Saturday, March 24, 2012

Notch speaks out on DRM and Internet distribution Monopolies

DRM is often one of the most vile terms that has ever been used concerning console and PC games. When one mentions the term, it's often met with vitriol, and rightfully so. It's quite the norm to read that consumers and some developers speaking their mind on the subject, and Markus Persson (Notch to the gaming community at large) is the latest in a series of developers speaking their mind on the subject. Here's an article from CVG on that.

"There are so many evil companies that want to control the flow of information because they managed to do so for 20 years, and they want to do it forever," he told the latest issue of Game Informer.
"That's not really how information behaves. Copying something on the internet is a free process, and it's easy to do. You literally cannot install a game without copying. Everything is copying, all the time. Trying to control that is counterproductive.

"If you really want to control it, you have to have hardcore, technical solutions to it. So, you have futile attempts like DRM. It gets more and more intrusive... I thing [the internet is] fine as it is; I'm making lots of money off it. Piracy isn't stopping us. Sure, we'd prefer if people bought the game, but there are enough honest people out there. so, just focus on the honest people."
This is similar to statements made by The Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt, which has vowed 'never' to use DRM again.

I may have to procure the latest issue of game informer to find out how the quote was used in context, but I still find this to be an interesting comment to say the least. I can't say particularly that companies are "evil" because the term is definitely used in the subjective sense (companies don't have an alignment per-se, more like a means of protecting their best interests. We can see that as evil or good depending). I can say that companies do use DRM to control information flow for their own reasons and to often protect their bottom line, as well as their own relevancy. We've seen that constantly, and we've also seen the backlash that it causes amongst the consumers. Not to mention the problems that have plagued games like The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, which because of DRM had activation issues and problems with reduced framerate, and increased in-game loading times.

With those things being said, I have to agree with Notch on this one. The war on piracy is not an easy war to fight, and data has to be copied onto the user's computer in some way shape or form in order to be utilized. That's just how it is. The answer isn't to punish the consumer who purchases this data, but to find a serious solution to stopping (or realistically slowing) the flow of piracy of said object. The real question is how? Of course, this is a incredibly loaded question, and it's answers almost always lean towards a means of punishing the many for the actions of a few.

Developers clearly don't want their years of work ruined for the sake of stopping a fraction of users who want to enjoy the game for free, however, there has to be something that can be done in order to lessen (if not stop) the flow or piracy of these products. Time will ultimately tell if such a feat can be accomplished reasonably. 

The Gamingbolt version of this article also points to another statement made during the interview, which I'll actually post below.

"Notch loves Steam, but he doesn’t want it to dominate the digital distribution area, and he has his reasons for that. He said this in an interview with Gamespy, and makes some good points.

“I think it’s a bit dangerous to only have one digital distribution platform like Steam. I love Valve, but out of principle, I find the idea of one platform a bit scary,” he said.

“So I like that there are others competing – for example, Desura and Impulse, who recently got bought by GameStop. It’s a good thing that there are more.”

He also had some positive things to say about Origin.

“Origin does a couple things badly compared to Steam – which is impressive since they had eight years to study Steam. They should definitely have a chance to do their thing, but they might want to move away from titles that make people use it and show people why they should use it,” he said.

“But I think, in principle, it’s a good thing.”

Monopoly is undesirable, but when Steam does so many things right, and if people don’t want to deal with plenty of clients cluttering their desktop – it’s not a bad thing after all.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below." 
 Being a member of Steam (despite not playing a steam game for some time now) I enjoy their service, and the fact that there is a distribution service aimed at providing the best deals for consumers, but I also feel that competition provides more room for innovation, and a means of providing even more deals for the consumer to enjoy. So it's pretty logical for me to also agree with this statement. I don't know if Origin is there yet (It's pretty spotty at this juncture, but at least EA is trying), but I feel that multiple means of purchasing digital content is in no way a bad thing. From what's been said Notch is two-for-two on the "someone gets it" scale, and I'm sure there are even more gems worth reading about with a little more research.

I knew there's a reason why I admire the man.

Game on.

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