My December column defending Diablo III’s always-on DRM generated as much hostility as anything I wrote since I called Doom III a hollow, clichéd piece of garbage. The responses were a mixture of insults and reasonable commentary (mostly insults), with complaints falling into three categories.
Skyrim may be the big budget game on everyone’s minds today, but it isn’t the only kick-ass RPG that was released this year. We found a lot of things to like in The Witcher 2 when we reviewed it back in June, and hey, it’s even DRM free! (Unless you buy it on Steam, of course.) While other publishers would have you believe that ditching digital protection is akin to asking for pirates to pillage games, CD Projekt has announced that The Witcher 2 has sold over a quarter million digital copies.
DRM is like a bad joke: Generally, the only person laughing about it is the one who let it loose in the first place. Every once in a while, though, somebody hits the nail on the head, and we all get to fuel our mirth with some clueless pirate's enraged tears. Does that make us bad people? Maybe, but still: Hahahahaha. Ahem. So anyway, Bohemia Interactive recently bagged itself a big one using a copy protection scheme called FADE. How's it work? Well...
Update: EA has now released a patch that corrects the issue. The general consensus on the forums appears to be "Finally! It works!" So then, better late than never.
Original: Remember when PC gamers were all like “Always online DRM is the worst idea! Think of all the things that could go wrong,” and publishers were like “Oh gamers, you so crazy”? We would hope so, considering the last time it happened was all the time. And now, here we are, watching new Darkspore players bang furiously on the door while no one lets them in. What's that? Were gamers right all along? How unexpected. This victory, however, rings hollow. Sure, it's tangible, 14-armed evidence that always-on is a scourge, but if the situation's not improving, then what's the point?
Can’t wait for the October 25th launch of Battlefield 3? Neither can a lot of other people – and some of them aren’t waiting. As can only be expected for such a high-profile title, a leaked copy of the PC version of the game has worked its way onto the Internet in the form of – you guessed it – a torrent. Aspiring pirates shouldn’t rush out to download the torrent, though. You still won’t be able to play Battlefield 3 even with those illegal disc images in hand thanks to EA’s always-on DRM.
Online communities need an outrageous outrage every once in a while to give the forum jockeys some opportunity to vent. The latest tempest in an A-cup is Blizzard's decision to give Diablo III an "always online" DRM system, meaning you need a live Internet connection to play the game. People were reacting to this with the kind of disbelief, betrayal, and fury usually reserved for something like Neville Chamberlain signing away Czechoslovakia.
The music industry is sending out notices to suspected copyright infringers asking for money. And while this might sound like “business as usual”, a new report has confirmed they are indeed mixing things up a bit. Instead of demanding $3,000 or more per infraction, file-sharing monitoring firm Digital Rights Corp has confirmed they are taking the shotgun approach to finding the guilty, asking for a mere $10 a pop.
The mere announcement of Diablo III's always on DRM had many players putting down their socketed swords of the bedazzled alligator to pick up their pitchforks and torches, but now the moment of reckoning has arrived. And the verdict? Not so hot. Now, this is still a beta, mind you, so some issues could get ironed out. Most of the issues RPS zeroed-in on, though, stem from the hack 'n' slash genre's inability to cope with a constant connection.
Piracy is a problem for game developers of all sizes, and is an issue that continues to plague the industry. How each studio chooses to handle the inevitable horde of people willing to rip them off however varies pretty dramatically. Companies such as Ubisoft have chosen to tackle the problem by layering on gobs of restrictive DRM, while other more creative Indie developers have chosen a new approach, humiliation.