Ubisoft's vice president of digital games, Chris Early, weighed in on the company's future anti-piracy efforts. Ubisoft in particular have been the proprietors of corrosive DRM, and are constantly directed the question of how to maintain product value without inconveniencing consumers. Their opinions on DRM are constantly evolving, thought not always in the consumer's favor.
Here's Early's current line of thought:
"I don't know that there is a perfect answer today. There are some technological answers. There are some design answers. There have been different approaches from different publishers at times, some doing no DRM and just assuming it's the cost of doing business. Some are doing a very strict DRM. Some doing an on-going content revision. I don't think we have a single, good answer yet. The interesting thing will be, how do we create enough value that that need for DRM goes away?"
While his initial reasoning is somewhat circular and ambiguous, he ends on a significant point: what will it take to make DRM go away? Early comes to the conclusion that MMO systems are providing the best way to fight piracy, despite Ubisoft's own disheartening attempts at "always online" DRM.
"The question is, with enough on-going content development, content release, engagement at the community level, can we create that kind of MMO value system? I think we can. As the rest of the game industry continues to evolve, the more you hear about cloud gaming, the more you hear about companion gaming, the less a pirated game should work in all of that environment. So, therefore the value of that pirated content becomes less."
By companion gaming, Early means social and mobile spin-off software, and by cloud gaming we can only assume he means gameplay experiences that are inextricably intertwined with online systems. It's not a question of how to remove DRM, but what kind of DRM both defends and is player-friendly.
Early closes with his hopes that Ubisoft DRM can stay on the, "less intrusive, less cumbersome side of that path as we go on." At the least, it's a positive shift in philosophy, but it almost seems like Early is hoping DRM will grow into a form that is, while equally protective of a product, not considered DRM by players. Is that something players would consider acceptable or deceptive? Time will tell.