In the wake of SOPA,PIPA and the looming shadows of the up and coming threats to our privacy, I wanted to take a look at the challenges that publishers face and mistakes they make as a result. Why do PC gamers turn to piracy? What we can do to prevent it becoming a necessary evil?
Publishers would argue that Digital Rights Management (DRM) is used to protect their interests, which certainly has some merit. Everyone wants game developers and the industry to proliferate – otherwise we won’t have any games to play! We want better and bigger games and the only way to attain this is to keep forking over our hard earned cash.
The problem is how the restrictions are managed. When you can’t play your games because of someone else said on a forum, or when your Steam account is hacked and cheats, or when Ubisoft is updating its servers then things have gone too far.
Having demonstrated how effectively DRM can mess up the legitimate user, just how effective is it in stopping those who would take games with out paying for them? The sad fact is that in its current form, DRM doesn’t stop pirates. To horribly misquote Jeff Goldblum, “Piracy, finds a way”.
The sad fact is that in its current form, DRM doesn’t stop pirates
A conversation with a PC gaming acquaintance of mine confirms this. He’s playing Skyrim, Battlefield, Mass Effect and Modern Warfare without having to pay a penny. This isn’t some super cracker, he’s more Guybrush Threepwood then LeChuck, but he’s had no trouble getting his hands on the lot.
So with major titles available both DRM and price tag free, why aren’t more of us pirating? I like to think it’s because most gamers are honest folk who wants to support the industry. It’s not that we can’t, it’s that we choose not to. The people who want to pirate, will pirate successfully. Just look at the constantly failing efforts to shut down the pirate bay. How do the pirates plan to respond? Moving to a flying sky fortress server! Even honest folk have a limit though and the more intrusive DRM becomes, the more eye patches are donned and cars downloaded!
Inconvenience, intrusiveness and inefficiency aside, DRM poses one other potential problem for gamers – the creation of monopoly in distribution. If you have to be online all the time to play something, where is the requirement for hard copies? No hard copies means no shops competing for lowest release date price and ultimately a higher end tag for the consumer.
When the DRM’s so intrusive it needs your mothers medical history and some simple neurosurgery to ensure that your brain is always connected to their servers, take your money elsewhere
So what can we do? Talk in green and shop with your feet. When the DRM’s so intrusive it needs your mothers medical history and some simple neurosurgery to ensure that your brain is always connected to their servers, take your money elsewhere. Support the DRM free developers, or the folks over at GOG who run a content management service that smacks of a DRM free Steam for games that are older than time itself. Support the attitude of the developers of up and coming indy game Under The Ocean. DRM free, shaping up nicely and they’ve only gone and linked to the pirate bay rip on their site!
So spend your money cautiously, reward open business models and punish the restrictive. Finally, go ahead and buy Monkey Island because it’s awesome. If you can’t afford it, you can always borrow my copy.
- Henry Carse