Analysis / DRM

DRM will always have those who are for or against it. The main goal of DRM is to protect a company's right to sell a game. Now, why are there problems with it? How does it help? Let's start with basics. 3 reasons for each side.

Pro DRM:
  1. It helps insure that producers get the money for their product.
  2. It helps people funding media feel more safe about a project.
  3. The DRM helps keep game playing legal so long as it works.

Against DRM:
  1. It can mess up and instead end up denying the game despite real money spent on the game legally.
  2. The DRM may not even work well, and fail to prevent pirating.
  3. The big one that most have seen as a con is that it may go wrong, and instead punish the paying customer, while pirates get off scott free.

So, reading the first 3, one may feel that, done right, it would help a project more than hurt it. Where is the problem, should a producer be careful about how it applies its DRM? Well, the further society gets in modern times the more options are available to it, and some options may seem desirable to somebody who hasn't seen just how bad they can mess up. So, for a list of 2, this time the major DRM methods that seem like good ideas, and what their flaws are.

  1. DRM made to prevent piracy of any kind by tracking known pirate .exe and methods.
    • The good idea: A built in pirate buster seems good as any game or music they may buy could end up shutting down their theft of property.
    • The downfall: Any program built to track and shut down programs on its own has inherent risks. One being the possibility of shutting down legal, innocent programs, or otherwise creating security risks by acting on its own. Not only that, but there is also the very possible idea that those who would otherwise be taken down by this type of DRM would be aware of what games have them, and instead just pirate that, still playing the game but also remaining operational.
  2. Internet based verification.
    • The good idea: simple, reliable way to make sure a copy is legal.
    • The downfall: If it's not one time only, then any person may be punished for a bad internet connection one day. This is most visible with the "always connected" type DRM. The idea may seem simple, however given that there has yet to be a single internet provider who never has downtime, players may be unable to play just because of that, and once again there is the issue of punishing paying customers.

Another big topic was just mentioned: Punishing the paying customer for what the pirate does. The orginal idea goes as follows:

The paying customer buys the game, loads it up, and then plays it. The pirate tries to load it up and is then unable to play.

In reality, the more positive view could be like this:

The paying customer buys the game, loads it up, and then plays it. the pirate downloads it and then plays it.

Or, for the cynical but, unfortunately, sometimes entirely accurate view may sometimes go like this:

The paying customer buys the game, tries to load it up, the DRM ends up preventing play. The pirate gets the game, the DRM is already cut out, and they end up playing.

Any skilled hacker, given enough time, can and, apparently, will crack the DRM so a person can play it without issue. This makes the issue unique as, with today's technology, protection is getting harder and harder to make strong enough to keep people from playing the game for free. Instead, the issue is starting to drift over making people want to buy the game rather than get it for free. One of the noticeable things is that some indie games, such as McPixel and Video Game/Reccettear, have become popular though piracy, and have gotten more sales from illegitimate players praising the game, and then having people buy it.