Bohemia Interactive is mostly known for games like the ARMA series and the recently launched Take On Helicopters, but the Czech developer has also gained notoriety for its alternative approach to DRM. The "Degrade" tech slowly adds bugs to pirated copies until they're entirely unplayable. CEO Marek Španěl recently shared his thoughts on the advantages of using this method.
"The motto is: Pirated games are not worth playing, original games do not degrade," Španěl told PC Gamer. "Some of the symptoms are funny, usually annoying. In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird with the words 'Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame.' While we know we will never stop piracy, we use this as a way to make our stand that piracy is not right, that it has a serious negative impact on PC games developers."
He suggests that "for every three legitimate buyers playing their game in multiplayer, there are 100 (failed) attempts to play with a pirated version," and says that while data for single-player is unavailable, the ratio there is "undoubtedly much worse."
Španěl says they consider this a supplement to other copy protection, and sympathizes with the difficulty of getting an investment back on PC development. "Our approach is to remove conventional DRM not too long after the initial game's release to ensure as smooth an experience as possible for our legitimate users and still appeal to our distribution and publishing channels," he said.
And though he's hesitant to be critical of methods like Blizzard's always-online DRM, he does prefer games not to have a connected requirement. "It's really worrying that games may stop functioning at all just because running the central service is no longer viable commercially, or even because your Internet went down in a thunderstorm, etc," he said. "People still play and mod our 10-year-old game, and hopefully some will even continue to do so 10 years into the future. While systems and companies may fail over time, great games should last forever."