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GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees

Speaking of GOG.com (story above), there's an interview on Ars Technica where GOG.com's managing director Guillaume Rambourg discusses the success they've had selling games with no digital rights management. Here's his example of their experience, which also touches on the success of their recently implemented money-back guarantee:

There is an even more recent research under way that seems to prove that dropping DRM in the music industry resulted in an up to 41 percent increase in sales. GOG.com's DRM-free, day-one release of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, a AAA+ game by any standards, is a great case study. At release, the version widely available on torrent sites was not the DRM-free GOG version but the one that posed any sort of challenge to the hackers, the one that included DRM.

The game was downloaded illegally roughly 4.5 million times, but to use the industry-wide practice and treat those entirely as "lost sales" is a massive misunderstanding. Most pirates never had any intent to buy the game in the first place; some surely became paying customers after trying it out or when the title became available at a discounted price. To drive the point home, CDP Red won't be using any DRM for their upcoming release of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. As Marcin Iwinski recently put it: "Will it be more pirated than if we put DRM on it? I definitely don't think so. [...] With a DRM-free release, we're hoping to build more trust between us and gamers."

Finally, in our own experience we've found that trusting users to treat us well pays off and that our DRM-free approach is certainly not costing us business. Two of the many examples that come to mind: we see an average number of downloads per game that's somewhere below two—which means that users aren't taking advantage of DRM-free gaming to share accounts around.

Another great example comes from our recent launch of our 30-day, money-back guarantee where, if a game bought on GOG.com ends up not working despite what we can do to help you, we'll refund you your money. While we've seen an uptick in customer support requests, it's in the realm of a 200 percent or 300 percent increase in queries that seem legitimate for the most part, not a titanic flood of people who want to try to find a way to scam GOG.com out of a free game. I believe that people, by and large, try to be good; treating them that way for five years at GOG.com seems to bear out our hypothesis.

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17. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 2, 2014, 08:22 gray
 
That's why I buy their stuff at full price at release, well that and their games are fantastic  
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16. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 2, 2014, 03:30 InBlack
 
Common sense, who would have thought that people still had that shit?  
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I have a nifty blue line!
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15. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 2, 2014, 02:02 Dev
 
jacobvandy wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 18:14:
Now there are very few games they sell that can actually be re-sold, because most of what they sell are Steam keys and of course they can't take those back once you've redeemed them. I wouldn't be surprised if Valve is working on a streaming demo system, though.
It wouldn't surprise me if valve was working on reselling digital games as well. What with that german law thing.
 
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14. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 19:36 Task
 
CDProject should be given a Nobel Prize  
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Playing: The Witcher 2, Dragon Age: Origins, FF8
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13. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 19:17 Mashiki Amiketo
 
mazling wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 18:52:

I cannot wait for Star Trek Excalibur.
Looks like Klingon Academy with all the features in it. And to be honest, I loved KA.
 
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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12. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 18:52 mazling
 
Star Trek 25th Anniversary and Judgement Rites had an unlabeled star map ingame; at the start of a mission you were given the name of your destination and had to match the chunky pixellated star on the labelled star map in the manual with your screen.
The enterprise would warp off to the destination you chose and you would find out if you got the copy protection correct by not being shot at by the klingons/romulans etc, but surviving meant you could have another go. Although as part of a mission the 3d combat sub-mini-whatever-game might be unavoidable anyway, it was fun, and possibly the origin of Starfleet/Klingon Academy and Bridge Commander. I'd get it wrong on purpose

I cannot wait for Star Trek Excalibur.
 
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11. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 18:14 jacobvandy
 
wtf_man wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 17:04:
Another great example comes from our recent launch of our 30-day, money-back guarantee where, if a game bought on GOG.com ends up not working despite what we can do to help you, we'll refund you your money.

That's a great step in the right direction.

I'd like to see like a 1 hour demo of games... like Gaikai or similar service before you buy the game. Doing that on Gaikai actually got me to buy Saints Row the 3rd (I wasn't familiar with the franchise at the time... and swinging purple dildos, from screenshots in reviews, didn't exactly grab me).

That said, I have bought several games and found out I didn't like them... usually it had to do with controls or perspectives I just can't get used to. I try to do my homework before a game purchase, but sometimes I fuck up and impulse buy on a sale. Granted I didn't lose much money... but if I figure out within the first bit of the game that I don't like it... I'd rather not have wasted any cash on it at all.

This goes for all digital outlets... not just GOG.

Green Man Gaming used to base themselves on being able to sell back your games if you didn't want them anymore, like Gamestop for digital. But then they started selling Steamworks games cheaper than Steam with their vouchers and whatnot and exploded in popularity. Now there are very few games they sell that can actually be re-sold, because most of what they sell are Steam keys and of course they can't take those back once you've redeemed them. I wouldn't be surprised if Valve is working on a streaming demo system, though.
 
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10. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 18:02 1badmf
 
Optional Nickname! wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 12:04:
Dev wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 11:44:
One key area where DRM can prevent piracy with total success (AFAIK), is the pre-release DRM,

One of the side effects of digital distribution is that you lose the DRM of the printed manual. "Type in the 3rd word on the 12th page" was an effective way to ensure you had the manual and increased the chance that you would actually read it.

Executable DRM is logically unsound refuted by the absolute rule of "if it can be read it can be written".

By understanding this, you avoid the waste of time and money your business would otherwise need to focus on a superior product which would increase sales, not decrease them.


hah! wasn't that effective. certainly didn't stop my 10 y/o self from playing the shit out of xwing and mean streets. most of the time i could guess the word, mostly cuz they'd say it was under the paragraph titled 'controls' or some such. when that didn't work i'd just use the hex editor in norton commander; the passwords were always in plain text.
 
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9. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 17:04 wtf_man
 
Another great example comes from our recent launch of our 30-day, money-back guarantee where, if a game bought on GOG.com ends up not working despite what we can do to help you, we'll refund you your money.

That's a great step in the right direction.

I'd like to see like a 1 hour demo of games... like Gaikai or similar service before you buy the game. Doing that on Gaikai actually got me to buy Saints Row the 3rd (I wasn't familiar with the franchise at the time... and swinging purple dildos, from screenshots in reviews, didn't exactly grab me).

That said, I have bought several games and found out I didn't like them... usually it had to do with controls or perspectives I just can't get used to. I try to do my homework before a game purchase, but sometimes I fuck up and impulse buy on a sale. Granted I didn't lose much money... but if I figure out within the first bit of the game that I don't like it... I'd rather not have wasted any cash on it at all.

This goes for all digital outlets... not just GOG.
 
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8. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 14:52 jdreyer
 
Abusers are quickly recognized and policies can be put in place to deal with them. Places like Walmart have these in place already, and can easily be adapted for an online retailer like gog. So it's not as risky at it would seem, and there's no excuse for all online retailers to not have such policies.

The No Return policy is a carryover of the brick and mortar store policies since you could play something and return it anonymously for full refund. When you buy online, there is no anonymity, so your history is completely known to the retailer.
 
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"Microsoft is the absent minded parent of PC gaming" - Verno
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7. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 14:51 Julio
 
I'm so glad GOG exists. Best online game retailer there is.  
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6. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 12:51 nin
 
Creston wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 12:42:
Optional Nickname! wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 12:04:
One of the side effects of digital distribution is that you lose the DRM of the printed manual. "Type in the 3rd word on the 12th page" was an effective way to ensure you had the manual and increased the chance that you would actually read it.


Ugh. That was the most terrible form of DRM ever invented. Want to play your game again? Better hope you still have the manual!

Even worse were those damn code wheels that LucasArts shipped with their games.

Remember that rust colored paper with symbols on it that came with the first Terminator game? Dark enough so you couldn't run it through a copier, and also damn hard to read.


 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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5. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 12:42 Creston
 
Optional Nickname! wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 12:04:
One of the side effects of digital distribution is that you lose the DRM of the printed manual. "Type in the 3rd word on the 12th page" was an effective way to ensure you had the manual and increased the chance that you would actually read it.


Ugh. That was the most terrible form of DRM ever invented. Want to play your game again? Better hope you still have the manual!

Even worse were those damn code wheels that LucasArts shipped with their games.
 
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4. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 12:39 Kajetan
 
Optional Nickname! wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 12:04:
One of the side effects of digital distribution is that you lose the DRM of the printed manual. "Type in the 3rd word on the 12th page" was an effective way to ensure you had the manual and increased the chance that you would actually read it.
The printed manual was the victim of maximizing profits. Switching from password protection to disc based copy protection was not the reason printed manuals disappeared.
 
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3. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 12:31 Creston
 
Mad applause for these guys.  
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2. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 12:04 Optional Nickname!
 
Dev wrote on Jan 1, 2014, 11:44:
One key area where DRM can prevent piracy with total success (AFAIK), is the pre-release DRM,

One of the side effects of digital distribution is that you lose the DRM of the printed manual. "Type in the 3rd word on the 12th page" was an effective way to ensure you had the manual and increased the chance that you would actually read it.

Executable DRM is logically unsound refuted by the absolute rule of "if it can be read it can be written".

By understanding this, you avoid the waste of time and money your business would otherwise need to focus on a superior product which would increase sales, not decrease them.

 
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1. Re: GOG.com on DRM and Money-Back Guarantees Jan 1, 2014, 11:44 Dev
 
Great points about piracy!
So many publishers count every single download as a lost sale. While undoubtedly there are some, nowhere near all of them are!

One key area where DRM can prevent piracy with total success (AFAIK), is the pre-release DRM, such as half life 2 had with steam, where the game is missing a key file or two that must be downloaded, and it's not unlocked until the day of release. People rushing out to buy it to get earliest possible access might well turn to a pirate version if its available days in advance, since one of their prime goals is to get the game ASAP and they are willing to pay for it. This is one of the very few areas I support DRM in, and I believe its a big percentage of real lost sales, not just imagined ones. And if a company is nice about it, they can remove that DRM after the game's release, without much impact.

Also, as a purely bottom line business perspective, the question is will GoG get enough increased sales from people willing to try things they wouldn't have tried without the guarantee, to overcome the extra expense from the support requests.

This comment was edited on Jan 1, 2014, 11:49.
 
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