DRM not the way to fight piracy - Paradox

CEO Fredrik Wester would rather incentivize those who purchase than punish those who steal

True to its moniker, Magicka developer Paradox is fighting piracy by not fighting piracy. Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester shared his thoughts on the matter with GameSpot, saying he dislikes digital rights management (DRM) schemes.

"It can punish players who actually bought the game," Wester said. "I remember buying Civilization III, and I couldn't install it because I had something else installed. I had to uninstall two different programs, change was a hassle."

On the other hand, those who pirated the game had a faster, more convenient experience. Wester would prefer those who actually purchase his games receive the optimal experience, an attitude that defines the Paradox approach to dealing with piracy.

"I have no idea how many of our games are pirated," Wester said. "We don't really have any intention of finding out or hunting these people. What we want to do is provide people who bought the game legally a better service. With frequent updates; good and convenient services; that's how we fight piracy. I hope it works. I keep my fingers crossed."

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Latest comments (10)

Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute3 years ago
During Steam's Summer sale I passed on 4 Ubisoft titles, simply because of their Uplay DRM...and that sucks for both Ubisoft and myself. Damn you, Child of Light!
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Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis3 years ago
@Matthew, you passed on Ubi games because of Uplay DRM but I assume you bought other titles on Steam. Does this mean you don't mind Steam DRM?
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
@ Barrie

Not speaking for Matthew, but I personally find it hard to argue Steam as DRM in the conventional sense (which Wester is referring to). It definitely is DRM - and a very effective form at that - but most consumers don't think of it as one, because of what else it brings (metagames, cards, workshop).

Interestingly, you could easily ask your same question of Mr Wester, considering the last few Paradox games have had Steamworks DRM. :)
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Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute3 years ago
Steam IS DRM. That's my point - how many services must I sign into before I'm allowed to access the game I own? The same goes for Origin. I'm not going to pay money to have another password to remember levied on me.
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
Steam has definitely got the "DRM as a service" thing down pat. Ubisoft and EA, however...

I still have all three (Steam, uPlay and Origin) on my PC because I can't play my games without them. But I totally get Matthew's way of thinking. It makes no sense to start an Ubisoft game on Steam and have uPlay pop up. No game should require two such services. uPlay is essentially useless as DRM, since all Ubisoft games are also available on Steam. The existence of Origin makes a little more sense because you can't buy those games anywhere else, but Origin is also easily the worst of the three on this list...

In summation, ugh.
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Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft3 years ago
Steam has distanced itself from just being DRM because it offers much more than that, which is why people complain about Uplay and Origin.

Other than trying to remember which games I have on which, I don't necessarily have a problem with the existence of either one. Origin to be fair is "trying" to become more than just an EA games promo and DRM machine (Hell at least they offer points for achievements, something Steam has yet to include...well has achievements, pointless to obtain them in my opinion unless you go 3rd party and use Playfire...which is another program to download and log into but that does allow you to earn credit for earning achievements or playing a game for the first time; that can then be used in the Greenmangaming store.)

As to Uplay, I actually don't view it as DRM, it is but like others don't view Steam as DRM because it doesn't feel like DRM, I feel the same for Uplay. I view it as an additional program I would run, which after reaching certain targets or achievements, I would gain points, that would unlock certain rewards or extras. Something that to my knowledge neither Steam or Origin does.

Regardless, it always seems to me that everyone forgets that Steam was once just like Uplay and Origin, offering nothing but DRM for Counter Strike and Half Life and even then it took them several years to take the first steps into what they are today. Only thing I agree with is that it is silly to start a Ubisoft game in Steam and have Uplay pop up but then again to me that's not an issue because

Yes it can be a pain in the ass to traverse all three systems but are we really getting that lazy as a worldwide population? I am not fighting for DRM but sometimes I do wonder if I am too laid back and easy going, then again I have no issues remembering passwords and which ones I use on which sites and programs

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Jordan on 9th July 2014 12:43am

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Shane Sweeney Academic 3 years ago
Game Design needs to be applied to how games are packaged and released to customers. I'm not convinced DRM works. I'm convinced making something one step more difficult to pirate could minimize piracy. But if DRM in any way adds over head then the DRM is advocating piracy.

DRM can require a user to crack their game. So in this instance DRM can complicate piracy by 1 step. However what we often see is that as a side effect of the DRM, the legitimate customers will now have several additional overheads like registration, third party applications, server down time etc. In this instance, the pirate copy is several steps less complicated then the legitimate copy.

This is bad game design, and at least people in our industry should know better.

Take my real world example.

I wanted to acquire a film the other day. I noticed I could buy it from iTunes. So I installed iTunes for the first time, created an account and noticed the film was not available in my region. Well, I then decided to create an account in the US with a fabricated address using a Personality Generator on the Web. iTunes automatically detected I was not coming from an American IP. To battle that I bothered to create a routing rule for a US proxy for the iTunes connection and BAM, I had access. I then tried to purchase the film. iTunes rudely told me my Australian Credit card was not accepted as it had to be American. It refused my money.

Exhausted, I messaged a friend in the US who had bought an iTunes card and he sent me the code to get $15 credit (more then I needed). I then Paypall’ed him that amount in return. I proceeded to purchase the film for $9.95USD and then happily downloaded it. I was saddened (yet not surprised) I could not play it in anything but iTunes. But I wanted to uninstall iTunes? Plus, I wanted to be able to play it over a network from my NAS, anything but a DRM free file is not going to work, especially considering I paid for it I should of received additional value, not less.

I spent 3 hours working out how to remove the DRM from the file and after much pain now have a DRM free version of "Tromatized: Meet Lloyd Kaufman", an average documentary that took over 6 hours to acquire, involving breaking many laws and required a US accomplice.

The laws broken include;
Breaking the Apple Terms of Agreement
Committing Fraud by impersonating a possible United States National
Breaking the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by using a Proxy to get around the GeoBlocking.
Breaking the DMCA by cracking the DRM
Who knows what else.

SO. MUCH. CRIME. And I *paid* for this privilege.
Now Apple have $5.05 free money as that's not enough to buy another film and I really don't want to go through this process again.

The game design of this DRM trained me as a consumer to not use legitimate services which was the opposite of it's intention.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 9th July 2014 8:17am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
"What we want to do is provide people who bought the game legally a better service. With frequent updates; good and convenient services; that's how we fight piracy. I hope it works. I keep my fingers crossed."
For those who choose to pre-order at GameStop will also receive the Last Survivor bonus mission, which allows players to take control of Ripley as she find her way to the Narcissus shuttle.
For every publisher like Paradox, there's a publisher like Sega. Offering a pre-order exclusive at select retailers is unrelated to DRM, but related to piracy - why bother buying the game if you're missing out content. Just pirate it. It's easier than trying to work out who/where to buy it from.

This industry man...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th July 2014 9:42pm

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game3 years ago
I find it funny that those pre-order exclusives often go to Game and Gamestop, the companies that pioneered the aggressive practices that made second hand sales start to move toward the problematic.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game3 years ago
Perhaps because everytime a publisher moans about second hand, they are moaning about what Gamestop and Game did to second hand, they are moaning about how these companies charge for promenant display space, then pursuade consumers at the till to buy the second hand one for two dollers/pounds/euros less, and because the status these companies have in games retail is too strong, (because how they leveraged relationships to bury competition a decade or so ago) for publishers to do anything about it, so doing anything to strenghen that hold is kinda' perverse.

Because taking that money is short term gain, long term kick in the pants.

Apart from that, it makes consumers angry if they preorder full price somewhere else, and feel like they are losing out. Surely any marketing decision that upsets more people than it impresses, is not great marketing. I have no figures, but I have never heard anyone say, "I like being forced to shop there if I want the bonus," or, "I really like that 3 reailers have 3 different bonuses, so I can't have them wherever I buy, whoopie," but I have heard the opposite more than a couple of times.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 10th July 2014 6:00pm

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