GAMING BLEND

Ubisoft Considering Ditching DRM, But Not Anytime Soon

By William Usher 2012-03-24 23:33:21 discussion comments
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Marcus "Notch" Persson recently stated that piracy is a non-factor for his development company Mojang. The proof is in the pudding and the company racked up more than $80 million from MineCraft -- a game designed on a shoe-string budget -- according to the Financial Times.

Despite the success story of Mojang's MineCraft, Ubisoft isn't entirely convinced to give up on DRM just yet. The company, however, is considering some leeway given that they've finally realized that the only people benefiting from DRM are pirates.

Ubisoft's digital content director, Chris Early, commented to EuroGamer about their DRM practices, saying...
The question is, with enough on-going content development, content release, engagement at the community level, can we create that kind of MMO value system?"..."I think we can. As the rest of the game industry continues to evolve, the more you hear about cloud gaming, the more you hear about companion gaming, the less a pirated game should work in all of that environment. So, therefore the value of that pirated content becomes less.

"Will some people still pirate? Yeah, they will. Will the person who really wants that broad experience pirate? We hope not."

The mobile companion apps seem to be popular with a lot of casual fans, as proven with Mass Effect 3. The MMO system is an interesting parallel, however, because Ubisoft is already dabbling in the microtransaction sphere with the ManiaPlanet portal. We've also seen companies like EA, Activision and Capcom dive into the microtransaction sphere with full-priced retail games, meaning that even if you pirate the game you still don't own all of the content until you buy some of the extra downloadable (or disc-locked) content. It's a viable means to profit from potential pirates but it certainly doesn't absolve the issue of making consumers feel like they're getting less by paying more.

Early went on to make a very odd comment, saying...
"Is it fair for someone to enjoy our content without us receiving some value for that? I think at the core of that is, no," ... "Otherwise, other than works of charity, there would be few games made. The balance, however, is, how do we do anything about that and not harm the person who is giving us value for that?

Ubisoft is one of the leading multiplatform publishers in the world right now. They made more than $865 million in the third quarter alone of 2011, and Assassin's Creed: Revelations managed to shift more than 7 million SKUs, according to the Video Game Blog. So what on Earth is Early talking about receiving value for content? I'm here to tell everyone, Ubisoft has been paid. Believe it. The numbers don't lie and what the numbers are saying is that piracy is a non-factor.

Anyways, Early closes out his comments to EuroGamer saying...
"That's been the delicate balance that the industry has walked over time. It continues to be one that we grapple with as an industry. How do we create content and receive good value for that, and at the same time, not inconvenience the player who has given us value there?

"There have been different approaches from different publishers at times, some doing no DRM and just assuming it's the cost of doing business. Some are doing a very strict DRM. Some doing an on-going content revision. I don't think we have a single, good answer yet. The interesting thing will be, how do we create enough value that that need for DRM goes away?"

"As we continue to keep our player at the centre, we want to find ways that don't inconvenience that player who is paying for it,"..."We've had a variety of degrees of success as we wind our way down that path. Our plan, our hope is we stay on the less intrusive, less cumbersome side of that path as we go on."

Realistically, a game like Assassin's Creed III wouldn't even need DRM. Just make it good and make it fun and boom, instant-mega seller on all platforms.

Ubisoft is actually in the rare position where they make great titles with a lot of replay value and interesting gameplay elements, but they bog themselves down thinking that they have to fight the community and fight the pirates to protect their products. In reality, if they could just get away from having to use DRM to appease the shareholders and investors, they might find more friends in the PC community. However, until that day arrives, it'll be a constant battle between Ubisoft, honest consumers and pirates.

You can check out the full article over at EuroGamer.
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