Seems as though everyone has something to say about DRM, and the latest preacher to step on the soapbox is Blizzard’s CEO Mike Morhaime.
Unfortunately, there needs to a little disclaimer before revealing what Morhaime had to say : it’s simple, and it’s brief. But, when looking at the overall picture of pirates vs. anti-piracy, it’s good to hear the wisdom a prominent figure even if his words are as brief as a pair of Calvin Klein’s.
According to an interview conducted with Wired.com, Morhaime revealed that Blizzard’s next MMO has nothing to do with World of Warcraft, but will be a new IP. However, he seemed clueless about the backlash against EA’s confused PC game, Spore. It’s understandable though : Blizzard has been focusing on Starcraft II, revealing Diablo 3 and preparing for Blizzcon rather than worrying about a competitor’s product. However, once brought up to speed, the Blizzard CEO seemed confusingly disconnected by the backlash.
Wired thus asked what his plans were for DRM in Starcraft II and Diablo 3. "Those are things we’re still evaluating," he said, "but we do wanna make it pretty easy for players to play the game, wherever they are. Nowadays people have multiple systems. They shouldn’t necessarily be able to play the game ... they shouldn’t be able to log in multiple times on as many computers as they have without buying multiple copies of the game. Like, you can play WarCraft III, or World of Warcraft even, from multiple locations. I think you should be able to do that."
Morhaime certainly has a point. Unlimited installations - but using only one registered account - makes a lot of sense. Gamers who format their hard drives on a regular basis won’t have to worry about installation limitations next year or even in five years. The drawback to this plan could possibly be that an internet connection is required to initially activate the game. And what about ten years down the road. Will the games still be supported ? Or, will consumers be left with a dead product. There’s no doubt that anti-piracy conjures up demons many wish would just fade back into the night.
Additionally, wired.com conducted another Blizzard interview, this time with executive vice president of game design Rob Pardo as he threw in his two cents about the company’s DRM plans. Once again, Spore was brought up as DRM’s flagship by Wired, however Pardo seemed more in tune to what’s going on surrounding the best-selling Pc game. In fact, he openly admits that Battle.net is Blizzard’s most effective DRM.
"If you wanna play online on Battle.net with other players you’re going to have to have a legitimate copy," he said. "That’s really kinda been the thing that’s always saved us from a lot of the PC piracy that I think hurts a lot of other single-player-only games."
Pardo went on to explain that Blizzard currently has no plans to implement a DRM system that requires the game to "phone home" every time it initially loads. "We do now have the online store where we’re doing digital distribution on your account," he added. "In those particular cases, you have to be online to actually download the game, but once you have it, you’re fine. I think our approach — if you want to use an analogy — we take an approach that’s more similar to Steam than EA, let’s say."
So far, it appears that Blizzard wants to keep the DRM aggravation minimal while still protecting their intellectual property. If Blizzard’s store follows the same plan used by EA’s online store and Valve’s Steam service, the problems with DRM infiltration could be minimal at best. Still, with Spore’s negative publicity representing a new twist in DRM, many PC gamers may still feel a sense of dread even when purchasing games online.
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