GDC: DRM damages the value of games, says Newell

GDC: DRM damages the value of games, says Newell

By Rob Crossley

March 12th 2010 at 12:32PM

The Valve boss says DRM wraps negativity around products

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has made known his objections to digital rights management in games, claiming that copy-protection systems diminish the value of a product.

Speaking last night at the Game Developers Choice awards – where he picked up the Pioneer Award – Newell cited what he saw as a central problem with 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’s comments were greeted with cheers from the packed crowd looking on at the Moscone Convention Center – cheers that, tellingly, resonated from the developers and industry luminaries in the room.

Newell’s criticism of DRM comes in the wake of a new row regarding Ubisoft’s “always-on” DRM technologies.

For the PC edition of Assassin’s Creed 2, customers need to play with a stable and constant net connection – which sends continuous data to Ubisoft verifying that the game is genuine.

Criticisms have centred mainly on how Ubisoft is basing tough security measures on temperamental net connections. Spotty net connections on the user’s end – or even just a router that needs a quick off/on – will prevent players’ access to the game.

Ubisoft has in recent weeks been subjected to DNS attacks on their servers from disgruntled hackers. The server farms that went down prevented customers from playing the game.