GDC 2010: Gabe Newell Bashes DRM


Valve co-founder Gabe Newell thinks that overly restrictive DRM ultimately devalues a product.

Speaking last night at the Game Developers’ Choice awards, where he was honored as the recipient of a Pioneer Award, Valve head honcho Gabe Newell expressed opposition to restrictive Digital Rights Management – which is a bit of a hot-button issue at the moment.

“One thing that you hear [Valve] talk a lot about is entertainment as a service,” said Newell. “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 by cheers from industry luminaries and developers alike, perhaps indicating that the people who actually make the games are as unhappy with DRM as the people who play them.

Of course, while Newell’s statement was probably heartfelt and genuine, it isn’t like the man hasn’t ever put DRM in his products – Steam is, after all, a type of DRM (albeit a much less restrictive one than others). I think “If you have DRM, just make it as painless as possible” is an axiom most of us can get behind, isn’t it? And to be fair, Steam does have other benefits.

I think that’s what rankles me the most about the whole Ubisoft fiasco. The ironic part is that without the absurd “you must be connected 100% of the time to play” stipulation, the Ubisoft service could have actually been successful at reducing piracy by providing incentives instead of punishment.

“Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to download and install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!” If Ubisoft had just stuck with that, wouldn’t it have encouraged people to buy their games for the goodies? Instead, everybody just gets punished.

(Develop Online)

About the author