Paradox Chief: DRM Is a "Waste of Money"

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Paradox Chief: DRM Is a "Waste of Money"

The CEO of Paradox Interactive says DRM in PC games is a waste of money and a hassle for customers, and is only still around because game executives need to "cover their backs."

Paradox Interactive isn't a big publisher but for a certain segment of the PC market, it's a name that commands respect. PC gaming represents more than 95 percent of its business, according to CEO Fred Wester, and 97 percent of that is digital. It's a stable, going concern that's carved a solid niche for itself in the business, and it's done so almost entirely without resorting to the DRM schemes that plague so many releases from bigger publishers. And as long as Wester is in charge, it's going to stay that way.

"I'm so surprised that people still use DRM. We haven't done that for seven or eight years, and the reason is that it doesn't make sense," he told GameSpy. "No one should have to purchase a product that they're unable to install because of the DRM. There might be other reasons, like the compatibility isn't correct, or whatever. But people who purchase a game should have just as easy a time as those who pirate the game, otherwise it's a negative incentive to buy a legal copy. And I just can't see why people are using DRM still."

"If you take something like Sony's DRM, SecuROM -- it's a waste of money," he continued. "It will keep you protected for three days, it will create a lot of technical support, and it will not increase sales."

He said there's no "reasonable explanation" for why publishers continue to use software like SecuROM but believes that it's largely due to internal company politics. It's not a problem he has to deal with himself because he's the half-owner of Paradox and pretty much gets to call the shots, but other company CEOs have to be more careful about protecting their jobs.

"The people who ask, the board, know nothing about games. They're there because they're some investment company or something, and they ask, 'So what are you doing to protect our game from pirates?'" he said. "And then [the CEO] can reply, 'We're buying this [DRM] solution from Sony.' So I think it's been a way to cover your back."

Paradox recently announced several new games planned for 2012, among them Gettysburg: Armored Warfare, an RTS/FPS hybrid retelling of the U.S. Civil War in which both sides have tanks and miniguns.

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At least someone gets it. I'm really starting to hate the gaming industry on this front - it's completely illogical.

You can tell Paradox is run differently just in the feel of the games. I'm glad to see it confirmed in real world choices. Now hopefully they can make money quickly enough to attempt a hostile take over of EA.

I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

You can say that it's because they develop for a niche audience, and you're probably right. But until he's outselling games with DRM on them, saying that they don't sell more is purely assumption on his part.

SirBryghtside:
At least someone gets it. I'm really starting to hate the gaming industry on this front - it's completely illogical.

What is this 'someone'? Very few people don't get it. DRM is so pervasive because, as he said, it's there to please investors. Since owning a share of stock is literally owning a part of the company, investors get to call the shots.

I suddenly got an inkling to go out and buy a bunch of Paradox games...
It's always nice to see someone with a brain talk about DRM, especially devs. Keep up the good work!

Kwil:
I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

You can say that it's because they develop for a niche audience, and you're probably right. But until he's outselling games with DRM on them, saying that they don't sell more is purely assumption on his part.

You forgot to look at the number of games with DRM and how much they're pirated as well.

OT

On a common sense factor this guy is on the level, but like he said the investment mooks know jackshit about what they got themselves into and pretty much just want to keep their jobs. Overall the gaming industry needs to get rid of all of the drones that don't know anything about the gaming culture when it comes to the business and public relations side of things.

Andy Chalk:
"The people who ask, the board, know nothing about games. They're there because they're some investment company or something, and they ask, 'So what are you doing to protect our game from pirates?'" he said. "And then [the CEO] can reply, 'We're buying this [DRM] solution from Sony.' So I think it's been a way to cover your back."

This is what is causing so many of the industry's problems. DRM means effectively nothing by this point. Like he said, it will take pirates no more than 5 days to strip out all the DRM in a stable release, at which point suddenly you're getting a better product if you pirate. Activation limit DRM is the worst, imo, like what was put into Anno.

He's missing the use of DRM as a way to introduce a permanent rental-like market.

Systems like Ubisoft's and Origin do not offer they player anything at all, nor do they particularly prevent or even deter pirates.

What they do achieve though is that they give the publisher the power to remove every customer's access to a game at a whim (or more accurately, update).

We already see it on an annual basis on the console side with games being canned from services due to 'lack of demand,' Although this is frequently a euphamism for a new sequel being released within the next quarter (EA Sports are particularly guilty of this). This always strikes me as eggregious when the games having their 'services' cut use peer to peer multiplayer and track stats purely on the console/PC's hdd, they're going to the effort to install code on your console to prevent your playing it onine, including private games that place no stress on matchmaking servers.

The ability to lock games once they are no longer deemed to have a financial value seems to be an unspoken holy grail to a lot of publishers. The persistence of Battlefield 2 no doubt exasperates EA four games down the lane, they seem to have corrected that 'error' with their close server control of BC2 and BF3.

But credit to Paradox for not using DRM as a supposed piracy kerbing measure.

Kwil:
I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales?

That would be very hard to prove either way, not least because some of the games with the worst DRM (think Bioshock, Spore, GTA4, Assasin's Creed 2, BF3 and so on) also have some of the largest and most expensive advertising campaigns on the planet backing them up.

I'd bet most of the people who buy these games know nothing of either the tech/gaming press or even what DRM is until they are butting up against just to try and play the game that cost them fifty bucks.

The reverse being the case for this guy, his total budget for each game probably doesn't match the advertising for one 'triple-A' title, so he can't possibly reach as many people.

Kwil:
I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

You can say that it's because they develop for a niche audience, and you're probably right. But until he's outselling games with DRM on them, saying that they don't sell more is purely assumption on his part.

As he mentioned, Paradox tried the DRM thing years ago and it didn't work out. That's purely anecdotal but as the CEO and owner, he's kind of in a position to know at least generally what impact it had.

And I'm having a hard time grasping the comparison. Paradox games aren't big sellers; elsewhere in the interview Wester said he would've been happy with 150,000 unit sales of Magicka and is ecstatic that it hit 1.3 million copies. Obviously Paradox isn't outselling the major publishers, who are more or less the last bastion of DRM, but I'm not sure how that's relevant to the point.

And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

ResonanceSD:
And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

Well, tbh here, Steam is a great way to get your game out there and known to a huge community without spending tons of cash on expensive marketing campaigns, like the big corporations do.

I took a look at the Paradox website. Considering I never really paid attention to this publisher, it's amazing how many of their games I own, Mount & Blade being one that's gotten at least as much play time from me as the entire The Elder Scroll series(granted, I've been playing that one since before Taleworlds had a publisher). I think I know where some of my next purchases are coming from...

This man speaks words of great wisdom, too bad EA, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and others wont take a blind bit of notice.

ResonanceSD:
And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

Steam DRM may not be particularly good security, but it stands above the rest simply because it doesnt obstruct customers.

Andy Chalk:

Kwil:
I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

You can say that it's because they develop for a niche audience, and you're probably right. But until he's outselling games with DRM on them, saying that they don't sell more is purely assumption on his part.

As he mentioned, Paradox tried the DRM thing years ago and it didn't work out. That's purely anecdotal but as the CEO and owner, he's kind of in a position to know at least generally what impact it had.

And I'm having a hard time grasping the comparison. Paradox games aren't big sellers; elsewhere in the interview Wester said he would've been happy with 150,000 unit sales of Magicka and is ecstatic that it hit 1.3 million copies. Obviously Paradox isn't outselling the major publishers, who are more or less the last bastion of DRM, but I'm not sure how that's relevant to the point.

I see your Paradox Interactive CEO, and I raise you Epic Games and Ubisoft, both who have essentially said that the PC market is no longer their primary focus because piracy makes developing for the platform not nearly worth the while that it is on console. 7 or 8 years ago, when they said they last tried it, was 2003 or so. Most people were still only accessing the internet from university labs, broadband at home was incredibly rare, Napster had just been shut down a year or so ago, and most people were unaware there was such a thing as The Pirate Bay.

Basically, 7 or 8 years ago in internet time is like your great-grandpa saying "Yeah, we tried a model T. Damn thing was less reliable than a horse. Don't see why anybody'd want a car today."

The comparison is simple. When the Witcher devs came out and said they had x amount of piracy, folks here ran all over the place claiming they couldn't know what they were talking about.

Now this guy comes out with a claim that is basically unsubstantiated, and I'm pointing out he can't really know what he's talking about.

I'm not saying he's necessarily wrong, but just that blanket statement, "It doesn't help sales" is an assumption on his part -- especially if he's trying to apply it to a market wider than niche games.

ResonanceSD:
And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

Eh, not so much the DRM as the Steam sales. Several of the Paradox games I own were bought that way. And in one case(Mount & Blade Warband), I bought the game on Steam, took the CD Key, then downloaded the game from the developer and installed that one so I didn't have to use Steam. So not really much going on there DRM-wise.

A CEO making sense?

What is this world coming to!?
What will be next? Taxes for millionaires? Nuclear disarmament? World peace?

I'm not sure if humanity is ready for this kind of culture-shock.

Kwil:
[quote="Andy Chalk" post="7.339898.13751103"][quote="Kwil" post="7.339898.13750847"]I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

I see your Paradox Interactive CEO, and I raise you Epic Games and Ubisoft, both who have essentially said that the PC market is no longer their primary focus because piracy makes developing for the platform not nearly worth the while that it is on console. 7 or 8 years ago, when they said they last tried it, was 2003 or so. Most people were still only accessing the internet from university labs, broadband at home was incredibly rare, Napster had just been shut down a year or so ago, and most people were unaware there was such a thing as The Pirate Bay.

Basically, 7 or 8 years ago in internet time is like your great-grandpa saying "Yeah, we tried a model T. Damn thing was less reliable than a horse. Don't see why anybody'd want a car today.

Broadband was fairly popular in 2003. It was not incredibly rare to have it at home. People were switching over from dial up to faster connections. There were dozens of places to download from (i.e: Kazaa, suprnova were huge amongst others). When you say no one heard of Pirate Bay it doesn't mean much since these sites come and go and even more so back then. Maybe my memories are a little fragmented since those were also my years of heaviest drinking.

I agree with you that 7 to 8 years ago was a long time ago in terms of the internet though.

I always figured if you spent even a fraction of the cost of putting DRM in your product on educating the masses that buying games you like helps more of those games get made, companies would gain a lot more good will and probable some profits.

I mean, who wants to be treated like a pirate for buying a game, and who wants to be told that they are dirty scum if they downloaded the game out of curiosity? Just add a message on the 5th loadup of the game during the publisher screens "Glad to see you like the game. If you playing on a trial basis, please consider supporting us!" Such measure would cost nothing, and still remind those who would consider buying the game to go out and get a legit copy.

Paradox Interactive isn't a big publisher but for a certain segment of the PC market, it's a name that commands respect. PC gaming represents more than 95 percent of its business, according to CEO Fred Wester, and 97 percent of that is digital. It's a stable, going concern that's carved a solid niche for itself in the business, and it's done so almost entirely without resorting to the DRM schemes that plague so many releases from bigger publishers.

Sorry Andy, but this part of your story is really REALLY hard for my brain to comprehend in english. "stable, going concern" ? I don't get that. Also the first sentence seems like you cut part of 2 out, and pasted the remaining parts together.
Maybe its just me...

OT: yeah DRM is dumb, and I wish publishers would stop doing things like that and start serving people better...

ResonanceSD:
And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

But they don't sell only through Steam. I checked just now; their Magicka games (the only thing I know of that they make) are available through pretty much every digital distribution outlet in the known universe as well as purchasable as a boxed DVD-ROM. When there's an online store that accounts for the vast majority of DD sales on your platform, it'd be silly to turn them down.

Kwil:
I see your Paradox Interactive CEO, and I raise you Epic Games and Ubisoft, both who have essentially said that the PC market is no longer their primary focus because piracy makes developing for the platform not nearly worth the while that it is on console.

That is publishers moving to a market they feel is 'safe' from 'dirty, foreign thieves' and allows them to control how they want to distribute their game. If that's their choice, then fine. But Paradox Interactive, Valve, Bethesda, CD Projeckt, Mojang, and Croteam are doing quite well on the PC market.

Publishers have a right to distribute their game on any platform they choose, but Wester's argument here is that any game should be easy to pick up and play for any player. Telling the player--whether on PC or console--that they must enter a 27 character key in order to unlock tacked on multiplayer or prove they legally bought all the DLC for "Dragon Age: Origins" will annoy your *customers*.

It may not work on PC's, but it sure as hell is gonna work on next generation consoles. Mark my words. The Jensen has seen the future.

Kwil:
I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

You can say that it's because they develop for a niche audience, and you're probably right. But until he's outselling games with DRM on them, saying that they don't sell more is purely assumption on his part.

I'm not sure why you would need hard numbers to say DRM doesn't increase sales when you consider no DRM software lasts more than a week or two before being cracked, and those high-selling DRM enabled titles you speak of are among the most pirated games every year.

I mean, you're literally sitting there saying that DRM must work because some titles with it sell really well every year. But the real test of the efficacy of DRM isn't in how much a title with/without it sells, but in how long DRM holds up against those that want to pirate it. The answer is almost universally that no DRM solution holds up for any significant amount of time. And the CEO here is making a very valid argument that you're adding a lot of cost to development and continuing customer support for maybe a few days worth of benefit. But if someone is going to pirate instead of buying new on day one, they're probably going to be willing to wait a few extra days rather than pay $60 just because you put a minor barrier to their piracy in the way.

Frizzle:
Sorry Andy, but this part of your story is really REALLY hard for my brain to comprehend in english. "stable, going concern" ? I don't get that.

It's convoluted business speak for saying that Paradox is essentially profitable, has plenty of cash to stay in business, and stuff is all around going well for them. If business execs and accountants simply spoke in plain English they wouldn't be able to convince people that their services are half as valuable as what they put on the bill (and I say this as someone who is an accountant :D).

Wait a minute, a developer is actually practicing what they preach? cool, I have a sudden urge to support them.

Also, is it just me, or does the game being showcased alongside this statement seem oddly fitting?

That's the first time I've heard a sound explanation as to why major publishers have DRM, and the "it appeases the investors and nothing else"-argument is the most plausible I've heard thus far.

Also? These guys finally got it. Go Paradox!

paradox are one of the few devs that actually get it, they make awesome games and treat customers well. Pity more devs didnt think this way.

Steve the Pocket:

ResonanceSD:
And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

But they don't sell only through Steam. I checked just now; their Magicka games (the only thing I know of that they make) are available through pretty much every digital distribution outlet in the known universe as well as purchasable as a boxed DVD-ROM. When there's an online store that accounts for the vast majority of DD sales on your platform, it'd be silly to turn them down.

Paradox own/are gamersgate as well.

......what? somones finally worked it out?

about...fucking...time

Well to be fair Paradox does have a "DRM" still, if you want access to the support pages on their forums for their games, or patches in some cases you have to register your CD key on the forums

Hell I bought Deus Ex on Steam because I'm so incredibly lazy that it was worth a couple of bucks to not have to dig the CD and to have it available anywhere, even tho I already owned it.

On the other hand, I've downloaded TV series that I own on DVD, and the DVD has sat untouched on my shelf because the pirated version is better, no ads, no unskippable piracy warnings etc.

No-one is saying piracy is 100% good, or has no victims, but really, paying so much real money to combat a potential threat does seem rather daft.

It's like I only pay for an AV because NOD32 is so damn convenient and leaves me the hell alone. If it was Norton or a freebie, I'd go with the freebie.

ResonanceSD:
And yet they sell products in steam. Apparently when the drm s beneficial to the company, we don't hear anything.

they also sell them on gamersgate as well. more a case of using it as a sales medium rather than drm.

ive got alot of respect for paradox. their games tend to be a bit buggy at release but you can always guarentee them to fix them

Kwil:

Andy Chalk:

Kwil:
I don't suppose he has any numbers to back up the claims that it won't increase sales? Because from what I can see, games with these systems on them sell a hell of a lot more than Paradox Interactive games do.

You can say that it's because they develop for a niche audience, and you're probably right. But until he's outselling games with DRM on them, saying that they don't sell more is purely assumption on his part.

As he mentioned, Paradox tried the DRM thing years ago and it didn't work out. That's purely anecdotal but as the CEO and owner, he's kind of in a position to know at least generally what impact it had.

And I'm having a hard time grasping the comparison. Paradox games aren't big sellers; elsewhere in the interview Wester said he would've been happy with 150,000 unit sales of Magicka and is ecstatic that it hit 1.3 million copies. Obviously Paradox isn't outselling the major publishers, who are more or less the last bastion of DRM, but I'm not sure how that's relevant to the point.

I see your Paradox Interactive CEO, and I raise you Epic Games and Ubisoft, both who have essentially said that the PC market is no longer their primary focus because piracy makes developing for the platform not nearly worth the while that it is on console. 7 or 8 years ago, when they said they last tried it, was 2003 or so. Most people were still only accessing the internet from university labs, broadband at home was incredibly rare, Napster had just been shut down a year or so ago, and most people were unaware there was such a thing as The Pirate Bay.

Basically, 7 or 8 years ago in internet time is like your great-grandpa saying "Yeah, we tried a model T. Damn thing was less reliable than a horse. Don't see why anybody'd want a car today."

The comparison is simple. When the Witcher devs came out and said they had x amount of piracy, folks here ran all over the place claiming they couldn't know what they were talking about.

Now this guy comes out with a claim that is basically unsubstantiated, and I'm pointing out he can't really know what he's talking about.

I'm not saying he's necessarily wrong, but just that blanket statement, "It doesn't help sales" is an assumption on his part -- especially if he's trying to apply it to a market wider than niche games.

haha you raise him with two of the more useless developers. One of them cant get their DRM right (and their DRM is the reason that they are failing on PC) and the other cant be assed to actually test their games before pushing them out...bravo! And the Witcher devs were PROVEN to not know what the hell they were talking about. They claim 4 million pirates got their game, yet their game didnt even break the top 10 pirated games of 2011.

And where is your proof that DRM helps sales? Hm? We have Ubisoft, one of your own examples, that prove that WRONG. Their oppressive DRM has caused more piracy of their titles than anything else. I personally know 12 people who bought Anno 2070 then turned around and pirated it so they didn't have to be online or so they could play it on a few different machines.

DRM helps sell games in the way that storyline, or voice acting or graphics help to sell a game.

Good, helpful, non-intrusive DRM, that actually brings extra features along with it so you don't feel like they're just punishing the paying customers - Steam, I'm looking at you, enhances the games on that platform, and encourages people to place their games for sale there as they see there's protection in place, without punishing legit customers.

(Unless they're either batshit insane - see people who demand their own DRM on top of the Steam stuff, or greedy as all hell, EA pulling stuff to put on ORigin only.)

Crappy, game locking,half working, bug inducing, customer infuriating DRM however, that'd be a bad thing and not really a sales point.

I'm not anti all DRM, but there's gets to a point where you're spending a million bucks on security to protect something worth ten bucks, knowing there's an unblockable trapdoor that leads directly into the vault anyway.

You print a CD key, it gets typed in and authorised by a central server, they've just proved they bought it and it's legit, now step away and let them enjoy what they're paying you for.

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