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iTunes goes DRM-free at last. Games industry take note.

By on January 7, 2009

TechCrunch reports from the MacWorld keynote that all songs sold via iTunes will be DRM-free by the end of the quarter.

Now they point out that all music that you bought before the DRM-free announcement still needs to be upgraded to DRM-free versions of the same songs – it is not automatically DRM-free. It’s easy, it just takes one click. But it will cost you 30 cents per song.

ITunes has sold over 6 billion tracks: that’s $1.8 billion. Nice work if you can get it.

The bigger point for the games industry is that DRM is going the way of the dodo. ITunes was a standard-bearer for legal downloads of music but it was DRM-restricted (that strongly put me off from joining the Apple bandwagon.) Now they have persuaded the paleolithic record companies that DRM is a thing of the past.

As the games industry moves into a digital world, this problem will come to us next. Smart publishers are already working out how to tie their users into a game through offering online services, microtransactions or subscriptions. DRM will soon be a big turn-off for consumers. Better start working out how to protect your business some other way.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: