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Valve: Aggressive DRM measures are ‘backwards’

Portal publishers can beat piracy and make more money through quality of service, claims Gabe Newell

Valve’s Gabe Newell has criticised publishers that implement the likes of ‘always-on’ digital rights management to monetise their games and tackle piracy, claiming they are making a backwards step.

“We’re a broken record on this,” said the company president of the studio behind Steam, in an interview with Kotaku. “This belief that you increase your monetisation by making your game worth less through aggressive digital rights management is totally backwards.”

Newell went on to claim that, for publishers, tackling piracy is a matter of providing a better service, and asserted his belief that Valve does not have to worry about the actions of pirates.

“It’s a service issue, not a technology issue. Piracy is just not an issue for us.”

Valve has certainly met with success in Russia, a region infamous for the levels of video game piracy that afflict it.

According to Newell, pirates in the area do such a good job of localisation, they are outperforming the publishers trying to penetrate the area. That analysis motivated Valve to concentrate its efforts in Russia on localisation; an apparent solution that has seen the company beat piracy in the country.

“The best way to fight piracy is to create a service that people need,” he said. “I think [publishers with excessive DRM] will sell less of their products and create more problems,” stated Newell.

“Customers want to know everything is going to be there for them no matter what. Their saved games and configurations will be there. They don’t want any uncertainty.”

Steam does include DRM technologies, but they have not for some time met with the controversy bestowed on efforts to counter piracy and the second hand market by the likes of EA and Ubisoft.

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