I feel I need to add a comment or two here, because we've debated this issue quite strongly at Introversion.
First some semi-anecdotal information : there were at least ten times as many pirate copies of Uplink and Darwinia as there were legitimate sales. How do we know? Patches available on our website which only work on the full games have been downloaded more than ten times the sales totals of their games. Now hard-line corporate types will tell you this means they've lost 10 x sales x price million dollars based on this, but thats just nonsense. Would all 10 of those 11 users have ever bought the game? No, of course not. But 1 out of 10 of them might, and that would have doubled our sales and made us very happy devs indeed.
I think there are actually two separate issues under discussion here, and they are getting mixed up. The first issue under debate is the developers right to protect themselves from piracy. The second issue is the low quality of existing DRM solutions. I see a lot of postings of people saying "securROM is shit, it broke my computer, developers need to stop all this DRM that is inneffective and just annoys legitimate customers". Right there, that user has mixed two complex issues into one. This user has a legitimate problem with whatever DRM was in use on his game that doesn't work, but that doesn't mean developers should not protect their games.
There is one form of DRM which is absolutely seamless and has yet to generate any complaints, and has an extremely high success rate. I've yet to hear a single user complain about World Of Warcraft's DRM. People who think it doesn't have any DRM need to rethink their definition - you can probably play a cracked copy of WOW, but not on any public server, and not with any other players. It's the one DRM system that is unbreakable because it's centrally controlled, and it's completely transparent to the players.
Now I would argue that most gamers have no problem at all with the first point - developers protecting their game against piracy. The problem is that gamers want that protection to be absolutely invisible, and most of the local-system DRM is extremely visible, often infuriating. And in the case of single player local games, it definately is a massive waste of time and effort and money - first year Computer Science graduates can tell you that securing some code on a local system is provably impossible.
The entire world of media is undergoing a huge change - data no longer has the value it used to have, and ordinary people have no serious moral issues with copying something rather than paying for it. Radiohead gave away their album for whatever price you wanted and it was still pirated on bittorrent, and the average price paid on the site was just a few pounds. This tells you how much content has devalued in just the last decade in the eyes of customers. Securing your game for 13 days makes sense only in one context - the retail release, in which week one sales essentially determine your overall success. If you don't do so well in the first week (due to pirate versions on bittorrent) your game will be taken from the New Releases / Top Sellers shelf and mixed in with all the other games, and your sales will drop even further. Your marketting spend will be reduced, and interest in your game will die down, and you're in a quick spiral of doom that ends in the bargain bin. I don't see this as an argument for using DRM on single player games though - I see it as a massive argument against relying on Retail Releases of video games. You've got no such sales-spiral problems with Digital Distribution, and all of our games including Uplink from 2001 still sell in good numbers on our site and through channels like Steam. Developers can't site the Russian Roulette that is commercial retail release as a reason to include DRM in their games, and simultaniously expect to be taken seriously by gamers, or other developers.
Developers need to shift their view of piracy and digital distribution, as much with Games as with film, music, tv, or any form of content. We can't complain that people copy our games, then go home and comfort ourselves by watching series 2 of the West Wing on DivX. Any stance that criminalises the majority of our customer base (10 out of every 11 Uplink players, for example) should be ringing alarm bells in our ears. We need to rename "pirate users" to "customers who've yet to be convinced", and consider the pirate copies that will INEVITABLY appear as extended demos of our games. Then we need to offer something more when they upgrade to the full leitimate game. In the case of Defcon, pirate copies appeared on day one permitting 6 player games, but only against the CPU. If you wanted to play against real people then you had to buy, and we controlled that through our central MetaServer - the ONLY effective form of DRM. Same with Guild Wars, World Of Warcraft, etc - you can play pirate copies on your own, but you don't get the full experience. Under this new view of the world, DRM becomes more carrot than stick, offering benefits for customers who pay their money.
Also, why does debating piracy always bring out the worst in people? It's like everyone has to take such a hard line. In the UK there in an advert that plays before every movie you see in the cinema - in giant letters it proclaims "Would you steal a ladies purse? Would you steal a DVD from a shop? PIRACY IS THEFT!" Well i'm sorry, it's isn't, piracy is Copyright Infrigement. In earlier versions of the advert it actually used to say "PIRACY FUNDS TERRORISM". If you're going to argue a case, you need to at least be rational about it.
DRM is an extremely contentious issue, and I believe it's because many developers have made a total hash of it - installing DRM systems that get in the way, refuse to let you play your game, mess up your computer, even open you up to hackers. I genuinely believe that the DRM issue is solvable for the developers and the customers, in a way which encourages purchases of your game, rather than protecting against copying, and in a way which is essentially invisible to legitimate users. And I don't believe anybody will have a problem with it if we can get those two areas right.
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