DRM: Does it damage value?

I’m sure you can all guess that my answer is going to be yes. What I intend to do in this piece is illustrate how excessive DRM damages the value of a product (in this instance PC games) and that in turn makes piracy more attractive.

The problem with intrusive gaming DRM is that unlike films or music for example, copies of games are generally release quality with the benefit of having the DRM stripped. That makes them essentially better than the retail version, rather than merely cheaper (free). This in turn makes the pirated game an altogether better value proposition than the retail game.

I’ll give you an example: Anno 1404, a strategy game developed by Related Designs and published by Ubisoft. Now let’s say you decide you want this game; you go to the store and see it for £35, only to realise that it has TAGES DRM with a 3 activation limit (tough-luck if you have no internet connection or 4 computers).

On the other hand you could go to Isohunt and download it at no cost; along with no intrusive DRM. This means that to most consumers the pirate version of the game is better value for money, a big problem for developers and publishers who want to discourage piracy.

A further factor affecting the usefulness of DRM is the fact that almost all DRM methods have been cracked. However the DRM servers are still being maintained by the publishers that insist on their use. Who pays for this? Us, the consumer, whenever we buy a game. Less DRM should mean marginally lower prices on games.

What publishers and developers need to do is make the genuine games a better value proposition – very little DRM, art-books, steel cases etc – they need to make the payment for the game make sense. As it is now, I am paying for product that is inferior to a free product and that is just messed up!

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~ by mattman106 on September 8, 2009.

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