Say no to DRM?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Desktop Gaming, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Hmm.... a thread full of valid opinions and I'm still none the wiser for it. Seems there are huge pros and cons for both options.
     
  2. Xathia Vastar

    Xathia Vastar New Member

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    I don't understand what the big deal is. What's the problem with DRMs? For a program like Software Passport, if you pay for the game, then you can unlock it to play the full version. How else can one control who pays and who doesn't when you have separate downloads? That's not to say that Software Passport is fool-proof, but it makes things a lot easier for the developer selling the game. Anyone can just easilly get the download link to the full version of the game and download it without paying if you have two separate downloads.
     
  3. CasualInsider

    CasualInsider New Member

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    DRM is just plain unnecessary. If you want to use it that's your choice, but try to make it as less likely to break as possible, and don't use DRM because you think it will stop piracy because it will do nothing to stop it. DRM should only ever put into place to stop casual sharing of the game between friends if that's something you want to stop, but we don't, and actually encourage it (for people to share the game with friends and family who normally would not be able to afford it). This policy has earned us a lot of goodwill.
     
  4. Xathia Vastar

    Xathia Vastar New Member

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    I'm not saying that using DRMs will stop piracy. Nothing you can do will ever do that, however, I would think that it would give some people an incentive to pay for the game if they play through some of it and they really like it enough to do so.

    And how exactly can DRMs 'break?'
     
  5. tolik

    Original Member

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    just go online, no drm required
     
  6. papillon

    Indie Author

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    Not nearly as easily as you think. Or rather, they can, but they don't.

    If you have separate demo/full, someone has to pay for it in order for it to be given away. It can't simply be cracked (and some pirate forums will get pissy about whining downloaders requesting cracks of something obviously uncrackable).

    Once it's paid for, most people will not be willing to then immediately give other people for free what they've just spent their own money to buy.

    In all the time that I've given out direct download links on my own server (I used to do this years back for direct paypal purchases, now it's just for people who need new downloads because of computer failure), I have never once had anyone actually share the download link they paid for. And if they did, it would be easy to catch and disable.

    Mostly, with full download games, you have a long wait until either someone manages to buy with a stolen credit card number or someone 'generous' is willing to give the game away free after paying for it. Only then does it enter the pirate system, weeks or months after release. While a serial key can be posted all over the net instantly, a full version has to be uploaded. And re-uploaded, if you send out takedown notices. And these full versions are much bigger than DRM cracks. Pirates can get tired of reuploading!

    So yes, demo/full can be effective at blocking piracy, at least for a while. Does it actually help sales? That's harder to know.

    I can counter Amanda's data by pointing out that I had the sales of a title completely plummet once it was available in a DRM version instead of just demo/full... :) But that's just one game. Clearly it doesn't work that way for all games.
     
  7. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    My experience is mostly the same as papillon's. I've been using the demo/full approach for 5 years now. I recall less than a dozen times I've found the full version uploaded somewhere, and a takedown notice removed the files in a pretty timely manner.

    As for the problem with DRMs, I guess you haven't read cliffski's twitter feed in recent weeks. There have been a number of times he has posted his frustration with not being able to play the Steam games he has purchased because the DRM isn't working. That's a prime example of when DRM is doing more harm than good.
     
  8. stupid_programmer

    stupid_programmer New Member

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    We submitted our first game to the portals for distribution so we'll have to deal with that DRM. But depending on the agreement or if they pass we will be selling the game on our site as well. We are going to do the demo/full version method. As some of the others have been saying, pirates are less likely to upload a 50 meg full game then a 5k crack/serial. For the most part people that pirate the game would have never bought it anyway so its kind of hard to count it as a lost sale.
     
  9. vjvj

    Indie Author

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    One of the problems is that many publishers do not strip out retail DRM from their Steam versions (like Bioshock; the Steam version still has limited installs). So you are getting double the DRM, which is both senselessly redundant and asking for trouble.
     
  10. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    Honestly to me seems that DRM has no huge pro, while demo/full has:

    DRM: people are pissed, a serial can be INSTANTLY shared, an activation can be cracked (even with armadillo, just a few days), warez stealing Gb of bandwidth if your game is popular, etc etc.

    demo/full: see what other people said just now in the thread! :D

    In my experience, I have STILL nowadays some people unable to unlock the demo with the serial, while everyone can click a link to download a fullversion. The only request I get is when some people want to redownload the game after like 1 year has passed (then I provide my own internal system).
     
  11. Andrej Vojtas

    Andrej Vojtas New Member

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    I just wanted to say thanks to everyone sharing tips in this thread. Very informative. I was always at the no DRM side, but didn't fully realize the advantages of the demo/full approach.
     
  12. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    Slightly off topic, but there's also another alternative which came to mind because I'm currently working on an MMO but the model may still apply here. Just have the game contact the server to see if they have paid (or how many times they have played the demo, etc).

    The downside is that the player needs to have internet access whenever they play the game, the upside is that there is only one download and no DRM to fight through... seems like a win-win to me.
     
  13. Qitsune

    Qitsune New Member

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  14. papillon

    Indie Author

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    It's only a win if the player gains something from having the game online. If the game is clearly tied to the internet for no reason other than an attempt at piracy prevention, you will get many many angry people wishing horrible fates upon you and swearing to never buy anything from you again ever, and I will be one of them. :)

    (And many people play games on laptops, or on vacation, with no net connection. Not to mention net connections being flaky.)
     
  15. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Not even the fact that once a customer has paid, they don't have to wait for anything else to download?

    I'd call that a big plus from a customer perspective. People don't like waiting.
     
  16. Bad Sector

    Original Member

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    I prefer to wait and be able to play the game whenever i like no matter my connection status and in whatever computer i like (i have three computers in my house, one in my parent's house and i think about buying one of those HP touchscreen iMac clones :p). I prefer to know that the game will be playable now and after two, four, ten or whatever years. I might not play it after ten years, but i want to know that if i want to do so, i'll be able. In fact i replay a lot of older games so there is a good chance that if i like a game today, i'll replay it in a few years again.

    The above are true for both AAA and indie games. In fact i would trust an AAA company more than an indie company when it comes to DRM because i know that the servers will be around for a while and if they do a bad move someone will create a patch that removes whatever DRM. For indies you can go under and nobody will care.

    From a developer's point of view, also its much easier to have a separate demo/full version (assuming your compiler can use conditional compilations) than handle all of the above :)
     
  17. CasualInsider

    CasualInsider New Member

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    Allow players to download a small demo with a small file and get into the game quickly. Give them the option to either download the full version patch from the client (enter e-mail address used to purchase) or give them a full download link which replaces the demo with the full version.

    Or allow players to download the entire game at once as a large file, and then activate it to play more once they have purchased.

    Both have positives and negatives. I think the demo option would allow slightly higher conversion rates just because less people are likely to cancel the download; however, it seems like these days people equate large download sizes with implied value, so it's not such a bad idea to have a large demo size for that reason (50-100mb).
     
  18. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    Depends the difference in demo/full. Usually you should be able to save some size (in my bionic heart case the demo was 1/5 of the fullgame).
    Smaller demo are downloaded more, so I think you also get higher CR.
    I had nobody complain about having to download the fullversion, while as I said before had several people complaining the serial wasn't working, they lost it, etc.
     
  19. FlySim

    Indie Author

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    One problem with the demo/full approach is casual piracy. I get alot of my business from word of mouth (I often get multiple sales from the same tiny town). I suspect word of mouth sales vary greatly depending on the type of game.
     
  20. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    That's what I was going to say. You beat me to it.

    What he said. :D
     

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