Friday, March 8, 2013

Why we should stay away from "Always On" DRM

Sim City launched this week.  The Sim series has been around for quite a long time.  Usually a single player game, the player constructs worlds and simulates the environments.  You can play it straight and try to run the best city you can, or you can turn everyone into vampires and make your city live in a state of perpetual tornadoes.  It's honestly up to you. 

And people honestly want to do that, but they've run into a problem.

In the most recent version of Sim City, you must be connected to EA's server's to play.  You can swap materials and trade with nearby players and talk about your accomplishments on twitter, but to do that (or not) you must be connected. That's problematic for many reasons, but let's focus on the current one.

The server's are so overloaded people are having trouble simply getting into the single player mode.  Even reviewers are having difficulty reviewing the game.  After three days, it hasn't been fixed.  I'm not sure if it's fixed now.

This problem has popped up elsewhere. Assassin's Creed was unplayable for a bit after the server's went down on Ubisoft's end.  Spore honestly deserves it's own pedestal over how bad the DRM was and how it was handled. 

On the flip side, GOG has no DRM and it seems to be doing quite well.  People don't want to be treated as criminals, and DRM does that.  Especially always on DRM and similar practices.  Pirates can play it freely, actual customers get punished.

I am NOT condoning piracy, but there needs to be a paradigm shift.  Companies need to understand this is damaging them in the long run. People will be less likely to buy from them next time.  The Sims is a very long franchise, and I would hate to see this ruin it.

In addition, what happens when the servers are permanently pulled off line?  Will people no longer be able to play Assassin's Creed, Sim City, and Diablo III?  Will they need to keep the power on forever?  

So, in short, Companies, pull the plug on always on DRM. It doesn't help the consumers and it just builds ill will for the developers. 

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