GOG - Discusses DRM with AusGamers
GOG is interviewed by AusGamers on DRM and the sites goals for the future.
AusGamers: With the recent explosion in crowdfunding, we’ve seen many independent studios promising to publish DRM-free copies of their completed games, but all major publishers remain averse to even experimenting with selling their smaller budget new release games without copy protections. What do you think the main reasons for that are?
GOG.com: First and foremost, the reason for using copy-protection is "decision-making by spreadsheet." For some of the mentally lazy people in the industry, putting a tick in a "piracy protection" box is enough to help them sleep at night. DRM, of course, doesn't do anything to fight piracy, as it is the first thing to go when a pirated game is uploaded to a torrent site. The only people affected by the DRM are, unfortunately, the legal users who bought the game with their own money.
As to crowdfunding, it is actually an interesting way to combat piracy, because you are actually selling the game BEFORE it's possible to pirate it. It is another instance of the human relationship acting more effectively than any DRM to boost sales - whenever the creators have an ability to show their face and showcase the people and process behind game development, they become humans and not a faceless corporation. This makes convincing people to pre-order much easier.
AusGamers: It’s clearly absurd when rights holders directly attribute every unit pirated as a lost sale, but do you think some games are more at risk for potential revenue to be impacted by piracy than others, such as those with more casual-user appeal?
GOG.com: I don't think that distinguishing between casual gamers and hardcore gamers is helpful here; I think that people who have created something that is distinctive and different and have put the time into building a passionate community are more insulated against piracy than people who release shovelware. People are smart: when it looks like a developer didn't care about the game, then they tend not to either. Passion, engagement, craftsmanship - these are the things that put value into a game, and that value, in turn, is what sparks the gamers to invest their money into it.
AusGamers: Even with old classic games, I expect large publishers would be extremely reluctant to allow those to be sold without any copy protection. What is the general approach GOG takes when convincing publishers that making their game available in your store is in their best interest?
GOG.com: In business, the most convincing arguments come from hard numbers: when we started in 2008 with the Interplay catalog we had help from sister company from CDProjekt, who had been distributing games in Poland since the 90s, about the correlation between sales and DRM. The data supported our belief that DRM does not increase sales or limit piracy in any way. Along the years we have been able to gather more data on the subject specific to different types of games we have been releasing: classics, but also newer AAA titles and brand new indies.
Across all those game categories the numbers show how useless DRM is at everything it was supposed to achieve. So why penalize the gamers for no reason? More and more publishers are understanding our message and our data is enough to convince them to give it a try. However, some companies are just not ready to go DRM-free yet, even if they understand and agree with the numbers we provide. There is only so much we can do.