GOG Gets Vulgar in Fight for Gamers' Rights

Video game distribution platform GOG has always been pretty up-front about its stance on digital rights management (DRM) in games. The store was created specifically for DRM-free games that should theoretically be playable in perpetuity. Just in case the message about the dangers of DRM's ubiquity in digital games wasn't clear, however, the company started the FCK DRM Initiative to explain to gamers why they should care.

DRM is supposed to make it harder to pirate games. Most DRM tools accomplish this by checking in with a central server when a game is launched, but as they've grown increasingly complicated, they can end up taking up a surprising amount of a system's resources. Some of the stricter DRM tools also make it impossible to play a game without an internet connection, even if the game is mostly or entirely single-player focused.

When DRM tools aren't working properly, they can lead to performance issues for otherwise well-optimized titles, or restrict someone's access to a game even if they bought it and have an internet connection. And that's just when the DRM is malfunctioning; sometimes a company shutting down can make it all-but-impossible to play a game that was purchased on the up-and-up.

FCK DRM's website makes these dangers quite clear to interested gamers. Here's its answer to why people should care about DRM:

"Because there is a killswitch built into your games. Sure, DRM might not affect you right now, but corporations hold the key and they'll only let you in as long as you can repeatedly prove ownership. As long as you're connected to the internet. As long as their DRM works without fault. As long [as] they're still around. So should the burden of proof be on you? Do you place your trust in someone who doesn't trust you?"

Lest you think all this is merely a marketing ploy to convince people to shop via GOG instead of DRM-friendly stores like Steam--though it certainly doesn't hurt--the site also offers resources for other DRM-free media. The problem isn't exclusive to games; DRM is used to secure digital music, videos and books too (sellers of DRM-free media are encouraged to contact GOG via the "iwantto@fckdrm.com" email address).

FCK DRM is most likely preaching to the choir. Many gamers have pooled their resources to "crack" the DRM on popular games so gamers can play without restriction. This enables piracy, to be sure, but at least some of the people who download these cracked games purchase them first. They simply believe they are buying a digital game, not paying for restricted and potentially temporary access to it. The distinction is vital.