Charlie “Flayra” Cleveland wrote Want to Make a Game? Here’s How. He notes that making a mod of an existing game isn’t as easy as it was years ago. To break into game development, he suggests the PopCap Games Framework or Torque. Both make game development much easier than having to learn how to program the low-level bits yourself for years.
But then he says the following:
One vital feature that both of these engines are missing is some sort of digital rights management (DRM) and/or e-commerce system.
Now, there are two problems I have with this statement. The first is that this post was supposed to be about making games, not selling them. A person trying to learn how to create his/her first game shouldn’t worry about marketing and sales. You’ll find that deciding between Plimus or Regnow is less important than figuring out how the standard game loop works. This issue is a minor one, so I won’t spend too much time on it.
The second problem, the one that I think is more important, is that I don’t think DRM is a “vital” feature. It’s weird how it keeps popping up. DRM & Unlock Codes at Greg Costikyan’s blog asks about DRM solutions. People are debating whether DRM should even be addressed by GPLv3. PC Gamer’s latest issue has an entire article on how to deal with Starforce and other stupid copyprotection schemes. Maybe it is a vital feature if your goal is to make playing your game a nuisance to potential and current customers. Maybe it is important if you intend to say to your customers, “I don’t trust you” while simultaneously claiming, “Our customers are incredibly important to us”. Maybe you can’t live without it if you have enough time to stop making games and to start playing with the trust of your customers.
I believe that so-called digital rights management is more about restricting the rights of customers and end-users than guaranteeing the rights of authors and artists. If new game developers are supposed to learn how to make the customer’s life difficult, then by all means consider DRM to be a “vital” aspect of a game development curriculum. I will continue to question why we’re supposed to assume that the customer is untrustworthy without any real evidence to suggest it.