Digital Rights Management (DRM), or the practice of attaching anti-piracy software to games, is once again hampering the experience of customers by slowing down the software it's attached to.
User Goomich on Reddit highlighted a video by OverLord Gaming on YouTube that analyzed games that were both "protected" and "unprotected" by DRM. As some games had their DRM removed by official or unofficial means, OverLord Gaming was able to compare and contrast the protected and unprotected versions. What OverLord Gaming found was that DRM significantly slowed down the processing time of the games it was attached to, and sometimes even caused one frame of animation to take over a second to load.
The controversy over DRM goes back a long time, with Jim Sterling covering it last year in December. At the time, he stated that there were 10, 742, 489 types of anti-piracy software on the market. Jim Sterling called DRM a failure, stating that "not only does it not stop piracy, as people committed to stealing a game seem to find ways to do so regardless ... [but] it's proven to be [bad] PR for any company [that uses it]."
Steam is an example of DRM that's unintrusive, as the service verifies that you legally own a game before allowing you to play it. However, for more mainstream, 60.00 games, the choices developers have are to either forego DRM entirely or implement software that tries to figure out if the game has been illegally obtained. The controversy stems from the fact that more often than not, pirates find workarounds, get the game for free anyway, and then end up playing the better version since DRM slows down the legitimately purchased copies.
The games covered in OverLord Gaming's videos included Yakuza 0, Devil May Cry, and Hitman 2, and showed how the DRM bloated software's run times and negatively affected the games as a result. The video ran all sorts of tests, playing DRM and non-DRM affected software and found that most of the time, games untouched by DRM ran much more smoothly.
This poses a valid question about whether DRM is necessary, or whether good practices and good customer service will decrease piracy out of a garnered respect from the community. Jim Sterling points out in his video that websites such as GoG are DRM free and seem to be doing "just fine."
Pirates and DRM are two sides of the same coin. Software is introduced out to prevent piracy, but pirates still manage to obtain and use the software anyway. The problem comes when legitimate customers suffer from these practices and developers suffer from bad PR. It certainly seems that if you make a good enough game, DRM might not be necessary to make a profit. Whether the future of gaming is DRM packed or not remains to be seen, but the debate doesn't look like it will cool down anytime soon.