Questioning DRM Does Not Make Me a Pirate

I’m against limited installs and it has nothing to do with piracy. If I wanted to pirate the game, I would never have to worry about limited installs. The pirated version just works and it works on as many computers as I want. Nobody who pirates a game complains about DRM, they never see it as the cracker has it removed. The only people complaining are the ones who want to buy the game but don’t appreciate the limitations that go along with it. No one wants to pay more and get less.

My issue isn’t just the limited number of machines, it’s how the software interprets a new machine. If I have to restore my OS or format my boot drive, that game’s DRM will see my cleaned system as an entirely new computer. Now some games have a revoking tool so you can get back a credit if it’s planned, but for me restoring a computer is rarely planned. I also have three computers I game on, my desktop, my media center and my laptop. I also dual boot whenever Microsoft introduces a new OS as to gauge how well the software runs before switching completely. If I want that game available in both, I need to waste another install.

For the average user, limited installs is not an issue. But to power users, the ones who build and maintain their own computer, the very heart of PC gaming, it is an issue. It really bothers me when someone intelligent, articulate and revered speaks out on an issue they obviously don’t understand.

Now I understand that developers and publishers want to protect their investment and maximize their profit. But almost none of them seem to know how to do this. I think they need to stop focusing on who doesn’t buy their game and provide gamers a compelling reason to buy their game. Don’t require an internet connection simply for the basis of protection. Use an internet connection to provide the type of game-play that can only be experienced through a social online game. For a retail release they should go back to DVD in drive to play the game. For digital distribution they should all just support Steam already, it’s an example of DRM done right.

Steam provides a good balance between providing an integral online service and protecting its assets. It can be cracked, but so can any form of DRM. Unfortunately for the publishers most of the time their use of DRM as a weapon against piracy is a waste of resources which only decreases the value of their products. A game like Spore would have sold more copies and would have been pirated less if it hadn’t used the limited install DRM that it did. Many people wonder why they even bother making games for PC. They just need to realize that not all PC gamers are pirates and that they can make money, probably more money without wasting resources on DRM that drive the hardcore PC gamer mad. They need to just focus on making games for their customers and in return most will buy. If the record labels can figure this out, so can the game publishers.

Dave Loft

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