Namco Bandai Partners Supporting "Always On" DRM Idea

By Brian Leahy, May 31, 2010 9:00am PDT Namco Bandai Partners VP, Olivier Comte, in speaking with CVG has called Ubisoft's always-on DRM solution for PC games "a good strategy" in the absence of an alternative.

This comes just a day after Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce called the fight against piracy with DRM a "losing battle."

The full explanation from Namco's Comte, who's company is publishing Test Drive Unlimited 2 and The Witcher 2, goes a little something like this:

I will be very honest. I think it's a good [approach] for one reason: I have no alternative today. Is the best one? Certainly not but as of today if I can make something else I'll do it, but it's better to do something than not do something.

Surprisingly, Comte also admits that regardless of the DRM system is utilized, "it'll be cracked in Russia... two hours before putting it out." Seems like a good reason to punish paying customers. I cannot say for sure, but perhaps Namco Bandai will face some backlash for backing Ubisoft on this one.

This shouldn't serve as a confirmation of always-on DRM for the two games mentioned, but it seems likely. Console versions of both titles will also be released.

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  • Wow, this is after a week when Frank Pearce made his comment, and Avalanche Studios boss Christofer Sundberg spoke out against DRM punishing legal gamers:
    "Games have become a luxurious form of entertainment and piracy has scared the market to start implementing ridiculous DRM solutions that only limits the consumers that actually PAY for their games, not stopping the pirates."

    Perhaps Comte has been listening too much to curmudgeonly old lawyer-analysts like Michael Pachter?

    I'm also laughing at the "I have no alternative today" comment. You're not even TRYING. No mention of Steam, or of recognizing how insanely annoying Ubisoft's strategy is on the consumer side for a user with a net connection with less than 3 nines of uptime (and I'm saying this as a gamer who has currently had about 9% uptime for the past few days; good thing I haven't bought any recent Ubisoft games). He's probably had his company do too much usability playtesting on the company network where the activation server is hosted, where there's far less non-company-owned equipment to fail.

    And the "it'll be cracked in Russia... two hours before putting it out" comment is funny too. You know what less Draconian companies seem to be saying? "Yeah, it'll be pirated, but we care about delivering a good experience to our paying customers, and to not end up reviled among the enthusiast segments, as happened to 2K, anyone who used StarForce, and Ubisoft." You know, companies like Valve, Blizzard, Avalanche... notice a pattern here?

    Meh, Namco Bandai gets put on my list of publishers to avoid. As if they were ever not on that list; their catalog isn't interesting to me, and they're one of those companies that seems to blindly hate on Western developers (remember when they U-Haul'd Bottle Rocket? Maybe that was deserved for the missing milestones, but seriously, U-Haul?).

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