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.
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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