Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

September 1, 2011 -

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."

Source: Kotaku


Comments

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

I tolerate Steams DRM mecanism because they are the ONLY company out there giving you more features/functionality in the STEAM product for the entry fee of coping with the always on DRM.

Other developers need to mimic this, you need to offer value ABOVE the price of coping with the DRM. Doing anything short of this will cause consumer DRM backlash.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

...what always-on DRM?

While some of the third-party games on Steam use always-on DRM, Valve's games are one-time activation.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

Exactly. Most DRM only benefits the developers/publishers by protecting the IP. It has zero benefit to the consumer. However, Steam offers so much more while acting as a DRM as well. You never have to worry about damaging or misplacing your discs because there are none. You simply re-download your material whenever you choose. Then there are all the benefits -Jes- mentioned.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

It barely even benefits the developers or publishers since it's cracked within 24 hours of release if not sooner.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

If they want evidence, just look at Spore. An awesome game with the worst DRM in history. It flopped in stores, and everybody just pirated it. The DRM completely backfired; it did nothing to stop pirating, and only encouraged it.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

...wait, selling a million copies means you "flopped in stores" now?

Shit, I would LOVE to make a flop like that.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

Meh, any DRM is bad DRM.

Whilst the use of Steam as a form of DRM (because ultimately, that's what it is) is better than Ubisoft's idea of an "always-on" DRM function, that doesn't make it better overall.

Newell can scream at the top of his lungs how much he hates more aggressive types of DRM but ultimately, all types of DRM will eventually hurt the industry like they're already hurting the customers.

Steam games can be pirated, too.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

Maybe you should change your name to Mr. A.

I'm opposed to DRM in general too, but not all DRM is equivalent.  There IS such a thing as a middle ground.

Re: Valve on Piracy and Always-Online DRM

"(because ultimately, that's what it is)"

Yes, because it is not at all a game browser, digital store, IM protocol, image storage site (screenshots), blog site, game rating and demo site, automatic game update service, unlimited reinstall service, cloud storage and file defragmentation program all in one, right?[/sarcasm]

 

As much as Steam is ALSO a form of drm, to call it 'just' that is arrogant as all hell.

I don't like Newell anymore than the next guy, I think HL1 and 2 are inferior games hyped by skillless cretins, I still got a chip on my shoulder re: € -> $ pricing and I LOATHE any limitations put onto me regarding my games, but I know a well-made all-in-one service when I see it.

And it's not anything out of Ubi (constant net? FUDAT) or EA (lol sequels and masterserver killing), both of whom would happily gouge me for cash and leave me rotting in the ditch like a good little bent-over consumer, just like Sony (at SOE we DON'T listen to our playerbase).

 

It's Steam.

 
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