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Valve: "DRM damages value of games"

Valve: "DRM damages value of games"

Valve's Gabe Newell reckons that DRM only lowers the value of games in the eyes of customers.

Speaking at GDC 2010 in San Francisco, Valve's Gabe Newell commented that Digital Rights Management systems only really serve to lower the value of games in the eyes of customers.

One thing that you hear us talk a lot about is entertainment as a service,” the Valve founder said as he picked up a Pioneer Award at the event. “It’s an attitude that says ‘what have I done for my customers today?'"

It informs all the decisions we make, and once you get into that mindset it helps you avoid things like some of the Digital Rights Management problems that actually make your entertainment products worth less by wrapping those negatives around them.

The comments were reportedly greeted by cheers from developers and industry luminaries, according to Develop.

Draconian DRM systems have been an increasingly controversial subject in the past years, especially with Ubisoft having just launched a new system for PC titles that requires a constant internet connection. It hasn't worked out all that well.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

41 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
stonedsurd 15th March 2010, 12:01 Quote
Good to hear Valve's on our side :D
UncertainGod 15th March 2010, 12:09 Quote
Is Gabe trying to run for grand overlord of the gaming universe or something considering everything Valve have done in the past weeks.
mi1ez 15th March 2010, 12:14 Quote
I can think of worse grand overlords...
Anyways, when Valve can sort out their offline mode to work reliably, their DRM will be transparent, as it is I still have occasional problems. He is right in what he says though.
mikeuk2004 15th March 2010, 12:20 Quote
Dont you still have to be online to activate a valve game?

Ubisofts requirement to be online all the time is scandalous. What about families that dont have internet?
crazyceo 15th March 2010, 12:26 Quote
I really don't think its the always on internet connection that is the problem here.

I feel its the intrusive software sitting there constantly connected to EA or whoever just incase you decide to play the game. God forbid you do actually play the game then before you do anything it's a "Checking for updates" which then stops you getting into the game. The log in to receive the download or else is far too draconian.

I happily leave Steam running as it runs quite peacefully and updates when it needs to and doesn't hog any bandwidth.
Matticus 15th March 2010, 12:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
I can think of worse grand overlords...
Anyways, when Valve can sort out their offline mode to work reliably, their DRM will be transparent, as it is I still have occasional problems. He is right in what he says though.

I have never had any problems with offline mode. It took me a while to work out why I can't just log in as offline instead of being online to go offline, but then when I realised it could be used to share your games I found it fine.

I do find it funny that steam is very obtrusive and in your face in terms of a DRM, but because it serves as a nice platform for most or all of your games and the ability to chat with friends it has become accepted and bloody awesome.
l3v1ck 15th March 2010, 12:35 Quote
Things I won't accept with DRM
1) Always on internet connection. I work offshore and play games on my laptop when I'm off shift. No internet connection for two weeks at a time there.
2) Malware that stops other programs on my PC from working. Despite what EA and the like think, there are plenty of legitimate uses for copying/cloning software. They have no right to disable it.
3) Limited number of installs. I wipe games and reinstall them on a regular basis. I've lost track of the number of times I've installed BG2 now. Always on my own PC and always for my own use.

Things I will accept
1) Internet connection to register the game (to my email address if they must)
2) CD to be in the drive while playing the game. I know that doesn't work for downloaded games, but for CD's/DVD's it's not a problem.
Psytek 15th March 2010, 12:40 Quote
I paid £70 for Spore, and because of the DRM I can't play it anymore. I've tried contacting EA support, reinstalling doesn't change anything, it refuses to authenticate... £70 down the drain.
tripwired 15th March 2010, 13:00 Quote
DRM's an interesting topic, frankly, I'm in favour of it (if it's done well). I can appreciate as a developer or publisher there should be some steps taken to protect your game, but there is clearly a limit to what people are willing to accept, the recent Ubisoft debacle being a case in point.

However Valve have managed it, they have done so in a way that people don't even know it's there; Good DRM. Most other implementations seem to cause grief for paying customers, with the pirates usually finding a way around it.

At the risk of suggesting a Valve monopoly, can't all future games just be released on Steam? Why don't all publishers and developers use it, are there any downsides to it for them? The future of games distribution is clearly leaning towards download based rather than Retail DVD and as it stands at the moment, Steam is king of the hill. I doubt many people use the EA or Impulse alternatives.

I wonder if there is some way to make Steam more appealing to publishers rather than them trying to implement their own form of DRM? If all games were available on Steam I bet it would help to further the regeneration of the PC Games market - most people use it, it allows for people to make impulse purchases, gives publishers greater control over pricing, eliminates physical media distribution costs and surely it would then also solve their DRM dramas by having a rights management system that just works?!
Golygus 15th March 2010, 13:11 Quote
We've started a group on facebook regarding Ubisofts DRM, and though small at the moment, we are appealing for members. Hopefully with enough voices, we may be able to do something.

So far we've started making gentle enquiries with trading standards in the UK.

The group: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=2361831622#!/group.php?gid=357679392926
lewchenko 15th March 2010, 14:28 Quote
Bit rich these comments... coming from Valve who do not allow you to resell games you bought on Steam !
Lets face it.. we have all bought some dud's once in a while. It would be good to offload them somewhere !
tripwired 15th March 2010, 15:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lewchenko
Lets face it.. we have all bought some dud's once in a while. It would be good to offload them somewhere !

Trouble with the second hand games market is that it doesn't make money for anyone except the reseller, so it's understandable - at least from Valve's point of view - that they haven't built that functionality in.
Dave Lister 15th March 2010, 16:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golygus
We've started a group on facebook regarding Ubisofts DRM, and though small at the moment, we are appealing for members. Hopefully with enough voices, we may be able to do something.

So far we've started making gentle enquiries with trading standards in the UK.

The group: http://www.facebook.com/?sk=2361831622#!/group.php?gid=357679392926



Joined ! a worthy cause if ever there was one
Evildead666 15th March 2010, 16:18 Quote
Now IF ONLY they can get their world pricing sorted out (especially for the Euro people) then Valve will be onto a sure winner....
hexx 15th March 2010, 16:22 Quote
Valve - these guys really rock! and now bringing Steam to MAC - even better ;)
kornedbeefy 15th March 2010, 17:13 Quote
As I sat yesterday watching BFBC2 take 2 minutes to get server info then 1 minute or so to load the map I was pretty irritated. While this game requires you be online to play it my point is I'm sick and tired of the online mentality. Need an account to play your game. Need to be able to authenticate. Now, need to be online all the time. Well enough is enough. If I want to play a single player game check the CD and thats it, just like 10 years ago. Devs/publishers have control issues they need to FIX. We buy the games thier ours. Leave us alone post purchase.

Eh, I'm sick of it all. Gamers have been reiterating this issue over and over for years yet devs/publisher keep (ignoring us) trying to push different forms of DRM down our throats.

The only form I'm happy with, CD/DVD check, thats it. No other form is 100% acceptable to me. Even steam while "ok" has its issues. Some have already been mentioned but here they are.

One: the offline mode made me insane at one point. It may be better now but I haven't had the need to try it.
Two: why must I buy two copies of the same games so I can play with my kid? At least let us spawn LAN play.
Three: Can't resell, even hardcopy games you bought in the store.

Sorry I'm old school from the 90s. I've personally witness how bad gaming has become. The funny part its coming from the big name publishers. The indy devs don't give us that much headache. Its those who have made to much money from us over the years wasting it on DRM schemes instead of putting it into new exciting games that aren't sequals.
Cerberus90 15th March 2010, 17:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kornedbeefy
We buy the games thier ours. Leave us alone post purchase.

Technically, thats wrong. You buy the right to play the game. The game doesn't become yours, you can't then go and copy it and sell millions of copies.

I'm not for DRM though, atleast not stuff like SecuROM and the like. Steam is fine by me, extremely good system that works perfectly.
I think offline mode has just recently been updated. In one of the updates, it said "Offline mode finally fixed". :D


You could argue that DRM is completely pointless as it has always been bypassed by those who are determined to do it.
Sloth 15th March 2010, 18:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kornedbeefy

The only form I'm happy with, CD/DVD check, thats it. No other form is 100% acceptable to me. Even steam while "ok" has its issues. Some have already been mentioned but here they are.
Only problem is that CD/DVD checks are woefully easy to bypass. I can admit to having pirated a couple games (how the heck am I going to buy a new copy of Age of Empires 2 anymore after losing my old one?) and know that it's just laughable as a DRM. It was only vaguely useful back in the day to prevent people just passing around one disk to install for all their friends, but now it's far too outdated.
tron 15th March 2010, 18:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerberus90
Technically, thats wrong. You buy the right to play the game. The game doesn't become yours, you can't then go and copy it and sell millions of copies.

Technically, it is not wrong.

You do normally buy the right to own the games. They're ours to keep.

What you don't normally buy is the right to own the actual copyright to copy and sell millions of copies :)

Which is what DRM is supposed to stop us from doing.
airchie 15th March 2010, 18:48 Quote
I had some issues with Steam's offline mode being retarded recently.
Was working away from home Mon-Fri staying in hotels and quite often, I'd fire up steam fully expecting the option to work offline.
Click the work offline button and it comes back with a connection error.
Well duh!!??

So while Steam isn't perfect yet, it is very nice to use IMO.
I just hate that some devs are fording more and more DRM crap on top.
GTA4 anyone??
Steam+Rockstar lounge pish+GFWL sh1te!!??
No thanks!

I must say though, judging by the reported reaction from the developers in the crowd, most of them would be happier without DRM too.
Must just be the greed of the publishers?
2bdetermine 15th March 2010, 19:45 Quote
I'm not a fan of Steam either, but at least I can play Steam game offline.
DragunovHUN 15th March 2010, 20:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kornedbeefy

The only form I'm happy with, CD/DVD check, thats it. No other form is 100% acceptable to me. Even steam while "ok" has its issues. Some have already been mentioned but here they are..

Disc check makes me angry. Insert disc, start install, insert further discs if there are any, insert the first disc again to finish the installation, HEY YOU NEED THE DISC TO LAUNCH THE GAME WHY DID YOU PUT IT AWAY? Okay go grab the disc again, play, finish playing and launch another game UH OH WRONG DISC BUDDY

**** that.
Mentai 15th March 2010, 20:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tripwired
I wonder if there is some way to make Steam more appealing to publishers rather than them trying to implement their own form of DRM? If all games were available on Steam I bet it would help to further the regeneration of the PC Games market - most people use it, it allows for people to make impulse purchases, gives publishers greater control over pricing, eliminates physical media distribution costs and surely it would then also solve their DRM dramas by having a rights management system that just works?!

But it doesn't "just work". Modern Warfare 2 was ripped from steam and cracked the moment it came out. Assassins Creed 2 hasn't been cracked yet. Thus publishers will continue to throw crap at the wall to see what sticks.
Star*Dagger 15th March 2010, 20:24 Quote
Steam is pure win, I hesitate to even buy games that are not on Steam.

Steam has helped the PC Gaming genre immensely, one huge example being their sales, where you can pick up 5 games for the price of one.

Gabe Newell for Supreme Overlord!!!
stonedsurd 15th March 2010, 20:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
But it doesn't "just work". Modern Warfare 2 was ripped from steam and cracked the moment it came out. Assassins Creed 2 hasn't been cracked yet. Thus publishers will continue to throw crap at the wall to see what sticks.
AC2 has been cracked. Just not off Steam.

You think that distinction matters to pirates? Or to the publishers? They just want to bleed us dry.
13eightyfour 15th March 2010, 20:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by airchie
So while Steam isn't perfect yet, it is very nice to use IMO.
I just hate that some devs are fording more and more DRM crap on top.
GTA4 anyone??
Steam+Rockstar lounge pish+GFWL sh1te!!??
No thanks!

I got GTA4 from steam and it still has the rockstar lounge and GFWL, They dont impede on my gaming, i dont even notice them except the initial rockstar 'play' window.

Id rather they werent there but in this case i think people were bitching just for the sake of it.
Mentai 15th March 2010, 21:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by stonedsurd
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
But it doesn't "just work". Modern Warfare 2 was ripped from steam and cracked the moment it came out. Assassins Creed 2 hasn't been cracked yet. Thus publishers will continue to throw crap at the wall to see what sticks.
AC2 has been cracked. Just not off Steam.

You think that distinction matters to pirates? Or to the publishers? They just want to bleed us dry.

The cracks available are barely functional, letting you play certain sections of the game and breaking if you go into others. That matters to pirates, some of which are lazy enough to just buy it if they can't get it to work for free. And that matters to publishers.

And this is a thread about DRM, not DLC. I don't see how publishers wanting to enforce us paying for a full game they spent millions to create as "bleeding us dry".
theflatworm 15th March 2010, 22:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
Steam is pure win, I hesitate to even buy games that are not on Steam.

Ditto until recently they started massively jacking up the price for new releases. Case in point: DoW II: Chaos Rising. £29.99 on steam, £17.99 mail order. Now, why do they need a nearly 50% markup on a system that is virtually overhead-free (yeah, there's server running costs, but compare that to running a shop -- no comparison)? Still, I continue to buy from steam as a first preference, and will gladly pay a SMALL premium for the privilage.

Having said that, I haven't got around to buying AC II yet precisely because it's not currently on steam. Now I hear all these issues, it seems like a bit of serendipity.

Having said that, the AC II problems seem to pale compared to GTA IV's DRM. GTA DRM is, I think, the worst example I've ever seen. Anything that forces a piece of software into my startup tray, and tries to make me log in every time I turn on my computer is BAD. It's a shame I love the game so much, or the I could claim that, combined with the obscenely bad optimisation (I can't max out the settings with a GFX 275, 4GB of RAM and a Q9550!! WTF?) had caused me to boycott the game in a show of consumer protest. I suppose I could always lie...
airchie 15th March 2010, 22:39 Quote
Thing is, DRM of any sort is destined to fail.
It all very well encrypting a game or film on a disk but consumers then need it decrypted to access the content they paid for.
So basically, there is no logical way to protect something using DRM.
Cool_CR 16th March 2010, 01:23 Quote
I cannot buy games from steam dont know why but it just wont let me sigh never mind when I go to my account i cannot login but im already loged in???? why why do things just not work???? Anyway im a fan off what steem can do im not a fan of the way its setup at pressent. To expensive and two many logins. You even need a login to ask for help that was just sad.
CowBlazed 16th March 2010, 04:13 Quote
I don't even see Steam as DRM, its just the best place to buy all of my games.

What I cant stand is games that sell through Steam yet choose to bypass the whole steamworks operation and say, install GWFL or some other awful app/DRM. Only reason I haven't got Dawn of War 2, or GTA 4.
stonedsurd 16th March 2010, 08:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
The cracks available are barely functional, letting you play certain sections of the game and breaking if you go into others.
Believe me, they aren't. I've a friend who's nearly completed the damn game, and he's cackling about the DRM issues Ubi's facing.
Quote:
And this is a thread about DRM, not DLC. I don't see how publishers wanting to enforce us paying for a full game they spent millions to create as "bleeding us dry".
Where did DLC come from? And by bleeding us dry, I meant the price of games. I don't know how long you've been playing (and paying for) games, but they've only gotten pricier with time, and the only thing that's really changed is that they look better and take a little bit of your soul every time you want to get them to work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowBlazed
I don't even see Steam as DRM, its just the best place to buy all of my games.
Yep ;)
Chocobollz 16th March 2010, 12:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DragunovHUN
Disc check makes me angry. Insert disc, start install, insert further discs if there are any, insert the first disc again to finish the installation, HEY YOU NEED THE DISC TO LAUNCH THE GAME WHY DID YOU PUT IT AWAY? Okay go grab the disc again, play, finish playing and launch another game UH OH WRONG DISC BUDDY

**** that.

? You got freaked over a simple thing? Juts get a No-CD crack or copy the CD/DVD to ISO. Problem solved.
airchie 16th March 2010, 13:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowBlazed
I don't even see Steam as DRM, its just the best place to buy all of my games.

What I cant stand is games that sell through Steam yet choose to bypass the whole steamworks operation and say, install GWFL or some other awful app/DRM. Only reason I haven't got Dawn of War 2, or GTA 4.
+1
klimatekhange 16th March 2010, 14:02 Quote
My hard drive crashed beyond repair the other day (only three months old too) and I had to get a new one and start from scratch. First thing I reinstalled after all the drivers was Steam. Shocked that some of my games are missing from the Steam games list. Aghast that the games will only show up when GFWL is installed. Beyond belief; I hate GFWL - why should I not be able to save games without it? It's not as if the saved games are still there after Windows is reinstalled or did I miss something.
wuyanxu 16th March 2010, 14:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowBlazed
I don't even see Steam as DRM, its just the best place to buy all of my games.

What I cant stand is games that sell through Steam yet choose to bypass the whole steamworks operation and say, install GWFL or some other awful app/DRM. Only reason I haven't got Dawn of War 2, or GTA 4.
+2.

Steam is great when friends list isn't down for maintenance.

i don't understand why Ubisoft doesn't just use steamworks, have to make their own DRM
pendragon 16th March 2010, 16:48 Quote
horray for valve!
knuck 16th March 2010, 17:19 Quote
Cartridges > any other format
Sloth 16th March 2010, 17:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocobollz
? You got freaked over a simple thing? Juts get a No-CD crack or copy the CD/DVD to ISO. Problem solved.
Which is why it's useless as a DRM and simply an annoyance to users, imo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghys
Cartridges > any other format
Hmm, I bet you'd like the format with lots of blowing!

Zing? :D
knuck 16th March 2010, 18:40 Quote
once, when I was a kid, we couldn't make Ice Hockey on the NES work by any way, not matter how hard we blew

http://membres.multimania.fr/sifer1/brian-says-its-wrong.gif

(20mins work in that gif just for this thread. It's highly reusable however)


I ended up making it work by farting in it


Aaaaannnnnnnnnnd that's how I became an engineer
StoneyMahoney 20th May 2010, 14:33 Quote
There is a problem with software licenses in the EU, and it's not been legally tested. If you pay someone money and they give you something in return, that's a sale. EU law would *seem* to prohibit any arbitrary license being imposed on top of that. Copyright is still enforced, but telling someone they cannot then sell on goods they have purchased? That's a no-no.

Except it's not been tested, and the BSA et al are assuming it'll hold and prosecuting the crap out of everyone for it, "so they must be right" is the general feeling.

...

I hate you Kenny.
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