I talked to several people lately who expressed interest in BioShock. I told them straight up: no matter what you do, don’t buy that shit. If you do, you will just get brutally fucked up the ass by SecuRom, online activation and the 57 million of other DRM features that 2kgames decided to put in it. If you download it on the other hand you get a safe copy that includes no rootkit, and will still work 20 years from now when 2kgames no longer exist, and you for some reason are in a mood to play the old abandonware shit.
I usually don’t advocate copyright infringement here but I can’t in good conscience recommend to anyone paying money for software that will fuck up their system. We live in a seriously fucked up day and age where the legal software contains very shady, very dangerous mallware.
Especially since the DRM has no effect on the file sharing at all. BioShock was cracked in 11 days. Was the revenue gained during these 11 days worth the bad PR, alienating thousands of customers who paid for the game but were not able to play it without uninstalling crucial tools like debuggers and process monitor they use for their real life work every day?
I’m not playing BioShock – I’m boycotting that game because of the DRM. But I got fucked by this kind of DRM some time ago when my brother bought me Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood which contains Starforce – an evil piece of shit that destroys your optical drives. So I have that game – it’s a legal copy, I have the box and set of CD’s but I can’t fucking play it. Or rather I can, but not without risking damage to my optical drives and rendering my system unstable.
But, if I downloaded the game, it comes with a crack that removes Starforce. Same goes for BioShock and SecuRom – if you download it, you get the game without the dangerous components. Anyone who is passionate about the game, and has half a brain will opt to download rather than buy games that are protected this way. The only people who buy them are those who don’t know about the rootkits, or are to clueless to understand what they do.
If you are a game publisher, do the math – implementing DRM the rootkit way will:
- possibly increase sales in first week or two (not guaranteed though – people who were planning to download it will just hold off and wait anyway)
- cause massive backlash from loyal fans
- cause loss of customers who will never buy your products again
- very, very bad PR in independent online forums
- mainstream gaming media may pick up the story after the massive outrage in independent media
- you become infamous in security industry. IT people across the globe hate you giving you more bad PR outside the gaming circles
- possible class action lawsuits
- sharp decline in sales caused by the rootkit news reaching more and more people
- loyal fans who were backbone of your customer base boycot your products or turn to illegal downloads
Is it worth it? Personally I don’t think any DRM is worth the diminished customer experience. There is just no trade off here. You shit on your customers as if they were thieves and in exchange you get… 11 days – if you are lucky. It makes no sense.
No matter what kind of business you run, the golden rule always was “customer is always right”. Somehow music, movie and PC gaming companies decided that “customer is a filthy thief that must be punished” is a reasonable alternative. How long can you run your business the Soup Natzi style?
This extends beyond gaming. Every time you put a piece of DRM on your product you are essentially making it less marketable and less valuable than the cracked copy available on just about every torrent site out there. People want to rip their CD’s to mp3 files. If you prohibit this via DRM they will just download the mp3’s they want. And next time they will remember that you sell crippled CD’s so they will just hit up P2P instead of the record store.
The same argument is now becoming more and more valid for video as well. More and more people own video ipods, smart phones or other hand-held devices which have massive storage space and are capable of displaying video. Why should we be forced to buy movies in 5 different formats to be able to play them on all the different devices that you own? You download once, and then you just use the same copy on all the different portable players – this is what consumers want. And yet, movie studios consider such behavior reprehensible.
All these people lock down their products in ways that makes them either unusable, or actually dangerous to use and then complain that people prefer the unlocked, un-encumbered and inherently safer copies, that also incidentally can be downloaded for free. You have to remember that some people will never pay for your products. If they can’t download it, they will simply ignore it. When you use DRM you are simply alienating the rest of the people – those who were willing to give you money, but now they don’t because they can get a a copy that is of much better quality for free online.
I’m amazed how few people understand this simple dynamic.
[tags]drm, rootkit, securom, bioshock, starforce, brothers in arms, earned in blood, games, gaming, movies, music[/tags]