Square Enix: DRM is a necessary part of doing business and it's here to stay

Senior manager at Final Fantasy studio discusses controversial anti-piracy measure, and stresses that such policies should not interfere with a player's ability to enjoy their games.

In a new interview with TorrentFreak, a Square Enix business manager explains that anti-piracy measures like digital rights management (DRM) systems are a necessary part of doing business and are not expected to go away anytime soon.

"The primary benefit [of DRM] to us is the same as with any business: profit," Square Enix senior manager of business and legal affairs Adam Sullivan said. "We have a well-known reputation for being very protective of our IPs, which does deter many would-be pirates. However, effectiveness is notoriously difficult to measure--in short, we rely on the data available to us through our sales team and various vendors, along with consumer feedback."

"The key to DRM is that it can't interfere with the customer's ability to play the game"

Many gamers have rallied against DRM, saying such measures negatively affect their experiences. The Witcher studio CD Projekt Red is one of the most vocal opponents of DRM and even operates its own DRM-free digital storefront called GOG. Sullivan explained that DRM must be employed in such a way that it does not have a detrimental impact on the player's experience.

"The key to DRM is that it can't interfere with the customer's ability to play the game," he said. "It's not uncommon for people to get a new computer every few years, or to have multiple computers. Sometimes they don't have reliable Internet connections. There's no perfect solution yet."

Though there has been considerable backlash to some DRM practices, Sullivan said he believes such anti-piracy measures are more than likely here to say. "This depends on your definition of DRM, but generally yes--I think DRM will be essential for the foreseeable future," he said.

Sullivan went on to say that some believed the rise in free-to-play would "be the death of DRM" because why would anyone try to crack a free game? But such attacks have taken place, and as a result, some model of DRM will be necessary in the future, he said.

"So long as we're concerned about things like data privacy, accounting sharing, and hacking, we'll need some form of DRM," Sullivan said.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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614 comments
TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

The best thing for gaming at this point would be for companies with attitudes like yours to GO OUT OF BUSINESS, and let gaming live and thrive again.


Imagine a world with no EA, Activision, Ubisoft, or Square-Enix.


It isn't hard to do.

phenomfawaz
phenomfawaz

Money. Money. And some MORE MONEY. That's all what they care about these days.

ExplicitMike
ExplicitMike

DRM is bullshit. I buy all my games on PC and consoles. Pirates aren't gonna pay for shit. DRM has only screw us in the past. You know legit users. Is this guy even aware that the reason Microsoft got so much flak is because DRM is stupid?

BigBadBanther
BigBadBanther

Maybe if this guy shut up Sony might not have sold all their shares in Square Enix. Sony showed their feeling toward DRM before the next gen launch.

luizferrarezzi
luizferrarezzi

like they did something good after final fantasy IX

teller76567
teller76567

Oh bs you just want to kill off the used game market so every one has to buy it brad new for "Profit" you said it your self don't bs and beat around the bush.

JRLennis
JRLennis

"We have a well-known reputation for being very protective of our IPs..."

Yes, and not in a good way.  You don't just go after pirates.  You go after your biggest fans who try to resurrect popular franchises you've stopped caring about.  Sorry, but it had to be said.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

"necessary part of doing business and are not expected to go away anytime soon."


Can someone tell these publishers that DRM DOESNT STOP PIRACY or deter anybody from pirating and STEAM wouldnt be successful, if no one on PC paid for games. Nor would GOG be successful. But obviously theres quite a large chunk of people that pay for games. Its why valve is successful. Its why COD is successful, its why Torchlight is successful. Its why every game is successful. Because theres a massive chunk of the market paying for games. Even if you like to think everyone on PC pirates everything. STALKER (not the biggest franchise, a popular 1 but not that big, still sold 4 million copies) which is more sales than MOST console games accept for the largest mass marketed sellers


Did you know there was piracy before the internet? It was just as big as it is now. You just didnt hear about it as much, because it was dodgy people on street corners with vans of fake cds in the backs of their trunks.


Before the internet when we were kids, we would just copy everything off each other. NO difference to people Dling it today on the internet.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

Square, a successful business must give us something special, something impossible to refuse. Do not shackle us with DRM, give us something beautiful.

MassDeparture1
MassDeparture1

Listen..... I want an update about FF15 asap, not this nonsense !

slickr
slickr

Every major study has shown that DRM reduces sales and hurts buying customers. There is NO correlation between sales and piracy, in fact in some cases increased piracy can lead to more sales.


So to claim that piracy is reducing sales is disingenuous and false and hiding the true fact of bad games, bad marketing or just low value games. 

pound-u
pound-u

It's only "necessary" to greedy fucks.

Xenro4
Xenro4

Whatever happens, I hope Square Enix continues making games. It seems like they're ready to learn from mistakes and with Nomura fronting the next 2 games, they're sure ready for a sweet comeback.

michyeosseo
michyeosseo

Wait, let me recapture what I just read:  "We like DRM because we're after your money. We don't know if it actually works to keep people from pirating our games, but you know... money! Despite all of your concerns regarding unstable internet connections and using multiple devices, we're still supporting DRM because money. But we cannot say this, so we'll say something about concerns over data privacy and hacking instead."


Come on SE, you could've at least TRIED to put some fluff around it.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

So... noble Steam was able to lure me ashore for cheap rum and p*ssy. Now these Square assholes seek to exact tarrifs for services I never knew I needed.
Before you know it I'll be driven back to sea where life was easy and carefree.

durpdurp1234
durpdurp1234

Square Enix behind the times and on the wrong side of an argument? You don't say!

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am out of touch. What DRM does SE use in its console games?

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

This is where the idea of "Online only" games comes from. Its a form of DRM.

lorider25
lorider25

But Square Enix, Are you here to stay?...Doesn't look like it!

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Whatever opinions that you, the reader has, do keep this in mind: put your money and time where your mouth is.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Also, many people here are acting pretty dumb.  DRM is not inherently evil.  Requiring you to keep your disk in a console while you play a game is a form of DRM, and I don't see many people crying about that.  CD Keys were DRM, few complaints there.


DRM that is fast, simple, and doesn't have a chance of failing and locking you out is perfectly fine.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Odd, CD Projekt Red hasn't gone out of business.


I guess it isn't necessary!

teller76567
teller76567

@nyran125tk  Well way back when i know that if you tried to copy a vhs tape it would work but their would be some kind of interference on the copy...that was their way of a past drm policy...but i was just a kid and i loved Bigfoot King of the Monster Trucks movie so much i didn't care if it was fuzzy a little bit...proves your point

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

@slickr  it definately affected my purchase of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory when it was released. Its affected me not wanting Diablo 3 because it was online only. Its affected me paying for a few games out there.


STEAM is the only DRM im ok with. I can go offline easy, without issues and its about as far as i want to go with DRM.


It also made me think twice about getting ACreed4 because of Uplay and every game that was on GFWL i literally thought a hundred times about before purchasing.

queupthudere
queupthudere

They just want to make sure they are getting paid. Nothing wrong with that.

RobDev
RobDev

@michyeosseo  you seem to be confusing DRM and microtransactions. Of course they are after your money, they are a business. To them DRM means more people have to BUY their game than torrent it (we know thats not really the case but whatever) so the fact that a company wants to invest their massive investment in what they believe is the best way is hardly a money grab as much as it is a you want it, then buy it.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

@spartanx169x  it also made me not buy Diablo 3 and simcity ..so ...yeah. Im not the only one either that didnt buy Diablo 3 because it was online only. Still havent, still wont until they have an offline mode.

lostn
lostn

@spartanx169x WoW has had unofficial servers for years now. That's an online only game that's been pirated. 

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@Thanatos2k Originally justified as a tool for anti-piracy, DRM is now a way for game company to control their game. The primary complaint against it is how it really does turn game from products into services, terminable at any time at the company's discretion.

On the other hand, there are also many people who don't care. Their interest in their games do not last beyond the expected service lifetime. For them DRM does offer additonal benefits. There is a small minority who actually believe they own their digital games like they do their physical games. I have nothing good to say about them. People in some jurisdictions may enjoys laws that bar arbitrary termination of digital ownership rights; I don't know.

lostn
lostn

@Thanatos2k That's not DRM. The data is stored on a physical disk. DRM refers to DIGITAL rights, not physical discs. i.e. the game is stored on your HDD alone. Most games that require online authentication (in other words DRM) do not require the disc in the drive.


Requiring the disc in the drive, but not requiring an online connection, is not DRM.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Thanatos2k

DRM is a hassle though - I prefer the hassles to just end after the purchase receipt has been forwarded.

slickr
slickr

@nyran125tk  Ups, couldn't edit my comment it turned out all wrong. What I mean to write was that there is no negative correlation between piracy and sales, as in piracy doesn't hurt sales, while DRM itself hurts sales, while piracy can actually even lead to more sales in certain cases,

slappy54
slappy54

@nyran125tk  


Steam has blocked my access numerous times. The Steam client is poorly designed and a pain in the ass, especially if you want to stay off line. So i deleted my account and went with GoG instead. Never looked back.

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

@lostn @spartanx169xDidn't say it wasn't possible. Just sayin.  Also I think its more related to consoles than PC.


As one example I made the mistake of purchasing COD Ghosts digitally thru XBL. The game is completely unplayable if I'm offline, yes the campaign is unplayable. Thats straight up DRM. No reason why I need to be online to play single player campaign. ITs my first and last COD game

shingui5
shingui5

@slappy54 @Thanatos2k  

Steam?

Though that isn't really perfect, but the vast majority of PC users accept that form of DRM. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@lostn @Thanatos2kFacepalm.

Data on a CD is digital, genius.  ALL computer data is digital.

lostn
lostn

@spartanx169x @lostn That sucks. If you buy the game on PSN, you can play single player no problem. Multiplayer requires an online connection obviously (unless you're playing split screen). 

lostn
lostn

@RobDev @lostn@Thanatos2k The data is digital, but the medium it is carried on is physical. Whether that is analog or digital makes no difference to the gamer. It's the medium itself.  

When this physical media is combined with a required online connection, that's what people are having an issue with. Not the fact that the data stored on the disc is digital as opposed to analog. I don't think anyone would care if the disc was analog. When we are talking about digital rights management, we aren't talking about whether the data is 1's and 0's or continuous. We are talking about whether we need to be online to play it. No one cares if they can't play the game without keeping the disc in the drive like Thanatos2k is implying. 

Now you're just splitting hairs on semantics.

lostn
lostn

@Thanatos2k If you want to go that path, even NES and N64 cartridges are digital, and therefore DRM protected. All games since the beginning of time are DRM'd. Anything that contains data on it is therefore considered digital, unless it uses cassette tapes.

But a definition of DRM like that doesn't serve much use now does it? 

What people complain about isn't requiring a disc in the drive (if this is what constitutes DRM to you, then you have a warped and thus useless definition of what DRM is -- we are not opposed to that). What they complain about is always online. And this is what Square is saying "is a necessary part of doing business and is here to stay." They are in no way referring to you needing to keep your disc in the drive. This is something everyone already expects and do not complain about.

lostn
lostn

@Thanatos2k @lostn@Gelugon_baatThey don't stop you from sharing your keys with friends.. which DRM does do. The purpose of DRM is so that you can't share, sell, or trade. Although Steam does give you some concessions toward that. 


As soon as you buy a game off Origin, only your account can access it. You can't give someone the key and have them play on their account. In the old days with CD keys, you absolutely could loan your disc and key out to friends.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@lostn @Thanatos2k@Gelugon_baat.....Wrong.  Completely wrong.  CD Keys are absolutely Digital Rights Management.  They prevent you from installing a game of which you do not have a key for, and keys are provided in purchased copies.

lostn
lostn

@Thanatos2k @Gelugon_baatCD Key is not a form of DRM. Unless the game has to be activated via online servers and tied to your account.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Thanatos2k

Versus 10 seconds which I could have used to start playing the game with? To me, yes.