Last week the gaming giant Ubisoft announced their latest DRM invention. In order to play purchased games customers have to be connected to the Internet at all times. Game developers are skeptical of this new anti-piracy solution, but could it actually be a step in the right direction?
Ubisoft has announced its new solution to prevent pirates from playing their games. The upcoming DRM will require gamers to be online when playing the game. If no Internet connection is available it means that the game wont work, period.
As with most DRM, Ubisoft’s new anti-piracy solution needlessly hurts legitimate customers. Pirates will always find a way around the access restrictions and will be able to play the game offline without running into trouble. Because of this, Ubisoft’s plans were welcomed with skepticism among fellow game developers.
Gaming magazine Develop has asked several gaming industry figures what they think about Ubisoft’s new DRM. While some are against it and others showed support, the overall sentiment is that DRM itself is not going to stop piracy.
Gusto Games’ Luke Maskell is the most outspoken of them all. “I’m firmly against Ubisoft’s announcement, I think it’s a huge violation of privacy and is only punishing the legitimate customer; the pirates won’t have to worry about being online as they’ll find a way around pretty sharpish,” he commented.
Maskell was not the only one with reservations though. Adrian Hirst, Managing Director at Weaseltron, also stressed that the danger of DRM is that the pirated copy turns into a more desirable product than the retail version.
“Previous draconian attempts at copy protection have only served to outrage our very customers. Copy protection that makes the cracked copy of the game more appealing to the customer than the genuine one threatens to turn them away from purchasing at all,” he said.
Most of the other gaming insiders that were interviewed agreed with this assessment. DRM will only hurt the game if legitimate customers have to face more restrictions than those who choose to download a copy illegally.
“I don’t believe that online DRM on it’s own will ever stop piracy – your game will simply have that functionality stripped out by various hacking groups,” Ben Ward of Bizarre Creations said. “The only way that DRM will be accepted by consumers is if it is delivered inside a service which brings tangible, real-world benefits with it.”
Others were less outspoken against Ubisoft’s new DRM but everyone noted that it will be counter-effective if it’s too obtrusive or cumbersome. To us at TorrentFreak, these different opinions clearly suggest that for a long time the digital entertainment industry has chosen the wrong path to counter piracy.
Instead of trying to add more restrictions to the products they sell to customers, they should add in extra features for those who pay for the product. UbiSoft actually made it half way already by adding several advantages for players who play online, but they’re not quite there yet.
Logged in customers who play Ubisoft’s new games online will be able to save it remotely, so they can continue playing the game on other PCs. Continuing along these lines the company could easily include other benefits and extra features for online players. If they then drop the requirement to play online, they might actually have a superior product compared to the pirated version.
In the end it’s all about finding a way to frame or sell DRM as an advantage instead of a restriction.
The music streaming application Spotify is a great example of how ‘DRM’ can be an advantage. Spotify users can only access music when they’re logged in, which is the ultimate DRM. Still, no one has even brought this issue up because the service offers so many advantages over most other legitimate and illegitimate ways of enjoying music.
If those in the gaming and other digital entertainment industries start thinking in terms of adding benefits for paying customers instead of useless restrictions to keep pirates out, they would have a lot more satisfied customers. Perhaps even more importantly, they could sell a lot more products.