on Oct 9, 2008
I enjoyed the recent series of comics on DRM over at Penny Arcade. It reminded me a bit of the DRM Spore comic I did a couple of weeks ago. I was kind of surprised at how similar they are in concept. Both start off with a Biblical-style “In The Beginning” vibe and then go on to trace the history of copy protection. (Nobody is going to imagine that the highly successful Penny Arcade would recycle ideas from me, but the reverse is not true, and so I am very glad that mine came out first. Whew.)
I keep lamenting that this subject doesn’t get mainstream attention, and while Penny Arcade is iconoclastic and subversive, it’s also big enough that we can’t very well dismiss it at “not mainstream”. In any case, they have the ear of game publishers everywhere, and a great deal of effort is expended on the part of publishers to draw the attention of Holkins and Krahulik to whatever offerings they’re about to throw at store shelves. I don’t expect their DRM strips to act as a catalyst for sudden change, but the more voices, the better. And their voices are notoriously loud.
We’ve mused on this in the past, wondering if the people who implement these DRM schemes are really as clueless as they seem, or if this is all part of some convoluted conspiracy to salt the fields of PC gaming before the big publishers make good their retreat to the comforting fortifications of the consoles. Do they really believe the things they are saying, or are they just trying to maneuver customers into a more favorable venue? I still waver on the issue. They seem to be cunning on the micro scale and idiotic on the macro scale. They conceive long-term plans of ruination and short-sightedness, but they implement those plans with a predatory shrewdness.
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.