May 21, 2010

Draconian DRM: Are Consoles Next?

Any­one who has spent time on gam­ing forums has prob­a­bly lis­tened to PC gamers com­plain about Intru­sive DRM.  The DRM can do any­thing from installing a root kit behind the scenes to pre­vent you from copy­ing or installing more then a cert­ian num­ber times to requir­ing you to have a con­stant inter­net con­nec­tion to play even the sin­gle play­er com­po­nent of the game.
Xbox, PS3 and Wii own­ers have tra­di­tion­al­ly not had to deal with DRM.  Con­sole titles rarely even make you enter any­thing to play the game you just put the disc in and play.  This, how­ev­er, appears to be chang­ing.  Pub­lish­ers have always been dis­pleased with the used game mar­ket.  When you pur­chase a used game 100% of the prof­it goes to the sell­er (Gamestop, Gamers, Ebgames, etc) where­as if you are to buy the game new the prof­its go to the pub­lish­er.  With so many con­soles games being mul­ti­play­er spe­cif­ic pub­lish­ers are find­ing new ways to make con­sumers pay for their games new.  EA is now stat­ing that their will be no mul­ti­play­er for who buy games used.  If you pur­chase the game used then you will need to buy a $10 — $15 mul­ti­play­er key from EA to get access to the online con­tent.   You’re aver­age two year old game costs around 19.99 used.  If the con­sumer now has to buy a $15 dol­lar key to play it that could real­ly ham­per the used game mar­ket.
Con­soles at their start were rel­a­tive­ly pira­cy free.  This has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly over the last 5 years.  Microsoft recent­ly banned over 1 mil­lion users from Xbox live  in an attempt to thrawt using pirat­ed games and run­ning mod­ded con­soles.  Con­sole pira­cy has been on the rise and now pub­lish­ers are start­ing to claim that it is eat­ing into their prof­its.  One of the first ways that they tried to com­bat this on the PC was CD/DVD ser­i­al keys.  This is already start­ing to hap­pen with EA in their attempt to pre­vent peo­ple from buy­ing used games.   It’s not a far stretch for them to incor­po­rate it for every game.   Fur­ther­more it’s like­ly that they could also ask you to keep your con­sole con­nect­ed to the inter­net to play the games as well just to make sure you are not play­ing with a pirat­ed copy.  Con­soles gamers don’t have the lux­u­ry at the moment of get­ting cracked exe­cuta­bles so if they add DRM con­soles gamers will be stuck with it.  At least for the fore­see­able  future.
While DRM is not com­mon on con­soles yet it sure could be in the near future as pub­lish­ers attempt to com­bat pira­cy and max­i­mize prof­its.  It will be inter­est­ing to what schemes devel­op­ers come up with.
On a per­son­al note I’m all for hav­ing a CD key that you need to enter some­where to prove that you paid for the game.  This real­ly isn’t that intru­sive to me. I am so used to enter­ing CD keys that I can do it in my sleep.  I do how­ev­er have seri­ous qualms about the DRM that has been released for cur­rent PC games such as ACII and Prince of Per­sia: The For­got­ten Sands.  Any DRM that makes you keep a con­stant inter­net con­nec­tion is just uncalled for.  When your DRM is a big­ger has­sle to the con­sumer then it is to the pirate then you need to remove it from your soft­ware.  Same goes for rootk­it style DRM like SecureRom.  The soft­ware could cause your com­put­er to BSOD ran­dom­ly.  This kind of soft­ware behav­ior is not accept­able.


  1. thsoundman - May 21, 2010 9:21 am

    I have found that I am less inclined to pay for games now days. Games are start­ing to cost more and more and the con­tent they offer seems to be less and less. I don’t want to pay $60 for a game only to get a 5 hour sin­gle-play­er cam­paign.
    Quite frankly if i get less then 20 hours out of the sin­gle play­er it’s not worth 60 dol­lars. Mod­ern War­fare 2 is 60 dol­lars still and it’s one of the short­est Sin­gle-Play­er games in his­to­ry. I feel this is only going to get worse and worse as devel­op­ers look for more and more ways to make a buck.

  2. PimpmasterF - May 28, 2010 12:05 pm

    it seems devs are focus­ing more and more on quan­ti­ty over qual­i­ty which is a damn shame, what hap­pened to the good ol days when you got a qual­i­ty game for what you paid, grant­ed it takes longer to pro­duce but it was worth it, I would rather wait an extra year or so than get instant non-grat­i­fi­ca­tion

  3. Hippie - May 29, 2010 11:23 am

    Games with short sin­gle­play­er are a real turn off for me, now with ubisofts drm I dont think I will be get­ting any of their games soon, espe­cial­ly when my inter­net con­nec­tion can be a bit dodgy at times.

  4. Larry - July 16, 2010 8:04 pm

    If you think PC gamers piss and moan about DRM — wait until con­sole gamers have to put up with it. I think it’s crap that game devel­op­ers are start­ing to charge a license fee on games you buy used. Any­thing to make a buck.


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