Ah, DRM. Unlike the R18+ issue in Australia, DRM is a global concern close to the heart of many a PC gamer that seems unlikely to disappear overnight, despite the Valve or CD Projekt RED philosophies on piracy. Ubisoft has championed the controversial always-connected DRM method that has upset many legitimate purchasers of its titles.
Chris Early, vice president of digital publishing at Ubisoft, recently mused over the future of games that offer increased value as a deterrent for piracy in an interview with Eurogamer. “The question is, with enough on-going content development, content release, engagement at the community level, can we create that kind of MMO value system? I think we can. As the rest of the game industry continues to evolve, the more you hear about cloud gaming, the more you hear about companion gaming, the less a pirated game should work in all of that environment. So, therefore the value of that pirated content becomes less. Will some people still pirate? Yeah, they will. Will the person who really wants that broad experience pirate? We hope not.”
He expanded on the idea of value versus alienating legitimate owners of Ubisoft games. “Is it fair for someone to enjoy our content without us receiving some value for that? I think at the core of that is, no. Otherwise, other than works of charity, there would be few games made. The balance, however, is, how do we do anything about that and not harm the person who is giving us value for that? That’s been the delicate balance that the industry has walked over time. It continues to be one that we grapple with as an industry. How do we create content and receive good value for that, and at the same time, not inconvenience the player who has given us value there?”
Early is certainly asking the right questions, but his solution? “I don’t know that there is a perfect answer today. There are some technological answers. There are some design answers. There have been different approaches from different publishers at times, some doing no DRM and just assuming it’s the cost of doing business. Some are doing a very strict DRM. Some doing an on-going content revision. I don’t think we have a single, good answer yet. The interesting thing will be, how do we create enough value that that need for DRM goes away?”
His final thoughts offered some hope for the future of Ubisoft’s approach to DRM. “As we continue to keep our player at the centre, we want to find ways that don’t inconvenience that player who is paying for it. We’ve had a variety of degrees of success as we wind our way down that path. Our plan, our hope is we stay on the less intrusive, less cumbersome side of that path as we go on.”
Here’s to hoping that Ubisoft achieves its “less intrusive, less cumbersome” hope sooner rather than later.