The recent openly antagonistic piece on Edge Online detailing why corporations are perfectly ok to follow the ACS Law route of hit and run letters and all your concerns are worthless (Where is the empirical evidence that your opinion is worth anything, eh?) reminded me that I’ve never really mentioned why I don’t use any DRM on my games. Sort of. It actually made me cuss for a good few hours first because I’m never, ever good with anyone minimising people’s concerns in favour of what is best for a corporation. Never.
To be honest, the main reason is that it shouldn’t even be a discussion point as far as I’m concerned. DRM is, in pretty much 99% of cases, absolutely shit and shit useless at defending against piracy. But for me to follow that line, well, I’d need to actually be worried about piracy. I’m not. I don’t care if you pirate my stuff. Go right ahead. You don’t need to though, and I’ll tell you why in a bit.
I’m one person who makes games in his spare-ish time. I make the games I want to make and this is something that makes me happy and I want you to be happy too. INSTANT BOWIE! Sorry, lost myself there…
I grew up owning a ZX Spectrum, I still remember losing the Lode Runner code sheet and not being able to run the game. I remember squinting through a piece of warped plastic trying to work out exactly what the shit was on the screen and cursing the name of whoever invented such a shit system.
And I remember reading about a dongle system that would keep Amiga games secure, and I remember visiting the computer club I used to visit and seeing the game passed round with the protection stripped away way before it hit the shops. Dongle-no-more.
I grew up thinking “oh for fucks sake, I just want to load the game and play it. Will you please just let me do that?” because that’s why I buy games. I buy them to play them. And every step between me and the game, be it DRM, making me watch an advert on load, making me sign up for a bunch of services, update those services and I don’t know, asking me to shit an onion or whatever it is Ubisoft are up to these days can just go and fuck off because it annoys me.
I would sooner people pirate my game than that. Really. So there’s none of that. It’s rubbish. I don’t like it so I’m not going to inflict it on you.
I also understand that even with no DRM, putting something behind a paywall invites piracy also. So I understand that no matter what I do, someone will pirate it. And that’s fine too providing no-one is slipping any shit into it (which lets face it, despite hysterical claims isn’t something that happens in a good 99% of cases). If you want my games and you can’t afford it, you don’t want to pay what is a nominal amount (I’d prefer it if you didn’t pay $0.01 btw, just because it’s a bit of a pointless exchange on all sides – I don’t get offended or upset, I just kinda don’t see the point) or whatever reason is in your head, that’s ok. You can go right ahead.
Fill your boots and pirate away.
But you don’t have to. I don’t want you to pirate my games. I don’t mind if you pirate them, but I don’t want you to have to. Or feel the need to. WAIT WHAT etc…
Every few weeks, I get a mail along the lines of this:
“hey, I’ve lost the download link you sent me and stuff but I thought you ought to know that I managed to find it anyway without having to check any emails or contact you and just with a bit of internet cursory searching, you might want to fix that”
And I appreciate that people care enough to do that. I appreciate it that they’d take the time to try and find the games again because they want to play them. That makes me happy. And I appreciate that they’re concerned that I might lose out because whilst they’re honest enough, maybe other people aren’t – especially if it’s that easy. And I do, truly, appreciate these mails and I’m honestly thankful that people take the time to send them.
I try and reply wherever possible and tell them that it’s ok. That’s fine. Because I’d sooner people got them from me than from elsewhere because at least then, I know what they’re getting and I know it’s fine. I know that what they did is possible and I’m cool with that. I’m cool if they do it again. I’m cool if they want to tell their friends how to do it. I’m cool if they just pass a few zips around on a disk. I’m cool. That’s fine.
So you don’t have to pirate my games. There’s other ways. Obviously I’d be a lot happier if you chose the “recommended route”, I try and place as few barriers between you and my games as possible because I want to make this easy on everyone and for everyone but hey, whatever. I’m cool. We’re cool, right?
There are other ways also. I grant permission to OneSwitch and Special Effect to distribute any of my stuff with accessibility options in their library for free because that stuff is important. When accessible games are thin on the ground, when there’s already barriers of play in place I’m not putting a financial one there either.
There’s stuff lurking on MODDB if you know where to look also which I’ve never removed nor do I have any intention of doing so. Because you never know, someone might stumble upon it and enjoy it and that’s good, yeah? Besides, I like MODDB.
I also run giveaway periods where I throw everything out there for nothing anyway, no paywalls, no barriers, no DRM, no call home, nothing at all. So there’s never any real need to pirate my stuff anyway.
And why all of this?
Not once has someone pirating my games harmed me in any way whatsoever nor will it ever. There’s always that. But also…
I make games to be played and I want you to play my games and I hope you enjoy them. If you don’t, fair enough, we’re still good. I still like you. And if you throw some money my way, that’s great too because it means I can carry on making them with less worry in my life. I’m going to make them anyway because that’s the kinda guy I am but I can always make them bigger and better if I’m not doing it on 50p and a whippet and if something falls off my computer, I can do something about it.
And one thing life has taught me so far is that you know what, that’s a system that works for me because people do do that. And I love that, I love them for it because even if you send me 10p, I’m thankful for that because you didn’t have to do that. And that’s some way towards buying a cake*. Cake is nice. Being nice is nice. I’m not always nice but I like nice things and I like nice people and I like being nice when I’m not being a grumpy old git.
Yeah, so it won’t work for most people who aren’t me – 99.9% of people who make games couldn’t survive doing things the way I do them but they’re not me so that’s fine, they can sort themselves out and find their own things that they’re comfortable with and is bestiest of the best for them.
It’s not applicable across the board and there’ll be devs reading this pulling the most hilarious faces (oh, if they could see themselves in the mirror – the larks!), but I suspect one truth I’ve learnt is: trust is important. You have to trust me not to shit up your computer and I have to trust you to recompense me and hey, we might not always get it right, either of us but it’s a fucking better start than DRM or chasing people with threatening letters and scant actual proof and everyone going at each others throats or making fucking car analogies. Seriously, I fucking hate car analogies, let’s never go there again.
So yeah, if you want to pirate my games, go on. Do so now if you want. You don’t have to but you can with my blessing.
If you want to find another way to play them that isn’t pirating, well, I’m sure there’s some information out there somewhere that’ll help you do that.
And if you want to help support me in making more games, go right ahead too. You know where my site is.
Whichever you choose (none of the above is totally an option too!), I’m cool with. Let’s all be cool. Cool is cool.
*I’ve also been so skint that I know how “it’s only a couple of beverages/cigs/chocolate bars/party hats or whatever else people use to compare costs with” can be the most depressing thing ever when you can only dream of buying a couple of beverages/cigs/chocolate bars/party hats or whatever else people use to compare costs with.