'DRM is a failed dead-end strategy', says EA's Frank Gibeau

Exec denies any links between SimCity's always-online play and DRM

EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has not only denied that SimCity's rigid always-online structure has any link to DRM, but has also dismissed DRM as a "failed dead-end strategy".


Speaking with GamesIndustry, Gibeau rejected any notion that DRM was the motivation behind making an always-online connection a requirement for SimCity, which suffered disastrous server outages at launch.

"That's not the reality; I was involved in all the meetings," he said. "DRM was never even brought up once. You don't build an MMO because you're thinking of DRM - you're building a massively multiplayer experience, that's what you're building."

Gibeau went on to strongly disregard DRM as a viable method of anti-piracy protection. "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business," he said.

"So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all."

SimCity's mandatory online connection was the cause for a disastrous launch when the game's servers buckled under high demand, leaving many players completely unable to access the game for extended periods.

Gibeau says the game was designed to be an MMO-style connected experience, and EA should have better at conveying this to gamers.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't do a better job communicating that upfront. I'm disappointed that we had a rough first couple of days in terms of underestimating how people were going to play the game and how the server infrastructure was going to hold up, but we responded the best we could, we got people to fix it as fast as we could," he said.