A Modest Proposal About DRM

A Modest Proposal About DRM


When it comes to the future of combating piracy, extreme measures may need to be taken. DRM is one of the more controversial anti-piracy tools, but is there a way to use it to make a better future for gamers and developers alike?

A Simple Process (cntd)

Here’s how the serial code system would work in an ideal scenario:

1. Joe Blow gamer decides to go buy a copy of Mega Shooter Duty 7 at his local retail store. During the transaction an automated process begins upon payment. As the receipt gets ready to print out, the cash register’s system would dial into a proprietary server belonging to the developer or publisher of the game. From there the server is told that the disc with a certain serial number has been purchased and is awaiting activation upon the console it will be primarily played on.

2. Upon arriving home Joe puts the game into his console and connects the system to the internet. As the game is activated for the first time the system would identify the serial number contained on the disc and connect to a server belonging to the relevant console manufacturer. This would contain both the user’s account information along with the console’s ID number and would record the disc’s serial number.

3. Based on the key identifiers in the code it would dial into the developer or publisher’s server, the retailer from whom the game was purchased from and would acknowledge that it is a legitimate copy of the game. It would then send back a unique primary response code along with five other codes that would allow for use of the game on another console (guest codes if you will).

4. A popup appears on screen acknowledging that this is the first time the disc has been used and will ask whether to mark this console as the primary console on which it will be played on.

- Should the answer be yes the primary code would be recorded into the user’s account information and (along with the serial number and the console’s ID) the game would thereby be permanently connected with the console and would associate it as the main console on which it will be played upon.

- Should the player say no to this it would instead only assign a guest code to that console. This process would occur only once and the system would reconfirm the serial number every time the player starts the game much the same way as many PC games do.

This confirmation process could also take less than ten seconds to accomplish and could be easily hidden behind a loading screen or perhaps a logo display.

Offline Authentication

Now let us suppose that the gamer in question doesn’t have internet access at their house or place of residence. As the game is booted up as normal, a message pops up that acknowledges that their is no internet connection and now have have 24 hours to activate the code on-screen to the console’s servers. From there the gamer can continue on and play through as they normally would while the console keeps track of the time. Should the gamer not register the game within the given time the console would deny the gamer the ability to play the game on that console.

In order to complete the registration without connecting the console to the internet the player would either have to log in to the console maker’s website or actually call them over the phone. After going through the process of confirming their account information, the player would then record both the serial code and the primary response code (obtained from the developer/publisher’s server) to his/her information. The response code would then be given to the player who would, identify the permanent memory file of the game at the system settings and enter it into it. From there the player can start up the game without hassle.

Friends and More Friends

If a person should want to play the game on other consoles, upon doing so the console maker’s server would recognize that the serial number is already in use on another system. The server would then assign one of the five guest codes and would consequently hold their information. This event would be recorded into the owner’s information as well and would identify the guest console by the last four digits of its ID number and the guest’s login name. For security reasons the owner of that copy of the game would be asked to login to confirm this action is desired, lest the game having been stolen. Should the friend not have an internet connection the owner of the game would be forced to retrieve one of the guest codes from their information online or over the phone and enter it into the memory file for the game in the console’s system settings.

In the unlikely scenario that the player decides that they want to share the game with more than five people a bit of commercial ingenuity can be utilized. If the limit is exceeded then the owner of that copy of the game would be asked to login and purchase another guest code for a price, with this money going directly to the developers instead of a retailer or the console maker’s. In the event that the owner is unwilling to purchase another game code they could simply log onto the console maker’s website, access their account information, and simply deactivate one of the response codes. Isn’t the small sacrifice of having only six game consoles to play it on before having to spend more money on it a fair trade off to prevent the game from becoming an illegally pirated copy?

A Modest Proposal About DRM

Need help trying to sift through that process? Check out this handy flowchart. A large version of the flowchart can be found here.