DRM is the Devil

RPS has a good interview with Ubisoft, who has finally abandoned their ridiculous DRM tool for PC games.  The core of the interview revolves around the fact that there are zero numbers being shared as to how piracy actually affects users.  That number, no matter the value, would provide at least some context to the “war”.

What number did come out is that Ubisoft’s sales on the PC (arguably the 2nd hardest to pirate after XBOX) account for about 10% of all sales.  Let’s be a bit more frank about it, if you pirate on an XBOX you will get caught if you go online at some point, due to the middleware from MS.  This is not always the case with PC games, who often have a direct input into an online game.  Steam, Origin and various other platforms combat this.

I understand pirating.  I used to do it because a) there was no online store sales and b) the game simply wasn’t available locally.  I did it a bit on the 360 when a) my games broke or b) the game simply wasn’t worth 60$.  For me, the main driver was service.  I got a better service from pirating a game than I did buying a game.  Today’s quite a bit different.  An EB is around the corner and all my games on the PC have to be on Steam.  Steam by the way, is amazing on the service front.

Back to DRM.  As an idea, DRM is good.  As a practice, it’s usually quite a failure.  Often times it’s incredibly restrictive.  Some games have an always-on DRM (which is what makes D3 an MMO) which is stupid in a world of laptops.  Again, Steam lets you play off-line.  Some DRM will limit the number of times you can install a game.  This is again retarded as only these games are limited.  Don’t have that on the XBOX, PS3, iPhone, CDs, movies or anything.  If the amount of times you can use something is limited, it’s called a rental.  Some DRM reduces that count when you chance hardware components.  Again, rental.

Ubisoft did all of this and more.  When their authentication servers went down (and that happens once a month for a few days), no one can play a game.  If the servers are wonky, no one can save a game.  Ubisoft had 10% PC sales?  I am guessing that will jump up to 25-30% without DRM.

If you need to stop pirates, have them authenticate the game once online with the local PC. And again with every other install.  If the game is registered multiple times in a short period from varying IPs, block it.  Give them the option to play locally – offline.  If the game is online, then have them re-authenticate when logging in.  It’s really quite simple.  Thankfully Ubisoft got the message,


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