Fred Wester: “DRM Is A Waste Of Money”

By John Walker on January 25th, 2012 at 9:29 am.

He knows. He KNOWS.

The ever quotable Fred Wester CEO Of Paradox Interactive (as his mother calls him) has laid down some views on DRM, and extolled the virtues of PC, at Gamespy at the end of last week. And wouldn’t you know it, the man’s speaking some sense.

“It’s so much simpler to develop for the PC — you can decide everything for yourself… The PC is very rewarding because the audience is very knowledgeable about the games, they’re very hardcore, they’re very quick with their feedback, and we have a great relationship with our customers.”

As RPS has long lamented, with all the success of farting into a hurricane, DRM is utterly futile. And Wester concurs,

“I’m so surprised that people still use DRM. We haven’t done that for seven or eight years, and the reason is that it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense from a gamer perspective – I hated it. I bought Civilization III when it first came out, and for the first three days I couldn’t play it. It installed some other software, and it just shut down. I had to contact Atari support three times before I even got help. And that experience is terrible.

“No one should have to purchase a product that they’re unable to install because of the DRM. There might be other reasons, like the compatibility isn’t correct, or whatever. But people who purchase a game should have just as easy a time as those who pirate the game, otherwise it’s a negative incentive to buy a legal copy. And I just can’t see why people are using DRM still. If you take something like Sony’s DRM, SecuROM — it’s a waste of money. It will keep you protected for three days, it will create a lot of technical support, and it will not increase sales. And I know this for a fact, because we tried it eight years ago, and it never worked for us. Two major reasons: it costs money and it makes you lose money, and the other is that it’s so inconvenient to customers.”

My theory: it’s the same as the logic behind SOPA. There isn’t any. Outdated companies terrified by an internet they couldn’t have predicted feel that they have to do something. And even if that something has literally no effect on piracy, and only makes the experience more frustrating for their customers, it doesn’t matter. Because it looks like they’re trying. It’s berserk, but then people, and indeed corporations, will be entirely irrational when they’re controlled by fear.

You can read the rest of the interview here. And cheers to GI.biz for the spot.

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119 Comments »

  1. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    But-but-but, at least Ubisoft DRM is working as intended!

    • Hoaxfish says:

      At any point in the world, if you listen hard enough you can hear a Ubisoft representative shouting LALALALALALALALALA every time someone says DRM is a waste of time. Turns out it’s very much like the background radiation of the universe, a constant almost inpercievable hum.

    • Khemm says:

      Again, WHAT is this “Ubi DRM” everyone keeps blabbing about? Ubi has used a variety of copy protection methods and they don’t force anyone to be online all the time anymore.

    • mr.ioes says:

      Indeed, there are a few DRMs which work. Anno 2070, HoMM VI, Serious Sam 3. There are also H.A.W.X 2 and at least one other game out there which aren’t (fully) cracked.
      Whateverthecase, as the Anno 1404 crack I am, I have to skip Anno 2070 due to the DRM. Nailbitin, though ;(

      I wished there was a full working crack for Anno 2070 so I actually could buy it :weird:

      @Kemm: They do force people to be online if they want the real experience. You can’t use ark upgrades in Anno 2070 otherwise, which kind of is like playing your favourite multiplayer Shooter with arrow keys. Going back to HoMM VI, there are those dynasty upgrades and some other very useful stuff which you can’t access if playing offline.

      What’s interesting though – and this may even be story worthy – is, that Ubisoft apparently hasn’t seen any increase in sales despite a working DRM.
      Otherwise they would brag about how much $$$ there is to make if people can’t download media, right?

      So as long as Ubisoft doesn’t open its mouth, there’s another proof for this everyone-knows-anyway-fact.

    • Khemm says:

      mr.ioes
      I’m playing Anno and HoMM purely in offline mode and frankly, I couldn’t care less. The games feel complete and awesome without these minor additions. They’re there to reward legit players who decide to connect, they’re a neat bonus, something you can live without, something that isn’t at all necessary to enjoy the game. The core experience is untouched. There was no equivalent of “Ark upgrades” in Anno 1404 and you didn’t even notice, correct?
      I honestly don’t know what the fuss is about. Don’t worry about it.

    • kzrkp says:

      The wacky DRM is the thing that’s kept me away from buying Anno 2070. – and being not-pleased with Ubisoft in general.

    • P7uen says:

      In any major city you are never more than 10 metres away from a Ubi DRM.

    • mentor07825 says:

      But what about those of us who live in Ireland, where Ethopia has better broadband than we do? The entire Republic just got electricity not too long ago.

      Ubi-DRM where they implement the servers is still a problem, even for us.

    • Zakkeh says:

      @Khemm Why should part of my game be inaccessible if I don’t have access to the internet? Multiplayer is an exception because it requires the internet. I don’t need nor should I ever require the internet to access Ark upgrades.

      I just went through a couple days without internet access at all because of some storms. I don’t mind too much being unable to play some games, and even being limited isn’t a big deal. But the idea that Ubisoft can lock away part of my game which I purchased fully because I no longer connect to their servers is disgusting. I simply refuse to buy Ubisoft products if they’re going to lock away parts of my product on the off chance I lose my connection, far too common for me.

    • StenL says:

      @mr.ioes
      Anno 2070 is actually fully cracked, but you probably have to download the specific scene release to play it. Same with HoMM VI. Serious Sam 3 and HAWX 2 are the only semi-recent “big profile” releases that haven’t been cracked yet, but the Serious Sam series has always been a huge pain in the ass to crack due to more check triggers spread throughout the games than any other game that I am aware of.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Aside from Steam, Serious sam 3 doesn’t have any DRM bullcrap. They managed to keep the pirated game unplayable for weeks, without harming people who bought the game.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Say Ubisoft somewhere = Khemm rushing, foaming at the mouth, to defend a company who doesn’t give two shits about him or every customer. Sounds like that fable of the princess in the tower, only in this case the princess keeps flinging abuse at everyone and the white knight has been mercilessly frienzoned.

    • jjujubird says:

      Yeah it’s like he ctrl+f’s ubisoft for every RPS post. Not sure if he works for them or what but it’s so strange. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but when you’re presented with tons of evidence pointing against your argument you should really re-examine your stance.

    • Khemm says:

      “to defend a company who doesn’t give two shits about him or every customer”

      That’s ridiculous. Newsflash: EVERY SINGLE COMPANY doesn’t care about you, they care about your money. If you want to convince yourself Gabe loves you and would gladly gift you a teddy bear as opposed to EVIL Ubi or EA which would just shred said teddy to bits – be my guest, continue living in that fantasy world of yours.

      When I point out critical flaws in Steam’s design, everyone gets defensive and keeps repeating the PR mantra they’ve been spoonfed by Valve (features! Benefits! Not intrusive!) instead of acknowledging every DRM solution has its drawbacks. That’s hypocrisy.

    • thegooseking says:

      But what about those of us who live in Ireland, where Ethopia has better broadband than we do?

      I heard Ireland’s internet infrastructure is being upgraded, which is why it’s ok to have the SWTOR EU servers there.

      (I actually heard that Ireland’s internet infrastructure is being upgraded because the SWTOR EU servers are there, but I somehow doubt that.)

    • jrodman says:

      Don’t feed the DRM.

    • Tams80 says:

      @thegooseking

      That probably only be in Belfast and perhaps Dublin or wherever the servers are located. And then probably only the connections to the rest of Euro

    • cassus says:

      The funny thing about hardcore DRM the way UBI does it is that people pirate it just so they don’t have to deal with their messed up DRM. I’ve bought games from UBI back in the day, I think Raven Shield was one of them, that didn’t install on my PC because my DVD drive was too old. CD drive sound more right for the time, I guess.. Anyways, I had to download an ISO to even install that fricken thing, and then crack it. How the hell does that make sense?
      I put up with A LOT of shit from publishers because I want to play their games, but UBI is probably the one company I try to avoid at all cost. Luckily they publish nothing but crap these days.

    • Joe W-A says:

      “If you want to convince yourself Gabe loves you and would gladly gift you a teddy bear as opposed to EVIL Ubi or EA which would just shred said teddy to bits – be my guest, continue living in that fantasy world of yours.”
      Gabe gifted me a headcrab hat, does that count

  2. Mungrul says:

    I like the cut of this man’s jib.
    Shame his name reminds me of an infamous resident of Gloucester.

    • DogKiller says:

      Damn it, I was going to say that. I don’t like everything Paradox does, especially when it came to the mess of Hearts of Iron 3, but they are definitely one of the better PC publishers and devs out there an I greatly enjoy some of their games. I can’t wait for Crusader Kings 2.

    • Neurotic says:

      Yeah, I was wondering if there were any Dwarfettes buried under his patio… :O :D

    • Kent says:

      I’m with dogkiller on this one. Paradox really publishes games that really aren’t for me but something tells me that their CEO is a really intelligent person, praising the computer gaming community like that, and once in a while they do release some good stuff such as Magicka and Mount & Blade – but that’s more credit to their developers than themselves because they’re really bad at getting hold on interesting developers. Well, at least they’re better than EA and THQ. :P

    • IDtenT says:

      The blasphemous Kent should be your real name! How can EUIII not be for you? The world weeps, oh it weeps!

  3. Flukie says:

    Yesterday I bought Assassins Creed Revelations which doesn’t have bad DRM anymore but its still pretty shoddy, as it was unplayable after buying it for a day, yet I knew if I got it from a torrent site I would have a better experience, which is quite depressing concidering you want to support the future development of games and new IP from the company… Although with their rudeness towards PC gamers as a whole whats the point.

  4. lurkalisk says:

    Oh, Paradox, I love you.

    Reminds me, when I heard of that semi-ok Stalker 2 news (the “we’re making it but we need a publisher” news), I immediately thought of Paradox. I doubt that would be feasible, but I couldn’t imagine a better outcome. Well, at least as I’m concerned.

  5. Belsameth says:

    It’s reasons like this that I still support Paradox, even tho they keep releasing games as a shoddy mess that need a couple of months to fix. This, and the fact that they don’t leave their release a shoddy mess, but try to fix it.

    Looking forward to that Dwarf thing! :D

    • Lord Byte says:

      Tell that to the many many people who bought Magicka. Or Sword of the Stars 2. Neither are anywhere nor finished, and Magicka is more than a year old and still crashes constanly or bugs out somehow. (try to get through a coop game with 4 friends, I dare you)

    • Skabooga says:

      To Magicka’s credit, I’ve recently played a number of four-player coop games with much delight. Of course, it still crashes about a third of the time, but a little perseverance will let you have a most enjoyable time.

    • Belsameth says:

      My reply was eaten! :(

      Anyway, I actually *have* Magicka and all DLC and had a great time with it, despite all the issues.
      (Never more thyen 3 in a coop tho).

      SotS I “tried” but no tutorial and a massive confusing mess for someone new to the serie :)

  6. phlebas says:

    What Fred said is right.

  7. Flimgoblin says:

    To butcher the saying: noone got fired for including SecuROM…

  8. Yargh says:

    The most convincing argument I have seen is that using DRM placates shareholders that are worried about piracy.

    It would seem that these mythical beings live in a fantasy universe where if the company CEO tells them something, it must be true and no amount of reporting otherwise will make them lose trust in him.

    • suibhne says:

      I have no trouble buying this argument. The typical shareholder (at least in the US) now holds a stock for a year or less, and the most influential shareholders are the large institutions like mutual funds. The pressure on companies to post short-term profit is huge, and there’s almost no emphasis whatsoever on long-term profit – because, you know, this particularly batch of shareholders will have sold for capital gains and moved on by that point.

      In other words, a public firm’s owners no longer act like it’s owners; they just want to get a greasy buck and clear out of town. This perspective valorizes quick ‘n’ dirty non-solutions like DRM, and it doesn’t directly reward investment in long-term stuff like, oh, I don’t know, customer relationships. It also discourages investors from really getting to know the industries in which they’ve invested, so the particularities of, say, piracy and DRM are probably totally lost on them and they’re likely to be overly deferential to management claims (who in turn are overly responsive to the pressure for short-term profit over long-term investment).

    • Josh W says:

      Shareholders don’t need to demand it, just like we don’t demand advertising. I’m not sure it actually is one of those “look we’re doing something” performances, but it could easily be.

      Perhaps you could compare the companies that care about DRM with those that don’t and look at the amount of shares held by external shareholders. That’d be a start towards analysis at least.

  9. LukeAllstar says:

    DRM is always a lose-lose situation for the customers as well as for the companys using it. It’s just annoying and just delays pirated versions of a game for some days.
    I want to buy a game, download/install it and play it. Just that and nothing more. I am fine with entering a key, especially if i have more keys for more platforms (an extra key for steam and desura, for example)
    Everything more is just unnecessary overkill and annoys the players

  10. mentor07825 says:

    This pretty much sums what he’s saying in a nice picture: http://cdn.gamefront.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/why-people-pirate-graphic.jpg

    • thekeats1999 says:

      One step missing from that. If you bought the physical copy like i did then you need to keep the bloody disk in the drive as well.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Now that’s freaking nuts. I just can’t understand the thinking some publishers have.

    • Khemm says:

      Load of bollocks. The installation of Batman was an easy and painless process.

      The serial automatically shows up in LIVE, so you don’t have to enter it twice.
      Going online isn’t a necessary step, you can create an offline profile and play right away.
      Patches you download only once and can back them up for future use.
      Steam is an additional unnecessary layer, my retail copy didn’t have it.
      “Pirate Bay version” also has “WB, DC, Rocksteady, nvidia” intros and GFWL.

      Someone should create a set of pictures showing the amount of hassle you have to go through when trying to get retail Steamworks games to work, then you’ll see why people pirate.

      Summary – this picture was made by a hopelessly clueless guy.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      You know, Khemm, you’re coming off as a 100% total shill. Even I don’t like Steam as much as you supposedly like UbiDRM & GFWL. Maybe you should try to be more subtle about it.

    • Khemm says:

      @MadTinkerer
      Hold on a moment there, where did I say I LIKED X or Y? I’m just pointing out that the aformentioned picture does not depict the truth.

    • buzzmong says:

      @Khemm

      Last time I used GFWL was with Batman Arkham Asylum.

      It took 30 minutes from when the game finished installing to a time when I actually started playing. Why?
      GFWL refused to update in the game (at the main menu ffs), so I had to close it, manually go off and download updates, restart the PC(!) and then download my Live profile before I could play it.

      THIRTY minutes.

      On the flipside for Steam, which you oddly seem to loathe with a passion, I was playing a retail copy of Skyrim, a steamworks game, about 2 minutes after it finished installing (Steam’s odd DirectX check was the small delay there).

      You may of had different experiences, but from mine Steam actually works fine and the others don’t.

    • suibhne says:

      @Khemm: It took me 30 minutes as well to get Batman: AC up and running. Steam wasn’t the problem, and the game activated fine, but the rest of the GfWL DRM refused to recognize my profile in-game even tho my user info worked fine in the GfWL client software (the standalone program) and the LIVE website. Out of the last 4 games I’ve played that used GfWL, three have required at least 30 minutes of troubleshooting before I was able to start playing.

      And that graphic displays all the steps you have to go through if you don’t encounter any problems at all – it’s a best-case scenario.

    • Kaira- says:

      I spent 2 and half hours installing Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising. From disk. Via Steam. Compared to that, the fact that I spent 15 minutes trying to log in and update GfWL was nothing.

    • myca77 says:

      @Khemm

      Smells like it, sounds like it, it must be BS.

      Last retail Steam game I got was a breeze, Launched Steam, entered the serial, game downloaded whilst I took a bath, game launched, after a good four hours I gave up due to the game being mediocre (a free copy of Duke Nukem I got from the publisher due to me doing a bit of work on the game). Not a single issue, apart from the game being decidedly naff.

      I can’t say I’ve had any real issues with GFWL, but as a service I think it has a long way to come, and it just feels a little counter intuitive and finicky, especially when you have to install a new version, taking you to a website is so old school, why it can’y auto update itself is beyond me. If Office for my mac can auto update I can’t see why Microsoft can’t have an application on their own OS auto update.

      As for Ubi, well I remember having to hack some ini file for assassins creed to stop it accessing their server every 30 seconds, an issue which caused stuttering (like my voice).

      I moved some time ago, and due to the ineptitude of BT and O2 I was without the internet for 12 weeks, Steam worked fine in offline mode for all that time, the only two games that didn’t work for me (excluding MP games) were Mass Effect (still not sure why) and Assassins Creed 2.
      I’ll leave you to praise Ubi (who’s sales have dropped since their experimenting with whatever the DRM du-jour is), and let you bitch about Steam (whose sales increase hand over fist). But the sales don’t lie, consumers appear to prefer Steam over Ubi.

    • suibhne says:

      I’m not sure exactly what you’re arguing, Kaira, but the nice thing about installing games digitally (via Steam, D2D, GG, whatever) is that you can do other things at the same time – for hours, if need be. In contrast, GfWL has wasted at least 2 hours of my life for nothing but anxiety and high blood pressure; that’s not time I can use for anything else, because I have to be constantly engaged with my individual war against the DRM.

      I know it’s a matter of personal preference and connection speed, but I now generally prefer installing a game digitally than off a physical disk just because of the multitasking issue (and the fact that I can leave Steam unattended overnight, with my computer set to automatically sleep after an appropriate period). And aside from the first installation of a game, Steam has never, ever wasted my time on any task that wouldn’t have taken just as long – or longer – without Steam (for example, downloading and installing a game patch). I understand that Steam contains DRM for most (not all) of its titles, but the fact that it’s never wasted my time is a pretty big detail for me.

    • Kaira- says:

      @suibhine

      Because it would have been faster for me to install from disk, I did so. When compared to the fact that the DoW II itself installed within 20 minutes via Steam + disk, the performance with Chaos Rising was atrocious, and I am quite sure that without Steam the installation would have been ready much, much faster.

      Also, do note that I am not defending GfWL, it’s the same kind of shit than Steam.

    • Belsameth says:

      Steam guys actually explained the constant DX checking on their forums. Makes sense to me and seems more like it’s bad implementation by MS (like that’ll ever happen :p).

      http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showpost.php?p=23759166&postcount=47

  11. Choca says:

    Paradox = not perfect but still awesome.

  12. Wofiel says:

    What? Magicka still has DRM. It’s called Steam. Steam is wrapped in a pretty package with a store, community, great sales and so on, but it is still DRM.

    • Kaira- says:

      It wasn’t developed by Paradox, but published by them. I don’t think I know any game developed by Paradox which has DRM, however some of the published ones do have DRM, which is a bloody shame, and seems weird seeing what Wester thinks about DRM. I don’t know if the devs have insisted on using the DRM or what…

    • Khemm says:

      @Wofiel

      Exactly, this guy is a frakking LIAR and what he’s saying is a poorly veiled attempt at winning the favour of the delusional “DRM is bad, but Steam is awesum and not DRM at all” crowd.

      @Kaira
      All games developed and published by Paradox will be Steamworks-enabled from now on according to what I read a while ago on their forums, beginning with Crusader Kings 2… all versions of this game – retail and digital – will use Steam, only the Gamersgate version will be DRM free. It’s fine there’s a DRM free alternative, but I wanted a shiny box and a thick manual, too.

      I don’t know if Warlock will also be Steam-free on Gmgate, it’d better be.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Khemm

      That… sounds worrying, to say the least. Especially since Paradox-games are one of those games that I prefer to buy boxed copies, because it’s more ‘concrete’ than digital copies. If what you say is true I guess I’ll just have to wait until the digital copies hit the sweet spot on GamersGate and then buy them.

      And apparently you are right, at least in the case of CK2. From the forums (scroll down a bit):

      In a mail from Fredrik II, the CEO and main owner of the company to some people internally this morning.

      “me and Johan discussed how to create a non-Steam CK2 GM. There will be one and we are doing our best to deliver on time.”

      So yes, there will be a non-steam GM, and gamersgate will sell that one, and it will be released at the same time as the steam version is.

      [E]: Spotted from the page 6 by the dev:

      Box is steam.

      Sorry Paradox, but no. Just no.

      What a bloody shame. I already had pre-ordered from Amazon, but I will cancel it now.

    • lordhughes says:

      Is bashing steam what the cool kids do? I really don’t get people’s issue with the DRM, its relatively unobtrusive and I have been using it for years and never experienced any problems or been put out by it.

    • Kaira- says:

      Well, Steam being one of the more intrusive DRMs, and especially intrusive if you like boxed copies, it should be no wonder why some people dislike Steam.

    • TheApologist says:

      I’d say calling him a ‘frakking liar’ is a bit much. First, it seems pointlessly uncivil.

      More substantively, you acknowledge that Steam is not simply a DRM system. Rather, it is a system for advertising a game, selling a game, downloading a game, launching a game, multiplayer including voice etc., delivering patches, storing game saves. To say ‘Steam is DRM’ is reductionist to the extent that you miss the point. I.e. He is not saying that he would not wish to protect the game from getting cracked and distributed for free, rather he is saying that instead of doing things that make it difficult to buy and play a game, they would rather focus on making it as easy as possible for potential customers to buy and play their games. Whatever a small vocal minority might say, this desire is very well fulfilled through Steam.

    • Fred says:

      I am well aware some people see Steam as a DRM they do not want to use, we have used it for multiplayer in for example Magicka which made the game dependent upon Steam to work.

      We are working to provide Steam-free versions of all games we release as well. Some games will use Steam for certain things, but hopefully most games going forward will have a Steam free option.

      Thanks for your support!

      Fred (Pdx CEO)

      @stillwater (below): Thanks for your feedback, I have been working with Steam for many years now and you can say they are succeeding despite people seeing parts of their solution as a DRM, not because of it.

      Edit: And I think I’ll choose clueless over hypocrite, should the question come up, tough choice though ;)

    • stillwater says:

      @lordhughes

      Whether Steam is good or not is irrelevant to the point (it IS good – very good, actually). The point is, it’s DRM (yes, it offers you extra features, but so does the Ubisoft launcher). And what’s more, it’s a DRM solution that works well, and is proven to make money. Which pretty much renders this entire article useless, and makes Wester look like either a hypocrite or someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Boom, Fred provides a knockout!

      Also, thanks Fred for your two cents on the matter. I think it’s great that you try to provide a Steam free alternative. Personally I wouldn’t mind either way. Steam is convenient for me and I don’t have a problem with it.

      @Stillwater: As Fred just pointed out, they try to provide alternatives to Steam, ala GamersGate. Also, Steam offers enticing features. For example, what Fred just pointed out, multiplayer support. As a programmer that is learning network code, theory and the applying said theory, support such as that is invaluable. Especially when you have a schedual to keep.

      It all makes sense.

    • stillwater says:

      @mentor07825

      Like I said, Steam is good. I like the extra features. I also like that it’s DRM, by the way, because Steam HAS helped to reduce piracy.

      The point here is that Wester points the finger at a crappy piece of DRM that punishes the customer and says “ALL DRM IS BAD!”. All the while, his own games use a different piece of DRM (one that is good, makes money for the developer and benefits the customer, and therefore invalidates his own argument). It’s absurd.

    • sneetch says:

      Yep, Steam has DRM. It’s DRM I personally don’t mind one bit as it’s always behaved properly for me but I can definitely understand why others have a problem with it especially those who suffer from technical problems with it.

      Like (I believe) most people, I don’t care about most forms of DRM so long as they don’t mess with the way my machine works outside the game or with my ability to play my games when and where I want to. I’m fine with DRM so long as it’s hassle free: take Tages, for example, having to contact someone and wait to get activations refunded is a pain in the ass that could prevent you from just reinstalling an old game on a whim for a quick bash, however, if it “cleaned up” after itself when you uninstalled or if the publishers issued new activations periodically then that’d be fine. (I believe Ubisoft changed it so that it reissued an activation per month up to the activation limit for Farcry 2 and Anno 1404 a few months after the games launched which I thought was the best way around that limitation, short of patching it out altogether, I can reinstall those games when I want to and they don’t have to deal with support emails for old games).

      I don’t like sneaky DRM though, DRM that tries to hide its true nature, requiring you to be online to get the entire game for no reason other than to have you online, for example. Although developers use Steam for its multiplayer (which makes perfect sense from a business point of view as Steam has the single largest PC gamer install base) there should be no requirement to have Steam running in order to play the game in single player mode, that’s just DRM.

    • mentor07825 says:

      Impulse, at the time I was using it, provided a nicer solution. Yuo didn’t have to be online or had Impulse running in the background to play any of the games through it. I’ve yet to see if this is still true, as I haven’t used it since Gamespot bought it out.

      @Stillwater: I can see your point, and it’s a good point, however I think to say Mr. Wester is a hypochrite or a liar is harsh. I think that Mr. Wester didn’t communicate properly on what he meant when he said “All DRM” and such. We all do it, and I myself don’t communicate myself that well often enough. After all, when we think of Steam we think of a service. A shop comes to my mind and multiplayer. I honestly keep forgetting that Steam is also a DRM platform, simply because when I think of or even see Steam I think of a shop.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      “Also, thanks Fred for your two cents on the matter. I think it’s great that you try to provide a Steam free alternative. Personally I wouldn’t mind either way. Steam is convenient for me and I don’t have a problem with it.”

      Saying he tries to isn’t the same as actually providing a drm free alternative. They said there would be a drm free version of Magicka, there is none. Sword of the Stars 2 is steam only, although no one wants to buy that game anymore at all I guess. The only way steam helped that game in any way must have been for blocking immediate refunds, I guess it’s very convenient for this. With Crusader Kings 2 they are holding back features like beta patches for the drm free version. They’ve been speaking about the drm free version of CK2 as if it’s such a a huge hassle to provide it, especially Johann. I’ll have to question how long they’ll be bothered making that choice available at all in the future.

    • mentor07825 says:

      My replies are not being posted. Sorry about this, but now I just can’t be bothered to retype it.

    • Khemm says:

      @Fred
      Thank you for responding here, sorry for the harsh language – but I’m not at all happy with Paradox’s pro-Steam strategy since it affects even the retail copies.
      However, I’ll continue supporting your company if Gamersgate indeed keeps providing Steam-free editions.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Note that Steamworks implementation does not mean a game has Steam DRM. Sol Survivor for example has no DRM at all and still uses Steamworks features like achievements and matchmaking.

      Hearts of Iron 3 and Europa Universalis 3 don’t use Steam DRM, and I think it’s similar for other tiles developed by Paradox on the platform. It’s easy to get things mixed up here.

    • Khemm says:

      @Malawi
      You won’t install boxed copies without Steam. Once you get them working and updated, they might not require Steam anymore, but doesn’t change anything. You do not get a working game right out of the box.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      I see. I didn’t know that.

    • malkav11 says:

      I am willing to go along with the idea that Steam has reduced piracy, but any piracy reduction it may have had to contribute had nothing to do with its functionality as DRM. Steam games are just as routinely cracked as any other DRM solution (though generally people don’t bother to crack the Steam version if there’s a retail release that doesn’t use Steam). Rather, it would have to do with the regular, excellent sales. When you can easily get formerly $50 games for $5 to 10, conveniently and with ongoing support, multiplayer, achievements, etc, piracy seems distinctly less attractive as an alternative.

  13. Hoaxfish says:

    I discussed Magicka with several different companies and friends and people around the industry, who said that you can never reach more than 100,000 gamers with a game like this on the PC. Because it’s so console-centric, the gameplay is made for console, etc.

    I don’t get this at all.

    I think people might be getting “console games” confused with “arcade-style games”. I really like games that might be classified as such, light-weight, actiony, jumping, shooting, graphical mess… but I don’t see why that can’t happen on a PC. Sonic is on PC, Cave Story is on PC, there’s a whole bunch of games which turn up on everything.

    I might go so far as to say consoles are the ones with genre-limits derived from their design… most people don’t see RTSes really moving onto console any time soon (that’s not to say people can’t do it). Even “accepted” compatibility like FPSes need stuff like aim-assist to make the genre work on consoles.

    I’m not entirely sure, but doesn’t the spell-casting system use more buttons/keys than a console gamepad actually has?

    • Simes says:

      I’m not entirely sure, but doesn’t the spell-casting system use more buttons/keys than a console gamepad actually has?

      It does. You can play Magicka with a pad if you like, but the spellcasting system becomes much more difficult to use, involving holding down buttons and twiddling thumbsticks.

    • povu says:

      I tried playing local co-op Magicka once. My brother on my PC, me on a Xbox 360 controller. It was terrible, it takes way too long to select anything with the controller.

      Completing Magicka on single player on an Xbox 360 controller seems pretty much impossible to me.

    • Kdansky says:

      I actually prefer action games* on the PC, because playing them with a keyboard works better than with a controller! I can use more fingers (less tiring on the thumbs), I am faster (I don’t need to move my fingers around, only press down), I am more precise (do a shoryuken on a keyboard, and tell me that’s not superior to a shitty PS3/Xbox controller) and the keyboard allows me to actually use chatting functions and just MORE keys. I want to play Marvel vs Capcom 3 on my PS3 with a keyboard, but it doesn’t let me. :(

      *I am talking ONLY about those that don’t require an analog stick, like Street Fighter or Super Meat Boy, but that’s already two complete genres. Yes, driving games are shit with a keyboard, I won’t deny it.

  14. povu says:

    Paradox is slowly becoming one of my favourite publishers, despite the fact that the majority of their games are strategy games, a genre that I have little interest in.

    • Skabooga says:

      I too feel this way. It feels so weird to like a publisher instead of a developer (although one could say I like Paradox partly because of the developers they choose). Although I have loved a few of the games which have branched away from the intense micro-management, namely, as mentioned previously, Magicka and Mount and Blade.

  15. stillwater says:

    *cough* Steam *cough* uber-profitable DRM solution *cough*

  16. AshEnke says:

    “Something must be done, I am doing something, something has been done.”

  17. KaMy says:

    I think that most PC players can’t stand DRM but even though some can’t help themself but buy some games and by doing so don’t make their point. I personally don’t buy Ubi games for 2 reasons, they are mostly crap but even when they acheive good product i can’t stand their shitty DRM. So i do boycott Ubi. And if everyone did the same maybe it would change. Or not. Not that we would loose a lot aside for the Anno and Ruse / Wargame : European Escalation given that you like this kind of games.

    I did like the offer that CD Project Red did for The Witcher 2 and the DRMless version buyable on GOG. If it could be done more often it would be really cool.

    As for Steam even if you can put it in the DRM bag there is one great feature that make it good, is buddy and chat system. I’m not very fond of it for solo games but for multiplayer ones it trully is a great feature given that they prove themself to be steamworks and that you don’t have to install Steam then GFWL and finally use a freaking gamespy account. And as far as DRM goes steam must be the neatest. Sure their offline mode kinda sucks because you have to set it offline before being offline (and that REALLY sucks i do agree) and you can’t sell back your games. But come on don’t give me that, most retailers don’t buy back PC games for such a long time and when you purchased your game 5$/£/€ it doesn’t really matter. And given that there is more and more games that request to be linked to some account one of the biggest Steam cons isn’t that big nowadays.

  18. Kdansky says:

    No reason behind SOPA? DId you miss the part about the people in power being able to censor anything they want censored? That bill isn’t about copyright, but rather about mimicking the Chinese.

  19. Hixmegistos says:

    For those complaining that Paradox uses Steam for a lot of their games as of lately.

    While Magicka probably requires Steam the Paradox developed games (like Sengoku, Crusader Kings II and such) only use Steam as a mode of installation and patch delivery.

    So after installing the games you are free to uninstall Steam and never use it again because the games does not use the Steam DRM and does not require Steam to actually run. If you do without Steam though you will also have to do without patches…

  20. Carra says:

    He’s right, the game is safe for about 3 days until a crack is on the net. After that, you just have to needlessly give support to users who have trouble with your DRM.

    Still, 3 days is quite a bit. Seeing your game cracked on the internet days before the release can be devastating to your sales.

  21. johnpeat says:

    I read the title as “DLC is a waste of money” and, y’know, that’s one of them Freudian things innit

  22. Unaco says:

    DRM is utterly futile

    Dunno… Steam seems to be doing pretty damn well. It’s DRM, good DRM yes, but still DRM.

    • Khemm says:

      Steam is totally ineffective, however. It prevents games from leaking before release, but they still end up on torrents in a Steam-free form merely hours after they unlock for legit users.
      The problem with Steam is it’s totally impossible to patch it out as far as retail copies are concerned, Securom, Tages, always-online DRM etc on the other hand can be easily removed and have been for a LOT of games.
      Steam is essentially permanent DRM.

    • johnpeat says:

      Can we stop mentioning Steam – it’s just that Khemm is a raging force of stupidity and it’s getting to be annoying having him leap in, troll-like, EVERY TIME it’s mentioned…

    • Kaira- says:

      There is no good DRM for the customer. The services Steam provides on top of that DRM to hide the fact that it’s DRM may be good, but the DRM deep down is still not good. The services could be provided without the DRM, but aren’t. What does that tell us, I wonder.

    • Unaco says:

      The services could be provided without the DRM, but aren’t. What does that tell us, I wonder.

      Offer a better service and people are happy to accept DRM.

    • Khemm says:

      @johnpeat
      “Can we stop mentioning Steam – it’s just that Khemm is a raging force of reason”

      Fixed.

      “and it’s getting to be annoying having him leap in, troll-like, EVERY TIME it’s mentioned… ”

      … But when people moan about DRM every time Ubi is mentioned, then it’s perfectly OK?

    • Unaco says:

      Also… There can be plenty of DRM that is good for the customer. Take SpaceChem (I’m not sure if it does actually work as DRM, never tested, but it’s a good example none the less). Playing SpaceChem, while connected to the servers, allows you to compare and contrast your performance with your friends, to compete in the Leaderboards, to upload your solutions to YouTube, to participate in the ResearchNet stuff, things like that… extra social gaming stuff. Playing while not connected, means you miss out on all that, and I assume your solutions aren’t added to the Leaderboards, can’t be compared against your friends etc.

      For me, the DRM is the option to connect to the server (which only legitimate copies of the game should be able to do) to be authenticated, but then to get all of the comparative, social things as well. Or, not connect to the server, and miss out on all that social stuff. The DRM is good for the Customer, it gives them a better game experience.

    • johnpeat says:

      @Khemm – the problem is you’re just a kid with some weirdly distorted sense of rage about something you clearly don’t understand.

      To you, Steam is bad and EVERYTHING else is OK

      In the space of just this thread you’ve trashed the PC’s most popular DD/API (Steam) and then defended Ubisoft AND GFWL

      This means you are completely and utterly insane – hand yourself over to the men with the funny backwards coat who are outside your (mums) house right now.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Unaco

      That is only a service tacked on the DRM to make the DRM more tolerable. However, tt’s a DRM which I can tolerate with full-price purchase, since I don’t need to tie my game to a third-party service nor activate the game online to get the full experience.

    • Unaco says:

      Kaira,

      I don’t see it like that… that it’s just a service ‘tacked on’. I see it as part of the DRM package. DRM is NOT just the disc checks or online activations. It is the whole platform or system by which these checks are made, and the services provided by that platform/system.

    • Kaira- says:

      There our views differ. I see the whole system as one package, but the package in itself is not atomic or indivisible. You can take the DRM away andoffer the same services still (mainly speaking of single player games which are more of a product to me than service as compared to multiplayer games). Obviously most internet-based services want some kind of authentication from the user to use it, as the services are not free to be upheld. It’s an interesting subject to tackle on, like these online scoreboards. If I remember correctly, World of Goo didn’t use any kind of authentication for those either.

  23. Fred Wester CEO of Paradox says:

    “DRM Is A Waste Of Money”

  24. bill says:

    @john Walker:

    There is a logic behind SOPA really. You just have to open your mind and think about it a little. I don’t agree with SOPA, but to say it has no logic is being kind of foolish. It might not be the right way to address the problem, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

    There was a pretty good article on theregister about it.

    Some things that feel obvious to many techies simply aren’t outside Silicon Valley. Hence, Steve Blank can write that “SOPA is a symbol of the movie industry’s failure to innovate,” chuckling that these “old world” industries simply “don’t get it”. But in so doing he overlooks the very real concerns such industries have about protecting their content, as pointed out by The Wall Street Journal. We can blithely proclaim that digitisation obviates copyright, but the truth isn’t nearly so black and white.

    Even an open-source revolutionary like Marc Fleury groks this, writing in support of SOPA:

    Increasingly the western world relies on IP to make a living. Since we produce less “real world” goods and more “digital world” goods we open ourselves to piracy. If we are to move to an information based economy there needs to be a limit to the infringement of IP.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/19/sopa_is_gone_are_you_happy_now/
    and
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/17/beyond_sopa/

    —–
    That said, DRM does seem to be a total waste of money.

  25. HannibalBarca says:

    This coming from Paradox, for whom Quality Control often seems to be an unnecessary waste of money as well.

  26. Megadyptes says:

    Paradox does have a sort of DRM. The Pox developed games (and AGEOD or Pox France) no longer get regular ‘official’ patches, but instead they put out beta patches which they host in the ‘tech support’ sections of their forums and the only way to get these patches is to have the game’s serial key registered on your paradox forum account so you can access the tech support forums. Not that I’m bothered much by this approach but, as I said, it still is a kind of DRM. I think some of the newer games have their Mods subforum locked for people who don’t have registered copies as well.

    Although when you venture over to their forums for patches or mods make sure you don’t stay too long or you’ll be rendered idiotic by all the east european nationalists, dumb moderators and borderline game developers that infest the forums.

  27. Ridnarhtim says:

    Funnily enough, I am more eager to buy this game than anything by Ubisoft, even though I love the Might and Magic series.

  28. Eich says:

    Well I do not understand what Wester means when he says that Paradox does not use DRM. They use Steam. True, at the end of the day Steam is still the most accesibble DRM but it still is a platform to ensure rights… Or am I wrong?

    • Aninhumer says:

      Someone further up was saying apparently they only use Steam essentially as a distribution service and the binaries don’t actually check if Steam is running, so theoretically you could uninstall Steam once you’ve installed a game.

    • Vinraith says:

      The only Paradox games I know of that require Steam are Magicka (where the dev used it as their multiplayer infrastructure) and SotS 2 (where the dev wanted a central system for distributing patches).

      Personally the vast bulk of my Pdox collection is on Gamersgate.

  29. MythArcana says:

    DRM is a failing animal – just like U.S. Congress!

  30. Tams80 says:

    @thegooseking

    That probably only be in Belfast and perhaps Dublin or wherever the servers are located. And then probably only the connections to the rest of Europe. =D

  31. Pointless Puppies says:

    Big, complex DRM is a waste of money for one reason: it accomplishes nothing. One only needs to apply basic laws of logic to realize this.

    What is the one true purpose of DRM? To prevent people from illegally acquiring software they aren’t legally entitled to using. Has excessive DRM truly succeeded on this? A resounding no, because there are two types of DRM that are mean to really target two different kinds of people: people who would pirate complete, unrestricted freedom to do so, and people who would pirate regardless of what DRM is put in place.

    The former type of pirate is deterred simply by putting rudimentary DRM in the title in question. Absolutely nothing fancy, just a simple CD key or something equally as basic (like integration with Steam). This prevents World of Goo situations from occurring where the game was so small and distributing it was so easy that people wouldn’t even think twice about swiping the game for a while (like the days of yore of “copying that floppy”). With small measures of DRM, it basically prevents petty, one-time pirates from taking the game, and most people who fall in this category would likely buy it at some point in time (during one of those $1 sales, for instance).

    The second type of pirate is the hardcore pirate. The one who scours high and low across the vast reaches of the internet to get anti-DRM patches, keygens. They go out of their way to set up a nice torrent client and tweaked for maximum efficiency (or whatever new digital distribution method people like to use). They might even pay subscriptions to file locker sites to make the most of their downloading. These are the people who will never be stopped. No matter how stringent the DRM is, there WILL be a crack, and people WILL pirate it, period.

    At this point, anything beyond a keygen is deliberately trying to screw over the second type of pirate, despite the fact that it’s widely known that the second type of pirate is like unwanted heat dissipation: you can’t ever get rid of it. Ever. These people have gone out of their way in every possible fashion to avoid paying for their software, and many of them download simply to have something downloading: many pirates never even touch half the stuff they download.

    These aren’t consumers. They’re not anybody’s market. At that point, any DRM directed at them will one purpose only: it will inconvenience your paying consumers. Because that kind of DRM will never inconvenience a hardcore pirate, ever. Games get cracked in 2 days, if that, and that DRM is completely out of the mind of the very people that DRM was trying to target.

    There isn’t a single reason to use anything beyond a simple CD Key or basic Steam integration. None. Zero. Any stricter than that and it has absolutely zero effect. There aren’t “tiers” of DRM that work on different degrees of piracy, that’s a complete lie and fabrication by pro-DRM publishers and DRM companies themselves. There is only one type of DRM that ever works: basic protection that deters extremely casual pirates. Any more “hardcore” than that and the DRM seizes to make any effect whatsoever.

    • malkav11 says:

      Honestly, given the low barrier of entry to piracy these days, I’m not convinced the first type of piracy even exists to speak of anymore.

      That said, I think the real pirate scourge is and always has been not filesharers or casual floppy copiers or any other end user pirate. It’s the bootlegging and counterfeiting operations that criminal organizations run, particularly overseas in places like eastern Europe and China. And those guys aren’t going to be stopped by DRM. They’re going to be stopped by law enforcement and consumer awareness or not at all.

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