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.