World of Goo creator tells game developers to avoid DRM

By Justin Mann on March 24, 2009, 1:23 PM
Another gaming industry executive has come forward to voice their opinion in opposition of DRM, vouching for the total abandonment of the technology. Ron Carmel of 2D Boy spoke at the recent Game Developer's Conference, where he pitched some advice at independent or struggling game developers. Without trying to play around it, he came right forward and told them to ditch DRM completely, asserting it to be a waste of time and money.

Carmel elaborated on his reasoning, pointing out that particularly with independent developers, DRM solutions invariably just result in a lot of money being delivered to a third party. Further, he says that anything that is perceived as even remotely cumbersome will be rejected by users, with people preferring a cracked version that doesn't force them to enter a “32 character serial number.” He brings out a good point in that popularity plays a key in how effective DRM will be and vice versa – if a game is popular, people will be able to find it pirated with ease, whereas if it is unpopular then restrictive DRM could inhibit sales. Carmel also was an advocate of digital distribution and even advised trying to avoid retail altogether.

Those are strong words aimed at independent and small developers. He's not alone, though, as many other well-known companies and people have come forward to oppose DRM, if only partially. Bethesda is one of those, who feels that DRM is too much trouble, even if its goal is a good one. Gabe Newell of Valve is clearly not opposed to it (as Steam is one of the most popular DRM-laden clients in the world), but claims that most DRM strategies are just “dumb”, and vouches for pure digital distribution.

User Comments: 10

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TomSEA said:
I find it interesting that the Goo developers would take this stance after this happened - [url]
-Go-Through-the-Roof/[/url]Someone needs to come up with an effective way to reduce piracy or PC gaming is going to disappear. I don't like it, but I also don't blame developers for turning to consoles when figures show that 80-90% of all PC game copies are pirated.[Edited by TomSEA on 2009-03-24 14:48:31]
captain828 said:
A bold comment..."Piracy" was so high for that title because it was an indie title.Sure, it was praised a lot by many reviewers and created quite a buzz on the "internets", but no sane person would shell money for an apparently flash game knowing that there is a crapload of free flash games.People saw how good the game was and they bought it. The same went with Crayon Physics, a similar title.The thing lately is that people don't understand or don't want to understand that retail is a lot less appealing to the end user on the PC vs. the console user, near 100% retail.I don't even understand your comment... the link you provided clearly states:[quote]While most people would be outraged at the high piracy rate, 2D says that things are going well for now, World of Goo sales figures are up and the company is not in any financial trouble.[/quote]So they made a profit. They made money. Sales were up to expectations.The issue with digital distribution is that the number of sold copies is usually a secret and rarely made public. This makes it very difficult for those survey companies to gather relevant data.I again say it: Great games sell well no matter what!
TomSEA said:
PC game piracy is high for every title, Captain. Insanely high. You're right - sales statistics are hard to come by. But I've never bought the argument suggesting that "they made their money from sales so however many pirated copies are floating around is irrelevant" even for the best selling of games.I'll definitely bet it matters to the group who invested 3 years of their lives making the game.
tengeta said:
Those people wouldn't be buying the game if they had to pay for it.Get it off the piracy loop, and it just loses popularity. Very few of those people will become tempted enough to open their wallet if they never did in the first place.
TomSEA said:
I don't entirely buy that argument either, tengeta. There is no doubt that "x" percentage of pirated games fall into that "wouldn't buy if they had to pay" category. But whenever this topic comes up on tech/gaming boards I routinely see numerous posters claim they have the money, they would buy the game if pirated copies were unavailable, but because it is so easily gained for free, that's the route they take and really could care less about any consequences.Unfortunately, I also have a number of friends who make very good money and could easily afford the games, but routinely download pirated copies "just because it's there." I discourage them when I can, doing my 2-bits to try and keep PC gaming viable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.But my point being is that there are a considerable amount of people stealing copies when they could very well afford them. It's not all "wouldn't buy anyway" people.
darkshadoe said:
If piracy was as bad as game developers made it out to be, companies like Activision, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, etc would have went belly up LONG ago. Its easier to blame a crappy game's sales on piracy than admitting you made a crappy game.Its all about greed..plain and simple.Consider this dead horse beaten.
TomSEA said:
Piracy figures don't come from game developers. They come from BitTorrent sites and affiliates like TorrentFreak:[url]
-games-of-2008-081204/[/url]And those figures are 4 months old. No doubt most of those games are well over 1 million illegal downloads each now.It's about greed alright, darkshadoe. The greed of people who want something for nothing.
captain828 said:
You know what's the problem with PC games??Most of them are crap and don't deserve the money.Lately, I see some pretty good games... I think they woke up the devs from their slumberness
darkshadoe said:
[b]Originally posted by TomSEA:[/b][quote]Piracy figures don't come from game developers. They come from BitTorrent sites and affiliates like TorrentFreak:[url]
-games-of-2008-081204/[/url]And those figures are 4 months old. No doubt most of those games are well over 1 million illegal downloads each now.It's about greed alright, darkshadoe. The greed of people who want something for nothing.[/quote]Ok lets look at your chart that was current as of Dec. 4th, 20081. Of the 10 games listed, only 4 of them were made in 20082. Of those 4 recent games, only 1 (Spore) had over 1 million downloads. The other three 2008 games (listed in 8th-10th place) only had a combined total of approx. 1.5 million downloads.3. The other 6 games range in age from 1 to 5 years old.So basically your chart shows that not only people dont want to buy crappy games, they dont want to download them either.
captain828 said:
@darkshadoe:My point exactly! No sane person, be him rich or poor, will spend $50 on every crappy game.IMHO, the PC market is [b]way bigger than all consoles combined[/b]. Near everyone has a PC and internet. Sure, not so many people can play Crysis @ Very High or what not, but nonetheless the PC market is huge.Why is this trend of bashing PC's? because of torrent sites.How? simple. People are given the choice of seeing for themselves how a game is and if the developer really deserves $50 (or $60 in case of consoles) for a game.This makes it a lot harder for games on the PC to sell well or as well as on consoles.Let's be serious... how many times have you "consolists" bought a $60 game and then regretted it? Hell, I bought GTAIV for the PC (a massive hit on consoles) and regretted it. It was so poorly optimised (initially, at the least) that I just couldn't play at those low settings, yet having no issues playing Crysis @ High on 1680x1050 or a lot of other fresh gamesThat's just an example.I also bought the Orange Box and still play it, though initially I was playing a "torrented" version. There were no differences between the two, but I fought Valve deserved to be repaid. Same goes for CoD4 and Crysis + a couple of others.Also, here's another interesting thing: Crytek came out crying about some very nasty 90% piracy of Crysis, yet by the end of the year they had already sold >1M copies.1M x $50 = $50M Subtract $25M (~production costs) and you have $25M left. Not much? ok, but they sold > 3M copies by June 2008... that's well over $100M in profits.Should a dev come out and cry that piracy is high when they just made so much money?IMHO, no. But some are just too greedy...
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