Tuesday, 4 December 2012

More DRM Woes

Spread the "joy" around....

Last week was not a fun one for people on the playing or developing side of gaming, at least in some cases. Why you ask? Because of more DRM issues! It has been a while since I've talked about DRM, and not much has changed. Still, I find that it's worth talking about in these cases because this is one of the few instances I've come across of DRM affecting the other side of the equation.

First thing is first though.

Even though Far Cry 3 isn't actually available in North America yet, that hasn't stopped it from cropping up in the news as having problems due to DRM already. Both Australia and Europe have had the game for a couple of days now, but people have had one hell of a time trying to actually play it. Considering the nature of Far Cry 3 as an anticipated triple A title, along with the fact that I seem to remember that Ubisoft was trying to knock shit like this off, makes me more than a little cross-eyed at the end of the day.

Whether or not the servers will be ready when the North American launch goes live (which will have already happened by the time you're reading this), the damage has already been done overseas. The game has been cited as impressive and lauded as a must buy, but why would I go out of my way to purchase something that I can't even play the single player aspect of because Uplay is a gigantic pile of horse shit?

That DRM incident is probably the one that will be making the most headlines. But it also wasn't the only one that was happening last week. The second one, while certainly lower key, actually stands to affect more work, because it actually happened on the other side of the looking glass.

Game Maker has been a popular indie game developer toolkit, the projects to its name haven't been huge splashes, but there have been some decent games, like Mr. Karoshi for example, made using the suite. However, late last week devs found their sprites replaced with a skull and crossbones. The problem? Again, DRM errors. This time an update caused the system to have what pretty much amounts to an allergic reaction, attacking things that were supposed to be there.

The problem has been patched, but the damage has arguably been done. YoYo Games, the people behind the toolkit, have apologized, but they've also stated that "We’d LOVE to be able to remove the protection completely, but we know that vast numbers would simply copy it if it was that easy," which means that such anti-piracy measures won't be removed anytime soon.

Of course, the problem with both of these scenario is the elephant in the room; the DRM has only negatively affected the very group that it's supposed to protect: paying customers. Whether people really want to admit it or not, those that pirate the game are playing off copies that, one way or another, have circumvented the existing DRM, same goes for people using the paid versions of Game Maker.

It impels the question: what good is DRM that only punishes those that it shouldn't? Such things obviously don't help the people they affect. Nor do they help the studios, who have to deal with the bad press and problems that wouldn't occur if the DRM was absent. I'm not saying that DRM shouldn't be a tool in the arsenal of anti-piracy measures, but surely there must be better ways to implement it than this.

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