Blizzard Says DRM Is A Losing Battle, Better To Focus On Positive Value

from the focus-on-your-fans,-not-your-enemies dept

A bunch of folks have sent over variations on the story that video gaming company Blizzard has said that DRM is a losing battle. While that part is catchy, even more impressive is the overall reasoning, which is that it just makes a lot more sense to focus on adding value for the people who do want to pay, rather than worrying about the folks who don't want to pay:
"The best approach from our perspective is to make sure that you've got a full-featured platform that people want to play on, where their friends are, where the community is," he added.

"That's a battle that we have a chance in. If you start talking about DRM and different technologies to try to manage it, it's really a losing battle for us, because the community is always so much larger, and the number of people out there that want to try to counteract that technology, whether it's because they want to pirate the game or just because it's a curiosity for them, is much larger than our development teams.

"We need our development teams focused on content and cool features, not anti-piracy technology."
Now this is definitely good news. We're hearing more and more stories where content creators are realizing that wasting so much effort on stopping people who would never buy in the first place is a waste of time. It's much more productive (and useful) to focus on giving people better reasons to buy. And, Blizzard has been known to experiment creatively with that in the past as well. For example, we recently wrote about the virtual goods it was selling in the game, as well as selling some physical goods as well.

That said, Blizzard also does have a history of less inspiring behavior. The company is still fighting a questionable lawsuit over whether or not the creator of a bot is guilty of copyright infringement. It's also been very aggressive in sending out cease-and-desist letters to fan sites. And, worst of all, the company had announced that it would remove LAN support from StarCraft II in an effort to fight "piracy."

So, while it's good to hear these words suggesting a focus on adding more value, rather than fighting at the technology level, the company does have some legacy issues to overcome as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    it is unlikely in the future that any video game will play for very long without "calling home" for approval. not the abusive "if your connection drops for a second you are dead", but potentially a fairly regular check in. it is clear that more and more games are moving to the dreaded walled garden effect, where you can play a limited set of the game alone offline, or play the full game while online connected to the community. if the money isnt being made selling the game, then the money will need to be made somewhere else. there is no free lunch.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      False dilemma alert!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      Wrong again TAM.

      The vast majority of the video game world has no interest in "phone home" schemes. Why? Because only a small chunk of video games that are developed are commercial creations, or have the manpower or the desire to host a needless community. True, the big name companies get the most attention, and bring in the big bucks, but they are still only a small percentage of easily accessible (legal) video games. If things get too annoying to the average consumer, there are plenty of good alternatives out there that will never be restricted.

      And besides that, DRM cracks are always around, and in most countries circumvention is 100% legal.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        who is tam? if you want to mix the non-commercial and amateur video game world in with the pros, you might be right. but in the end, it is more and more likely that your video games wont be on your machine, but accessible from a cloud, constantly kept up to date, checked, with fewer cheats and patches, etc. in the long run, it is something that creates value for the consumer, and allows the game company to provide the best quality product and new levels / developments to continue to meet the public desire to enjoy the games longer. dismissing community at this point is a very poor choice. if the company isnt hosting community, someone else will, and the company / builder will be on the outside, out of the loop with the gamers who want more of their product.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I've been playing video games all my life. If that's the future of gaming, I guess I'll stop.

           

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          Undisclosed Wimp, May 28th, 2010 @ 2:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ack, you are wrong in so many ways.

          I'm a HARDCORE PC gamer and the idea of having my PC doing stuff behind my back disgusts me. I HATE steam, for example, because it installs patches automatically. It actually FORCES me to install patches before starting the bloody game! What the hell? It's my PC and my (copy of the) game! Back off man! I want to play my game!

          I also don't want my software poking around my hard drive checking if I'm "legit" like some sort of spyware and sending the data home. Again, my PC, back off.

          And another thing. I love mods. I love modding my games. I love map editors and SDK's. They make the game worth playing after the single/multiplayer gets boring. What you suggest will kill those tools and make the games static, sterile and boring. They feed you horse crap and you eat it while thanking them. Nice...

          No PC player in his sane mind will approve any of this. Problem is, not many care these days. Most new "1337" players that parachuted into the PC scene were imported from the consoles, or were born playing CS. They don't care. They just want shiny graphics and incredibly simplified, unrealistic gameplay so they can "pwn" some "n00bs" online and brag about how their machine can "own" the game at 3072x2304 resolution and 62x AA. Even if the game is incredibly shallow, bloated and bug ridden.

          This is why DOOM and UT are still my favourite games of all time.

           

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          DocMenach (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          who is tam?

          TAM is you, lower case idiot. I would have thought that you would have figured that out by now, since everyone calls you TAM. But I guess it's not that surprising that you haven't figured it out, since it appears that your reasoning skills are quite lacking.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Here's my impression of our little ac: "hi mike. how much are you paying your minions to attack me? everyone who posts here is a moron."

             

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          Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hard drive space is becoming so cheap that I don't see why most wouldn't be on our machines, especially as it would allow some game functions to run much more quickly and the game to run more smoothly overall. That's customer value right there. What isn't customer value is restrictions on the way we can use the product we purchase (don't give me that licensing bs, if you buy the software it's yours to use how you will insofar that you don't violate copyright laws, the courts have said this)

           

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      Charles Consaul, May 28th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

      Really?

      Hmmm, I just had a free lunch!

       

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    Sydney (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Actions louder

    Their actions are different than their press releases. I just got in the Starcraft 2 beta, and you have to log in to their service to do anything. While watching a replay, the connection to their servers was lost, and the replay froze. I would consider that a form of DRM.

     

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    The Buzz Saw (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    It's doublespeak

    I hate this PR spin that Blizzard is putting out. They are talking about how DRM is a losing battle all while putting DRM into Starcraft II. Just because you don't explicitly code a "DRM module" does not mean the game has no DRM. The game mandates an online connection for any kind of multiplayer. This is a deliberate defect. If I am in a place with no Internet connection, I cannot play multiplayer at all. HOW IS THAT NO DRM?

    Blizzard wants to "unify" the community, but it does it through coercion and manipulation rather than just letting the features compete on their own accord! Battle.net 2.0 is a neat place, but I do not care for the greater community. I want a functional product. From where I live, the game is fairly laggy. Why do I have to pay $60 only to be watched every minute that I play?

    Sorry, Blizzard. No LAN, no sale.

     

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      techflaws.org (profile), May 29th, 2010 @ 2:31am

      Re: It's doublespeak

      This is a deliberate defect. If I am in a place with no Internet connection, I cannot play multiplayer at all. HOW IS THAT NO DRM?

      Exactly! And that IS a lost sale. I won't buy it either.

       

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      crade (profile), May 29th, 2010 @ 8:23am

      Re: It's doublespeak

      Software companies have discovered it is easier to make money by taking out features than it is to make them. It's not just blizzard, this practice is completely rampant.

       

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      nasch (profile), May 30th, 2010 @ 6:06pm

      Re: It's doublespeak

      I'm hoping some enterprising soul comes up with a hacked version that can do LAN play. Then I can buy a copy for playing on battle.net, and use the pirate copy for playing on a LAN with friends. We like to play Starcraft on a houseboat in the middle of nowhere for example, and we sure aren't getting a battle.net connection from there.

       

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    crade (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 3:20pm

    No Sh$t, sherlock. It would be nice if this was decided before our laws got all fubared.

     

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    PEBKAC, May 30th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Why so needy, devs?

    Can anyone explain to me WHY it is necessary or even desirable to have a purchased copy of a game constantly or sporadically phone home for any reason whatsoever? Especially a single player game that has been already registered?

    All I can come up with is data mining.

     

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    Red, May 31st, 2010 @ 12:17am

    I have to say that the population that has
    1. A computer with minimal system requirements for the game
    2. The spare $$money to pay for a Video Game
    3. an optional Internet connection
    should understand that the internet has become a system, much more sophisticated, than our previous telecommunications. Though the internet is not everywhere we go, with the mobile web explosion it has reached and surpassed the use of cell phones and land lines. For communication, the internet has become a necessity just like our phones, especially in areas where they have merged or overlapped.

    So for single player games, it should not be required to check with the net (I could understand only for activation)
    For multiplayer games however, the default communication service is the internet because of wide audience. If the mass had to choose between LAN and internet multiplayer, the mass would choose internet. To me that's common sense for multiplayer (non-console) games.

    LAN was a good feature and I wish they would keep it around for those who played the original Star Craft. But I also keep in mind the new Battle.net is a service to help connect us socially and transfer data more quickly through their servers.

    We've seen different levels of DRM, and though us the consumer does not want any use of DRM there comes a time where we both have to compromise. DRM is an issue that will NOT go away in the foreseeable future. We will have to deal with DRM, but hopefully on a low to medium level. Game makers will learn that extreme DRM will have a major effect on sales. Not all DRM is bad for the customer, it just may not be exactly what we want and at the most it will be a slight annoyance. I'm of the opinion if you want a game or any product to work exactly how you want it to, make it/do it yourself, or compromise and purchase the product because it still holds enough value. Don't like it? Don't buy it.

     

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    Andreas, May 31st, 2010 @ 9:30pm

    old steam example

    after Katrina in New Orleans, i foolishly payed for half life 2, to pass the time of officials letting me back into my moldy home, bad move, we had either no internet or dialup in the place i was staying. so, needless to say, i whipped out the "noCD" version of half life 2 i had with me, and was up and playing in no time. i just wanted to play the game, but no, steam demanded i be online to play, not possible in someone's house with only one phone line, and not having unlimited internet on all the time. and the patch it demanded installing i think was 160+ megs, get the point. i still to this day, have not bothered putting in the "official" disks to play the game. it on my XPS/Studio laptop (which also does not have always on broadband, being a mobile device) and i play it while im at a friends house who has no internet connection (the neighbors do, should i use theirs)
    i do NOT play DRM'ed games, no matter how cool they are, and i damn makers that require PC's to have this access.
    let me also point back to M$ just recently knocking some good games from their original xbox live servers. or people not being able to play their DRM'd music if i cant get its unlock commands
    the entire DRM scheme is a joke, and cripples all honest people
    rant rant, blah blah

     

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