EA: DRM Is A Failed Dead-End Strategy

EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has spoken out against DRM, calling it a dead-end strategy.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International at GDC this week, Gibeau said:

“DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it’s not a viable strategy for the gaming business. So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that’s what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that’s not the case at all.”

Gibeau admitted that EA didn’t do the best it could to communicate to the community that the new SimCity would be an MMO and that players would always be connected.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t do a better job communicating that upfront. I’m disappointed that we had a rough first couple of days in terms of underestimating how people were going to play the game and how the server infrastructure was going to hold up, but we responded the best we could, we got people to fix it as fast as we could.”

Do you believe the issue was that EA didn’t do a better job communicating its message?

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9 Comments on EA: DRM Is A Failed Dead-End Strategy

Kevin

On March 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

No, everyone knew always on was a big part of the game. They just didn’t freaking like it or want it. Yet they would have tolerated it, had the product worked. It didn’t, so everyone got pissed, and then realized that the way things were structured,the shady aspect of DRM made sense.

If EA makes games without intrusive as hell DRM, then people will believe what EA is saying.

dakan45

On March 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm

and i am dissapointed you say these bullocks. No diffirent than dead space 3 devs saying “ea leaves well enough alone”

Zero punctuation sim city

Jimqusition sim city.

JawaEsteban

On March 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Simcity is a special case, because it has a very unusual core player demographic compared to most of the other major franchises. There are a ton of people who preordered Simcity who’s last major AAA game purchase was very likely Simcity 4 back in 2003. Basically, you’re dealing with a core fan group that plays simcity, and that’s it. They might have experimented a bit with Tropico, Civilization, and/or Cities XL, but they are decidedly NOT mainstream gamers. Consequently, I’ve seen a lot of people on the boards at the various simcity fansites who had no f’ing clue what they were getting into, seen more than a few posts from people who didn’t know what ‘DRM’ even meant, much less the problems associated with it.
Looking at the launch through that lens, EA did a really lousy job of communicating upfront how the ‘game’ worked. From my cynical viewpoint, I believe it to have been intentional dishonesty to sell more preorder copies given EA’s historical track record, but the fact remains that it was poorly done. EA may be evil, but it’s not stupid in terms of making short term profits. Classic case of exploiting a group of people for money who lack the contextual understanding to realize they’re being screwed.

Lee

On March 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

It’s more than just poor communication on their part. There is also the fact they ruined The Sims for the fans.

Kevin

On March 28, 2013 at 1:05 am

Excuse me if I’m wrong, but don’t MMO’s require “always online” as a core part of how they run?

Whereas its been proven that SimCity needed “always online” just to send a message to EA’s servers every now and again, thus people could play offline temporarily (Or even indefinitely in the face of that hacker).

It sure as doesn’t sound like an MMO to me, it sounds like EA doing their worst at covering their own arse for repeated failures.

quicktooth

On March 28, 2013 at 2:52 am

You idiots. You didn’t fail to “communicate” you didn’t have DRM and that you made an MMO, you failed to actually make an MMO and DO HAVE the most invasive and insulting form of DRM. Have you not even looked at the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco? THEY tried to bull us into thinking they hadn’t been “clear” enough too, and the problem was a fundamental systemic one there too. Just… stop… talking.

Foehunter82

On March 28, 2013 at 8:34 am

“DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it’s not a viable strategy for the gaming business. So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that’s what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that’s not the case at all.”

They don’t see “always online” singleplayer as DRM, apparently. This also, to me, indicates that they won’t remove the DRM schemes from past releases. Didn’t they say they were going to release a patch for the first Mass Effect that would eventually remove it’s DRM? They never actually did that. They are effectively embracing Ubisoft’s style of dealing with customers.

R.J.

On March 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

A failure of communication is what they tried to say about DS3′s microtransactions, too. It’s not that people don’t understand, it’s that they never wanted that to start with. And as Kevin pointed out, it might have squeaked by if it at least worked, but people start questioning such connectivity when it keeps them from playing the game they paid for.

Patches

On March 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm

EA has a problem about communicating its message indeed…

I don’t believe the 1st paragraph about DRM Gibeau is saying up there…
The second one about lack of preparation seems more credible though…