While some publishers think that obtrusive DRM is the right way to go in protecting their PC game titles, Valve Software founder Gabe Newell sees the whole practice as wrong-headed and misguided. Speaking to Kotaku for its "Well Played" column, Newell said that Valve is a broken record on the topic:
"We're a broken record on this," Newell told Kotaku. "This belief that you increase your monetization by making your game worth less through aggressive digital rights management is totally backwards. It's a service issue, not a technology issue. Piracy is just not an issue for us."
He should know; Valve managed to enter into one of the worst markets for selling legitimate games: Russia. What he found was that black market pirates were simply doing a better job of localizing games than the companies doing business there. To deal with this, they simply did a good job of localizing products on Steam.
"When we entered Russia everyone said, ‘You can't make money in there. Everyone pirates,'" Newell said. "When people decide where to buy their games they look and they say, ‘Jesus, the pirates provide a better service for us.'"
At the end of the day, Newell sees strict DRM schemes as more harmful than good to publishers that use them:
"The best way to fight piracy is to create a service that people need," he said. "I think (publishers with strict DRM) will sell less of their products and create more problems. Customers want to know everything is going to be there for them no matter what: Their saved games and configurations will be there. They don't want any uncertainty."