EA's Frank Gibeau explains why DRM sucks, and why SimCity's DRM wasn't designed as a DRM
With the company in damage control mode after the disastrous launch of their tent pole title SimCity, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has defended the use of the controversial "always-online" DRM, claiming that it isn't a DRM at all.
Speaking to GameIndustry International, Gibeau distanced the company from the use of DRM by calling DRM a "failed, dead-end strategy", saying that "it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business".
Gibeau claims that at no stage of the development for SimCity, did EA step in and order Maxis, the developers, to implement an "always-online" DRM scheme. Instead, Gibeau says that the idea of having an always connected online gaming experience, much like an MMO, was always the real intention behind the requirement for even single player experiences to be done so via EA's servers.
"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," said Gibeau. "I was involved in all the meetings. DRM was never even brought up once. You don't build an MMO because you're thinking of DRM - you're building a massively multiplayer experience, that's what you're building."
Responding to the lack of an offline mode, Gibeau was keen again to point out that the vision behind SimCity was always an online one. "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," said Gibeau.
But with modders last week finding it was possible to disable the "always-online" requirement by the editing of a single of line of code, and finding that the game was still playable offline, albeit with some of the game's features no longer working (such as the online only saves, and region play), some will disagree with Gibeau's comparison of SimCity to an MMO like World of Warcraft.
Gibeau blamed the launch fiasco on the unexpected demand for the game, despite the fact that pre-orders for the game started back in 2012, and that the game's popularity was never under question. Gibeau also pointed out that EA isn't the first and won't be the last company to have similar problems at launch. "... we're not the first or the last company [to have a problem like this] - Activision Blizzard, Steam, Ubisoft...everybody's had this problem and it was our turn I guess," he said.