Bohemia Interactive has observed massive piracy of its games, despite an unusual DRM system.
“Our statistics from multiplayer show that for every three legitimate buyers playing their game in multiplayer, there are 100 (failed) attempts to play with a pirated version,” Bohemia CEO Marek Španěl told PC Gamer.
“This indicates that piracy is an extremely widespread problem on PC, and it’s also really worrying for us as a mid-sized, independent, PC-oriented developer. We do not have any such data for single-player, but I’m afraid there the ratio of pirates to legitimate gamers is undoubtedly much worse,” he added.
“It’s very difficult. Companies and teams invest a lot into game development, and with such widespread piracy, it’s extremely tough to get the investment back.”
Bohemia has gained an element of notoriety for its use of a DRM system called DEGARDE (formerly known as FADE), which introduces bugs to pirated copies of the game.
“The motto is: Pirated games are not worth playing, original games do not degrade. Some of the symptoms are funny, usually annoying,” Španěl explained.
“In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird with the words ‘Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame’” While we know we will never stop piracy, we use this as a way to make our stand that piracy is not right, that it has a serious negative impact on PC games developers.”
Španěl described DEGRADE as a “supplement” to more common DRM systems like always-on and online registrations, which are often required by publishers before they’ll sign off on a PC game.
“Our approach is to remove conventional DRM not too long after the initial game’s release to ensure as smooth an experience as possible for our legitimate users and still appeal to our distribution and publishing channels,” he commented.
“We’re trying to cut off this vicious circle where piracy hurts owners of legitimate copies ‘protected’ with annoying copy protection DRM systems, which may lead to more piracy. That is why, for example, nearly all games on Sprocket, our online store, are DRM-free. Arma 1 and 2 are already copy-protection-free everywhere, and have been for a long time.”
Bohemia’s latest title is Take on Helicopters, available now on PC.