To DRM or not to DRM, that is the question. (For the uninitiated, DRM stands for digital rights management, and it is a means publishers use to restrict users from making unlicensed copies of software and other digital media--in essence, it is copy protection.) On the one hand, DRM limits the ability of casual users from making copies of media and then giving the copy to someone else. On the other hand, many DRM implementations impact the ability to easily access the media and sometimes even cause the media to be inaccessible--so that while publishers attempt to protect their intellectual property from pirates, they wind up biting the hand that feeds them: paying customers.
Ubisoft, a game publisher that has long used DRM in its game titles, is taking a different approach with the retail version of its latest PC game release, Prince of Persia (2008). The retail version of Prince of Persia for the PC doesn't contain any DRM. This means that users should not run into any of the usual headaches that they often run into when DRM doesn't play nice with other apps or system settings, or cause the game to stop working altogether as happened with Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 earlier this year. While the retail version is DRM-free, the same cannot be said for the console versions or downloadable versions of game (such as from Steam).
UbiRazz, a "Community Developer
" on Ubisoft's Prince of Persia forum
shed a little more light on this (bit-tech.net has identified UbiRazz as Ubisoft employee Chris Eaton):"You're right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games. A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as PoP PC has no DRM we'll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine.
Console piracy is something else entirely and I'm sure we'll see more steps in future to try to combat that."
For years, gamers have claimed that they circumvent DRM in order to bypass the installation, setup, and game-playing headaches that come with DRM. They also claim that they have the right to make archival backups of the game as well. EA's Spore received especially dire backlash of its use of SecuROM DRM, which even resulted in a lawsuit
against EA. In fact, Spore turns out to be the most pirated PC game of 2008
HotHardware member bob_on_the_cob
reflected a typical gamer response to DRM when he posted this comment to HotHardware's forums
in response to our news post about Spore being the most pirated PC game of 2008:"Just goes to show that DRM only hurts honest people, well in some cases the developers. I have no doubt that they would sell more games without the DRM."
The idea that removing DRM will actually reduce pirating is one that has been bandied around for a while. Perhaps the first real test of this concept is now out in the hands of users: Prince of Persia. But based on Eaton's comments--"we'll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine
"--he doesn't seem to think removing DRM will stop people from pirating.