Anti-Piracy Outfit MUSO Comes Out Against The Use Of DRM
from the huh dept
When it comes to the record of anti-piracy outfit MUSO, based in the UK, you get a mixed-bag. On the one hand, the organization was caught patting itself on the back for the number of takedowns of infringing content it had achieved, when the number it was touting was made up in some sizable percentage of the number of takedown requests it had issued. The focus at all on takedowns as a method for combating piracy, rather than the development of better business models that take advantage of the internet, is itself a problem. On the other hand, MUSO has also been willing to tell content publishers that piracy is by and large their fault, with a lack of convenient legal alternatives being the biggest barrier to ending copyright infringement. So, a little bad, a little good.
Well, we can add another item to the good column, as MUSO recently came out on its own site with a piece that essentially argues that DRM should be abandoned completely. And, while the alternative on offer in the post is more takedown efforts, MUSO is at least trying to frame this as an argument for better treatment of consumers.
Regardless of the truth about performance, software bloat, and connectivity issues – the strength of feeling in the gaming community is huge. DRM is accused of being anti-consumer, and are perceived as being to the detriment of player experience. For game studios, it’s a very quick way to alienate your target market.
It’s also like a red flag to a bull and, once a game is released with DRM, hackers quickly get to work to crack it. Typically this takes a little while but, as Capcom recently discovered, the hackers are getting faster. Released on 8th March, the game was cracked and pirated within hours. With this precedent set, combined with the frustration it induces in players, is DRM really worth it?
Of course it isn’t. We’ve been saying this for years. When DRM’s biggest success story, Denuvo, has been completely neutered down to cracking timelines of days upon a game’s release, what the hell is the point?
And, again, while MUSO’s solution on offer is more takedown efforts that also haven’t proved to be adequately successful, the organization is at least trying to guide publishers down a path that doesn’t create a war with legitimate customers.
Games studios and distributors need to protect their content online, and take a stand against piracy, but the chosen strategy should not undermine the core product or hijack the conversation around a release. Gaming creates huge and passionate fan bases which need to be nurtured; fans should not be left feeling as though their gameplay is being hindered.
With immediate availability of cracks to work-around DRM, and hackers choosing to proactively target releases using DRM, it’s time to change the conversation. Content protection strategies should be non-invasive and data-driven. Rather than embedding mechanisms within the games themselves, studios can effectively remove illegal content as it appears by crawling for copies.
While it would surely be nice to see a group like MUSO progress this conversation beyond re-hashed takedown strategies and into one in which innovation of gaming business models is at the forefront, it must also be said that nothing in the above text is wholly unreasonable. With anti-piracy efforts typically only being framed in one direction — with more and more restrictions and technology used to hamper pirates, but which instead only seem to piss off customers — seeing a MUSO come out against DRM is a welcome sign of change.