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Paradox CEO: DRM is “terrible”, “doesn’t make sense”

Wednesday, 25th January 2012 04:53 GMT By Brenna Hillier

DRM is a waste of money, doesn’t work, and worst of all, so 2003, according to Paradox Interactive CEO Fred Wester.

“I’m so surprised that people still use DRM. We haven’t done that for seven or eight years, and the reason is that it doesn’t make sense,” Wester told Gamespy.

The executive said DRM is poor “from a gamer perspective” and provides a “terrible” experience, citing his own difficulties with Civilization III as an example.

“No one should have to purchase a product that they’re unable to install because of the DRM. People who purchase a game should have just as easy a time as those who pirate the game, otherwise it’s a negative incentive to buy a legal copy,” he argued.

But Wester also believes there’s little incentive to use DRM on the business side, either.

“I just can’t see why people are using DRM still. If you take something like Sony’s DRM, SecuROM – it’s a waste of money,” he said.

“It will keep you protected for three days, it will create a lot of technical support, and it will not increase sales. And I know this for a fact, because we tried it eight years ago, and it never worked for us.”

Wester suggested that companies sometimes used to resort to DRM because it provides an easy answer when shareholders asked how a publisher is protecting their investments, but in this day and age, that’s not a good enough excuse.

“Now, I see no reasonable explanation for why people keep on adding it,” he said.

“Especially the kind where you have to be online all the time, like Ubisoft. I think that’s, to me that’s 2003. ”

Paradox Interactive is a PC specialist publisher and developer based in Sweden. Some of its most notable recent properties include Magicka; King Arthur: The Roleplaying Game; Cities in Motion and Heart of Iron.

Thanks, Gamefront. [image]

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9 Comments

  1. JimFear-666

    This guy should work at ubisoft.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. HauntaVirus

    @1
    Good call.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Talkar

    Someone, give this guy a medal!

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    I’m surprised that so few publishers look at the actual expenses of DRM. Ubisoft paid for the development of theirs, and all it did was lose them most of their PC revenue.

    Is it really so hard to explain to investors that it won’t do anything except damage your business? Surely they can’t be that stupid?

    #4 3 years ago
  5. silkvg247

    I got From Dust on the steam sale. Not played it yet and will give it a fair chance gameplay-wise.

    But can you believe that

    * It needs you to create an ubi acct / login to play
    * THEN put in a CD key (even though you bought it via steam)
    * NO GRAPHICAL OPTIONS other than res. No AA etc. For such a shiny game, what an utterly tragic waste.
    * NO KEY BIND OPTIONS. Better whip out the pad.

    Oh and it DID have drm, ubi finally relented on it though, I think.

    Ubi are killing themselves. They’re gonna shout out one day that they’ve given up on the PC scene because of piracy, when in truth, they are damaging their own sales more than any pirate ever could.

    It’s a shame because I actually quite like the games on offer. Settlers I’d be playing right now if it wasn’t marred with graphic glitches rendering it unplayable. Anno I’d genuinely buy, love the series, but I’m not paying for 3 installs then call customer support DRM. I just won’t. I upgrade and swap hardware constantly (sometimes to test it), what’s the point.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. TheWulf

    This is an undeniable, irrefutable proof:

    I’m not a PC elitist, you all know this, I’m about as far away from that as anyone could be. But I realise that console ports can be buggy messes, this is nothing to do with “consolitis” AT ALL, it’s all to do with cowboy coder hire-ons doing a shoddy porting job.

    I love console ports, but some publishers do such a poor job of them that you can have them crashing constantly, and they can have horrible performance issues. Look at RockStar’s GTA IV or THQ’s Saints Row II. THQ learned their lesson with Saints Row: The Third and I think everyone appreciates it, hence it selling ridiculous amounts on the PC.

    Where am I going with this?

    Just think if people took away the money they spent on DRM and DRM support, and then put that into instead hiring decent coders to port the game properly, bug free, and in a polished way. One thing that I know from experience in the field is that DRM often REDUCES the stability and performance of a game, and SecuROM is famously known for this.

    The thing is this: If a developer is responsible for a shitty port that crashes on me every ten minutes and has horrendous performance issues even on a higher-end PC, then why would I be interested in buying their next game? If I find UbiPlay disgusting, for example, I may not be inclined to buy their next game.

    And so, someone at UbiSoft looks at the sales, flails like a pointy haired boss and whines about how many sales they’re losing to piracy. Because the blisteringly idiotic management there and at most publishers is unaware that it’s their own poor quality ports that are driving customers off.

    So they invest more and more in more insane DRM that further destabilises the game, which provides worse performance, and less polish. Then they find they’re losing even larger numbers of sales. IT MUST BE PIRACY! So they then move onto even worse forms of DRM.

    And the cycle continues, and it truly is a vicious circle.

    See, ‘piracy’ is actually a euphemism for ‘manager idiocy.’ Some of the people responsible for managing large businesses such as publishers are utter morons, blistering idiots, intolerably stupid mendicants.

    I wish to slap some of them.

    1. Make a quality game.
    2. Make sure you’re advertising at the demographic you WANT to target.
    3. Don’t make a game that’s designed to hit on the lowest common denominator, because then it appeals to no one. It’s just too generic.
    4. Don’t cripple its performance/stability with bad DRM.
    5. Spend money on polishing it so it isn’t so crashy an dtrashy.

    Profit WILL follow.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. TheWulf

    @4

    From my understanding from stories of shenanigans inside UbiSoft, the management is frequently as clueless and irritating as the investors and share-holders are. There is a lot of pointy hair involved.

    And then you even have production managers in development houses which publically support it, with their mouths. And that just makes it worse.

    The people you have who usually champion the removal of DRM are people who’re working on the game – software engineers especially who know just how badly it’s going to cripple the game they helped put together if they compile that shit in.

    But are the pointy haired people ever going to listen?

    Sigh.

    I mean, look at Prince of Persia ’08. It wasn’t a great game, it was a game of quicktime events. It was average at best. But UbiSoft treated it like it was a classic for the ages. Their attitude was that if it didn’t sell well on the PC, then piracy must be the cause. So they stripped the DRM out of that game.

    When it didn’t sell, it was like the whole thing was a stunt by UbiSoft’s management to convince the rest of the world that piracy wasn’t an issue.

    “Look what happens when you don’t do DRM. PIRATEZ!!!”

    Shocker. Average game doesn’t sell well. Is used as stunt by UbiSoft to condemn anti-DRM supporters as pirates. News at 11!

    I mean, really. They must believe that we’re all very stupid.

    It was at this point that I just gave up on UbiSoft completely and I haven’t looked at their catalogue since. Respect matters a lot to me, and if they can’t treat people with respect, then I’m not going to part with their money for them.

    Clearly, I must be a FILTHY PIRATE despite never having pirated a UbiSoft game.

    Sigh.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Joe Musashi

    @6 This is an undeniable, irrefutable proof..

    The only thing it undeniably proves is that some people will grasp an exception and bang on about it like it is the norm simply because they happen to find its sentiment agreeable.

    Exception != Norm

    Besides, this statement means little. It’s put out there to get onside with reactionary gamers. Tell ‘em what they like to hear and few will question your sincerety.

    JM

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DSB

    @8 So in a round about way, all you’re saying is that the industry could learn from that guy.

    I think it’s more important that he’s talking TO gamers, rather than talking AT them, like most publishers do. It’s obviously good business sense, being the head of a minor company, but would EA and Activision really lose their business if they attempted to connect with their customers, or tried listening to them?

    I think there’s an idiosyncrasy of cosmic proportions in big corporations only caring about the shareholders, instead of their customers. In a mass industry like the games industry, you’re always going to have more customers than shareholders, and you’ll never have shareholders without customers.

    #9 3 years ago

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