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There Is No Excusing DRM

Let me make this plain. If you excuse draconian DRM practices like always-online or anything that will completely lock out the entire and most basic function of a game or a console, stop gaming right now. If you excuse these actions, you are doing harm to the gaming industry, not good. There is no justification for these practices and they need to end.

This blog isn't about Microsoft, this blog is about the idea of an always-online requirement and other similar schemes. Over the past month I've seen all kinds of excuses as to why an always-online console is not a bad thing, or is a good thing, or why someone can see why a company would go there. I'm here to tell you that that is the wrong attitude. An always-connected console can have benefits in terms of speed and for lazy people, but a forced online connection isn't one of those benefits. The copout of "well most people are always online anyway" is not a defence. Right now, on any of the consoles, you have a CHOICE of whether or not you want to connect to the internet to message friends, search the internet through a console browser, or play online multiplayer. If you do not want to do any of those things and you do not connect to the internet, you can still put in a game and play it minus the aforementioned multiplayer. That's good right? Right.

The premise behind an always-online required console is that said console will not allow you to use the basic function of playing any games offline. THAT IS OF NO BENEFIT TO YOU! You paid money for that game. You should be able to pop it in and play it. You should NOT have to worry that your spotty internet connection could boot you out of something you paid money for. There is no such thing as a 100% always stable network connection ANYWHERE in the world. I don't care what Cliffy B thinks, I don't care what Adam Orth thinks, IT DOESN'T EXIST!

Online passes are just as bad, but they affect ONLY the online portion of a game. That means you can still play the singleplayer portion of the game if you CHOOSE not to pay for an online pass. All of these restrictions serve no one but publishers. They are created based on myths (the used game market hurts developers) and over-exaggeration (piracy is such a huge problem that studios shut down because of it), but are founded in absolute greed.

The more we excuse these practices, the more we show even the slightest hint of apathy, the worse things will get. And if any of us have principles that would tell us "you can't buy this, it's wrong to support something like this" and more of us adopt this philosophy, then eventually either the core audience will cease being any kind of a priority to these developers/publishers and we all won't want to game anyway; or MAYBE these companies will see the error of their ways and revert back to before all of these pay wall schemes were invented.

Always-online required is a problem with which there is no justification. Any reasoning that publishers make is a bogus copout to hide wanton greed and control issues. It was unnecessary with Diablo 3 and I'm convinced that that game was successful because A)It was so long before the last Diablo game was released and B)It employed the same B.S. that FF13 did where people expected a great game and instead were met with DRM and mediocrity.

We have to stick together on this. We can't reward restrictions no matter who is imposing them. Whether it be blocking used games or forcing a network connection to allow for the basic functioning of console, we CAN'T allow this to go on. We are a community that CAN come together when we want to. Loudly and passionately. Our only problem is with how unstable we are, how inconsistent we are. That needs to change if we truly want the Golden Age of gaming to return once again.

Do not excuse DRM. Don't let these money grubbing control freaks think you agree with them in the slightest. That's the only way things can change.

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1867d ago
Ducky1867d ago (Edited 1867d ago )

"Online passes are just as bad, but they affect ONLY the online portion of a game. That means you can still play the singleplayer portion of the game if you CHOOSE not to pay for an online pass."

What's your opinion on games locking single-player content behind codes?
ArkhamCity and RAGE (maybe?) employed something similar where you either bought the game new, or bought a code to have access to extra single player content.

To a smaller extent, I suppose pre-order exclusives like custom skins fall into this category too since they are all methods to get you to buy the product new.

DragonKnight1867d ago

I thought the Arkham City code was for CatWoman and not access to the single player. Hmmm. Anyway, locking out the basic function of the game behind a second pay wall is wrong no matter how you look at it. Pre-Order exclusives make developers and publishers hypocrites because stores like Gamestop sell games used and those are the very stores that these publishers/developers allegedly have a problem with. This just further proves the point that the used market hurting the industry is a lie because what would be served in then HELPING the stores that sell used games?

Ducky1867d ago (Edited 1867d ago )

Well, Catwoman was single-player content, and it was activated similar to how an online pass works.

I suppose ArkhamCity is in a grey area, since you can either say that the developers are good because instead of a paid DLC, they rewarded buyers by giving it to them for free.
... or you can say that it was bad because they had day-1 DLC that was locked behind an online code.

As or the pre-orders, it kinda makes sense to have those incentives in a store frequented by customers who buy used. This way you can entice them to buy it new. So by helping those stores sell new games, they're trying to decrease the population that would buy the used game.

dedicatedtogamers1867d ago (Edited 1867d ago )

Here's the problem as I see it. Gamers have been saying with their mouths "I hate DRM" but saying with their wallets "go ahead and rape me with it".

Diablo III sold 12 million copies so far. SimCity sold 2 million in the first month, despite being completely unplayable. DLC is a form of DRM, since it requires you to have an online connection and a legit copy to access the "full" game. For years, console gamers haven't really protested against the restrictions of digital downloads (like only 4 active systems at a time for a PSN purchase, or having to sign in to XBL to use games on your hard drive). You think the increase in Day One patches is a coincidence? It forces users to get online with their game. Skyrim on PC, for example, can only be patched through Steam, even if you went to your local Best Buy and bought a physical copy. It makes me wonder if Bethesda rushing it to market wasn't intentional.

And the biggest culprit of all is Steam. Steam is DRM, no matter how anyone spins it. Steam requires you to "phone home" to the servers every two weeks or so, even if you put it in Offline Mode, or you'll be temporarily locked out of your games.

It really is no surprise that DRM is on the rise.

We asked for it.

Awesome-Xanto1867d ago (Edited 1867d ago )

I leave Steam in offline mode all the time for a long while, and I have never had it want to "phone" home. I have heard people leaving Steam in offline mode for a year or more. Steam is DRM, and lets face it, we will never get publishers to agree to not do DRM. But out of all the DRM that is out there, Steam isn't the worst.

And you got to look at the company, Steam is proven to be consumer friendly and is likely to still be around 10 years from now.

But for something like always online games, you can't trust publishers... especially EA, who will shut down servers after a few years and take away your ability to play the game you payed for.

Steam=/= Always Online Games.

Zurn1865d ago

Even in offline mode Steam is still sending a "heart beat" message. Check your network traffic and you will see it. The Steam offline mode is not. It is very misleading to label it such. Try playing in offline mode with your network completely disabled.(Then try it for 6 months completely disconnected and then reconnect - you will likely be surprised at the outcome - I know I was having been a Steam user for years.) I travel a great deal to places without internet connectivity (yes, those places still exist in great numbers). And I am unable to play a significant number of my games in offline mode. Period. The only ones I can play reliably are those that do not have DRM or require Steam. (While you are at it take a look at your system vulnerabilities with the Steam app. Since it requires root/admin it allows full access to your system...try to restrict it and you will lose your ability to play any of your games and will be locked out of Steam. If you use Steam or another form of DRM I highly recommend that you use a separate system for games only and keep your home systems fire-walled off.)

Steam customer service is NOT excellent. It is, in fact, very poor. Most of the good reviews come from fanboy sites or PR firms that front load with glowing reviews. They do not come from folks who are working issues with them. (By the way, I used to be a Steam fan. But, I know Steam now as an electronic pusher for my gaming hobby.) About a year ago, upon returning from travel after months of being offline, I tried to connect and play. I could not and have not been able to play any of the titles I played during that time. I contacted Steam via the required online trouble ticket system and received a single response after two months and a over a dozen emails. The ONLY response from Steam has been for me to repurchase all of my affected games. 10 games at $50 bucks a pop is not a good way to endear customers your service. If you think their service is good then you have likely been lulled into a very low standard expectation. (Note: that I also contacted several of the developers and they, not Steam, sent me new copies of some of the games. That is good customer service.)

Steam is great if you are in a sterile environment with excellent connectivity all the time. But, they are a poor service providers as the consumer has little rights within their domain. Read the EULA and service agreement if you have questions. Imagine a drug kingpin requiring all of his users to sign EULAs and service agreements...that if he gives them bad "stuff" they have no rights at all. And he will prosecute them and "cut them off" if they are not entirely satisfied with his service. Same thing.

If you have no desire to be responsible for your own software or property, Steam will manage everything for you and make it easy. The unfortunate reality is that this is all that most gamers are concerned with. IF you are an honest consumer and gamer who takes responsibility for your system, games, and property ...Steam treats you as the enemy. Dragonknight is absolutely correct in this assertions.

I know I will incur the wrath of the fanboys and hired Steam PR folks...this is the way of life in the Steam world. But to quote John Belushi in a very bad movie (1941): "If you are not taking flak - you are not over the target."

Awesome-Xanto1865d ago (Edited 1865d ago )

When I run steam in offline mode, it is because I have no network connection for whatever reason, and I have never had a problem with it wanting to be connected. As long as you have your log in details saved to Steam, closed Steam properly by clicking exit and closing it down when not in use, all your games are fully updated and have been played at-least once, and the game your trying to play doesn't require extra DRM outside of Steam (some games do like Ubisoft games) it should work fine in offline mode.

I never said they have good customer service, not many companies do... I said there consumer friendly and they generally are when in comes to doing what gamers want and giving them what they want. I'm sorry your account had issues, that wasn't resolved... but many people leave there accounts offline for months without issue. I would have stayed on them until something was done. As a consumer you have rights, EULA or no EULA... EULA's don't always hold up in a court of law either. So not all are set in stone just because you agree to it.

The reality of the situation is DRM is not going anywhere, and unless you mainly play old games from GOG your not going to be able to play newer games without DRM. But there are different levels of DRM that range from tolerable to a pain, and Steam is tolerable. I'm not a fan of DRM, or digital downloads... but I've come to realize that it doesn't matter if you buy physical or if you play on console vs PC.

In today's market, it can all become useless at a drop of a hat. Sure you could buy your games physically on a console and sure you could have them 10 - 20 years from now "if" you console still works... but what good is that when today's games have DLC and are patched all with internet which will be unattainable when the servers are shut down which will likely happen each new generation. What is the point is playing a buggy game when you can't get the patch or it's DLC?

It's not the same world it was 20 years ago, when gamers could buy game and still be playing it today without issue.

Some things I can live with. Steam that "may" have to connect every so often when we live in a connected world I can live with. Steam isn't going anywhere anytime soon or taking away our games from us. The internet situation will improve slowly but surly. A game that has to be connected all the time or a game that has to be streamed over a cloud I will not, at that point it's not worth gaming anymore because you may get a year or two out of the game that you payed for before it is gone.

As I said, there is what you can live with and what is tolerable and there is what isn't. Sooner or later we will see where the market goes, consumers are already showing the will blindly accept such tactics, and we will either accept it or we wont.

jessupj1867d ago

I agree.

I'm a little torn though, and I'll tell you why.

I believe everyone has a right to buy whatever they want (as long as it's legal of course) with their own hard earned money.

However, I also believe it's because of the blind, uneducated casuals that so many of these draconian measures have allowed to be. Online passes, Overpriced DLC which is literally 99% of all DLC, DRM, COD cloning have all allowed to exists because these casuals make it viable.

Both beliefs conflict with each other, but in the end I guess it's moot because the casuals will continue to enable said behavior whether I wish it or not.

Do I hate the casuals as people? No. Do I hate their uneducated, 'I don't care' attitude when it comes to their gaming purchasing habits? Definitely.

I haven't bought a single piece of DLC ever, never bought an online pass, never bought a cod game, never bought a single game with DRM. I vote with me wallet, but unless more people start to wise up the industry will continue to move in this dark direction.

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