DRM Effectiveness: Is Piracy a Pricing Issue or a Service Issue?

  • Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell has reiterated his take on the issue of piracy. Valve is the creator of game platform Steam that distributes games to a global community of 35 million players.
  • Newell believes that DRM does not work and pirates are not necessarily always seeking free content.
  • “One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It’s a service issue,” he says. “The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates.”
  • “Most games available on Steam are easily found in pirated form on the torrent sites,” writes ETCentric contributor Nick Nero. “Even if you buy the game, many users download the torrent because most DRM requires the disc to be present which slows down the game startup and level load/access times.”
  • “What keeps me as a Steam customer is their cloud service,” adds Nick. “I can download any of my games to another PC, I can backup my games to encrypted physical media, my game saves are stored in the cloud, and I can easily find my friends for mulitplayer. The service layer is what brings in the customers.”