Updated / Stardock’s DRM plan is a day late and a dollar short

Updated: In light of further review spawned by HarassmentPanda below (thanks for keeping us honest) the two DRM methods appear to be on pretty equal footing. There still remains some mild ambiguity around some of the methods that Stardock is planing to enact but at the core both Goo and CEG (Valve’s solution) seem pretty similar. The only major difference is CEG uses Steam, but the benefits that come with that like the achievment system and DLC incentives outweigh Stardock’s offering, but only by a little. Regardless both methods are leaps and bounds better than SecuRom and I think everyone is in agreement on that.

Original story: Everyone in all of the gaming community can appreciate Stardock’s advocacy against DRM in games but unfortunately for them they came to the party a tad bit late. Earlier this week Valve dropped the news of their upcoming anti-DRM initiative with Steamworks, which is a set of developer tools that will allow publishers to protect their games without aggravating the consumers. Fast forward to today and Startdock did the same but with much less cheering and fanfare accompanying it. This is partly due to the fact that the details of their methods are somewhat ambiguous and mostly due to the fact that they are eclipsed by Valve’s massive shadow.

Being called Game Object Obfuscation — Goo for short– it apparently allows developers to protect their IPs without a third party app like Steam, and “Paves the way to letting users validate their game on any digital distribution service that supports that game.” It also somehow allows PC gamers to un-register and re-sell/give away their games. While this looks fantastic on paper, the problem we see with this is there is a general lack of the “how” part. We don’t see anywhere in Stardock’s proposal on how they exactly plan do make all of this magical mojo happen.

As of right now, Steamworks still seems like the better option for developers and we don’t mind them migrating to a centralized community like Steam which from what we can gather is the opposite of what Stardock would like to see happen. Under Stardock’s plan developers would be free to continue using the ridiculous amount of digital distribution channels instead of narrowing those channels down to a few that gamers can actually keep track of. To top that off Stardock doesn’t ever tell anyone how this plan actually protects the games. Perhaps there is a authentication check on the .exe and if you’re not the right person it yells “your mother” insults at you until the would-be thief runs away crying like a school girl. Until we get clarification on this, Stardock’s plan just looks like a lot of PR mumbo jumbo with very little substance.