those rules 100% then you could not lend a friend a book or a game or a film or anything really. You buy something, you have to keep it locked up and out of sight of prying eyes, lest they ask to watch it with you.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Public lending isn’t the same thing as letting your friend borrow your book.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I could be wrong, but I think John’s comment may have been a joke. Note the quotation marks around “sharing”.

      Just a thought…

    • Kadayi says:

      @MCM

      You do realise that Cliffski is a developer (Gratuitous Space Battles for starters) so telling him it’s not quite like that is a bit rich tbh. It’s his living, and your hobby.

      When you buy a game, you are effectively buying into an interactive experience. An experience that might be tied to a personal account (as with Steam) or a singular physical copy (as with a retail game) . Now if your happy to let anyone play on your account or your machine, that’s your prerogative, but when you start copying that experience and giving it away to people so they can then enjoy it for free without rewarding the creators that’s an issue. The people who make games are reliant on sales to support themselves. The bulk of their revenue stream is wholly dependent on people paying to play.

      I’m not a fan of DRM schemes, however at the same time I do recognize a developers right to try and dissuade piracy and if that means deploying some DRM initially to offset 0 day piracy I don’t decry them. I think it’s all well and good for John to ask for developers/publishers to treat gamers with respect, but that a line that cuts both ways and quite frankly if the top 100 games on TPB is anything to go by, it’s not happening.

    • DrGonzo says:

      No, I think Cliffksi is being completely silly. As though books aren’t worth as much as games. Its a completely arrogant stance. Games should be treated the same way as any other media and you should be able to lend them and copy them in the same way.

      If your business strategy is to pump millions into games and piracy causes your downfall, then good fucking riddance.

      DRM and huge budgets is having a far more detrimental effect on games than piracy is.

    • MCM says:

      @Kadayi

      1. Of course I know that. I own GSB and every DLC.

      2. It doesn’t matter who’s saying it. The argument is right or wrong whether I make it or Cliffski makes it. or you make it.

      Thank you for mansplaining piracy to me. Be more presumptuous and condescending, next time, please.

    • Tengil says:

      The comparison with books bring up another obvious point, which is that nothing resembling libraries exist for games. If you can’t find/afford a game and don’t know anybody who owns it then your only option is piracy.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Dr Gonzo

      It doesn’t take 150 people 18 months + to write a book. To draw comparisons between games and books and demand parity is utterly absurd TBH. The manhours and profit margins are completely different. Sure there are the odd titles out there made by individuals like Notch or small teams like introversion, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

      @MCM

      Lube up next time and then perhaps you won’t feel so butt hurt afterwards.

    • mad monkey says:

      But thats the silly thing with games/digital products that’s always brought up. You do not actually buy the product … you license it from the owner. This means that you’re legally not owning the product and hence the copyright law applies, where it does not when a book is concerned and you want to lend it. (which is entirely silly, of course. we should be licensing books too!)

    • Balobam says:

      This would all be different if all the money spent went to the devs, but it doesn’t, a tiny fraction ever reaches them, which with big budget games like CoD are plenty, and will make that person fairly wealthy.

      But Activision didn’t get rich by giving all its money to its workers, most developers (good ones I guess) make games out of love for it, with money being a nice addition. Much like writers, who write a book and then if they get money it’s a nice bonus, which is why libraries exist, because writers just want people to be able to read their works and enjoy them, not get rich as hell off it.

      Which unfortunately does show a depressing comparison between the two mediums where games are now all about the money and not about creating new and fantastic worlds for people to explore, and the ones that do don’t go ballistic over piracy. Croteam, Mojang (pretty much every indie dev), CDProjekt etc. They’re all still afloat and have done nothing in regards to piracy measures and yet somehow still survive, which I’m sure shouldn’t be happening with all that piracy going on, stealing their money.

      All in all, pirates gonna pirate and you can’t stop it. You can either reduce what the pirates get out of it or reward those who buy legitimately, which means that if someone wants it enough they’ll buy it, and if they stick with pirating, they were never going to buy it in the first place as they don’t even want all the features.

    • Tams80 says:

      I still find Valve’s DRM unappealing. Should we accept an ‘offline’ mode in such a form. Although the mode isn’t that bad anymore, it is still unreliable and fundamentally isn’t good enough. Steam may provide a great service, but it is still DRM.

    • Zelius says:

      @Balobam,
      “Lending to the public” does not equal lending to a friend. Lending to the public means you’re starting a library without their consent, and actually lending it to the public.

    • Balobam says:

      Okay then, that’s fair enough, I didn’t actually know that. I thought it just meant anyone who isn’t the owner of the product in question.

    • Jimbo says:

      @various:

      “And what if I want to photocopy the book? It’s my book and I can do what I want with it, I pay for the ink and the paper and the electricity required to photocopy, I then give it to someone else. I am then out of pocket whilst the recipient has received something they wouldn’t have otherwise bought.”

      No, you can’t do what you want with it. You bought a copy of the book, not the rights to produce multiple copies of it.

      “And if they would buy it, then they should, it is at that point, where you are enjoying said product and yet have spent no money on it (unless it was a gift) that it’s piracy as they have now lost a sale.”

      That isn’t how piracy works at all.

      “What if I copy the game and give it to someone and also delete my copy? I no longer have it in that case, either.”

      This is totally a thing that happens…

    • Aldehyde says:

      @Cliffski: But if you claim that it isn’t “sharing” then I can equally claim that it isn’t “stealing” as every developer claims piracy to be.

      Both things are about physical products being transferred from one guy to another. One is consentual and one isn’t but that is the only difference between the two words.
      (In this circumstance at least.)

    • thegooseking says:

      A lot of things “aren’t theft” and are still wrong. It’s not like theft has a monopoly on wrongness. I agree that copyright infringement isn’t theft, but that’s a technicality for pedants to get excited about; it doesn’t substantively change the moral status of the act. Bringing up that copyright infringement isn’t theft in a discussion like this is a bit of a red herring.

      Copyright is a kluge, but an essential one, to give intangibles value in an exchange economy. We have an economy that’s based on supply and demand. When supply is infinite (or infinitely replicable, as is the case of information), the good is valueless. That is not an acceptable state of affairs, because “knowledge work” is still work, and the product of knowledge work has to pay for that work. Copyright exists to control the supply, therefore giving the product value. Like any kluge, it is imperfect and open to abuse, but it is necessary. (It’s also worth pointing out that we would still need copyright under other economic systems, e.g. a Marxist “use economy”, but for different reasons.)

    • Aldehyde says:

      Sure, both piracy and theft is wrong, doesn’t mean you should use the word theft instead of piracy (or copyright infringement).

      I feel it’s wrong to say theft when there is already a short word for it, piracy. Especially when theft and piracy are different in both law and practice.

      And to take the point even further, just because two things are wrong according to the law doesn’t mean that you can call them the same thing. We already have a word for that, crime.

    • MajorManiac says:

      @ mad monkey:

      Well heres the rub, it is not legal to lend a book. Even if you won’t read it again.

      @ Kadayi:

      I’ve enjoyed reading your confrontations in the past as its always good to see many differing opinions. But saying things like – “Lube up next time and then perhaps you won’t feel so butt hurt afterwards.” is just stupid and offensive. Please try to tone it down abit or I’ll be forced to block you. Which is something I don’t wish to do.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Be less offensive, people. There’s no need for it.

  8. pandora says:

    Crazy hippies, this “respect” thing’s never gonna work.

  9. CaspianRoach says:

    DRM has ruined my sandwich.

  10. Tokjos says:

    He is wrong. Of course DRM does useful things in our society. Think of all the DRM-programmers who would be on the streets without paragons of justice such as Ubisoft and the like.

    I bet he didn’t even give a thought to them, the monster.

    (I might not be entirely serious.)

  11. Jimbo says:

    It’s quite telling that they both come at it from the angle of whether or not piracy has been reduced, rather than whether or not sales have been / can be raised.

    Out of the two I actually think Edmonson’s statement is far more likely to be correct. I would expect always-on DRM to reduce piracy numbers, and I would not expect Sundberg’s approach to ‘lower the amount of bootleg copies’ (vs. Ubi’s approach). However, what Sundberg’s approach might do is lead to increased sales (vs. Ubi’s approach), and that’s what actually matters.

    The industry needs to fundamentally change how they look at this issue. They’ve become so focussed on reducing / eliminating piracy that they’ve forgotten that the ultimate goal is to maximise sales. The approach which leads to maximum sales and the approach which leads to the least piracy are unlikely to be the same thing.

    The best way for a baker to prevent his delicious cakes being stolen would be to cover them in dogshit and broken glass, but in doing so he would also kill his sales. Ubisoft are currently that baker.

    • Jumwa says:

      Well said. I found it telling that Ubisoft’s claim that their always online DRM “worked”, and decreased piracy, but gave no numbers of any sort and most importantly made no remark on whether it increased sales.

      Although now I’m all conflicted, because I was just told this morning that DRM is like protecting us all from being murdered by cyber-overlords!

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      @Jumwa: It worked so well it took two whole weeks for “pirates” to crack it. In other words, it didn’t work at all. I mean if DRM is designed to keep people from pirating the game and pirates are still able to pirate it, that pretty much equals a spectacular failure no matter how you try to spin it.

  12. Freud says:

    I’m no friend of piracy. I believe companies should get paid.

    That said, When the DRM only affects your paying customers, it doesn’t work. It took me 10 seconds to find a pirated version of the new Driver game. I bet that doesn’t require the players to be online all the time. The pirates are not only offering the stuff at a better price, but they are offering a better product. Way to go, UBIsoft.

    • Kadayi says:

      “The pirates are not only offering the stuff at a better price, but they are offering a better product. ”

      ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    • DrGonzo says:

      I believe the individuals who worked on the games should get paid, but not necessarily the companies.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Dr Gonzo

      OK and exactly how would you do that? How would you say make games like The Witcher 2, or DX:HR, or Portal 2 without companies?

    • mad monkey says:

      I have to admit to using cracks for almost all non-online titles I’ve bought. It’s just a lot less troublesome to start and play games with silly drm … pirated products too often are more convenient

    • Zelnick says:

      “The pirates are not only offering the stuff at a better price, but they are offering a better product.” (Emphasis mine)

      Well said, Freud, I hope more publishers and game developers realize this soon. Having my games on an external drive or physical media and being able to install & play them at any time without having to go online to ask permission is how I want my games. Removing, or simply not including, other useless online components(achievements, chat/friend system, leader boards, etc.) would be stellar as well, unless the game is a multiplayer one of course.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Zelnick

      Realise what? Developers need to make money in order to pay for the time investment, so they are always going to have to charge, given pirates don’t charge anything (because they’e not making the product) it doesn’t matter what developers do they are always going to fall foul of Freuds position of ‘better price’ . So how exactly are developers supposed to compete?

    • Jumwa says:

      By at least not making their more expensive product purposely worse?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      @kadayi

      The point was the “better product” part. Obviously pirated software will always be cheaper, being free. One of the myriad problems with DRM is that it often makes the paid-for version actually inferior to the free one.

      You aren’t going to stop people pirating your game by making the bought game worse than the free one.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Jumwa

      I’ll just cut and paste what I said to pointless:-

      There are people in this thread who are seemly utterly opposed to lifting a finger if they can avoid it. They don’t want online, they don’t want registration, they don’t want DRM, they don’t want pre-order bonuses. They don’t want DLC. So what exactly do they want? I mean lets not deal in abstracts like ‘respect’ let’s get into some specifics here.

    • Johnny Lizard says:

      @kadayi

      Games?

  13. scut says:

    It’s people like this that make me want to find a job back to Sweden.

  14. Iskariot says:

    Regardless of proof… which view is more sympathetic to honest PC gamers who are plagued by certain tyrannical, debilitating forms of DRM?
    -
    Why would always-om DRM ever reduce piracy? I do not get that. The opposite is true is it not? I thought the pirates removed DRM to give gamers a more enjoyable gaming experience. I thought that was the point of pirating games with ridiculous DRM. So… instead of combating piracy it gives pirates one more, and very good reason to pirate.

  15. BobsLawnService says:

    “reating customers with respect would be a far more effective means of dealing with piracy.” – I disagree with this. The people I know who pirate games don’t care about any of this bullshit – they just want to play free games. I also disagree with people who say that always on DRM doesn’t stop piracy. It’s the most effective way of stopping piracy – it just has the side effect of disuading people who would have brought your game from doing so. It sounds like awful business but I honesly think that piracy is just the equivalent of shoplifting in retail – you just have to take it into account and budget for it.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It sounds like awful business but I honesly think that piracy is just the equivalent of shoplifting in retail – you just have to take it into account and budget for it.

      I don’t think you’re really disagreeing with the broader point. Treat your legitimate customers well, and you’ll keep them and get more. Some new customers will be former pirates.

      But yeah, best thing to do is ignore it and accept it as a fact of life. I’ve made the point before that a large fraction of piracy statistics are coming from Russia, China, India, etc, where you’re almost certainly not going to sell more than a handful of copies no matter what.

      I’ve developed software all my professional life and seen it pirated (and at least part of my earnings have always been from sales), and I just cannot understand developers who get so emotionally invested in the issue when there’s nothing they can really do anyway. There are far more productive, rewarding, relaxing uses of your time.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I treat DRM more like those chain stores that take their merchandise away from you and put it behind the counter until you’re ready to purchase. I’m not going to shoplift from them, but if they’re going to grossly inconvenience me with the assumption that I am, I just won’t shop there.

    • Baf says:

      There’s an important point here that I think should be stated outright: Even if it’s the case that your DRM stops piracy, that doesn’t necessarily make it a sound business decision. Game developers don’t get money by stopping pirates, they get it by selling games. If there are pirates that won’t play your game if they can’t get it for free, then those pirates are, from a purely economic standpoint, not worth stopping. Those people are irrelevant to the question of whether a given DRM system is worth using.

      In order for DRM to justify itself, it can’t just stop pirates, it has to convert pirates into paying customers. Not only that, it has to convert them in greater numbers than it drives other paying customers away. Not only that, the total gain from converting them has to be enough to offset the cost of the DRM, including the opportunity cost of devoting development resources to DRM that could have been spent on making the game itself more appealing to customers. This is essentially Sundberg’s point.

    • Daiv says:

      @Baf: I’ve seen this argument more times than I can count, but yours was one of the best summations.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Baf

      Valid point Baf, but then at the same time when developers/publishers try and incentivise legitimate sales through things like registration and pre-order bonuses they get raked over the coals by people as well. There’s never a win regardless of whatever they do.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      @Kadayi:

      Then obviously pre-order bonuses aren’t the way to go. There are many ways to incentivise legitimate sales, not just through pre-order bonuses.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Pointless Puppies

      Ok then, then what would you suggest Pointless? What’s your winning formula?

      I mean how exactly can Developers incentivise people to not pirate their games? I mean there are people in this thread who are seemly utterly opposed to lifting a finger if they can avoid it. They don’t want online, they don’t want registration, they don’t want DRM, they don’t want pre-order bonuses. They don’t want DLC. So what exactly do they want? I mean lets not deal in abstracts like ‘respect’ let’s get into some specifics here.

  16. Dakia says:

    Ubi’s DRM has gone a long way to push me away from their titles. Well, that coupled with their oddly predictable last second delays. I’m all for DRM. I don’t mind it in the slightest. What I don’t appreciate is being forced to jump through hoops and being punished even though I am a legitimate owner of their games.

    I actually haven’t purchased an Ubi game since they started their DRM measures and haven’t found myself to be missing out in the slightest. They should do a study alongside their “Our DRM is working” study to see how many people just ignore their games now.

    Activation needed to play is all well and good, but they should give you something like 5-10 offline starts before it requires to be re-authenticated.

  17. Mctittles says:

    One of the major problems I see with drm and anti-drm movements is that although it does suck for the people buying the game, some people go the complete opposite direction and use it as an excuse to steal their game instead of voicing their opinion by not getting it at all.

    This problem isn’t helped when you have indie devs like Notch promoting pirating their competitors games:
    https://twitter.com/#!/notch/status/104580044294324224

    • Kadayi says:

      That is shameful tbh. Clearly all that ‘beta’ money has gone to his head.

    • V. Profane says:

      You seem to be overlooking the implication of “Protip”; he’s pointing out the blindingly obvious.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Um, that isn’t promoting piracy. It’s like me saying, if you steal your food you don’t have to pay for it. It’s not promoting a thing, it’s simply stating a fact. It says more about your view than it does Notch.

    • Kadayi says:

      He sounds like an advocate. Still judging by the rest of his Twitter he seems to be largely in love with himself.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Yep, but Notch is a bit of a wanker.

    • Tams80 says:

      Despite what his tweet suggests, on the face of it, it’s very true isn’t it? (not that is wasn’t obvious)

    • Nic Clapper says:

      @DrGonzo “It’s not promoting a thing, it’s simply stating a fact.”

      Haha what? So if there was say a game or something for sale, like was going to be half off on some weekend — and I came to some forum or tweeted like “X Game is 50% off this weekend.”…that wouldn’t be promoting the product…just stating a fact? If thats the case then just about every damned ad out there is just fact stating hah. “X Movie….in select theaters this october”…not promoting…fact stating!

  18. aeromorte says:

    The only way i think could work is a physical copy of dvd that always have to be in the dvd player. The dvd contents wouldnt be readable by the user so ppl wouldnt be able to just crack the data files itself or copy the dvd. … This is the best i have … im sorry but DRMs right now suck so much its like companies saying to players “Here you can pay for our game that may or maynot work when you want to play it or just download the illegal copy that works better and faster”.

    • ZephyrSB says:

      That’s pretty much how it used to be before all this modern DRM nonesense started – this too of course, had its flaws.

      1) People get annoyed have to find the right disc everytime they want to play – thus making a cracked ‘no-disc’ version appear better.
      2) As long as the disc needs to be read, it can be cracked or simulated. The various disc copying tools we have now are testiment to this.

      Of course, taking this ‘physical’ type of DRM to extremes – would anyone want to find the right dongle from dozens, each tailored to a specific game? Oh wait, I think consoles used to have something like that, cartridges or something?

      (of course, even that doesn’t work against the determined)

  19. nootron says:

    Neither side has offered any proof?

    In the context of the current argument, this is like saying there’s no proof that Jesus isn’t real or that I will get eaten by sharks if i swim in the ocean.

    There are 100s of games that do not have DRM and they are doing just fine. But that’s not proof though. That’s just overwhelming evidence. Proof would be something involving impenetrable science and a team of lawyers nodding their heads?

  20. Tams80 says:

    This topic has been covered to death and probably all arguments possible have been made, but as this is the internet, I can’t help but chip in.

    There is no real way to know what scale piracy is at without breaching privacy, both morally and in a legal sense. If you wanted such statistics, you would need a ridiculous amount of money to waste and to do something that just wouldn’t fly. You want to what?! Go through all the data on my hard-drives? Piss off!

    I just hope good games sell well enough without DRM to be viable. I can see how some might not, but some of those who argue that a game has lost lots of money to piracy also happen to have spent so much on developing the game that DRM is the only way it was going to make money (i.e. the game wasn’t worth the money they invested in it). It does feel a little like bad and mediocre games that cost lots of money are being defended with the piracy argument for their bad sales.

    I don’t really have too much problem with day zero DRM; trying to prevent the full game being released early. Even a week or so after the release, DRM can be O.K., but keeping it active any longer just seems wrong.

  21. _Nocturnal says:

    I see two game developers, both of them making games that I’d like to play.
    Developer one says: “As a developer you will never win over any fans if you constantly let everyone know how much it costs to develop a game and how much money you lose.” That guy seems smart. I’m so glad I’ve bought his games in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
    Then, developer two says: “Copying a game that cost 5 million dollars and 100 people 3 years to make and giving a copy to a friend is not ‘sharing’ any more than sticking a £50 note in a photocopier is ‘sharing’.” Er…

  22. deadly.by.design says:

    Speaking of which, Just Cause 2 was a brilliant game. It had its shortcomings, but I don’t think it ever claimed to be more than it was. I’m eager to play the inevitable sequel and hope that they’ve learned from JC2′s criticisms.

  23. frymaster says:

    One point I’d like to make in favour of some sort of DRM (where DRM is defined as “something which ties your ownership of the game to some kind of account or persistent token) is for multiplayer games. Anyone who’s tried to admin, say, a jedi knight 2 server (which had no cd-key, and so no unique online identifier) will know how frustrating it is when all you can do is ban by IP.

    However, all that means is I’m in favour of a cd-key, or steamworks for multiplayer. Nothing more.

    Also, for those of you who think this is some sort of new and unsettling trend in gaming: look up “lenslock” and spare a thought for what we had to go through back in the day.

  24. Vexing Vision says:

    I actually laughed out loud when I read that Eurogamer story. Ubisoft can’t even do DRM for Xbox and PS3. Now that’s a thought that inspires confidence.

  25. Sturtle says:

    I would like to speak on behalf of some of the pirates because I think that we tend to get a bad rep. Now I can’t say every pirate is the same as I, but I know for a fact a lot of them are.

    Some people really do pirate games to try them out risk free to decide if we want to invest the money in that game. Some games don’t have demos and even the ones with demos limit so much of the experience that you can’t properly judge if the game is worth buying.

    I can’t tell you how many games I’ve pirated, enjoyed and then bought. At the same time I can’t tell you how many games I’ve pirated, tried, didn’t enjoy and thus uninstalled the game and refused to purchase it. I’m personally sick of wasting money on a game to only find out it was either not a game for me or just a very crappy game overall and you simply cannot judge games by their demos or gameplay videos.

    Now this really doesn’t excuse what I do and I won’t deny that I’m “stealing” in a sense, but at the same time I don’t think what I’m doing is so wrong. Even the people that crack and distribute these pirated games tell people, hey if you like the game support the devs. Now obviously there are people that don’t have the same mindset as me, but people need to understand there are a lot like me.

    It just seems like more and more we are just money signs to these companies and aren’t customers/consumers. Granted these companies are businesses and a business’s goal is to make money, but they don’t have to treat us consumers the way they do. They are so fixated on scraping every little penny they can that they are throwing us legitimate customers under the bus.

    I could go on all day and I’m sure people would disagree with me 100%, but honestly I won’t stop doing what I’m doing and I feel strongly that what I’m doing isn’t wrong.

    • Jimbo says:

      That risk of whether or not you will enjoy a product is already accounted for in the sale price though. I mean, if we all had a guarantee that we were going to enjoy every game, movie, book etc. that we paid for then the market would sustain a higher price because the product would inherently have more value. As somebody that doesn’t pirate games, I am effectively paying for your ability to not take that risk.

      If we both play 10 games, enjoy 5 and dislike 5, then on average I am having to pay twice as much towards the development of those 10 games as you are. I’m paying all of my share and half of yours. Every time somebody decides to stop paying for their games, or to take your approach and only pay for the ones they end up enjoying, then future game development becomes a little less viable.

    • Sturtle says:

      I somewhat get what your getting at and I’m sure it’s a valid point but I can’t say indefinitely that I understand a 100%, so bear with me.

      I’d disagree, what you choose to buy is in no way supporting my ability to avoid the risk that you take by buying a game without trying them. The only thing effected by my choice to not take this risk are the devs themselves, seeing as if I didn’t enjoy the game they will not be receiving my money. Even then that can only be seen as “potential profit”, seeing as they are not losing or gaining anything from my pirating.

      I can test drive a car before I buy it why can’t I do the same with a game? Two people test drive the same car, one decides to buy the car the other decides not to. The person who bought the car did not pay for the other person’s ability to test drive the car.

      Now that example maybe a little iffy I’ll say ahead of time.

      Now keep in mind, if I dislike a game I don’t continue to play it and I don’t keep it installed, I uninstall the game immediately after coming to that conclusion. You kind of seem like your trying to imply I would keep the 5 games I dislike installed and I keep playing the games, I just don’t pay for them, which isn’t true.

      I still stand by thinking there is little to no harm in what I’m doing. People should have a way of trying out products with no limitations to determine if it’s right for them and with the ability to take as little risk as possible, and not just with video games with all other types of products as well. Granted there will never be a full proof risk-free way of going about it, but it could be a hell of a lot better then it is now.

      But I do appreciate your feedback and will admit it does make me look at it in a different light then previously and I thank you for not being aggressive in your reasoning.

    • BurningPet says:

      GoG is doing just fine. Paradox are doing great. here be proof.

    • BurningPet says:

      Woops, really wasent meant to be in a reply here, but in the general thread.

  26. Shooop says:

    Someone wins the not-so-coveted “DUH” award.

    The answer, like most of us already knew is in the middle – you can’t stamp out piracy, you just can’t. You can however discourage it by offering paying customers more for their money. When someone feels a game’s worth $50-60 they will usually pay it. But there’s those who’ll take something for nothing even if they like it and can afford it. Such is life.

    On the other hand it’s a sure-fire way to kill a good portion of your customer base by making a quality game and then stuffing it with boneheaded DRM. Because the code junkies like RELOADED and KaOs will always find a way to bust open your single player, and 9 times out of 10, your multiplayer too. So since you’re not stopping pirates who are you stopping again? I personally won’t buy a Ubisoft or EA game anymore because of their bullshit.

  27. terry says:

    In that case Avalanche should let me play the Hunter offline :(

  28. RalphORama says:

    I’d say that DRM as simple as Notch’s would suffice for any game. All you have to do is pay for the game, and after that, no more problems (so basically the way Steam handles things).

    Piracy is a big issue, but, like what Sundberg said, punishing users who actually PAY for the game isn’t exactly going to decrease piracy. A game that rewards users for playing online, by helping them to unlock more things for single player, and vice-versa has my money any day.

    Another great thing would be if companies started embracing the releasing of demos of their game. I say this because the only time I have pirated a game (Deus Ex: HR) was because I wanted to see if it was any good before putting my money towards it. (Don’t worry, I purchased the game)

    Pretty much, companies like Ubisoft need to get it through their heads that heavy DRM like pay-to-play passes and always-on protection doesn’t work to their benefit.

  29. MadTinkerer says:

    “The Just Cause developer”

    Hah! I thought Just Cause was published by Ubisoft and I was like “Wait, what?”. I was thinking of Far Cry.

    Now if someone from Crytek would say the same thing publically, that’d be pretty ballsy.