DRM: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

While DRM is a good idea, why does it only seem to hurt those that follow the rules?

While DRM is a good idea, why does it only seem to hurt those that follow the rules?

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a big topic in the last year.  Games like Diablo 3 and SimCity (2013) are most synonymous to the name as both shared a common trait: single player or not, an internet connection was necessary to play it.  Amazing thing is that  both games failed out the gate in a spectacular fashion.   Many players were not able to connect to the provided servers and ultimately either struggled to play or couldn’t even play the games they had paid full price for.

What DRM attempts to do is protect the published and developer that claim ownership over the products from people from improperly using or distributing their product.  Make senses, right? Sad thing is it kind of does this job a little too well and alienating the ones that are actually getting the game proper and legal means.

I get why DRM is a great idea. In many cases, it helps prevent piracy by requiring the consumer to be connected to a server run by the company.  This is so publisher can ensure the legitimacy of the copy of the game you have and the game developers get paid for all their hard work . But when the servers don’t function correctly and the always-on DRM prevents the player from even getting the single player experience, forget the multiplayer, the publisher is essentially selling an unplayable game.

This makes me curious if the Diablo III console release will also require an internet connection as well. I could only see this failing because I don’t doubt some people out there have never even hooked up their console to the internet.

I think we need to find another solution to the required internet connection so…

Let’s quickly do some brainstorming!

In the case of Diablo III, you already had to have bought it through Battle.net or at least need to activate it through the Battle.net if you get a hard copy of a game.  

Solution: Blizzard could directly lock off online-dependent content like the Auction Houses until you run that authenticity check.  Or, Blizzard could require you to simply run an authenticity check once when you first register the game and then be done and that would be the only time you NEED a connection to the net.  If you want to play multiplayer (LAN or not) you need to be online to ensure the authenticity of the game.  

As far as SimCity goes, you are really encouraged to work with other people to take care of each others cities.  Sounds pretty great in theory, co-op city management should be great.  Now, if that feature was not already a hot piece of garbage with its own gameplay issues, the developers could make it so you can only build a small town and never really expand beyond a certain point while offline.  

Solution: The above would encourage people to go online for the additional features and at least have the choice to connect to the servers of their own free will.  If you don’t want use the online features anyways, why should you be required to be online at all? Same idea: why can’t we just go online to register the product and then hop offline for the single player content whenever we want?

You are on the internet right now.  If you can’t take 20 seconds to connect to a server, register the game, and for a company to say, “Yeah, your good,” you might be the laziest person ever.

I want the developers to get the money they deserve for working hard on a game but when that comes at the cost of losing consumer trust and alienating your fan base, is it really worth it?

About the author

Reilly C.

I like video games so I talk about them! Works for me!