Blockchain: the anti-piracy superweapon?

DRM or Digital Rights Management, is often hated by players. It is designed to discourage piracy, but it is better known for being a pain in the ass for players than it actually deters pirates.

The Past

The first attempts at anti-piracy action were created by Nintendo in 1985 with the Famicom Disk System add on to the NES. Their plan was to only allow floppy disks with the Nintendo logo imprinted onto the floppy disk to fit properly inside the console. Floppy disks without the Nintendo logo would not fit properly in the console.

Throughout the years many other attempts at DRM were tried. CD-keys and codes were popular for years. Some games tried limited install activations, which limited the amount of times games could be installed on an operating system to around 3-5 installations.

Another form of DRM was software tampering. When a video game’s software suspected that it was pirated a change in the game occurs, sometimes with hilarious results. In the Serious Sam 3, if you pirate the game, a gigantic invincible scorpion appears and kills your character. In Mirror’s Edge a pirated game is unplayable. A programming trick made the game slow down before jumps.

The Present

Currently the most common form of DRM is Always-online DRM. This requires that a player is constantly online if they’d like to play a game. This was first implicated in Diablo 3 and caused many a consumer backlash at first. For better or worse, this has become an industry standard and many games and gaming platforms, such as Steam require it.

This form of DRM strictly limits the players ability to play and enjoy games. Not everyone is always online and sometimes minor internet issues can block players from enjoying even single player games which would not require an internet connection.

The Future: Blockchain

Many have explored the use case of blockchain technology as a way to store legal documents and deeds but this use case can also benefit the video game industry. Video game authentication can take place on the blockchain, which could guarantee ownership of a game to a certain individual. By using blockchain, Always-online DRM would no longer be necessary, as it wouldn’t necessarily require you to be online. Verification could take place hypothetically once and that would be it.

By using blockchain technology DRM’s would be a lot less invasive and limiting for players. It could also be a more effective tool against piracy.