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DRM is DRM is DRM (i.e., Steam isn't any more acceptable than any other scheme)


Dark Souls, one of my favorite games -- not only of this generation, but of all time -- is coming to the PC this year. This is fantastic news for PC gamers, because this version of the game will probably fix the glaring framerate problem that plagued the console releases (in addition to adding new content, which looks AWESOME, but the framerate fix is the main thing I'm looking forward to). It's sad that I'm probably not going to be buying it, at least not until I can get it for next to nothing.

The reason for this is the DRM that'll be a part of the game. No, I'm not specifically talking about Games for Windows Live, I'm talking about any DRM at all. Right now, it's reported that the PC release of Dark Souls will be using Microsoft's service, at least for the German release. This immediately prompted yet another petition to remove GFWL and replace it with Steam. The name of this petition, in my opinion, should be "Please replace the color of the shit you're putting into Dark Souls with a different color of shit." The fact that DRM is something that even NEEDS to be considered is unacceptable.

See, Steam is great as a service. They have lots of sales, their customer service is great (from what I've heard, as I've never had to take advantage of it), and it's nice to have your entire library of games in one spot. None of that matters, however, once you realize you don't own a single game you've paid for. GFWL, Steam, Origin, they're all the same. You have to go online and ask permission to play what you just bought. In a lot of cases, you have to do this every time a game is uninstalled, or even when you replace a piece of hardware in your PC. The second you have network issues, you lose features, and sometimes can't even start your games if the DRM is bad enough (*cough*Ubisoft*cough*).

The main thing I wanted to address here, though, is why Steam is just as bad of a DRM "solution" as any other out there, so let's look at a few points:

1. No Internet connection? You're screwed. When you want to install your retail Steam game, even though all the data is right there on the disc, you are REQUIRED to be online. Yes, you're treated as a thief before you even shell out the money to buy a game in the first place. Once you buy it, you still have to verify that it's legit. You want to do a Steam backup of your game? You have to be online. You want to reinstall that Steam backup that you made while you were online? You have to be online. If you don't have immediate access to the Internet, you might as well not even bother.

2. Steam is required to run along with your games. When you're playing a game that requires Steam, you have to have it running. It's not a huge program or anything, but depending on your setup, you want as many resources going toward your game as possible. You don't want ANYTHING extra running in the background if you can help it, and thanks to Steam not trusting you, you don't have that luxury.

3. Steam locks your games to a single account. Once you purchase a game on Steam, it's yours. You can't lend it to anyone, you can't give it away when you're finished with it, and you can't even let someone in the same house play it unless they do so through your account. Who wants to give that kind of access to everyone? Even in Offline Mode, someone else would be earning your achievements for you, and they couldn't earn achievements of their own. Yes, even when you're allowed to go offline (the game MUST be fully updated online first), ONLY the original account can access it.

All of the above points can be made for pretty much any DRM scheme, and that's the thing that people seem to be missing -- Steam is no different than any other DRM. I couldn't help but laugh when I read the petition to change GFWL, because it's no different than Steam. I have no idea what these problems are that people are always saying they're having with GFWL, because I've never had a single issue with the system at all, other than the fact that it's DRM.

Which brings me to my next point -- When in the hell did PC gamers decide DRM was okay? When did something like Steam or GFWL or Origin become acceptable? Look at the rumors surrounding the next Xbox and PlayStation -- No used games, no lending them out, games locked to accounts -- It's Steam, but on consoles. The backlash has been unbelievable, and I think that's the best thing that could have ever happened. NO gamers, regardless of platform preference, should be treated like a thief from the get-go. (Speaking of which, if you think Steam actually stops piracy, then I've got a bridge I'd love to sell you.)

DRM guarantees that the future of gaming is in jeopardy. It guarantees that the term "retro gamer" will never be uttered again. When a network that handles the DRM in a PC game is shut down, then the game can't be played anymore, period. And no, I don't trust Valve to just release patches for every one of their games, getting rid of the DRM -- EA said they'd release a DRM-free patch for the retail PC version of Dead Space once it wasn't selling as much anymore, and then Origin happened.

You know which games had perfect DRM? Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, for one. In a very un-Ubisoft move, Ubisoft made sure the single player mode had NO DRM at all -- Not even a disc check or the need to even look at the CD key. If you wanted to play online, access DLC, or earn achievements, then sure, you had to register it to your account. The point is that even when their servers aren't supporting the game anymore, you'll still have the entire single player mode available to you, with absolutely no restrictions. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Resident Evil 5 and Fallout 3 are all the same way as well, though GFWL.

Another excellent way to do DRM (and my personal favorite method) was seen in Alpha Protocol. Sega announced well before the game's PC debut that they'd release a DRM-removing patch within one year of the its availability, since that's when the most money would be made. True to their word, Sega did just that, and even if you bought the game through Steam, the game doesn't require the client to run at all anymore. They knew people may want to go back and play the game in the future, well after they stopped caring about its sales, so why screw the customer over more? Does Valve REALLY value something like the original 1998 Half-Life so much that they have to leave the DRM attached to it, like some permanent growth?

This also proves an important point -- Steam games are indeed patchable to not need Steam anymore. I would be absolutely fine with ANY form of DRM if the publishers guaranteed that all of it would be removed after a set amount of time. But -- and you can call me cynical all you want -- I don't trust any companies to do this. Not with the way the gaming industry is going.

Now, the PC is a very open platform, as we all know. Hell, consoles are honestly just outdated PCs with different operating systems. There are many different ways to crack the DRM out of a game, and as of October 2010, it's actually legal in the United States to do so if the DRM is preventing you from playing the game. But why should this responsibility fall onto the shoulders of the customers who pay for the games and put food on the tables of the developers and publishers? Why should we stand for being treated like thieves when we pay for our games the same way console gamers do? Why should console gamers be the only ones to complain about the rumored DRM when PC gamers have had to deal with this for years already? And, like I said before, when did PC gamers start being fine with things like Steam and treating them as normal? Does anyone legitimately believe DRM stops piracy? The bridge, people. I have one for you.

Dark Souls is one of the best games I've ever played, and the replay value is indescribably high. The Souls series, as some call it, will be classic in the future, and it will be enjoyed by thousands of gamers to come. If I have to sacrifice a better framerate and a more open system in exchange for actual ownership of a game, then so be it. I'll just have to stick with my console version -- You know, the one that I can play whenever I want to, without asking anyone first.

Call me privileged all you want, but if we're paying actual money to buy these games, I think we all deserve to be in this situation.

(NOTE: I'm by no means bashing PC gaming, and the laptop I bought about a year ago was bought in part so I could play the latest games and make them look decent. I love the PC, and that's why I'm so passionate about this particular subject. If the DRM actually ends up being the same legacy GFWL system that games like Arkham Asylum used, then I'll be first in line to reserve the retail copy of Dark Souls for the PC. I'm extremely happy this game is coming to the PC -- I'm just pissed that people can't see that the only way gaming on the PC is going to thrive in the future is by way of services like Good Old Games.)
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About pedrovay2003one of us since 2:15 PM on 11.14.2006

Name: Peter
Home State: New York
Currently Residing In: Utah
Birthday: October 13th, 1985 (I'll always secretly consider the NES to have been a five-day late birthday present to me from Nintendo.)
Degree: Communication (with a writing emphasis)

I'm a Mass Communication/Journalism graduate from the University of Utah, which I'm starting to question, since it was a tough field to get into even before the economy went down the toilet. I love writing; Not only do I consider it my passion, but I also believe it's an invaluable skill for this socially-connected age in which we live. Writing about video games brings me more joy than I can even describe in words, which is saying a lot, considering.

As far as video games go, I've been a gamer since I was two years old. I try to play whatever interests me, despite what other people think of those games. I suppose I consider myself to be "obsessed" with gaming, but not in the sense that all I want to do is beat games. I'm fascinated with the industry as a whole, and in some way, shape or form, I'd love to be a part of it professionally someday.


Fatal Frame Series (PS2, Xbox, Wii, 3DS)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES (PS2)
Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii)
Dead Space (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
Zelda Series (Various Nintendo Platforms)
Journey (PS3)
Dishonored (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Metal Gear Solid Series (Everything)

My most prized gaming-related possession: A factory-sealed copy of the original Famicom Disk System Zeruda no Densetsu (The Legend of Zelda).

Mario and I were tight back in the day, yo.

I've had a few articles promoted on the front page... Check them out if you want. (Thanks, Hamza! :D)

Good Idea, Bad Idea
The Start of the Affair
Expanded Universes
Other Worlds Than These
I Suck At Games
Digital Distribution

Xbox LIVE Gamertag and PSN ID: FireCrow1013
Steam: drm_free
Xbox LIVE:FireCrow1013
PSN ID:FireCrow1013
Steam ID:FireCrow1013
Mii code:0803 3300 5907 9341


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