Earlier this week, a gamer disgruntled with EA's copy protection policies e-mailed Valve CEO Gabe Newell to ask about the publisher's involvement in Left 4 Dead, Valve's zombie-themed multiplayer co-op shooter. After replying that EA merely handled physical distribution of the title, Newell launched into a short rant about PC gaming DRM in general. Here's an excerpt from the gamer's LiveJournal posting:
As far as DRM goes, most DRM strategies are just dumb. The goal should be to create greater value for customers through service value (make it easy for me to play my games whenever and wherever I want to), not by decreasing the value of a product (maybe I'll be able to play my game and maybe I won't).
We really really discourage other developers and publishes [sic] from using the broken DRM offerings, and in general there is a groundswell to abandon those approaches.
Just common sense, right? Perhaps, but Valve distributes games from a number of high-profile developers and publishers through Steam—Activision, Bethesda, Eidos, Epic Games, id Software, Rockstar, Take-Two, and Ubisoft have all signed up—so Newell's stance on the matter may have considerable sway.
As Shacknews points out, Valve's Steam digital distribution software lets users install games as many times as they please. By contrast, the DRM scheme EA has used in Spore and Mass Effect has drawn ire from gamers for restricting the number of installations permitted in the game's lifetime.