Though some fans were upset when Football Manager 2012 became the first in the PC sim series to require Steam, developer Sports Interactive has credited the move with helping reduce piracy. Thanks to a combination of Steam's own DRM and a mysterious other technology, FM2012 was cracked 15 days later than the games "usually" are.
"Certainly in the first 10 days before we were cracked, because we got cracked after 10 days (which is actually 15 days less than normal--normally we're cracked the weekend before release), we've definitely seen a sales upsurge," Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson told Eurogamer, saying that the series is still seeing "double-digit growth" year-on-year.
"Of course it could be because we've got the best game that we've ever released this year and loads of people have rushed out and bought it," he added. "It might be a pure coincidence. But there were definitely people on the forums that were talking about a pirated version of the game who were, after four or five days, posting that, 'I can't wait any more, I'm going out and buying the game.'"
Football Manager 2012 uses Steam's own natural DRM plus an unnamed other tech, which Jacobson describes as "a hardening of Steam sec... that will have caused confusion for the people trying to [crack] it."
Add this to the pool of conflicting opinions on how effective DRM actually is. Only last week, Marcin Iwinski of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings dev CD Projekt RED declared that DRM didn't work. CD Projekt's response to piracy, he explained, was to offer bonuses to encourage people to buy the game, and educated players on piracy.
There does seem to be a general consensus that overly intrusive DRM turns would-be customers away, though. Even Ubisoft, the publisher behind the infamous 'always online' DRM, has toned things down; Assassin's Creed Revelations only required a one-time activation.