Draconian Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions have been in the news a bit lately, thanks in large-part to publisher Ubisoft's unpopular decision to forge ahead with persistent online checks for the PC versions of some of their new release games. However, not many developers have publicly weighed in to the debate -- understandably not wanting to upset the publishers that bankroll their products.
In a recent interview with EDGE
, Christofer Sundberg founder of Avalanche Studios -- the independent studio that brought us Just Cause -- shares his thoughts on the matter and they're refreshingly on the side of good.
"If a DRM system constantly needs to be defended, something must be wrong," he tells us. "As a developer you will never win over any fans if you constantly let everyone know how much it costs to develop a game and how much money you lose.
"I don't like always-on DRM solutions at all, since they offer nothing to the consumer. If you continuously give something extra for registering and being online, and award them for actually paying for and playing your game, it'd be different, but always-on DRM only says: 'Thank you for buying our game, we trust you as far as we can throw you."
Not deying the realities of lost income from piracy, he offers a more pragmatic solution:
"My solution to the problem is to start designing games for the PC player, and award PC players for being part of the community of your game and for staying connected to you - not forcing them," he says, pointing to the likes of Europa Universalis, the strategy series which has succeeded in large part by fostering a deep connection with its community. "If you continuously tell the player that you care about their opinions, and appreciate their investment, you will lower the amount of bootleg copies."
Unfortunately, he reluctantly admits that regardless of the developers wishes, it's the publishers that will always call the shots.
"We don't have much choice, as the publisher owns the IP," he says, "but I can assure you we would go down screaming before anything like this ends up in any Avalanche game.
"I would have a hard time explaining to my team why we would have to implement it…there is certainly a studio-wide opinion that DRM is a threat to the entertaining experience we want our players to have."
Avalanche Studios is currently working on Renegade Ops, a download-only title due on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 14th.