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Blizzard Speaks Out on DRM

By - Source: Tom's Guide | B 15 comments

Seems as though everyone has something to say about DRM, and the latest preacher to step on the soapbox is Blizzard’s CEO Mike Morhaime.

Unfortunately, there needs to a little disclaimer before revealing what Morhaime had to say: it’s simple, and it’s brief. But, when looking at the overall picture of pirates vs. anti-piracy, it’s good to hear the wisdom a prominent figure even if his words are as brief as a pair of Calvin Klein’s.

According to an interview conducted with Wired.com, Morhaime revealed that Blizzard’s next MMO has nothing to do with World of Warcraft, but will be a new IP. However, he seemed clueless about the backlash against EA’s confused PC game, Spore. It’s understandable though: Blizzard has been focusing on Starcraft II, revealing Diablo 3 and preparing for Blizzcon rather than worrying about a competitor’s product. However, once brought up to speed, the Blizzard CEO seemed confusingly disconnected by the backlash.

Wired thus asked what his plans were for DRM in Starcraft II and Diablo 3. "Those are things we’re still evaluating," he said, "but we do wanna make it pretty easy for players to play the game, wherever they are. Nowadays people have multiple systems. They shouldn’t necessarily be able to play the game ... they shouldn’t be able to log in multiple times on as many computers as they have without buying multiple copies of the game. Like, you can play WarCraft III, or World of Warcraft even, from multiple locations. I think you should be able to do that."

Morhaime certainly has a point. Unlimited installations - but using only one registered account - makes a lot of sense. Gamers who format their hard drives on a regular basis won’t have to worry about installation limitations next year or even in five years. The drawback to this plan could possibly be that an internet connection is required to initially activate the game. And what about ten years down the road. Will the games still be supported? Or, will consumers be left with a dead product. There’s no doubt that anti-piracy conjures up demons many wish would just fade back into the night.

Additionally, wired.com conducted another Blizzard interview, this time with executive vice president of game design Rob Pardo as he threw in his two cents about the company’s DRM plans. Once again, Spore was brought up as DRM’s flagship by Wired, however Pardo seemed more in tune to what’s going on surrounding the best-selling Pc game. In fact, he openly admits that Battle.net is Blizzard’s most effective DRM.

"If you wanna play online on Battle.net with other players you’re going to have to have a legitimate copy," he said. "That’s really kinda been the thing that’s always saved us from a lot of the PC piracy that I think hurts a lot of other single-player-only games."

Pardo went on to explain that Blizzard currently has no plans to implement a DRM system that requires the game to "phone home" every time it initially loads. "We do now have the online store where we’re doing digital distribution on your account," he added. "In those particular cases, you have to be online to actually download the game, but once you have it, you’re fine. I think our approach — if you want to use an analogy — we take an approach that’s more similar to Steam than EA, let’s say."

So far, it appears that Blizzard wants to keep the DRM aggravation minimal while still protecting their intellectual property. If Blizzard’s store follows the same plan used by EA’s online store and Valve’s Steam service, the problems with DRM infiltration could be minimal at best. Still, with Spore’s negative publicity representing a new twist in DRM, many PC gamers may still feel a sense of dread even when purchasing games online.

Be sure to check out Tom’s Games’ Blizzcon content:

Diablo II Lead Designer on Art and Tech

StarCraft II Lead Producer Talks Trilogy

Diablo III Hands-On Impressions

StarCraft II Hands-On Impressions

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  • -8 Hide
    eklipz330 , October 20, 2008 11:38 AM
    I'd really be fine with Securom DRM only if you get the installation back after you've uninstalled. There's really no need for 5 different computers to have the same game, I mean, just get a console than... Or get 5 different copies, if you can maintain 5 computers, you can def maintain 5 different games
  • -4 Hide
    badboy4dee , October 20, 2008 12:09 PM
    SCREW IT
  • 5 Hide
    noobe1981 , October 20, 2008 12:34 PM
    I completely disagree agree eklipz. Say you only have two computers. Specially kids with say divorced parents. They like to keep their computers reformatted once a year. That's two things down a year. So in 3 years time you lose the game. That's bs. Of course this is only an example.

    Then you got the fact securerom doesn't tell you its installing.. And last but diffently not least. IT DOESN'T HELP AGAINST PIRACY! If it did EA might have a point, but it doesn't. I'm glad blizzard isn't going this way.
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 4 Hide
    aevm , October 20, 2008 2:34 PM
    "An internet connection is required to initially activate the game"... I can live with this, but they must release a patch to fix it before the activation servers are retired, in 2015 or whenever. That way people who paid for the game can still install it in 2020 if they wish. I still don't like the idea though. What if Blizzard goes bankrupt before they make such a patch. I don't like getting cracks from the Web because you never know what else you get with them.

  • 1 Hide
    Mathos , October 20, 2008 3:24 PM
    aevm"An internet connection is required to initially activate the game"... I can live with this, but they must release a patch to fix it before the activation servers are retired, in 2015 or whenever. That way people who paid for the game can still install it in 2020 if they wish. I still don't like the idea though. What if Blizzard goes bankrupt before they make such a patch. I don't like getting cracks from the Web because you never know what else you get with them.


    Well, take into consideration the fact that Diablo 1, has been out for about 10 years now, and you can still play it online.
  • 2 Hide
    aevm , October 20, 2008 3:54 PM
    That's amazing, TBH. Kudos to Blizzard for doing it :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Kami3k , October 20, 2008 3:55 PM
    So they are linking a account to the game, good it's what all games should do. Each company should have their own account, or hell even just have a games for windows account.

    This approach would actually be effective against pirates. The DRM currently is more likely to make be pirates.
  • -3 Hide
    mdillenbeck , October 20, 2008 4:38 PM
    If we are talking about MMOs, I disagree with this philosophy. How much does the actual software contribute to their profit versus the monthly fees for playing?

    I fully agree that there should only be one login per account, but what would happen to your market if you gave the software interface to the game for free? Then, when you start up, you either log in or you have an option to create a new one.

    Then again, if most the profit comes from selling the actual game and they loose money maintaining game servers, then how long will your favorite game really last? No one can run a business at a loss.

    Final question - what if you have 3 people share a computer and play a game. Does this mean you need to buy and install 3 copies of the game in order for each of you to have a unique account? What issues might this cause ("oh, you had a game installed already? Sorry, I think I wrote over it when I installed mine...")?
  • 1 Hide
    aevm , October 20, 2008 5:25 PM
    OK, but Diablo 2 access to Battle.Net was free, no monthly fees. That's one of the main reasons why the game was so popular.

    Also, if you give the software away for free and rely on monthly fees you will lose a large part of the market. Some people (including myself) prefer to play single-player or to host a game and play with a friend or two. Besides, I'm willing to pay $50 for a game and use it for 5 years, but I'm not willing to pay $10 a month for 5 years, i.e. $600.

    What they could do, I guess, is sell a deluxe version of the game that gives you 3 or 5 online accounts. That would mean a single game instance to install and patch even if you have multiple users on the same PC. They could enforce that those accounts cannot be active at the same time, of course.

  • 1 Hide
    ram1009 , October 20, 2008 5:43 PM
    You're pretty naive if you think there's only one form of pirating. SecuROM cannot stop cracked copies but then nothing can with current technologies. What SecuROM can do is make copied disks useless after the max installs have been reached. If you think copied disks aren't prevalent you're even more naive. I get SPAM weekly asking me to buy copy software.
  • -2 Hide
    DXRick , October 20, 2008 6:13 PM
    Well, I will definitely be buying D3 and SC2 regardless of what they do.

    Blizzard... I love you man!!!
  • 0 Hide
    sdcaliceli , October 20, 2008 6:43 PM
    MDillenbeckFinal question - what if you have 3 people share a computer and play a game. Does this mean you need to buy and install 3 copies of the game in order for each of you to have a unique account? What issues might this cause ("oh, you had a game installed already? Sorry, I think I wrote over it when I installed mine...")?


    If there are 3 people playing on one computer and you want to have separate accounts - you must purchase 3 copies of the game to get 3 serial#'s - and only have to install just one.
  • -1 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 20, 2008 8:14 PM
    I didn't see any mention of Blizzard's Warden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warden_(software)
  • 0 Hide
    kelfen , October 21, 2008 10:00 AM
    Going DRM with SC2 with be a disaster for blizz, one of the main reasons they are so good is that sc is still played it is DRM free, and still fun to play once and a while. It is the convience of the customer not to have DRM.
  • 1 Hide
    carnage9270 , October 21, 2008 4:07 PM
    jhansonxiI didn't see any mention of Blizzard's Warden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warden_(software)


    I think you're a bit misinformed if you think that Warden has anything to do with antipiracy. Warden looks at people playing the game using cheats and exploits.
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