DRM vs. DRM-Free?

DHazard

Villager
Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2013
Messages
21
Reaction score
0
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
So, I've been looking into this lately, and it looks like a lot of independent developers are opting to go for the DRM-Free option when they sell their titles. Sometimes it's jus that you get a DRM-Free copy regardless of the purchase price, and sometimes it's that you have to pay a little extra to get a DRM-Free copy.

My question is, do you think titles that are DRM-Free, or have a DRM-Free option sell better, or worse? There is of course the whole piracy issue, but seeing as how a lot of indie devs are doing this now, I can only wonder why they're all opting for DRM-Free releases.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Zalerinian

Jack of all Errors
Veteran
Joined
Dec 17, 2012
Messages
4,695
Reaction score
930
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
The way I'm doing DRM is really just to try to sell it on Desura. That's literally my plan. I'm hoping they have something like steam where you have to launch it form your client and that will check if you own it. That also opens the game up to a much wider market. It isn't fool proof, but it's better than anything I can do myself. DRM takes time to program if you don't want to pay for DRM software, which I would imagine most Indie devs wouldn't want to do.

But honestly, the odds are that piracy is going to happen. The best you can do is make it harder, but I have yet to see anyone make it impossible.
 

DHazard

Villager
Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2013
Messages
21
Reaction score
0
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
That's about what I expected, I also assumed that's why a lot of people were opting for demos instead of going the DRM route.

I've never actually heard of Desura. Is that some sort of games portal like Steam?

*Edit: I suppose a simple google could have answered that question.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Shaz

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Messages
39,675
Reaction score
13,298
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I would not go DRM free. If someone doesn't have to pay for it, chances are, they won't. And they don't have to pay for it if a friend already has and they don't mind sharing with each other (which is the case a lot more often than you'd like).
 

Chrome

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
835
Reaction score
30
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I would go DRM Free, DRM does not prevent anything, it just makes things a little harder. Once its cracked then its basically DRM Free but you still have pay all the fees and stuff.
 

DHazard

Villager
Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2013
Messages
21
Reaction score
0
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I would not go DRM free. If someone doesn't have to pay for it, chances are, they won't. And they don't have to pay for it if a friend already has and they don't mind sharing with each other (which is the case a lot more often than you'd like).
Understandable. However, do you think there's a logical explanation as to why indie game devs are opting for Non-DRM? I'll point to Shovel Knight as one, but there are a bunch more.
 

Shaz

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Messages
39,675
Reaction score
13,298
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Once its cracked then its basically DRM Free but you still have pay all the fees and stuff.
What "fees and stuff"? Yes, you might pay for a tool to add DRM (Software Passport is free atm though, so there's no fee), but it's a once-off thing forever, if you use the same tool for all your games, and I believe it prevents enough people sharing to make up for the small up-front expense.


No, I don't know why indie game devs are opting for non-DRM. Shovel Knight is looking for $75000 in their kickstarter project - if they achieve this goal, they will get that money BEFORE the game is released. If I was guaranteed $75000 before a game's release, I might rethink my DRM stance too. But as long as I need people to pay for my games to put food on my table, I will use DRM. No, it won't stop a game being pirated, but the majority of people who set out to pirate games (despite the "reasons" they might give) would not pay for them anyway, even if you omitted DRM.
 

seita

Donn_M
Veteran
Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Messages
2,255
Reaction score
612
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
In my opinion, piracy isn't a big deal for games that don't catch enough steam. The most that'll happen is maybe someone shares their copy with a friend. True you do lose a sale, but it won't be rampant piracy like it is for more widespread games.

This doesn't mean I want you to go DRM free though. If I had the means to use DRM I would, especially the generic stuff like a serial key. That is a very basic form of DRM that most people are familiar with, won't know how to circumvent, and those that do know probably won't care enough to circulate a DRM cracking tool for a game that isn't incredibly popular.

So~ DRM if you can, if you can't, you probably don't have much to worry about, unless your game gets batsh*t popular.
 

DHazard

Villager
Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2013
Messages
21
Reaction score
0
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
No, I don't know why indie game devs are opting for non-DRM. Shovel Knight is looking for $75000 in their kickstarter project - if they achieve this goal, they will get that money BEFORE the game is released. If I was guaranteed $75000 before a game's release, I might rethink my DRM stance too. But as long as I need people to pay for my games to put food on my table, I will use DRM. No, it won't stop a game being pirated, but the majority of people who set out to pirate games (despite the "reasons" they might give) would not pay for them anyway, even if you omitted DRM.
Indeed. Your explanation is further validated when you look at the fact that Shovel Knight's goal of 75,000 was shattered (300,000 or so.) 

Thanks for your input Shaz. 

In my opinion, piracy isn't a big deal for games that don't catch enough steam. The most that'll happen is maybe someone shares their copy with a friend. True you do lose a sale, but it won't be rampant piracy like it is for more widespread games.

This doesn't mean I want you to go DRM free though. If I had the means to use DRM I would, especially the generic stuff like a serial key. That is a very basic form of DRM that most people are familiar with, won't know how to circumvent, and those that do know probably won't care enough to circulate a DRM cracking tool for a game that isn't incredibly popular.

So~ DRM if you can, if you can't, you probably don't have much to worry about, unless your game gets batsh*t popular.
I guess that just about settles it. DRM it is. 

Thanks a lot for your input guys. 
 

Andar

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
30,411
Reaction score
7,229
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
There are pros and contras concerning DRM, but most of the contras only happen when the DRM gets extremely restrictive.

For small game development you can't even get near that restrictiveness (you'll need a dedicated DRM-server on the internet for starters).

And if you stay at the level of S/N and/or encrypted files, there should be no problem or disadvantage with DRM.
 

Tsukihime

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 30, 2012
Messages
8,422
Reaction score
3,424
First Language
English
I would go DRM Free, DRM does not prevent anything, it just makes things a little harder. Once its cracked then its basically DRM Free but you still have pay all the fees and stuff.
DRM is usually the little box that says "hey, you need to pay to use this" and some people actually do consider paying to use it. RM is DRM-protected, but do you think everyone uses the crack versions that are circulating everywhere?

In my opinion, piracy isn't a big deal for games that don't catch enough steam. The most that'll happen is maybe someone shares their copy with a friend. True you do lose a sale, but it won't be rampant piracy like it is for more widespread games.
I agree, it's always so hard to find a game that is just not popular. And then once you find it and you see that there's DRM, unless you can crack it yourself or know someone that's bored enough to do it for you, good luck cracking it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Everon

Villager
Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2013
Messages
6
Reaction score
7
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
You have to look at the motivations behind piracy:

  • No Money: If the customer doesn't have (enough) money, but want to play it (a good sign!), they will pirate it. So, maybe the price is too high.
  • No Credit Card/PayPal: If the customer wants to buy the game, but you only give him the option to pay over Credit Card, chances that you will exclude someone without a Credit Card exist. (Kids, for example.)
  • Trial: If the customer isn't sure about the game yet, they might want to play it for free first before buying it (e.g. demos, tons of video reviews, etc.). Sometimes they might even want to play the entire game before deciding: "It was worth it!"
  • Oblivion: Now, this might actually be kind of underrated, as it's not very conscious to us, but unless we have a physical copy in our hands, we may be more afraid to spend money on something that can get erased from the harddisk. (A DVD can get lost, too, just saying.) "Steam" does an excellent job by storing everything you require on their platform, no matter how bad at keeping your stuff organised and alive you are. Provide the customer with an easy way to quickly re-download the game.
  • Stingy: Some people simply don't want to pay. At all. With those, you have to ask yourself: How many of those people would really buy the game, no matter how incredible it is? (There are people rather saving CHF 47 ($50) and missing out on their most anticipated game, just because they can't bear to spend money.)
  • Not sympathetic: If the customer knows about the people behind the product, and those offend his moral or other aesthetic values enough, they will not feel ready to give them any money. (Look at the boycott of people who refuse to listen to Michael Jackson's music simply because of the accusations. Who could refuse listening to "Thriller"? Exactly.)

There are obviously a lot more factors to be considered when talking about DRM and how to treat your customer, but I think one very underrated (more subconscious) factor is also trust: If a developer makes every sale a Mexican stand-off scenario and is nervous on the trigger, I think the customer feels kind of prejudicially accused and doesn't really feel much love in spending his (more or less) hard-earned money. The moment a developer treats his customers as human beings and not potential thieves, the rate of piracy also drops.

The thing is that all of that can be meaningless if the way you present yourself, the game and (most importantly) treat your customers is hostile towards making a trade. Remember: People don't have to buy your game. They don't even have to look at it. If you look around yourself, there are tons of things we can do and occupy ourselves with. Without having a really innovative idea or the proper production quality and reach, a developer almost has to pay the customer to play the game (because time is money).

Hence, I think that there is no way around risking piracy. And that's good. You know that you're doing something right if people start to pirate your game! If you've ever looked at Google Search results when typing in a popular AAA game's name, some of the first results (aside from Wikipedia, YouTube and the official website) include terms like "download", "free", "piratebay", "torrent", "keygen". You show up in Google Search!

There are ways to reduce piracy. Those typically are:

  1. Presentation: Show your customer as much as possible what they can expect in the game so they can decide if they want it or not.
  2. Reputation: Gather good publicity and make it known around the world, so that customers feel more comfortable about trusting their money into your hands.
  3. Accessability: Make attaining the game as easy as booting up your computer. If you have to go through serial keys and various registration forms and obscure websites, it will get pirated.
  4. Pricing: Sounds trivial, but isn't. Often we measure a game by how long it entertains you or quality of production. The problem is that the majority of games are one-way products: You use them and then throw them away. The money is vaporised. (Physical copies can get traded in, which is why there you have great success in selling and buying, as people get some money back, and another person can get it for less money.) However, most of us might know that money and time are rather precious and options to use those grow by the minute. People want to have more from a game than just one linear, short experience. (Unless that's exactly your game's focus.) Give them something for the money. Give them a service, not just a one-way product.
  5. Customer Interaction: That's really as old as marketing goes: Your customer is the king, treat him well. And you can't fake love for the customer. It will come across as artificial attempts to be sympathetic and care about the customer, which will have the opposite effect. That's why I say: Selling something means that you empathise with your customer and don't just treat him as a customer.

I think it's also important to realise that people create a ripple effect that will catch onto other people. Reputation. If your product gets the reputation as incredibly annoying to install, you're out of business, for example. On the other end, it can lead to hype, which - if you really did it - can even become greater than the product itself.

And last but not least, don't forget that customers depend on other customers: They need to be able to review your product, give feedback, criticism and if you censor or don't even make that customer-to-customer interaction possible, a big part of presenting your product gets lost.

Pardon my rather long text, but I find that topic in particular always interesting again and thought I'd share my piece of the cake to the very crucial question of how to market your product. (Little tip: Look at some of the really small businesses that sell over eBay, Amazon, gaming sites and then also ask yourself why you are willing to spend money to some more than to others.)
 

Andar

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
30,411
Reaction score
7,229
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Pardon my rather long text, but I find that topic in particular always interesting again and thought I'd share my piece of the cake to the very crucial question of how to market your product. (Little tip: Look at some of the really small businesses that sell over eBay, Amazon, gaming sites and then also ask yourself why you are willing to spend money to some more than to others.)
No need to ask for pardon, it's a very interesting little text.

However you're missing one of the most important reasons for piracy: The Collector's Bee...

I got cured of that little insects sting decades ago (with games on the commodore C64, long before the PC-game-era started) and found out that when I only look for games/programs I have the time and interest to play to the end, then that's so few that I can pay for them without problems. (OK, it helped that at that time you got real value for originals, they had more posters, books and other stuff in the boxes when purchasing the regular game than today's collector editions have).

However, a few years ago I watched something in the company I was working that still amuses me today - and probably cured a lot of my previous co-workers from the same problem ;-)

It was when "Lord of the Rings, Part one" had just hit the theaters one month ago - and everyone "knew" that all three parts were made together at the same time.

So there was no suspicion when suddenly a DVD with a copy of "LOTR, part 2" was offered for copying. With about 400 people working there, there was not a single day in two continuous months when there was not one case of someone asking around who had a copy of the DVD to copy it for himself/herself.

But after about two months, that suddenly stopped from one day to the other.

What happened? After two months of constant copying that top movie, someone finally found time to view it...

Let's just say that the title was similiar but not identical to "lord of the rings".

It was a movie about extremely poor people...

They were so poor that they were unable to purchase clothing...

Let's just say that the age restrictions on this forum prevent me from telling the true name of the film on that DVD and that several female coworkers turned very red when asked why they wanted a copy of that DVD...

All jokes aside - a lot of people copy games not to play them, but to be able to tell themselves and others "I have them", often without even checking or installing them.

Those are pirated copies that will not cost the developer anymoney, because those people would never have purchased them anyway, but those cases do distort all statistics about piracy.

------------------------------------

Back to the topic:

There also is another reason why independent developers don't put that much into DRM - a lot of times, those games are in constant development and upgrading, and only the people who purchased from the developers have access to all upgrades - pirates usually don't bother to distribute updates after they succeeded with the challenge of cracking and distributing the main program.

So that is another vital strategy for selling games: sell a basic game, but provide new content to official purchasers for free. Doesn't work as good with RM because you need to be able to update the game content in steps, but it's a good strategy for some developers...

And there is another successfull strategy against piracy as well: Give the game a hidden copy protection - one that doesn't stop the game from starting when detecting a hack, but that increases the difficulty or causes game crashes after playing about 30% of the game. Anyone hooked on the game enough to play to that part will consider paying for it to get the rest - and most crackers won't detect that copy protection because they usually don't play the game to that point after cracking it (they'll be looking for the next game to crack, not confirming that the previous game had a hidden copy protection instead of the usual bug to be fixed with the next update)...
 

Clord

Nya~
Veteran
Joined
Aug 5, 2012
Messages
2,376
Reaction score
394
Primarily Uses
There is at least one game which is designed to crash when it thinks that something is up. That game is called Titan Quest.


Too bad for the developers behind that title, it backfired since most people didn't realize that it was intentional anti-piracry method and turned a lot of people away from buying the game due they thought that game was just bugged and told their friends about it.
 

Galenmereth

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 15, 2013
Messages
2,250
Reaction score
2,092
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Definitely DRM free for me. There is seriously no point in DRM from my point of view; you cannot beat piracy. Even DRM that costs millions of dollars to develop by huge teams are cracked within days; as an indie dev, all you can afford to implement is a cheaper alternative. And for what? All you risk is to hurt your legitimate users if that solution doesn't work properly 100% of the time. It has happened to me several times through my years as a gamer, and it has really hurt my opinion of the companies in question.

I'd like to add that the only real weapon you have against piracy is making the best game that you can within your limitations, and spend time learning how to communicate with potential fans.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy'
Veteran
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
14,696
Reaction score
3,008
First Language
Tagalog
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I agree with the above post... Your game will probably get pirated only when it gets really popular anyways...

If you're on the industry for years, then maybe its fine to go with DRMs but when you're still starting out and looking to expand player base, then its better to have no DRM so that players can share them to their friends and eventually lead to your game and you getting more popular...

Those are pirated copies that will not cost the developer anymoney, because those people would never have purchased them anyway,
yeah, it's not a loss on your part really... 
 

SLEEP

grunge rock cloud strife
Veteran
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Messages
606
Reaction score
215
First Language
emglish
Primarily Uses
N/A
Whatever happened to "if you can't afford a buy a game, go find a cheaper game to play?" Game developers aren't altruistic by nature, and if they've put a price on their game, chances are they want you to pay for it, or they want you to find something else. Also, a few high-profile DRM ****ups aren't representative of what all DRM is like. Gamers enjoy Steam, even though it's basically a DRM service for developers. Minecraft has non-intrusive DRM. Software pirates who believe they have the right to get everything for free are forcing DRM to be a necessity, even though frequent software pirates would like to think it's the other way around.

Pirates need to understand piracy hurts indie devs a lot, as they have lower profit margins than that of AAA games. Most indie games are already selling their games for dirt cheap prices. If a game is less than 20 USD, you have little wriggle room to complain about the price. If a game's price is in the single digits, you will always sound whiny and entitled complaining about the price. Just pay for a game if it's got a price tag on it this isn't rocket science.
 

amerk

Veteran
Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
1,439
Reaction score
511
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
One of the reasons I've always liked physical hardcopies... that and the fact I enjoy collecting books, CDs, games, and movies. Digital has its convenience, and physical copies won't stop somebody uploading the product online for free, but in the end somebody that wants to get a hand on the hardcopy will either have to resort to shoplifting (and risk being arrested and going to jail) or just going out to buy the product.

But that's beyond the issue, I guess, and if DRM helps to slow piracy down, then I'm for it. After all, piracy does have its consequences, and people who think they're "sticking it to the man" when they pirate either don't realize or don't care that they're really sticking it to the honest consumers, who will have to pay the higher cost when prices go up as a result.
 

Ocedic

Dog
Veteran
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
395
Reaction score
67
Primarily Uses
I would not go DRM free. If someone doesn't have to pay for it, chances are, they won't. And they don't have to pay for it if a friend already has and they don't mind sharing with each other (which is the case a lot more often than you'd like).
I'm curious, what are some of the DRM options on VX Ace?
 

Shaz

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Messages
39,675
Reaction score
13,298
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
There are no DRM options with Ace. You need to use an external program to set it up.


Take a look at the "how to sell your game" pinned thread - Amanda has provided a tutorial that shows you how to set up DRM using one package, but there are others around.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts

Playing some Kingdom come: Deliverance. It's an interesting game... But for the first time ever I'm disappointed with Czech in a Czech game.
Anyone else find themselves skipping through spoken dialogue in games if they've finished reading said dialogue in the textbox? I do. Happens more often in JRPGs with me. I frequently finish reading the dialogue long before the VA is done speaking.
I've been pretty busy working on my Might and Magic inspired project. I've got the code for instructors in place, and I just finished up with the trap and resistance tests. The project is going very smoothly. I'm also learning more about Javascript which is helping out a lot. Arrays, they are your best friend!
Did some animated message faces. But why not animate menu faces too?

Forum statistics

Threads
100,750
Messages
979,127
Members
132,387
Latest member
AnthonyM1992
Top