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Help Dev Choice - DRM or DRM Free?

By on May 21, 2013 1:05:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

stratgamer

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Hey

Im currently developing a strategy game and I would like your feedback regarding releasing it as DRM or DRM Free?

So far the response has been quite evenly split. Im currently considering a DRM free for KS release and then a DRM version to be released on Steam.

thoughts, comments suggestions?

See the PC Strategy game here


looking forward to your response

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May 21, 2013 7:08:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In the words of Brad Wardell:  http://www.gamersbillofrights.com/ - "8. Gamers have the right to use their games without being inconvenienced due to copy protection or digital rights management."

I'm sure frogboy will ribbit me hard if I mis-characterize his take in my paraphrasing what I recall him having said before on the topic ... but obtrusive DRM is an all around lose -- its a lose for you because it costs money and time and could be a source of dangerous bugs, its a lose for your paying customers because they'll be inconvenienced and at risk from potential bugs, and to add insult to those injuries it won't stop pirating because crackers always find a way around even the most obtrusive DRM.  You'll spend extra money for an effort that will not stop unauthorized distribution (there is not a form of DRM that has been around for awhile that crackers haven't bypassed ... even SimCity 5, released just a couple months ago, and its new always-on DRM has been bypassed) but will punish and frustrate your legitimate customers.   Yes, it sucks some people will download and play your game without paying for it, but DRM won't prevent that -- and people who do pay legitimately to play your game will be frustrated, and some people might refrain from purchasing your game if they do not trust your DRM ... DRM will not only cost you money to develop (or purchase from a 3rd party developer), but it could actually lower your sales without actually reducing piracy.

I'm not a developer, of course, but Brad Wardell is.  As I recall, between the development of Galactic Civilizations I (which had some DRM, I think it was CD-ROM based, after awhile a checker embedded somewhere in the .EXE would make you lose the game if it detected your version was not legitimate) and Galactic Civilizations II (which SFAIK was completely DRM free, at least when it was sold through then Stardock-owned Impulse ... I'm sure the Steam version has its own normal Steam DRM), Brad decided Stardock would not waste money frustrating its customers with DRM.  GalCiv II (the version sold on Impulse) was DRM-free.  So far as I am aware, Stardock did not resultingly die from stolen sales when no one paid for the game because everyone played it copied it because it was so easily copyable.  Hopefully, Brad will weigh in on this thread and you can hear it straight from the ... ummm ... frog's mouth.

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May 21, 2013 7:43:45 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Chibiabos,
In the words of Brad Wardell:  http://www.gamersbillofrights.com/ - "8. Gamers have the right to use their games without being inconvenienced due to copy protection or digital rights management."

You forgot #4, and I still will not buy any game that requires 3rd party software. I have no problem buying from Steam but if Steam works is required I do not buy it.

They should also not be able to use the word 'buy' which implies ownership and the right to resell, you are only paying for a service for as long as they see fit to keep providing it.

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May 21, 2013 8:48:17 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I'd go with steamworks if I were interested in making money. If your ok with being altruistic then go DRM free.

 

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May 21, 2013 8:58:47 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

DRM is good, it's good,

But it's not right.

 

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May 21, 2013 11:30:14 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

DRM: A nice waste of time and resources, plus an additional strain on legitimate buyers of the game. Pirates will always break DRM, there truly isn't much point to it in today's day and age.

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May 22, 2013 12:01:49 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Steamworks is free for developers and integrates many useful features that really aren't worth recreating from scratch.

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May 22, 2013 12:27:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Leaving the usual Steam debate (which seems to be percolating up once more) to others: I'd go with DRM-free. I buy it, I should be able to play it when I want, and if it's a singleplayer game, whether it's connected to the Web or not.

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May 22, 2013 1:12:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You don't go Steam because of its DRM; steamworks DRM titles are cracked and pirated within the day. Heck, I've even got a recent pirated release sitting in my game folder that had Steamworks on it. I never pirate but in this case it was a completely new genre to me, with no demo Ended up playing for 20 minutes only. Doesn't make it right, but I don't have any regrets either.

My opinion; DRM-free of course. Pirates have so much more resources than you do as a small dev. The only fool-proof option is always-online DRM, which I hope you understand would be awful. 

DRM doesn't stop pirates unless it hurts the customers.

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May 22, 2013 1:15:02 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,

You don't go Steam because of its DRM; steamworks DRM titles are cracked and pirated within the day. Heck, I've even got a recent pirated release sitting in my game folder that had Steamworks on it. I never pirate but in this case it was a completely new genre to me, with no demo Ended up playing for 20 minutes only. Doesn't make it right, but I don't have any regrets either.

My opinion; DRM-free of course. Pirates have so much more resources than you do as a small dev. The only fool-proof option is always-online DRM, which I hope you understand would be awful. 

DRM doesn't stop pirates unless it hurts the customers.

Based on this it seems there is no drawback to using steamworks, plus you as a developer get lots of nice features for free.

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May 22, 2013 1:19:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

No drawbacks? As DRM it doesn't work, and even in this thread there are people who say they don't want it. I don't understand what you mean with "no drawbacks". The TRADEOFF is obvious. I would consider going on Steam a net bonus (exposure/various tools), but I know for a fact that not everyone agrees with me.

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May 22, 2013 1:39:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The drawbacks are really minor with Steam, at least for now.   If the drawbacks become bigger, someone will pop up.  The PC is still an open platform (though I fear those days are ending)

 

 

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May 22, 2013 3:35:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Deleted.

 

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May 22, 2013 4:13:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I hope gamers get used to DRM, especially for strategy games

the whole idea of releasing games that must run on personal computers is too last millenium

 

there are so many advantages to doing things like AI in the cloud, but gamers cry about DRM too much

I'm dealing with a similar question, but it isn't about digital rights management - I just can't afford to buy machines so that pirates can utilize cloud AI

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May 22, 2013 7:08:06 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I suggest AGAINST DRM as DRM is bad experiences from 1979 where you had to have the ENTIRE manual AND box and enter a a single word from a given word count, line and page(and back then the software was on cassette that also faded over time and use and the analog casstte copiers usually distorted the signal enough that the copies often did not load, THEN the floppy disc (5.25 inch) came out with it's digital data storage and changed everything), therefor DRM IS last century and should die(btwq I also write software and the best means of reducing piracy is to give good support and respect the customer/user, and NOT restirct them without clear and good reasons and publish the reasons.

btw I consider steam to BE DRM.

harpo

 

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May 22, 2013 8:53:54 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

You may as well post a link to download your game with a Donate button based on most of these comments.

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May 22, 2013 11:49:44 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I never buy games protected by DRM especially Steamworks. But I always purchase interesting indie games on GOG or directly from developers. I like to support indie developers not being DRM slave. You can't stop pirates but you can lose legal customers.

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May 22, 2013 3:03:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Like this >

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May 22, 2013 3:58:17 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting ZombiesRus5,
You may as well post a link to download your game with a Donate button based on most of these comments.

If someone with more credibility than I wasn't going to say it, I was...

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May 22, 2013 4:12:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

No point in DRM. If people want to pirate, they will. DRM will waste your time and money, and the most if might do is inconvenience paying customers.

Quoting ZombiesRus5,

You may as well post a link to download your game with a Donate button based on most of these comments.
Nah, there's people who don't know how to pirate, or who just take the most convenient option, or who otherwise would be okay with paying but won't unless prompted. Taken together, that's a lot of customers and the money in question makes a big difference. But those people won't be swayed one bit by DRM, unless it's draconian enough to drive them away.

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May 22, 2013 6:08:32 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting ZombiesRus5,
Based on this it seems there is no drawback to using steamworks, plus you as a developer get lots of nice features for free.

 

There is one huge drawback.

 

It requires Steam.

 

Violation of Gamers Bill of Rights Rule 4.

 

Quoting The_Biz,

I hope gamers get used to DRM, especially for strategy games

the whole idea of releasing games that must run on personal computers is too last millenium

 

there are so many advantages to doing things like AI in the cloud, but gamers cry about DRM too much

I'm dealing with a similar question, but it isn't about digital rights management - I just can't afford to buy machines so that pirates can utilize cloud AI

 

Ahh... ohh yes.... the almighty cloud... the only possible future for 10.... or has it been 15 years already?

 

Besides, AI is usually limited by man hours, not calculation power.

 

As for gamers crying about DRM..... actually they cry to little about it.... and way to often buy anyway..... instead of entirely boycotting the companies that dare to release such fraud. If just once, DRM bloatwares like Spore... Sim City... ect... would face the severe loss in sales that they so fully deserve.... companies would stop doing this kind of nonsense.

 

From a customer point of view... DRM has NOTHING but disadvantages - even if only legal use is implied.

 

But then todays DRM is not so much about stopping piracy... a task it ALWAYS failed to achieve in any reasonable capacity, no todays DRM is about REMOVING legal rights of the customer..... and selling the customer to the advertisement industry.

 

 

A physical disk with a serial... you could sell again. Today.... forget it.

 

DRM today is nothing more than a money grab for selling data to the advertisement industry..... and nothing more than a attack on the used game market. Both things - I as a customer...... do not profit in the slightest.

 

Not to mention, the cloud, like all online DRM systems, gives YOU, the developer... the possibility to STOP

 

MY

 

game/software

 

from working at any time. 

 

I can still play Supreme Commander today... even if the Developer goes bankrupt or decides it is time for a new version of the game.

 

Within the cloud however..... the developer decides when the older game ceases working. So guess what... the moment the next version is out... the old servers will swiftly shut down.

 

 

About the limited data security in a cloud environment and the risk of economic espionage..... we really dont have to speak anymore.

 

 

There is one big major misunderstanding that to many game developers and publishes have..... that they are in charge.

 

They are not.

 

Do not misjudge unjustified leniency as often shown today (Steam Fanboys, *sigh*) as a resignation of power.

 

We... the customer..... are the people that pay YOUR bills. We do so, because we have come to the personally decision, that your offer is worth OUR money.

DRM in any shape or form is a reduction of my value for money.... so you better give me a damm good reason why I should spend it anyway.

 

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

 

Sam Walton - founder of Walmart.

 

You see.... I dont have to buy your games..... instead I will relax and lay back.... and watch your company crumble and then die.

 

If EA or Blizzard/Activsion goes bankrupt tomorow..... then this is not affecting me in any negative way. It is however affecting the people of EA/Blizzard/Activision in quite negative ways.

 

I dont need EA to play games and have fun. Since EA has made it clear beyond any doubt that they are unworthy of my money, I will save me all the trouble and spend I somewhere else. No problem for me at all.

 

Quoting ZombiesRus5,
You may as well post a link to download your game with a Donate button based on most of these comments.

 

While certainly not a developers dream for understandable reasons, tell me.... would you rather earn maybe 5 € on average per license "sold" or earn nothing because people pirate it for free?

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May 22, 2013 7:15:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cruxador,
Ahh... ohh yes.... the almighty cloud... the only possible future for 10.... or has it been 15 years already?

 

Besides, AI is usually limited by man hours, not calculation power.

 

calculation power saves man hours

or do you think optimized C code that runs on a wide variety of client-side configurations writes and maintains itself?

 

 

single player strategy gaming is complete crap atm because of no AI whatsoever in any of the games that come out

it stays afloat because people buy into the whole "simulation of empire" or "role-playing" or whatever the game is thematically about, but in terms of actual strategy they are useless

 

there is work to be done on basic techniques and at least putting more effort into the problem, but denying the cloud because of DRM crybabies is crippling to real strategy gaming. a ton of online services are going to be too expensive because piracy is no longer "harmless"

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May 23, 2013 2:06:40 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I don't buy games with DRM. I don't agree with it so I have nothing to do with it. I consider it rude to include it in games and it demonstrates that the developers don't trust their customers. This would still be true if DRM somehow managed to work perfectly.

I wouldn't have a problem with your game being available on steam if it was also available elsewhere without trace of steam in the game itself. After all, if a game is offered on steam, it kinda difficult to avoid using steam for that version.

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May 23, 2013 2:16:56 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I have never bought a game with DRM. I only ended up with the Steam version of Supreme Commander Gold because THQ apparently had all versions switched to the Steam version just to continue multiplayer support, making it so its Steam or don't play the game I paid for even though I didn't buy a copy that required Steam.

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May 23, 2013 3:02:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Firstly, your estimated cost is shall we say... "absolutely insane" for something with an estimated remaining development time of one year. IMO everyone should look at Skullgirls' Indiegogo campaign. If you're doing better than that on every front you miiight want to reassess.

Secondly, for a small company DRM is probably a bad idea. As others have said, it's an investment that is highly unlikely to save you anything. And just because something's on Steam doesn't mean it has to have DRM (even on the Steam version). There's games on Steam where you can just take the game folder, dump it somewhere random (even copy it to another computer) and it works fine (assuming Steam didn't screw up the download in the first place as it is wont to do).

Thirdly, I'll deal with that guy that thinks he understands how the cloud works later. I thought long and hard about it when the Xbox 720 (I suppose we officially call it the Xbox One now) rumours were floating around and I'm fairly sure what we know of how systems currently work basically permanently precludes the cloud ever being practical for an "intense" application, at least so long as the PC as we know it exists. (that doesn't preclude it being useful for a low-intesity application or in a non-PC context such as a smart phone) The response unfortunately requires a LOT of other advanced knowledge and history to be pulled in and I'm tired.

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May 23, 2013 6:40:10 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Using the cloud to crunch AI turn processing only makes sense if you want an AI that is unbeatable and you have megabucks to run the servers all day and night.  An AI that is just intended to put up a decent opposition (and is fun to play against) is well within the reach of today's multi-core gaming rigs.

 

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