Gaming My Way

09 Apr

How to Legally Stick It to Companies That Use DRM

So you’ve realized there’s this company that requires always on internet to play your games (including single player), or reserves the right to prevent you from playing a game you’ve legally purchased on their whim. Perhaps they’ve come up with another scheme that bothers you. Whatever it is, you’ve decided you don’t like it. What can you do?

The most obvious idea is to just boycott the company. If enough people get on board with such a boycott, then they’ll see the error of their ways and begin releasing DRM free games as demanded by their customers. And about this time, flying pigs will drop bucket-loads of winning lottery tickets all across the country, and everyone will have all the money and bacon they could ever want.

Of course, not nearly enough people care enough to actually decide not to buy Assassin’s Creed, among other hits, on the principle of the matter. So that brings me to my next thought on the matter. Buy used console games. Naturally, PC has no used market, so people who use only PCs are out of luck on this plan. For any company that uses intrusive DRM in their PC products, make it a point to buy only used games from that company. They hate that, because they get no money from a used game sale. Many PC games have 360 or PS3 ports, and often times the PC versions are the ports from these systems. So you can often get the PC experience without the DRM, and by buying used, you don’t have to give the company any money to actually play the game. Just find a used game dealer you think deserves your money instead.

Of course, there are issues with this as well. For one, there are still probably not enough people who care, even if they can play their games. Next up, this plan does still require that some people buy the game new. Hopefully just the number needed so everyone who wants to play the game can play it. You certainly won’t be getting the game at launch, because there are no used copies at launch, for obvious reasons. Still, if enough people were to do this, you could make a sizable dent in sales, hopefully enough to wake up the executives calling the shots.

Now, all of this seems pretty idealistic, and even what I’ve laid out isn’t likely to change anything. I can see that, even though I wish it were otherwise. None-the-less, even if it won’t change anything, it’s still a legal (if imperfect due to the requirement someone buy it new first) way to not give money to a company with practices you disapprove of while still enjoying the games they release.

This is, of course, an evolution of two different viewpoints of mine. The first was to simply never buy any games at all made by anyone using disruptive DRM schemes. And the other viewpoint was to avoid buying used whenever possible, in order to support the companies making the games. Since these companies still make games I want to play though, buying used is now my way of playing those games without directly supporting the companies who have practices I strongly disapprove of. It’s not perfect, but it works for now.

To companies coming up with these systems: if I have to connect to the internet at any time (aside from getting patches) for a single player game, if you reserve the right to terminate my ability to play the game, if I only get a certain number of activations, or anything similar to this I just haven’t thought of, then your DRM system causes undue annoyance and you can bet, for games made by your company, I’ll only be buying used. For those companies out there not using DRM schemes that cause undue annoyance, I’m still buying new from you guys. Thanks for doing the right thing.

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