Next up is the thorny issue of DRM. At the most basic level, Digital Rights
Management (DRM) technologies are used to curb piracy by restricting
users’ ability to copy software, though it can also be used to create new
business models, like subscriptions.
DRM was very widely used in games, but opinions are changing and now
most indies no longer bother with DRM. That said, it can still have its uses
providing you do it in such a way that won’t alienate paying customers.
There are three approaches you can take to DRM:
Very much the consumer choice and favoured by a lot of indie developers.
Very easy to implement as you don’t actually have to do anything, but
certainly the most open to piracy.
Separate Demo and Full Version
Completely separate builds with the demo freely available to download,
often with features and content cut so it can’t be hacked to run the full
version. The full version is then available to download from a password-protected site once purchased, with the download details emailed to the
customer. I initially decided this was too much hassle and time intensive,
having to maintain two separate builds, but I am warming to this approach
Commercial DRM Solutions
Purchase a package and with a bit of setting up you can control licensing
and activation and the terms of the trial (i.e. 60 minutes’ free play, x number of free plays, x days and so on). I have used this method in the past as it was the most convenient solution for managing the licensing for multiple titles.
You can also develop your own soft-touch DRM, basically an email
registration and key delivery system.
I can’t say I would recommend commercial DRM now, as most indie titles
these days are DRM free and consumers tend to react badly to DRM, unless
it is part of a service such as Steam.
For completeness sake, I have included a few commercial solutions below:
With ExeShield it’s easy to turn your applications into ‘try before you buy’
software with very little effort, and maximum protection against piracy,
backdating, reverse engineering or any kind of tampering.
WinLicense combines the same protection-level as Themida with the power
of advanced licence control, offering the most powerful and flexible
technology that allows developers to securely distribute trial and registered
versions of their applications.