FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle
I believe that DRM should be either limited or removed in its entirety for PC games. Most DRM employed on modern PC games, namely Sony's SecuROM software, is easily bypassed by pirates and intrusive and frustrating to actual consumers. I respect the rights of game developers and publishers to protect their content, but the DRM methods currently being employed are not working. The more "effective" developers and publishers try to make them, the more intrusive and irritating they become to actual consumers. Consumers, such as myself, wish to buy software. I don't mind having to buy only the rights to use the software, but I want total control and use of the software that I buy the rights to. Modern DRM policies are effectively limiting the ways I control and use software. Of course, that's the point of DRM, but the way they implement it now is really pointless and irritating. There is no easily visible notification on the packaging of any game I've purchased recently that warns me about the restrictions I'll be forced to operate under. Most notifications only appear in the EULA that is displayed AFTER I have purchased the game. I see this as a misleading business practice. There have been some games I've purchased expecting full use of when in reality I was only allowed to install the game three times and operate it under a single account that restricted use by others including family members that wished to play. Even if my little sister went out and bought her own copy of the game, she still needed her own machine to play it on due to the installation restrictions. This leads me to the topic of DRM being a nuisance. In order for said little sister to play the game with her own account, even if she paid for a second copy, there was no other option other than to employ software hacks designed for piracy. That is simply outrageous that I need to make use of piracy software in order to work around DRM that is too intrusive. Another good example would be DRM software incorrectly preventing use of software due to a false positive within the software. SecuROM, which is the most widely used DRM scheme, is prone to this. I have read about incidents where SecuROM has prevented ANY use of a game due to detecting piracy software on the machine when there was none. Some versions of SecuROM also prevent use if it detects a hardware environment that COULD be used for piracy, such as having two disc drives installed at the same time. In order for people who fall under those conditions to play these games at all, they are forced to employ piracy software, which completely defeats the purpose of the DRM in the first place. If the DRM scheme is so intrusive that paid consumers of the product are forced to employ piracy software in order to use the product then it shouldn't be placed on the product at all. On top of that, since DRM like SecuROM are easily and completely defeated by piracy software, the schemes should simply be removed completely. It is pointless to employ them if they just don't work at all. What does work, then? There are some very good options for publishers to look into that have been proven to work. Ad-driven games work, in all the online polls I've read asking gamers if they would like a game with forced ad placement during downtime like loading screens in place of DRM or even cost at all, the majority always said yes. Another VERY successful option is a digital distribution platform like Valve's Steam. Steam is a form of DRM, but a very non-intrusive and effective one. Steam allows me the freedom of using my games on any machine I want with unlimited use while also letting me purchase games digitally. The catch is that the games are managed under a single account that I must be logged into in order to play the games...but this is completely acceptable to me. It doesn't restrict me at all while effectively managing my digital rights. Conclusion: Developers and publishers have more options. Cut down on DRM or cut it out.