DRM – Digital Rights Management. The latest in war against Piracy. Well, not the latest, but the current trend. DRM, put loosely, is a way for a company, or publisher, to make sure that a piece of their digital product gets used by a purchaser, and only that purchaser. To stop copying and and thus, stop the loss of revenue. I think. It could be used to piss us off.
There have been many different ways of implementing DRM, from the very subtle, to the very intrusive, in your face methods, some of which can hurt your PC’s performance. (Please note, for Gaming, a console never gets these issues. Eat it PC fanboys)
DRM is different to other anti-piracy methods, as Wikipedia explains. “The term (DRM) is used to describe any technology which inhibits uses (legitimate or otherwise) of digital content that was not desired or foreseen by the content provider”. So in layman, DRM restricts the way something is used by the user, whether legal or not. It’s a double-edged sword. The company protects itself, but it hurts legitimate users. So they look elsewhere, or simply pirate. And the pirate version does not feature these restrictions, so the DRM only ever affects the legal user. WTF?? That’s arresting someone for being capable of murder. You know, they do have hands! It’s targeting the wrong people.
One of these DRM methods was SecuROM. Mostly used in PC gaming. I’ll cut the long story short, every time it gets used, consumers complain, and the publisher releases an official patch to cut down some of the restrictions it put in place. People have been sued for this. Ubisoft, one of the gaming giants, released a few games with this DRM, then released Prince of Persia DRM-free to “see how truthful people really are”, regarding the claim that DRM was inciting people to use pirated copies. Which it actually does. I would love to know how it went. Hopefully Ubisoft was surprised.
A few publishers have taken a big-boy pill, and have had a few titles DRM-free. Sins of a Solar Empire was one, Sims 3, there are a few others. Sims 3 was a big surprise, because EA also has had its own fight against the pirate. Spore was a 2008 release, and due to its use of the SecuROM, it resulted as the most pirated game of 2008. People would get the pirate version purely out of protest. Not wanting the game, it would then be deleted. Then downloaded again.
The major problem with these DRM methods is that they are designed to be more intrusive and abusive, only so that it will be more difficult to crack by pirates. Because it will always be cracked eventually. It may take a month, or 2, but the pirates have a massive community helping them, so it really is a matter of time.
The aim of these difficult methods is not to stop the crack, but to hold off the rampant piracy until the expected sales can be met. The longer the game stays unpirated, the more people will buy. In theory, at least. The problem is that there are more dedicated pirate than there are casual. Only a few people will buy the game original if they can’t find a pirated version. Very few. The majority will wait until they can get it for free. I would say casual pirates, the ones who will get the original if they feel like it, are probably 10% of the total piracy scene. If that.
Assassins Creed 2, which is, as yet, unreleased, will be using a new anti-piracy method. You will need a constant internet connection, with a minimum bandwidth of 50kb/s. If you lose connection, the game will stop until the connection is online again. Not only that, but your save games will be stored online too. Now this has the internets buzzing with fury. There are many people who do not have that sort of internet connection, and that’s in America and Europe alone. Nevermind the rest of Earth, this will affect Americans too. Bad move Ubisoft.
While I don’t offer a solution, I have a few ideas on how to curb some piracy. Number 1, these media items can be cheaper. While I understand that making anything costs money, I look at movie stars, music stars, and game studios and all I see is bags of money laying around. Super-rich. And that’s in our worldwide Economic Crisis. How is a price hike justified when someone has just bought a mansion? I understand why piracy must be stopped, its killing the industries, but the current methods are just pissing people off, painting yourselves as the enemy.
The other thing, in first-world countries, where the average income is far above that of a third-world country, the piracy is more rampant. The countries that can afford to buy these items would rather pirate it, leaving the rest of the world to pay almost double(relative). That ain’t right.