The DRM dilemma
One of the eternal questions in the games industry seems to be "why do publishers and developers put intrusive DRM on their products?" The answer is simple: we all want to get paid for the products we produce. In an effort to convert all pirates into buying customers, many companies have blindly gone for the DRM route instead of rewarding the customers who actually purchased the game.
The recent release of the Ubisoft DRM stirred a lot of emotions and rightly so. A the very least, people who bought the game want to experience the single player part of the game off-line.
As a developer, Paradox Interactive made an active choice in 1999 not to use DRM on any of our internally developed products. It was never something we felt the need to broadcast; we just worked harder to offer added value to our customers instead.
As a publisher, Paradox has applied DRM on a few different products, mainly when requested in a contract from a developer. Our experience to date suggests the following:
- DRM is quite costly
- Most DRM offers no extra value to paying customers
- DRM causes a lot of extra support
- There is no evidence that DRM actually increases our sales numbers
In light of the above, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to say "no" to intrusive DRM. This does not mean, however, that we support piracy or think it is ok to share our games freely over the web. We still believe people should pay for the games they play. After all, this is what keeps this industry running.
As I mentioned, Paradox has chosen a different path to the DRM dilemma. We don't believe pirates are worth our energy, time and passion. Instead we choose to focus on our paying customers by offering them extra services. In 2005, we took our first steps in rewarding our customers by introducing a game-unique ”medal” on our forums which can only be obtained through a unique serial key received at purchase. The second step is the introduction of Paradox Achievements, launching in Q4, 2010 as a part of our ”Paradox Connect” iniative Together with our gamers, we aim to continue developing Paradox Connect and all of its online features and extra services for months and years to come.
We will not put intrustive DRM on our products and in return, we ask that people who like our games continue to buy them. It’s a win-win any way you look at it.
P.S. Still playing Mount & Blade Warband this week, best kill/death ratio so far is 6/9 (so yes, I am not that good). Look out on the 22nd Siege Server!