Good Old Games sounds anti-DRM clarion call

Head of DRM-free vintage PC game download portal rails against digital copy protection schemes, encourages publishers to abandon them.

Who was there: Guilllaume Rambourg, managing director of Good Old Games.

Rambourg said the DRM-free version of Witcher II sold four times the number of non-Steam digital purchases of the game combined.

What was said: At the London Games Conference today, Rambourg gave a five-minute talk on the reasons why selling content free from digital rights management is the future.

Bluntly addressing the publisher-heavy audience, he said, "Your customers hate DRM." DRM makes people feel safe but "doesn't protect your content." DRM, he said, would harm sales in the long run, citing a recent survey from Vigilant Defender finding 52 percent of consumers say DRM "actively discourages them from buying games."

Secondly, he said, "digital should be simple." This is what piracy collectively got right, he said. All a pirate needs to do is find a game, download it, and play it. Rambourg said with a DRM-enabled system, publishers introduce many more steps into the process for the consumer and punish loyal fans. "Protect your brands" and not short-term sales, he pleaded.

Finally, publishers need to make the offer right. Free goodies, customer love, and fair pricing are all important. Regional pricing is unfair to consumers, Rambourg said, and would put them off sticking with a publisher in the future. Building an open relationship with consumers will also help keep them loyal and happy.

He finished by using an example of The Witcher II, which Good Old Games sold alongside its more traditional offerings. While Steam took the lion's share of digital sales, the DRM-free offering sold approximately four times the combined sales of all other digital services combined.

Takeaway: Rambourg said DRM serves to make publishers feel secure but actually does the opposite. It alienates customers and drives them into the arms of pirates. It would be a better and more successful strategy to get rid of the DRM, keep things simple, and actually work with customers to offer them a better solution, he said.

Quote: "Your customers hate DRM, so stop working against them."

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Discussion

106 comments
OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

I wish more people in the industry would speak out against DRM like this. I can safely say that I have actively avoided games with always on DRM with the exception of starcraft II, since I played that online anyway. Even then, when I was having issues with my comcast internet, I couldn't properly access my single player game and I was quite pissed.

helldew
helldew

agreed ive pirated something i would have bought simply because i didnt feel like putting up with the stupid DRM. i later bought the game cause they took it away but it was also price dropped.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

okay, steam is really not bad DRM on a relative basis. Ubisoft is the worst with DRM. steam is absolutely not bad and it's a convenient service. the mind of a person who pirates is, a lot of the time, that people aren't losing money because there aren't physical "copies" being lost, which is beyond stupid because it discounts the entire software market entirely. the moral of the story is that people should maybe be a little bit nicer to the people whose games they want to play. legally purchase good games and don't illegally steal the bad ones. then, bad games won't get made and good ones will. people make these games not for fun, but to be paid. it's not fair to steal something they spend literally two years working on exclusively. think about it from your own perspective; would you want some dude stealing something you worked on for two years? if you had expected money for it? job security? if everyone is using your product but it generates zero revenue ever for you, is that really so fair?

deth420
deth420

yeah loving the new tes 5, hating this steam hook to play crap. shoulda got the pirated copy. funny this has been going on for years, punish the loyal customers with drm crap, and the piraters get it hassle free. remember spore.....

Rocker6
Rocker6

@alexLmx6 Well said,building relationships with consumers is indeed the most important thing,thats why I love CDP and Valve,few who truly understand how PC gaming works.

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

If game x sells 50,000 copies with DRM and is pirated 200,000 times, but sells 60,000 copies without DRM and is pirated 400,000 times, the publisher is better off without the DRM. All DRM does is kill sales and breed hatred of a publisher with no effect on piracy. There also seems to be this idea that everybody who pirates your game will buy your game if the game is unpirateable. Sorry for that mouthful, but that's just completely misguided thinking. Some people are always going to want to steal, that's just a cost of doing business in the real world. Publishers need to focus on building relationships with their customers, and sales will come.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

Someone from the Game industry that makes sense and doesn't insult the intelligence of his customers. That's nice to see.

deathstream
deathstream

@haedrianz The problem is that we CAN'T count on Blizzard to make it right. They are stubbornly insisting that they are right and anyone saying that they like playing Diablo offline is wrong. The game has terrible online lag problems, even when playing privately solo because of their DRM which is Draconian to anyone living in rural America, where fast broadband is rarely available. The only good news is that people with weak broadband can just skip "Crayola presents: Diablo 3" because it isn't impressive at all. Torchlight 2 will probably end up being the better game.

haedrianz
haedrianz

now i wonder how is piracy really hurting games ,,, seriously , games are not as pirated as movies or mp3 , yet all those industries still make money ... and what if piracy helped the game to sell? like creating a "hype" around it ? i wonder if there is any studies about that ? i guess i stand for an hybrid solution... @deathstream , i think we can count on blizzard to make things right ( i doubt the game will be online on itself , maybe they have the solution !? :P )

haedrianz
haedrianz

i dont know , he is right on the fact that no ones like DRM and he gives good ideas that should be done everywhere ... but in the same time taking: the witcher 2 as an exemple is too easy .... it's such a good game that with or without dlc free content or with or without drm , it would have sold big time anyway .... so i guess making good games is what's important ... and no , pirates cant hack everything , any multiplayer or internet related content is a mess for them , look at battle.net or battlefield 3 : well they are no hacked and are well sold ...

Arch-Stanton
Arch-Stanton

@megakick Ask yourself this question ?Are the corprates using DRM to screw high prices and stop 2nd sales from honest gamers or to stop pirates who seem to be able hack everything anyway ?

megakick
megakick

Stop buying bad games and stop buying games with DRM? Why don't you have internet? you live under a rock? You didn't think of a better idea try again. Yep pirates win and they ruined games for the honest people. Praise the Pirates! YEAH! Your still going to have to deal with DRM because it works. Freeloaders ruin everything, REAL!

Rocker6
Rocker6

@megakick Oh wait,you want a better idea than an DRM? Well,here's one.Don't include any intrusive DRM in your games,but at the same time,give ppl a reason to buy your game with stuff like some free DLC,etc,make ppl want to support your work.CDP did it with Witcher 2 on PC,and the sales are great,they're calling the game a big sucess.Stuff like short games with too little value,bad ports,and intrusive DRM is always negative,piracy encouraging stuff!

EvilTyger
EvilTyger

My first encounter with DRM was on Norton Anti-Virus. It wanted an online validation, and refused to accept it when I purchased it. My attempts to get aid online to fix the problem only resulted in demands I pay for the product again. Then I switched to McAfee and Malware Bytes. I've also had issues with playing X-Box games because it wants to check my DLC rights online, even on single player only games like Mass Effect.

Rocker6
Rocker6

@megakick So,what you said is,if I legally bought AC2 and can't play it because Internet is unavailible at the moment,I have nothing to worry about? In the end,only a pirate doesn't have to worry about any DRM.Piracy is a part of the industry,a negative part,but its still there.And hurting honest consumers with DRM because of it simply doesn't work.When we have an abominable DRM in place,a pirate is the only winner!

deathstream
deathstream

SecuRom made me a console gamer. :( Sad but true. Also true that the games that used it still ended up the most pirated games out there. Now Blizzard is one upping SecuRom by making Diablo 3 unplayable offline (single player lag- hooray!).

megakick
megakick

I don't see the people who say DRM is bad coming up with any better ideas? It is not all the publisher's fault it is the pirates fault as well. Stealing content is too easy but if the losses were small this would have never been an issue, the greedy got too greedy. DRM works. If you own it legally you have nothing to worry about. Freeloaders ruin everything, REAL! Thanks to them I have register my console games so I can play online. Thanks pirates, Gamestop and game resellers, thanks!

Nodashi
Nodashi

Man, FINALLY some members of the industry are coming to their senses. Now all he has to do is shoot some Ubisoft executives for using the worst DRM known to manking in all PC titles to make his point once and for all.

strayfies
strayfies

The only things I ever see with DRM are usually pirated in multitudes. DRM exclusively punishes the honest customer, while giving the pirates an excuse. It has prevented me from buying several games.

hombreg1
hombreg1

you know... your games wouldn't need to be pirated (plundered?) by... pirates... if they where freeware

Neosword
Neosword

Publishers need to realize that DRM doesn't prevent piracy (or it prevents such a small percentage of it as to be insignificant), but it irritates gamers to no end, some to the point of pirating a game that they would have otherwise purchased (I'm not saying this is right or wrong, simply stating that it's what people do). Without DRM (or a very minimalist DRM, at the very least), pirates would still be pirates, but existing and potential customers would both benefit greatly.

187umKILLAH
187umKILLAH

@Richardthe3rd You can lose a digital game if your playing it on a website and it gets hacked but I understand your point, the fact remains there are more advantages to having a physical game in your hand compared to a digital one that you never really own as you can't do whatever you want with it. As for trying to destroy a copy of Half-Life 2, blasphemy! You should be imprisoned for such hate crimes lol

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

@187umKILLAH You forgot a few things. You can't lose a digital game or have a digital game destroyed your environment. My copy of Half-Life 2, purchased in 2004, which I tried as hard as I could to destroy, is proof of this.

187umKILLAH
187umKILLAH

Digital games will ALWAYS be inferior to physical games, you can't sell a digital game, you can't lend a digital game to a friend and if the website is hacked or your console breaks down you may no longer have the game at all !

Roger_Smith
Roger_Smith

This. More of this please. This is going to save gaming.

Darkman2007
Darkman2007

that guy speaks the truth , There are times when I feel discouraged to buy a game , especially if the DRM requires some sort of online activation (which means in theory that in one point, I won't be able to play the game again)

Jinzo_111887
Jinzo_111887

This sounds like it could also apply to online passes and single player lockout.

bignick217
bignick217

Completely agree. Us gamers have been screaming this for years. Hey Ubisoft! TAKE NOTES!!!

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

pirates are gonna get games regardless. DRM is like gun control. It won't stop the pirates, it will only screw legitimate gamers, thus leading to MORE piracy

starduke
starduke

Gotta love GOG.com! I hope those pubs will listen, but they probably won't. They're all greedy blighters.

Adenosine
Adenosine

This guy knows what customers actually think. For example, even a single player game like Batman Arkham Asylum needs to be played with a net connection, otherwise it wouldn't save correctly or wouldn't work at all. These days, DRM needs you to be online even for non-multiplayer games, which means if you don't have an internet connection, you're screwed. DRM introduces so many factors to consider before you could even hit the start button of a game. How stable is your internet connection? Do you have software that might be in conflict with the DRM? Should you disable your anti-virus because it keeps quarantining the DRM thinking it's malicious (hilariously ironic)? There have also been cases in the past when DRM caused the game to stutter for bizarre reasons, while the pirated versions ran smooth. Pirated versions of games simply strip away the need for being constantly online to play that single player game as well as take away any negative effects of those DRMs. The issue is not about customers feeling like criminals whenever they play a game, it's about customers having to go through all sorts of hoops and requirements just to play the simplest single player game! This is why you'll usually hear people saying "I would've bought this game but I don't know how to remove the DRM myself so I'll just pirate it for simplicity's sake!".

chronocommander
chronocommander

Very good point, I actually preferably buy from GoG exactly because their games are DRM-free and they not only offer great prices and regular promos but also interesting extras with an active community. Other than steam (which I'd prefer DRM-free as well), there's just not enough offerings like these.

AdderD
AdderD

Good old good old games, proving what's right!

Agelu
Agelu

I still remember when I first found out about GOG, back when it launched. I thought it was too good to be true, that people would get games pirated anyway, and that GOG would close soon. I was wrong. It grew and thrived in spectacular fashion. Its service was truly something else compared to the rest.

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

Love this article. I refuse to buy anything with Ubisoft involvement. Sucks because I (used to) love assassin's creed... But anymore I feel like a villan for buying games fom them. If I feel another company starts to go the same way, I'll avoid them too. I do keep watch on Ubisoft DRM news hoping they realize their consumers are being hurt while hackers can actually enjoy the games. *psst* hackers...go for Ubisoft please, just do me this one!

jamyskis
jamyskis

Good ol' GOG. If ever there's a title on Steam and GOG, I will always give preference to GOG and I wouldn't ever pay more than €5 for a game on Steam. Steam's customer support is damned awful, the Steam fanboys on the forums are annoying, and Steam's DRM is glitchy at best (and if anyone comes at me with the malfunctional "offline mode", I will scream) Sure, I bought Skyrim recently for PC (on DVD) because I wanted to show my girlfriend a little consideration (our PS3 is connected to our TV, and she loves her shows) but since 2008, when publishers began to become obsessed with DRM, I've very rarely bought a full price title for PC. The last one before Skyrim was GTA 4 when it first came out. Other than that, I tend to focus more on my PS3 these days. Thank you EA, Ubisoft et al. for putting me off PC gaming. I hope GOG manages to achieve their goals.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

I love Good Old Games. It's SIMPLE. Buy a game, install, play, and I feel happy about helping developers and publishers. Steam's good too. But then we hear about companies like Ubisoft stuffing hot sauce down consumers necks and I thank God I'm not a fan of Assassins Creed and the like.

xbeanx3000
xbeanx3000

I dislike Steam/Valve mostly because of their cold customer service and sometimes their replies don't even relate to the original question. Also, when they mis-sell something their attitude is "so what?". I have no loyalty to them and can imagine some people being pushed into the arms of salty sea dogs.

s4dn3s5
s4dn3s5

Steam is probably the only kind of DRM I'm fine with. I don't support GfWL, Origin, Securom, Tagès/Solidshield and Ubisoft abysmal crap. Still, there's plenty of great games to play on PC.

mpeg3s
mpeg3s

I don't buy PC games anymore too much Bloatware, Spyware, and Server requirements. The Corps are pushing Consoles, but piracy remains on all devices. DRM is a STAIN to products!

Arch-Stanton
Arch-Stanton

@Avenger1324 The corporates only worship the dollar, if they make money with DRM, region locks, online connection etc that's what we'l get.Only a big drop in the profits will make them take notice. PS- Buy Skyrim from Green Man Gaming half the price of Steam.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

Lets hope more publishers start paying attention to points of view like this. We don't want online activations or worse still always online connections to play single player games, or lifetime limited max no. of installs. As Rambourg says, all we want is to buy, install, play. I just wish the buy part was enough to be treated as a customer, rather than treated as a pirate.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

Thank god someone on the other side bashing DRM. I hope it goes away.

FGMPR
FGMPR

Vambran Posted Nov 11, 2011 12:16 am GMT "I agree DRM does not work. They are going to have to make all PC games Online only or Free to play. Nothing else will stop the pirates. The days of offline single player PC games are coming to an end. I give it 5 years tops." ------------------------------------------------------------------- 210,000 people are currently playing Skyrim right now on Steam. That's a single player game, and that's THREE times the amount of PC gamers playing Modern Warfare 3, again, right at this moment. Not only that, but that figure is still rising and is already more than twice as many gamers on a single game I have ever seen since Steam started recording stats. This is a game that's already been cracked, by the way. What does that say about "stopping the pirates"? To me, it says piracy will always exist, yet if you make a great game, plenty of people will buy it regardless, which is what is happening right now with Skyrim on PC.

kamber87
kamber87

Well, if publishers say the PC gaming is dead, it's because they made it that way. DRM only hurts PC game sales, and punishes people who actually buy the game. People who download a pirated copy don't have to worry about DRM anyway. A fact about piracy that publishers can't seem to understand is if someone plans to buy a game to play it, but instead downloads a pirated copy (whatever the reason - could be DRM as well), then you can count that as a loss. But if that someone didn't plan on buying the game in the first place, then no loss there. Nobody is talking about piracy on consoles (like that doesn't exist). And not to mention second hand game sales. Well, got to be honest here, PC games actually cost considerably less than their console counterparts.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

With the way the economy is going I don't think we'll have to worry about the gaming future since there won't be any. At least in the U.S.