Rod Cousens, the CEO of Britsoft publisher Codemasters, has confessed that he’s no fan of DRM and has instead urged the industry to embrace new retail models based on emerging digital infrastructures.
“I'm not necessarily a fan of DRM measures. I think sometimes they're almost counter-productive. I can still be persuaded on them, and I completely understand why they exist but my initial thought is that DRM is not the answer to the piracy issue,” the games veteran told CVG.
“The video games industry has to learn to operate in a different way. My answer is for us as publishers is to actually sell unfinished games and to offer the consumer multiple micro-payments to buy elements of the full experience. That would create an offering that is affordable at retail but over a period of time may also generate more revenue for the publishers to reinvest in our games.”
So, for instance, EA might charge £20 for the retail version of the new FIFA. But the disc might only include exhibition mode and same-console multiplayer. Career Mode could then cost an additional £10, online play another £10 and Be A Pro a further £10, brining the full price of the full title to the current £50 RRP but drastically lowering the barrier to entry on the High Street.
And as well as shaping the games retail model in a way arguably better suited to the modern mass market, the method would also pose a serious threat to pirates.
“If these games are pirated, those who get their hands on them won't be able to complete the experience,” Cousens added. “There will be technology, coding aspects, that will come to bear that will unlock some aspects. Some people will want them and some won't.
“When it comes to piracy, I think you have to make the experience the answer to the issue - rather than respond the other way round and risk damaging that experience for the user. But I may be a lone voice in that.”