GDC 2010: Gabe Newell Bashes DRM

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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GDC 2010: Gabe Newell Bashes DRM



Valve co-founder Gabe Newell thinks that overly restrictive DRM ultimately devalues a product.

Speaking last night at the Game Developers' Choice awards, where he was honored as the recipient of a Pioneer Award, Valve head honcho Gabe Newell expressed opposition to restrictive Digital Rights Management - which is a bit of a hot-button issue at the moment [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/98927-Ubisoft-DRM-Authentication-Servers-Go-Down].

"One thing that you hear [Valve] talk a lot about is entertainment as a service," said Newell. "It's an attitude that says 'what have I done for my customers today?'"

"It informs all the decisions we make, and once you get into that mindset it helps you avoid things like some of the Digital Rights Management problems that actually make your entertainment products worth less by wrapping those negatives around them."

Newell's comments were greeted by cheers from industry luminaries and developers alike, perhaps indicating that the people who actually make the games are as unhappy with DRM as the people who play them.

Of course, while Newell's statement was probably heartfelt and genuine, it isn't like the man hasn't ever put DRM in his products - Steam is, after all, a type of DRM (albeit a much less restrictive one than others). I think "If you have DRM, just make it as painless as possible" is an axiom most of us can get behind, isn't it? And to be fair, Steam does have other benefits.

I think that's what rankles me the most about the whole Ubisoft fiasco. The ironic part is that without the absurd "you must be connected 100% of the time to play" stipulation, the Ubisoft service could have actually been successful at reducing piracy by providing incentives instead of punishment.

"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to download and install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!" If Ubisoft had just stuck with that, wouldn't it have encouraged people to buy their games for the goodies? Instead, everybody just gets punished.

(Develop Online [http://www.develop-online.net/news/34148/GDC-DRM-damages-the-value-of-games-says-Newell])

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That's Funny

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Yeah, I think Newell should think about what he says before bashing a competitor's product.

[sub/] Even if it does suck hard. [/sub]
 

Lord_Panzer

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Feb 6, 2009
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John Funk said:
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell thinks that overly restrictive DRM ultimately devalues a product.
In other breaking news, grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and brother, I hurt people.

Just another reason I love that big walking Timbit.
 

oppp7

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I'm not really too against the whole setup of Assassin's Creed 2's DRM since it's exactly the same as Guild Wars. The problem with that is that, obviously, Guild Wars is a multiplayer and requires that to make sure people don't hack (also, the servers crashed due to overuse). But overall, I felt that the DRM for Spore was much more irritating.
 

SextusMaximus

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May 20, 2009
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Gabe Newell, the one who gives me an offline mode that requires the internet? yeah. Shut up Gabe.
 

dagens24

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John Funk said:
Gabe Newell Bashes DRM

"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!"

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I disagree with any type of install restrictions to begin with. I don't think consumers should have to register or be part of the service in order to use their product; so I don't see that as an incentive.
 

Woodsey

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"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!" If Ubisoft had just stuck with that, wouldn't it have encouraged people to buy their games for the goodies?

You can do that without DRM, and there are things on the web that let you store files on a cloud service anyway - there's one to do with a box but the name escapes me.

Hardly an incentive.

Anyway, although Steam is a form of DRM it is pretty unrestrictive (bar a one-time activation) and exceptionally well thought out: constant updates, a great great GREAT store, a good community (a f*cking big one at that), etc. etc.

Oh, and it works (as in, it doesn't stop you from playing the games after that single activation). That's something that GfWL might want to take note of - because it fucks me over every single time.
 

destroyer2k

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Eukaryote said:
SextusMaximus said:
Gabe Newell, the one who gives me an offline mode that requires the internet? yeah. Shut up Gabe.
Offline mode works fine for me, I don't know what's wrong with you
Yes but the problem he is having that you have to be connected to go in offline mode.
 

j0z

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Yes, Steam is a type of DRM. But you know what? It provides me with a good incentive to use it (as Funk said). I get a BIG store where I can buy many computer games, and not just the big titles either. I also get access to the HUGE community, where I can chat with my friends, invite them to games, and I get the overlay so I can chat while in-game. Plus, once I buy a game from steam, I can install it on as many computers as I like, with no limits to how many times I can do it, and some games do support Steam Clouds. Steam is the PC equivalent to LIVE and PSN, but only better
/end Valve/PC fanboy tirade.
 

Benjeezy

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Lord_Panzer said:
John Funk said:
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell thinks that overly restrictive DRM ultimately devalues a product.
In other breaking news, grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and brother, I hurt people.
That's actually my ringtone o_O

OT: SEE? It's a bad, awful, pointless idea. Everybody save Ubisoft seems to agree on this.
 

John Funk

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Dec 20, 2005
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dagens24 said:
John Funk said:
Gabe Newell Bashes DRM

"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!"

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I disagree with any type of install restrictions to begin with. I don't think consumers should have to register or be part of the service in order to use their product; so I don't see that as an incentive.
Downloading and installing their game from their servers for free as many times as you want isn't an incentive?

Woodsey said:
"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!" If Ubisoft had just stuck with that, wouldn't it have encouraged people to buy their games for the goodies?

You can do that without DRM, and there are things on the web that let you store files on a cloud service anyway - there's one to do with a box but the name escapes me.

Hardly an incentive.
Oh please, you're nitpicking. If it were seamless to do and you didn't have to do third-party services, mess around with files, saving them in certain places, etc - but just could go "save to cloud" in-game?

How is that NOT an incentive?
 

Jared

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Jul 14, 2009
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SextusMaximus said:
Gabe Newell, the one who gives me an offline mode that requires the internet? yeah. Shut up Gabe.
Yeah, thats always been stupid.

Anyway, hes just making an obvious statement. Of course opressive DRM will do that...thats why its called oppresive
 

The Infinite

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SextusMaximus said:
Gabe Newell, the one who gives me an offline mode that requires the internet? yeah. Shut up Gabe.
Hell I just leave my Steam in online mode when I disconnect from the internet. Doesn't make a difference and I can still play everything. That might help you since offline mode has given me some problems in the past...
 

Assassin Xaero

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destroyer2k said:
Eukaryote said:
SextusMaximus said:
Gabe Newell, the one who gives me an offline mode that requires the internet? yeah. Shut up Gabe.
Offline mode works fine for me, I don't know what's wrong with you
Yes but the problem he is having that you have to be connected to go in offline mode.
At college they have the Steam servers blocked so you can't connect to it, but offline mode works fine... Dunno what problems you're having...
 

Woodsey

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John Funk said:
dagens24 said:
John Funk said:
Gabe Newell Bashes DRM

"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!"

Permalink
I disagree with any type of install restrictions to begin with. I don't think consumers should have to register or be part of the service in order to use their product; so I don't see that as an incentive.
Downloading and installing their game from their servers for free as many times as you want isn't an incentive?

Woodsey said:
"Hey guys, if you buy and register your game with us, you get to install it as many times on as many computers as you want, and you have the option of storing your games in our cloud so you can pick up where you left off no matter the machine!" If Ubisoft had just stuck with that, wouldn't it have encouraged people to buy their games for the goodies?

You can do that without DRM, and there are things on the web that let you store files on a cloud service anyway - there's one to do with a box but the name escapes me.

Hardly an incentive.
Oh please, you're nitpicking. If it were seamless to do and you didn't have to do third-party services, mess around with files, saving them in certain places, etc - but just could go "save to cloud" in-game?

How is that NOT an incentive?
Not an incentive as in:

- Pre-DRM I could install anything, anywhere, any time.
- How many people (other than journo's) game on more than one machine? Not many I'm betting, because how many people can afford to have two gaming PCs capable of running, say, AC2 on decent settings?

Its certainly not enough to force people into a 100% connection situation. I also doubt that anyone gaming on a PC would have any trouble finding out where a save file goes. And if you can't be arsed with third-party software, why not email the save in an attachment? Or use a memory stick?

Steam has the only incentives, and Valve has plans for cloud-gaming for that anyway; and for those without a 'net connection that's still not an incentive, just an added bonus for those with one.
 

Gildan Bladeborn

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oppp7 said:
But overall, I felt that the DRM for Spore was much more irritating.
I posit that you do not fully understand how that would have worked - it wanted to connect to the internet each time you ran the application (as does Ubisofts), but it only had to check to see if you "were still not a pirate". If you weren't connected to the net when you tried to start the game, it would still let you in. The system would lock you out of after say... 10 days without performing that check, but you could still start the game without being online, and if your net connection failed while playing it nothing would happen.

With Ubisoft's DRM 'solution', if you can't get online you can't play. If you get disconnected, you can't play. It's way more restrictive and every bit as annoying as the Spore system - the only possible positive feature is cloud-based game saves, but those are not worth shackling yourself to a system that requires a constant net connection for a single player game.
 

Credge

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That said:
Yeah, I think Newell should think about what he says before bashing a competitor's product.

[sub/] Even if it does suck hard. [/sub]
I don't follow.