Edge of Space: the vague line between DRM-free and DRM
Edge of Space is a Kickstarter project by HandyMan studios that has surpassed its pledge goal of $25,000. Though HandyMan promises even its smallest backers a DRM-free copy of the game, its Steam version shows otherwise.
The early access page of Edge of Space on Steam states that it is “DRM -Free: Play connected to ArkDrop, your own private LAN server, or offline. (Early access offline play may be restricted)” Right below this statement reads: “Currently the game requires you to be connected to the internet via your arkdrop.com account in order to play. Characters and worlds might need to be periodically cleared as patches come through.”
Currently, Edge of Space alpha access requires constant internet connection in order to be played. HandyMan has clarified that this is temporary and has nothing to do with validating your account, it is supposed to “patch files, and generate a special ID used for your account so that server vaulting and server side characters all works correctly.”
Though that is fair enough considering the game is still in alpha access, the studio also mentions how “later down the road, closer to the end of beta, it will be possible to enter a ‘login – once’ mode that will make it possible for you to ‘save’ your account info locally and not need to connect to the web play locally or over lan.” Though the game doesn’t require always-online, it will still need to be connected once right after the initial installation.
Technically, HandyMan studios is merely going to minimize the DRM as opposed to completely getting rid of it. Therefore, the studios’ claim that Edge of Space will be completely DRM-free can be put into question. Does minimal DRM qualify as DRM-free? It depends.
The dev states that the log-in requirement has absolutely nothing to do with verifying your account. “…the login is not a DRM, its used to create unique IDs for users so that vaulted servers will work at all.” They also add that “certain features that require an account will just be disabled while not on it.” HandyMan’s intentions seem pure in that they just want to make sure Edge of Space multiplayer will eventually work properly through a one-time login. However, a one-time mandatory log-in doesn’t actually fit into the DRM-free category – download, unpack, install, play.
HandyMan is a victim of semantics. There is a certain stigma that comes in mentioning DRM as a studio and as an indie studio, nonetheless. DRM is wholly opposed by the gaming community because it restricts their consumer-rights by not being able to have full control over a product even after purchase. However, despite having a fair enough reason to require a one-time login, HandyMan’s DRM-free claim can’t be considered entirely true.