PC gaming has not always been as complex and as flashy as it is today. In 1962 one of the first known video games in the history of mankind was created, known as “SpaceWar!”. Created by a US programmer and computer scientist Stephen Russell, SpaceWar! only had two drawings of spaceships known as "the needle", "the wedge" and dots used to attack the fellow player. This piece of software was just a piece of the puzzle that pioneered the Personal Computer and Computer Games, which are commonly referred today as “Video Games”. Thanks to the help of these “Video Games” and the World Wide Web, Personal Computers have become an essential item to have in modern day in homes and businesses alike.
This is SpaceWar!
As the World Wide Web grew, so did easier ways of thievery known as Piracy. Piracy is an act of stealing digital goods, to prevent this act of thievery publishers and developers used different types of “Digital rights management”, also known as DRM. DRM is used to prevent piracy of their products, and while they have limitations on what their products can do, it usually keeps thieves known as “pirates” from “pirating” their games. While it prevents the piracy of their products, it can never stop it completely therefore, if DRM is to strict and does not offer a service in return genuine consumers are punished for buying the game from the publishers, while pirates can steal the same game without the harsh limitations of that type of DRM. However some DRM can be used as a service, providing useful tools while preventing pirated downloads of a curtain product.
Steam is a digital distribution service created and officially released by Valve Software in 2004. At first consumers hated the product for lack of dual core support and restrictive DRM, but as Steam grew, Valve Software corrected those mistakes and added services to help the customer enjoy the game more than he could when pirating it. To quote the current CEO of Valve Software known as Gabe Newell “I get fairly frustrated when I hear how the issue is framed in a lot of cases. To us it seems pretty obvious that people always want to treat it as a pricing issue, that people are doing this because they can get it for free and so we just need to create these draconian DRM systems or anti-piracy systems, and that just really doesn’t match up with the data. As a customer, I want to be able to access my stuff wherever I am, and if you put in place a system that makes me wonder if I’ll be able to get it then you’ve significantly decreased the value of it. People were worried when we started using Steam initially because, oh my gosh, if I don’t have my discs what happens when I get a new machine? And after they’ve done this a couple times they’re like “oh my god, this is so much better, I’m so much more likely to lose my discs than I am to have any problem with my Steam account, that seems way better than having a physical token that I use to access my content.”. Gabe Newell has seen that legitimate consumers can be driven away from buying the legitimate product by using restrictive and harsh DRM methods.
This is GABEN!
SecuROM is a harsh DRM that limits how many installs a legitimate product can have on a Personal Computer. This is a terrible way to deal with piracy, because it does not only hinder the legitimate, but the illegitimate copies do away with the restrictions set by SecuROM, thus increasing piracy levels and decreasing sales of the legitimate product. Always Online DRM is a type DRM that forces players to have an Internet connection whether it’s a single player game or a multiplayer game. The Player has to remain online, or else the DRM kills the game until an Internet connection is reestablished. Always Online DRM is not a problem with the illegitimate version, because the DRM is non-existent. So while it seems like a DRM like Always Online DRM and SecuROM is a good Idea, it actually hinders legitimate consumers while increasing piracy levels.
Steam while also a digital distribution service is also DRM done right. Steam Overlay is a service that allows other players to interact with each other, while staying inside of the video game. Steam Overlay also has a web browser built into the overlay, so players can go on the World Wide Web while waiting for friends to join a multiplayer game. Steam Overlay gives a service that is not present in an illegitimate copy of a game, therefore sales are increased and piracy is decreased. Steam also has many other services used in the Steam Overlay such as chat rooms to chat with people about curtain topics and friends lists. Steam Overlay is a positive example on how DRM should be implemented.
While it may have positive or negative effects on the legitimate games, DRM is an essential tool to prevent people to take advantage of a game.
The Witcher 2 a game published by a Polish publisher called CD Projekt and Developed by the Polish publisher’s development branch known as CD ProjektRed, has been pirated 4.5 million times. While sold only 1.1 million times. The Witcher 2 had no DRM, therefore illegitimate copies were easy to duplicate and distribute, without sacrifice of running a pirated copy of the game. Pirates were able to take advantage of the developer’s gratitude, so sales suffered because of the fact that DRM was non-existent in The Witcher 2. Without DRM a game can fail just as hard as a game with strict DRM. So using DRM, as a service is essential for players to enjoy a game and not take advantage of the game’s security features by pirating it.
GOTY 2011, CD Projekt are amazing As a PC game is being developed publishers should ask themselves “How can we give the player a service to enjoy our games and our DRM” and not “How can we prevent piracy by any means necessary”. Piracy is a problem in any Industry dealing digital goods, but trying to exterminate it completely is a waste of time and resources that can be used on developing and promoting the actual game. The real reason DRM should be used is to prevent players to take advantage of developer's content while providing bonus services that allow the player to enjoy the developer’s content more thoroughly. It is hard to ignore pirated downloads of a developers game, and while it may seem like a good Idea to implement harsh DRM, It is actually a terrible idea that can kill a games sales and hurt legitimate buyers. The Industry needs DRM as a service to help publishers get consumers to purchase a legitimate copy of their game, not DRM that punishes the consumer for purchasing their product.