Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Keep On Rockin' in the DRM-Free World, Good Old Games

"DRM solves piracy like a bag of concrete solves hunger."

I would imagine that this might sound somewhat familiar to long time readers, considering that the last time I talked about Good Old Games it was probably talking about something that was much the same as what I'm going to talk about now: their stance on DRM. As you can tell from the delightful page topper, GOG thinks that DRM pretty much blows, and considering that these days not only companies but entire consoles seem to be heading in that direction, this message needs to get spread more than ever before.

First of all, let's be completely on the level here; when the industry wants to stop piracy, they're not in the wrong for hoping to do just that. Their methodology is completely and utterly ass backwards in a majority of the cases, yes; but the sentiment that "hey, the people that made this should probably actually make money from it, both to live and so they can hopefully make more" is ultimately beneficent in nature, I'd say.

That being said, DRM is absolutely not the answer. It never has been, and it never will be. DRM has done and will do nothing to dissuade the people that are going to pirate the game regardless. As Guillaume Rambourg, GOG's managing director,  notes, "Pirates remove the DRM from the games before they ever play them, ... The people who have to put up with DRM are the very people who shouldn’t have to bother with it: legitimate customers."

Just look at the setup that GOG has: they sell all their games DRM free. Even though most of their catalog is composed of older titles by what the industry is saying you'd think that they'd be run under by the rampant piracy. Here's the thing though, they're one of the more successful game selling sites out there. Look at their competition: Steam. Even though Steam is itself a form of DRM, it's pretty much the lightest, most unobtrusive form of DRM that most people can imagine, and it's also the king of the hill with few even having a claim to eventually contend for the title.

When it comes down to it, you don't get ahead by treating your audience like your enemies. "“We treat our gamers like humans,” [Rambourg] says, “not criminals—and I think this is why our community is so active and faithful.”" Gee, you'd think that people would just take advantage of Good Old Games and then leave them in the dust, if you bought the fact that the industry "needs" to have such countermeasures in place. So much for that line of thought.

I think that the best point brought up in the article is probably the one that notes that in many recent cases DRM has hurt the publishers as much as it's hurt gamers due to disastrous launches that require massive PR control to overcome, and even after that guess what? Gamers are still pissed off because it didn't have to be that way.

That's hardly the only problem of course. A good point is that when the servers inevitably go down for games that require an online connection, what then? Are these games going to be taken and retooled to be able to run without that connection? It's possible, unbelievably unlikely, but possible. But why should that work have had to be done in the first place when it was unnecessary?

I wish that I had answers to those questions. Something tells me that if I did though I wouldn't like them anyways. Such is life.

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