Steamworks CEG: DRM Done Well?
Digital Rights Management, you have heard the term used in many a negative sentence over the years but can it be done well? Steam sets an excellent example on how to achieve near perfect DRM but how can this model be extended to all publishers? Valve has kindly updated their Steamworks 2009 Brochure with a bit of insight into how Steamworks can handle this process for any potential Steam game provider.
Valve Corps Steamworks' anti-piracy suite combines three approaches to anti-piracy: (1) Custom Executable Generation, (2) Retail Encryption, and (3) Valuable Platform-Dependant Features.
1. Custom Executable Generation
Custom Executable Generation creates a unique build of your game for each user, making it difficult for any one user to share the game with any other user. Each individual copy of a CEG-protected game is only playable by the Steam account authorized to access it. CEG is transparent, and does not impose limits on users. It lets users access their content from any hardware, and allows unlimited hardware configuration changes without the content becoming unplayable. In fact, no changes are made to a user's computer for CEG to work. Instead, CEG works in tandem with Steam authentication, enabling content access based on user accounts, not arbitrary hardware-based "rights-management" restrictions.
2. Retail Encryption
Protect your day-one release by shipping encrypted media to stores world-wide. No need to worry that your game will leak from a replicator or stock room, Your game stays encrypted until the moment you decide to release it.
Encryption technology also allows you to preload your game to users on Steam. Download encrypted data weeks in advance so that players have access to your game the moment it's released, increasing player numbers and satisfaction during the critical first days.
3. Valuable Platform-Dependant Features
Customers won't want to pirate a game that's connected to 20 million gamers and a feature-rich platform. Features like Steam Achievements, Anti-Cheat, Auto-Updating, and Steam Cloud simply don't exist outside of Steam.