Controversial digital rights management (DRM) technologies are essential for doing business, Square Enix's senior manager in business and legal affairs, Adam Sullivan, has said.
“The primary benefit to us is the same as with any business: profit,” Sullivan told TorrentFreak. “We have a well-known reputation for being very protective of our IPs, which does deter many would-be pirates." However, he went on to say that the effectiveness of DRM is "notoriously difficult to measure."
While aimed at preventing piracy, DRM measures are often criticised for interfering with the experience of those who legitimately purchase games. Requirements to always be connected to a network in order to play singleplayer games, as was the case with Maxis' latest SimCity game until recently, have been partcularly controversial. When it was originally announced, Microsoft planned for Xbox One to have an always-online requirement, but changed their stance prior to the system's release due to harsh backlash.
Some developers, like The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red, have taken a strong stance against DRM. Last October, they announced that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PC will have no DRM of any kind. "We’ve fiddled with DRM in the past (Oh boy! How young and naïve we were;)) and that’s enough. Lesson learned," said Marcin Iwinski, co-founder and joint CEO of CD Projekt Red, at the time.
“The key to DRM is that it can’t interfere with the customer’s ability to play the game,” Sullivan said. “It’s not uncommon for people to get a new computer every few years, or to have multiple computers. Sometimes they don’t have reliable internet connections. There’s no perfect solution yet.”
Despite these problems, DRM is here to stay, according to Sullivan. "I think DRM will be essential for the foreseeable future,” Sullivan said. “So long as we’re concerned about things like data privacy, accounting sharing and hacking, we’ll need some form of DRM."