Super Meat Boy developer Tommy Refenes has published a thought-provoking blog post on the impact of DRM as an effective measure against piracy. He argued that the cost going into DRM does little to offset losses suffered by piracy, and that the controversial security measure makes people more likely to pirate a game.
Refenes wrote in his post, “I think I can safely say that Super Meat Boy has been pirated at least 200,000 times. We are closing in on 2 million sales and assuming a 10% piracy to sales ratio does not seem unreasonable.
“As a forward thinking developer who exists in the present, I realize and accept that a pirated copy of a digital game does not equate to money being taken out of my pocket. Team Meat shows no loss in our year end totals due to piracy and neither should any other developer.”
The claim is that piracy will always exist, even when DRM is in place, and Refenes suggested that investing in DRM that is going to be broken anyway doesn’t make for smart business and economical sense.
“The reality of our current software age is the internet is more efficient at breaking things than companies are at creating them” he continued. “A company will spend massive amounts of money on DRM and the internet will break it in a matter of days in most cases. When the DRM is broken is it worth the money spent to implement it?
“Did the week of unbroken DRM for your game gain you any sales from potential pirates due to the inability to pirate at launch? Again, there is no way of telling and as such cannot be used as an accurate justification for spending money.”
Refenes added that DRM does nothing for a game’s favour among potential buyers and that players are less-likely to pirate of a game is easy to run and isn’t marred by always-online DRM blockers.
“Unfortunately there is nothing anyone can do to actively stop their game from being pirated,” he explained. “I do believe people are less likely to pirate your software if the software is easy to buy, easy to run, and does what is advertised.
“You can’t force a person to buy your software no more than you can prevent a person from stealing it. People have to WANT to buy your software, people have to WANT to support you.”
It comes as SimCity publisher EA continues to receive stick for its DRM. Check up on the saga’s latest developments here.
What’s your take on the DRM issue?