Your disagrees simply feed my Bubble Count
CRank: 14Score: 0

Bring on the DRM, please!

Sitting on my desktop is my Diablo III shortcut icon, un-clicked for the past two months. Why?

My internet was down. Oh, it's back up, I assure you! But, regardless, the two and a half weeks I spent without internet (while sorting out an excessively-high internet bill that ended up being the company's fault) killed any interest I had in the game.

Upon every start-up of my PC, Steam would also chime in. "We cannot verify your online connection". And what did that mean? It meant I couldn't play my Steam games (even offline, single-player-only games), not until I got back online. Good grief! And here I thought that Steam was supposed to be the savior of gaming! Yeah right...

Gamers have a lot of things to complain about these days. We teeter on the edge between being informed consumers who demand quality and being loudmouthed crybabies who want everything handed to us on a digital platter. But let's take a break from the "controversy" (read: idiotic White Knighting) surrounding the supposed sexism, or lack of it, in God of War, Tomb Raider, or bit.trip Runner2, or Angry Birds, or any other game that happens to have a female character.

Let's talk about DRM.

"Digital Rights Management" is a pretty simple term. It means the company from which you bought a game wants to tell you how to use it. We see it all the time. You buy a game, but you only have such-and-such number of installations (a number of EA-published PC games). Or, you can only use it on the hardware you bought it for (Nintendo Virtual Console). Or, you can only play the game while connected to the company's server (a growing number of PC games).

I hate it. I do. There are times when it makes me want to go back to buying clunky cartridges. But through the frustration, I'm eager for a digital future. No, not because of "teh cloud". Not because of cheaper prices (it'll never happen) or something like that. And no, not because I love DRM.

The reality is this: a digital future is the only way we're going to be able to own our games.

Let me sidetrack a bit and talk about backwards compatibility (BC). I promise, it will all connect. BC is somewhat of a fuzzy concept. Plenty of successful consoles haven't had it, but gamers always seem to shake their fists and demand it every time a new console is revealed. I get it. It's fun being able to play your old games on new hardware. But BC is one of the things to blame for the PS3's initial high cost. Every PS3 had a PS2 wedged inside. The reason? There really wasn't any way to emulate those games. At least, that's what Sony tells us, until they started churning out HD Collections and PS2 Downloads available on PSN. The issue of BC goes hand in hand with DRM. BC is, in fact, the oldest form of DRM.

Take Nintendo's leap from the NES to the SNES, for instance. The NES used 72-pin cartridges. 10 of those pins are reserved for a lockout chip that (in theory) would only allow Nintendo-approved cartridges to work with the system. But that isn't the DRM I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is that when Nintendo moved to the SNES, they went from 72-pin slots to 62-pin slots. Why couldn't they have fashioned the new SNES cartridge slot to accept NES cartridges? It isn't as if the SNES had MORE pins. That, my friends, is an early example of how a gaming company restricted you from playing the games you bought. I'm not complaining. It sounds like I'm babbling, actually, but this issue of hardware compatibility plays a large role in DRM and digital copies of games and owning our own games and all of that.

PS4, according to Sony, won't be able to play PS3 games. As a PC gamer, this baffles me. I'm accustomed to a new PC always being able to play an older game, regardless of when it came out. Well, as consoles become more and more like PCs, hopefully we will see this archaic form of DRM fade away. To me, it doesn't make sense. More powerful hardware should always be able to play software that was optimized for less powerful hardware, right? Okay, okay, there are some exceptions (good luck emulating SEGA Saturn games, even on a powerful PC), but the concept should be a no-brainer. Truthfully, when a console isn't backwards compatible, it's because the company is calling the shots on what games should (and should not) be playable on your system. It sucks.

My personal dream is to see the concept of the "account system" blossom and grow and evolve. If companies keep insisting on giving us digital downloads of older games while cutting out BC for those same old games, they might as well give us a decent account system. I keep bringing Sony up, but that is because they currently have the best account system out of the big three console manufacturers. If I own Final Fantasy 8 on PSN, I can upload it to a PS3, a PSP, a PS Vita, or a PS4 (I would assume) by simply entering my PSN account information. And I only bought the game once! When I boot up the game, it doesn't ask me for my PSN log-in information. It doesn't bug me about updates. And if I'm offline, it doesn't restrict me from playing the game. In a sense, I own that digital copy of FF8 more than I own a copy of, say, King of Fighters 13, which won't be compatible with the PS4 or other future Sony consoles. Nintendo is on the right track by offering digital games on their systems, too, but the problem is they tie it to the hardware. You don't "own" the games quite so much. I'm not ignoring Microsoft to be spiteful or anything. The reality is that their account system spans across one console only. We'll have to see how they handle digital content between the 360 and NextBox before I can form an opinion.

If tying our games to a digital account system is what it takes (admittedly, a form of DRM), I'll take it! A little upstart site called Good Old Games really started to push this concept a few years ago. They began selling old PC games at a reasonable price, with no DRM attached. It's funny: a lot of these old games were games that people would simply go online and download for free. But they made a ton of money! How do people take free games, charge for them, and still get customers? It's because they let you OWN the games. You can burn copies, download the games to any compatible hardware, there are no download limits, no registration codes, and the games always come with a ton of extra goodies. I do like the extra goodies, but what I like the most is that lets me OWN these games. I don't have to contact Nintendo and cry, "I bought Super Mario Bros 3 on my Wii, but now I want it on my 3DS!". The poor customer rep at Nintendo would simply reply "I'm sorry, sir, but you need to re-purchase that content on your 3DS in order to play it". Baloney to that! I bought the game, didn't I? Sony is a bit further ahead, but they still suck when it comes to a lot of their titles. Why can't I play my PSN games on my Vita? Or, at the least, why can't I Remote Play my games from my PS3? Those "evil" PS3 hackers have been streaming 90% of available PS3/PSN games to their non-hacked PS Vitas for months now. If a lives-in-the-basement hacker can do that, why can't Sony unlock that ability for legitimate PS3 users?

I understand that a lot of people like to own a physical copy. Sure, it does give the impression that you OWN the game. But what happens when a new console comes out? Will that physical copy be able to run on it? Perhaps not. But perhaps a digital copy will. At least, that's my dream.

My only fear (since we see this all this time) is that gaming companies will take too many liberties with their account systems. The stories of EA and Valve Corp banning people's accounts (and therefore eliminating their game collection) is something that sticks out to a lot of people. Yeah, that needs to change. EA's recent crash-and-burn with the new SimCity is another stunning example of DRM gone wrong. Companies should take cues from iTunes. The music industry saw alot of the same complaints that the gaming industry is seeing today: "everyone just pirates our music so we have to protect it with this restrictive music software crap!" And then along came iTunes. iTunes was a huge hit, not because it had the Apple name (iTunes was actually very unknown and unpopular for its first year), but because Steve Jobs said "hey, a lot of people pirate music because it is MORE CONVENIENT! How can we make music more convenient?" iTunes became DRM-free (they let you export and import any music, you can burn CDs, etc) and its popularity went through the roof. Oh, how simple of a concept, game companies! Perhaps if you made your games more convenient by letting us own them through an account, play them whether we are online or offline, and let us install them on our hardware, perhaps we wouldn't be pirating games so much anyway!

Nintendo, I'm sure you're not reading this, but if you would join the 21st century with your online account system and if you'd allow us to buy Virtual Console games on ONE account and use it across our Nintendo systems (all of which are compatible with the same old-school Nintendo games), I would drop hundreds - HUNDREDS - of dollars on your Virtual Console, if I simply had the assurance that my purchases of these old Nintendo games would be valid for future Nintendo consoles/handhelds.

I don't know about you, but I get tired of not owning my games, even when the disc is sitting in the palm of my hand. Restrictive DRM is only one side of the coin: if we insist on sticking with hard copies of games, then game companies will always have an excuse to not make their older games compatible with newer systems, until - of course - they release the Super HD Collection Fun Pack for $39.99...

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DragonKnight1890d ago

Good blog, but the PS4 can't play PS3 games due to the difference in architecture and the cost that that would imply. Emulation is said to require 5 times the resources needed to run the game on its native hardware, so emulating PS3 games on the PS4 is probably out of the question unless they were to shoehorn a PS3 in there and ramp the cost up, which would piss people off who don't really understand anything but "the PS4's price too damn high."

flyingmunky1890d ago

Then there really is no excuse for ps2 and ps1 games. Those should be able to be emulated fully with just software. I really hope they allow those at least.

DragonKnight1890d ago

PS1 yes, PS2 no. Again, different architecture. Look how difficult it is to emulate PS2 games on even the best PC. You have to constantly tweak setting to get the games even halfway playable. But that's due to the Emotion Engine. Sony went with an easy platform with PS1 and went back to that with PS4 but PS2 and PS3 were the ones that were difficult.

s45gr321890d ago

I disagree the PS4 is already five times more powerful than the PS3. Look at it this way the PS3 has 512mb of ram split into two 256mb of xdram and 256mb of dd3 or gddr3 and a single core processor with 8 virtual cores. Now the PS4 has 8gb of gddr5 ram with a 8gb core processor plus 8 virtual cores. Is that not five times more powerful than the PS3? So emulation is possible hell one of the upcoming features is to stream PS1, PS2, and PS3 games through gakai. Sadly that means re-buying them again; unless, Sony decides to let play station gamers use their current psn account.

DragonKnight1889d ago

Just because the PS4 may have 5 times more power than the PS3 doesn't mean emulation is going to be easy. Architecturally, they are too different.

Derekvinyard131890d ago


BranWheatKillah1890d ago

You're wrong about Steam. it does let you play your single player games offline so long as you have played them online once.

Kran1890d ago

That's a flaw to anybody in the world with no internet whatsoever isn't it?

Christopher1890d ago

Kind of impossible to download and use Steam at all then, isn't it?

Kran1890d ago

Some games you buy in the shops require steam to be downloaded, don't they?

Christopher1890d ago

I've yet to buy a game that required Steam. But, even then, why would an area without any Internet sell a game like that?

The issue is with your logic of your argument holding any weight as far as being considered 'relevant' in an area without Internet.

Kran1890d ago (Edited 1890d ago )

I never said a whole area without internet.

There are people I know who don't have internet because they can't afford it. Sure, it can sometimes be just a small price to pay but some families don't even have that at time.

coolbeans1890d ago (Edited 1890d ago )


I think Kran is talking about games that require steam authentication from an active steam account to be played, even if it's purchased at a retail store.


I can...sort of see that hurdle but with the continuing growth in wi-fi spots and the link I've posted below, it doesn't seem that strenuous of a task to be able to play your purchased PC games.

xPhearR3dx1890d ago


If those people you know can't afford internet, they sure as hell can't afford gaming on PC. So your whole argument is now void.

Also, on the back of the game box it will say "Requires Steam client and free account to access". You need to look at the back of the box to make sure your specs are good enough to even run the game, so there's no excuse to say you didn't know it required Steam.

If you buy something in the store that requires batteries, and you fail to read the print that says "AA batteries not included" it's not the products fault you failed to read. Same applies to physical copies of games.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 1890d ago
dedicatedtogamers1890d ago

Um, no it doesn't. After about one week being offline, Steam insists on checking for updates and verifying your account, and until then your games cannot be played.

DragonKnight1890d ago

@coolbeans: Was that intended to invalidate his point? Because you actually supported it.

The Steam client application's files must be updated to allow for the use of Offline Mode. If your game's status is "100% - Ready" but you receive the message "This game cannot be started in Offline Mode" when attempting to play offline, the Steam client application's files need to be updated."

You need to update the files to play the games, that means no internet, eventually no play.

coolbeans1890d ago (Edited 1890d ago )


It was simply there to clarify steam's DRM to both parties. In dedicated's case: his "about one week being offline" comment isn't entirely true b/c steam client updates vary in releases.

dedicatedtogamers1890d ago

Here's the thing: how does Steam know that files need to be updated if your PC is offline? That's my point. Inherent in Steam's architecture is a timer that eventually forces you to go online in order to play your legally-purchased games. It is why I avoid buying Steam games if I can help it.

DatocanNyvengyn1888d ago

*shrugs* My Steam game library has roughly 200 games in it and I've only had ONE game incapable of offline play (first release of Dead Island). If one doesn't want update checks, one should simply select "Do Not Automatically Update This Game" from the UPDATES tab in any game's Properties window...

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1888d ago
s45gr321890d ago

STEAM does allow gamers to play their steam library offline if you are logged in to your steam account. Personally, I hate login in login out of my steam account. So what I do is not log out from STEAM.

SilentNegotiator1890d ago

"The reality is this: a digital future is the only way we're going to be able to own our games"

With big fat agreements that say we don't own the game?

FFS, console games don't evaporate. Stop talking like without BC the new console kills the old one to be pack leader.

Bladesfist1890d ago

All physical media will "evaporate". It is only a matter of time.

s45gr321890d ago

The problem is that once the old console is no longer in production. If something happens to your console you cannot replace it. Having an account means true ownership like STEAM library of games. Is possible to burn steam games onto DVDs, play them on laptops or gaming htpc.

Bimkoblerutso1890d ago (Edited 1890d ago )

The only thing that truly bothers me about this shift into exclusive digital distribution (and why I just can't bring myself to agree with you) is that it is IN NO WAY for our convenience as consumers.

It's one thing to try and promote a different market for gaming. Digital distribution could honestly be a wonderful thing for many a SERVICE, NOT A PRODUCT. And yet, there has been absolutely no attempt to adjust the retail model accordingly.

In practice, digital distribution takes what should be a shift towards convenience and ease of entry, and instead slaps us in the face with:

- Increasingly restrictive DRM
- Convoluted authentication processes
- A tendency to fragment games into DLC and sleazy microtransactions
- An unrealistic reliance on internet and server connection

Why the hell would anyone want to pay the same price (more if you count DLC) for their games to be less convenient to play? It makes absolutely no sense, but by god, it's going to happen anyway.

I honestly don't think we as consumers are going to get ANYTHING out of this shift. Mark my words.

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