Electronic Arts has been known to try everything possible for the sake of combating pirates. They have included all kinds of much-hated DRM in their games. But now the CEO of EA has said that pirates are a new market that EA needs to make money from.
While this is great news for the anti-DRM activists, it might not be good news for gamers who actually buy their games. John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, wants to sell DLC – download content – to everyone who has the game, not just those who bought it. But this might turn into a very bad thing: DLC will contain most of the game, while the game itself will be more like a platform to add features onto. This would degrade the quality of games severely. And a lot of today’s games are already terrible enough.
It’s good that EA has recognized pirates as something they cannot defeat. It is impossible, just as it is impossible to stop all robbery and theft in the real world. Why waste money and resources fighting a war you cannot win? However, DLC is not the answer, at least for PC games. DLC can be illegally downloaded just like the game itself. And the biggest issue here is developers degrading the initial game on purpose so they can sell lots of DLC later on.
Download content for games is growing already, and I think developers are starting to see the profit in it. Personally I don’t like the whole DLC model because paying $50 for a game is too much in the first place. A lot more games would sell if they cost less, and in the end, the money made from the game would be the same, if not more. But pushing DLC on pirates will most likely produce no real results. Only inexperienced pirates might buy the DLC – people who know what they’re doing will just pirate the DLC.
Whether piracy affects the sale of media is still being debated, but one thing that’s been proven is that DRM only hurts legitimate gamers. DRM can only delay a game from being cracked, and that delay is typically only an hour or so. All games can be and will be cracked, shared, pirated. How game developers, movie producers, the music industry, and software companies will react to piracy depends on their success. I think it’s time for them to drop DRM, and find a way to profit off the games even if they’re pirated. DLC might not be the answer, but how about something like in-game advertising (only if done realistically and tastefully, like in Battlefield 2 or TrackMania Nations)?