2D Boy's Ron Carmel says digital-rights management a "waste of time"; suggests indies forgo publisher relationships.
SAN FRANCISCO--Digital-rights management remains a touchy topic for both gamers and game makers, with some antipiracy measures even ending up in legal kerfuffles. But Ron Carmel, whose indie game company 2D Boy was responsible for last year's puzzle hit World of Goo, has a simple solution: ditch DRM completely.
Carmel, speaking at this year's Game Developers Conference, says implementing DRM is pointless, particularly for cash-strapped indie developers. "Don't bother with DRM--it's a waste of time. You just end up giving the DRM provider money. Anything that is of interest gets cracked, and the cracked version ends up having a better user experience than the legit version because you don't have to input in some 32-character serial number," he said.
"Anybody who wants the game is likely to find it on BitTorrent sites. It's going to get cracked even with DRM, it's going to be available very quickly, so we don't see the point in having DRM. Piracy rates have been released before, and there's no difference between World of Goo and other games."
Carmel, whose talk outlined the business decisions made with World of Goo, had another major piece of advice for other indies: don't get involved with publishers. Carmel says the revenue from World of Goo came overwhelmingly from digital distribution, with retail sales accounting for less than three percent of total sales.
"Retail distribution--which is what publishers are good at--doesn't generate many sales for indie games. Go with digital distribution--you won't need a publisher for this. Self-fund your game--and when you get to retail, go for per-country flat-fee deals."
Agreed... as aforementioned, DRM really does nothing in the long run. It annoys the legit consumer, and the product ends up being cracked and pirated one way or another. It really bugs when I purchase a game, and need to register it online just to play. As a matter of fact, a SecuROM disk checking utility is preventing me playing a game legimately. I have no disk emulator software operating an image file on my hard drive, and guess what? I can't play the game because the disk check utility is preventing the game from running on my PC. DRM is pointless when you consider the big picture.
Price and availability are probably the biggest factors to consider against pirates. If something becomes available worldwide at a respectable price point people are less inclined to pirate the software. It's expensive and hard to get software that gets pirated the most.
I agree completely. DRM or not, someone will crack the software. It's nice to hear this from developers though. And yes, World of Goo is a great game. I definitely recommend it.
World of Goo is a great game. DRM free and available on almost every digital platform (WiiWare, Steam, Direct2Drive, Greenhouse, Impulse, Mac Game Store, GamersGate, Gametree Online). Everyone should at least try the free demo: http://2dboy.com/games.php
Great game and a great philosophy! I'm fans of 2D Boy and hope they can keep the good stuff coming...
Good article. And, Bjeck Below has told the truth. Just think, If it were not for DRM... games COULD be a lot smaller and cheaper once all the empty code is removed. I've never had a problem on my PC with any DRM's, other than resources (possibly) being used in the background. Piracy is a huge problem and I'd hate to see the game companies stop making these great PC games. =( But I'm afraid it's coming, and in favor of consoles... But if you don't feed the dogs eventually they'll turn to eat the consoles too. Also there is a sense of morality and honor which comes from NOT stealing games. What ruins it for me in the great MMO's is the monthly. Some days I don't want to, or can't play... but my money keeps adding up as long as I want to play at some point. (Cha-Ching!) Steam? Nah... my internet could be down from a storm and I can't play. Prices are ridiculous. They could use a good competitor.
What we can learn from this and what happened to spore. is be educated before you buy...DRM only hurts the ones that pay for the game.
I'm telling you, this guy is talking a lot of pure common sense! Especially about the DRM; frankly it's something that even big hitter developers should consider. All DRM goes is create a headache for not only users and consumers but it doesn't really do a damn bit of good for the companies spending the money to put it into their games. Anytime you have a game that's the most pirated of 2008 (a la Spore), not just because people didn't want to pay for the game to play it--but because actual legitimate buyers had to go the 'pirating' route just to get their DRM-locked game to play on their system....you know something has GOT to change. Nobody should have to feel like a criminal for having to take a backdoor method to make a game work that they PAID for when it should just work first time around.
I can agree. Why waste your money in trying to stop hackers from cracking your game when you can pocket that money and make more in a long run. Get a clue guys, stop trying to jack our game prices to justify the "DRM" when you can elminate the DRM and lower the prices.
Most Indie games are turning out better than the big productions, although the games arent nearly as expansive
@atopp399 Well perhaps you are right, I havent got the number on DRM day-1 and day-0 cracks, but that aint the point... The point is that DRM is put on there for a GODDAMN reason, and if you dont start listening to that reason.... Totry to prevent it... Why do u all hate DRM? ask yoursself that question.. It is annoying, doesnt prevent anything, help piracy more, blablabla all those reasons, think of it from a dev's point of view.. what can they do? THey need enough money to keep going... and if they dont get enough money, well then can will eventually have to stop making games, and this is happening right now, because of piracy.. And then they have to go to lengths they even dont want to... DRM, game developers doesnt like to put on their games, because they now what u feel about it, but they have no choice.... Last thing, I HIGHLY recommend you to read this article, yes its long, perhaps u dont have time, but seriously... read this... Before I read it, I was a DRM-hater just like u guys... http://tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html It changes everything.
Less than 3% of revenues came through retail sales? Wow, I never figured the number would be that low.
I don't blame him for being upset, i would be. Didn't around 90% of WOGs experiences come from illegal downloads? If it was really that high, then it surely it is a case to support against DRM.
DRM is usually cracked the first day. I recall it being cracked on Spore before the game was even officially released. It doesn't stop widespread piracy for even a day most of the time
This guy knows what he is talking about. He Sounds like a developer who also actually plays games for fun. He doesn't sound like an executive sitting in his $7 million penthouse making decisions that make no sense.
@volcomstoner180 - I would have to say WoG is my 2nd favorite DL game of 2008 :) Braid takes first. But I'm glad to see the statement of the facts... DRM does nothing but annoy real customers. Also the fact the two major ways to get this game, DL Wiiware, DL PC is probably the reason they saw 97% via DL services. It also helps that the game was great. I doubt people putting out shovelware would see DL sales like WoG or Braid have seen though, thus they have to go with publishers.
Your'e forgetting why DRM was made in the first place... DRM isnt there to keep there from being a crack ever... Thats impossible game developers know that, DRM-makers know that for gods sake! No, DRM is there to prevent day-1 or day-0 piracy, by that im meaning that there isnt a crack on the internet in the first couple of weeks... Then the DRM has done its job... So im not saying get rid of all DRM, only get rid of that kind of DRM that fx stops you from installing more than 3 times, thats just stupid.. DRM isnt stupid... Dont forget the reason it was put out there.. Piracy
Now THAT's a developer who knows what he's talking about. Ye, we all loved WoG but the important thing here is getting rid of DRM that hurts paying customers more than the people who download pirated games!
I was the production associate for this game. I think Ron is a really cool guy. It broke my heart when I heard that the game had a 90% piracy rating. Pirating games, software, music, etc is one thing, but stealing from indies is downright despicable.
Yay! Go 2D boy, you tell 'em! Seriously though, these guys kick ass and I hope World of Goo made them rich.
These guys know gamers. Why hit legal gamers with malware DRM, when pirates do get a better experience because they ripped it.
I bought World of Goo, and Audiosurf. Both great indie games that get it right. We don't need DRM to enjoy our PC games. Now, if only some of the other companies (hint, EA, Take Two) would actually listen to us and ditch DRM once and for all. And yes, I know Audiosurf is a Steam Based game, but at least it doesn't restrict on how many times you can install and play it...