In Defense of DRM (And the Importance of Steam)

XKCD In the Rain

Arguing about Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a lot like talking politics or religion. The two sides immediately polarize into their respective camps and begin lobbing angry comments at each other over blog-walls and forum moderators. For me, the usefulness of DRM isn't a polar decision. Information doesn't "want to be free", and limited-activations are an unreasonable limiation to force on consumers. I have a suspicion that the usefulness of Digital Rights lies somewhere in between those to viewpoints. I have a sense that there’s something of value to the perception of protection, even if that perception is flawed or outright incorrect.

While DRM solutions like those offered by Electronic Arts have been roundly criticized (and from all accounts, rightly so), it doesn’t follow that all DRM systems are created equal. The online activation methodology used by Steam in particular seems to be a measure that PC gamers can get behind. And still, it’s despised and spit on as a prelude to a “rental society” where we can no longer truly own anything. To the folks who would have us toss the baby with the proverbial bathwater, that see all DRM as a waste of time and a slap in the face of consumers: lighten up. To the free-love hippies that see no problem with pirated games as far as the eye can see: get a job. Seriously.

The middle ground between these two poles, the quietly successful business strategy powering Valve, is the Steam publishing service. It's DRM for the common man, and a service well worth defending.

This is obviously a subject that's been tackled on Gamers with Jobs before. The Stardock viewpoint on this issue, both sides of EA's DRM decisions, and even the horrors of Starforce have been explored by fellow GWJ writers. What hasn't is the "reasonable" rights management offered by Valve. Its place in the PC games industry and the ultimate goals of the platform publishers are all given short shrift by commentators on the hard-core anti-management side. That needed addressing.

Anti-Steam Argument #1: Purchasing a game through the service precludes reselling it or lending it to a friend.

You can’t resell a PC game you’ve purchased through Steam to a shop like Gamestop, and there’s no physical media to allow you to lend a game to a friend. This is an understandable frustration, and is the source of the ‘rental society’ crack that so often gets levied against Steam. The ability to make use of your property however you wish (be it to sell it to another party or just give it away) is one highly valued by consumers. There was, no doubt, a goodly amount of ‘re-gifting’ during this holiday season just past for that exact reason.

The issue of reselling games at all is a thorny one, and not worth addressing here, but it’s important to note the relative resale value of PC games generally vs. console games. Piracy has changed the retail landscape when it comes to gaming on the PC platform; that’s the number one reason that PC games can’t be resold to big games resellers like Gamestop. Pawn shops and smaller resale establishments aren’t so picky, but even there I challenge you to get a good value for the game you’re offering. Assuming you exclude cutting-edge graphical hogs and their associated hardware requirements, PC gaming in general is a less expensive hobby than its console cousin. The games are cheaper (usually by at least $10), the barrier to entry is lower, and there are a vast swath of games out in the PC wilds that cost absolutely nothing to play.

As for lending titles to friends, a few of my friends (GWJRabbit among them) delight in sharing their steam-based games with friends. It's actually easier to share a game with Steam than it is with discs - no physical media. A violation of the Steam terms of service? No doubt, but as long as only one user is actively playing on the account at a time it's hard to see a real problem. Just because things may appear harder with the new fangled do-dads and services doesn't mean they really are.

Anti-Steam Argument #2: Online activation is a hassle, and playing games in the future requires you to be online.

Valve has responded to this criticism definitively by providing users an Offline Mode. You don't need to be internet connected 24/7 to fire up Portal in the middle of the night. As long as you keep your games up to date via the online update service, there's no reason you couldn't play Half-Life 2 in the middle of the Sahara.

Many commentators are grumpy with the requirement that their PC be online to activate the title in the first place. In an increasingly connected society, in a culture that more and more values the virtues of online experiences, I find it hard to stomach this as a realistic argument against Steam. Twitter-using Netflix-streaming online gurus can’t have it both ways. It is a restriction, to be sure, but it’s one you have to personally balance for yourself. Purchasing, downloading, installing, and updating a Steam game is entirely done via an internet connection. How is activation of the title online a burden on top of those steps?

Anti-Steam Argument #3: “Will I be able to play this game in ten years?”

This is one of the most valid arguments made against Steam, or any DRM service that requires support from an external server. Someday Valve may go out of business, and the future of Steam-supported titles would be in question. A friend also pointed out a possible future where the service makes a massive update to how it protects games, an update that might be financially infeasible to deploy to every title in the service portfolio. In either of these cases, there is the theoretical danger that you could lose access to your games.

Honestly, there’s no logical or fact-based counter to this. Anything could happen in a world of uncertainty. By that same token, though, your house or apartment could catch on fire tomorrow. Every disc you own could be incinerated, depriving you of your gaming collecting just as decisively. For that added measure of security, you can actually back up the steamapps folder and "save" all of the game files. Restoring your games after a reinstall of Windows, for example, can be as easy as installing the Steam client and then copying the Steamapps folder into the right directory.

Purchasing a game through Steam is a vote, a measure of confidence in the work Valve has done and the power of the Steam service as a whole. If it means that there’s the outside possibility my games may be lost at some point in the future, then that’s a risk I’m willing to take on to support the Steam service of today.

Anti-Steam Argument #4: The games all just end up on torrents eventually anyway.

Despite the best efforts of everyone from EA on down, PC games are pirated at a staggering rate. Even Valve’s games, entries in the Half-Life series built specifically for Steam, are available without those hang-ups if you search out the right torrent site. So, this argument goes, what’s the point? Why frustrate the consumer with DRM if it’s just going to end up on a torrent site anyway? Some developers have even bought into that argument, offering up their wares with no rights management strings attached.

The point, missing from this argument, is that the consumer is ultimately not the only player in this picture. If games publishers and developers look out at the PC market and see a commercial landscape impossible to make profitable, it will scare them away. It has scared them away, to a greater or lesser degree. The ‘PC games are dying’ cry that goes up regularly every six months has as much to do with worthless rights protections as it does any other individual factor.

The point then is to offer a balanced solution between what the publishers want (hard-locks, limited installations, invasive DRM) and what the consumer wants (ultimate portability, no locks, unlimited instillation). The balanced midpoint in the marketplace right now is Steam. Valve’s support of the Steam service, and their dedication to walking that midpoint line, has result in votes of confidence not only from consumers but from publishers. When EA itself effectively walks away from its own online distribution model to adopt Valve’s portal, it speaks volumes about Steam’s importance in the modern PC gaming world.

Blaming Valve For the Sins of Others

Above all else, arguments against Steam’s DRM come from a general distrust of Digital Rights Mangement. Not all DRM is created equal, and beliefs about property ownership held by the creators of SecuROM differ drastically from those held the Steam's managers.

Isn’t the strongest argument for Steam the simple reality that Valve isn’t just another soulless corporation? They’re a development house that has consistently put out amazing games. Unlike detached pencil-pushers, lawyers, or IP vendors who primarily care about keeping their property sacrosanct, Valve has a vested interest in gamers actually playing videogames.

At the end of the day, every purchase on Steam is a vote of confidence. Every new game launched on Steam is a promise to consumers. Give an inch, get an inch. Work together with the PC game publishing marketplace, understand that there have to be some restrictions to make sure there’s a profit, and the future of the PC marketplace is assured. Steam is, bar none, the most important force in the PC games industry today. I vote for it with my wallet on a regular basis because – in this case – I love the DRM I’m being offered.

Comments

Re-reading this line:

"It's DRM for the common man, and a service well worth defending."

It's not DRM *for* the common man; it's DRM for a company.

'Catch a cold! Hey, at least it's not the flu!'.

Having some trouble quoting...

"Digital music sales are profitable in and of themselves" - Aetius.

Your statement validates Red Worms' first. Music is cheaper to make. Less people are getting paid -> less money needs to be made. Never mind that more people buy music, bands just need to MAKE less money to be "profitable".

Take a look at music sales in the last 10 years. The music industry is a whisper of its former self. Here's why it doesn't matter: bands and artists can now survive with RELATIVELY limited sources (i.e. small millions). They can promote through web sites (which need only 1 dude to run), and concerts are all set-up on a contract, money-guaranteed basis (they get paid first, then tickets get sold). Lavish videos come later. As for small "indie" bands... well, they were always broke anyways.

If the video game industry were to see its profits shrink at the same rate and to the same extant as the music industry, it would be a very different place. Games cost MONEY to make. You can record an album for 500 bucks. You can make a movie for $20,000 with a talented actor. YOU CAN NOT MAKE A GAME LIKE THAT.

Well, you can. Just not the ones that many of us play. And maybe a world full of Braid isn't a bad thing, but I guess I like me some variety.

I agree with aspects of all sides of the argument; while particularly concerned about "Can I play this in 10 years?" (since I actually do that all the time), I am now a die-hard Steam game purchaser out of the sheer convenience.

In any case, one point I haven't seen mentioned:

Supporting a system like Steam can help move the industry along. Pre-iTunes, the music people didn't want to support any kind of digital download; because iTunes provided a convenient service where the DRM was effectively invisible to the typical user and didn't hamper them in any real way immediately, the customer base flocked to iTunes and the music industry was dragged along.

As a direct result of that, Amazon competed with DRM-free music and the music industry went with that in an attempt to keep iTunes from ruling the world; as a direct result of that, iTunes now is going DRM-free.

None of this would have happened if step #1 -- iTunes with DRM -- hadn't occurred.

So while I understand and appreciate those who refuse to support systems like Steam, especially in light of the major companies who have screwed over their DRMed customers in recent history, I don't think that supporting a convenient and usable system like Steam is necessarily moving us toward gaming Armageddon. If the iTunes history is any indicator, Steam may be the first step toward getting rid of DRM (and GOG might be the beginning of the second step...).

Robear wrote:

One point - I'm not sure that backing up SteamApps actually allows you to move to a new system, since there are still registry settings to account for. Anyone know for sure? I read that process as moving from one disk in an existing installation to another.

I've done this twice. Once with XP, the second (more recent) with Vista Home Premium X64. It worked both times. In fact I just checked, and Steam doesn't show as installed via Add/Remove Programs, but it is on my second HD, with everything working perfectly. I generally leave my secondary games drive (with my Steam directory) alone between re-format/re-installs of Windows. I haven't had to reinstall Steam yet, just drag a shortcut from its directory, and let it do whatever updating it needs to do when I start it within the new OS install.

Edit: Oops I just read a bit closer and guess I'm not answering your question exactly, but I can say that if you have the entire Steam directory intact and available, it doesn't require you to reinstall Steam in a new OS, or new computer I'd guess.

DomoArigato wrote:

Your statement validates Red Worms' first. Music is cheaper to make. Less people are getting paid -> less money needs to be made. Never mind that more people buy music, bands just need to MAKE less money to be "profitable".

Mean Red Worms wrote:

Also why does music DRM always get brought up when talking about video game DRM. I see them as two very different beasts. In general it costs way more money to create, promote, and sell video games than it does music, and the people who actually make the music see very little money from CD sales. However, they can do live shows too.

CD sales will be gone in a couple of years. NIN made $750k in two days off of a free, legal download:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/05/nine-inch-nails-made.html

The music industry is changing, not dying.

Take a look at music sales in the last 10 years. The music industry is a whisper of its former self. Here's why it doesn't matter: bands and artists can now survive with RELATIVELY limited sources (i.e. small millions). They can promote through web sites (which need only 1 dude to run), and concerts are all set-up on a contract, money-guaranteed basis (they get paid first, then tickets get sold). Lavish videos come later. As for small "indie" bands... well, they were always broke anyways.

A whisper? The data say otherwise. Yes, there has been a decline in revenue of 30% since 1999. But changing industries do that, and profits are shifting to the musicians themselves. I have a hard time seeing musicians getting paid more as a bad thing.

If the video game industry were to see its profits shrink at the same rate and to the same extant as the music industry, it would be a very different place. Games cost MONEY to make. You can record an album for 500 bucks. You can make a movie for $20,000 with a talented actor. YOU CAN NOT MAKE A GAME LIKE THAT.

Well, you can. Just not the ones that many of us play. And maybe a world full of Braid isn't a bad thing, but I guess I like me some variety.

Just like the music industry, the games industry has a range of production values - from open source games made for nothing but time, to AAA releases that take millions to produce. Major albums cost a lot of money to produce, just like major games, and just like movies. You CAN make a movie for $20k, but major productions cost tens of millions.

However, the DRM argument is orthogonal to the industry argument. No gamer regards DRM as a beneficial feature. It provides negative value to the user. As such, it should be the first thing to go in a difficult market, not the last.

Deadron wrote:

Supporting a system like Steam can help move the industry along. Pre-iTunes, the music people didn't want to support any kind of digital download; because iTunes provided a convenient service where the DRM was effectively invisible to the typical user and didn't hamper them in any real way immediately, the customer base flocked to iTunes and the music industry was dragged along.

As a direct result of that, Amazon competed with DRM-free music and the music industry went with that in an attempt to keep iTunes from ruling the world; as a direct result of that, iTunes now is going DRM-free.

None of this would have happened if step #1 -- iTunes with DRM -- hadn't occurred.

So while I understand and appreciate those who refuse to support systems like Steam, especially in light of the major companies who have screwed over their DRMed customers in recent history, I don't think that supporting a convenient and usable system like Steam is necessarily moving us toward gaming Armageddon. If the iTunes history is any indicator, Steam may be the first step toward getting rid of DRM (and GOG might be the beginning of the second step...).

Why go to all that trouble if you know where you are going to end up? Steam could remove DRM today and they would keep all of their users - the sheer convenience alone would be worth paying for.

Aetius wrote:

However, the DRM argument is orthogonal to the industry argument. No gamer regards DRM as a beneficial feature. It provides negative value to the user. As such, it should be the first thing to go in a difficult market, not the last.

Unless the publisher believes that DRM protects their profits. It doesn't have to actually protect their profits, the belief that it does is enough to justify its inclusion even in a difficult market.

Feel free to prove they would make more money without DRM. If someone could actually do that, DRM would disappear in an instant.

Jayhawker wrote:

Unless the publisher believes that DRM protects their profits. It doesn't have to actually protect their profits, the belief that it does is enough to justify its inclusion even in a difficult market.

Feel free to prove they would make more money without DRM. If someone could actually do that, DRM would disappear in an instant.

Which is why it is important that gamers make a point of objecting to DRM, calling it out when they see it, and refusing to buy products with it. Knowledge is good. Accepting it as "necessary" is the worst thing you can do. It's no more necessary than fins on a car.

Thanks, Uber. I guess Steam puts it's own stuff in the registry when it sets up and doesn't put the game settings in because, well, they are all in the same dir. Makes sense.

I'll add that to my backups. You do Steamapps and below, right?

Michael Zenke wrote:

It's DRM for the common man, and a service well worth defending.

Would say it's DRM for the masses?

Aetius wrote:

Why go to all that trouble if you know where you are going to end up? Steam could remove DRM today and they would keep all of their users - the sheer convenience alone would be worth paying for.

As we saw with Apple, this may have nothing to do with Steam/Valve -- Apple was open to DRM-free early on and even tried to move to it before the industry was ready but the industry refused to follow at that time. Sticking with DRM was completely the choice of the content providers, and this may well be the case with Steam (or would be whatever Steam's philosophy was).

Deadron wrote:

As we saw with Apple, this may have nothing to do with Steam/Valve -- Apple was open to DRM-free early on and even tried to move to it before the industry was ready but the industry refused to follow at that time. Sticking with DRM was completely the choice of the content providers, and this may well be the case with Steam (or would be whatever Steam's philosophy was).

Valve is firmly committed to DRM as a distribution model. There was a problem last year with people buying cheap Thai copies of the Orange Box - Valve simply deactivated their registrations, and told them, tough luck, suckers. Cause, you know, people don't actually move between countries. You play where they want, how they want, and at their whim.

Aetius wrote:

Why go to all that trouble if you know where you are going to end up? Steam could remove DRM today and they would keep all of their users - the sheer convenience alone would be worth paying for.

Publishers wouldn't be on board with Steam if it didn't have DRM. Look at the list of publishers/games on Impuse. I know it's a new service (and a good one), but the big guys aren't exactly beating down the door to get their games on the service without DRM.

Removing DRM would mean less games to sell which would hurt Valve's bottom line. So no, Steam couldn't just get rid of DRM with no cost to themselves.

Publishers wouldn't be on board with Steam if it didn't have DRM.

Well, maybe they would. Isn't this, as others have pointed out, what Apple has done today? I'm sure Valve could remove DRM from their games and they wouldn't suffer from it. Valve games have a loyal following that eats up whatever Valve comes up with (and it's good stuff too, so who cares!)

Aetius wrote:

... orthogonal ...

I love you man. Sniff. Sniff.

Fronsac wrote:

Isn't this, as others have pointed out, what Apple has done today?

This is what Apple did after a couple of years of begging the content providers, capped by who knows what agreement in the end. Content providers refused to provide non-DRM music to Apple in, bizarrely enough, given this debate, an attempt to hurt Apple; the same providers allowed Amazon to sell their music DRM-free, because they hoped people would flock to Amazon and reduce the power of iTunes.

Perhaps Impulse will pick up some business this way...:)

Impulse isn't new, by the way -- it's a new name/packaging, but Stardock has provided a Steam-like service since before Steam existed, I believe.

Anti-Steam Argument #2: Online activation is a hassle, and playing games in the future requires you to be online.

I've always found this argument sort of ridiculous in the modern world. How many people do you know have a computer that can play a modern high graphic intensive game and yet does not have an internet connection of some sort? Even if the only think you have is dial up access, you can still register a game online. Perhaps you can't play it online but that's not the issue. The argument is that you have to be online at all. So Single Player mode without online content is the goal of this argument. Certainly there is probably a very small percentage of people out there that have both a computer powerful enough to play modern games and does "not" have an internet connection but does this minute demographic justify this argument? I do not believe it does.

kilroy0097 wrote:
Anti-Steam Argument #2: Online activation is a hassle, and playing games in the future requires you to be online.

I've always found this argument sort of ridiculous in the modern world. How many people do you know have a computer that can play a modern high graphic intensive game and yet does not have an internet connection of some sort? Even if the only think you have is dial up access, you can still register a game online. Perhaps you can't play it online but that's not the issue. The argument is that you have to be online at all. So Single Player mode without online content is the goal of this argument. Certainly there is probably a very small percentage of people out there that have both a computer powerful enough to play modern games and does "not" have an internet connection but does this minute demographic justify this argument? I do not believe it does.

You're thinking that online activation is only applicable to when you register the game. Activation covers all aspects of a monitored game usage model. You can't back up your steam installs and then reinstall without reauthorising them online. You can't play a game in single player mode if you're not in offline mode (which you need to be online to enable) for the two services i know that have this feature. The problem that people have with activation, beyond the fact that the keys to the product being in someone elses hands, is that you're also reliant on your internet service provider, the server host for the authentication software and any link inbetween.
You say that many people have access to the internet in this day an age - it's still not 100% and in the UK IIRC is around 70-80% for the most basic of connections - but you're forgetting that the service is not always available. Sometimes the connections between the US and UK have gone down for hours.... there have been times when the Steam authentication servers have been down for whatever reason.... sometimes ISPs lose connection from a local UBR or whatever. There's more than one aspect to the argument that isn't necessarily represented in the simplicity of the question. The more services that one product is tied to in order to work, the less likely it is that the product will work.

kilroy0097 wrote:

I've always found this argument sort of ridiculous in the modern world. How many people do you know have a computer that can play a modern high graphic intensive game and yet does not have an internet connection of some sort? Even if the only think you have is dial up access, you can still register a game online. Perhaps you can't play it online but that's not the issue. The argument is that you have to be online at all. So Single Player mode without online content is the goal of this argument. Certainly there is probably a very small percentage of people out there that have both a computer powerful enough to play modern games and does "not" have an internet connection but does this minute demographic justify this argument? I do not believe it does.

How many times has your internet connection gone down without notice? If it does, and you want to play a Steam game, you can't. Want to play because there was a thunderstorm that knocked out your phone lines and along with it your DSL? Too bad. Want to play because some idiot put a backhoe shovel through the cable line to your neighborhood? Too bad. What if there is a routing problem on the net and you can't reach the Valve servers? Too bad. DDoS on Valve's servers because some script kiddie is pissed at them? Too bad. Lets not even get into the problems of account sharing and account compromises - any WoW player can tell you horror stories about those.

You play how they want, when they want, and at their whim (and the internet's whim). A lot of people don't have an ultra-reliable connection - the canonical case is someone overseas or someone traveling. It's not as simple as saying "why don't they just get a good internet connection!"

So the solution to all these issues and arguments is a single modification. After the initial activation of the game a small patch is downloaded encrypted to your key that allows you to play offline single player mode anytime you want without an internet connection and since it's unique to each installation and not the disc it satisfies the copy protection want.

kilroy0097 wrote:

So the solution to all these issues and arguments is a single modification. After the initial activation of the game a small patch is downloaded encrypted to your key that allows you to play offline single player mode anytime you want without an internet connection and since it's unique to each installation and not the disc it satisfies the copy protection want.

As Zenke says, isn't that how Steam Offline mode works? I've never used it, so I don't know how well it works, but it seems like you'd only need to be connected for the initial install/update. The help page linked to in the article mentions storing credentials on the client computer.

Zelos wrote:
kilroy0097 wrote:

So the solution to all these issues and arguments is a single modification. After the initial activation of the game a small patch is downloaded encrypted to your key that allows you to play offline single player mode anytime you want without an internet connection and since it's unique to each installation and not the disc it satisfies the copy protection want.

As Zenke says, isn't that how Steam Offline mode works? I've never used it, so I don't know how well it works, but it seems like you'd only need to be connected for the initial install/update. The help page linked to in the article mentions storing credentials on the client computer.

Yeah, once the game is installed you just need to set it to not automatically update.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Zelos wrote:
kilroy0097 wrote:

So the solution to all these issues and arguments is a single modification. After the initial activation of the game a small patch is downloaded encrypted to your key that allows you to play offline single player mode anytime you want without an internet connection and since it's unique to each installation and not the disc it satisfies the copy protection want.

As Zenke says, isn't that how Steam Offline mode works? I've never used it, so I don't know how well it works, but it seems like you'd only need to be connected for the initial install/update. The help page linked to in the article mentions storing credentials on the client computer.

Yeah, once the game is installed you just need to set it to not automatically update.

You can't enter steam into offline mode if you haven't clicked the box to do so when you've been logged in online. Once you choose to be in offline mode you are immediately switched to being offline. Which means that you either have to remember to be offline every time you log out of steam (not sure what happens if the internet connection goes down when you're logged in already) or only play games offline.

It works just like MS Outlook Express and IE.... it's an 'either/or' selection not a 'and'.

Duoae wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
Zelos wrote:
kilroy0097 wrote:

So the solution to all these issues and arguments is a single modification. After the initial activation of the game a small patch is downloaded encrypted to your key that allows you to play offline single player mode anytime you want without an internet connection and since it's unique to each installation and not the disc it satisfies the copy protection want.

As Zenke says, isn't that how Steam Offline mode works? I've never used it, so I don't know how well it works, but it seems like you'd only need to be connected for the initial install/update. The help page linked to in the article mentions storing credentials on the client computer.

Yeah, once the game is installed you just need to set it to not automatically update.

You can't enter steam into offline mode if you haven't clicked the box to do so when you've been logged in online. Once you choose to be in offline mode you are immediately switched to being offline. Which means that you either have to remember to be offline every time you log out of steam (not sure what happens if the internet connection goes down when you're logged in already) or only play games offline.

It works just like MS Outlook Express and IE.... it's an 'either/or' selection not a 'and'.

Ok, yeah it is a little more complicated. But once done it is totally seamless. If you launch when offline it asks if you want to log in or launch on Offline mode.

Jayhawker wrote:

Feel free to prove they would make more money without DRM. If someone could actually do that, DRM would disappear in an instant.

Errrrrr......no, not quite. You've got the burden of argument turned around, which is one of the primary difficulties with the whole discussion. Each side thinks the other is required to prove something. The fact is that DRM is a costly measure. If it is developed internally you have to spend time and resources putting that together (and when you hook it up wrong, you get Titan Quest syndrome), and if it's purchased externally.....well, it's purchased. That's cost. The burden here from the business side is to prove that DRM actually increases sales to justify it as a sensible feature for the product. Unfortunately, the reflex reaction to seeing people playing with your stuff and not paying you for it is to put your stuff in a big locked box that only the folks you give keys to can get in, and it seems to me that a lot of companies have fallen too much in with that sentiment to objectively evaluate the merits of applying the protections to their software.

Brian_Seiler wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Feel free to prove they would make more money without DRM. If someone could actually do that, DRM would disappear in an instant.

Errrrrr......no, not quite. You've got the burden of argument turned around, which is one of the primary difficulties with the whole discussion. Each side thinks the other is required to prove something. The fact is that DRM is a costly measure. If it is developed internally you have to spend time and resources putting that together (and when you hook it up wrong, you get Titan Quest syndrome), and if it's purchased externally.....well, it's purchased. That's cost. The burden here from the business side is to prove that DRM actually increases sales to justify it as a sensible feature for the product. Unfortunately, the reflex reaction to seeing people playing with your stuff and not paying you for it is to put your stuff in a big locked box that only the folks you give keys to can get in, and it seems to me that a lot of companies have fallen too much in with that sentiment to objectively evaluate the merits of applying the protections to their software.

Errrr..... well, who exactly is going to stop putting DRM in their games? The companies already believe that it is cost effective to do so. they are purely interested in profit, especially when it comes to DRM. If they believed that they could make more money by not installing DRM, they would.

You are free to do two things that might change this. You can stop buying their products, so that DRM does in fact cost them a sale. You can also convince these companies that they are wrong.

Personally, I've decided to stop making DRM a matter of principle, and instead make decisions based on what I think it s good value. I'm not going to spend time trying to make this hobby less fun. So I'm not going to investigate the DRM used in games I buy. I'm not going to spend time trying to get people that never noticed DRM in the first place to join my side in a debate to rid DRM from our software.

I'm going to buy games I like, and hope for the best. I might run across a problem, and in the future, I may avoid certain companies. But I would rather have one botched sale than waste all of my time trying to fix games that I have no intention of ever buying.

If anyone wants to give the FTC an earful on their DRM thoughts: https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-...

I think Steam has got the perfect balance here as I never have to hunt around for CD media and and as long as I'm logged in (which granted my net connection is not one of the best here) all good, no hassle at all. The offline mode hasn't worked on a few occasions so I guess that does worry me, but otherwise it's been fine.

I was even glad of getting Prince of Persia 10 pounds cheaper than in the retail stores.

As a long time tournament director, Steam has been the bane of my existence since it came out. I can't remember one tournament (even at world level) where there have not been issues with steam at some point. I know these are edge cases, but they highlight everything that is wrong about online DRM: They can get in the way of you playing the game.

Recently I reloaded steam for the TF2 beta and it has certainly improved since it's initial incarnation, but I've still had a rocky time just trying to do ordinary things (like play a game).

I never could get behind argument #1 because reselling has always just been an assumed right of the customer. It sure is nice to be able to resell old games, but it isn't written anywhere that we need to be able to do so. It's worth mentioning in an discussion but is really not a sound argument in of itself. There are much more important reasons to dislike DRM.