GDC 2009: World of Goo creators slime DRM

2D Boy's Ron Carmel says digital-rights management a "waste of time"; suggests indies forgo publisher relationships.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Digital-rights management remains a touchy topic for both gamers and game makers, with some antipiracy measures even ending up in legal kerfuffles. But Ron Carmel, whose indie game company 2D Boy was responsible for last year's puzzle hit World of Goo, has a simple solution: ditch DRM completely.

You don't need DRM to stay afloat, Carmel says.
You don't need DRM to stay afloat, Carmel says.

Carmel, speaking at this year's Game Developers Conference, says implementing DRM is pointless, particularly for cash-strapped indie developers. "Don't bother with DRM--it's a waste of time. You just end up giving the DRM provider money. Anything that is of interest gets cracked, and the cracked version ends up having a better user experience than the legit version because you don't have to input in some 32-character serial number," he said.

"Anybody who wants the game is likely to find it on BitTorrent sites. It's going to get cracked even with DRM, it's going to be available very quickly, so we don't see the point in having DRM. Piracy rates have been released before, and there's no difference between World of Goo and other games."

Carmel, whose talk outlined the business decisions made with World of Goo, had another major piece of advice for other indies: don't get involved with publishers. Carmel says the revenue from World of Goo came overwhelmingly from digital distribution, with retail sales accounting for less than three percent of total sales.

"Retail distribution--which is what publishers are good at--doesn't generate many sales for indie games. Go with digital distribution--you won't need a publisher for this. Self-fund your game--and when you get to retail, go for per-country flat-fee deals."

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