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Op Ed

All Aspect Warfare developer blog #14 - The DRM Minefield.
The key to DRM for developers/publishers is that the longer it takes for hackers to break the game, the more chances you have of actually making some additional money on the game. There is no such thing as a casual pirate anymore. At least not since everyone discovered the Internet and Google. So DRM implementation is not about preventing uncle Tom from making a copy of your game for your cousin Harry. Tom doesn’t need to crack your game in order to make that copy for Harry when he can just go online and get it from someone who already has done the job for him. Heck, Harry can probably do it all by himself. Casual piracy is no farther than a trip to a search engine.

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3. Re: Op Ed Jul 14, 2009, 11:25  dsmart 
Indeed, pirates will only crack games they are interested in or which are popular. Niche games are less interesting. Saying that however, there are in fact cracks of our games online. Go figure.

The thing with DRM is that - as I've always said - it is the necessary evil. You have to have it. Not to keep the dedicated pirates at bay mostly, but to curb wanton piracy.

Also, finding cracks online is not as easy - or safe - as it used to be because some wankers are using fake cracks to spread botnets, malware, peddle p0rn etc. So someone who is not experienced at seeking out pirated software, is probably not going to spend too much time looking for it. Thats what DRM tends to curb: the impulse of "oh, maybe I can find it online and save myself $50)"

And the thing with consoles is that you HAVE to be REALLY experienced to even bother with looking for a crack of a console game because obtaining one and actually getting it to work - on a hacked console - is not as easy is getting a cracked PC game and running it. If you have a hacked console, thats just half the cost of entry to even get cracked games.

I don't understand the issue with Steam pricing of games. The cost of retail production is not as substantial as it used to be. Heck, depending on volume, the entire COGs (Cost Of Goods) for a PC game these days is probably around $1.50. Tops.

So even if you sell the game for $40 at retail, there is no point in selling it for less online because i) you still only get a royalty cut from the publisher ii) there are still costs - in terms of time and resources - involved in getting the game ready for online deployment. So its not like, lets zip it up, upload it and its good to go. God know. It takes a lot of backend resources to get a game online.

So I don't understand why gamers expect games sold online to be any cheaper than their retail counterparts. And depending on the portal (D2D, GG, Impulse, Steam etc) the royalty percent varies with the game and the publisher. Other factors that play into the game pricing and royalty cuts include things like, is it a day & date release? i.e. if there is a retail version, is it released online on the same day.

The greatest Steam asset - apart from having Valve behind it - is that you get all your games in once nice secure place and you have access to them at anytime and from anywhere. It is HARD to compete with that. On other sites, once you download it, thats it. You have to keep track of it, store it safe etc.

This comment was edited on Jul 14, 2009, 11:26.
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Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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