on Aug 15, 2008
Somebody has this to say:
I know I re-state my thoughts on DRM pretty often, but I’m always happy to do so whenever people give me an excuse. Particularly when it dovetails so nicely with today’s comic. In case there is any confusion, I do not think eliminating DRM will solve all our problems. I maintain that obtrusive DRM is a problem in addition to piracy. I even grudgingly accept DRM, but for it to work, it must:
- Respect the rights of the consumer. This means online activation for a single-player game is a deal-breaker.
- It must be as hassle-free as you can make it. CD checks? Codebooks? CD keys? They all have their drawbacks, but they all prevent effortless piracy. (Passing around a CD.) A user must download a crack or make some kind of effort to thwart these methods. This means that users who pirate the game are making a deliberate decision to do so. That’s the best you can hope for. Anything beyond that is needless hassle which only applies to legit users.
Let us consider two games: The first has a CD check, which requires the disc be in the drive. The other has the disc check, a CD key, it installs SercuROM, and requires online activation.
Which is harder to pirate? It’s a trick question. For every single would-be pirate, the process for pirating these two games is identical: Download the cracked version from the torrents.
But which is harder for honest users to run? Obviously the second one, by far. A very small minority might refuse to buy the first game because of the CD check. A lot of people will avoid the second. Or they will get it and become infuriated by the hassle.
I do not ask anyone to “trust” me or my Stolen Pixels. I’m merely making the case that there are cheaper and more effective ways of fighting piracy.
On the other hand, after hearing people fault me for being too angry and cynical, it’s nice to have someone charge me with undue optimism for a change.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.