The Continued Battle with Videogame Piracy

So, all this Ubisoft noise has got me thinking about DRM again, (Read this, this, or this, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) and I think about DRM about every time I buy a new PC game. There have been a lot of very good points on the topic but I think that most of the sales lost due to piracy come from this thought:

“If this game uses DRM I’m going to pirate it…out of protest” Let me just say this: If you pirate games “out of protest” or because you are “sticking it to the man” YOU ARE WRONG. Really want to stick it to Ubisoft? Send them a receipt for a game you bought that they didn’t make, and a note telling them why you bought (for example) THQ’s game instead. This way, Ubisoft loses a sale, THQ gets one, and Ubi still gets it rubbed in their faces. But my little argument is hardly going to dissuade any pirates, and I still hate online verification, checks, and cd keys. Which brings us to this question; if adding DRM seems to increase piracy “out of protest” and no DRM leaves games open to be pirated, what do we do?

In order to fight piracy, you have to do two things:

1) Make it harder to pirate the game

2) Add Incentive to Purchase the game

As best I can see it, DRM does neither. In fact, I wager that the tougher your DRM scheme is the QUICKER pirates will crack it. As a wise man once said “you can’t beat people in aggregate” and adding DRM is like a personal challenge to the hacking community (probably). They will hack it, just because you tell them it can’t be done. On top of that, the more hoops I have to jump through to play your game, the less I want to buy it, thus adding even MORE incentive to pirate. (I’ve only ever bought one offline game that required online activation and that was Spore. Man, that game did not live up to the hype.) Good job SecuROM. Anyway, I can tell you why DRM isn’t really stopping piracy all day long, but it’s just bitching unless I offer a solution.

My Proposal

Hit piracy where it hurts: The torrents. Instead of paying some idiot company to make your game a massive glowing target for hackers and provoking god only knows how many people to pirate “out of protest”, Release torrents for your games.

YOU’RE INSANE!!

I know, but hear me out. I like what the Arkham Asylum people did, when they “leaked” a copy of their own game, but without the glide function. Genius, but not enough. Instead of one semi-broken version, they should have released 1000’s of stupid, unplayable versions. I’m serious here. Maybe in one version, the attacks have been disabled, in another, the game just cuts to a black screen with “THE HAXXXXORD” written in huge red letters every 3 seconds. Maybe in another version a shrill, deafening noise replaces all sounds, and music, and yet another version has all these “quirks”. Then just pollute torrent sites with your “leaked” copies. Instead of a search for “Mass Effect torrent” yielding the desired result, have it yield so many retarded links that it’s just easier to buy the damn game. Now, it’s more of a hassle to pirate then to buy, and if you also remove most DRM, then folks can’t pirate “out of protest”.

Besides, wouldn’t you rather a potential pirate say “Fuck this shit; I’m just going to buy it now”, than a potential customer say “Fuck this shit; I’m just going to pirate this now”?

So, all this Ubisoft noise has got me thinking about DRM again, (Read this, or this, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) and I think about DRM about every time I buy a new PC game. There have been a lot of very good points on the topic but I think that most of the sales lost due to piracy come from this thought:

“If this game uses DRM I’m going to pirate it…out of protest” Let me just say this: If you pirate games “out of protest” or because you are “sticking it to the man” YOU ARE WRONG. Really want to stick it to Ubisoft? Send them a receipt for a game you bought that they didn’t make, and a note telling them why you bought (for example) THQ’s game instead. This way, Ubisoft loses a sale, THQ gets one, and Ubi still gets it rubbed in their faces. But my little argument is hardly going to dissuade any pirates, and I still hate online verification, checks, and cd keys. Which brings us to this question; if adding DRM seems to increase piracy “out of protest” and no DRM leaves games open to be pirated, what do we do?

In order to fight piracy, you have to do two things:

1) Make it harder to pirate the game

2) Add Incentive to Purchase the game

As best I can see it, DRM does neither. In fact, I wager that the tougher your DRM scheme is the QUICKER pirates will crack it. As a wise man once said “you can’t beat people in aggregate” and adding DRM is like a personal challenge to the hacking community (probably). They will hack it, just because you tell them it can’t be done. On top of that, the more hoops I have to jump through to play your game, the less I want to buy it, thus adding even MORE incentive to pirate. (I’ve only ever bought one offline game that required online activation and that was Spore. Man, that game did not live up to the hype.) Good job SecuROM. Anyway, I can tell you why DRM isn’t really stopping piracy all day long, but it’s just bitching unless I offer a solution.

My Proposal

Hit piracy where it hurts: The torrents. Instead of paying some idiot company to make your game a massive glowing target for hackers and provoking god only knows how many people to pirate “out of protest”, Release torrents for your games.

YOU’RE INSANE!!

I know, but hear me out. I like what the Arkham Asylum people did, when they “leaked” a copy of their own game, but without the glide function. Genius, but not enough, instead of one semi-broken version, they should have released 1000’s of stupid, unplayable versions. I’m serious here. Maybe in one version, the attacks have been disabled, in another, the game just cuts to a black screen with “THE HAXXXXORD” written in huge red letters every 3 seconds. Maybe in another version a shrill, deafening noise replaces all sounds, and music, and yet another version has all these “quirks”. Then just pollute torrent sites with your “leaked” copies. Instead of a search for “Mass Effect torrent” yielding the desired result, have it yield so many retarded links that it’s just easier to buy the damn game. Now, it’s more of a hassle to pirate then to buy, and if you also remove most DRM, then folks can’t pirate “out of protest”.

Besides, wouldn’t you rather a potential pirate say “Fuck this shit; I’m just going to buy it now”, than a potential customer say “Fuck this shit; I’m just going to pirate this now”?

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~ by Tornadic on February 25, 2010.

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