DRM remains a useful tool for publishers but cannot be used at the expense of consumers, SimCity creator Will Wright has said.
But regardless of the morality behind Microsoft’s now-ditched DRM plans for Xbox One, Wright has told CNN that he was impressed with how the platform holder reacted to the vocal complaints of gamers.
“The sensibility of being able to play a game I want to on a PC or any device is great,” he stated. “I love that freedom and the free-to-play games have made good use of that. From the consumers' point of view, I can really understand a lot of the backlash to DRM. The fact that if something's required on the internet that means they can't play it on the airplane or if their Internet connection goes down.
“I thought it was very impressive how responsive Microsoft was. DRM is going to be an ongoing negotiation because there are features to the DRM, or at least internet connectivity, that is a very attractive solution to the piracy issue. Gaming has had a long history of piracy, but you can't use DRM at the expense of the customers. I'm not really sure I have a clear answer to this except that it's going to be something that we slowly acclimate the player base towards.
“To see a company like Microsoft actually sit back, listen, and understand the fans and respond to them is impressive. For a company that size to be that responsive is great. These companies are the ones that obviously keep us in business and allow us to make games.”
Regardless of his admiration for the efforts of gamers to overturn to policies, Wright also pointed out that developers and platform holders have to make a call regarding when it is and is not advisable to listen to the angry internet.
“On the other side there's the internet thing where five per cent of the people are making all the noise,” he added. “Sometimes they represent the other 95 per cent, sometimes they don't. A lot of times the five per cent are asking for ridiculously elaborate features, and as a game designer you know that's going to make the game inaccessible to everybody else.
“There are these people that want you to push a franchise in a super hardcore direction, and therefore we're going to close it off to 95 per cent of the players, so you have to understand what kind of feedback that they're giving you. But when it's something that's five per cent representing the other 95 that will probably feel the same way, then I think it's really valuable.”