Computer game DRM is one of the more pernicious sorts of DRM. Rather than just restricting what you can do with the content you purchase, computer game DRM can actually make your content harder to use at all, if not actively screw up your computer—making computer game piracy even more attractive than e-book DRM makes e-book piracy.
Online retro game e-store Good Old Games has long recognized this; we mentioned their anti-DRM stance when they launched in 2008. Now they’ve spoken out again, in an interview with bit-tech.net. GOG’s PR and marketing manager, Lukasz Kukawski, had a few things to say on the subject.
In addition to driving gamers to cracked versions of games, Kukawski also asks how anyone can believe that DRM acts as a deterrent to piracy. ‘If you see the news on gaming portals that a highly anticipated title has leaked before the release date, and you can download it from torrents without any copy protection because it has been already cracked, how can you possible (sic) believe that DRM works in any way to reduce piracy?’
This is particularly noteworthy given that GOG’s parent company, CD Projekt, is releasing The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, an upcoming PC RPG that will be entirely DRM-free. So, not only are they talking, they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Other computer games have gone DRM-free, but these have mostly been indie games such as the Humble Indie Bundle or the Humble Indie Bundle 2—not a high-profile commercial title like this. It will be interesting to see how well it goes over.
Conversely, Valve’s Steam game e-store uses relatively unobtrusive DRM and periodical big-discount sales to lure people away from piracy into legitimate purchasing. And, of course, Good Old Games offers its retro titles DRM-free (even though this sometimes makes it harder for them to convince publishers to license them those games). So it seems like at least some gaming companies “get it”.
It would be nice if more companies, across all media, got the hint.
(Found via Slashdot.)
And for a counterexample, there’s Stardock, who very publicly took a strong anti-DRM stance, and ended up with games that 20,000 people bought and 100,000 people played.