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Desura to more clearly label third-party DRM

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With the arrival of Steam on Linux many gamers have latched onto Desura as being the designated DRM-free alternative - it offers many of the same features as Steam including automatic management and updates of someone's game library, a similar game key system, and a large swath of community features. Its client is also free software and developed with a large amount of help from the community. And unlike Steam, Desura does not ship with any form of DRM for developers to plug themselves into.

What Desura does not do, however, is refuse to ship games that contain some form of third-party DRM. While many games ship with Steam keys alongside the DRM-free main product, a more contentious point has been games like Guns of Icarus Online or Serious Sam 3: BFE whose Desura profiles merely exists as a means of acquiring keys for the Steam versions, supposedly so that they could be included in one of the many Indie Royale bundles.

In the past, Desura employees have described the service as being "DRM agnostic", as was shown in our past interview with former lead Linux developer Keith Poole:
QuoteWe are DRM agnostic, so our recommendation to game developers / publishers is to ship without DRM or use a CD Key system. We don’t want to make customers jump through hoops to get their games running, however if a publisher requires a DRM and won’t release without it, we shall discuss that with them, and make sure users purchasing the game are aware of the DRM it ships with and how it works.

Unfortunately that has not always been the case either - when Linux Game Publishing, who employ their own unique DRM system, first released their port of Sacred Gold onto the service the fact that it used DRM was not immediately advertised, and was only clarified on the page at a later date. Their port of Majesty Gold also employs DRM as far as I can tell, and that is not clarified on its Desura profile either.

I took the initiative to ask on the Desura forums for them to add a specific field to their game profiles that would clarify a game's DRM situation, whether it be third-party, Steam based, or none at all. This would hopefully clear up a lot of the current ambiguity surrounding how DRM is handled on the service. Desura developer Dave Traeger gave me this interesting response:
QuoteThis will be available in v2 of the Desura store.

Other than it meaning that the whole DRM labelling issue may finally be resolved, this is also the first time that I have heard mention that there is a new version of the Desura web store in the works. The client being under active development is no secret as it is free software and developed with the help of the community, but the actual online web store is a different matter, and it will be interesting to see what other details about this new version come out in the months or weeks to come.

Note: The image used for the tagline is based on an original image created by the Free Software Foundation released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license and my modification is re-released as such. Article taken from
Tags: Desura
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About the author -
author picture
Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, and farm labourer living in Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and more information on him can be found at his homepage where he lists everything he is currently involved in:
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avarisclari 24 May, 2013
Good, good.
Liam Dawe 24 May, 2013
Good, I am glad they are taking that small but useful step it's not much to ask after all really now is it to list if a product has DRM.

I have been waiting on this new design for quite some time now since Scott first told me about it, I really hope it works better as Desura's current home page is awful, personally I think their Games Page serves as a better home page than their current one.

While we are at it, I hate their comment system with the weird tree view with comments all out of place, I much prefer the standard one after the other.
Bumadar 25 May, 2013
tree views rock :)
Kristian 26 May, 2013
Does anybody have some kind of list of what kind of third party DRM is used on Desura and how it works(one time online authentication with subsequent offline mode, limited activations, constant online DRM, etc)?
Hamish 26 May, 2013
As far as I know the only games on Desura for Linux that have DRM are some of the LGP titles (Cold War does not) and the games that are merely store-fronts for Steam keys, such as the ones I have listed in the article. The great majority are DRM free, but that is why it is so important for these corner-cases to be better labelled.
Hamish 26 May, 2013
liamdaweWhile we are at it, I hate their comment system with the weird tree view with comments all out of place, I much prefer the standard one after the other.

What I would find to be better is if they adopted the model YouTube uses of having tree-view comments with specific places for uploader responses (very useful), top comments (less useful on Desura, but why not), and the like as it would at the very least makes things more organized. As it stands they can get a bit messy, I grant you.
Edgar 27 May, 2013
Zigfrak has DRM too, though "a completely unlocked build is likely to appear soon".
s_d 29 May, 2013
Multiwinia requires an external multiplayer key.  Aside from LGP, some require a CD-Key, including Defcon and SpaceChem.  I'm sure there are others, but not many.
Edgar 29 May, 2013
My memory is not very reliable, but it says Frozen Synapse and Achron require external multiplayer keys too.
Hamish 30 May, 2013
A few more details emerge:
QuoteYou will know when v2 is out. The site layout will be changed dramatically ... Desura was our first attempt at a store, we want to get v2 right when we launch it. The store front is already a million times better.
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