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.