Why DRM Sucks, According to Magicka Developer Paradox

"It can punish players who actually bought the game," Paradox Interactive CEO says.

The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red and Assassin's Creed studio Ubisoft aren't the only companies that think DRM is a waste of time for PC games. Speaking with GameSpot, Magicka and Hearts of Iron developer Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester outlined why he thinks DRM can be such a headache and provided some steps that he thinks will convince people to buy legal copies of Paradox games.

"It can punish players who actually bought the game," Wester said about DRM. "I remember buying Civilization III, and I couldn't install it because I had something else installed. I had to uninstall two different programs, change settings...it was a hassle."

"I have no idea how many of our games are pirated. We don't really have any intention of finding out or hunting these people" -- Fredrik Wester

"If I had pirated it from anywhere, I would have gotten it much faster, more convenient," Wester added. "So we don't want to put barriers on convenience for the gamers. It should be more convenient, you should get more content, it should be easier for you to install if you buy the legal copy."

How do you stop people from pirating your games, then, I asked Wester. "Well, we don't," Wester said with a laugh. Instead of hunting pirates down, Wester says Paradox is focusing on providing a better gameplay experience overall. This, Wester says, will encourage people to buy legal copies.

"I have no idea how many of our games are pirated," he said. "We don't really have any intention of finding out or hunting these people. What we want to do is provide people who bought the game legally a better service. With frequent updates; good and convenient services; that's how we fight piracy. I hope it works. I keep my fingers crossed."

Wester also pointed out that Paradox is a "highly profitable" company already, so launching an anti-piracy campaign at this juncture doesn't make a lot of sense.

For more on Wester's thoughts about the video game industry, be sure to read the first part of our interview, which ran yesterday. In that piece, Wester talks about how the industry has changed since Paradox was formed a decade ago, including his thoughts on women in video games.

Paradox is currently working on Hearts of Iron IV, Magicka 2, and Runemaster. Magicka 2 was announced at E3 during Sony's press conference. However, Paradox has signed only a timed-exclusive deal with Sony for the game, so it's possible it could come to other platforms later.

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.

Want the latest news about Magicka 2?

Magicka 2

Magicka 2

Follow

Discussion

269 comments
PeacemakerEAF
PeacemakerEAF

You people are brainwashed and have had your freedom as adults taken away by Authority (the likes of Steam). Steam should be got rid of. If you all spent at least a minute to think what it does and the real cost of what is happening to you as an adult and your freedom, you'd rebel against it like America rebelled against 17th century England.

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

......This isn't Bloodborne footage.

pidow
pidow

Its already been said.

UmaSama
UmaSama

You can't tell me you're against DRM when last year you switched ALL your new releases to be STEAM ONLY, while also changing the DRM Free version of CK2 to be Steam only as well...

mallen9595
mallen9595

Ah, so there's the root of it all: Your heart and mind can be bought for the low, low price of a cheap Steam sale. Yep, that about says it all: People are stupid and easily purchased.

mallen9595
mallen9595

Steam and DRM prove that some people are too stupid to handle computers. I find it rather funny that these morons get milked.

grenadehh
grenadehh

As someone who's spent the last month without usable internet, my Steam is utterly useless now. I finally managed overnight last night to steal wireless from across the street and update Steam - because once I connected to the internet it broke my Steam and I couldn't even use offline mode. Aside from that, you literally can't play any of your games from Steam without going through Steam first - except for a few like Game Dev Tycoon or a couple things through GFWL like Dark Souls. Steam hijacks the bejesus out of your games. I'm a Steam supporter and user for 11 years but still, I'm seriously considering using GOG only from now on because of the past 3 days.


So, good for you Paradox, just say no to DRM.

grenadehh
grenadehh

Hop on board that "common sense" train along with CDPR (Yes I hate CDPR but I don't deny their pro-player behavior).

sakaixx
sakaixx

I buy paradox games, especially the europa universalis games, that game is complex but still awesome.

blackothh
blackothh

I only have bad memories of DRM

Penguinlord1
Penguinlord1

Eh, I don't mind DRM if it is something like Steam. Non-invasive, lots of benefits due to the digital store, 99% of your games can be played in offline mode, and so on. Bad examples of DRM are shit sandwiches such as U-Play, complete garbage in my opinion.

rarson
rarson

This guy is absolutely correct. It seems there are a few developers out there that understand this issue. What wasn't explicitly mentioned in the article was the added cost that DRM creates. It costs a lot of money to fight a fruitless war against piracy. The reason that so many publishers are willing to spend it is because it's easier than just making better games.


I feel pretty strongly that convenience plays a huge role in attracting software piracy, and that the key to encouraging legal purchases is to make buying the game more convenient than pirating. I also feel strongly that most gamers who truly enjoy a game and have the money to pay for it will do so eventually whether they initially pirated it or not. After all, the only way to support good developers and encourage them to continue making the games you like is to buy them.


Steam pretty much nailed the convenience factor for me. I stopped pirating games once I started using Steam. In the past, I had to pirate games that I legally bought because of DRM that prevented me from easily playing them. Now I can just download them directly from Valve with the click of my mouse.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

We all know why it sucks.  We don't need dev after dev saying what we already know.  Just don't include anything beyond what Steam already does.  Done.  Easy.

dpclark
dpclark

Make a game which gives players a choice to get it on Steam or pay more without Steam.  I'd pay more every time.  When Valve brags about how many people use Steam it is because they HAVE NO CHOICE!  I don't give a rip about what advantages people say Steam offers.  I don't want to make Gabe Newell rich by having to ask him permission to play a game I own.

phbz
phbz

The most funny part of any DRM article is reading on the comments how the vast majority of gamers don't know they've been playing games with some form of DRM since... forever. 

nintendians
nintendians

tell that to micro$oft before they went back on their drm policy for the xbone.

highpitcairn
highpitcairn

You can Blame DRM, But you can't blame Steam. Because steam put advantage on their games, and that is the cheap price.

WolfgarTheQuiet
WolfgarTheQuiet

Withe gaming industry growing each year, how exactly is piracy hurting, mainly big publishers. Second i use torrent to try games before i buy them and its most PC gamers dirty secret if you mention it on Steam. Problem is data collected sees it as piracy.


I pirated Hitman and Assetto Cors to try them, after that i bought them on Steam. Hey no way im spending hard earned cash without tasting first since 2006. Cmon to many unfibished games with DLC that was supposed to be included with the game in the first place, like back in PS2 days and before.

Derpalon
Derpalon

I don't like Ubisoft being lumped in with CDPR like they're the same. The difference between CDPR and Ubisoft is that CDPR actually puts their money where their mouth is instead of professing to be anti-DRM while still implementing it in practice. Get rid of mandatory Uplay with your games and then you can talk, Ubisoft.

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

DRM is a violation of human and consumer rights, the International Trade Commission has been trying to turn DRM, DLC  and Region Lockout into crimes, they have yet to be able to do so, once they do this nightmare will have to stop.

ItsTheSasquatch
ItsTheSasquatch

You need to fix that first sentence, there. Mentioning CDProject and Ubisoft in the same sentence? Seriously? Ubisoft is the ****ing king of consumer-hostile DRM. Even the article you've linked to says they want to cram their games full of internet-connected nonsense "features" that are just DRM in (offensively transparent) disguise.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

I bet at some point the publishers won't even release the game at all.  Buying a game will just be access to the server it's permanently installed on.  I'm sure the thieves will start counterfeiting access codes, lol.

Shilleto
Shilleto

thats why they have magicka on steam lol


steam is drm

highpitcairn
highpitcairn

This Is what happen when you take piracy too Far


"Life is Full of Pain"

Leria
Leria

People pointed this out a long time ago. DRM (Digital Restrictions Mechanisms) only punish law-abiding customers who have their bought disc get hosed through whatever means.

It's one of the reasons why I have refused to buy ANY consoles since the Original XBox.

Anamon
Anamon

@rarson He made that point more clearly in an interview with Gamespy just two and a half years prior:
http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/magicka/1216907p1.html
Too bad that while he's talking sense, his company is acting in the exact opposite way. Paradox games are DRM-infested through and through.

You're right about people being willing to pay for good games, and the way to increase sales being to create a better product. Because you won't make any money, or cut imaginary losses, with fighting pirates. The reason is simply that there are two types of people pirating games: those who cannot afford the original, so no lost sale there; and those who don't *want* to pay for the game -- they've already made their decision and you're not going to change their mind, they woulnd't pay for it if it was $1. If they can't get the game for free, they'll skip it or just find another one. Whether it's moral that these people still get to play the games other people pay for, is a different question. The fact remains that with DRM, you're throwing money at people who never intended to, and never will, pay money for your product.

It's also easy to find examples that demonstrate how hurtful DRM is to legitimate customers. My favourite one is MATLAB, which all students at my university can get the full version of, with all toolboxes, for free. Well, almost "get". Because you have to be connected to a licensing server if you want to use it. Which is, of course, unstable, unreliable, not always accessible if you want to work (e.g. in the train) and incredibly customer-unfriendly -- if you lose contact to it for any reason, you get a few minutes to save your work before the program is killed. The result is that most students just torrent the damn thing. If people prefer the pirate copy to the legal copy *even if they could get the legal copy for free*, that's a clear sign that you have a problem. Because apparently, the free pirate copy is of much higher quality than the one you're asking people to pay for.

keech
keech

@highpitcairn Not only that but you can still play the majority of games on Steam offline.  I've not once ever been inconvenienced by Steam while trying to play my games.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Derpalon Ubisoft is about as Pro DRM as they come.  Until Uplay is abolished they're just as bad as EA.

Jasper_73
Jasper_73

@Sohereiam For the past few years now I have been saying that the industry is in serious need of some kind of regulation. Publishers and console manufacturers have had it to much there own way. which has been unfair for devs and gamers alike. Consumers gave microsoft a bit of a bloody nose when they tried to push too far with the XB1. But its not enough.

rarson
rarson

@Shilleto 

Steam is not just DRM though, it's also a digital store.

Daian
Daian

@Shilleto yeah but it's the easiest and most convenient one which just helps you keep all your games into one library. If it didn't have offline mode then it would be hassle.

maitkarro
maitkarro

@Shilleto Yeah, but the idea here seems to be only that, that it sucks to waste time to make it, as it doesn't work and it only hurts the customers. Otherwise there would be no merit in what Ubisoft just said, for CD Project well they saw what happened the first time a DRM was used by Ubisoft. Also Magicka being on steam isn't Magickas fault, that's steam business of having people not f#&king around with the games. If you want 0 DRM just buy from GOG. Also you can't whine about steams DRM, because it doesn't hinder you playing it offline, they even added family sharing (not family view, that's meant for if you're logged on) where you can have your library shared with 5 other accounts(can be done if you log in their computer and authorize their computer and then activate their account to be able to access your library, later you can disable and maybe enable from your computer), should be now available as the newest steam beta became a stable version or maybe it's only available to steam beta.

maitkarro
maitkarro

@highpitcairn Piracy is the same. The only thing that has changed for worse is the DRM, but it has eased a little bit, but mostly because of online features (cleverly hidden DRM by being part of the game itself, Heroes VI suffers mostly from it if you're offline).

grenadehh
grenadehh

@imgpty But but max profit, guy. You mean you are happy making profit, and not AS MUCH PROFIT AS POSSIBLE EVAR!?

rarson
rarson

@Anamon 

The licensing server thing is a great example of how DRM hurts legitimate customers. When I bought Assassin's Creed II on Steam, I noticed the game freezing every time I achieved something. As it turned out, the game was trying to contact DRM servers that no longer exist. Thank you, Ubisoft, for crippling your game with DRM and then not even supporting it anymore, leaving a massive flaw in your game for anyone that wants to play it a few years down the road (it's avoidable by simply disabling your internet connection, but it's stupid that I have to do that just to play this game the way that it's supposed to work).

Your MATLAB example is exactly what I'm talking about: DRM makes it easier to pirate something than to use what you legally paid for, because pirated software doesn't have the DRM.

dpclark
dpclark

@blackothh @dpclark 

Cool.  Choice is better for everyone.

dpclark
dpclark

@Thanatos2k @dpclark 

You have to have a Steam account and have to go online before playing offline.  People on the Steam forum complain about this.  It is DRM all the way.

Anamon
Anamon

@keech @highpitcairn As long as you activated the game on that system once before, while still online! Which means that one of the main reasons to be against DRM with zero tolerance remains: the lifetime of the games you bought is tied to the lifetime of the service you bought them at. Or the willingness of the provider to keep letting you access them.

Remember Reflexive Arcade? It was "only" a casual games store. But the owners decided to close it (despite it being assumed to have done well financially). People lost their entire game collections with 6 months notice. Some people spent hundreds of dollars on games that they will never be able to play again, or will have to repurchase on another site.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@maitkarro Yes it does. It absolutely does. Please see my comment above for further details. Especially if you spend an extended amount of time offline, some of your games will invalidate and start searching for updates,. and will not work until updated, even if there isn't one - like Total War games.


I suggest you actually try using it Offline before saying that it works, because it doesn't. It never has worked very well and there are always exceptions, to this day.

Shilleto
Shilleto

@maitkarro that family sharing don't even work 99% of the time steam library will not even show on other pcs