I bought Monaco: What's Yours is Mine
during a recent Humble Store
sale. I haven't even gotten the chance to play more than two levels of it yet, but I like what I've seen so far. However, I'm not here to review the game. I'm here to talk about how Monaco,
developed by Pocketwatch Games, may very well be the most well-handled Steam game I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
If you've read ANYTHING I've ever put on Destructoid, then you probably know how against DRM I am, and generally, that goes for Steam, too. I know Steam isn't DRM in and of itself, but Valve uses their own optional DRM in their developed games, so why wouldn't everyone else do the same? Most Steam games utilize the platform's DRM, i.e., forever locking a game to a single account; requiring an Internet connection to install/reinstall a game, even if you have all the files locally available; and requiring the client to unnecessarily run in the background, even for single-player games. Monaco
does things a little differently.
If you have Steam installed and start Monaco
up, the game runs with Steam, giving you all the benefits of the platform, like achievements, automatic updates, and online multiplayer. If you don't care about any of that, and you just want to know that you'll be able to play your game forever and ever (I'm trying to raise my hand and type at the same time right now), then the game will run completely DRM-free if Steam isn't found for whatever reason (uninstalled, renamed, etc.). Pocketwatch Games programmed Monaco
EXACTLY the way EVERY SINGLE DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER should handle Steam titles: They give paying customers all the benefits of Steam, but without a single useless, DRM-related drawback. You can even switch between Steam cloud saves and local saves from within the game itself.
isn't the only game that works this way; in fact, there's a huge list of games
that can run with or without Steam, and some can be "turned" DRM-free the same exact way. The difference here is that Pocketwatch Games has actually advertised it.
They've actually gone out of their way to let people know that the game can indeed be run without Steam if desired. This is something that I don't think ANY other developer/publisher, Indie or otherwise, has ever done (at least to my knowledge), and I really hope it continues. I would absolutely love it if some kind of notification existed somewhere on a game's Steam store page to let people know that Steam isn't actually required to play it after the initial download.
Steam's DRM is easily cracked; I defy anyone to name a single, non-free-to-play Steam game that wasn't cracked and put online for "free" within 24-48 hours of it's legal public availability. No such game exists. Yet, here we have a game that's been getting rave reviews, and the developer actually used Steam the way it's supposed to be used: without any restrictions, but with all the features that PC gamers have come to expect from a Steamworks title. What's more is that they're not afraid to do it. They've stepped out into the light to let people know how the game was made, and to make sure people actually feel like they own what they've paid for.
(EDIT: Apparently, the team behind Mercenary Kings
did the same thing, and advertised on their Kickstarter
that it would be a DRM-free Steam game. I was glad to buy this game after knowing that.)
Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is how you treat your customers. THIS is how you make a Steam game: all of the positives with NONE of the negatives. I hope Pocketwatch Games continues to be successful, because something tells me that they're one of the only developers around right now that really, truly gets how PC gaming should work.