A fellow gaming blogger posed an interesting question: DRM vs Piracy, which one is more harmful to developers? The post compared piracy to stealing and made a point with the recent SimCity launch drama. Although a more rigorous answer to the question is nearly impossible to deduce without the detailed analysis on sales numbers, I shall steer my angle to a sightly tangent direction.
Yes, EA made a lot of people angry over the debacle. Given that virtually every PC game that has a single player component will be released on piratebay in due time, sensible companies will be sure to make sure that legit customer attempting to play the game is no more difficult than pirates who download the game and applying crack. SimCity failed such common sense simply because Maxis first built a DRM schema that requires an always-on connection, and then rest of the game as a shell, calling it SimCity.
And they could have pulled it off, if not for their servers comically failed them.
I think they were emboldened by Blizzard’s Diablo III’s “success”, but without considering the genre difference between the two games: D3 has a much more substantial multiplayer experience compare to the city simulator. Predictably, less people will complain once the login/authentication server starts to work again. People who wish to play PC games with total isolation from the Internet is increasingly a minority due to the reality where wifi and cellular networks becoming a true omnipresent existence.
I’m not really against DRM when it’s done right. Look at Steam; it’s the very embodiment of sensible DRM for PC games that is liked by both players and developers. Because of this, Valve ranks #1 in my personal “Reputable PC Gaming Company List”, and I bet 93.57% of all PC gamers would agree with me. (OK I made up the statistics, but you get what I mean.) So far I haven’t heard about any game requires Steam caused huge uproar of discontent on their launch date.
And to EA and those who wants to be like EA but will fail horribly upon launch like SimCity did, my following advice should be taken with a grain of salt: get a f___ing clue.
Let me be prophetic and make a prediction where more studios will attempt to build DRM schemas disguised as games in the near future; the sad part is that they do it because they can afford the worst possible backlash from the players. It is more of a pain to see a beloved franchise to adopt such tactics. But I still have hope; a hope that more less-known and humble developers to bring new blood into PC gaming without the toxic, moronic DRM.
And as players, vote with your wallets should be a simple yet powerful strategy.