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Valve's Gabe Newell: DRM Makes Games Worth Less

Posted by: , 13:11 AEST, Tue August 30, 2011

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DRM makes games "worth less", and it's a backwards way of fighting piracy, says Valve's Gabe Newell


Valve and Steam's Gabe Newell has come out again attacking DRM, and outlined alternative strategies the company has taken to fight piracy effectively.

In an interview with Kotaku's Brian Crecente[, Newell talked about his opinions on the new wave of "always-on" DRM that requires a constant Internet connection for the game to be played. "This belief that you increase your monetization by making your game worth less through aggressive digital rights management is totally backwards . It's a service issue, not a technology issue. Piracy is just not an issue for us," Newell responded, before adding "I think (publishers with strict DRM) will sell less of their products and create more problems."

Steam's success in the piracy riddled PC gaming scene seems to prove Newell's theory to be correct. Steam's business model aims to provide cheaper games, a more convenient purchasing process, an active online community with value added features, and a diluted DRM system that also allows for offline play (although publishers are permitted to add their own layer of DRM on top of Steam's DRM). 

Newell provides a specific example of Steam's success via its operations in Russia, once considered a region in which sales of PC games were impossible due to wide spread piracy. But Russia is now Steam's third largest European market, after the UK and Germany, and Newell puts it all down to competing directly with pirates as the cause of the success. "When people (in Russia) decide where to buy their games they look and they say, 'Jesus, the pirates provide a better service for us,'" Newell explained in regards to pirates providing localization services for games that are often sold in Russia in English only. And when Steam provided the same services the pirates have been offering all along, they managed to win back those that had been "forced" to go down the piracy route. "The best way to fight piracy is to create a service that people need," Newell concluded.



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