Ubisoft DRM

The war between pirates and publishers continues unabated. I'm sure most of you have heard about Ubisoft's DRM they are in putting in their latest PC games. If you have been living under a rock :), it basically boils down to you need a constant internet connection to play their single player games. Being someone that develops games for a living, doing it as an indie, and being a big fan of PC games I have a different point of view about all of this.

This doesn't surprise me in the least. Ubisoft, like most publishers, feels like they are getting backed into a corner. They are more and more feeling like the PC market is dying, not because there aren't a ton of PCs out there playing games, but because of all of the piracy. They are getting more and more desperate to try to continue to make games on the PC, but they feel they can't without more and more restrictive DRM. Others are just abandoning the platform for the consoles or moving over to server side games like MMOs or facebook games. I at least give Ubisoft some credit for trying.

However, my opinion specifically about their DRM is that it sucks. Being cut off from playing a single player game you bought because your internet connection goes down, because Ubisoft's servers go down (which it has already), or because you are on the train with your laptop is just plain wrong. I understand why Ubisoft wants to do this, but it still sucks. All this is going to do is piss off paying customers, which is never a good idea.

Unfortunately, what is going to happen is a bunch of people are going to use this crappy DRM as an excuse to download the cracked version and possibly continue with other games. Even if you bought a legit version of the product you are still part of the problem. This will just make publishers want to use even worse DRM. If you do this, you just become part of the endless cycle.

I'm going to let you in on a secret, most developers and publishers don't like DRM. In general, it costs a lot of money, takes developer time, introduces more bugs, and causes problems for your customers. Most companies would get rid of all DRM in their products if they thought they could do it without losing money. Yes, I know there are some companies out there that want to restrict how you can use your purchase so they can sell you the same thing multiple times, but they are a small minority. Piracy is the root cause of why we have most DRM.

Why does any of this bother me? Well for 2 reasons. I really like the PC as a platform, but if current trends continue the only games that we are going to have on the PC eventually are things that have a server side component like MMOs. This is going to suck. The other reason is that despite all of the bull-shit justifications that pirates use, they still pirate from us indie companies that are struggling to survive, that have large demos, and that have pretty cheap games just like pirate everything else. Actually piracy hurts us even more than a big publisher. At least big publishers have mega hits here and there that supports everything else they do, most indies do not have this luxury.

My humble suggestion to everyone is vote with you wallet. Don't side with the pirates, they are the ones instigating the problem in the first place and siding with them just results in worse DRM later. However, don't side with the publishers that put in DRM that hurts you, the customer. Buying their crap just tells them it is ok. Instead go buy some other cool game that doesn't have crappy restrictions. Show your support for PC games, but don't support the individual games that do stupid crap.

Now for my pitch. Hey it is my blog after all. :) Our games have pretty large demos (Din's Curse will soon), are fairly cheap, have money back guarantees, try to be unique and not just simple clones, and only use simple keys for copy protection. We also actually listen to our gamers and try to be a very open company. So what do you have to lose?

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