Anti-piracy measures are an inevitability in gaming. At least, it seems that way. If it isn’t Denuvo, it is some other virtual wall placed to supposedly keep the lawless folk out and allow the paying players to enjoy their games. Except in the last few years, we’ve seen all sorts of comments about DRM. Ubisoft ended up dealing with always-online DRM issues that were causing problems for players. EA’s Origin service came under fire for its authentication checks, while Oculus’ DRM is always attempting to be cracked. It can be exhausting to hear about all these roadblocks.
Especially when news like the Rime reports come up. In case you missed this one, here’s a summary. The PC version is giving some people trouble with technical issues. There can be slowdowns and poor performance issues, which some people are blaming on it using Denuvo as an anti-piracy measure. The developer claims it only causes a small performance issue, but also says it will remove Denuvo from the game after it is cracked. It makes you hesitant when any kind of DRM comes up.
Fortunately, it seems like we are increasingly entering a future where some companies are deciding to forgo DRM. At least, after a time. Both GOG and the Humble Store make a living off of providing an array of games that are DRM-free. These are outlets that are growing and thriving over the years. While the former isn’t a Steam-level competitor yet, it does have a GOG Galaxy service recently launched that offers a sort of community. And the latter keeps growing with new offerings.
Think about some of the games we’re seeing on these services. SNK titles are a big one. For the first time ever, they’re DRM-free on GOG. This means you can get games like Metal Slug titles, The King of Fighters 2000, Samurai Showdown V, and Twinkle Star Sprites and know you can have them forever. Even if something happens to GOG, they are still yours. So long as you have a computer capable of playing them, something that isn’t too difficult with compatibility modes, you are set.
Even more impressive are some recent moves by Bethesda to embrace a DRM-free lifestyle. Yes, Bethesda, a company so concerned about controlling its games that it has put a moratorium on review copies under the guise of “everyone getting to enjoy games at the same time,” has begun listing games without anti-piracy on GOG. And these aren’t minor games. These are Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. While they aren’t the newest entries in either series, they are beloved and still very viable sellers. This comes after EA went ahead and made Dead Space, Dragon Age: Origins, and SimCity 3000 available without DRM via GOG.
Stores like GOG are leading a charge into a future where DRM doesn’t feel like such a roadblock to enjoying our games. It’s easy to be a digital adopter when a service like Steam makes it so easy to have everything in one place. But something like a bad internet connection, altering your hardware, or a digital distributor shutting down can lead to you losing things you love. It’s reassuring to see companies deciding to go the other way with DRM, even if it takes a few years before they do it.