Blizzard Calls DRM a “Losing Battle”

Recently this year a lot of video game publishers started using more advance DRM methods to battle piracy. Starting with Ubisoft’s new DRM system that requires gamers to be connected to the internet at all times to actually play the game, even playing the single player mode. However, after a few so called hacks from hackers, their server was shut down which led to thousands and thousands of gamers left with a game that they bought, but could not play because of the DRM that Ubisoft set up.

Blizzard on the other hand is saying that there is no win-win situation by using DRM and most likely will harm you in the long run. Recently, Blizzard co-founder and executive producer for StarCraft II Frank Pearce, told VideoGamer that Blizzard will be using only Battle.net registration and a one-off activation for StarCraft II. None of that DRM stuff because Blizzard will be hoping to improve their Battle.net service so that players will be attracted to actually buying the game and try to convince pirates to also do the same.

Frank Pearce also said “If we’ve done our job right and implemented Battle.net in a great way people will want to be connected while they’re playing the single player campaign so they can stay connected to their friends on Battle.net and earn the achievements on Battle.net,”

“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.”

Well, earlier this year Blizzard did announce that they wil still take some cautionary measure to stop piracy by dropping the LAN mode from ‘StarCraft II’. It did make a lot of gamers angry, but if you ask me it is still way better than all that damn DRM other publishers are using now.

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Comments

17 Responses to “Blizzard Calls DRM a “Losing Battle””
  1. Butters says:

    Valve has known this for years. See Steam, see Steam go, go Steam go!

    • Ugh says:

      Ugh… steam IS DRM…. and quite frankly it's awful. I'm sure some people might find it wonderful and amazing, in which case, I suppose they simply have low standards. The ideal of downloading games isn't bad, but in my experience things like impulse and steam are a torture to use. They're too restrictive when it comes to the portability of your game, may require network at times (usually not a problem but an annoying thing to worry about) are generally indiscreet and bombard you with advertising and nonsense when you just want to play for game, tend to block the game you want to play with updates…. etc. After my experiences with the orange box, space games compilation, and dawn of war II, any steam/impulse game will have to be pretty damned supreme for me to purchase.

      I pirate an obscene amount of games, but guess what? I've also spent around £1K on games this year. On my salary, to expect me to spend anyone would be criminal [even for the pirated games]. I've got boxes of the things. The best ones are ones on PC, which I pay just as much for, but guess what? Because they're easier to pirate I actually know fairly accurately what to buy before hand. As I said, if it's too hard to pirate, and I can't fully try it, it has to be exquisite if the game makers have a damned hope in hell that'll buy it.

      On the matter of quality of games, there's been a few good things recently, but as a veteran gamer, nothing that really gets me out of my seat. Grahpics are great, buy game play and such is getting very tedious. Excessive DRM is only making things worse. Any kind of heavy DRM is a big put off for me. For a mid-quality game close to the buy-don't buy boundary the level of DRM could mark the choice. Due to this general recent disappointment, I've been spending allot of time checking out old abandon-ware games to serve my cravings as the just aren't enough awesome contemporary games to do so. That's down to a large number of things, e.g: New harder demanding much more from the art side of things, I do like fancy graphics, but it comes at a cost deducted from other creative areas. I recently found the Ecstatica series, pretty awesome games even if the graphics are pants and it's a pain to get them working properly in an emulator.

      I cannot see that I would spend less if I never pirated. A great many of the games I have purchased (often their sequels as well for my favourites), I actually pirated first. If it weren't for piracy, I would likely be a much more timid buyer. For example, I've just about had it for consoles, where I have many games that simply aren't good enough for me to even finish and complete after giving them a play for a few hours. Although we can't really blame consoles for this, that's just the nature of their hardware, it's difficult to do too much about it. Of course things were different when I was a student/teenager. I pirated a vast amount and bought very little. However, either way, I never had the means to buy any more than I did.

      Obviously, we can't have a free for all, basic DRM should be necessary. It would be wrong, stupid and dangerous to make out that all people behave in the same manner that I do. There are a great many people who will pirate, if there are no barriers at all, for the solely for the sakes of not paying and it actually being easier to pirate than to pay (when it comes to steam, versus old school DRM, the ironic thing is that I actually find it more hassle to play steam games legitimately that it was to pirate old school authentic CD DRM based games (even X3: Reunion*). That's a result of playing cat and mouse, not a good thing. Those who really want to pirate, will struggle just as hard to pirate as those who don't want masses to pirate. If game manufacturers don't show moderation, and keep DRM to a reasonable, minimal level as well as targeting online sharers that make it far too easy to download/acquire pirate copies (ie putting a copy on http with a 1gbps uplink along with a publicly disseminated URL) then they will be pulled into an arms race where the methods of implementing DRM become more and more intrusive and obstructive. Not only that, but the spending on such intense DRM could ultimately make any savings from prevented piracy not worth while.

      * This game was annoying to apply a crack to, with virtual drive detection that meant having to unplug your cd drives, install special drivers to trick it's drm, etc. It was worth it though. The game turned out to be pretty good (especially if you can program and are great at modding). I was very hesitant to by it because of the sheer obstructiveness of the DRM and nearly didn't buy it. It's nothing to do with how much of a hassle that it was to trick the DRM that affected by buying decision or caused my hesitance. The hesitance was due to the fact that as a software engineer, the knowledge that a game I'm playing requires me to have to have weird drivers loaded that probe my hardware, mess with kernel hooks, running all the time (well per boot session) and potentially causing instability or slowness made me extremely uncomfortable and on principle I really didn't want to support this. What finally convinced me to buy it was the awesomeness of the in game scripting language, modding tools, the fact the egosoft usually introduce DRM removing patches eventually, and that at least I could disable the drivers in the registry and only enable when I want to play X3 (not something most users can do).

      • Ugh says:

        One other thing I forgot. Steam is also annoying in that as far as I know you can't distribute games second hand. I do not like this idea too much. It may impact the availability of old games. Although, space rangers 2 is one there. It may also actually make old games more available, but at a potentially bad cost, where the concept or abandon-ware may be lost, increasing the sales from old games and reducing the motivation for companies to make more new olds while they're still making money from ancient catelogs. I've had a hard time finding space rangers 2 in stores. I've pirated it, completed it, but really want to buy a copy because it's such an awesome game. Unfortunately, I simply refuse to purchase it via steam. I want a physical version, that does not depend on steam or anything online in anyway for functionality that for example I would be able to give to my grand children to play (although emulator may be required) in a possible future.

      • Chan says:

        Actually portability on Steam isn't bad at all. You can back up any game you have on your account, transfer the file to another computer and run it on Steam and bam, you have a fully updated game.

      • poop says:

        someones' a chatty kathy…

    • Rupe says:

      Hell yes, go Valve/Steam!

  2. Rob says:

    If you want people to buy your game, let the pirates trade it, but give them something extra for buying it. SCII will be on all the dl sites, but people will want to connect to battle.net so they'll buy it. Bizzard 'gets it'. Good for them. A good game will sell itself.

  3. ben says:

    If you think that this isn't DRM, I cannot help you.

  4. Enn says:

    No one wants to go through hoops to play a game, they just want to play it.

    Blizzard allows a "try before you buy" sort of thing where you can pirate the game but you get limited features unless you actually buy the game.

    I've been more inclined to pirate other games rather than Blizzard games considering the lack of care from the other companies.

    When BFBC2 went live on the PC, there were many bugs and the game was hardly playable for the first month or so of release.. all those bugs should have been addressed during the beta stage rather than rushing the release.

    Blizzard do not release their games until it's 99% ready at the least, they've spent years making SC2.

    • Edmond says:

      The sad thing is that after reading several articles (with interviews) it seems like they've spent too much time trying to add new things and then realising that these new things were FAIL…so they went back to the basics essentially. So let's get a checklist up and going:

      1. Improved engine (check)

      2. New units (check)

      3. Original new gameplay elements (uhmmm…not from what I can tell)

      4. Improved multiplayer experience (check if you no longer want to have your ass handed to you by a Korean – because it's now region locked! And fail…do I really have to play through battle.net servers if I'm playin against somebody in the same room?).

      5. Pricing that makes people want to buy the game (fail – it's almost going to be as expensive as a console game here).

  5. hugh says:

    Ugh's long post is typical of the PC community.

    Some self righteous angry retort, trying to justify why he steals.

    I know people exactly like him. Bit Torrent running 24/7 downloading pirated games and movies off the net. The creators of which rarely see a dime from him (despite his 1000 claims, I expect this to be a wild exaggeration).

    Add in to the pot turds who cheat by wall hacking and auto aiming their way through FPS games and PC gaming has many weaknesses.

    It's very depressing that games makers don't get the money they are due because so many smart people focus their time on cracking DRM and attacking servers. I have great sympathy for the games companies.

    With games these days, there are demos, people showing gameplay on youtube. You really can make a pretty informed choice before you buy.

    You will never convince these idiots what they are doing is plain wrong, they have a moral blind eye to this and feel they aren't hurting anyone. The truth is, the end up not paying for games they do continue to play, despite their protestations. Its also people like Ugh which mean we all have to be connected to the Internet to game and register.

    Just read his post again. He is "angry" because he has to have virtual drive software loaded in order to run his "pirated" games. LOL It's like a murderer complaining about having to load bullets in his gun, or wipe blood form his knife. Its insane!

    • Ugh says:

      hugh, what's sad is that if you didn't make your viewpoint a personal attack I might have agreed with you somewhat.

      I do believe that I said (in other words) that there are people who are complete freeloaders/freetards and indirectly implied that such people probably have no compulsion to recompense those who produce works of exceptional quality even when it is not inconvenient for them to do so.

      Your argument spoils it's self because on points I've made that you can't argue about you've simply tried to refute it by claiming that I lie. For example, by weaving the slanderous illusion that I'm exactly like the people I said that I am not. Throwing away my 1k figure (with which I'll ad mit there is a margin of error as I'm not going to go through records to get the exact figure, but no wild exaggeration) with no proper basis to do so.

      You also appear to have turned this into a PC bashing contest. Although I compared one aspect of PCs versus consoles, I was not making a PC verses the world comparison. I do have several consoles and dozens of original games for each which although I enjoy many of then, my buying has nearly ceased due to the difficulty finding games that I like for said consoles.

      You've overlooked one important thing. I'm not just a "PC" guy. I'm a Software Engineer(and I'm fully aware of the importance of protecting your investment)*. I have grown up on PC gaming, and even worked on some multiplayer games in the industry. I actually agree with you that cheaters are annoying. There are times where one of, as a joke, and larking about these kinds of cheats can be fun, however sadly most people will cheat to gain a competitive edge, damaging that part of the multiplayer gaming experience. I myself have actually had the roll of tracking down cheaters, isolating potential exploits, repairing them while in my own gaming experience been the victim of cheaters. Yes it is really annoying, however if you want to make this a lets justify the existence of PCs affair, I would have to say this is tolerable because PCs and their extended freedom also facilitates good things such as legitimate game modding. Many of the games I've paid for, I would not have done so without some modding ability. Being able to add to a game and improve it is a beautiful notion. It not only helps the modders but other players and the game producer.

      Yes there are demos, reviews, etc. I do use these, but there's no better QA than consuming first, paying after, something the costs the game manufacturer nothing. It also costs the manufacture nothing if after spending the most I am willing to spend on their products if I then acquire unlicensed versions. If I only played open source, freeware, abandonware, second hand, demo games giving no money to game producers at all would you claim that I'm like a murderer then? Because the game makers get no money at all, but it's 100% legal.

      A: "so many smart people", "these idiots"… make up your mind, are pirates clever or stupid? Because those cracking DRM usually are pirates. B: I know that I'm not hurting anyone. C: Most of the games I play that are commercial I end up paying for. One or two I liked so much I have actually bought them for friends to try to get them on the wagon (especially for multiplayer). C: It's more complicated than that, and I'm not going to write another essay for that tiny point.

      I can't say that my post was angry, simply a recount of my experiences. However I am finding it hard not to be angered by your final paragraph. I twists my words, is arrogant, emotional, and quite frankly retarded. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you grossly misread what I said (perhaps your should follow your own advice). To summarise and reword it, I had no problem with going through the extra bother. My problem was with the fact that the games DRM adds junk so close to the system's core, a critical part of the system, that is there perpetually whether playing a game or not. I actually had to go through the same amount of hassle to play the original version to add/remove junk when stopping/starting playing as I did with the pirate version.

      In short, I'm generally agreeing with the Blizzard stance which actually appears to be more in touch with the real world that the usual "piraphobia" even though I do not like the idea of no LAN play.

      * DRM, in some form is fairly important, but most important is producing a product of the utmost standards of quality particularly when it comes to your competitors.

      • LBK_1975 says:

        Ugh, you get points for honesty.

        I agree with you; a basic level of DRM is acceptable as a pc player myself I can relate to what you are saying – although I don't download games I might have run a no cd crack or two in my time.

        I purchased a game a while back called Zanzarah, (nice little game really) it required a CD key to use the game unfortunately this wasn't included in the box (I looked) – the only way the game could be played was by looking for a key posted on the web (the company didn't respond to my emails).

        My question to hugh is; Why should I pay for a game whilst hackers get a better user experience? (i.e. LAN and no cd)

        I think a people will avoid Starcraft 2, or in some cases buy a legit copy and download a cracked copy to play with their mates. Who wins then?

  6. john frink says:

    DRM sucks, of course, we all know that. It's a way of screwing legal users over and over again. Assasins Creed 2 anyone? But as much as I like Blizzard's games, and despite the advantages of a community-driven platform like battle.net, it is a way to controll, i.e. limit, reselling of used games. It is build, as well as DRM, to fight reselling, which publishers seem to hate as much as this teh piracy, whatever that is ^^

  7. Dash says:

    So I guess we see how that turned out…Blizzard uses DRM anyways…and it's getting worse…

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