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DRM Damages a Game's Value, Says Valve Boss

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 11 comments
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Gabe Newell agrees with most PC gamers that nasty DRM makes it a less worthwhile experience.

Those who have been keeping abreast on the events surrounding newly released Ubisoft games, such as Assassin's Creed II, know that the games are protected by a very controversial DRM that requires a constant connection to the internet.

While there's little argument that developers and publishers have a right to protect their investments, gamers aren't appreciative of DRM schemes that make playing a rightfully owned game difficult.

Valve Software co-founder Gabe Newell has a good reason to protect his company's work from being stolen, but he's also got the gamer in mind. Speaking at Game Developers Choice awards, where he picked up the Pioneer Award, Newell shared what he felt was a problem with PC game DRM.

"One thing that you hear us talk a lot about is entertainment as a service," he said. "It’s an attitude that says ‘what have I done for my customers today?'"

"It informs all the decisions we make, and once you get into that mindset it helps you avoid things like some of the Digital Rights Management problems that actually make your entertainment products worth less by wrapping those negatives around them," Newell added.

According to Develop, Newell's comments were greeted by cheers in a room filled with other developers and industry workers. Of course, Valve has its own DRM system that ties games right into its Steam service, but it's one that so far appears to balance protection of the artists as well as the consumer.

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  • 1 Hide
    ukcal , 13 March 2010 06:31
    By using Steam, you don't really notice the DRM is taking effect. Besides maybe the odd problem with an internet connection, it seems no different than just playing a game whilst having Xfire open.
  • 3 Hide
    wonspur , 13 March 2010 09:01
    Valve is an amazing company and they have produced some of the most amazing games out today. Half-life 1 & 2 + episodes, CS 1.6, source is ok. TF2 is amazing and portal bringing a new style of gameplay into the mix. I'd say there is a lot of credibility coming from them saying this. Steam does a great job at making it easy to purchase games and keep playing them, regardless of connection to the internet.
  • 1 Hide
    Pailin , 13 March 2010 21:00
    I heard it should be possible to play Steam games like FarCry2 in offline mode - should this be true...?

    I couldn't start Steam in offline mode at all the other day when my router died and so couldn't play my new (for me anyway lol) game :( 
  • Display all 11 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    flaminggerbil , 14 March 2010 05:52
    PailinI heard it should be possible to play Steam games like FarCry2 in offline mode - should this be true...?I couldn't start Steam in offline mode at all the other day when my router died and so couldn't play my new (for me anyway lol) game

    You're doing it wrong by trying to play FarCry2 in the first place.

    Steam offline mode does have a habit of screwing up though, think they fixed it with a patch recently.
  • 0 Hide
    Pailin , 14 March 2010 09:35
    tnx for the tip.

    I haven't been playing it too intensively which is working pretty well for me that way ;) 
  • 5 Hide
    smnoamls , 14 March 2010 17:03
    I got to a point lately where I noticed I havent bought a game outside steam for more than a year now.
    No boxes, which my wife approves, no disks in machine, all software backed up.
    Hell, I feel like its a bargain for me to have all my games backed up in valves servers somewhere, patched automatically and all.
    Pirating just isnt worth it.
    Just 3 days ago my HD crashed after our 2 year old pulled a cable and crashed my pc.
    Reinstalled windows and steam, and 1 night later all my fave games were installed and patched.
    Worth every penny.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , 15 March 2010 06:05
    The first major release on Steam was Half-Life 2, complete with the new DRM.

    What did Valve do once they thought they had good DRM in place? Priced it at £25 at launch, instead of £40. How many other game companies are going to do that?

    Game companies keep saying software is expensive because of piracy - credit to Valve for sharing the benefit of DRM with users.
  • 0 Hide
    waxdart , 15 March 2010 15:35
    Steam is DRM?
  • 1 Hide
    Fox Montage , 15 March 2010 17:16
    Like smnoamls, I buy only from Steam these days too. Unlimited downloads of my games, auto-updating, and a clean interface make Steam a hassle free way to buy games. And the low prices really do make it attractive. Just this weekend I got Batman AA + Just Cause for €20. Valve's business model, the classic "take care of your customers and they will keep coming back" approach works. This is as opposed to the EA approach, which is "lets wrap our games up in DRM to prevent that 1 guy from downloading them illegally, while not caring that it's ruining the experience for everyone else" wont last when there are better alternatives. They'll get the message eventually I'm sure.
  • 1 Hide
    kyzar , 15 March 2010 18:21
    Steam is DRM that just works - it's (for me at least) the perfect compromise.

    For example, I can play EVE at home, yet also have it installed on my laptop so I can access my skilltree from work briefly. As long as I'm only active from one location everything just works. I don't need to remember DVDs and when I format my machine I just copy the Steam folder away and then back in. I downloaded loads of my Steam games to my laptop the other day to take to my girlfriends house to show her son - quick, easy and reliable, brilliant.

    I've bought extra copies of games just so they are on steam and therefore have no associated discs. I just wish there was a way of checking blood-alcohol before buying games - the number of times I've had a couple of glasses of a good red and thought "that's a bargin - I'll have that!" are too many to mention :D 
  • 0 Hide
    swamprat , 15 March 2010 19:07
    It's astounding news that one of the people behind Steam thinks that using Steam is better than other types of DRM.

    Whilst Steam is good - it's still awkward for people with poor/slow internet connections. If you buy a game in a shop that needs Steam to run, install it (including registering on Steam) and it immediately launches into updating itself - if you're on a connection that is slow then a 100mb update that most of us would scoff at could be crippling. That's sort of speculation but I suspect that cancelling/pausing the update would leave it 'not ready to play', especially if you're wanting to do it in offline mode.
    (I'm willing to conceed I'm talking out of my arse there if I'm wrong - as I say, especially as they've said how to edit posts...)

    No worse than the Assassins creed thing, but still probably hitting people despite them paying for games.