EA Exec Claims DRM Is a "Failed Dead-End Strategy"

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EA Exec Claims DRM Is a "Failed Dead-End Strategy"

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EA Labels President Frank Gibeau claims that DRM is "not a viable strategy for the gaming business."

Good news, everyone! Digital rights management, better known in the parlance of gamers as DRM, is dead. So says no less an industry luminary than Frank Gibeau, the president of EA Labels, who said at the Game Developers Conference this week that DRM just doesn't fly. "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business," he told GamesIndustry.

Gibeau's comments were made in relation to the disastrous launch of SimCity, which was mercilessly dashed upon the rocks of an always-on internet requirement. Lots of folks viewed the situation as yet another example of DRM gone wrong, but Gibeau said DRM never entered into the conversation - SimCity's connectivity requirement was simply an unavoidable consequence of "building a massively multiplayer experience."

"What we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all," Gibeau said.

"At no point in time did anybody say 'you must make this online'. It was the creative people on the team that thought it was best to create a multiplayer collaborative experience and when you're building entertainment... you don't always know what the customer is going to want. You have to innovate and try new things and surprise people and in this particular case that's what we sought to achieve," he continued. "If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't. And in fact, SimCity started out and felt like an MMO more than anything else and it plays like an MMO."

Criticism of SimCity's always-on requirement intensified after it was discovered that the game doesn't actually require a connection to remote servers in order to operate: Modders were able to get the game functioning offline in relatively short order and with only minor losses of functionality.

Gibeau's statement leads to an interesting question: At what point does DRM stop being DRM and start being an integral component of gameplay? Using Steam as a template, it's arguable that EA could claim to have abandoned DRM simply by making Origin a requirement of using its games. It's semantics, of course, but it worked for Valve - could it work for EA too?

Source: GamesIndustry

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Well that nicely demonstrates how out of touch (or desperate, delusional) EA's head honchos are.

Our DRM isn't DRM, it's a service!

No Frank, Origin and Simcity's 'vital' online connection are not services, they are DRM, arbitrary walls between customer and product. This is why I don't buy your games you idiot.

It reminds me of Sony's PR statements from a few years back actually, when everything seemed to be going wrong and yet every press release read more or less that EVERYHTING IS FINE, STOP ASKING US IF IT's NOT FINE, IT's FINE, FINE?!

Oh, now he tells us.

Funny how, once Steam proved that PC gamers are willing to buy, all the publishers are suddenly eager to make amends. "Oh, we called you pirates? Uh... Never mind. Please buy our stuff again!"

*Reads Title*
Bit Early for April Fool's isn't it Andy?

Lots of folks viewed the situation as yet another example of DRM gone wrong, but Gibeau said DRM never entered into the conversation - SimCity's connectivity requirement was simply an unavoidable consequence of "building a massively multiplayer experience."

Ah there we go, still EA

I can't remember, have we always been at war with Eastasia? Or was it Eurasia?

Andy Chalk:

Gibeau's statement leads to an interesting question: At what point does DRM stop being DRM and start being an integral component of gameplay? Using Steam as a template, it's arguable that EA could claim to have abandoned DRM simply by making Origin a requirement of using its games. It's semantics, of course, but it worked for Valve - could it work for EA too?

So he says that DRM is pointless. Then he cops out and says SimCity's always-online requirement isn't DRM. Hmmmm

I don't get it. He's basically saying..Yeah, DRM sucks and is pointless and is terrible. We know.

..

..

..

Call me cynical. But his statement doesn't make me feel like any progress has been made.

I know this is completely off topic, but the dude in the news thumbnail (From the main page) is cute . Really, really cute.
image
Look at taht.

It's amazing they're still lying about this to our faces after they were called out. "They wanted to make it online and MM" and "It fits our vision" No they built the game to be online so people would show off iterations of their DLC to other players in the neighborhood, probably limiting benefits of DLC if other towns don't have it or not allowing players to even interact.

Singleplayer is totally do-able and everyone wants it but they just keep lying and insisting it fits their vision. Well the customers have a different one and are tired of being lied too.

When i read the title all i could shout out was 'no shit sherlock'

Do love it how he still tries to downplay the sim city lauch though."
But,

"SimCity's connectivity requirement was simply an unavoidable consequence of "building a massively multiplayer experience.""
No it wasn't

"you don't always know what the customer is going to want."
I'll give him some credit here, that is true. With new IP's and all. With sim city it was pretty cut and dry what the customer wanted.

"You have to innovate and try new things"

BAHHAHAHAHAHA. This coming from EA?

"If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't. "
True, but there are a few key differences between Simcity and WoW. Something to do with being able to connect and all.

If the whole point was to make an MMO like game, then why not just add an "Online" subtitle? That way atleast the consumer has an idea what the focus is and what they're getting into. Is anyone really gonna complain when "SimCity:Online" needs a connection?

I could get it if it did seem to resemble an MMO at all. Which it really doesn't as player interaction is extremely limited. Most MMO's have players working together to achieve a common goal but the trading with other cities doesn't seem to be required much at all. Seems rather silly but this is an EA executive so its unfortunately unexpected that they know nothing about games themselves.

It is true that DRM is stupid but justifying your DRM by saying "its a service" is also rather obnoxious... Which does have a slight correlation with steam except that is a service where you can buy games for good prices and free multiplayer so yeah.

So maxis just didn't pay attention to the industry?

This is why I love Bungie and Bethesda, they have the common courtesy to look at fan's requests

Andy Chalk:
"If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't."

It's clear that someone has never played any MMOs.

DVS BSTrD:
*Reads Title*
Bit Early for April Fool's isn't it Andy?

Lots of folks viewed the situation as yet another example of DRM gone wrong, but Gibeau said DRM never entered into the conversation - SimCity's connectivity requirement was simply an unavoidable consequence of "building a massively multiplayer experience."

Ah there we go, still EA

Uhhh what? They built an MMO; can't make that offline mate. If you knew the first thing about video game design you'd realise that.

It's not like Gibeau can change Valve's mind anyway; shoving more Steam down our throats is how things will have to be for a little while.

karma9308:
I can't remember, have we always been at war with Eastasia? Or was it Eurasia?

The best games.. are those that sell you what you've bought already.

(There does indeed appear to be an element of doublethink going on in that statement..)

"Always online is awful. Uhhh, we don't do that. When we do it, it's a service!"

wgar:

DVS BSTrD:
*Reads Title*
Bit Early for April Fool's isn't it Andy?

Lots of folks viewed the situation as yet another example of DRM gone wrong, but Gibeau said DRM never entered into the conversation - SimCity's connectivity requirement was simply an unavoidable consequence of "building a massively multiplayer experience."

Ah there we go, still EA

Uhhh what? They built an MMO; can't make that offline mate. If you knew the first thing about video game design you'd realise that.

It's not like Gibeau can change Valve's mind anyway; shoving more Steam down our throats is how things will have to be for a little while.

It's already been made offline by modders. If you'd finished reading the article you'd realize that.

Goddamnit EA. Just smoosh a pie in your own face, will you?

building a massively multiplayer experience.

Firstly, SimCity is not an Massively Multiplayer Online game. When I play planetside 2 there are 2,000 people on the server and I can interact with them. In Sim City, you can get 16, max. One of these has to be always online, the other could be hosted locally. Just for comparison, Starcraft which came out in 1998, had 8 players max; and they had far more direct interaction than what Sim City offers.

If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't. And in fact, SimCity started out and felt like an MMO more than anything else and it plays like an MMO.

So it started out as an MMO... did it change at some point? Because, unlike your second point, it doesn't fucking play like an MMO at all. It plays like 16 people sitting in a room, each on their own table, playing a game of solitaire. Sometimes, they might walk up to one and other to share snacks or drinks, but that's about as far as their interaction goes.

Here's the thing, we accept always online from MMO's for one simple reason: it offers us an experience we could not otherwise gain and the game is fundamentally designed around having a massive number of players. In Sim City, the people I know who own it, just make a private region and play by themselves because they PREFER it that way.

Have you ever been in a dying MMO and tried to play it? They suck ass, because no one is around, the economy is messed up and you can't party with anyone. Even if you like soloing monsters, there are benefits to being online like auction house, chat, etc; to a true MMO.

when you're building entertainment... you don't always know what the customer is going to want.

Except, you know, over a year ago when everyone begged you guys to remove the always online when you announced it. Every gaming news site had articles on it, petitions were signed, and I know for a fact some very early press hands on talked about it and asked you guys to consider removing it. You knew damn fucking well we didn't want this in the game, and if you didn't, then someone has royally fucked up because the backlash over a year ago wasn't subtle.

Timzilla:
If the whole point was to make an MMO like game, then why not just add an "Online" subtitle? That way atleast the consumer has an idea what the focus is and what they're getting into. Is anyone really gonna complain when "SimCity:Online" needs a connection?

The issue is that Simcity is really not a MMO.... like at all. Civ 5 is more of a MMO then SimCity because atleast then you're interacting with other people when you play online.

I read the Title and thought "OMG they finally read the paper I wrote 8 years ago on how nothing positive can actually come from DRM!" then I read the article and remembered that this was EA and that this was another PR scam trying to weasel out of the shit storm that rages around EA's higher rung.

wgar:

Uhhh what? They built an MMO; can't make that offline mate. If you knew the first thing about video game design you'd realise that.

No mate, they didn't.

They made a predominantly offline single player game, then tied it to authentication servers with two lines (count 'em) of code, two.

Gimme a break already.

EA Exec Claims DRM Is a "Failed Dead-End Strategy"

Wow EA, im really pleased that you guys finally...

Andy Chalk:
"What we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all," Gibeau said.

oh never mind

wgar:

DVS BSTrD:
*Reads Title*
Bit Early for April Fool's isn't it Andy?

Lots of folks viewed the situation as yet another example of DRM gone wrong, but Gibeau said DRM never entered into the conversation - SimCity's connectivity requirement was simply an unavoidable consequence of "building a massively multiplayer experience."

Ah there we go, still EA

Uhhh what? They built an MMO; can't make that offline mate. If you knew the first thing about video game design you'd realise that.

It's not like Gibeau can change Valve's mind anyway; shoving more Steam down our throats is how things will have to be for a little while.

And here I thought viral marketers only harassed 4chan. Get ye gone, servant of the beast.

Hanlon's razor is just as sharp as ever...

March has been a really weird month for the game industry.

I don't know what to expect anymore from these people what with people leaving and changing their minds about certain things.

Cool beans though.

saintdane05:
I know this is completely off topic, but the dude in the news thumbnail (From the main page) is cute . Really, really cute.
image
Look at taht.

He's...

so...

Innocent!

I bet he believes what he said...he's adorable.

Teoes:

karma9308:
I can't remember, have we always been at war with Eastasia? Or was it Eurasia?

The best games.. are those that sell you what you've bought already.

(There does indeed appear to be an element of doublethink going on in that statement..)

Wonder how long it will be before EA have appoint a new CEO, and we get a new 5 minute hate figure.

(Not that I want to hate someone, but this is the internet)

An MMO is a game that ceases to function when you take it offline, and no matter what you do it is virtually impossible to get it working without connecting to at least SOME form of remote server to provide the connection to other players. For e.g. WoW, you have to connect to Blizzard servers or at least some private server.

All the game files are technically on your harddrive, but a lot of the game is situated on Blizzard servers as well.

Most importantly, it depends on whether the game CALLS for MMO-style gameplay. Diablo was never an MMO (although funnily enough they removed the LAN option with D3), SimCity was never an MMO either. People never asked for it. I repeat, PEOPLE NEVER ASKED FOR IT!

In BOTH cases people just wanted an amazing singleplayer experience, neither game was around being constantly connected to other players. Those features existed solely as options.

In BOTH games the developers grasped completely the wrong end of the stick and turned them into "online games" with NO OPTION to play disconnected/alone. What a shameful step backwards!

And the Bullshitting of the people continues on... or atleast another try from EA to bullshit people.

Really? They admitted that their DRM is bullshit? Did the change of CEO really make that big of a differen.... oh nope they are right back to cop out excuses and bullshitting people smarter than they are.

We already know we can play SimCity offline without any problems, all that happens is that every 10 minutes an update gets sent to the servers and we get a little check behind our IP telling the game that we didn't steal it or else it cuts us off. That is what we call DRM dear EA CEO.

We already know that there is no continuity between cities when online unless they are directly being governed. In other words the multiplayer amounts to a chatroom with other people in it and still manages to lag behind roughly 10-15 minutes. Congratulations Maxis, EA, idiots that made this game, I don't really care who.

You made a turd.

Maybe if they had marketed it as an MMO rather than a Simcity sequel, things would look differently.

Your opinion doesn't mean shit. We already argued this way before the game was released, but you must have ignored everything. I think it would be pretty obvious that something like SimCity which doesn't drastically change in map design and game play could easily be into single player again. How long is it going to take before the clowns get a fucking clue?

Andy Chalk:
"If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't. And in fact, SimCity started out and felt like an MMO more than anything else and it plays like an MMO."

So, they managed to develop an MMO with a sub-50 player cap (the MM) where not only is there no reason to sync with the server (the O), but there is also such inadequate security that the server won't verify the user input to make sure it's valid and not cheated. That's like developing a car and being surprised when people tell you that you forgot the engine and doors.

So, we're playing that game where words mean something other than what the dictionary says they mean, are we? Okay, let's go over it:

DRM = Anything our competitors do.
Service = Our DRM.
MMO = A game with "service".
Innovate = Add service!
Try new things = Ignore features present in the prequel that can be patched or DLCed in later.
At no point in time did... = You won't find any proof that...

In what sense did it "work for Valve"? Plenty of people - myself included - consider Steam a form of DRM and an intrusive advertising platform and we keep calling it out as that. I hate that so many games are Steam-exclusive and I support other distributors for that reason.

When does stuff like that stop being obvious DRM? When it's an MMO with no singleplayer component, as far as I'm concerned. Other than that? Not justified.

As for this game specifically? No, I don't think SimCity qualifies as an MMO. It has some multiplayer features that could easily be replaced with static cities to buy services from or actual AI-controlled cities (or, hell, just the simulation of dynamic city growth in neighbouring cities). They were really reaching when they tried to make it multiplayer-reliant.

and for a brief second I'd though EA had come to it's senses.

oh well, nothing to really see here other then more flimsy justification for ruining a franchise

Skeleon:
In what sense did it "work for Valve"? Plenty of people - myself included - consider Steam a form of DRM and an intrusive advertising platform and we keep calling it out as that. I hate that so many games are Steam-exclusive and I support other distributors for that reason.

You may not use Steam, and you may consider it a distraction, but surely you're not so clueless as to realize you're in the minority? The adoption rate of Steam among PC gamers is incredibly high, and the percentage that actively complain is fairly small. There are plenty of reasons to complain about Steam (Steam-Exclusive games topping that list) but saying it didn't work for Valve is blatantly false.

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