"My answer is for us as publishers is to actually sell unfinished games..." Now before we load up weapons and release the chain chomps, let me state that Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens isn't just saying that for no reason. He's not just trying to profit more off of gamers, though that certainly isn't out of consideration. Cousens is merely stating a cure for our DRM-driven woes.
"The video games industry has to learn to operate in a different way. My answer is for us as publishers is to actually sell unfinished games - and to offer the consumer multiple micro-payments to buy elements of the full experience."
Cousens wants companies to sell unfinished product, then release the later pieces in DLC form. It's a given that the only way gamers wouldn't riot to this idea is if the 'unfinished game' costs less in comparison and after DLC it was near the full price again. A few people hopped on board with this idea, but I'm literally not buying.
First things first: what's the purpose of Digital Rights Management? To stop pirates from downloading the game. It ensures that only people who legitiamtely paid for the product get to play it. Would releasing chunks in DLC form stop this? No. Take a quick look around at add-on packs on the computer, like Fallout 3's series of additions and Call of Duty map packs, they're all available to download off of torrent websites. DLC isn't a good enough barrier against pirates, all it does is make them work a little more.
On the other hand, DRM is nowhere near where it wants to be. Take a look at the golden example of DRM, Assassin's Creed 2. It is completely broken. Someone out there thought having a constant internet connection should be necessary to prevent hackers, which ended up really badly for everyone. Quoth Game Rant's own Will Delaney on the subject:
"If you lost connection for even a second, you are kicked out of the game and lose all unsaved progress. Oh, and if for some reason Ubisoft’s server goes down, you’re screwed too. The requirement isn’t just for Assassin’s Creed 2, as Ubisoft plans to implement it for more of their PC games in the future."
Now, call me crazy, but I seem to have found the proper solution here. It's a crazy idea, but perhaps one so crazy it just might work: Fix Digital Rights Management.
The solution doesn't rely on going in a new direction, it relies on fixing what we we've already started what should theoretically already work. Imagine a world where you sign in to an account to play a game, the DRM does a few things to quickly verify you are, indeed, ElfLuver69, and then the game starts up and everything is normal. The requirement for a constant internet connection? Ridiculous, and causes the fanbase more harm than it has garnered them respect, so get rid of that.
DRM checkpoints should be, if anywhere, at the start of the game. Perhaps at checkpoints, if they're still going to be ridiculous about it. You don't see World of Warcraft players typing in their passwords every ten minutes in a mandatory check, and then getting booted if they can't type them in fast enough.
Truth is, I don't know how to properly fix the DRM system that they built. You know why? Because it's not my job. But if it was, there is no way I would have stopped and released a version of it as garbled as Ubisoft's. They need to get it right, build it well, run it smooth and ship it off. None of this "release parts of the game as DLC" junk.
What do you think? Do you think Cousen's idea is worth investigating or do you have your own ideas in the DRM business?