Dear developers and publishers,
Please stop adding the shittiest DRM security platforms to your top-shelf games and software products. DRM does not do anything to those who steal your software; instead it harms those who legally buy your titles. The same holds true for games and software that requires an active internet connection to play. Some people in the world actually have the desire to play a single-player game at times when they are not able to access the internet. We know, we couldn’t believe it either (just in case, that is sarcasm).
Your DRM system is shit, and it does nothing to stop pirates. They can, and always will, find a way around your software security measures so that they don’t have to buy a title.
Instead, we have an unorthodox suggestion for you. Unfortunately for most, it requires common sense to understand. Hopefully you have the sense and wherewithal to assess what we are about to lay forth.
Don’t Fight Piracy, Embrace it
The first thing we should mention here is that we do not condone piracy. Piracy is a corrupt and criminal activity in every sense. You are stealing a digital object from someone who put their effort into making it. Developers and publishers deserve to get paid.
That being said, we are not proposing that you should learn to “love” piracy as a developer either, quite the opposite. We are just identifying that piracy will always exist, in one form or another. There essentially is no surefire way to stop it. No matter what you do as a developer or publisher and what kind of security measures you take, there will always be exploits available. The world is not a perfect place, and it certainly holds true that software security measures and DRM platforms are not either.
Piracy will always exist. Accept that obvious truth, and stop trying to fight it. Embrace the idea that someone, somewhere will be using your digital product without paying for it. Sure, it chaps your ass but get over it. There’s nothing you can do about it.
Instead of fighting piracy and trying to thwart pirates, because all you’re doing is just slowing them down, why not design a strategy that will convert some of those pirates into paying customers.
That’s right, some of the folks who steal software actually spend their money on the full product if they truly appreciate it. In fact, pirated software is essentially a full-fledged demo or form of advertising for a software application.
Reward Your Paying Customers & Convert the Pirates
Instead of slapping egregious forms of DRM on the actual base software, why don’t you launch the software and just assume that some people will experience it for free. Not everyone is going to steal your software, and yes you’ll lose some money, but that’s inevitable. What we’re proposing here is that you come up with a way to convert some of those pirates into paying customers.
What better way to persuade people to buy your product than to offer exclusive content. These days, most development teams, update their software projects on a regular basis by adding new content.
Here, is the general idea:
You publish your game without DRM to the appropriate distribution platforms. There are no hidden requirements, forcing paying customers to be online in order to play or go through a horrible signup process. They can simply load the game, old school style, and play without any concern about extra bloatware.
Sure, some people will buy your game and others will steal it, stay with us here.
For people who buy your game, you provide additional content, but the key here is to supply the content on a regular basis. Don’t take forty years to release new DLC, and actually release it on a regular basis, not every six months. You toss the DRM protection on the extra content, so that you can make sure only people who actually buy the game get the extra features.
This accomplishes many different things that we’re going to break down for you.
First, DRM is a pain in the ass yes, but when the DRM is actually implemented for the extra content, and not the base game, paying customers will understand. They had a chance to experience the full game, and now the extra content is created specifically for them, so naturally they are being rewarded for their loyalty. They will be more willing to put up with any issues that arise from using DRM and security platforms because the content is actually just extra.
Second, this will encourage pirates to buy a copy of the actual game. So what if they experienced the entire game for free, chances are high that if they played through the entire game they genuinely enjoyed it. If they loved the game or the software, there is also high probability they will want to experience the new and exclusive content. By adding additional content for paying customers, you will turn a lot of those pirates into customers when they purchase the game for the new content.
Third, this gives your brand an extremely positive reputation. Not only are you working to satisfy your customers, you are also offering them something for buying your software or games. This will collect an extremely loyal customer base, for your products, and will also convert lots of pirates into paying customers. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who pirate software BECAUSE of DRM protection. It’s so shitty that they don’t want to deal with it, so they download a cracked game copy or software copy so that they don’t have to worry about online activation features.
Fourth, the pirated software serves as a free form of advertising. Because most of those who pirate the software or game will be buying a legitimate copy for the exclusive content, you can consider it a non-restrictive demo.
What Do You Say Developers & Publishers, Because Something Needs to Be Done?
If you keep going down the same path, without actually trying to find a different approach to piracy, you are going to alienate your most loyal customers. Some DRM works flawlessly, keeping out those who shouldn’t be using the software, and allowing access to those who should. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world we live in, and DRM usually causes more problems than it does help.
What is most rewarding about this plan though, is that your paying customers don’t have to be subjected to constant layer after layer of security bullshit just to use your software or play your game.
We agree that pirates don’t deserve to use your software or play your game, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the happiness of your customers so that you can achieve absolute protection.
Maybe it is time you adopted a progressive idea, like what we’ve outlined above. Reward your loyal customers and don’t worry about the rest. If you focus on that alone, more loyal customers will come.