Gameloft's DRM policy was brought up yesterday after Dave Loft sent tips out to a few sites. I found out about it right away but decided to not post anything about it until thinking it through for a bit. Gameloft's DRM policy is terrible. It is every developers right as to whether or not they use the Android market for sales but policies like this do no good.
Here is the email Dave Loft received from Gameloft in regards to their DRM policy:
About the handset, our policy is:
according to our refund policy, once the game is successfully installed, we cannot resend it for any reason, unless you buy it again. One purchase entitles you to one download of the game to one phone number and on one phone model only. If you delete or otherwise remove the game from your phone, or change your handset, you will have to buy it again.
About updates, I’m sorry, I have no information.
Please, visit our site and forum to get the latest info.
Best regards, and please let us know if you have any doubt.
What this policy is saying is that regardless of the reason, whether your phone dies and you replace it, you uninstall one of their games by accident or any other reason you may think of, you'll have to repurchase the game. You may be thinking "well why not just back it up on your computer?" and while this would usually work, from what I've seen discussed about this, their games are protected and as such only allow one installation so backing it up and trying to install it again at a later date will not work.
Gameloft has complained about piracy of their games for awhile now, although I'm sure the 24hr refund period with the Android market has also helped in their decision to use their own store online instead of the market, a policy like this will certainly not entice consumers who are used to being able to 1) refund a game, 2) be able to re-install a game without having to buy it again if they change phones.
Android is about being open and having choices and a policy such as this goes against that very ideology. As a launch for new games, this has been the worst I've seen in a while with the first week having the games not even working. Now that they are, it's difficult to buy them, it's hit or miss for whatever reason with their store front. Now with the news of such a policy, why would the average consumer want to buy from Gameloft?
The delivery method is also terrible as it uses a code, sent via text, with a link for you to click on which will then download your game you've just purchased onto your phone. While most people who own Android phones have plans which include text services, some people do not which automatically alienates them from purchasing any games.
A solution for this policy would be simple to implement. Track orders using transaction ID# or since the delivery service is via text messages, use the transaction ID# along with the customers phone number. That's just one example of how to go about it. As mentioned in the email as well, how about updates to the game as they are released? Why would we want to buy a game we know will receive updates but we won't have access to because we purchased the game at launch time?
While the games themselves are impressive looking, a policy like this makes me weary of purchasing even one of them which is unfortunate. While I won't sit here and say don't buy from Gameloft, I will say that you have been warned about their policy and buying is at your own risk until this policy changes. Just be prepared that if something happens to your game or phone, you'll have to buy your games all over again.
Hopefully Gameloft changes this policy quickly because it would be bad to see them leave Android due to lack of sales.
Update Mat 27, 2010: Dave Loft left a comment about a way to get around the single install issue. Go to lettersfromdave.wordpress.com to read how to do it =) Thanks Dave for letting us know!