Gamers love to debate. We battle over which system is best for playing our favorite titles. We argue which genre is better than all the others. It's like comic book nerds fighting between Marvel and DC. It's just a part of our nature and without it, the industry would be a much quieter and sadder place. There is one thing gamers agree on: what to do about digital rights management (DRM) protecting games. Most believe DRM is nothing but bloatware in our games and it doesn't even work as intended. So why in the world are companies bothering with it? An issue with a free game has brought this issue to the forefront.
The creators of Life is Strange, Dontnod, released a free-to-play game based in the same universe. It's called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and it's as multifaceted as the original series that created its engulfing universe. When I went to download it and give it a play though, something caught my eye. Right there, under some of the general facts about the game, was the phrase “Incorporates 3rd-party DRM: Denuvo Anti-tamper.” This is a free game, let me remind you. DRM is usually included in order to keep pirates from playing games for free and distributing them to their friends, family, and the general public for the same “price.” There are plenty of arguments regarding whether or not that actually works, but that's a discussion for another time.
With The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, anyone and everyone can play this game for free. It doesn't make a lot of sense that it would be stuffed with DRM that no one wants. I would imagine most pirates are not going to try to redistribute a game that's already up for free. They'd rather focus on those that do require ponying up some cash. It seems silly to bloat a title down with the one thing that is guaranteed to make most gamers angry. I can understand it from the perspective of trying to protect the source code and all the things that make these games what they are, but pirates are more interested in sharing games than they are plagiarizing them.
Dontnod and Square Enix's decision to add DRM is a far cry from some of the other big dogs in the field. CD Projekt Red has historically held a very anti-DRM stance when it comes to their games. They've even gone so far as to point out publicly that DRM is an absolute waste of time and money. The Co-Founder of CD Projekt Red, Marcin Iwinski, famously mentioned how many copies The Witcher 3 sold at infoShare 2016 and pointed out that it didn't include DRM. He admitted that the game had been pirated, but the company noticed that many of those people came back and bought the game legitimately in the end. Those that pirated also often bought regular copies in order to purchase further DLC for the game. Not including DRM gave the public a better opinion of CD Projekt Red in general, and it's saved them a lot of money.
If a major company like CD Projekt Red can publish their games, like The Witcher franchise, DRM-free, then why are we seeing free games that include it? Despite the inclusion of DRM, I still downloaded The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and have greatly enjoyed playing it. But it still bothered me.
Do you think free-to-play games should include DRM? I'd love to hear your thoughts why in the comments below.